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Wings want a ‘top-four right-handed shooting defenseman’

Apr 28, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

Niklas Kronwall Getty Images

“If we can find a top-four right-handed shooting defenseman by trade or free agency, we’d certainly like to add one.”

That was Detroit general manager Ken Holland after his Red Wings were eliminated by the Boston Bruins, per

All seven d-men the Wings used in the playoffs were lefties, so it’s no surprise Holland would like to add at least one that shoots the other way.

Just for fun, we’ll go ahead and throw out the name Dustin Byfuglien. The big Jets’ d-man/forward has a booming shot from the point, and could certainly help a Wings’ power play that hasn’t been among the league’s best since the retirement of right-shooting Brian Rafalski.

Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen is another option should the 27-year-old test the market as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

  1. imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    I’d give up Frk and this years 1st rounder to get one. But nobody is getting Anthony Mantha

  2. pastabelly - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    That’s a major organizational fail having all left handed shots on defense. You hear all of the time how brilliant the Red Wings are from an organizational standpoint and then realize that their defense is so lopsided. They put up a half decent effort against the Bruins, but they have some work to do on that roster.

    • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      Fully agree. Holland gets too much credit for the organization’s past success, his personnel moves the last few seasons reveal how mediocre he is becoming.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        Holland, scouting and player development are still able to ice a playoff team despite all the injuries and constantly picking in the later half of the draft.

        23 straight seasons, always drafting extremely well, having the right people in the right positions and listening to those people.

        Holland is a great GM, no he’s not perfect but my god how short is the list of people who can do it better?

      • 19inarow - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        Nah. He’s still the Master Drafter.

      • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        The Wings’ scouting, player development, and drafting are and have not been the work of Holland alone. If any there was any one person responsible for the scouting success, that was Jim Nill and now he’s gone (i.e. you won’t be able to see the difference for another few years). For player development you can thank the management over in Grand Rapids– they’ve had plenty of time to ‘develop’ young talent because Holland keeps insisting on signing washed up veterans that eat up considerable cap space and crowd out the youth’s ability to get NHL experience. The late round diamonds that the Wings have come to rely on are more a product of the scouting team– you can try and call Holland a genius for making those selections, but if he truly knew they were so great then why would he have waited so late in the draft to pick them?

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Nobody is saying it’s Holland’s work alone, but he is the man who decided to put those people in those positions, to keep them there, and to listen to them.
        Jim Nill did a heck of a job, and so has Hakan Andersson, Andersson should get some Hall Of Fame consideration someday for his work in scouting the European kids.
        Sorry but Holland is at the top of the food chain, he’s going to get credit for putting and keeping all the moving parts running smoothly as they have for years.

        And this isn’t a slight at Jim Nill, but the Wings got Mantha 20th overall without Jim, and Andersson is still working for the Wings. Getting Mantha 20th is going to be like the Ducks getting Perry 28th. An absolute steal

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        I hope you’re simply saying that you find Holland to be over-rated, because some do over-rate him. But not suggesting the Wings could do better, because they can’t.

        There isn’t a single GM available that’s an upgrade for the Wings, and to be frank he’s absolutely earned the right to exit under his own terms.

      • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        You’re talking as if Mantha has already won the Richard trophy. There was a fair amount of excitement about Kindl some years ago…

      • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        *cough* Yzerman *cough*

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:53 PM

        He’s this years MVP of the Q League, 57 goals in 57 games and 120 points total, beating Jonathan Drouin. He has another 17 goals in 17 playoff games as his team is now facing Drouin’s Mooseheads in the Q playoffs.

        Mantha would be a top 5 pick this year if the Wings didn’t already get him 20th

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        Yzerman isn’t available, but sure I’d love see the Wings bring him back when his contract runs out in Tampa, or even Nill, Holland will be calling it quits sooner rather than later.

