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Red Wings address needs in acquiring Zidlicky, Cole

by Paul Harris

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings have been seeking a veteran, right-handed shooting defenseman who can provide some offense since the end of last season.

They were unable to pick one up in free agency last summer and could not work out a trade for such a player prior to the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

But despite having an entire defensive corps of left-handed shooters for most of the season -- Alexey Marchenko, a right-hand shot, was called up from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League and played a few games recently -- Detroit has a 35-15-11 record, good for 81 points and third place in the Atlantic Division.

The Red Wings' play and development over the season and their 4-1-1 record on a just-completed six-game western road trip, convinced general manager Ken Holland his team had earned the opportunity to get a little help from the outside.

Just before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET Monday, Detroit traded for right-handed shooting defenseman Marek Zidlicky from the New Jersey Devils for a conditional third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

That came after a trade with the Dallas Stars on Sunday that produced Erik Cole, a big, physical left wing with speed. The price for Cole was two prospects, center Mattias Janmark and defenseman Mattias Backman, and a second-round pick. Detroit also received a third-round pick.

The acquisitions of Cole, 36, and Zidlicky, 38, give the Red Wings elements they previously lacked. They will be unrestricted free agents after the season.

"Happy in the last 24 hours we were able to add a couple players that we think add dimensions to our team we didn't have before they got here," Holland told a media gathering on Monday.

"Certainly in Erik Cole we have a big forward, who's got size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds). He's got 18 goals (in 57 games), he provides physicality, we think we can play in our top-six forwards.

"And a right shot defenseman. We've been talking about a right-shot defenseman for the last 12 months, 10 months. [Zidlicky's] a guy who's been real competitive through his career. He's got skill. He can play on the power play."

Zidlicky had four goals and 23 points in 63 games with New Jersey.

The Red Wings have essentially been seeking a solid right-handed shooting defenseman since the retirement of Brian Rafalski after the 2010-11 season.

Detroit was able to add the pair without giving up too much. Janmark and Backman were far down on the Red Wings' prospect lists and they didn't have to surrender a first-round pick.

"I like the price that we paid," Holland said. "We like the people we added. We like the dimensions that we added to our team."

Detroit has been one of the NHL's most successful organizations over the past two decades with 23 consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, six trips to the Stanley Cup Final since 1995 and four championships in that span.

Cole knows a little bit about Detroit's history of postseason success first hand. He was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes when they lost the 2002 Stanley Cup Final to the Red Wings in five games.

But Detroit hasn't reached the conference finals since 2009. Holland and the Red Wings are hoping to break that streak this season.

"Let's try to make a move and bring in a couple of players to try and upgrade us," he said. "To give us a little more depth, give the coaching staff some more options as they put together their lines and their 'D' combinations."

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