Month: May 2014

Top 9: Best Detroit Red Wings Seasons

This past season was one to forget. The Red Wings finished with less than 40 wins and finished under .500 if you group losses, overtime losses, and shootout losses together. Recently, Detroit fans could see 50+ win seasons that better exemplified Red Wings’ campaigns, or at least what we expect each season with the talent, coaching, and management we have.

First up in this week’s Top 9 theme is the best seasons in Detroit Red Wings history. They are ranked by winning percentage since the amount of games played have varied throughout the years. In addition, these seasons only include regular season results. Stanley Cups would triumph great regular seasons any day, but for the sake of this list, we are just looking at regular season numbers.

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Spokeo

9. 2008-09

Record: 51-21-0-10 (.693)

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk 32G-65A-97PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in Stanley Cup Finals

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

8. 2006-07

Record: 50-19-0-13 (.689)

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk 27G-60A-87PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in Western Conference Finals

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of the Windsor Star

7. 2007-08

Record: 54-21-0-7 (.701)

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk 31G-66A-97 PTS

Playoff Result: Won Stanley Cup

 

 

 

 

Brendan Shanahan

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

6. 2001-02

Record: 51-17-10-4 (.707)

Leading Scorer: Brendan Shanahan 37G-38A-75PTS

Playoff Result: Won Stanley Cup

 

 

Gordie Howe

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

5. 1951-52

Record: 44-14-12-0 (.714)

Leading Scorer: Gordie Howe 47G-39A-86PTS

Playoff Result: Won Stanley Cup

 

 

Gordie Howe

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

4. 1950-51

Record: 44-13-13-0 (.721)

Leading Scorer: Gordie Howe 43G-43A-86PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in the first round

 

 

Paul Coffey

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

3. 1994-95

Record: 33-11-4-0 (.729)

Leading Scorer: Paul Coffey 14G-44A-58PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in Stanley Cup Finals

 

 

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of AP/Donna McWilliam

2. 2005-06

Record: 58-16-0-8 (.756)

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk (again) 28G-59A-87PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in the first round

 

 

Sergei Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

1. 1995-96

Record: 62-13-7-0 (.799)

Leading Scorer: Sergei Fedorov 39G-68A-107PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in Western Conference Finals

Friday Wish List

Ken Holland

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s finally Friday, which means it’s time for some fun.

The offseason is one of my favorite times of the year. I know, that’s strange for a Red Wings fan, but I enjoy the team management side as well. As the GM of the Red Wings, I have a few wishes for the offseason. The window for Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg is closing as they are getting older and more prone to injuries. I’d like to see at least one more Stanley Cup in their careers to cement their legacy with the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL.

The Red Wings have some obvious needs heading into the offseason. A scoring winger, top two defenseman, and some size would be nice. We can’t forget about a backup goalie either. Here are the priorities:

1. Sign a scoring winger to play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, and Jarome Iginla would be expensive, but would solve the scoring issue.

Daniel Alfredsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

2. Sign a scoring winger or someone with size to play on a line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar. Daniel Alfredsson would be perfect to fill this role, as would Steve Ott or Ales Hemsky.

3. Move Stephen Weiss to right wing. He could play on any of the top three lines as a Justin Abdelkader-type player, using his grit and physicality to retrieve the puck. His offensive abilities could be utilized as well in this role.

4. Move Johan Franzen to center. He has stated that he loves playing center because of the added responsibility. What better way to motivate the Mule than give him extra responsibility on the ice. Gustav Nyquist could play left wing on his line. The right side could be occupied by Weiss, Abdelkader, a free agent acquisition, or someone acquired in a trade.

5. Make a trade. Great transition right? The free agent market is a little bare this offseason and the Red Wings need an impact player. Or two. Buffalo, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver could be trading partners.

6. Sign a depth defenseman with size for the penalty kill. None of our defensemen block shots and the penalty kill is awful. I am hoping Brian Lashoff can fill that role, but I would want a veteran defenseman either this offseason or at the trading deadline as insurance. Someone proven in this role would boost the penalty kill immensely.

