Welcome to The Hockey Writers’ 2023 Free-Agent Targets series for the Detroit Red Wings. During it, we will be looking at a handful of free agents from each NHL team who the Red Wings should consider pursuing this summer.
In this latest edition of the series, we will be focusing on the Calgary Flames. The Flames have a few pending free agents who could help strengthen the Red Wings’ depth if signed. Let’s discuss them now.
One area that the Red Wings will need to improve this summer is the right side of their defense. Their right side took a notable hit after the Filip Hronek trade, and it may get even worse with rumblings that Gustav Lindstrom could be heading overseas. As a result, the Red Wings could look at bringing in veteran defenseman Michael Stone on a cheap, one-year deal. The 32-year-old had a decent 2022-23 season, scoring six goals and recording 11 points in 48 games played.
If the Red Wings signed Stone, he would be in the running to play bottom-pairing minutes when looking at their current group. With that, his steady defensive play would also open the door to him being utilized on their penalty kill. However, at a minimum, the 12-year veteran would simply provide the Red Wings’ right side with some much-needed depth. Therefore, this is an avenue that general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman should consider.
The Red Wings are entering the offseason with a handful of pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) forwards in Pius Suter, Adam Erne, and Alex Chiasson. With this, they should be in the market for at least one winger this summer. One Flames free agent who would make sense for them is Nick Ritchie. The 6-foot-3 winger had a decent year, as he had 13 goals, 26 points, and 218 hits in 74 games split between the Arizona Coyotes and Flames. Adding that kind of physicality and secondary scoring to the bottom six could be worthwhile for Detroit.
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If the Red Wings signed Ritchie, he would be a clear candidate to play on their third line. However, he would also be an effective fourth-liner for Detroit because of his gritty style of play. Furthermore, his effective net-front presence ability would ensure him time on one of their power-play units. Overall, Ritchie is an affordable bottom-six forward who would help improve the Red Wings’ depth if signed.
If the Red Wings want to add an experienced bottom-six forward, Milan Lucic would be a worthy candidate. Although the 34-year-old is no longer the top-six power forward he was during his prime years, he can still be effective in limited minutes due to his immense physicality and overall toughness. With that, he would provide the Red Wings with another leader, as he is a 16-year veteran with a Stanley Cup on his resume.
If the Red Wings signed Lucic, he would work best on their fourth line. However, like Ritchie, he also could be an option for their power play because he works quite well because of his net-front presence ability. Overall, the 2006 second-round pick would not only give Detroit more depth but also significantly more toughness. With the Red Wings looking to get back into the postseason, bringing in an experienced player like Lucic could be beneficial.
Related: Red Wings’ 2023 Free-Agent Targets: Boston Bruins
The Red Wings have some solid free-agent options from the Flames to choose from. Although no player from this trio is a star, they would help improve the bottom portion of the Red Wings’ lineup if signed. Lucic would of course be the most notable name added, but Ritchie and Stone also have the potential to be decent pickups. It will be intriguing to see if Detroit ends up bringing in one of these players this summer.