Look at the list of UFA d-men. It's bad. Like, waking up between Rosie O'Donnell and a 65 year old hooker bad. There are 14 pending UFAs who average more than 20 minutes a night, so play a top 4 role. 7 of them are 35 or older. Hainsey, Quincey, Orpik, Gilbert, Niskanen, Butler, and Benoit are the younger guys. I doubt Niskanen will hit the market. I don't think Orpik would either. Gilbert would be a fit if he's willing to sign short term, but I'd imagine he's going to be looking for 4 or 5 years and will get it. Of the older guys, I wouldn't be surprised if Markov went back to the KHL for a couple years before retirement. Boyle is slipping. Zidlicky doesn't impress me at all. Timmonen is 39 and doesn't really bring the dimensions the Wings lack. Mitchell is probably better suited as a 3rd pairing guy. The Wings could have signed Robidas last year and had no interest. I don't think an injury plagued season is going to change that.
If they go outside to upgrade the D, it will likely be through a trade.
I wouldn't be so sure about that for atleast two reasons:
-#1. Niskanen is arguably the most valuable Dman destined for UFA status. MacDonald was a close 2nd or possibly 1B. After MacDonald signed his extension with Philly, I'm sure Niskanens agent has made him well aware what could be thrown at him on the open market.
-#2. Already tight at the cap and with Letangs raise kicking in, the Pens have just shy of $16M in cap space to fill seven roster spots. That includes Niskanen and Orpik's spots on the blueline as well as atleast one top-6 forward. They may have to choose between one of them to fill their needs.