7. Move Jakub Kindl for whatever we can get in return. Xavier Ouellet leapfrogged him on the depth chart during the playoffs and deserves a starting spot more so than Kindl. Trading Kindl plus a prospect or pick to the Islanders for Michael Grabner would be great. Grabner would fit perfectly with Sheahan and Tatar.

Petr Mrazek

Photo courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI

8. Promote Petr Mrazek to the team as the backup goalie. Unless we can sign Brian Elliott to a cost-effective deal, I think Mrazek has earned a full-time gig as the Red Wings’ backup tendy.

9. Not worry about Mike Babcock. He isn’t going anywhere.

 

What are your thoughts? What would you do as the GM for the Red Wings.

Looking back at the Red Wings’ 2004 Draft

Good #tbt to everyone. Today, we are going to take a look back at Detroit’s draft from 2004. Ten years later, these picks should have developed into what Detroit thought they were going to be. No one is perfect though, and like most other draft picks, some did not pan out according to plan.

Johan Franzen

Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez

The Red Wings were just coming off of a disappointing second round loss to a tougher Calgary Flames team that went on to reach the Stanley Cup finals. Calgary also had a guy in net by the name of Miikka Kiprusoff that did not allow many goals at all that spring. As always, the Red Wings management team looked to upgrade at the draft and stockpile some picks to develop over time. These players were the last drafted before the 2004-05 lockout.

Detroit traded their first round pick to the Capitals in a deal to acquire the league’s leading scorer, Robert Lang. He contributed to the Red Wings until 2007, when he signed with Chicago. Many thought Lang could have done more, however. The Capitals used Detroit’s pick to select defenseman Mike Green in the first round. Green has had some solid years for the Capitals, but who knows how he would have developed in Detroit’s system. He would have been great in a Red Wings’ uniform, but I’ll take the 2008 Cup over him any day, even if Lang was not on the team then.

In the spring of 2003, Detroit traded their 2004 second round pick to Los Angeles in a package to acquire Mathieu Schneider. He played in Detroit until 2007 as well and gave the Red Wings more veteran presence on the blue line. It was great for the development of Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey, and Brett Lebda to have Schnieder, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Chelios in the locker room and on the bench with them. Los Angeles would trade that pick to Boston, who selected Martins Karsums. He would only play six games in Boston before being dealt to Tampa Bay. Karsums currently plays in the KHL for Dynamo Moscow

Finally, the Red Wings got to make a selection in the third round. They drafted a big, Swedish forward by the name of Johan Franzen. After having a breakout season with Linkopings HC in the Swedish Elite League, the Red Wings felt confident drafting Franzen even though he was 24 at the time. He was a late bloomer, but Detroit got a player almost NHL-ready. Franzen suited up for the first NHL game he could, though it was over a year after he was drafted (2004-05 Lockout).

Johan Franzen has had a solid career in Detroit, but many wonder if he could do better on the ice. He often looks unmotivated and lacking confidence on the ice. However, Franzen has put up some great numbers and led the team when called upon. He was a key figure for the Red Wings in the 2008 Cup run and has impressive career playoff stats, even if they have tailed off in the past few years.

In the fourth round, Detroit took center Evan McGrath out of Kitchener in the OHL. He would play two more seasons for Kitchener after being drafted before starting the 2006-07 season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. McGrath would play four seasons there before being let go by the Red Wings. He currently plays in Sweden for Frolunda in Sweden’s top league.

Detroit took defenseman Sergei Kolosov in the fifth round in 2004. The Belorussian defenseman would spend three seasons in Grand Rapids from 2008 to 2011, but never cracked Detroit’s lineup. The Red Wings did not retain him after his rookie contract. Later in the fifth round, Detroit took Tyler Haskins from the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors in the OHL. He never signed with Detroit and is currently playing in Germany for the Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams. That’s really the team’s name.

