Report: Detroit Red Wings Settle for Second-Tier Defensive Free Agent Carlo Colaiacovo

I wonder if Ken Holland was humming “Closing time, time for you to go out into the world, closing time, turn up the lights over every boy and girl, closing time…” when he called Carlo Colaiacovo’s agent,┬ásince it sure feels like the signed him solely because he was the prettiest girl left in a picked over free agency pool.

Andy Strickland of 590 the Fan in St. Louis reported the signing Wednesday night, saying the Wings signed Colaiacovo to a two year $5-million dollar contract, although the team has yet to confirm the signing. The contract nets the 29-year old former Blues blue-liner $2.15-million in the first year and $2.85-million in the second year in what is essentially Detroit’s consolation prize for failing to sign Ryan Suter.

The signing is anything but exhilarating for a Detroit team that was supposed to spend some serious cash when free agency opened. Colaiacovo is not a bad defenseman and has certainly put up nice numbers in his career, averaging over 20-points over the four seasons in St. Louis and has a career plus-minus rating of 13. Yet, it is still hard to not think he is really only a stop-gap to fill a need before the NHL locks-out in a little under three days.

Perhaps the most alarming part about Colaiacovo is not his somewhat average, to just above-average, point output, instead it is the fact he has played a full-season exactly zero times in his career. The most games he has ever played in a single season is 67, which he did in 2009-2010, his second year with the Blues. Detroit is signing him to be either a first or second pairing defenseman and if he is going to fit into that role, he is going to have to stay on the ice for close to a full season for the first time in his career.

A former first round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2001, Colaiacovo has yet to live up to his draft position. After never playing more than 48-games with the Leafs in six years with the club, he found a little bit more success with the Blues. His 6’1” frame does not necessarily lend itself to physical play, but he totaled 212 blocked shots over the last three years.

A replacement for Nick Lidstrom he is most definitely not, but Colaiacovo at least provides the Red Wings with a veteran body to plug into the lineup. Before the signing, it looked as if the Red Wings were going to have to use at least Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith on a regular basis. Now though, they can at least have a top two pairing of Niklas Kronwall with Ian White and Jonathan Ericsson with Colaiacovo.

With their hopes set on a game changer like Suter, the Red Wings certainly fell short of their marks. Perhaps worse than losing Suter is the fact it isn’t even like Colaiacovo was the backup plan. Although with Holland looking like he is more interested in getting players for the alumni game, who knows what the backup plan was.

Fans were hoping for a big name to come in and make a big impact on the defense to help fill the hole void left by Lidstrom’s retirement. Colaiacovo, while relatively well priced, is nothing more than a stop-gap until Detroit can find a real solution. With a depleted defensive grouping, perhaps a partial lockout will help them stay somewhat competitive this year and help Colaiacovo play perhaps the first full year of his career, even if it is a shortened one.

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