The Red Wings signed defenseman Luke Witkowski from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at the opening of NHL free agency.
The move comes paired with the signing of veteran defenseman Trevor Daley from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Assuming Witkowski isn’t bound for the Grand Rapids Griffins, it gives the Red Wings nine defensemen on their roster.
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports that the team may shift Witkowski to forward.
Red Wings also sign Luke Witkowski for 1 yr, $750K for toughness (ask Anthony Mantha). More likely to play F than D.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) July 1, 2017
Witkowski, a native of Holland, Michigan, captained the Syracuse Crunch team that the Griffins defeated in the Calder Cup Finals for the first half of the season. After being called up to the Tampa Bay Lighting, he could not be returned to the team for the playoffs.
I don’t like this move.
As a defenseman, Witkowski doesn’t seem to provide anything that the recently re-signed Dylan McIlrath can’t. If he makes the Wings’ roster, it’s at the expense of Xavier Ouellet or Ryan Sproul. If he’s in Grand Rapids, he’s taking a roster spot from Joe Hicketts or Filip Hronek or Robbie Russo or Dan Renouf, or forcing Vili Saarijarvi back to juniors.
As a forward… Why not just sign a forward? Why not give Tyler Bertuzzi a shot?
Update, 5:25 PM: I completely missed this earlier but the Red Wings announced this as a two-year deal.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) July 1, 2017
The official press release did not include term and seemingly all other outlets continue to report it as a one-year deal but it’s probably safe to trust the official Twitter account.