Saturday, July 28, 2012

Waiting for Good D: Evaluating number one defensemen and the likelihood they join Detroit

Wanted: someone to fill those skates

It's no secret that the Red Wings are in the market for another defenseman. Detroit is weak on the back end for the first time in years after losing Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, and Brian Rafalski over the span of two seasons. Ryan Suter signed with Minnesota, Shea Weber's offer sheet was matched, and just like that the available top tier d-men were locked up and Ken Holland was left looking at his roster and thinking about how Jakub Kindl isn't really that bad.

The free agent market is tapped out. There aren't any players left of the caliber that Detroit needs, but that doesn't mean all options have been exhausted. This article looks at every team's best defenseman and the likelihood that Detroit could acquire them via trade or offer sheet before or during the 2012-13 season.

Anaheim Ducks
Cam Fowler- Much like Detroit, Anaheim doesn't have a clear-cut number one defenseman. If Fowler isn't already their best blueliner he probably will be by the end of next season. He's young, talented, and about to become a RFA at the end of the season.

Chances Wings acquire: Tremendously unlikely

Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara- A perennial Norris nominee and lynchpin of the Boston rotation. Has six years left on his deal.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

Buffalo Sabres
Christian Ehrhoff- Had a somewhat disappointing first season in Buffalo, but with a NMC and a modified NTC I don't see him going anywhere. Oh, and he's also signed through 2020-21. If Buffalo does tank you may see Robyn Regehr traded, though he won't do anything to help Detroit's lack of offense from the defense position.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Calgary Flames
Jay Bouwmeester- Rumor has it that he's on the block, but I don't see him as a number one guy. His salary is high ($6.68 million) relative to his production (5 goals and 24 assists for 29 points), and he isn't a shutdown d-man.

Chances Wings acquire: He's probably available for the right price, but I think that price will be too high

Carolina Hurricanes
Jamie McBain- Honestly, the Hurricanes don't really have a guy worth pursuing. McBain is young and talented, but he's not the top flight defenseman the Wings need.

Chances Wings acquire: None, as there isn't a spot for another second pairing defenseman on the roster

Chicago Blackhawks
Duncan Keith- Another Norris caliber player who's inked to a long term deal (through 2022-23). There's no reason to dump his salary at this point, and Chicago isn't in a rebuilding phase.

Chances Wings acquire: None. There's almost no reason he'll be shopped, and if this offseason has taught us anything it's that players don't move intradivisionally

Colorado Avalanche
Erik Johnson- A former number one overall pick with a wealth of talent, he just signed a new four year deal. Colorado doesn't need to move salary and definitely doesn't want to acquire it, so he's likely going nowhere.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

Columbus Blue Jackets
Jack Johnson- Columbus just picked him up in the Jeff Carter deal, so he's probably stuck there for a while. He'd be a good addition to Detroit's roster and I think he'd make a good partner for Niklas Kronwall.

Chances Wings acquire: If Howson wouldn't trade Nash to Detroit then there's no way he trades them Johnson

Dallas Stars
Alex Goligoski- A point producer with a limited NTC. They're clearly going all-in this year after adding Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, and Derek Roy, and they need talented defenders to compliment their offense.

Chances Wings acquire: Highly unlikely

Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Whitney- They're already thin on D, so no one's going anywhere in Edmonton.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Florida Panthers
Brian Campbell- A quality player, but another who isn't likely to change locations. The only consolation here is that, per, he can name eight teams he would accept a trade to. If Florida tanks and decides they'd be better served with a smattering of forwards, picks, and prospects then you know Ken Holland will be the first to inquire.

Chances Wings acquire: Unlikely

Los Angeles Kings
Drew Doughty- The best defenseman on the defending Stanley Cup champions, who just happens to have signed a long-term deal one season ago? Yeah, he can feel pretty comfy buying that beach house now.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Minnesota Wild
Ryan Suter- Hey, didn't Detroit try to...oh, right. Nevermind.

Chances Wings acquire: Hahaha

Montreal Canadiens
P.K. Subban or Andrei Markov circa 2009- Markov has a modified NTC and has been plagued by injuries. Subban could be a great addition and is a restricted free agent. It's not the Red Wings way, but some real pressure could be exerted on Montreal if Subban was signed to an offer sheet. They only have $6.3 million in cap space. Nothing can be taken for granted and no assumptions can be made in an offseason like this one.