      • pwshrugged - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        I’m stunned by all the hand-wringing over the Wings right now. Holland cobbled together a playoff team this season, despite a ton of injuries, and did the same last season.

        Yes, he’s made some disappointing personnel moves, but they’ve failed largely due to injury, not poor performance. To be fair, Weiss and Samuelsson were injury risks when they signed, but Weiss was the best center available and Samuelsson was signed to be a right-handed shooting PP blue-line presence. I guess we can blame Holland for the lack of right-handed shooting defensemen, but the Wings aren’t the only organization with that problem – for some reason, there seems to be more lefty D-men out there, and for that reason, righties are a little more expensive.

        That said, the Wings have not had major cap space since the cap era started. Holland has done the best he can with what he’s had; a lot of that has resulted in bargain contracts for largely spent veterans to be roleplayers (Bertuzzi, Clearly, Samuelsson). The Wings also had a lack of major young forwards contributing prior to the last couple years, although the defense corps has been turning out NHL players since the cap era started.

        I’m stunned that everyone seems to think the Wings were supposed to win the Cup or something; this was obviously a transition year from the beginning, and in that respect, has been highly successful. The Wings are set to compete for years to come, and seem poised – in my opinion – to make the playoffs six more years, at least, and break Boston’s record, perhaps while securing another Cup along the way.

      • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        “Weiss was the best center available”
        Alright, I’m going to have trouble taking anything else you write seriously

  3. lowenni - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    If Niskanen tests free agency they should definitely give him a look. He can play well in all situations and would be a great partner next to DeKeyser or Kronwall. Blysma and the Pens love Letang (although I’d rather have Niskanen) and if he’s fully healthy next season I’m not sure Niskanen will get as much playing time as he deserves. It’ll be interesting to see if he tests free agency. If he does, he should definitely consider Detroit.

    • bandree - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      I freaking hate Letang! I don’t see what the Pens organization sees in him. He can quarterback a powerplay I guess but he turns the puck over way to much!

      • c9castine - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        actually powerplay is not his strongest suit…not bad but not particulary strong either.

        you should broaden your scope.

        matt niskanen is going to be a really good candidate but well see. i stopped trying to predict his future after i thought for sure he was getting traded last off season after i thought we wouldnt sign him two years ago. and he keeps getting better.

        other than him quality options are really thin unless you look at older players. this might have to be done through trade.

  4. 13datsyuk13 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Just say you are after Shea Weber again. It’s no secret, there’s a new head coach and Nashville will go through a rebuilding process.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      LOL, that’s not happening man.
      It’s not even a hockey decision for the Preds, it’s a business decision, trading Weber after losing Suter could hurt their market for a decade.

      They are not trading Weber unless they get such a good deal that they can justify it their fanbase.

    • feedmetherock - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      Even with the awful cap hit, that is still probably going to cost the Wings a first round and probably one or two of Tatar, Jurco, Manth, or Ouellet.. He is the franchise, so he probably won’t come cheap.

      • musamonster - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        Try Nyquist. Fans never want to give up the goods, but GMs get desperate sometimes.

        That said, Ellis might be on the trade block this summer.

  5. alexcolesays - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    PK for a pick and a prospect. Habs need to free space for Vanek.

    • lowenni - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      Subban is just as, if not more, important to Montreal’s success as Vanek is. He may be young and learning, but there’s no doubting he’s probably the second most offensively dynamic defenseman in the league, behind Erik Karlsson. Subban gets a lot of heat but he is and will be for a long time a great defenseman. Also, nless the Wings had the first overall pick in the draft and were trading Anthony Mantha, there’s no way the Habs are giving Subban up for “a pick and a prospect”. Get real.

      • mikebel11 - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        Not to mention Montreal has over 27 million in cap space which is more than enough to resign PK, Markov, Gionta, Eller, Weise and White and still have plenty left over for Vanek. So no they don’t need to clear space for Vanek, nor would PK be the player moved to make space if they needed it.

