Like last summer, the Detroit Red Wings are a team that will be very active in free agency. They have a core in place and money to spend, making it an attractive destination for free agents. Their first order of business could be to poach a couple of free agents from their biggest rival.
The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a 3-1 series deficit against the Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals. It would appear that a couple of their players made quite the impression as Detroit is set to pursue a couple of their forwards once free agency opens up next month.
In a thin market, Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg are sure to be popular players. Both are guys capable of playing up in the top six, but have also proved that they can succeed in a checking line role as well. Bickell in particular has worked his way into being a hot commodity on the market.
Bickell has stepped up in big moments for the Hawks during these playoffs, leading the way offensively and coming up with timely goals throughout the postseason. He’s learned to use his size effectively and has very good hands for a big guy. He’d be a terrific fit with Detroit.
Stalberg hasn’t fared so well in these playoffs. He was benched early in the series against Detroit and now finds himself benched again in the Stanley Cup Finals. He also brings size to the equation, but also has unbelievable speed. He’s easily one of the five fastest guys in hockey. Perhaps even more than Bickell, Stalberg is a guy Detroit could use.
Price isn’t really the issue here for either of these guys. Bickell will command something significant, while Stalberg likely won’t cost too much to sign. Few teams have seen these guys more than Detroit, so the fact that there’s interest shouldn’t come as any surprise. It’ll be interesting to see how hard they pursue each when July 5th rolls around.