The Detroit Red Wings need to consider beefing up their backend if they are serious about qualifying for the postseason.
This one sort of hurts, especially when you see what former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek is doing this year for the Vancouver Canucks. I don't believe Yzerman had been actively shopping Hronek last season. Still, Vancouver went all Don Vito Corleone; as Marlon Brando's character said in The Godfather, "I'm going to make you an offer he can't refuse," and that's what happened.
Also, the jury is still out on who won this deal. The Detroit Red Wings selected defenseman Axel Sandin-Pellika with the first-round pick they received from Vancouver for Hronek. Sandin-Pellika, 18, has been a walking, or in this case, a skating highlight reel. He's an offensive-minded, right-handed shot defender. He's totaled nine goals and 13 points this season for Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League. Hronek has totaled two goals and 29 points over 35 games and is a plus-23 on the season.
That said, the Detroit Red Wings need to consider adding a reliable NHL defender for the stretch run. And before I get too far into this, maybe that player is Simon Edvinsson. Edvinsson, 20, is a 6-foot-6 defender with the makings of a top-four or even top-pairing defender in time. Detroit recently called up their top prospect for the final game in New Jersey before the holiday freeze, making veteran Justin Holl a healthy scratch. Edvinsson did not look out of place and played an effective game paired with Shayne Gostisbehere. Yzerman made a conscious effort to bulk up with veteran defenders this off-season by adding Jeff Petry via trade and signing Holl and Gostisbehere in free agency. I wonder if Yzerman will be searching for help on the backend following a very tough December, which saw a plethora of third-period blown leads and defensive zone lapses.
For the other option, we stay in snowy Calgary. Yzerman needs to, at the very least, pick up the phone to see what it would take to acquire defenseman Noah Hanifin. Hanifin, 26, is in the final year of his current contract, which averages $4.95 million, and like others in the past, mentioned that he does not intend to sign a contract extension with the Flames following the season. The pending unrestricted free agent has totaled five goals and 17 points this season through 34 games. He's averaging over 23 minutes per night and maintains a Corsi For Percentage of 50.5%. Some will think this is a dig at Jake Walman, but it's not; Hanifin would be the perfect partner for Moritz Seider, which only lengthens Detroit's backend. Ben Chiarot has been excellent this season, making him and Walman a formidable second pairing.