Pro/No :: Nicklas Lidstrom

Welcome to another round of the joint TPL-WIIM series of pro/no profiles, giving you all the details you need to make an educated opinion about each of the upcoming free agents. At the bottom of the entry, you’ll find a voting form — please feel free to leave additional thoughts in the comments either here or at Winging it in Motown!

THE VITALS
Nicklas Lidstrom, defenseman, #5
41-years-old (4/28/70)
6’2 :: 185 lbs
19 NHL seasons (all with Detroit)
From Vasteras, Sweden

STATISTICS
Regular Season — 82 games, 16 goals, 46 assists, 20 penalty minutes, -2, 23:28 minutes played per game.
Playoffs — 11 games, 4 goals, 4 assists, 4 penalty minutes, +8, 21:49 minutes played per game.

CONTRACT SITUATION
Nicklas Lidstrom is in one-year contract territory from now on, even though Ken Holland was comfortable signing him to a two-year deal this past summer. Given his age, he has decided that he’ll be going year-to-year to decide if he wants to continue playing, and we’re at a similar crossroads as a year ago. Taking a modest paycut (the four years prior, he averaged a salary north of $7.5M) to a number just above Brian Rafalski’s $6M (Lidstrom netted $6.2M for his 2010-11 efforts).

Last year, we didn’t have to wait terribly long for Lidstrom’s decision — he agreed to a one-year pact on June 1st. Here we are on June 16th, and we’re told he’ll have a decision for the Red Wings by next week’s Awards ceremony.

As of July 1st, he will be an unrestricted free agent.

DEPTH SITAUTION
Depth was not a situation for the Wings’ top defenseman — he was one of only two players to play in all 82 regular season games — and repeated the feat in the post-season (the other was Darren Helm). His minutes may have decreased slightly, but he still logged over 21 minutes in the playoffs, and 23 and a half in the regular season.

In fact, of all 891 skaters to suit up in the NHL this season, only 27 played more minutes per game — and only seven of those played in all 82 games.

One would expect Lidstrom’s minutes to continue sliding down should he choose to return — it’s only natural. But he’ll remain the top shutdown threat and one of the best all-around blueliners in the game, if not the best.

CASE FOR LIDSTROM
1) He’s still one of the best in the game. He’s nominated for the Norris Trophy again, and is expected to walk away with the award… again. You don’t just call it a career when you’re that effective.
2) Brian Rafalski’s sudden retirement means that the team will need to rely on all of the veteran defenseman they can, and that includes long-time leader Lidas.
3) No one in the organization presents the kind of mentoring that Nick Lidstrom can. If Brendan Smith — or some other young defenseman — is going to make the jump to the big leagues, there’s no one on Earth they’d rather have show them the ropes than Lidstrom.

CASE AGAINST LIDSTROM
1) Frankly, his age works against him. If the Wings are hoping for a transitional year (and, by all accounts, they are), some of the veteran guys are going to have to step aside and let some fresh blood in.
2) For the first time in his career, Nicklas Lidstrom was a minus player in the regular season.
3) Uh… saving cash on the cap?

WHAT HE’S SAYING
For his part, he’s not saying much. He’s bucked anyone that’s asked about his future plans, and has only told Ken Holland that he’ll have a decision in place before the free agency period opens. Coach Mike Babcock is “100% confident” that he’ll return for some of the same reasons we’ve listed above: he’s just too good to stop now.

SALARY RANGE
Last season, he took a paycut, but still remained the team’s top paid defenseman. Only Pavel Datsyuk and his $6.7M cap hit rated higher than Nick Lidstrom’s $6.2M. If anything, Lidstrom earned a raise with his stellar play, but he knows the situation: the less he takes, the more the team can afford to pay other players to plug some holes. Nevertheless, if forced to guess, I’d say he’s come in somewhere around $7M for the 2011-12 season.

