I was only able to watch the first period last night, so I did not see the collapse that resulted in an embarrassing loss to the League’s last place team. However, you can read all about it over at Gorilla Crouch, where Dave suggests the game was further evidence that the team needs to acquire a top four defenseman at the deadline.
I have to disagree. The Wings are set as far as the top four is concerned. Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, and Andreas Lilja rank among the better top fours in the League. The temporary second paring of Lilja and Brett Lebda is just that, temporary, and will be broken up when Kronwall returns toward the end of the month. They don’t need a top four guy.
Say they do go after a top four guy. What would the defense look like with a new guy of that caliber?
Tell me that third pairing isn’t a little scary. Both players are strong defensive defensemen, but they are two of the slowest Red Wings. What about this?
So, the team’s best young and third-highest paid defenseman would be relegated to third pairing minutes.Â Great. How about this?
What’s the point of acquiring a top four guy if he’s playing on the third pairing?
None of the above scenarios do much for me.
You’ll notice the absence ofÂ Brett Lebda in those mock-ups. That’s because a call for a top four defenseman is an attack on #22. I think Brett’s been something of a disappointment this season because he’s not producing offensively. However, he is a great asset to the team and the argument can be made that he has been underutilized. The last thing the Wings need going into the postseason, where team speed is essential, is to push one of their best skaters out of the lineup.
You might say they’d take Lilja out instead. But if the goal of getting a top four guy is to get larger and more physical, dropping Lilja would make little sense.
This lineup argument is one thing. But the key is the fact that acquiring a top four guy like Rob Blake (who is likely headed to Anaheim) or Brad Stuart would cost far too much. They don’t need a top four guy and they can’t really afford one anyway.
A depth (i.e. a 7th or 8th man) defenseman may be affordable, however, and is something Ken Holland should consider, given Derek Meech’s inexperience.
For the most part I’m actually comfortable with the idea of Meech as injury insurance, especially since he’d play with Chris Chelios, but I’d be more comfortable if the team at least had the option of putting in a veteran. Meech is a strong young defenseman, but his lack of playing time at the NHL level is a concern. If he sees the ice more often down the stretch, that concern would be addressed somewhat, but a veteran still may not be a bad idea.