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Detroit Red Wings Young Guns: Pushing the Vets and Each Other

Detroit Red Wings' Gustav Nyquist

Source: AP

It’s been said that the younger players on the Red Wings will need to push the vets to make them and the team better this upcoming season. What hasn’t been explicitly stated is that the younger group will be battling each other for prime lineup spots.

Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have established themselves as goal scorers and dangerous playmakers. Riley Sheahan could potentially slot in at second line center. Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco, and Anthony Mantha will all battle for playing time (and in Mantha’s case, a roster spot).

All of these players figure to be battling for top-9 spots in the forward lineup. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, and Justin Abdelkader have locked up spots in the top-nine as well. Stephen Weiss is under contract and management would likely prefer to not play a $5 million player on the fourth line. He will be battling for a top-nine spot as well.

Provided that all of these players are on the roster when the Red Wings break camp, there are five spots to battle for in the top nine. Nyquist and Tatar will easily claim two spots, but it’s just a matter of where since they played on all three top lines last season. Sheahan will likely center the third line to start the season. That leaves two spots for Jurco, Mantha, Pulkkinen, (and Weiss). Mantha can be assigned to Grand Rapids to start the season if need be.

A secondary roster spot battle will be flying under the radar as well. Joakim Andersson and Landon Ferraro will be competing for the fourth line right wing spot alongside Luke Glendening and Drew Miller. Out of options Mitch Callahan could be in the running as well. He, along with Andersson and Ferraro, are all restricted free agents this summer and can’t be assigned to the minors without passing through waivers. There’s a good chance one of these three won’t be with the Red Wings next season.

A healthy Johan Franzen or a potentially re-signed Dan Cleary can further complicate these roster battles as well. Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin, and Andreas Athanasiou are putting up solid numbers for the Griffins on their playoff run. They could factor into roster decisions with their current coach, Jeff Blashill, expected to take over the Red Wings’ coaching position.

Ken Holland was clear earlier this summer: the young players need to challenge the vets. They will need to earn their spot in the lineup first though.

It’s nice to have a bunch of talented players, huh?

Detroit Red Wings Trade Deadline: Who’s Really Available

Ken Holland

Photo by Getty Images

One of the most anticipated dates of the NHL calendar year is quickly approaching. On March 2nd, NHL teams will be scurrying to acquire what they believe are the final pieces to their puzzle in an attempt to challenge for the Stanley Cup. The Detroit Red Wings are no different.

It is widely-known that the Red Wings are looking to upgrade their back end and they have quite a stockpile of prospects on their depth chart. Though they have an abundance of riches, it may not be prospects that are traded for a defenseman or two if the Red Wings decide to make a trade. Let’s take a look at who’s available and who’s not:

Untouchables

There is not a trade out there that will pry these players away from the Red Wings. These are franchise players that will be in the organization for the foreseeable future.

  • Pavel Datsyuk
  • Henrik Zetterberg
  • Niklas Kronwall
  • Jimmy Howard
  • Anthony Mantha
  • Dylan Larkin

 

Young Nearly Untouchables

It is very unlikely that these players will be traded unless there is an offer Ken Holland and company cannot refuse. Some of these players could become franchise players with continued development.

  • Tomas Tatar
  • Gustav Nyquist
  • Riley Sheahan
  • Darren Helm
  • Teemu Pulkkinen
  • Danny DeKeyser
  • Luke Glendening
  • Xavier Ouellet
  • Petr Mrazek

 

Older Nearly Untouchables

These are vital players to the Red Wings that likely won’t be traded unless there is a great offer. While other available trade chips from other teams are better, these players have their role and are not worth trading unless part of a blockbuster.

  • Jonathon Ericsson
  • Kyle Quincey
  • Johan Franzen

 

Trade Chips

In an attempt to challenge for the Stanley Cup, these players might become available to land a key player in return. These players can garner a solid enough return that it might be worth trading them to improve the team.

  • Tomas Jurco
  • Brendan Smith
  • Alexey Marchenko

 

Odds and Ends

There is no interest for these players. They are unlikely to be traded because their contributions to the team are greater than the minimal return that they will bring back in a deal.

  • Daniel Cleary
  • Jakub Kindl
  • Brian Lashoff
  • Stephen Weiss
  • Joakin Andersson
  • Drew Miller
  • Jonas Gustavsson

 

Prospects

Their valuable is still to be determined, but it would take a great deal for Ken Holland to relinquish one of his draft picks from team control. They could be a valued member of the Red Wings—or of another tam—one day.

  • Ryan Sproul
  • Andreas Athanasiou
  • Mitch Callahan
  • Landon Ferraro

 

Next up, a Top 9 look at who the Red Wings might be targeting as the trade deadline gets closer. It will be the RWI analysis of team needs since no one outside the organization truly knows who the Detroit Red Wings are having trade discussions with.

