The significant number of defensemen already under contract to the Red Wings means that there is tremendous competition for the few open spots on the Red Wings’ blueline.
In the case of the recently re-signed Joe Hicketts, Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff wonders aloud where the now 23-year-old free agent signing fits into the picture five years into his career as a Wing:
Hicketts, 23, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, has played just 16 games for the Wings over the past two seasons. While he’s certainly shown plenty of jam and a bit of an offensive upside, the diminutive 5-foot-8, 180-pound blueliner has also displayed a knack for getting caught out of position via his over-aggressive approach to defending.
“It’s not being erratic, not making big mistakes,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill has listed as the key to Hicketts making it for good as an NHLer. “It’s a hard balance for Joe because he’s a gamer. He wants to go make plays. He wants to make things happen.
“You want to be able to do those things without making the big mistakes and causing the big chances against. I think that’s the biggest thing. If he can play his game without making those big mistakes then he’s a real effective hockey player. I like Joe a lot. He’s a real good player.”
Last season, Hicketts led all defensemen in assists and points with AHL Grand Rapids, collecting 3-24-27 numbers in 64 games.
Duff continues, and I’m afraid that the Wings will have to watch the contracts of Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley expire before players like Hicketts, Madison Bowey, Dennis Cholowski, Vili Saarijarvi, Jared McIsaac, Gustav Lindstrom and Oliwer Kaski are given some room to breathe.