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.
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In this latest edition of the series, we will be focusing on the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have several pending free agents and limited cap space, so they are expected to lose multiple players. As a result, let’s take a look at three specific Bruins who Detroit should target in free agency if they hit the market.
The Red Wings have a handful of forwards who they could lose this summer to free agency in Pius Suter, Alex Chiasson, and Adam Erne. Due to this, they should be in the market for at least one bottom-six forward in free agency. When looking at Boston’s pending unrestricted free agents (UFA), Garnet Hathaway could be a player they look to bring in. The 31-year-old is coming off of a solid season, as he had 13 goals, 22 points, and 268 hits in 84 games split between the Washington Capitals and Bruins. Adding that kind of secondary scoring and grit to Detroit’s bottom six would be quite beneficial.
When looking for a spot in the lineup for Hathaway, he would be a nice addition to their fourth line. Yet, when noting that he can contribute fairly well offensively, he also would be an option for third-line minutes. Furthermore, he is known for his aggressiveness and strong defensive play, so he would be guaranteed penalty-kill time if signed. Overall, the Red Wings could use a winger like Hathaway in their bottom six as they aim to become a playoff team again.
The Red Wings need to add a top-four defenseman to their roster this offseason. After trading Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks for a nice return at the deadline, their defensive group has been far weaker. As a result, one Bruins free agent who could make sense for them is Dmitry Orlov. The 31-year-old just put together a strong season split between the Capitals and Bruins, as he had seven goals, 36 points, and a plus-12 rating in 66 games. Orlov offers a beautiful mixture of steady defensive play, strong offensive production, and immense physicality from the point, so he would be a major addition to the Red Wings if signed.
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Although Orlov is a left-shot defenseman, he has proven that he can thrive playing on the right side. As a result, he would be a prime candidate to take over Hronek’s old role on the club’s second pairing. However, he also would be a good option to play on the top pairing with Moritz Seider. In either scenario, Detroit’s top four would be greatly improved with an Orlov addition. With that, Orlov would of course receive time on both their power play and penalty kill because of his strong all-around game.
Before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline passed, the Red Wings traded Tyler Bertuzzi to the Bruins. It was an understandable move, as Detroit could not come to terms on an extension with the gritty winger and he was in the final year of his contract. However, it was a move that also made captain Dylan Larkin visibly upset, as the two became best friends over the years. When noting this and that Bertuzzi heated back up again following his move to Boston (26 points in 28 total games), could a reunion be in the cards? It is worth some consideration.
There is no question that the Red Wings could use Bertuzzi back in their lineup. He had excellent chemistry with Larkin and they would form a strong first line with Lucas Raymond. With that, Bertuzzi would also give the Red Wings another valuable offensive weapon for their power play because of his effective net-front presence ability.
Related: Red Wings’ 2023 Free-Agent Targets: Toronto Maple Leafs
Although the two sides failed to get an extension done before the deadline passed, it would not hurt to try to bring Bertuzzi back one last time in free agency. He would be a major addition to their group as they aim to catch up to their Atlantic Division rivals.
The Red Wings have some excellent options from the Bruins to target in free agency. Adding either Orlov or Bertuzzi would be spectacular, but bringing in a tough winger like Hathaway would also have its benefits. We will need to wait and see if any of these three join the Red Wings this summer.