Red Wings Facing Roster Decision…Again

Andrej Nestrasil

Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images via Detroit Red Wings

With the expected return of Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Jurco Friday night against Chicago and Stephen Weiss making it through practices without injury, Ken Holland once again faces a tough decision regarding which player will be kicked off the Detroit Red Wings island.

Of the players on the roster, only Jurco is exempt from waivers and can be sent down to Grand Rapids without another team claiming him. But we all know that, as it has been discussed all summer and now into the fall. Jurco being sent down was supposed to mean the return of Daniel Alfredsson, but like some complex high school math problems, correlation doesn’t always prove causation.

What are Mr. Holland’s other options? He could try another conditioning stint in Grand Rapids for Stephen Weiss, though that option may be off the table since he’s already had a conditioning stint during his current Injured Reserve stay. Andrej Nestrasil could be sent down to Grand Rapids to further develop, but another team could claim the big, young winger. That option may be too risky for a generally risk-averse team. Dan Cleary could be sent down and exposed to a waiver claim. The downside to that is that Cleary is a veteran presence in the locker room for the young Wings and it could be a tough loss for the team, whether he is playing in Grand Rapids or elsewhere. Even Joakim Andersson could be on the chopping block.

So what will happen, given these circumstances?

We predict that Weiss will stay on IR until he is ready to be inserted into the 20-man game roster, further delaying this inevitable decision. Unless someone else is injured and can go on IR, Andrej Nestrasil seems like the most likely Red Wing to pack up his bag at the Joe and head off to Grand Rapids.

If Nestrasil goes unclaimed, it would be nice to see him develop further and add some more skill to his large frame. He can rejoin the Red Wings for the playoffs, when players can be recalled without having to go through waivers, or possibly earn himself a roster spot with Detroit next year following a breakout year in the AHL playing alongside prospects like Teemu Pulkkinen, Anthony Mantha, and Andreas Athanasiou.

 

Update

Per Ansar Khan, Weiss will play another conditioning stint game in Grand Rapids next weekend after a week of practice. It appears everyone is safe for now, but this decision will have to be made after Weiss finishes his conditioning stint. However, the week leading up to Holland’s decision gives the Red Wings ample opportunity to get hurt and further delay subtracting someone from the roster.

Home Opener Lineup

Lineup

Here is the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup for their home opener against the Boston Bruins. Lineup per DailyFaceoff.com.

Justin Abdelkader  – Henrik Zetterberg – Johan Franzen

Tomas Tatar – Riley Sheahan – Tomas Jurco

Gustav Nyquist – Darren Helm – Andrej Nestrasil

Drew Miller – Joakim Andersson – Luke Glendening

Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyser – Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey – Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

 

5 Things to Watch Tonight

1. Can Danny DeKeyser and Brendan Smith continue strong pre-seasons into the regular season?

2. Will Jimmy Howard return to form and be the goalie he was in the 2011-12 season?

3. Can the youngsters avoid a sophomore slump? A lot is expected of Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, and Gustav Nyquist this season.

4. After being a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs last year, can Joakim Andersson establish himself as an everyday player?

5. For the love of God, can we please stay healthy?

 

D Stands for Defense

Before I venture into the trainwreck that is the Red Wings defense, here is a quick update on the forwards. We signed Dan Cleary to a one-year deal. You can add him to the forwards post and put him in the stands with Joakim Andersson. Cleary will likely rotate into the fourth line and step into the top-nine if someone goes down with an injury (please no).

Anyway, on to defense. Many were disappointed with the signing of Kyle Quincey and deserved to be. We struck out with bigger, more expensive names like Matt Niskanen and Dan Boyle. While a trade is still possible (hopefully probable), we are going to project the defense for next season with the players on the roster. Here is what we are looking at:

Niklas KronwallJonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyserBrendan Smith

Kyle QuinceyBrian Lashoff

Jakub Kindl is scratched.

 

Yikes.

I believe Smith and DeKeyser will start the season together, unless there is a trade (please). They will be in Detroit for a long time and could develop some great offensive chemistry together breaking the puck out of the zone.

Personally, I would like to see a top-four defenseman acquired and Xavier Ouellet in the lineup full time. I would keep Brian Lashoff as the seventh defenseman to play in games where a defensive defenseman is required. Kyle Quincey can do the job, but there are better options out there. If Jakub Kindl had a lower salary, he could be kept. But in the salary cap era, Kindl’s $2.4 million salary is too much for someone to sit in the stands.

There’s still a possibility of a trade. Mike Green is certainly an option at the right price. There are a lot of rumors flying around here in DC, but I anticipate Green staying put. Jeff Petry would be a more realistic option.

