Detroit Red Wings: Andreas Lilja to Return Monday, Maltby Out For Season

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IFebruary 24, 2010

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 18:  Andreas Lilja #3 of the Detroit Red Wings waits for a faceoff in a game against the New York Rangers on October 18, 2008 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings defeated the Rangers 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Detroit Red Wings announced that defenseman Andreas Lilja will return to the lineup on Monday, March 1, against the Colorado Avalanche.

Lilja has been on long-term injured reserve for nearly a year after suffering a concussion in a fight with Nashville's Shea Weber last February.

Though never a game-breaker by any means, Andreas Lilja has filled a valuable niche in Detroit over the past five seasons, that of a large, dependable, stay-at-home defenseman.

During his time in Detroit, Lilja has developed into an excellent penalty-killer and shot-blocker as well as a versatile defensive pairing partner, comfortable with playing alongside superstars, Nicklas Lidstrom or young defensemen like Derek Meech.

A year removed from the game, Lilja is sure to be slow in rounding into game shape, however, his defensive abilities and size should prove to be a significant upgrade over one of either Derek Meech or Brett Lebda, the defensemen that will be replaced by Lilja.

Initially, Lilja's return was going to cause cap issues for the Red Wings, however, these have largely been eleviated by Kirk Maltby's decision to have season-ending shoulder surgery.

The team announced that Maltby will be ending his season to deal with a chronic arthritic shoulder that has grown increasingly worse over the past two seasons.

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With Maltby's salary off the books, and the post-Olympic waiver of enforcer Brad May, the team can now absorb Lilja's remaining salary without violating the salary cap.

Monday's game in Colorado will air at 9 P.M., EST.