Everyone knows the Detroit Red Wings have giant, if not impossible shoes to fill on the blue line with the retiring of their captain, Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom was a perennial Norris Trophy candidate (err winner) and is a first ballot hall of famer. Detroit also has to deal with the departure of tenacious and physical defenseman, Brad Stuart.
The Red Wings then weren’t able to sign or acquire franchise defenders Shea Weber, who is staying with the Nashville Predators and Ryan Suter, who signed a lifetime contract with the Minnesota Wild. The Red Wings also lost out on NHL newcomer Justin Schultz, who signed with the Edmonton Oilers. To be fair Schultz doesn’t exactly have the NHL experience the Red Wings are seeking.
This didn’t leave Detroit with many top tier options to help fill out their blue line. They resigned last years trade deadline acquisition, defenseman Kyle Quincey, to a two year $7.55 million deal. Quincey although underwhelming, is a solid top 6 and potentially top 4 defenseman. He may have been slightly overpaid due to the fact Detroit was and is so desperate for able bodied, NHL experienced defensemen.
That brings us to the Red Wings and their attempt to acquire Calgary Flames defenseman, Jay Bouwmeester. Detroit has six “NHL ready defensemen” under contract as it stands today and some of them aren’t very seasoned. Niklas Kronwall (467 NHL regular season games played), Jonathan Ericsson (232), Ian White (478), Kyle Quincey (257), Jakub Kindl (106) and Brendan Smith (14). So, it becomes apparent that the Red Wings need to add at least one more experienced defenseman.
Jay Bouwmeester, who became expendable to the Flames once they signed defenseman Dennis Wideman to a large contract, is labeled a “top tier” defenseman yet underachieving. Bouwmeester had a breakout season for the Florida Panthers during the 2005-06 season where he accumulated 46 points. Many said he was the next big thing in the NHL and for a few seasons in Florida he hovered around the 40 point mark. However since joining the Flames in 2009-10, Bouwmeester has never reached the 40-plus point total in his three seasons in Calgary. Last season for the Flames, Bouwmeester had 5 goals and 24 assists while playing in all 82 regular season games. In fact, Bouwmeester has not missed a game since the 2003-04 season, I believe making him the NHL’s current iron man.
The Detroit News reported that the Red Wings had offered forward Valtteri Filppula, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and a prospect to Calgary in exchange for Bouwmeester. A pretty steep price if you ask me for an under achieving, 29 year old blue liner making $6.6 million a season with a cap hit of $6.68 million. To put that into perspective that’s more money than Lidstrom was being paid in his last season with the Red Wings and I think we can all agree Bouwmeester is certainly no Lidstrom. Sure Bouwmeester plays in every game but does he actually do anything of value in all 82 games? Also, why the Red Wings would offer an experienced defenseman like Ericsson, when attempting to add an experienced defenseman like Bouwmeester, doesn’t exactly add up to me. However talks between the Red Wings and Flames have reportedly stalled (much to the delight of many Red Wings fans) and now the internet is buzzing that the Red Wings have made a pitch to free agent defenseman, Carlo Colaiacovo.
Last season for the St. Louis Blues, the 28 year old Colaiacovo, had 2 goals and 17 assists while only playing in 64 games. Prior to last season, Colaiacovo averaged around 27 points for 3 seasons. Not spectacular numbers but he could be an offensive presence for the Red Wings on the blue line if he can stay healthy, which the Red Wings desperately need after Lidstrom’s retirement.
Colaiacovo’s ability to stay healthy is the biggest knock on him, unlike Bouwmeester who has played 574 consecutive games in the past 7 seasons, Colaiacovo is often injured and has never played more than 67 games during his five year NHL career.
While not as durable as Bouwmeester, Colaiacovo certainly can be cheaper. He’s coming off a contract that saw him make $2.5 million this past season. Thats roughly $4 million less than what Bouwmeester is set to make and the Red Wings wouldn’t have to trade any draft picks, prospects or current roster players to acquire Colaiacovo, they can simply sign him.
According to MLive.com’s Brendan Savage, the Red Wings have reportedly offered Colaiacovo a two year deal worth about $5 million. Not a bad deal for either side, however Colaiacovo has reportedly been seeking a three year deal.
If Detroit and Colaiacovo can come to terms on a deal, the Red Wings would definitely be in better shape on the blue line. But it’s my opinion that with the inexperience they have back there and potentially an oft injured player in Colaiacovo, they may be wise to add one more lower echelon veteran defenseman, like a Brett Clark or Michal Rozsival, just to be safe.
As always we welcome your commentary and comments below. Feel free to follow Billy Bryson on Twitter @BillyBrysonNHL and thanks for reading!