Originally written May 15, 2012 on Red Light District Hockey:
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It's obvious that the Detroit Red Wings need to make a few changes in the upcoming months. How big or how little the changes should be varies from fan to fan. One rumor seems to be fairly certain: the Red Wings are going to make a hard push for defenseman Ryan Suter.

With Brad Stuart 95% likely to leave for a team on the West Coast and the probability of Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement looming, a top defenseman is needed. Plus, the fact that the Nashville Predators went out in the second round, much earlier than the team wanted after defeating their measuring stick (the Red Wings), signing a core UFA like Suter won't be as difficult.

Type in "Ryan Suter" into Google, and the first option that comes up is "Ryan Suter Red Wings."
Suter is a solid defenseman. His price tag at the moment is $3.5 million, which is slightly less than what Stuart is currently signed for. Granted, Suter will be looking for an increase in pay, but the Red Wings won't stress if they have to toss in a little bit more to get a core player like him.

Suter has also mentioned that wherever he signs, he wants to be there for the rest of his career. A team like Detroit is prepared to do that, as they have already done with key players like Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. Suter is only 27 years old, which is kind of young for the Red Wings' standards. He proved in the first round against the Red Wings just how well he can play.

The Red Wings may have initially started the off-season by gunning for RFA Shea Weber. But fans are still a little more than angry about the incident in Game 1 with Zetterberg, and that's something they're not about to forgive so easily.

But on a more pertinent note, Weber's price tag could be just a little too high. He was awarded $7.5 million last off-season through an arbitration hearing. While the Red Wings will have that kind of money to play around with, they have to sign more than just a single defenseman. And Ken Holland is probably a little more focused on giving that kind of money to Nicklas Lidstrom, if he returns (though if he does return, it will probably be more around the $6.2 million he signed for this past season).

And it's a little too crazy to think that the Red Wings could get both Suter and Weber. So who else could the Red Wings potentially go after?

How about the overtime hero for Team USA in the 2010 World Juniors, John Carlson?

Carlson hasn't been in the NHL for very long, but he's been a great shut down defenseman for the Washington Capitals. He's only 22 and could benefit quite well on a team like the Red Wings. The problem? He's a RFA.

Do the Red Wings dare try to give him an offer sheet and have the Capitals either match it or decline and they end up losing picks or prospects in the process? The team does not put much stock in early round draft picks (see: Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Jonathan Ericsson, Tomas Holmstrom...let's stop there), so parting with a pick or two may not be so devastating. Parting with a prospect may be a little more risky.

There are options out in the free agency pool; Philadelphia's Matt Carle, along with Suter, leads a thin group of impact defensemen that will be available this summer.

It's up to Ken Holland and the Red Wings organization to make all the final decisions on a back end that needs some help.

(This is a weekly recurring article where I throw out some legitimate [and some maybe a little crazy] moves the Detroit Red Wings could potentially make this off-season.)


Photo credit: Getty Images
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