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The Wings’ search for a ‘top-three defenseman’ may last until training camp

Colorado Avalanche v Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT - OCTOBER 12: Executive Vice President and General Manager, Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings address the media during a press conference to announce the retirement from hockey of Kirk Maltby #18 before a NHL game against the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena on Friday October 12, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Ken Holland would “love to get a top-three defenseman,” but it may not be until training camp that he can make his best offer.

Before he does anything too bold, the Red Wings’ general manager wants to know what he’s got up front.

“Part of this might be let’s get to September and see,” Holland told the Detroit News. “I’m hoping we’ve got 15, 16 NHL forwards and we’re positioned to do a deal.”

It was reported a couple of weeks ago that the St. Louis Blues had asked for Dylan Larkin in a potential Kevin Shattenkirk trade. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has since said he might not trade Shattenkirk at all.

It’s a game of chicken, basically. The Wings obviously aren’t giving up Larkin, the 19-year-old center who could be the next “face of the franchise.” But losing, say, Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar wouldn’t be so hard to swallow if a young prospect like Anthony Mantha came to camp looking ready to be an NHL regular.

Per General Fanager, the Wings have 15 healthy forwards under contract for next season. That doesn’t include Teemu Pulkkinen, a restricted free agent who may not be ready for camp after offseason shoulder surgery. But it does include Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, each of whom remain waivers exempt.

“If some of the kids come to camp and they haven’t taken a step forward and they can go back to the American league, then they’ll go back to the American league,” said Holland.

“We’ll make a decision in September.”

Related: Like Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler is also surprised he hasn’t been traded yet