More speculation on what the Red Wings might do to replace the retired Brian Rafalski.
DETROIT NEWS/DETROIT FREE PRESS/MLIVE.COM: reported on the Red Wings need to replace the retired Brian Rafalski, but noted there aren’t many viable options available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. The best of this year’s bunch includes “Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff and Sami Salo of Vancouver; James Wisniewski, Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik of Montreal; Ian White and Niclas Wallin of San Jose; Eric Brewer of Tampa Bay; Joni Pitkanen of Carolina; Tomas Kaberle of Boston; Ed Jovanovski of Phoenix; Scott Hannan of Washington and Bryan McCabe of the New York Rangers.” It’s possible GM Ken Holland could wait until August to sign a low-tier free agent, and he said he’s not about to just throw money at people on July 1st. Holland also suggested some of those potential UFAs might not be available by July 1st. The Wings however did get some potentially good news, as team captain Nicklas Lidstrom was recently spotted engaged in a serious workout, suggesting he may be preparing to return for another season.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Holland expressed his reluctance to pursue restricted free agents via offer sheets, something he’s never done before, which rules out the possibility of his pursuing Nashville’s Shea Weber, LA’s Drew Doughty, Phoenix’s Keith Yandle and Atlanta’s Zach Bogosian, though of the three the latter could be available via trade.
SPORTING NEWS: Craig Custance reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile said he’ll match an offer for Weber, effectively ruling out the possibility of the blueliner being pried away from the Predators via offer sheet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve previously dismissed the possibility of Holland chasing other club’s restricted free agent blueliners so I’m not surprised that he’s casting doubt on employing that tactic. Also not surprised to hear the Preds would match any offer for Weber. The Wings have to find a suitable replacement for Rafalski and I believe Holland will consider his options carefully come July 1st. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a trade, though I doubt Jiri Hudler and/or Valtteri Filppula would land a quality blueliner. If Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, or Andrei Markov are available by July 1st, I think Holland will vigorously pursue them.