3 depth forwards the Detroit Red Wings need to target in free agency

The Detroit Red Wings are expected to have a busy off-season, and here are three under-the-radar forwards general manager Steve Yzerman should consider signing.
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The Detroit Red Wings should look to sign Matt Martin in free agency.

Signing Matt Martin wouldn't be a move that would move the needle among Detroit Red Wings fans, but he's the perfect role player the organization is currently without.

Martin, 35, is a Windsor native, and joining the Red Wings would be a homecoming for the fourth-line tough guy. Martin doesn't bring much offensive ability to the table. Still, he brings a much-needed physical presence to a Red Wings lineup that many teams tried to push around, particularly the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators throughout the year.

“The retirement narrative wasn’t one I started,” Martin said Friday morning at Islanders breakup day. “I certainly plan on playing hockey. My focus is to get healthy and start building myself back up and get ready for next season.”

The long-time New York Islanders forward is a pending unrestricted free agent, and it's unlikely general manager Lou Lamoriello, who claims changes are inevitable, will bring back both Martin and Clutterbuck this summer.

Martin is usually good for a handful of goals and somewhere between 15-20 points any given season, but he's also recorded over 250 hits in a season eight times over his lengthy career. The veteran winger is a bit of an anomaly in today's game, known for his willingness to play a physical brand of hockey, and his heavy fists have carved out a lengthy career despite the game changing to a more speed and skill first look. Martin has spent 13 of his 15-year career in New York with the Islanders, the two-year absence being with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This past season, Martin scored four goals and eight points and was a plus-7 in 54 contests with the Islanders. He also played under ten minutes per night while recording 151 hits and 29 blocks. Martin is nothing more than a fourth-line bodyguard but has proved he won't be a defensive liability during his nine or ten minutes of ice per night in the limited role. It's a role I feel Steve Yzerman tried to fill with Klim Kostin this past season. Kostin was looking for more opportunities and wasn't exactly going to strike much fear into any of Detroit's opponents with his fists and physical play. I commend Kostin's willingness to fight when Detroit needed a response, but he's not in the same weight class as Martin. Let's put it this way: I'd be shocked to see Radko Gudas standing over Matt Martin, taunting him after laying him out.

Don't overreact. I don't think Martin can 'save' the Red Wings, but he's a player they could use, even if it's in a rotational role as a 13th forward. Martin can be inserted in games against Florida, Nashville, Ottawa, and whoever else Derek Lalonde feels will play a more physical brand of hockey, and his services will come cheap at this point in his career.