POTENTIAL REPLACEMENTS
Internal :: There’s no one that can replace a player of Nicklas Lidstrom’s calibre anywhere in the world, but with guys like Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith hopefully ready to start logging real minutes — coupled with Niklas Kronwall’s coming out party in the post-season, we may be set up for a nice transitional period on the blueline.
External :: Other top defensemen that are not yet signed for 2011-12 include Ed Jovanovski, Andrei Markov, and Tomas Kaberle.

WHAT DO YOU THINK
Thank you for your votes! We’re tabulating now and will have a recap post in the coming weeks!

Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP Photo

18 thoughts on “Pro/No :: Nicklas Lidstrom”

        1. In a couple weeks, Winging it in Motown and The Production Line will have summary posts up to dissect all of the numbers. We decided we’d like to wait until all of the numbers were in, just in case seeing Ruslan Salei’s % might skew the numbers for, say, Jonathan Ericsson. 

          Worry not, we’ve kept meticulous track of the thousands upon thousands of votes over the weeks! 

    1. If you’ve noticed over the life of these thangs, we’ve tried to mention the dudes that are in the same age group and pay bracket. While those two guys are definitely potential targets, they’re not in the Lidstrom wheelhouse. But then again… neither is Jovo or Kaberle. 

      I have a feeling the Wings are going to put a full-court press on Wisniewski. That doesn’t mean he’s a “top defenseman,” but he’s certainly a guy that could help the Wings.

      1. Yeah, I neglected to throw age in when figuring out other potential top tier d-man substitutes.

        And yes, I agree 100% on Wisniewski.  He’s from Canton and played for Plymouth, not to mention he’s a talented d-man with loads of potential still in the bag.  He and Smith could be a dangerous duo in a few years (Smith, sadly, is still a few years from truly being ready.)  I’ve been pushing full steam ahead for Wisniewski and Ian White ever since I realized that Shea Weber was not even a remote possibility for us.  Unfortunately, Ian White may be out our reach now too.  As I mentioned this morning on WiiM, Niclas Wallin bolted for Finland, likely meaning the Sharks will press hard to resign White.

      2. Yeah, I neglected to throw age in when figuring out other potential top tier d-man substitutes.

        And yes, I agree 100% on Wisniewski.  He’s from Canton and played for Plymouth, not to mention he’s a talented d-man with loads of potential still in the bag.  He and Smith could be a dangerous duo in a few years (Smith, sadly, is still a few years from truly being ready.)  I’ve been pushing full steam ahead for Wisniewski and Ian White ever since I realized that Shea Weber was not even a remote possibility for us.  Unfortunately, Ian White may be out our reach now too.  As I mentioned this morning on WiiM, Niclas Wallin bolted for Finland, likely meaning the Sharks will press hard to resign White.

  1. How about Kevin Bieksa? He is going to fetch about the same amount 6mil or so on the free agent market…do the wings try to talk to him? Or a guy i think would be great to have or at least talk to is Rick Rypien…granted he’s been out for the last half of the season and now plays for the Manitoba Moose…

    1. I doubt Rypien is a target, because anyone that can’t stick in a Canucks lineup likely won’t be able to stick in a Wings lineup. No disrespect to the Cancuks, obviously, because they’re a hell of a squad. That’s just not the kind of guy the Red Wings would put faith in to be an everyday player in Detroit.

      I think that ONE of the Canucks defensemen will have to make it to the market — Bieksa, Salo, and Ehrhoff are all due a bit of a raise and the Canucks will be in a sticky situation to get them under contract.

  2. How about Kevin Bieksa? He is going to fetch about the same amount 6mil or so on the free agent market…do the wings try to talk to him? Or a guy i think would be great to have or at least talk to is Rick Rypien…granted he’s been out for the last half of the season and now plays for the Manitoba Moose…

  3. Crater from SoCal

    if he wins the Norris i say give him 8 mil just for fun. He is TPH, any amount is reasonable.

  4. Did it hurt writing down reasons to NOT sign Lidstrom? I think my fingers would cry if I tried to.

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