9 guys who could man the blue line

With Nicklas Lidstrom’s future with the Red Wings on a year-by-year basis Ken Holland is going to have to do something when the lure of more millions and another cup are outmatched by age and family.  Filling Lidstrom’s shoes is not going to be easy, maybe not even possible, but some roster changes will need to happen in order to keep the defense at an elite level.

Is the time now?  Should Kenny try getting another blue chip defenseman to make the transition to a Lidstrom-less Red Wings easier?  Is there enough room in the cap?

Here’s a list of nine defensemen who may become unrestricted free agents on July 1st.

  1. Sergei Gonchar: Not going to happen.  He wants to stay a Penguin and with his numbers I am confident Pittsburgh will welcome him back with open arms.
  2. Scott Niedermayer: Scratch this guy off your list.  He’s not someone that would replace Lidstrom especially considering he’s looking to retire.
  3. Dan Hamhuis: He’s a very viable prospect.  He only made $2.5M last year, he’s only 27, he is healthy as a horse, a good all around player, and he may be open to taking a pay cut to be part of a team that are serious cup contenders.

More after the break…

  1. Paul Martin: Out.  He made over $4M last year and besides Brodeur, he is one of the main reasons New Jersey is successful year after year.
  2. Anton Volchenkov: He turned down $4M a year in Ottawa to try his luck somewhere else.  If he’s money hungry then some team will probably sign him for an outrageous amount (ie. Cristobal Huet), but if he is tired of losing in the East maybe Detroit would be a good opportunity.
  3. Zbynek Michalek: He only made $1.5M last year and he wouldn’t be the first guy to defect to the team that beat him the prior year.
  4. Pavel Kubina: He made a hefty $5M last year, but Atlanta sucks.  There’s going to be several clubs looking to bolster their blue line in July including Tampa Bay.  Could Stevie Y bring Kubina back to Florida?
  5. Willie Mitchell: I’d pass.  He’s had a history of concussions and I don’t want us signing a guy who’s going to be a bigger locker room presence than ice presence.
  6. Henrik Tallinder: Price tag of over $3M and he seems like a guy that needs the right line mate to succeed.  We need a guy that can make the other guys better even if paired with a rookie.

Detroit isn’t the only club shopping in July and Holland isn’t scrambling (yet).  The line up looks good for next year and the Red Wings have a history of capitalizing on good opportunities when they present themselves.  Personally, I would like to see a new defenseman in the lineup.

Either way, July is going to be fun.

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Tags: Anton Volchenkov Dan Hamhuis Henrik Tallinder Nicklas Lidstrom Paul Martin Pavel Kubina Scott Niedermayer Sergei Gonchar Willie Mitchell Zbynek Michalek

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