Next up, we will take a look at special teams. May God have mercy on the penalty kill.

 

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Looking Ahead: 2014-15 Forward Lines

Free Agent Frenzy Roundup

Top 9: Worst Plus/Minus in Red Wings History

Looking Ahead: 2014-15 Forward Lines

It’s summer and the Red Wings are hopefully preparing for the coming season. Ken Holland and company are still looking to add to the roster, but chances are, it won’t change much from the lineup they would roster today.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s say Detroit re-signs Daniel Alfredsson to a new contract. It’s possible they make a trade for a top defenseman like Mike Green or a power forward, but I can’t predict that deep into the future. Signing Alfredsson is a logical outcome.

So first, let’s take a look at the forwards. Here is my guess at the opening day lineup:

2014-15 Lines

 

I am certain the Mike Babcock will keep the kids together on the second line. They played well down the stretch and could thrive going forward. Additionally, they could gain some knowledge watching Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterbergand Johan Franzen play right before them.

The third line could develop some chemistry. Stephen Weiss and Justin Abdelkader could flush the puck out while grinding and help set up Daniel Alfredsson. The fourth line would be a great grinding line. Darren Helm and Luke Glendening could annoy the shit out of opponents. Helm may be asked to participate in more of a scoring role, but with depth down the middle, he may be pushed to the fourth line. Joakim Andersson would take turns getting into the lineup with Glendening and Drew Miller.

Things could all change if the Red Wings make a trade. But until then, who knows?

Next up, we will take a look at the defense pairings for the upcoming season. Maybe the Red Wings will acquire a new defenseman before then.

Finally, what do you think the forward lineup will look like?

 

Previous Posts:

Free Agent Frenzy Roundup

Top 9: Worst Plus/Minus in Red Wings History

Red Wings Who Have Switched Positions

 

Red Wings Players Primed for a Bounce Back Season

Jimmy Howard

Photo courtesy of Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

This past season was a trying one for the Red Wings. Injuries and poor performances by some only allowed the Wings to finish 8th in the conference after joining the East this season. The players poised for a comeback season next season did not necessarily have a bad season, but have room to improve during the 2014-15 season. Heeeeeeere they are:

1. Pavel Datsyuk

WHAT? Yeah, Pav did not have a great season because of injuries. He great well while in the lineup, but could not achieve consistently. We are all hoping Datsyuk can stay healthy next season and return to form. A little rest in the offseason would be great for his ailing knee.

2. Jakub Kindl

This summer and potentially next season is make or break for Kindl. His $2.4 million cap hit may be deemed too high for someone who was scratched in Game 5 of the first round. Kindl is still young and can grow with time, but youngsters like Alexey Marchenko, Ryan Sproul, and Xavier Ouellet will be pushing for time. IF Kindl stays beyond the summer, he must have a great campaign to ensure his future with the team. He won’t be bought out, but would be traded in order for younger players to be on the roster. I think he will bounce back and will solidify his standing with the team.

3. Jimmy Howard

Howard missed time with injuries and was inconsistent during the regular season. Additionally, he missed time in the playoffs with the flu. The Red Wings paid him to perform like an all-star goalie, but he fell short this year. I think Howard will work hard this summer and come to camp ready to dominate. Not only will Howard bounce back next year, but will make the all-star team as well.

Other candidates: Joakim Andersson and Justin Abdelkader

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.

Summer Plans for Pending Red Wings Free Agents

Kyle Quincey

Photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

Free Agency should be fun for the Red Wings this summer. They have cap room to spend and issues to address. The free agent signing period, or #QuinceyWatch2014, will give Detroit a chance to add some size and talent to a roster that was lacking in the physicality department in their first round matchup against Boston.

Today, we are going to take a look at the pending unrestricted free agents. The Red Wings have seven players on the current roster (or injured reserve) slated for free agency this summer: David Legwand, C; Daniel Alfredsson, RW; Mikael Samuelsson, RW; Todd Bertuzzi, RW; Daniel Cleary, RW; Kyle Quincey, D; and Jonas Gustavsson, G.

For each player, we are assigning their Hockeytown Lineup Probability (HLP) for next season. What does that mean? It’s the probability that they will be on the opening night roster next season. I will not say which members of the current team have a 100% HLP in order not to jinx them. I’m a goalie and am very superstitious.

HLP

 

Kyle Quincey has the best chance at returning next season. While his play has been consistently average, he is a better fit than a lot of free agents. The free agent defenseman pool will be thin this summer and he may be able to give the Red Wings a discount. I would prefer the Red Wings to bring in someone else, but the reality of that is less likely than Kyle Quincey returning.