In the sixth round, Detroit gambled on another big, Swedish winger and it did not pan out. They selected right wing Anton Axelsson 192nd overall after a good campaign with Frolunda’s junior team in Sweden. Axelsson still plays in Sweden and has spent the last three seasons playing with Frolunda after some time with Timra IK, Henrik Zetterberg’s old team.

The Red Wings took Steve Convington, a right wing from the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, in the seventh round of the draft. Like most late picks, he did not pan out and Detroit never signed him.

In the eighth round, Detroit drafted Gennady Stolyarov out of Russia. He never signed with Detroit and currently plays for Cherepovets Severstal in the KHL.

Finally, in the ninth round, the Red Wings picked defenseman Nils Backstrom from Stocksunds of the Swedish junior league. Nils went on to play at the University of Alaska at Anchorage and never signed with Detroit. He played in ten games last season with AIK in the top Swedish league, but has not appeared in any games this year.

After being out-muscled by Calgary, Detroit opted to draft size in the following NHL Draft. They got lucky with Johan Franzen, but none of the other picks worked out as they hoped. Kris Versteeg, Nikita Nikitin, Mikhail Grabovski, Roman Polak, Anton Khudobin, Troy Brouwer, Pekka Rinne(!!!), Mark Streit, Daniel Winnik, and Jannik Hansen were all available by Detroit’s fourth round pick (McGrath), but were passed over. The draft is a guessing game and we guessed wrong.

No one knows for sure how an 18 year old will develop over the next five years. Some are diamonds in the rough and some are busts. The Red Wings were lucky to have late round picks like Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Jonathan Ericsson turn into great players. They even developed into world-class superstars in Datsyuk and Zetterberg’s case.

Detroit Red Wings Recent Draft Busts

Tom McCollum

Photo courtesy of Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins

Tom McCollum– first round pick in 2008.

The Red Wings took McCollum with the last pick in the 2008 draft after winning the Stanley Cup. They were hoping he would eventually take over the starting duties with Dominik Hasek retiring and Chris Osgood getting up there in age. McCollum failed to impress once he got to Grand Rapids and got sniped in his only NHL action against St. Louis. Once he rookie contract was up, Detroit declined to re-sign him. McCollum signed a minor league deal with Grand Rapids in hopes that he could prove himself that way. Over the past two season, McCollum has put up decent numbers in Grand Rapids, but Petr Mrazek has leapfrogged him on the depth chart. With Jake Paterson heading to the AHL next season, it will be unlikely that McCollum stays in Grand Rapids, unless Mrazek is promoted to the big leagues.

Next five picks: Jacob Markstrom, G; Slava Voynov, D; Phil McRae, C; Jake Allen, G; Nicolas Deschamps, C.

Others passed over: Roman Josi, Justin Schultz, Derek Stepan, Adam Henrique, Braden Holtby.

 

Dick Axelsson

Photo courtesy of Sarah Lindenau

Dick Axelsson– second round pick in 2006.

After a promising 2005-06 campaign by another big, Swedish winger, Johan Franzen, the Red Wings opted to take a similar player in Dick Axelsson. He played three more seasons in Sweden before coming over to North America. Axelsson only played 17 games with Grand Rapids before returning to Sweden. He never got used to the NHL rinks across the Atlantic and returned to Farjestads to finish out the 2009-10 campaign. Axelsson has put up good numbers in Sweden’s top league, but never found his stride in North America. Perhaps he did not give it enough time here or Detroit let him ripen for too long in Sweden? Either way, he was a lost pick that could have been a much better player had the Red Wings picked someone else.

Next five picks: Jamie McBain, D; Jonas Junland, D; Brian Strait, D; Ryan White, C; Kirill Tulupov, D.

Others passed over: Steve Mason, Brad Marchand, Cal Clutterbuck, James Reimer, Matt Beleskey.

 

Christofer Lofberg

Photo courtesy of EliteProspects/Bildbyrån

Christofer Lofberg– third round pick in 2005.

