You want any of these guys?

From NHL.com. I’m looking at who’s left, what they had to say, and what I have to say about who might be a good fit in Detroit.

These are my (non Mike Grier) top 5 free agents available in no particular order. I did not include Alex Tanguay based on the notion that there is no way he can fit him in without losing some players.

Blair Betts

6-4-10 in 81 GP

Betts and Fredrik Sjostrom (who signed with Calgary) were one of the NHL’s best penalty-killing tandems last season. But Betts is coming off a playoff injury and may be hard-pressed to find a new home.”

A good penalty killer? **salivates** Sure 10 points in 81 games isn’t going to knock your socks off…but if Fippula and Leino step up to fill in what we lost on offense, a defensively sound, hard working penalty killer (at the right price) could really help out. The PK needs to be better this year, period.

Maxim Afinogenov

6-14-20 in 48 GP

Afinogenov’s play has dropped off severely in the past two seasons, during which he’s also been plagued by injuries. A fresh start might help.”

A fresh start with fellow Russian playmaker, Pavel Datsyuk perhaps? Max would have to take a major pay-cut (though his numbers recently would support him doing so) to come to Detroit. This could be another Kenny Holland turn-around if he could sign him to right price. I don’t know much about how he took his being benched in Buffalo, so attitude could be a factor.

Taylor Pyatt

10-9-19 in 69 GP

“Former first-rounder is still only 27, but he’s never had more than the 37 points he managed in ’06-07 and ’07-08.”

Oh and he’s 6’4 and 230 lbs. He would add a size and toughness factor that is somewhat lacking up front for Detroit. So he didn’t tear up the scoresheet in Vancouver…has anyone recently? His cap hit should be extremely manageable which makes him one of the more attractive options to me at this point.

Andy Hilbert

11-16-27 in 67 GP

“A hard worker in all three zones, he has some offensive ability. He’d make a solid bottom-six forward for someone.”

He’s also a native of Howell, MI…whether or not he’d want to play in his home state is another matter. Hilbert is a depth player whose work ethic seems to fit the mold of Kenny’s kind of Red Wing. Again, assuming this guy isn’t looking for a big payday, he’d be a great fit playing on the 3rd line with Helm and Leino.

Manny Malhotra

11-24-35 in 77 GP

Malhotra has never lived up to his lofty draft status (No. 7 in 1998), but he’s a competent third-line center and checker who’s had to play a line or two over his offensive ability with the Blue Jackets. He’d be a good fit and a good value in the right situation.”

Yeah I know, we have centers up the ying yang. But what we don’t have in bulk is size. One of Franzen’s more underappreciated talents is being able to step in (and win) face-offs when Hank or Pavel is kicked out. Malhotra could play a role similar to this he converted to a wing. I could see him fitting the missing “Dallas Drake” piece that got us a cup when it was in place, and had us fall one win short when it wasn’t.

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