    • feedmetherock - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      lol.. fail. Subban is young and affordable. Be prepared to give up your first, Mantha and Jurco for Subban. You want a top line D-man under the age of 25. Best of luck with that pick and a prospect garbage. If cost you Jarnkrok just to get Legwand lol

      • pwshrugged - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        Subban is not going to be affordable, come on… his cap hit is low right now because of an arduous negotiation and hold-out with the Canadiens. Subban is going to cash in big-time once he’s free.

  6. esracerx46 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    It seems like right handed shots are becoming increasingly rare. I know that was a flaw the Hawks have at the center ice position where the only right handed center man in the organization is Andrew Shaw and Philip Danault. They have the same problem on the Blue line, although they have some righties coming up and its not as bad as the wings’ woes. I’d be interested to know why their is so many lefties in hockey where baseball is always looking for lefties.

  7. alexcolesays - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Pk for a pick and a prospect. Habs need cap space for vanek.

    • themagicman1223 - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Are you stupid?

  8. capsnbohs23 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    *cough cough, Mike Green, *cough cough

    • bennywuh - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      You mean Mr Glass?

  9. tapefolie - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Big Buff for Franzen….where do you sign?!?

  10. tapefolie - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Franzen is a power forward with no power!

  11. shaundre93 - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Boychuk? Love the guy but at the start of next season the B’s are gonna have 8-9 NHL defensemen. Someone’s gotta go, Kevan Miller is a cheaper (imo better) option for the top 4. Not sure what Boychuk could fetch from them though

    • bildomatic - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      Boychuk has another year left on his deal as does Adam McQuaid, but I think Miller replaces McQuaid more than he does Boych. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Quaider moved this summer although his value isn’t where it should be given his injury riddled season. That would leave the Bruins D looking like Chara-Boychuck, Seidenberg-Hamilton, Krug-Miller with Bart as the 7th D

      • Moop - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        Yeah, Boychuk is definitely not the guy I’d look to move first if I’m freeing up space. McQuaid and Bartkowski are the two that would be missed the least; Miller brings basically the same thing as McQuaid does to the table and Bartkowski is more two way than shut down defense. The Bruins already have offense from the back end from Krug, Hamilton, and Chara.

      • shaundre93 - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:21 PM

        I agree Boychuk doesn’t need to be moved. Just throwing the name out there cuz he fits the criteria of this article. I do think, however, that you guys are underestimating Kevan Miller. Dudes a total beast and will be a legit Top 4 D man sooner than later and, like I said, better than Boychuk

  12. rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    Had Holland not effed up over the last few off-seasons:

    a few assumptions: firstly, Holland would’ve been able to resign/extend Hudler and Filppula at the rates they’ve earned elsewhere, and because Filppula and Huds can both can play pivot (remember Hudler broke into the league as a center) there wouldn’t have been the need to rent Legwand– I left Jarkrok and Eaves on the roster just to show that they could be used as bait elsewhere. It goes without saying that had Holland should’ve kept Hudler (rather than sign Tootoo and Sammy) and Filppula (rather than Weiss); he would’ve had plenty of room to make a run at Edler, Franson, etc. and be able to lock up the kids.

    • pwshrugged - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      First of all, it’s very easy to play “armchair GM,” since you can dispense with what people want/think/feel and just move pieces around like a financial chessboard.

      Filppula wanted out. He declined an offer from the Wings that was equal to what Tampa offered him. And good for him for that; he wanted to be out of the shadow of some of the bigger names on the team, and he’s made good on that (to some degree) in Tampa. But now that Filppula’s gone, don’t mistake who he is – an extremely balanced center who has a tendency to be streaky. I always liked his game, and still do, but I understood the reluctance to retain him. The only real bad reverberation from that was the need to go out and get Weiss (I do prefer Filppula to Weiss), but that looks even worse now with the recent call-ups (Sheahan/Glendening) that look better than Weiss, making everyone wish he was buyout-eligible.

