The Detroit Red Wings are heading into the 2023 NHL Offseason with the expectation of improving their roster. They will be looking to break their seven-year playoff drought, but for that to occur, changes will need to be made.
One specific need they have is a top-four, right-shot defenseman. After trading Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks for an excellent return, their right side has gotten significantly weaker. Thankfully for general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman, there are a handful of pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) defensemen who could fill in this role for them. Let’s discuss them now.
Damon Severson is one of the top pending UFA defensemen who could hit the market this summer, and he would be a strong addition to the Red Wings. The 28-year-old has shown that he can handle top-four minutes very well, as he plays a solid all-around game from the point. He also put together another good season in 2022-23, as he had seven goals, 33 points, and a plus-9 rating in 81 games. With all of this, he is a player who should be on Yzerman’s radar.
If the Red Wings signed Severson, he would instantly improve their right side significantly. When looking at a specific placement for him in their lineup, he would fit nicely on their second pairing with either Olli Maatta or Ben Chiarot. With that, Severson’s passing ability would put him in the running for power-play time. Meanwhile, his reliable defensive play would surely lead to him being utilized on their penalty kill as well.
Severson is going to receive a lot of interest if the Devils let him walk, and the Red Wings need to be among the teams in the mix for the 28-year-old.
Matt Dumba is another right-shot defenseman who could be on Detroit’s radar. Due to the Minnesota Wild’s limited cap space, there is a very good chance that Dumba will be hitting the free-agent market this summer. The 28-year-old is coming off of a bit of a down year for his standards, as he had just 14 points in 79 games. Yet, when looking at his previous success, he is a clear bounce-back candidate heading into 2023-24. Thus, could the Red Wings take a chance on him? I think it’s possible.
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Like Severson, Dumba would be a strong addition to the Red Wings’ second pairing with one of Maatta or Chiarot. This is the role he has had throughout his 10-year career, and he has handled it well. Along with top-four minutes, Dumba’s puck-moving ability would be enough for him to receive time on Detroit’s power play if signed. He would also be a candidate to kill penalties.
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Although Dumba’s stats were down this year, he would still provide the Red Wings with a notable upgrade on their right side. Therefore, he should be among the defensemen who Yzerman considers this summer.
The Red Wings have missed Hronek’s offensive contributions since they traded him, so they could look to add a fellow right-shot offensive defenseman in John Klingberg. The 30-year-old put together another solid year, as he had 10 goals and 33 points in 67 regular-season games split between the Anaheim Ducks and Wild. He then followed that up with four points in four postseason games, so he ended the year on a strong note. With all of this, he is another defenseman who the Red Wings should be looking at.
Klingberg would be another option for the Red Wings’ second pairing, as this is the role that he has had throughout his impressive career. When thinking of a specific partner for Klingberg, it would have to be Maatta. Maatta’s extremely sound defensive game would allow Klingberg to take far more chances offensively, which could lead to better production. Klingberg’s offense-first style of play would also guarantee him power-play time, but he would not be an option for their penalty kill.
The Red Wings have some solid options in free agency to help strengthen the right side of their defensive group. Adding Severson, Dumba, or Klingberg would be very beneficial to their roster, but we will need to wait and see what Yzerman decides to do.