Bargain Free Agents Detroit Red Wings Should Chase in 2014 Offseason

Daniel Williams@@dwill3Contributor IIIMay 15, 2014

Bargain Free Agents Detroit Red Wings Should Chase in 2014 Offseason

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    NHL free agency is still more than a month away, but it is something that will be discussed throughout Hockeytown until the clock strikes 12:00 p.m. EDT on July 1.

    Word is out that the Detroit Red Wings are in desperate need of a right-handed defenseman, and it is No. 1 on their shopping list.

    There isn’t an abundance of big-name superstars on the market that can fill the void, but there are options that could step into the role.

    Detroit has some other pressing needs as well, but none is more essential than an opposite-handed blueliner. An extra scorer in its top six could go a long way, but at the price that the top free agents will cost, a big splash is unlikely.

    Taking a look down the long list of eventual free-agent talents, a few names stand out that fit both need and affordability. These are some of the free agents that Detroit should consider at a bargain price.

Mason Raymond, LW

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 team: Toronto Maple Leafs

    2013-14 totals: 19 goals, 45 points

    Previous contract: One year, $1 million

    Why he could fit

    Mason Raymond played in a finesse structure similar to Detroit’s as a member of the Vancouver Canucks from 2007-2013. In one season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he played in all 82 games, scoring 19 goals and 45 points.

    He’d play a depth role in Detroit, as Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar could fill scoring roles on the top two lines. The 28-year-old is a tremendous penalty killer with enough skill to contribute in the shootout as well.

    It wouldn’t be the flashiest move, but with Detroit possibly losing five forwards in free agency, he could be a good bargain at less than $2 million annually for a few seasons.

Anton Stralman, D

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    2013-14 team: New York Rangers

    2013-14 totals: 81 games played, one goal and 13 points

    Previous contract: Two years, $3.4 million

    Why he could fit

    First and foremost, he’s a right-handed defenseman. He’s a smooth skater with good hockey sense who would be a quality partner in Detroit’s top four. However, he wouldn’t fill the need on the power play.

    He doesn’t possess prototypical size (5’11”, 190 pounds), but he’s an excellent asset on the penalty kill and is responsible in his own end. He has finished with a positive plus/minus in each of his three seasons in New York, but Larry Brooks of the New York Post conveys that he will test the free-agent waters.

    Stralman could receive close to $3.5 million on the open market, which is a bargain if Detroit misses on Matt Niskanen or Dan Boyle. Stralman won’t solve all of the blue-line issues, but any stability will go a long way.

Dany Heatley, LW

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    2013-14 team: Minnesota Wild

    2013-14 totals: 12 goals, 28 points in 76 games

    Previous contract: Six years, $45 million

    Why he could fit

    Detroit isn’t likely to make a free-agent splash at the forward position, so Heatley at a discount could be more realistic. The two-time 50-goal scorer hasn’t hit the 30-goal mark since 2009-10 in San Jose and wasn’t a fit in Minnesota’s system.

    At 33 years old, he is still a proven sniper and could provide similar, if not better, production than Daniel Alfredsson at a comparable price. He won’t make anything remotely close to the $7.5 million he received annually over his last deal, and perhaps the chance to play with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg could lower his asking price.

    Heatley isn’t going to put up 40 goals and 80 points, but 20 and 60 would be quite beneficial for a Detroit team that finished 17th in the league in goals (222) with only one 20-goal scorer.

Al Montoya, G

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    2013-14 team: Winnipeg Jets

    2013-14 totals: 13-8-3, 2.30 goals-against average and .920 save percentage

    Previous contract: One year, $601,000

    Why he could fit

    At 29 years old and used primarily as a career backup, Al Montoya could provide Detroit a stable—and healthy—goaltending tandem. While Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his best statistical season, his reputation as injury prone was out in full force.

    As a University of Michigan product, Montoya would be comfortable in familiar territory and ease the workload of starter Jimmy Howard. His small price tag would give Detroit financial flexibility as well as reliable netminding. Gustavsson made $1.5 million last season, and Montoya could be given something similar.

    A contract with Detroit would likely max out at two years, simply to buy time until valued prospect Petr Mrazek is ready to make the jump to the NHL. Goaltending was a cause for concern in Detroit this season, but Montoya’s durability and low price tag would be quite complementary.

Dustin Penner, RW

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    2013-14 team: Anaheim Ducks/Washington Capitals

    2013-14 totals: 14 goals, 35 points and plus-25

    Previous contract: One year, $2 million

    Why he could fit

    Detroit was knocked around consistently in its first-round series against the Boston Bruins, and Dustin Penner adds size, grit and a touch of scoring. He’s a four-time 20-goal scorer with playoff experience as a member of the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

    At 6’4”, 247 pounds, he could be the prototypical power forward to play on Detroit’s top line. Justin Abdelkader current resides in that role but doesn’t have the size or track record like Penner. His large frame in front of the goal would fit perfectly on Detroit’s power play.

