Red Wings upgrade defense, add depth in NHL free agency

Trevor Daley of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Nashville Predators in Game Three of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings made a move to upgrade their defense and add some more depth to the organization. 

There is nothing flashy about what the budget-challenged Red Wings did on Saturday, but team needs were addressed. 

Trevor Daley upgrades defense right away

The Red Wings defense right away gets better with the addition of 33-year-old Trevor Daley. He signed a three-year deal reportedly worth more than $9 million. 

Detroit is trying to build a defensive corps with players such as Danny DeKeyser, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, Nick Jensen and a few other prospects, but it seems general manager Ken Holland is not ready for a full-on youth movement. 

Instead, Daley will bring 14 seasons of experience and two Stanley Cup rings to Detroit.

Trevor Daley of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates after defeating the Nashville Predators 2-0 in Game Six of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 11, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Luke Witkowski of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New York Islanders in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Luke Witkowski adds depth

Meanwhile, Detroit signed Michigan native Luke Witkowski to a two-year contract. The defenseman, who also has played wing, is a 27-year-old former Western Michigan Bronco who will bring size and grit to the lineup. He used to play with Danny DeKeyser under coach Jeff Blashill at Western Michigan.

It's unclear what kind of spot he'll settle into with the Red Wings or Grand Rapids Griffins, but he adds depth regardless. 

Red Wings have long list of defensemen

With the additions of Daley and Witkowski, the Red Wings defense heading into this 2017-18 season is starting to take shape, but it's still unclear how they will pair up:

  • Danny DeKeyser
  • Niklas Kronwall
  • Jonathan Ericsson 
  • Mike Green
  • Nick Jensen
  • Xavier Ouellet -- signed a two-year contract on July 3
  • Ryan Sproul
  • Trevor Daley
  • Luke Witkowski

That's nine defensemen, but the Red Wings likely won't carry more than seven once the season gets underway, as they did this past season. Keep in mind there are other young prospects, such as Robbie Russo, 24, and Daniel Renouf, 23, who are trying to earn a spot on the team, too. Russo appeared in 19 games with the Red Wings this past season. 

And remember: Brendan Smith was traded to the New York Rangers before the 2017 trade deadline. Smith then signed a four-year contract with the Rangers this offseason. Daley's addition to the Red Wings essentially replaces the spot left by Smith, and the Red Wings again are left with a list of defensemen -- both young and older -- vying for ice time. 

Goalie Tom McCollum is back

Bringing back goalie Tom McCollum for nearly nothing -- a conditional 7th-round pick -- could be called an interesting move by Detroit. McCollum, 27, originally was drafted by the Red Wings 30th overall in 2008. From 2009 to 2016, he appeared in just three NHL games. He was part of some very successful Grand Rapids Griffins teams during that span.

Now McCollum's back with the Red Wings, who seem to have some question marks about which goalie is filling which role. But at least they have someone like McCollum available to fill in as an experienced AHL starting goalie. 

MORE: Red Wings have several UFAs, RFAs to deal with

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