clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pro/No: Ruslan Salei

New, comments

Welcome back to our series where we allow you to vote on whether the Wings should offer a contract to their impending free agents. First, an apology. For those not aware, I am on an extended vacation visiting family in Canada. I spent this past weekend near Ottawa, but I was in an area that had to advertise that there was WiFi in certain spots of town. Needless to say, I was unable to do the research necessary to talk about today's subject.

However, to the chagrin of everyone, I'm back in the land of reliable internet, and we're going to continue our look at a player coming off his first and only season to date as a Red Wing. He wasn't signed to be a difference-maker, so I guess you could say that it was a good signing, because he didn't make the team that much better.

Follow the jump as we ponder Ruslan "Cirque du" Salei.

THE VITALS
Ruslan Salei, defenseman, #24
36 years old (November 2, 1974)
6'1", 212 lbs
14 NHL seasons (917 Games Played) - Anaheim, Florida, Colorado, Detroit
Born in Belarus

STATISTICS
Regular Season: 75 GP, 2 Goals, 8 Assists, 48 PIM
Playoffs: 11 GP, 0 Goals, 1 Assist, +6

CONTRACT SITUATION:
Ruslan Salei was drafted by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the first round (not a typo) of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, and first saw action as a rookie that year, playing in 30 games. After 9 seasons in Anaheim, he signed a contract with the Panthers prior to the 2006-07 season. He was traded to Colorado the following season, and after the 2009-10 season, became an UFA. He signed a 1-year, $750K contract that bumped up to a cap hit of $1.1M after he hit his bonuses. He is an unrestricted free agent.

DEPTH SITUATION:
Salei was signed by Mike Babcock to fill a mentor-like role on the third pairing with Jonathan Ericsson and/or Jakub Kindl. Never known as an offensive force, he was supposed to be a calming influence on the blueline while being a stay-at-home type of player. After a strong start, his play really tailed off towards the end of the season, and there was talk that he should have found a place on the bench. The retirement of Brian Rafalski opens up a spot on the Wings' blueline that may give the veteran a chance to be re-signed.

CASE FOR SALEI:
1. He's a veteran presence on a defense corps that is going to likely have a young player like Kindl playing a full season for the first time and possibly Brendan Smith earning a spot in the lineup.
2. He's a defensive defenseman who can give the team 10-15 minutes a night against the opposing team's third and fourth lines.
3. His play last season was not good enough to warrant a raise, and he could be had for cheap if the Wings are interested.

CASE AGAINST SALEI:
1. His play got worse as the season progressed, to the point that the team was looking for help in the local beer league as a substitute. Instead, Jonathan Ericsson got more ice time.
2. He's not going to challenge Mike Green for an defenseman-scoring titles any time soon. In 917 career NHL games, he's got 45 goals.
3. At 36, he's near the end of his career, and for a team that may look to get a little younger while continuing to contend, Salei may decide to hang up the skates and spend time with his family in California.

WHAT HE'S SAYING:
Salei hasn't said a lot about his future, but he recently told Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News that he's got family concerns, and missed his family this past season. He noted that if he were to sign in Detroit, he'd look to move his wife and children to Detroit. To me, that doesn't sound like a guy that is gung-ho about coming back.

SALARY RANGE:
Should the Wings decide to offer Salei a contract, I'd expect it to be around the $750K he made last year. I would also expect it to be another 1-year deal. He's a depth defenseman who can't score and is not as physical or defensively responsible as he once was.

POTENTIAL REPLACEMENTS:
Internal:
Jakub Kindl is going to see a lot of ice time next season, and there's talk that Brendan Smith could challenge for a full-time spot with the team. If Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson both re-sign with the Wings, that would likely leave Salei out in the cold.
External: Defenseman who made around what Salei did last year (in terms of cap hit) and are FA after this season include Steve Eminger, Andrew Alberts, Randy Jones, and Andreas Lilja. The Wings could spend a little more money ($1.5M-$2M) to upgrade at the position.

WHAT DO YOU THINK
Please use the form below to give us your take on whether the Wings should try to get Ruslan Salei back at a reasonable rate.  Then, sound off in the comments with your thoughts.  Does Salei have anything left in the tank? Voting will stay open for 48 hours.  Thanks!

 VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED. THANKS FOR YOUR VOTES AND WE'LL LET YOU KNOW WHAT THE RESULTS WERE AT A LATER DATE.