TRAVERSE CITY -- Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland confirmed, Monday, that three free agents with NHL experience will try out at the team's main camp this week: defensemen Brent Sopel and Jassen Cullimore and forward Aaron Downey.
Sopel, 30, split last season between Los Angeles and Vancouver. The right-handed shot made a name for himself on the power play, scoring six of his 10 goals in 2003-04 with the man-advantage. Sopel is an eight-year NHL veteran who earned $2.4 million in each of the past two seasons.
Cullimore is a stay-at-home blue-liner who earned $1.9 million with the Chicago Blackhawks last season. The 34-year-old has been in the NHL for 12 seasons, playing with Vancouver, Montreal and Tampa Bay before landing in Chicago.
"We've got six NHL defensemen under contract now," said Holland. "We want to carry seven."
The presence of Sopel and Cullimore lessens the likelihood that the Red Wings will bring a young defenseman with them to start the season. NHL veteran Brad Ference will also be at camp. Prospect Derek Meech cannot be optioned to Grand Rapids without first passing through waivers. Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson and Kyle Quincey all can be assigned to the American Hockey League without risk.
At the team's prospects camp, which ends today, Holland called all four young defensemen potential NHL players.
Downey is the most economical of the three free-agent tryouts. The 32-year-old forward (he turns 33 on Sept. 27) has never earned more than $500,000 in his NHL, getting a $475,000 salary last season with Montreal. (He spent part of the season with the Providence Bruins).
"Downey adds grit up front," said Holland.
The Red Wings have four full lines of NHL veterans under contract. There's also prospect Igor Grigorenko, who has an out in his contract that allows him to return to Russia if he spends more than three weeks in the minor leagues.
The team would like to carry at least 13 forwards on its roster.