Chances Wings acquire: Slight possibility

Nashville Predators
Shea Weber- Word on the street is that this guy is good at the whole hockey thing. Also, head slams.

Chances Wings acquire: Holland talked to his agents and nothing developed. Then Nashville matched Philly's offer. Thus ends all "maybe he'll slam Zetterberg's head into the glass practice next season lol" discussions.

New Jersey Devils
Anton Volchenkov or Adam Larsson- Volchenkov isn't a true number one, and Larsson is too young and skilled to be moved outside of a blockbuster.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

New York Islanders
Mark Streit- An underrated number one, he'd be a great acquisition for the Winged Wheelers. His contract is up after this season, so it's possible that the Islanders may want to move him if they don't think they can get a deal done. This may be the long term target for Ken Holland, the player that could significantly upgrade Detroit's roster close to the trade deadline.

Chances Wings acquire: Very possible, depending on what is asked for in return and contract status

New York Rangers
Dan Girardi- He may not score as often as others on this list, but he might be the most consistent in his point production. A reliable 30-point player, Girardi anchors the bluline for a team that's making a push for the Cup. He's also signed for two more seasons.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Ottawa Senators
Erik Karlsson- The best young defenseman in the league. Any team would like to add him, and none will do so. Ottawa locked him up long-term and if there's anyone who's truly untouchable it's this guy.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Philadelphia Flyers
Kimmo Timonen- It's very possible that Timonen becomes available closer to the trade deadline, with an expiring contract and a GM who's not afraid to make a bold move.

Chances Wings acquire: A distinct possibility

Phoenix Coyotes
Keith Yandle- If Doan leaves, do they decide to move Yandle as well? Rumor has it that he may be available, and Detroit has to add someone of this caliber if they want to begin to patch the damage left by Nick Lidstrom's departure. Yandle is a point producer with four years left on his contract; there's nothing to not like here.

Chances Wings acquire: Very possible

Pittsburgh Penguins
Kris Letang- His $3.5 million deal is a huge bargain for a team that's thin on defense. Too good a deal and too big a part of their team to move now.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Saint Louis Blues
Alex Pietrangelo- He's a bonafide NHLer, he's young, he's on an entry level deal, and he plays for a division rival.

Chances Wings acquire: None

San Jose Sharks
Dan Boyle- He's aging and has two years left on his contract, but he's still the best defender on a team that has a shot at the Cup. It's not impossible for him to be moved, but I don't see why he would be.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

Tampa Bay Lightning
Matt Carle- He was one of Detroit's offseason targets and chose to join Steve Yzerman's squad instead. Yeah, he's not going anywhere.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Toronto Maple Leafs
Dion Phaneuf- Rebounded with a good offensive season in 2011-12. He's the captain and face of Toronto's franchise, and though his once high salary is now within reason for a good defenseman, he's not likely to be moved. If Toronto didn't implode at the end of the season they had a shot at the playoffs, but if they repeat this again all bets are off.

Chances Wings acquire: Unlikely

Vancouver Canucks
Kevin Bieksa- Not impossible to acquire, but not as likely to be moved as teammate Alex Edler (if a new deal can't be reached).

Chances Wings acquire: Unlikely

Washington Capitals
Mike Green- He just re-upped with the Caps, so it's very doubtful that he gets moved this season.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

So who could Detroit add?

The most likely candidates to become Red Wings are Subban (via offer sheet), Bouwmeester, Streit, Timonen, and Yandle. I think Bouwmeester is the most overrated and overpaid of those on the list, and I don't think he's the true first pair defenseman Detroit needs.

Narrowing the list down further, there seems to be only one player listed above that could be moved before the season starts and that's Yandle. The others could be available depending on circumstance, and were included as being trade targets mostly because of their expiring contracts. Teams and agents will have the largest bearing on their future, so it's hard for a fanbase to tolerate but possible that the Wings will hold out for a player like Mark Streit at the trade deadline.

Perhaps the most intriguing possibility is signing Subban to an offer sheet. The Canadiens have just $6.3 million left in cap space, so an offer of $7 million per season couldn't be matched. That's not an outrageous salary for a semi-proven offensive defenseman like Subban. Sure, it's out of the ordinary for Holland and co. but any move should be considered at this point.

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1 comment:

  1. Yandle would be an excellent acquisition. I'm hearing rumors that negotiations are happening as Phoenix will need a top-six forward of Doan leaves (they need one anyways after losing Whitney for nothing). I could see this happening, honestly. Here's to hoping Kenny can get it done.