Could the Wings be looking at Lukas Krajicek for defensive help?

lukaskrajicek.jpgWhile the buzz around signing Mike Modano in Detroit has appropriately died down, attention now turns to other needs in the Motor City. While they’re still working on a contract for restricted free agent Justin Abdelkader, the Wings are in the market for another experienced defenseman to play on the third pairing with Jonathan Ericsson. While Willie Mitchell has been rumored as a potential candidate for the job, Mlive.com’s Ansar Khan throws another name out there for consideration while taking Willie Mitchell’s case for a job in Detroit down a peg.

Among free-agent defensemen the Detroit Red Wings have inquired about, Lukas Krajicek seems like a more realistic possibility than Willie Mitchell for that sixth spot.

Krajicek is not nearly as good as a healthy Mitchell, but Krajicek is more affordable and more apt to accept a third-pair role than Mitchell.

How much can Mitchell command? That’s tricky, since he was shelved for the season with a concussion in mid-January. He earned $3.5 million last season in Vancouver and probably is seeking more than the Red Wings can afford under the salary cap, even if it’s $2 million a season.

And consider this, too: In Detroit, Mitchell would have no chance of cracking the top four (Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart, Niklas Kronwall) this season, barring an injury. Would he want to go somewhere knowing he’s cemented as the No. 5 or No. 6 defenseman and won’t get as much playing time? It’s doubtful.

Krajicek isn’t exactly an exciting name and while he was able to get some ice time for the Flyers during the Stanley Cup finals thanks to Ryan Parent’s inconsistent play, he wasn’t the Flyers top option to use on the blueline initially. Beggars can’t be choosers and when you’re hemmed in by the limits of the salary cap, sometimes decisions get made for you by how the market turns out.

Of course, Khan’s opinion is just that and The Chief at Abel To Yzerman disagrees just a little bit with Khan’s potential dose of salary reality/takedown of Mitchell. Slightly rough language straight ahead.

Well, here’s a frigging storyline for you Ansar…if Willie Mitchell comes to Hockeytown it’s not because he wants to “crack the top 4”.  It’s because he wants a Cup.  And if he’s playing for a contract, if he signs here for cheap, for one year, he’ll get that deal here or elsewhere if he contributes to the mission.  Get it?

Brett Lebda sucks [synonym for posterior], but he’s gonna get nearly 1.5. Yeah, he’s gonna make it in Toronto…where the Leafs aren’t exactly known for redolent decision making, but he’s getting it.  Why Ansar?  Not because of his startling abilities to rove the blue line or move the puck.  He’s getting that money because of his pedigree, because of his association with the Wings.  Toronto’s not paying for the baby Jesus-given talents of Brett Lebda. They’re paying for what he’s learned in our organ-I-zation and the Quincey-like possibility that those lessons translate into success.

The Chief’s take is an interesting one and one that’s got a track record. Marian Hossa used his year in Detroit to get a boost and a long-term deal with the Blackhawks, Kyle Quincey was lost via waivers to the Los Angeles Kings and then ended up in Colorado where he now makes over $3 million a season. Brett Lebda, as he mentions, got a sweet deal from the Maple Leafs based on years of success in Detroit. Is Mitchell looking to get a boost to a bigger contract or does he want to go somewhere that he can just win? His rumored options for where he’s wanted are all intriguing as they’re all very good teams in San Jose, Detroit, Vancouver and Washington. Washington could use a defenseman of his ilk, San Jose is in need of a replacement for Rob Blake, Detroit could use the snarl on their blue line and Vancouver is a situation he’s already familiar with.

While Detroit could go with Krajicek if the market demands it be so (since Washington and San Jose have a bit more money to offer Mitchell) there’s a distinct difference in quality. That being Willie Mitchell is a highly-regarded defensive defenseman and Lukas Krajicek couldn’t lock down consistent minutes for Tampa Bay last season and was a sixth or seventh defenseman for the Flyers. Mitchell is coming off a bad concussion last season and that’s a situation Detroit is familiar with as Andreas Lilja lost a ton of time due to a concussion. The Wings are still talking with Lilja about returning, but they’ve got other options and are exploring them. Whether that means they’ve got actual interest in Lukas Krajicek remains to be seen.

