Detroit Red Wings Offseason Update: Filling the Lidstrom Void
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
By Rhys Richards (@RREsq)
Last week, the Detroit Red Wings took the first step to address a thin defensive corps by signing restricted free agent Kyle Quincey to a two-year deal worth $7.55 million.
After being selected by Detroit 132nd overall in the fourth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Quincey has scored 18 goals and 95 career points with Detroit, Los Angeles, and Colorado in four seasons. Quincey’s 2010-2011 was shortened dramatically by injury.
Quincey posted three points in 18 games with Detroit after being traded to Hockeytown from Colorado via Tampa Bay. He contributed 23 points in 54 games with the Avalanche last season.
Quincey’s most intriguing season was in Los Angeles in 2008-2009 after he was claimed off waivers from a cap-strapped Detroit. The 26-year-old scored four times and added 34 assists in a career season with Los Angeles.
His physical style of play and ability to chip in more than 25 points is exactly what Detroit likes about the young defenseman. Quincey will be depended upon to fill the role of the recently departed Brad Stuart, while the Red Wings will hope for more of an offensive presence. At 6’2,” 206 pounds, Quincey is virtually identical in size to Stuart.
General manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press, “There’s an opportunity here with the losses we’ve had on defense with Stuart and Nick Lidstrom.”
He added, “Kyle was in the top four in Colorado. We think there is a tremendous opportunity for him now in Detroit. He is a guy who can step in and eat some minutes and give us some offense.”
Even with the re-signing of Quincey, Detroit has yet to land another defenseman to fill the gaping void left by the retirement of Lidstrom. While veteran Niklas Kronwall has always been thought of as the heir apparent to Lidstrom and blue chip prospect Brendan Smith may be that future heir, neither can replace Lidstrom’s production on his own.
If the season were to start tomorrow, Detroit would have to rely on a combination of Lidstrom’s last defensive partner Ian White, Kronwall, Quincey, and Smith. Youngster Jakub Kindl has some offensive prowess and could slide into the top four when needed, but is a better fit on the final pairing with shutdown defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.
Detroit has several young defensive prospects in the farm system, including Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet, but none are ready for the NHL this season.
For some NHL organizations, that picture is not the prettiest, but is certainly tolerable. For Detroit, a team that has developed and mastered an entire possession style of offense based upon the puck starting from and often ending on the stick of one of its great playmaking defensemen, that picture is unnerving.
With the majority of the intriguing offensive defensemen in a thin free agent pool signed elsewhere, Detroit may very well have to find its next great puck-moving defenseman via trade. The Red Wings can start next season with its current corps, knowing that it has an above average group, but the team could be looking to move a package of its current prospects and/or future draft picks for a proven talent.
For once, cap space is not an issue, as Detroit has almost $15 million in cap space with only RFA Justin Abdelkader left to sign. The Red Wings could easily take on salary from another team in a potential deal.
The best offensive defenseman available is Phoenix’s Keith Yandle. During the draft, Yandle was rumored to be on the trading block. The 25-year-old American is signed through 2015-2016, and is far and away Phoenix’s most highly paid player.
Keith Yandle would be an excellent addition to the Detroit Red Wings.
While Yandle’s $5.25 million cap hit is extremely reasonable for a defenseman of his skill level, his salary escalates from $4.75 million per year to $5.75 million by the end of that contract. The Coyotes’ continuing ownership concerns and questionable future in Arizona may mean that the organization has to move Yandle in favor of a package of cheaper prospects and future picks.
Phoenix is also extremely rich in young defensemen with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, David Rundblad, Brandon Gormley, Maxim Goncharov, and Connor Murphy, among others.
Provided Phoenix can find a way to meet the current salary floor of $54.3 million, a mark the Coyotes are currently about $10 million shy of, the Red Wings may be able to land Yandle for a combination of young pro forwards, prospect forwards, and/or future picks.
The Red Wings could offer a combination of Darren Helm ($2.125 cap hit), one of prospects Tomas Tatar, Calle Jarnkrok, or Tomas Jurco, and Detroit’s 2013 first rounder. Detroit could also offer Johan Franzen ($3.955 million cap hit) and a lesser prospect and pick, though Franzen’s lengthy contract may not be ideal for a franchise with so many questions.
While Detroit does not want to deal Valtteri Filppula ($3 million cap hit), Phoenix may demand he be a part of any package. If Detroit’s current defensive corps has a rocky start to the season, the team may reconsider a package of Filppula and a lesser prospect or pick, maybe just what the Coyotes need.
Should Coyotes captain Shane Doan sign elsewhere in the coming days, the Coyotes may be more apt to consider a package of forwards to address an offense that already lost last season’s leading scorer Ray Whitney.
At this point, any trade ideas are purely speculation. Detroit fans should not presume failure with the current team and defensive corps. The Red Wings have not signed any marquee free agents this offseason, but the team remains well under the cap, allowing it to be extremely flexible going into next year and beyond.
Statistics and other information obtained at www.nhlnumbers.com and www.hockeydb.com.
Share your thoughts about the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings, and hockey in general with Rhys at Twitter: @RREsq. He can be reached via email at RhysJRichards@gmail.com. Join the many fans of The Hockey Guys on Facebook and Twitter @TheHockeyGuys