      As for Hudler… come on, really? Hudler was a hot mess in his last year as a Red Wing, and he was nowhere near being worth that kind of money on a team flush with depth. He was a huge defensive liability and wasn’t scoring at a respectable clip; he looked a lot like Franzen does right now, actually. I know he’s been okay in Calgary, but, come on.

      Remember, too, that keeping both Filppula and Hudler might have caused other ripples that would have delayed the revelations this season that were the kids. Maybe they wouldn’t have come up together. Maybe some of them wouldn’t have gotten playing time last season. Maybe some of them would have been traded. That’s the real issue with being “armchair GM” – changing the past and assuming the present (or more recent past) plays out the same.

      • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        “He declined an offer from the Wings that was equal to what Tampa offered him”
        Could you please point me to your source for that? I specifically recall reading that the deal Filppula got in TB was what he was demanding from Holland and Holland told him to walk.

        I’m not arguing so much in favor of Hudler in his own as I am when the choice was apparently between returning Hudler or signing Tootoo+Sammy. It’s pretty damn clear Holland got that one wrong.

      • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        ” Filppula and Hudler might have caused other ripples that would have delayed the revelations this season that were the kids.”
        Unless Holland wouldn’t have been able to resist signing more unnecessary forwards (instead of dealing with the glaring problems on the blueline), then in all likelihood that wouldn’t have happened. Having Hudler and Vilppula instead of Tootoo, Sammy, Weiss, Legwand and possibly Alfredsson doesn’t seem like it would have crowded out the youth.

      • pwshrugged - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        I heard a few times on Red Wings broadcasts this season that Holland made an offer similar to what Weiss got to Filppula, but Filppula wanted to get out of the shadow of guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg (which is totally fair). Maybe it was coming from a biased source; I can’t find written evidence of it after a couple quick minutes of cursory searching. I remember hearing, however, several times, that Filppula basically took an offer from Tampa that was very similar (perhaps a bit higher) than what Holland offered him in the later negotiation phases.

        I guess my point is that I’d be happier with neither Weiss nor Filppula given the current situation; but whereas we already know what Filppula would have given us, Weiss is still largely an unknown, although his injury history suggests he might always be just that. I think it was reasonable by the Wings to assume Filppula had reached his ceiling. I’d take Sheahan over Filppula, given the choice.

        The Samuelsson signing made perfect sense – in fact, Alfredsson basically stepped into Sammy’s role as a right-handed 4th forward on the PP and a 2nd/3rd-line wing, and may reprise that role next year. No one could have predicted he’d totally fall apart.

        I agree more that the Tootoo signing never made sense; he was never a fit for our system, and I feel bad for him that he’s now trapped in Grand Rapids. That was definitely a misfire, but a relatively small one. Likewise, the Cleary signing was an odd one, given that his presence pushed Nyquist to Grand Rapids to start the season, despite Nyquist having clearly earned a spot last season.

        Still, Holland’s success rate is pretty high, and he doesn’t generally make colossal blunders. I find it hard to criticize him this offseason, after the farm system has yielded such a bonanza of goodness.

      • pwshrugged - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        I can’t argue specifics about what the presence of different forwards might have made on the future; I’m just saying, we can’t wish the past one way and assume the present stays the same, or plays out in the exact manner that supports our ideas. With Filppula and Hudler locked into long-term deals, Holland might have dangled Jurco or Tatar as part of a package for the elusive right-handed D-man, knowing that he had two not-old guys locked up for a few years more.

        I believe Holland knew we had a glut of forwards coming, and that was why he didn’t commit to many long-term signings in recent history, and instead opted for short-term veteran band-aids, waiting on these kids to come up. Maybe I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, but he’s among the GMs in the league who have kind of earned it.

    • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Nothing personal, but there is so much crap in what you’ve written here– I admire your loyalty and willingness to apologize for Holland.