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    Therrien refutes report that Price is likely done for the season

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    Contrary to a report by La Presse newspaper, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien says that Canadiens goalie Carey Price could still play again this season.

    “We know what’s going on with Carey,” Therrien told reporters today. “It takes more time, obviously, than we were expecting. Like I said, he’s working extremely hard and he’s put in a lot of hours to make sure that he’s going to make that comeback. The fact that he’s working extremely hard is not to make sure that he’s going to look good this summer on the beach; he wants to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens.”

    That being said, Price does not appear close to a return. He’s yet to practice with teammates. He’s yet to even skate in goalie gear.

    The Habs have 27 games left to get back into a playoff spot. They close out the regular season on April 9, less than two months from today.

    Related: With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

    With trade deadline approaching, Canucks announce Edler out 6 weeks, Sutter 6-8 weeks

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    The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they’ll be without defenseman Alex Edler (fractured fibula) for six weeks and center Brandon Sutter (broken jaw that required surgery) for six to eight weeks.

    So basically those two are gone for the remainder of regular season, save for possibly a few games at the tail end of the schedule.

    For a bubble team that doesn’t boast a ton of depth, the injuries are significant. Edler leads the Canucks in ice time, averaging almost 25 minutes per game. Sutter, arguably their best defensive center, already missed a big chunk of games earlier in the season following sports-hernia surgery.

    But GM Jim Benning still isn’t giving up on the playoffs. Yesterday, he went on Vancouver radio and suggested the Canucks could actually be buyers at the trade deadline.

    Benning only has a couple of weeks to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agents defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata. The trade deadline is Feb. 29.

    The Canucks, currently just two points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot, have a pair of winnable games coming up. They host Toronto Saturday and Minnesota Monday.

    Related: Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

    Jets activate Pavelec from IR, send Hellebuyck back to minors

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    Winnipeg’s goalie of the future is off to continue his development in the AHL.

    On Friday, the Jets activated veteran netminder Ondrej Pavelec from injured reserve and, in a subsequent move, sent rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck back to their affiliate in Manitoba.

    Hellebuyck, 22, arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare, having starred for Team USA at the 2015 Worlds while being named an AHL All-Star as well.

    This was his first-ever stint with the Jets, and it went OK — Hellebuyck posted an 13-11-1 record, .918 save percentage and 2.34 GAA — but he did struggle of late, getting hooked in two of his last three outings.

    Now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pavelec.

    His numbers prior to getting hurt weren’t any better than Hellebuyck’s — .906 save percentage, 2.82 GAA — and there will be considerable rust to knock off, given he’s been out since late November with a knee issue.

    There’s also the long-term implication.

    Pavelec, a lightning rod for criticism over the last few seasons, has one year left on his five-year, $19.5 million extension, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July of ’17.

    It could be his last season in Winnipeg (assuming he’s not bought out of the final year of his deal), which makes one wonder what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has in store.

    It’s also worth noting there’s a third goalie in this equation: Michael Hutchinson, who’s a pending RFA.

    Kuznetsov passed concussion test, expected to play Saturday

    Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, from Russia, celebrates his goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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    Feel free to breath a sigh of relief, Capitals fans — Evgeny Kuznetsov is okay.

    “During the end of the third period, Evgeny underwent and passed all tests pertaining to the league’s concussion protocol evaluation,” the Caps said today in a statement. “We expect him to take the morning skate tomorrow and play against the Stars later that night.”

    Kuznetsov left last night’s game versus the Wild in the third period after appearing to take the butt-end of Mikael Granlund’s stick to the face.

    Kuznetsov leads the Caps with 54 points.