Jonas Gustavsson has a decent chance of returning too. He played great this season when Jimmy Howard was injured or underperforming. If the Red Wings want to keep Petr Mrazek in the minors for one more season, I think Gustavsson would sign a one-year deal to stay another year. He could test the market though after a solid season.

In my opinion, Daniel Alfredsson has a spot for next season if he wants to play another season. He may be an old man, but still led the Red Wings in scoring this season and provided veteran leadership in the locker room while Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were out. Another one-year deal is possible if Alfie wants to play another year.

For the rest of the free agents, a return would be slim. Daniel Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson, and David Legwand are as good as gone. Todd Bertuzzi could return for another year if Detroit needs a physical presence on the ice, but probably would not play much. They could sign David Legwand to a multi-year deal to compensate for sending Patrick Eaves, Calle Jarnkrok, and a second round pick to Nashville for Legwand at the trade deadline. It would be hard to see the Red Wings resign him with Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, Riley Sheahan, and Joakim Andersson slated at center on the depth chart, though. However, trades and buyouts happen and the Red Wings are primed to do one or both this summer. There are reports out that while Daniel Cleary will not be in the Red Wings’ lineup next year, he may be in their front office after playing the last decade in Detroit.

What do you think?

Red Wings’ History vs. Eastern Conference

Igor Larionov

Photo Courtesy of Dave Sandford/Getty Images

It’s officially time for Detroit Red Wings playoff hockey. For the 23rd straight year, the Red Wings will attempt to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup. This year, however, there will be a new twist to the Red Wings’ pursuit: they are in the Eastern Conference now.

Detroit does have some recent experience against Eastern Conference teams though. They have played seven other current Eastern Conference teams since the streak began, though Columbus and Toronto were in the Western Conference when Detroit last played them in the playoffs. Let’s take a look at Detroit’s playoff experience against the Eastern Conference now that they are in the East and will have new postseason opponents.

  1. Pittsburgh- Detroit last played the Penguins in the 2009 Finals. We won’t talk about the results, but the Red Wings did beat the Penguins in the 2008 Finals. Those are the only two playoff matchups between the Red Wings and Penguins, with each team winning a series and a Cup in the process.
  2. Columbus- The Red Wings and Blue Jackets only met in the playoffs once. The 2009 sweep of the Blue Jackets was Columbus’ only playoff appearance until now.
  3. Carolina- Back in 2002, Carolina met Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals only to see Steve Yzerman lifting the Cup and Nicklas Lidstrom taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy. This was Carolina’s only playoff matchup against Detroit as either the Hurricanes or the Whalers.
  4. Washington- Team Ovechkin met the Red Wings in the 1998 Finals only to be swept in four straight. This Cup matchup against Detroit was the high point of the Pre-Ovie era and the only DC-Detroit playoff series.
  5. Philadelphia- Eric Lindros and the Legion of Doom took on the Red Wings in the 1997 Finals and got swept. Detroit took home the Stanley Cup for the first time in 42 years that season. This matchup was the only time Detroit and Philadelphia have met in the playoffs.
  6. New Jersey- We just were not ready yet. New Jersey swept Detroit in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals even though Detroit was heavily favored. This was the only time in each franchise’s history that they met each other.
  7. Toronto- Detroit and Toronto met in the first round of the 1993 playoffs. Detroit took a three-games-to-one lead in the series, but Toronto roared back to take the series. This was the 23rd time Detroit and Toronto met in the playoffs, with Toronto breaking an 11-to-11 tie in series wins that year.
  8. Montreal- In 1977, Montreal defeated Detroit in the Quarterfinals in five games. That was the 12th time the two teams met in the playoffs with the Red Wings owning a 7-5 series wins lead. The two teams could potentially meet in the second round this year.
  9. Boston- My dad was not even alive when the Red Wings and Bruins last met in the playoffs. The two met in the 1957 Semifinals, with Boston taking the Series in five. Boston has fours series wins against Detroit, with the Red Wings only winning three series against the Bruins. The Red Wings have an opportunity to tie the all-time series score with a win against the Bruins in the first round this year.
  10. New York Rangers- In the 1950 Stanley Cup Finals, the Red Wings defeated the Rangers in seven games. Detroit has won four series, while the Rangers have only won once in their history.

Detroit has never played Buffalo, Florida, New York Islanders, Ottawa, or Tampa Bay in the playoffs. They could play the Lightning in the second round this year though.

Even though only the playoff series against Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Carolina are the only recent matchups with players still active, Detroit has had good luck against Eastern Conference foes. Their extensive playoff experience since the lockout will provide the essential “big game” mentality needed to make a playoff run, even if the Red Wings are the eighth seed. Additionally, the Griffins run to the Calder Cup last season with guys like Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, and Danny DeKeyser is crucial. Playoff and championship experience at any level will help with the nerves and put them in the right mindset come Friday.