Friday, September 07, 2007

Wings Sign Sopel?

Bruce MacLeod is reporting in his blog that the Red Wings will bring in veteran defenseman Brent Sopel for a tryout in training camp. I think this is a really solid move. He might be the guy to push Andreas Lilja into the "healthy scratch" department, and we don't really have a veteran guy to bring in when Niklas Kronwall has his annual injury.

I don't know a ton about him beyond the stats, because let's face it, I've never watched a Kings or Canucks game and been like, "You know who I'm going to focus on today? Brent Sopel." But looking at his numbers, he looks to be a solid signing. TSN's profile of him (linked above) says that he owns a "booming shot from the point" which is the one thing that we lost out on in the Mathieu Schneider/Brian Rafalski exchange.

Additionally, he put up 28 points in 64 games and managed to be a +2 despite playing 20+ minutes a night for LA for 44 games last year. By comparison, most of LA's defense was -10 or worse. And for most of this decade he's been a solid 25-40 point guy.

So we're bringing in a guy for a tryout who had more goals and more points than Kronwall, in roughly the same amount of ice time, and who had a better +/- despite playing on a much worse team. And we're paying Kronwall $3 million a year for the next five.

And if nothing else, Sopel fetched a 2nd and 4th round pick at the trade deadline last year. If Kronwall turns into the player that he's supposed to and we end up with some extra depth at the deadline, maybe we can sell him (or Lilja) off in another deal to replenish some of what we give up for that top-six forward that we still desperately need.

I'm actually surprised that he wasn't snapped up by someone already. You'd think that some bad team would be looking to sign him, if for nothing more than to bring in a couple picks at the deadline. If I were running an NHL team that was likely not going to be in contention, I'd be looking to sign as many of those type of players as I could. By moving guys at the deadline, you can rebuild the depth in your organization in 1-2 years with the picks/prospects you can accumulate.

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