In the third round of the 2005 draft, the Red Wings selected Chistofer Lofberg out of Djurgardens’ junior team. Lofberg would play the next two season on the top team in Djurgardens, but never developed into the player the Red Wings thought he would. The big center bounced around after leaving Djurgardens and was never signed by Detroit or Grand Rapids.

Next five picks: Danny Syvert, D; Phil Oreskovic, D; Mikko Lehtonen, RW; Mark Fraser, D; Ben Bishop, G.

Others passed over: Keith Yandle, Vladimir Sobotka, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Tom Pyatt, Alex Stalock.

 

Igor Grigorenko

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Record-Eagle

Igor Grigorenko– second round pick on 2001.

Igor Grigorenko was a questionable player to include on this list. The second round pick from 2001 was in a horrible car accident 2003 that caused him to miss most of the 2003-04 season. It took him time to find his game, but many believed that he wold not be the player he was. Grigorenko played in Russia until 2007, then moved to Grand Rapids to start the 2007-08 campaign. He played in five games and failed to register a point. Grigorenko then went back to Russia to play in the KHL, where he still plays today. Who knows what could have been if he did not get in the car accident in 2003 that derailed his career. Grigorenko could have been on the Red Wings playing on Pavel Datsyuk’s wing.

Next five picks: Peter Budaj, G; Tomas Malec, D; Brendan Bell, D; Fedor Fedorov, C; Robin Leblanc, R.

Others passed over: Patrick Sharp, Ray Emery, Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, Mike Smith.

Top 9: Most Hat Tricks with the Detroit Red Wings

As voted on by the fans (fan), today’s Top 9 will look at who scored the most hat tricks while in a Red Wings uniform. There are some surprising names on the list. There were also a few names I expected to be on the list, but were not. I figured that Gordie Howe would certainly be on the list, but no.

It’s always a great sight at the Joe when one of the players in red beats some scrub in net three times in a game. The Red Wings have been lucky to have some prolific scorers in their history and many of them have put on a show for the fans with a hat trick. Let’s take a look at this week’s Top 9:

T8: Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Brett Hull, and Slava Kozlov: 3 Hat Tricks

Slava Kozlov

Slava Kozlov – Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

T5: Jimmy Carson: 4 Hat Tricks

Jimmy Carson

Photo courtesy of Examiner.com

T5: Gerard Gallant: 4 Hat Tricks

Gerard Gallant

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

T5. Ray Sheppard: 4 Hat Tricks

Ray Sheppard

Photo courtesy of Sporcle

4. Henrik Zetterberg: 5 Hat Tricks

Henrik Zetterberg

Photo courtesy of Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

3. Sergei Fedorov: 6 Hat Tricks

Sergei Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

2. Brendan Shanahan: 10 Hat Tricks

Brendan Shanahan

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

1. Steve Yzerman: 16 Hat Tricks

Steve Yzerman

Photo courtesy of Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

 

Potential Trade Partners for the Red Wings #1

The Red Wings’ braintrust is currently evaluating the roster and planning their offseason. Ken Holland and company could say that they have a team ready to compete for a Cup next year and injuries derailed their chances this year. They could also look and the roster and decide that there are a few pieces to the puzzle missing.

Personally, I think Detroit needs more size. It was apparent against Boston that the Red Wings could not use their speed game to win the series against the Bruins or match their physicality. They also need some help on the back end and penalty kill. Let’s take a look at some teams the Red Wings could swing a deal with this offseason and some proposals that could work. Note: Detroit’s best chance at acquiring talent is by trading young talent. It’s possible that they trade players from the current roster, but for this article, we will stick with trading prospects.

St. Louis

David Backes

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports

WHAT? Yeah, they are not in our division this year and will not be any time in the future. The Blues had yet another disappointing first round exit this playoff season and could be looking to make some trades. Patrick Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, and Jaden Schwartz are all scheduled to become Restricted Free Agents this summer and will definitely receive raises. In addition, both Ryan Miller and Brian Elliott will become Unrestricted Free Agents. They may want to move pieces for a new look or clear some salary cap space.

