DETROIT >> When July 1 rolled around last year, the Detroit Red Wings were in the market for a right-hand shooting defenseman that could slot into one of their top two pairings.
They weren’t able to land one.
With that still needing to be filled, it’ll be a bit more difficult to do so since this year’s blue line unrestricted free agents that fit what they’re looking for are slim.
The top three right-handed shots on the market are Mike Green, Zbynek Michalek and Cody Franson.
Green had a cap hit of just under $6.1 million last season with Washington and Michalek, who was dealt to St. Louis from Arizona prior to the trade deadline last season, had a cap hit of $4 million. Franson, who was traded from Toronto to Nashville last year, made $3.3 million.
“A year ago on July 1 we were looking for a right-shot defenseman we thought could get points,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “There were two or three on the market. When we didn’t get them we just stopped. We felt that the young players we had in our organization were the answer.
“I’d like to think by getting 100 points and making the playoffs, to a degree, validated the decisions we made,” Holland continued. “Certainly we’re disappointed we weren’t able to finish off, being up 3-2 on Tampa Bay. We’ve got to get better. Part of that improvement is going to be the experience that (Tomas) Tatar, (Gustav) Nyquist, (Danny) DeKeyser, (Luke) Glendening, (Petr) Mrazek, (Tomas) Jurco and (Riley) Sheahan have had in the Boston series and in the Tampa Bay series.”
Detroit could also make a one-year pitch for Marek Zidlicky, who came to the Wings after the trade deadline from New Jersey.
The Wings are also in a better position, due to the depth they’ve got within the organization, to possibly make a trade to acquire what they need.
“I don’t want anyone to think ‘they’re making trades’ because the trades have got to make sense,” Holland said. “The other thing that factors into any decisions we make, if you forward to this summer and the summer of ’16, we’ve got to re-sign Nyquist, we’ve got to re-sign (Justin) Abdelkader, DeKeyser, (Darren) Helm, Sheahan, Mrazek, Jurco. We’ve got lots of people between the summer of ‘15 and summer of ‘16, when they get re-signed they go up in salary. They’re going to eat more cap space.
“Part of getting better is drafting, developing, staying patient, staying the course, try to tweak,” Holland continued. “We tried some things on the free agent market the last 2-3 years, it hasn’t worked out, hasn’t had the impact we wanted. Consider the free agent market again, what it probably did for me was reinforce the kids we got are pretty good. They can play in the league, but obviously our goal is to win a Stanley Cup, like 29 other teams. Sometimes it’s a process.”