This afternoon it was reported that the Detroit Red Wings signed veteran defenseman Ruslan Salei. Ken Holland has been saying he'd look at a veteran for the third defensive pairing, and opted for Salei. Essentially, Salei is a very similar player to Andreas Lilja. He provides little offense - though certainly a bit more than Lilja would - and is a steady player in his own end who isn't afraid of blocking shots. He's old at 35, and a bit injury prone. However the Wings like their depth at D and will likely be comfortable calling up someone to fill in for him in case it gets injured.
I expect the reason the Wings opted for Salei was because he came cheaper than the other options out there. It's been reported that Andreas Lilja is looking for $1.5 million, and Willie Mitchell (the player that most Wings fans and writers wanted) is likely looking for at least $2 million and looking to be a top 4 defender on a team whereas he could have only been a third pairing on Detroit with Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, and Stuart. So far though, I haven't heard the actual contract for Salei.
The next move the Wings will make will be signing Justin Abdelkader. I'd expect his cap hit to be around $800k. With these two moves this is what the 2010/2011 roster for the Detroit Red Wings will look like:
Franzen - Datsyuk - Holmstrom
Filppula - Zetterberg - Bertuzzi
Hudler - Modano - Cleary
Abdelkader - Helm - Eaves
Draper - Miller/Ritola
Lidstrom - Rafalski
Kronwall - Stuart
Salei - Ericsson
Howard - Osgood
As you can see, the Wings will be two players over their 23 man roster limit. As a result, I would expect to see Ritola and Meech either traded or waived. Some have suggested that Drew Miller will instead be traded away, however after watching Ritola for years he is far from a high end prospect. In essence, he could be a Patrick Eaves/Drew Miller type of player, but he may not even be able to be a regular NHL player which is why I think he's likely to go. Meanwhile, the Red Wings seem to have tired of Derek Meech as they have never given him a legitimate opportunity to succeed, and he's likely to go instead of promising prospect Jakub Kindl. I still wonder why Detroit elected to waive Kyle Quincey a few years ago instead of Derek Meech, but that's besides the point now.
As for the roster, I really think it's one of the deepest in the league for the upcoming season, particularly if Howard can continue his play from the previous season. And given that it's a contract year for Howard, I see no reason why he shouldn't continue his strong play.
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