It’s an obvious need that must be addressed before the start of the 2012-2013 NHL season. The Detroit Red Wings WILL add a defenseman–the questions are who they will get and when will they get him. It’s now looking more and more likely that general manager Ken Holland may wait until the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement dispute is settled before deciding on the next Wings’ blue-liner.
It seems like a smart move for Holland and the Wings. The current free agent defenseman list is filled with players that wouldn’t make much of an impact. Players such as Jarslav Spacek, Carlo Colaiacovo and Michal Rozsival are players who the Wings could still target right now; but questions with injuries, effectiveness and value have caused the Wings to wait to see if they can go in another direction. If a new CBA dictates a decrease in team salary caps, it’s likely that teams that currently have tight caps would be forced to cut ties with players they otherwise would have been able to keep. This scenario would create another round of free agency, one the Wings could still be major players in since they still have significant cap room. Commissioner Gary Bettman has set a September 15 deadline for a lockout, so nothing will likely get settled until a week or two before that deadline. Don’t expect the Wings to make a significant move until then.
The Red Wings have been rumored to be in the trade market for a defenseman. They’ve been linked to both Keith Yandle of the Coyotes and Jay Bouwmeester of the Flames. Holland would probably have to give up a lot to get either player, maybe the likes of Valtteri Filppula and/or Johan Franzen. The reason the cost is so high is because the Philadelphia Flyers are also in the market for a defenseman, and teams are creating bidding wars between the Flyers and Wings. Bouwmeester would be a decent fit for the Wings, but he has an ugly cap number. He would make close to what Pavel Datsyuk currently makes against the salary cap. It just seems like a trade right now would cost too much.
So it makes sense for the Wings to wait and see what transpires with the new CBA. Fans know that the Wings are going to have to add a defenseman, they only have six on the current roster. Two of those defenseman, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl, have little NHL experience. It’s important that Holland doesn’t overspend for just any blue-liner. Getting good value is still important even though there is a glaring need. Fans need to be patient. Holland knows that they can’t afford to go into the season with the blue line as-is. He isn’t going to get raked over the coals in a lopsided deal.
Until the new CBA is agreed upon, fans will have to join the Wings’ front office in playing the waiting game.