5 blueliners the Red Wings can steal from the Metropolitan Division in NHL free agency

The Detroit Red Wings can use one more blueliner to solidify their defensive rotation, and the Metro Division has a few pending unrestricted free agents.
Detroit Red Wings v Carolina Hurricanes
Detroit Red Wings v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages
4 of 5

Erik Gustafsson, New York Rangers

Like Brendan Smith, Erik Gustafsson is a journeyman, but he carries more upside, mainly thanks to his ability to put together more of a balanced game. Although it’s not as pressing of a need, Gustafsson would give the Red Wings more scoring help, and we only need to look at his previous two seasons of work to drive that point home. 

With the New York Rangers and, before that, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals, Gustafsson finished with 73 points and 13 goals in 146 games played since 2022-23, a plus-12 rating, 23 power play points, 52 takeaways, 115 hits, and 129 blocks. These aren’t All-Star-caliber numbers, but Gustafsson still put up solid play for someone most recently logging third-pairing minutes. 

This is a player who also wouldn’t cost anywhere near as much as Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce, and Gustafsson’s advanced statistics further show off his value. He’s got a Corsi For of 54.5 at even strength, and his possession quality has been positive since the 2021-22 season. 

Also, like Smith, Gustafsson comes across more as a rental than an actual long-term solution. But if Steve Yzerman wants to keep promoting prospects come 2025-26 and beyond but would like a stopgap this season, Gustafsson is the ideal candidate here.