May 15, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle (3) looks on during game two of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Still Must Add Top Four Defenseman


Despite a successful first day of NHL free agency that saw GM Ken Holland add two significant pieces to their lineup, the Detroit Red Wings are still a top four defenseman away from becoming true Stanley Cup contenders.

Without a doubt the acquisitions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss instantly catapulted the Red Wings back near the top of the NHL’s elite. Mike Babcock has to be elated with the new amount of flexibility and depth he will have with his forward unit.

On paper Detroit’s top two lines might be as good as any in the league. As the anticipated re-signing of veteran forward Dan Cleary appears imminent, I firmly believe Detroit has a Stanley Cup caliber forward group.

It’s the same story in the goaltending department.  With his most recent playoff performance Jimmy Howard has officially established himself as one of the NHL’s most consistent and reliable netminders.

On defense, Jonathan Ericsson took a big step forward in his attempt to become a formidable high-end d-man last season.  As did Jakub Kindl, who appears to have solidified himself as an everyday NHL defenseman for coach Mike Babcock.

However, as a group the Wings’ D are simply not there yet.

Regardless of the amount of growth the Wings’ defense displayed last season, their backend remains the team’s weak link.

A top four grouping that features the likes of: Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Danny DeKeyser, and Jakub Kindl is good but not great.  The fact is: defense is the difference between winning and losing the Stanley Cup.

Don’t believe me?

Chicago’s top four (Keith, Seabrook, Oduya, Hjlmarsson) combined for 30 points and an overall +31 rating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Conversely, Boston’s top four (Chara, Seidenberg, Ference, Boychuk) combined for 25 points and a +17 rating in the post-season.

As cliché as it sounds defense does indeed win championships. Detroit must add one more high-end defenseman if they want to win the Stanley Cup next season.

Here are four top 4 d-men Detroit should pursue via trade:

  1. Keith Yandle- His name has been part of much speculation over the last year as possible trade bait in the desert.  He is an outstanding skater who can quarterback the powerplay.  Would fit nicely on one of Detroit’s top pairings.
  2. Alexander Edler- It’s been well documented the Wings have had their eye on Edler for a long time now.  The Canucks turned down a proposed trade for Edler from Detroit at the draft, but if the Wings sweeten the pot maybe things change.  Edler is a big man listed at 6’3/215lbs and can log even bigger minutes.

    Kevin Shattenkirk of the Blues may be a viable trade option for Detroit if St. Louis breaks the bank on Pietrangelo. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

  3. Kevin Shattenkirk- If the Blues re-sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to the big money he’s expected to be seeking ($ 6-7 million dollar range) then it’s possible Shattenkirk could become expendable.  He’s an offensive minded d-man who makes a good first pass and can skate the puck out of the d-zone if need be.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s a right-handed shot either.
  4. Alex Pietrangelo- Currently a restricted free agent, Pietrangelo is the young cornerstone NHL defenseman teams look to build their franchises around.  If he doesn’t come to terms with the Blues it’s possible the Wings could sign him to an offer sheet or make a pitch for his services via the trade route… both may be an unlikely scenario but it’s worth a shot right?


The good news is that if Holland wants to make a move for a top 4 defender Detroit has a slew of young talent to offer potential suitors. Surely a team like the Blues would insist a high quality defensive prospect such as: Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, or Nick Jensen be included in a package going the other way. As well, defenseman Kyle Quincey’s name is one that is routinely brought up in trade talks.

Point being Detroit has enough pieces to offer to make such a deal reality.

Detroit has a small window of opportunity with this current Red Wings’ team to win another Stanley Cup title and it’s closing fast as their top players continue to age. Pavel Datsyuk isn’t getting any younger. If you didn’t already know, Pavel will be 35 years-old when the 2013-2014 regular season begins.

The onus is on GM Ken Holland to bring in that one missing piece that will put this Wings team over the top. With Daniel Alfredsson added to the mix the bar has clearly been set a lot higher than last season.

Simply qualifying for the playoffs is no longer the goal like it was last season. Anything short of a Stanley Cup will be considered a disappointing year in the Motor City.

If the Wings choose not to make any significant changes to their back-end and bomb out of next year’s playoffs… they can’t say I didn’t warn them.








Tags: Alex Pietrangelo Alexander Edler Detroit Red Wings Keith Yandle Kevin Shattenkirk

  • Alex Hodschayan

    Shattenkirk just signed and extension and there is no way Armstrong sends him on his way out of St. Louis. As for Pietrangelo, if the Wings wanted to sign him it would take an offer sheet so large that they would have to cut salary or a huge trade that would send someone the Wings consider untouchable. Better luck looking elsewhere as there is almost no way the Blues ditch either of those two. Nice read though.

