With additions of Green and Richards, Blashill now has limitless options

DETROIT >> If Jeff Blashill wanted options heading into training camp, he’s got them now.

With the addition of free agent defenseman Mike Green and veteran forward Brad Richards on the first day of free agency Wednesday, the options are endless.

“You’d rather have more options than not enough,” Blashill said Thursday at Joe Louis Arena prior to departing for development camp in Traverse City. “Obviously by adding those two guys that gives us more options, more abilities to do different things.

“It puts a premium on guys playing great in order to earn their different spots in the lineup and I think that’s a positive thing,” Blashill continued. “We were happy with the outcome, but we also understand it’s one day. We were able to acquire a couple guys that can really help us, but we have lots of work ahead of us.”

Early on it appears that Green, who’s a right-handed shot that the Wings have coveted since last offseason, will be paired with Danny DeKeyser.

Green, who signed a three-year deal worth $6 million a season, can run a power play and will rack up the points.

He’s not air-tight defensively, but it doesn’t concern Blashill because of how the Wings’ system is set up.

“I think their skill sets matchup,” Blashill said. “I think both guys can help each other and that’s a positive. I think the other thing is the best D-zone coverage is breaking the puck out of your own end and both guys skate really well and can break the puck out so that could be a good combo.

“I thought with Mike, he’s got a unique skill set,” Blashill added. “He’s different than a lot of defensemen on our team. We have some great, great quality D, but he brings an offensive ability beyond probably most of the guys.”
Mike Knuble, who was an assistant coach last season in Grand Rapids under Blashill, knows Green, 29, well from his time in Washington with him.

“He had a lot of great things to say about him as a person and as a teammate so I think that’s a really good fit,” Blashill said.

Green is a two-time Norris Trophy finalist, awarded annually to the league’s top defenseman.

Richards, who signed a one-year deal worth $3 million and could earn an extra $1 million if he meets playoff bonuses, is a number two center ice man, but could slot up to number one if Pavel Datsyuk isn’t ready to being the season after ankle surgery.

“Throughout his career he’s proven to be a top couple line center,” Blashill said. “That’s something I thought going into free agency if we can add somebody that could give us that potential that would be a positive thing. He can do that.

“He’s been a great power play guy his whole career,” Blashill continued. “He’s run it from up top. He also has the ability to play off the half wall. It gives you opportunities to have what Detroit had last year, two real good units and if you have two real good units I think you can really be successful instead of relying on one and kind of having a half unit. That’s our goal going in is to have two real strong power play units and he’ll be a big part of that and then five-on-five I think he can really help us.”

Richards, 35, won a Stanley Cup with Chicago this season and also won one with Tampa Bay in 2004, when he also was named the playoff MVP. He won the Lady Byng for sportsmanship that same season.

Richards scored 12 goals and had 25 assists in 76 games with Chicago. He turned it up in the playoffs with three goals and 11 assists in 23 games.

“I just went back and looked at his scoring over the last number of years and in my opinion I don’t think he’s slowing down,” Blashill said. “I think he’s still got a lot of great hockey in him. He’s been a great playoff guy. This organization has a lot of Cup experience, but within our locker room that not only just won a Cup, but has won two Cups.

“This gives you flexibility with a Riley Sheahan,” Blashill continued. “Riley can play the wing, he can play center. It gives you more flexibility with a lot of those guys. It allows us an opportunity to have a couple more good players than we did before the beginning of (Wednesday).”

The Wings now have 20 players signed, 11 of which are forwards, for nearly $65 million. That leaves them just under $7 million under the $71.4 million cap.

The Wings still have restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro to sign this year, while factoring in the cost of re-signing Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, DeKeyser, Sheahan and Petr Mrazek in 2016.

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