With the Detroit Red Wings officially now in the offseason, fans will be pining to see what moves GM Steve Yzerman will be making as he continues the rebuilding process of the team that he’s been at the helm for since 2019.
Of course, his biggest move as GM so far took place over the weekend when it was announced that head coach Jeff Blashill wouldn’t be brought back for an 8th season behind the bench.
During yesterday’s presser explaining his decision, Yzerman stated that his hand was forced by Detroit’s woeful defensive play, especially over the last three months of the recently completed 2021-22 season that saw the Red Wings surrendering goals to the opposition at a ghastly rate. They finished with the highest goals-against-average of any NHL team thanks to multiple performances that saw them routinely give up 5+ goals a night.
The Danny DeKeyser era in Detroit is most likely over, meaning there will be a spot open in the lineup next season for 2021 1st-round pick Simon Edvinsson.
With that being said, let’s look at some potential free agent defensemen that Yzerman could be considering.
The slick-skating, puck-moving defenseman is set to complete the two-year deal that he inked with the Washington Capitals. A two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he’s appeared in 602 career regular-season games, recording 264 points. Right now, his cap hit with the Capitals is a reasonable $4 million.
Currently suiting up with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Ann Arbor native is a veteran of 670 career regular-season games, and like Schultz, was a member of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning teams. His current cap hit with Carolina stands at $2.9 million.
The intimidating 6’3 blueliner is coming off a four-year, $16.4 million deal he inked with the Anaheim Ducks before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche earlier this season. Not only is he known for his puck-moving abilities, but also for his willingness to dish out big hits.
The 29-year-old Swedish defenseman is known for his skating, and reportedly experienced a rift with the Dallas Stars earlier this season; many thought a trade was on the horizon. For now, he remains with the Stars and could be a coveted piece over the summer. He’s racked up 374 career points in 552 games, all with the Stars.
A veteran of 238 career NHL games, Rutta was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2018-19 season when Yzerman was still under contract with the team. At 6’2 and 211 lbs along with featuring a right-handed shot, Rutta could be on Yzerman’s radar.