    • Jordan Hoy

      Ya I know Shattenkirk re-signed, but my thought is that if they re-sign Pietrangelo to big money Shattenkirk could become expendable. Yandle would be my first pick though. Thanks for reading dude!

  • Kevin Volz

    Let’s see here, the Wings started the season with the Defense being a huge question mark, had a lot of shuffling due to injuries and what not and still ended up 5th overall in goals against at 2.29 in the regular season and 9th in the playoffs at 2.64. Add in most of the season was also played without DeKeyser. Chicago did have the best overall goals against during the regular season at 2.02 so maybe Mr Hoy is on to something although they did drop to 4th during the playoffs at 2.09. If Chicago was 4th in goals against, that means there were 3 teams better defensively than Chicago that didn’t win the Stanley Cup. Mr Hoy states that defense wins Stanley Cups by pointing out that Chicago’s defense had a better +/- rating and more points than Boston which may or may not be a valid points but to me it looks like he making a point that offense wins SCs as both points and +/- rating shows the offensive side of a player more than the defensive. So I looked at the stats of the players he is promoting. All 4 seem to have decent point production (again an offensive number, thought we were showing how defense wins SCs) but when I go to look at their +/- rating, all 4 that Mr Hoy is promoting are not in the top 30 of defensemen, in fact Yandle is the best at +4. Seems like these defensemen can maybe score goals and add points but aren’t that great at keeping the goals out of their own nets. I thought the Wings needed to add a defenseman because DEFENSE wins Stanley Cups. When compared to the 7 current Wings defensemen, other than Kronwell and Smith, they all have better +/- ratings than the 4 Mr Hoy are promoting the Wings add to improve the Wings DEFENSE. Heck, even Ian White had a better +/- rating. So DEFENSIVELY, the current group of Wings defensemen are better than those that Mr Hoy is promoting. So if defense wins SCs, why would the Wings want players that are worse than the ones they already have defensively. Now on the other hand if Mr Hoy thinks that the Wings need to get one of the defensemen that he is promoting to help with the Wings OFFENSE, he may have a point but that is not what he said in the article, He clearly said DEFENSE wins Stanley Cups.
    Personally, I am willing to see how the Wings fare for the 1st half of the season with the defensemen the Wings have now and maybe go after something at the trade deadline. I think, while young, the Wings have a group of defensemen that are pretty good defensively. They may be lacking a little offensively but I’m willing to wait until at least the trade deadline to see how the Wings defensive corp does. I believe they will get even better yet. As for offering one of the Wings prospects in a trade, I think that would be a huge mistake especially in Sproul or Ouellet. I think these 2 could be franchise type defensemen. Mr Hoy may be willing to trade the Wings future for the possibility of instant gratification of a Stanley Cup this coming season. Personally I’m willing to be a little patient.

    • Jordan Hoy

      First off, I appreciate your passion & the fact that you took the time to read my article. So thanks for that. Obviously some of the points I made were a bit cloudy for you… so, let me clarify my thought process for you. Yes, you are correct when you say that I was taking into consideration their offensive value as well. One of the key reasons I suggest all of those players has plenty to do with their offensive upside (and I do hint at that if you look carefully when I state for example that Keith Yandle: “can quarterback the powerplay or that Shattenkirk is an “offensive minded d-man”). When I refer to defense winning championships I am referring to the fact that you need a great defense that contributes both defensively and offensively. I was trying to point out that Detroit is lacking offensive minded d-man (maybe I did a crappy job) but that’s part of the reason why I listed how many points Chicago got from their D this year. Also, if you’re talking about the players I listed being worse defensively than current Red Wing defenders I would remind you that the # 1 player on my list (Keith Yandle) was a plus player who had 30 points on a Coyote team that finished 10th in the Western Conference. As for the prospects, I couldn’t agree with you more about Ouellet and Sproul. I live in Quebec so I’ve seen Ouellet up close and he’s going to be a heck of a player. My point was that by adding Alfredsson there is a lot of pressure to win now (given the fact he is 40 and said he is coming here to win a Stanley Cup). So, if the Wings are looking to reach that goal next season my feeling is they need to add another top 4 d-man who contributes at both ends of the rink. It’s a significant drop off after Niklas Kronwall. Whereas, if you think about our ’08 team there was less of a drop off after Lidstrom… you had Rafalski, Kronwall, and Stuart at 2,3,4 respectively. Your free to disagree with me but if we could get Yandle in a deal where we had to include Sproul that would be something I would certainly consider especially if Holland and Co. are planning on winning a cup next season. Again thanks for reading and feel free to call me Jordan! I’m a very laid back dude so let’s not be so official.

  • Pingback: Why The Detroit Red Wings Defense Should Stay As Is - Octopus Thrower