The Detroit Red Wings' biggest need this offseason is defense. With Brian Rafalski retiring, Detroit needs to find a top-four defenseman for next season. They also will likely need a defenseman that can compete to be a part of the third pairing, because Ruslan Salei is not expected to be brought back.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland has already informed Salei that he will not be offered a deal to return to the team before July 1, the day free agency opens. If the Red Wings haven't filled all of their defensive needs as the summer progresses and Salei is still without a team, then a deal could happen. For now, Holland doesn't want to tie up a roster spot for when free agency opens.
With Salei not being offered a deal to re-sign at all or at least not anytime soon, the Red Wings will go into free agency with Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart and Jakub Kindl under contract. Of course, that's barring a trade, but as it stands right now, those are the guys that are under contract and were on the NHL roster last year.
Doug Janik is also under contract with the Red Wings, but he spent almost all of last season in Grand Rapids. Brendan Smith was in Grand Rapids with Janik, but the former Wisconsin Badger is expected to compete for a spot with the Red Wings this year.