Detroit Red Wings hold last free agent prep session, assess Christian Ehrhoff

The Detroit Red Wings have gone through one last round of meetings to address how to upgrade their defense.

Their options opened over the weekend, but the priority when NHL free agency kicks off today remains Dan Boyle. General manager Ken Holland spoke to both Boyle’s camp and that of the premier defensemen who will be available, Matt Niskanen, during the weekend draft in Philadelphia, but the Wings aren’t likely to be bidders for Niskanen because of what he’ll command.

Boyle tops the list because he shoots right, but the Wings could double-dip in the market thanks to Buffalo’s decision to buy out Christian Ehrhoff, an offensive defenseman who turns 32 on Sunday.

The Wings will be offering Boyle, who turns 38 in July, a two-year contract in the $11 million range. That’s a lot to pay, but this is a weak market for UFA defensemen, and Detroit will be up against at least a handful of other bidders (Niskanen is going to be pursued by at least a dozen teams, and someone willl give him seven years and money into the mid-$40 million).

Ehrhoff is probably going to command $4.5-5.5 million, and term of 3-4 years, at least.

The Wings do have room to add both – they have just under $15 million in cap room, though roughly $6 million of that will go to re-signing restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan. However, if the Wings add both Boyle and Ehrhoff, they’ll move Jakub Kindl and his $2.4 million.

That’d leave a defense of Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Brendan Smith, DeKeyser, Boyle and Ehrhoff, with Brian Lashoff slotted in the seventh spot, which is where he belongs.

Ehrhoff was one of two defensemen bought out Sunday. The other was Ed Jovanovski of Windsor, a guy the Wings pursued when he was on the open market three years ago. Maybe he ends up being a reserve plan option, for no more than one year and $1 million at the most.

Holland gathered his pro scouts for one last prep session Monday, partly to address the Ehrhoff and Jovanoski market additions. Teams have been able to talk contract parameters with agents since last Wednesday, and offers can be fielded at noon today.


Posted by Tribune News Services