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Babcock has been ‘all over’ Holland to get more right-shooting d-men

Jun 30, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

Mike Babcock AP

When Mike Babcock coached Team Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, he had Duncan Keith, a lefty, on a defensive pair with Shea Weber, a righty, then Marc-Edouard Vlasic, a lefty, with Drew Doughty, a righty, then Jay Bouwmeester, a lefty, with Alex Pietrangelo, a righty.

This was not a coincidence. This was the plan. And it worked out rather well.

Next season in Detroit, Babcock is hoping he can have something a bit closer to that for his Red Wings.

“I just think it’s so much easier when you have a right and lefty on every pair,” he said this weekend, per MLive. “All you got to do is look at L.A. (Stanley Cup champion Kings), a right and lefty on every pair. Makes it easier to get through the neutral zone, easier off D-zone faceoffs to execute. You have the puck more. You can get it off the wall and shoot it in the offensive zone. To me it just makes sense.”

At the moment, the Wings are overloaded with lefties. Which is why there’s been so much speculation surrounding pending unrestricted free agents Dan Boyle and Matt Niskanen, each of whom shoot right. Anton Stralman and Tom Gilbert are other pending UFA righties, with general manager Ken Holland under pressure to come away with at least one of them.

The challenge for Holland is all the other teams that will be pursuing those guys. If the GM fails to land at least one, don’t expect the coach to be pleased.

“I’ve been all over [Holland],” said Babcock, “but there’s no tree to grab them off of, so we’ll get what we get.”

Related: Niskanen’s agent is confident he can get 7-year deal for ‘premier defenseman in the free agent market’

  1. rbbbaron - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    and it’s been like this for years. pretty sad when Babcock has to resort to working the press in effort to get the point across

    • 19to77 - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      Yeah. You have to wonder if he and Holland are just unable to see eye-to-eye on this. Babcock’s always had this thing about his defensive pairs. He had tons of options for off-hand pairings in the Olympics, but what did he do? Both 2010 and 2014, every lefty paired with a righty. Ever since Rafalski retired he hasn’t really had the right mix in the Wings defense, and it only got worse when Lidstrom hung up the skates.

      But for Holland, what are his options? Overpay one of 4-5 free agents who all want too much money, and only two of them are particularly offense-minded guys at that – Boyle, who’s getting old, and Niskanen, who will be overpaid the most of any of this year’s free agents. Holland wants to make a good business decision. Babcock wants a righty at what seems like any cost. I wonder if they just can’t come to an agreement here.

      • rbbbaron - Jun 30, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        This has been a need for years and in the meantime Babcock has watched Holland throw stupid money at washed up forwards (where there was absolutely no help needed) who have either proven to be unreliable because of injury or just outright played themselves out of the lineup…
        Now Holland will have to offer stupid money and term for one of these guys, and that’s the cost of neglecting this problem for so long and otherwise just not being able to make a deal with someone. Seriously, look at how easy Yzerman is making it look down in Tampa; Holland can’t get it done.

    • redwings1977 - Jun 30, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      Dude, you’d rip Holland if he said the sky was blue. And what exactly has Yzerman made look easy in Tampa? Four cups isn’t good enough for you I guess.

      • rbbbaron - Jun 30, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        Well, considering that 3 of those cups came on the backs of hall of fame lineups (that Holland had little to do with) in a time when there were no salary constraints (thank you Ilitch family), that leaves Holland with one cup during the salary cap era, and that was 6 years ago. What has he done in the meantime other than have Lidstrom’s retirement expose him for the mediocre GM he truly is? If you’d take a little time away from blowing the guy and actually paid attention to what he’s be doing (and considered all the alternatives), you’d be able to see that.
        Yzerman has been swinging deals left and right that have left his team better off, in some cases absolutely fleecing GMs– Holland included.

  2. mshantz22 - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    I would honestly have no righties instead of Boyle though.

  3. pjblake2redwings - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    I want Niskanen but not a risky 7 yr deal.. I think Boyle is the most reasonable pick for a 2 yr deal.

    • mshantz22 - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Except for the fact Boyle wants 5 mil for those two seasons. I say sign Ehrhoff for offense, Gilbert for the right hand shot and trade Kindl. I just don’t like the idea of signing a 5′ 11″ 38 year old who had OK numbers on a good team for two seasons. Gilbert had around 25 points and was only -5 while playing for the PANTHERS.

