Thursday, June 14, 2012

How to Solve the Lidstrom Problem?

If I had an actual answer to that headline, I wouldn't be sitting here right now writing this article; I'd be stalking down Ken Holland and telling him how to relieve all of our worries.

The fact that the Red Wings have lost two of their top defensemen already this off-season is weighing heavily on the minds of fans. We are all relying on the fact that for the first time in three off-seasons, this team has more money to play around with than ever.

But there are some shoes to fill.

Holland has to work his magic. There's the insane possibility that someone he'll be able to snag both Suter and Weber, but it's not very plausible. This team needs at least one of those two defensemen, and I do not believe Weber is going anywhere. When push comes to shove with that team, they would probably rather keep their captain over Suter.

And Red Wings fans haven't forgotten what Weber pulled in Game One.

A backup solution is needed for the worst-case scenario of getting neither Suter nor Weber.

My insane fear is that the backup idea is Mike Green, a player whom I am not very fond of. Yes, he actually played solid defense these playoffs, but he's more of a forward than a defenseman, and the Red Wings need a defensive-minded person on the blue line. Green is a RFA anyway, although I could see the prospect we received from San Jose for Brad Stuart being some kind of leverage if/when it comes down to it.

If that is the case, why not push for John Carlson? While he's like Green in the fact that he's a little more offensive than the average defenseman, he has been the Capitals' shut-down man this past season. And he's young. Best case scenario for the Red Wings is finding an up-and-coming young player who has already proved himself and wants to stick around for a good amount of time. There are our own prospects, yes, but until they are completely ready for NHL-level games, the Red Wings need someone else.

The Capitals also have Dennis Wideman. He's a UFA, 29 years old, and his cap hit is just under $4 million. This past season, Wideman had 46 points in 82 games. He's not as young as Carlson, but he doesn't come at as much of a risk as the RFA. Plus, Carlson has proved with his output and play that he can demand a higher salary than the $850,000 or so he has made the past few seasons.

My backup solutions really only seem to be coming from the Washington Capitals.

Regardless, this is going to be a rather expensive off-season, especially with the limited market. Of course, unless Holland works his "Take a discount to come be on a Cup-contending team" magic. But will that still work with no Lidstrom (and even no Stuart) on the roster list? Even with our big guns like Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and defensemen like White and Kronwall, does our team still look the same in opponents' eyes?

The wait for July 1 is always a tough one. And with so many question marks on Red Wings fans' minds, seventeen days seems like an eternity.