Wings lose out on Boyle; out on Niskanen; trade could be next option, but prices are steep

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings had high hopes of landing at least one and quite possibly two premier right-handed defensemen on the first day of free agency.

They wound up with neither.

First, Detroit lost out on Dan Boyle, who signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers for $9 million.

The Wings’ shopping list began with Boyle, who’ll turn 38 next month, and was offering him a two-deal at around $5.5 million a season.

Matt Niskanen was next, but he informed the Wings that they were not on the list of teams he was considering to go to.

The 27-year old defenseman was looking for a lengthy deal at the maximum seven years and possibly in the upwards of $6 million a season to sign.

The Wings were fine with the length of a deal and seemed willing to meet his salary demands.

Originally they didn’t seem willing to pay him much more annually than what Niklas Kronwall ($4.75 million) is making.

Niskanen had a career high in goals (10), assists (36) and plus-minus (plus-33) last season with the Penguins.

While their two main right-handed targets on the blue line decided to go elsewhere, the second tier also got deals done with other teams.

Tom Gilbert was first, inking a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens at $5.6 million.

Stephane Robidas fell off the board next, getting three years with the Toronto Maple Leafs at $3 million a season.

Finally, Anton Stralman was given a five-year deal worth $22.5 million by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Wings could now turn to possibly trading for a right-handed defensemen – Buffalo’s Tyler Myers or Arizona’s Keith Yandle – but the asking price is quite steep – Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco.

Christian Ehrhoff didn’t take long to sign a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the final seven years of a 10-year deal with Buffalo, had the offensive abilities they were looking for. He’s a premier skater who logs a ton of minutes who can move the puck and likes to join the rush. He can also quarterback the power play.

Detroit thought Ehrhoff was asking for a five-year deal and the Wings are only willing to give him three years at roughly $5 million a season.

Detroit had interest in Ehrhoff in 2011 when Brian Rafalski retired, but didn’t want to overpay him. There was also talk between the teams a couple of times about possibly trading Ehrhoff to the Wings, but Buffalo decided to hang onto him.

Lefty Michael Del Zotto is also out there after being bought out by Nashville.

Detroit did sign two of its own … Riley Sheahan and Petr Mrazek.

Sheahan, who was a restricted free agent, inked a two-year deal at an average salary cap hit of $950,000.

Mrazek got a one-year extension, taking his deal through the 2015-16 season, at a cap hit of $737,500.

The Wings had enough money to sign two high-end blue liners.

Detroit has just over $55 million tied up in 19 players for next season and still need to sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar.

With the salary cap at $69 million for next season that leaves the Wings close to $10 million to spend on other free agents.

Defenseman Kyle Quincey hit the open market.

Daniel Cleary, who was promised a possible extension after signing a one-year deal on the first day of training camp, could also be back.


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