It’s hard to tell who St. Louis could move, if anyone. Philadelphia thought they could win with Mike Richards, James van Riemsdyk, and Jeff Carter, but they were all moved (for one reason or another) and brought back Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Luke Schenn, and Jakub Voracek in return. Like we saw with the David Legwand trade, teams need to give up good players to bring in good players.

Proposal: Roman Polak and David Backes traded to Detroit for Alexey MarchenkoTomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, and a conditional draft pick (second round pick that turns into a first round pick if Detroit makes the Eastern Conference Finals).

Buffalo

Christian Ehrhoff

Photo courtesy of Timothy T. Ludwig US Presswire

Could the firesale continue? Christian Ehrhoff, Chris Stewart, and Drew Stafford could be moved. Stafford presents an interesting opportunity for the Red Wings. The big winger has one year left on his contract at $4 million. Stafford’s mediocre play is questionable, but I’m positive a change of scenery and great linemates could help him regain his game. Ehrhoff plays in all situations and would certainly be an upgrade for the Red Wings’ defense.

Proposal: Ehrhoff, Stafford, and a salty Mikhail Grigorenko traded to Detroit for Ryan Sproul, Tomas Jurco, Tyler Bertuzzi, and a first round pick.

Edmonton

Nail Yakupov

Photo courtesy of Shaughn Butts

Could the Oilers move a big player for a few role players? Sam Gagner has been rumored to be on the move since 2011, but would not necessarily fit with the Red Wings. Nail Yakupov could thrive with Pavel Datsyuk as his center, but it is highly unlikely that Edmonton trades him. Nonetheless, the Oilers may make some moves after seeing their core group of players achieve nothing other than scoring goals in their time in Edmonton.

Proposal: Yakupov traded to Detroit for Alexey Marchenko and a second round pick.

Other targets: Evander Kane, Vancouver defensemen, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder, and/or Brian Campbell.

Can’t Forget About Detroit’s Restricted Free Agents!

Danny DeKeyser

Photo courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI

Detroit has three players on their NHL roster that are slated for restricted free agency, meaning that if any team offers a restricted free agent (RFA) a contract, the Red Wings can match it or let the player walk and receive compensation. The three players up for a new contract are Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Tatar.

Of the three RFAs, I can only see Danny DeKeyser signing a long-term contract with the Red Wings at this point in time. I could see Detroit and DeKeyser agreeing to a five-year, $15 million contract this summer to lock him up for awhile. He would make more than Jakub Kindl’s $2.4 million per season on the open market and the Red Wings will pay him accordingly. Additionally, they could come to terms on a two-year, $4 million contract and work on another long-term deal when that contract expires and DeKeyser is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Expect DeKeyser to be taken care of this summer and contribute in the top four on defense next year with a new partner.

Riley Sheahan had a breakout year this year just in time for a new contract. He solidified the number two center job with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, and Stephen Weiss out with injuries at varying times this season. It is likely Sheahan (and Tatar) will sign a two-year deal this summer with the Red Wings. If I had to guess, he would receive around $1.5 million on average for those two seasons. It would be nice if Ken Holland and the Red Wings’ brass could keep Sheahan’s average cap hit closer to $1.2 million to spend the other cash elsewhere.

Finally, Tomas Tatar will also probably sign a two-year deal this offseason. His cap number will be higher than Sheahan’s and closer to $2 million per year. If the Red Wings are smart, they will sign him to a long-term extension after this next season. Tatar could potentially explode and command more than $4 million per season if he puts up 30+ goals and 60+ points. He could certainly do that if a big winger is added to his line in order to give him more time and space to shoot.

These three players will combine for approximately $5-6 million in cap space of the projected $20 million in cap room this offseason. It would be wise for the Red Wings to keep these salary low with Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, and Tomas Jurco all slated to become RFAs next season.

This will be a fun offseason.