Thought we forgot about the last segment of Summer Free Agents, didn’t you? Well…we did.
The recent signing of Tomas Holmstrom has sparked our memories, and SFA Part 3 is upon us. The Red Wings have already taken care of their two biggest off season concerns (Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom), and will now focus on filling out the roster. The obvious priorities are Todd Bertuzzi and the young guns, however, the Red Wings also have a couple defenseman floating around waiting for a phone call from Ken Holland
The defensemen: Andreas Lilja and Derek Meech
Years in Detroit: 4
2010 Salary: $1.2 million
Lilja has had an up and down career in Detroit, sitting out a full calendar year up until he was cleared to play this past January. Lilja is a stay-at-home defenseman who is excellent at killing penalties and blocking shots. Lilja displayed all of these abilities upon his return, and he also was able to mentor struggling rookie Jonathan Ericsson on the third defensive pairing.
The Red Wings would like Lilja back, but the problem is not their desire. It’s money. Lilja’s hefty $1.2 million price tag makes him a bit expensive for Detroit’s cap tastes. If he wants back with the Red Wings bad enough, he’ll have to take a pay cut to do it.
Prediction: Realizing there’s not a big Andreas Lilja demand on the market, Lilja slices his pay by $250-300K to stay with Detroit.
Years in Detroit: 6 (AHL and NHL)
2010 Salary: $500K
I know you’re all wondering what’s going on in the Derek Meech free agency frenzy. Don’t lose any sleep over it: Derek Meech won’t be a Red Wing next year.
Though there’s been no official word on his future in Motown, I can almost guarantee Meech is going to have to find another team. Sure he’s young and versatile (he can play both forward and defense), but he just hasn’t shown enough in his time here to warrant a contract. Most of his career has been spent in AHL Grand Rapids or the Joe Louis Arena press box. There’s no way the Wings spend $500K on a minor leaguer.
Prediction: He’s gone. Put your Meech jerseys on eBay while they’re hot!
You may have noticed that we haven’t covered all the Wings’ free agents during these segments, namely Brett Lebda, Jason Williams and Brad May. That’s because, frankly, none of those players have any shot at the team next season. Williams’ salary and lack of production make him expendable, Lebda is just a speedy overpriced version of Meech, and May is, well, Brad May.