The Defense of the Future!!!

I've been wanting to write this piece for a while, but I haven't thought it all out, until now with all the Dan DeKeyser talk.

The Red Wings currently have 9 defensemen signed through the end of the season. Five of them are signed past this season. Only 2, Lashoff and Kronwall, are signed past next season. At the end of this season the following will be free agents (type notated):

White - UFA

Huskins - UFA

Smith - RFA

Kindl - RFA

Smith is a virtual lock to be re-signed. Kindl is much more likely to be re-signed with his play as of late, or so we might think. White and Huskins are almost certainly gone. None of the prospects in GR will be ready next fall. This includes Nicastro, Almqvist, Billins (who doesn't have an NHL contract), Sproul, or Ouellet. While they all show promise, it is clear they're all still lacking necessary tools to make the leap.

So for the '13-'14, we have 6 defensemen locked. Kronwall, Ericsson, Colaiacovo, Lashoff, Quincey, and Smith. Which brings us to Kindl. He's proven that he can be an excellent offensive defensemen and he's finally starting to use his frame more. When he first came up, he was skinny, but he's put on some weight and muscle and isn't thrown around nearly as often by the power forwards in the league. He's keeping his head up and getting more shots on goal rather than high and wide like he used to. Is he going to be a Norris candidate in the future? Highly doubtful, regardless of their love for the offensive numbers. But he's showing that he could easily be a 3/4 pairing defenseman that gets 8-13 goals and 28-35 assists if he were to get 20+ ATOI. But that's in the future and only plausible, not certain.

But while Kindl is starting to prove his value, Dan Dekeyser now steps into the picture. At 23, Dekeyser is already more seasoned than Kindl was at 23. He doesn't project yet to have the offensive upside that Kindl has, but he's already more stout and ready to play with the Wings. He's not smooth yet and has to adjust to a new type and speed of game. But at 23, Kindl played 3 games (0 points) with the Wings. Dekeyser could very well play 10 or 15 if he signed today. Dekeyser could cost Kindl a spot with the Red Wings going forward. Let's take a look at it:


1 Kronwall - Ericsson

2 Smith - Quincey

3 Lashoff/Dekeyser/Kindl - Colaiacovo

S Lashoff/Dekeyser/Kindl

So if Dekeyser is signed, one of the 3 of Lashoff, Dekeyser, or Kindl sits in the Leino Lounge and one of Dekeyser or Lashoff goes to GR. Dekeyser is likely to sign where he's promised to play and it's not beneficial to Kindl to re-sign if he's going to sit. So that leaves Lashoff in GR (right after signing an extension) and Dekeyser on the bench. Two roles neither are going to be too happy about it. But there's hope.

First off, re-signing Kindl is important (regardless of what happens to Dekeyser_, maybe not for '13-'14 but definitely for '14-'15. So in '13-'14, having Lashoff annoyed by playing in GR is a calculated move. He's still young enough it won't kill him, plus he doesn't lose any money being there. Also, Colaiacovo will be on year 2 of a 2 year deal. His contract is movable and since he hasn't proven to be able to remain healthy, seeing him as a scratch consistently with Dekeyser shouldn't affect either of them too much. A low round (5-7) pick would be fine for him at the deadline.

But now on to '14-'15. After the '13-'14 season, Quincey, Ericsson, and Colaiacovo (if he lasts) will all be UFAs. In GR, Nicastro, Fournier, and Almqvist will be RFAs. It shouldn't be hard to keep all 3 of the Griffins; bringing us back to the long term depth at defense that the Red Wings have. The 2014 UFA defensemen list is loaded (just to name a few, not ranking specific value): Letang, Bouwmeester, Pitkanen, Komisarek, Hjalmarsson, Greene, and Niskanen. But I would say that Ericsson will be the top target for the Red Wings to re-sign him again. Here's how I see our '14-'15 blue line:

If Dekeyser is signed

1 Kronwall - Ericsson

2 Smith - Dekeyser

3 Kindl - Lashoff

S Sproul, Ouellet, or Nicastro

If Dekeyser is not signed

1 Kronwall - Ericsson

2 Smith - Lashoff

3 Kindl - Sproul/Ouellet/Nicastro

S Sproul, Ouellet, or Nicastro

To wrap this all up, I don't believe Dekeyser is a mandatory sign for talent reasons, but his signing would absolutely help depth next year. Our defensive depth starting in '14-'15 is huge. One or two of those boys is bound to be traded for a veteran forward next year or the year after. Either way, Kindl is also a necessary re-sign and I'm glad he's an RFA rather than a UFA. As for contract value or length, I think Kindl should get a 3yr/$3.5-$4M (total, not per year) deal. Ericsson should get 4 or 5 yrs for $4.5M or $5M per year (AAV). While Quincey is another who has proven his worth more and more this season, I think he'll be the odd man out. He has a good all around game but doesn't do anything great. I think he'll get pushed out by Smith's skill and Lashoff's price. His FA year comes in a year after a number of extensions and in a year when there's a more important re-sign (Ericsson). If he re-signed on the cheap or if Ericsson took a hometown discount, then we'll have a very big log jam at the blue line, especially if Dekeyser is signed.

This is a fanpost written by a WIIM community member. The views and opinions expressed here are that member's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the site itself.

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