      • bruceeff - Jun 30, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        In spite of the $$$ Boyle may want, the short-term deal may be more to the Wings’ liking. They’re supposedly biding time for their D prospects to mature (most of whom will be ready in a year or two) and signing a young, unproven defensemen like Niskanen or Stralman to big lengthy contracts may not be wise decision both financially and for the future of the club.

      • rbbbaron - Jun 30, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        There isn’t really room for Ehrhoff or any other offensive lefty unless either DeKeyser or Kronwall are taken off the PP unit. You could see last season how crappy the PP was while Alfie was injured and there were two left shots up top– they couldn’t do much in the way of one-timers or shots from the point that had any chance of getting thru. They were constantly having to switch sides which killed the flow, ate up clock and was occasionally causing turnovers.

  4. bruceeff - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    The free agent market is a free-for-all since the cap came in to play. It’s not nearly as easy for the Wings to cherry-pick whom they want off the market these days. They may end up having to get creative through the trade market or throw a hail mary, like trying to sign PK Subban to an offer sheet for example.

  5. tmoore4075 - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    I like Niskanen but that 7 years, plus the money he’ll be getting on the open market, are risky for a guy who hasn’t done a lot in his career yet. Maybe he’ll be worth it, or close to it, but it’s a risk. Ehrhoff seems like the best option available after that although not a righty. I’d love Yandle personally, again not a righty, but he’d cost a lot of assets. I like the idea of trading Kindl but good luck with that with his salary.

    And I don’t think Babs is working the press. It’s not like Holland hasn’t tried but it’s not a video game. Everyone is looking for the same things for the most part so hard to make it happen. Also not like Kenny is gonna be like “Oh he said that to the press. Let me give Nisk 7mil a year to make that happen.”

    • bruceeff - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      I like the idea of trading Kindl too. I’d be very happy if Holland could somehow make that happen.

  6. redwingsfan101 - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Last 2 comments were very true and made a lot of sense to me

  7. hockeydon10 - Jun 30, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Just how good (or bad) is Tom Gilbert. He put up OK numbers playing for the Panthers of all teams, but I don’t remember him standing out. Is he a solid #4 guy? More points than Smith, lower adv stats. Taller D-man also at 6’2″.

  8. isphet71 - Jun 30, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Niskanen is worth a 7 year contract. He’s young and unless he gets injured he will play it out.

    Niskanen+Kronwall on the first D pairing for a few years, then Niskanen with Dekeyser once DDK gets a few more years under his belt and Kronwall declines, and the Wings are set on D1 for most of the next decade. I’m cool with that!

    • pdmjr - Jun 30, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      Matt Niskanen stinks yeah he shoots right but he falls down defending the net. 7 years at 5 million is outrageous

  9. 101starmymedic - Jun 30, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    Lashoff, Smith, AND Quincey can all go.
    Keep the big E, Kronner, Kindl, and Danny.
    Sign Ehrhoff.
    Trade Franzen, Weiss, and a pick for Tyler Myers.
    Bring up Marchenko.

    • 101starmymedic - Jun 30, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      Sign Ehrhoff or Niskanen**

    • pjblake2redwings - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      I just have to “lol” at your post. I will agres that yes in the perfect arm chair GM world some of these moves might work but they just resigned Smith so hes not going anywhere. Holland loves Franzen for some reason so he isnt going anywhere and who in the right mind would touch Weiss after his injury prone a$$ lied during physicals and most likely will be a 4th line C if he even plays this yr. IF we went for Tyler Myers it would be a #1 pick, Tatar and Anderrson or another young guy.

  10. hockeydon10 - Jun 30, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    Could we get two right-shooting defensemen? Depends on the RFA contracts we need signed.

    Sheahan 1.1
    Tatar 1.3
    DeKeyser 2.75
    Niskanen 6.25
    Stralman 4.5
    Trade Kindl
    Call up Pulkkinen on his EL (700k).

    Pros: Two right-shooting defensemen. No Cleary. No Kindl. Immediately have a much better d-core.
    Cons: Only 1/2M in cap space. No Alfredsson. Relies on Weiss to at least become the 2006 thru 2012 Weiss.

    I’m allowed this fantasy until Free Agency starts tomorrow, right?

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