With the retirement of future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom and the free agency departure of Brad Stuart, the Detroit Red Wings defense will have a new look to it when play resumes after the lockout. While the team will use some of their young talent from Grand Rapids, including Brendan Smith and possibly Brian Lashoff and Adam Almquist, they also signed former St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo in the offseason. Colaiacovo was recently named to Team Canada’s roster for the Spengler Cup, the oldest hockey tournament in the world. The Canadian roster got stronger due to the lockout, numerous NHL stars and former Red Wing Jason Williams will wear the maple leaf at the tournament.
Signing Colaiacovo to a two-year, $5 million deal provides a great potential upside with little risk, and should be a step in the right direction to strengthening the blue line. Injuries have been a concern at points in Colaiacovo’s career, with concussion and knee injuries causing him to miss time. He has been healthy the past four seasons for the Blues and shown signs that he can contribute on both ends of the ice.
Taken 17th overall by the Leafs in the 2001 draft, he struggled to ever live up to the demand placed on a pick that high in a hockey crazed city like Toronto. The trade to St. Louis (Alex Steen was also sent to the Blues), which sent Lee Stempniak to the Maple Leafs, seemed to revitalize his career. A look through the Red Wings roster shows many players with a similar career path who have found their game once again in Detroit – Dan Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi and fellow defenseman Ian White are fine examples. Another offseason acquisition who will look to bounce back after a down year is winger Mikael Samuelsson, who returns to the Wings after stints with the Vancouver Canucks and the Florida Panthers.
At this point all Red Wings fans can do is wait until the lockout ends to find out if Wings management has once again landed a great free agent to help rebuild the team’s defense. Team Canada lost their first game, will play HC Davos today and then wait to see where they are seeded going forward.