      Your narrative of Filppula leaving is pure BS. Until the shortened season, the guy was playing with Zetterberg– and he was trying to get out of the shadows!? LOL. He was known to be demanding 5mil for around 5 years and Holland didn’t want to give it to him:
      When asked about the possibility of leaving Det last May, he said “It would be tough”.

    • shoobiedoobin - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:10 PM

      oh shut up, everyone can see you’re biased but you. it’s like a kid covering his eyes and thinking he’s hidden from the world.

  13. bandree - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Pitt will give you Kris Letang for 12 slightly used hockey sticks! We need to keep Niskanen!

  14. pwshrugged - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Yeah, odd combination of bad luck and poor organizational forward thinking and right-handed shooting PP forwards has led to this odd absence of right-handed shooting defensemen in the Wings organization – not just at the NHL level, but on the farm, too. That’s why their PP always has a 4th forward on it – to have a right-hander on the blue-line.

    Byfuglien and Niskanen are both obvious ideas to fill that void, although I imagine the breaking point on the idea will be number of years desired. The Wings should be flush with money to add a right-handed shooting top-4 D-man. Beyond that, it’s hard to see what else they need to truly improve the roster beyond time and experience for the younger players.

    • 101starmymedic - Apr 28, 2014 at 5:37 PM


  15. pfhockey - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    The bolts would trade you Sustr.

  16. redwingsfan101 - Apr 28, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Btw rbbbaron Weiss had more 50 point seasons then fil and they were both 30. Meaning Weiss was the obvious better choice at the time. Plus what other centers were better at the time compared to Weiss other than vincent lecavalier who started playing on the third and fourth lines because he wasn’t playing well at all.

    • rbbbaron - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      “Weiss was the obvious better choice at the time”
      For a 5-year, 5mil per season contract with NMC? Wow. Firstly check your sources– they weren’t both 30 (unless you happened to be speaking about a two-week period before the end of the regular season last year, lol). Secondly, if that’s your criteria, then Derek Roy would’ve been the “obvious better choice” than either Fil or Weiss, lol.
      Nevermind that Weiss was coming off a worse season that Fil including major surgery and had been getting top line minutes for most of his career, which is also two seasons longer than Filppula’s. And I never knew that Holland was looking at Filppula’s time/production with the Wings as equal to that of Weiss with Florida– that would seem to contradict pretty much everything that the Wings have stood for (it’s well known Holland expects players to sacrifice offense to buy into the Wings’ defensive-oriented system). If Holland truly was making such a petty apples-to-apples comparison as you’ve just tried, then he needs to be dragged out in the street in shot before he can do any more harm to the organization.

      If Holland really needed to go out and get a free agent center (I’d argue he didn’t– not when Nyquist and Andersson had shown they were NHL ready during the previous season), then Grabovski was a better fit in terms of defensive responsibility and he could’ve been had for a much cheaper and shorter commitment. Instead Holland decided on a shot-gun marriage with damaged goods.

  17. redwingsfan101 - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Lol shoobiedoobin. Is shut up and calling me biased your argument? Trust me I know I’m biased but that doesn’t change the fact that Weiss was(and could possibly still be) a better player than Fil. I mean I understand why you couldn’t come up with a better argument because, well, you can’t really argue that facts are wrong.

  18. tn16 - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    Alex Edler, swe d man would fit in well with the team, and would be fairly cheap

  19. slaugin - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    Hamilton is only 20, sometimes I need to remind myself that when he has lapses but he very well could have been the MVP of that series

  20. hurshy27 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:36 AM

    Any chance the Wings trade for the first overall pick and select Ekblad? He will be a elite two-way right handed defenseman. Or maybe another option, Zach Bogosian? Thoughts?

  21. cliffatola - Apr 29, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    They only have a couple RH defensemen in Grand Rapids too, although Sproul who is one of them should be able challenge for a roster spot next year.

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