Along with the 10 potential forwards that the Detroit Red Wings may have interest in, the blue line happens to be another spot that general manager Steve Yzerman may also look to upgrade via free agency.
This is tricky–as the Red Wings have their own UFA (Marc Staal) that they can re-sign. Players like Danny DeKeyser will assuredly not return while there are also a host of prospects, chiefly Simon Edvinsson, who could crack the lineup opening night.
If Detroit is going to target free agent defensemen, here are 10 they might take a flier on.
John Klingberg – Dallas Stars
The longtime blue line fixture for the Stars is purportedly heading to the market, and that could be valuable for any team, not just Detroit.
Jim Nill says John Klingberg needs to discover what the free agent market is for him.The Stars need to see what that market value will be and then decisions will be made by both sides.
— Bruce LeVine (@BruceLeVinePuck) July 8, 2022
On the open market, Klingberg could potentially command term and big dollars. At 29 years old, a longer term takes him close if not to the end of his career. He’s likely looking to go to a team that is ready to contend or already there so Detroit may not be the best fit. Likely yet, he could stay in Dallas.
Justin Schultz – Washington Capitals
Though he hasn’t touched the zenith of his output in 2016-17 where he had 51 points, Schultz just turned 32 and could make sense on a two-year term to help along the younger players. He has Stanley Cup championships to his name as well, winning two with Pittsburgh.
Josh Manson – Colorado Avalanche
A regular season that didn’t register blossomed into a stellar playoff. Now, Manson could be a steady veteran helping a team for a playoff run, or in the Red Wings’ case, moving out of a rebuild and into respectability. He may very well be retained by Colorado but his performance in the playoff may have curious suitors offering contracts.
Josh Manson’s agent Ross Gurney met with Avs management today here in Montreal. Colorado with lots of balls up in the air but clearly expressing a desire to try and bring him back. We’ll see whether or not that’s possible.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 7, 2022
Ben Chiarot – Florida Panthers
A solid defenseman acquired by Florida at the deadline, it appears he’ll get a shot at free agency. With his best season statistically, he could be a good option–if he comes at a reasonable price. But at $3.5 AAV and likely getting a raise, he doesn’t seem the “Yzerplan” type.
Anton Stralman – Arizona Coyotes
This could be a reasonable deal with a veteran and also a former player on Yzerman’s team in Tampa. New coach Derek Lalonde worked a season with him as well. Stralman may not have see the glory years up close in Tampa, but he was there as the time began its ascent. Having 23 points (9-14) on a rebuilding Arizona team last season, Stralman isn’t what he once was, but he could still be an asset on the third pairing. However, he’s also in talks to return to Sweden and play for newly-promoted HV71.
Eric Gustafsson – Chicago Blackhawks
Despite being on a Chicago team that lost its way early on, Gustafsson still had a CF% of 50.5 and 18 points (3-15). He’s a far way from the 60-point season he put up in 2018-19, but he’s only 30 and could be solid on the third pairing. Though looking at his point total, he’d be third in points behind Moritz Seider and Filip Hronek. Even if he gets a slight bump from his $800k in Chicago, it would still be a reasonable price.
Nikita Zadorov – Calgary Flames
Yzerman’s teams are known for their blue line that plays physically. Zadorov would fit the bill and can chip in offensively, too. He posted career highs in points with 22 (4-18) and would be due a raise from his $3.75 AAV deal now. But he will certainly have a number of suitors should he hit free agency.
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) July 6, 2022
Brett Kulak – Edmonton Oilers
Kulak was dealt to the Oilers and was solid in the playoffs, averaging 17:06 on the ice. He may yet be re-signed by the Oilers now that Duncan Keith is retired, but if he does go UFA, he’d be an affordable option for Detroit at the minimal cost of $2.5M. However as Sportsnet’s Mark Spector points out, would a GM be willing to pay a third line pairing guy that much? In Detroit, he’d likely shift between the second and third pairing.
If Keith is off the books, Barrie stays and perhaps Kulak gets signed.
Hearing Kulak’s ask is 4 x $2.5M (minimum.)
Is he your 2nd pairing LD?
I like him as my 3rd – but not at that term/salary.
— Mark Spector🇨🇦🇺🇦 (@SportsnetSpec) July 8, 2022
PK Subban – New Jersey Devils
He’s not the player he once was, but he’d beloved by fans and when healthy, is very productive. If Yzerman is looking for a short term deal with a veteran that has Stanley Cup experience, here’s an option. His point production dropping, however, especially at 33, doesn’t seem the most conducive.
Marc Staal – Detroit Red Wings
On the list because the Red Wings love him. Another short-term contract to help bring the kids along more would not be out of the realm of possibility. Staal enjoyed his best statistical season (16 points) since 2014-15.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 12, 2022