Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde is fond of saying that in an ideal world teams would always have three left-shot defensemen and three right-shot defensemen.
But the Red Wings were not living in an ideal world last season.
Too many injuries, not enough right-shot defensemen. “It’s the reality that right-shot D are tough to come by in this league, especially elite ones,” Lalonde said.
After it was determined Mark Pysyk wasn’t going to be able to play this season and Filip Hronek was traded, the Red Wings were down to two right-shot defenders: Moritz Seider and Gus Lindstrom. Left-handed Ben Chiarot played the right side. Left-shot Jordan Oesterle did as well.
“That’s a lot to ask of guys sometimes, but I thought for the most part they’ve handled it well,” Chiarot said.
Pysyk’s contract is expiring and the Red Wings haven’t given any indication of whether they would try to bring him back. Also, Lindstrom didn’t seem to make any strides this season. The Swedish outlet Expressen reported Lindstrom is looking at options to play in Europe next season. That could suggest that he knows, or believes, he’s not in Detroit’s plans.
The Red Wings will not be receiving any immediate help from their prospect pool. Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson are their top two young defensemen and both shoot left-handed.
General manager Steve Yzerman will look for a right-shot defenseman in the trade and free agent markets. Desirable right-shot defenders are in shot supply. Here are the most interesting names:
Matt Dumba (Minnesota Wild)
At 28, he’s in the prime of his career. He’s a two-way defender who will post 100+ blocked shots and hits every season. He averaged 21:17 of playing time for a hard-nosed Minnesota Wild. There is some inconsistency in his game. But teams will put up with more to get a right shot D man. He should have multiple suitors. That’s not good for a team that has missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons.
Connor Clifton (Boston Bruins)
Plenty of room on the bandwagon for those who like Clifton. He’s a decent offensive player and he posted 208 hits this season. Bet the Red Wings are very interested. Clifton is 28. The problem is the Bruins like him too and probably will get creative to get him signed.
Radko Gudas (Florida Panthers)
When it comes to defense, Gudas, 32, is like an ogre guarding the castle. He is 208 pounds of misery for opposing forwards. He posted 308 hits this season. That’s 100 more than Moritz Seider had and we know Seider is a tough kid. Gudas could make Detroit’s blue line corps harder to play against. The Panthers would like to keep him, but their salary cap situation makes that dicey. He’s another player who will be popular in the marketplace.
Scott Mayfield (New York Islanders)
It’s hard to imagine that Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello won’t do everything in his power to persuade Mayfield to stay on the Island. He’s a dependable defender. Plus, he’s 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. Mayfield blocked 168 shots this season. Would fit well in Lalonde’s system.
Damon Severson (New Jersey Devils)
Severson, 30, is a nine-year veteran. He’s a quality offensive contributor, capable of putting up 30 to 40 points. The Devils played him three minutes less this season and he was +8.
Travis Hamonic (Ottawa Senators)
Feels like he’s been around forever, but he’s only 32. He played effectively for the Senators this season. Could help tighten up Detroit’s third pairing. But he’s not going to be a game-changer.
John Klingberg (Minnesota Wild)
Has offensive ability, but Lalonde wants more from his defenseman. Klingberg isn’t a physical player or a shot blocker. May not be good fit for Detroit.
Kevin Shattenkirk (Anaheim Ducks)
The plus for Shattenkirk is that he has 891 games of NHL experience. Wouldn’t think he would be Detroit’s first choice. He’s known more for offense than defense. He was -20 last season for a poor Ducks team. He will be 35 in January. The Red Wings want more push-back. That’s not not necessarily Shattenkirk’s game.