3 pending UFA forwards the Detroit Red Wings need to re-sign

The Detroit Red Wings have four pending UFA free-agent forwards, three of whom should be re-signed this offseason.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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The Detroit Red Wings need to re-sign Christian Fischer.

I'll be honest; I've wavered back and forth on this one. The wavering has nothing to do with Christian Fischer as a player but more with who he'd be 'blocking' if general manager Steve Yzerman elects to bring the veteran winger back.

Fischer, 26, similar to Sprong, has really found a niche with the Detroit Red Wings this season. Although the former Windsor Spitfire hasn't scored at the rate Yzerman would have hoped he would upon signing him to a one-year deal this past summer, he's helped Detroit in other ways. Fischer earns $1.125 million this season and is coming off a solid 13-goal, 27-point season with Arizona a year ago. Fischer has totaled just two goals and 12 points over 51 games this season. Fischer averaged just under 15 minutes per game last season but is just a touch over 11 minutes this season, primarily skating on Detroit's fourth line.

Fischer has proven to be an effective penalty killer; he's maintained a plus-nine rating this season and is often used as an energy-like player for head coach Derek Lalonde. The 26-year-old forward does bring some bottom-six versatility to Detroit's lineup with his ability to play down the middle as a center or on the wing. Fischer isn't exactly a 'tough' guy, but he isn't afraid to throw his body around. He's an effective forechecker, a nice dump-and-chase player who works the boards well. He's a reliable checking fourth-liner who can chip in with some timely depth scoring, although we haven't seen a ton of that this season.

Lalonde likes Fischer's game and recently mentioned that he's the type of depth player playoff teams need to get over the hump. "He plays an honest game," Lalonde said. "It’s a predictable, north game, simple, and that line is playing off each other well, working off a forecheck, and he’s doing it. He’s been really good. Good on him. "We never won until we had the Gourde, Coleman, Woodrow line," Lalonde said. "That’s just hard to find in today’s NHL. There is some thought of that when we put (Copp's) line together. You want them to check, but you want them to drive a little bit, too."

That line of Copp, Rasmussen, and Fischer has since been dismantled after Detroit's back-to-back losses to Edmonton and Vancouver, but I'd be willing to bet it's not the last we see of that combination.

The Red Wings should consider bringing Fischer back next season if they can secure his services for a similar price. A $1 million fourth-line grinder (with offensive potential) won't break the bank. As I mentioned earlier, the only reason I'd be a bit reluctant is if Fischer was 'blocking' an NHL-ready prospect, whether that is Marco Kasper or Carter Mazur. In my eyes, Mazur seems like the perfect replacement for what the Red Wings will require on the fourth line, and he will have room to develop and grow. Mazur's ceiling is undoubtedly higher than a fourth-line winger, but this would allow the Detroit Red Wings to bring him along slowly.