    He played 67 games between Anaheim and Washington with an impressive plus-25. After suiting up for three teams in two seasons, he may be inclined to ink a multiyear deal, which is doable at 31 years old.

Matt Moulson, LW

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 team: New York Islanders/Buffalo Sabres/Minnesota Wild

    2013-14 totals: 23 goals, 51 points in 75 games

    Previous contract: Three years, $9.4 million

    Why he could fit

    Matt Moulson proved his versatility, scoring 51 points with three different teams in 2013-14. The three-time 30-goal scorer could earn around $4 million in free agency, and as a top-six forward option, he could be attainable for Detroit.

    He has been consistently productive throughout his career with 275 points in 397 games. The 30-year-old can play on both wings and would be a good complement to Detroit’s centers. He is likely to garner a lot of attention once top free agents Thomas Vanek and Marian Gaborik come off the table.

    Moulson could also be the primary target for clubs that are not looking for the big splash. He brings a good skill set and would improve any team offensively. If Detroit wants his services, it may wind up paying a little extra.

Matt Greene, D

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    2013-14 team: Los Angeles Kings

    2013-14 totals: Two goals, six points in 38 games

    Previous contract: Five years, $14.75 million

    Why he could fit

    Matt Greene would be an outstanding fit on Detroit’s blue line for two reasons: He’s right-handed and has great size. At 6’3” and 234 pounds, he would be the second-largest defenseman in Detroit’s lineup behind Jonathan Ericsson.

    The 31-year-old was in and out of the lineup most of the season, playing just 38 games. With his contract ending and Los Angeles not hurting for defensemen, he could be expendable. The Grand Ledge, Michigan, native brings a physical style that would help balance Detroit on the back end.

    At a price similar to his most recent contract, Greene would be an excellent complement to youngster Brendan Smith. Greene’s stay-at-home style could allow Smith to be more offensive.

    Greene may not be the big splash that fans would like to see, but what he adds in depth could be a much bigger bang for the team’s buck.

Radim Vrbata, RW

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    2013-14 team: Phoenix Coyotes

    2013-14 totals: 20 goals, 51 points in 80 games

    Previous contract: Three years, $9 million

    Why he could fit

    The best seasons in Radim Vrbata’s career have come as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, including a 35-goal campaign in 2011-12. He has totaled 20 or more goals four times and has shown some flare in the shootout.

    He is a primarily offensive forward but has the skill to contribute on the penalty kill. He’s not going to light up the scoresheet but can be a quality contributor. Each of his last two deals was $9 million over three years, and his next will likely be similar.

    If Detroit goes this route, it will likely be as a secondary option. Vrbata is a good player but won’t be a primary target once the market opens. An extra 20-goal scorer is something that could intrigue general manager Ken Holland, but at any price higher than $3 million, Detroit could balk.

Zach Redmond, D

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    Marianne Helm/Getty Images

    2013-14 team: Winnipeg Jets

    2013-14 totals: One goal, three points in 10 games

    Previous contract: One year, $715,000

    Why he could fit

    Zach Redmond hasn’t had a full opportunity at the NHL level, and his life-threatening leg injury in February 2013 didn't help. Through 18 NHL games he’s totaled two goals and seven points and could be ready for a regular NHL spot.

    The upside is intriguing, as he is 6’2” with a right-handed shot and is only 25 years old. He’s also a Michigan native who attended college at Ferris State University. He would be another player less than 26 years old on Detroit’s blue line, but the potential of a young, big presence on the back end is enticing.

    It’s more likely that he re-signs with Winnipeg, but Redmond’s upside is captivating. He’d come at a very affordable price, and there is a fit for him in the lineup.

    Detroit is more likely to aim for a veteran in free agency, because it has an abundance of defensive prospects knocking on the door.

Tom Gilbert, D

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    2013-14 team: Florida Panthers

    2013-14 totals: Three goals, 28 points in 73 games

    Previous contract: One year, $900,000

    Why he could fit

    Tom Gilbert doesn’t get a lot of national attention with the Florida Panthers, but he fits Detroit’s needs at an affordable price. The 6’2”, 206-pound defenseman is durable and provides the right-handed shot the Red Wings covet.

    Should they miss on a big-name free agent, Gilbert could still provide just what they need. He has played in only five playoff games in his seven NHL seasons, and joining a team with a legendary streak like Detroit could be too much to pass up.

    He can play the power play and penalty kill and was third on the team with 21 minutes, 20 seconds of ice time per game in 73 games. He also had the best plus/minus of any Panthers defenseman to play more than 50 games (minus-five).

    He’d be an excellent Plan B if Detroit can’t ink a top free agent. He could also be one of the most underrated defensemen in this summer’s free-agent class.


    Note: All statistics courtesy of, and salary-cap information courtesy of unless otherwise stated.