Brad Stuart is a guy the Wings would like to re-sign in the offseason when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, but he might have other ideas.
Mlive.com’s Ansar Khan finds out from Stuart that he might want to go back to the west coast this summer when it comes time to figure out his future and family is at the heart of the matter.
“It is going to be a tough decision,” Stuart said. “It’s not going to be all based on hockey and what I want for my career. It’s going to be a little bit (about) family, which is important. Those are things I still have to kind of sort out, try to figure out what’s going to be best for everyone.”
Stuart’s family is in San Jose where he once played for the Sharks. Being on the road all the time as a player makes life hard. It’s even tougher when your family doesn’t call the city you’re playing in home.
There’s no doubt that Wings GM Ken Holland would love to keep Stuart in Detroit alongside Niklas Kronwall but if Stuart wants to be closer to his family, there’s not a lot a team can throw at a player to make them change their mind.
Should Stuart head west this summer, the Wings are facing a potentially franchise-altering change to their defensive corps with Nicklas Lidstrom possibly retiring as well. Losing two of your top four defensemen would hurt any team and would make the Wings even bigger players for someone like Ryan Suter should he become a free agent.
The Blue Jackets aren’t here to mess around this offseason. After acquiring Jeff Carter from Philadelphia, they dealt for the rights to Montreal defenseman James Wisniewski to see if they could lock down the power play useful blue liner. Today, the Jackets and GM Scott Howson were able nail down a monster deal for the six year NHL veteran signing him to a six-year, $33 million deal.
Wisniewski’s deal comes in at a cap hit of $5.5 million per year for the next six years and for a guy who had his first real offensive breakout season last year scoring ten goals and adding 41 assists, he’s cashing in when the market was ripest for him. With solid free agent defensive choices being minimal on the open market, Wisniewski’s stock was at its highest. The Blue Jackets knew this right away and set their sights on him acquiring his rights to negotiate with him. It paid off for Columbus and it has more than paid off now for Wisniewski as he’s one of the best paid blue liners in the league.
While that might be upsetting for some fans who might not believe he’s worth the money, the market dictates the price and for Wisniewski it works out great. Known for his physical game as well as his offensive touch as well, he’ll be an immediate asset for the Blue Jackets on the power play. Teamed up with Carter and Rick Nash the Jackets will look to improve their numbers on the man advantage in a big way. Last season the Jackets had the second worst power play in the NHL scoring at a 14% rate.
The pressure will now be on in a big way for the Blue Jackets. After years of mediocre play they’re going to have to find a way to make their mark in the Central Division this year and cut into Detroit and Chicago’s winning ways as well as dealing with a feisty Nashville team. With the two additions they’ve made, things are getting better faster for Columbus. They’ll have to hope coach Scott Arniel can help put things together in a big way to turn things around for the better in Ohio.
When Christian Ehrhoff had his rights traded to the Islanders and then to Buffalo where he ultimately signed a 10-year, $40 million deal, the Vancouver Canucks were going to have to do a little bit of upkeep to make sure their defense held strong.
Their way of handling things was to lock up one of their more productive guys on the blue line in Sami Salo. Salo signed a one year deal worth $2 million to stick around in Vancouver and provide the Canucks with a big shot from the point and an offensive threat.
Salo’s bugaboo is his ability to stay healthy. In his 12 seasons in the NHL with Ottawa and Vancouver, Salo has yet to play a full 82-game season. Last year he played in just 27 games in the regular season but saw action through the entire playoffs as well. When he does play he’s capable of producing 25-30 points in a season. That kind of production in Vancouver is more than helpful and with Ehrhoff gone, they’ll need him to stay healthy and help produce from the point.