boyle

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

Free Agent Frenzy Roundup

Swinggg and a miss. Today, the Red Wings missed out on signing Matt Niskanen, Dan Boyle, and others to reasonable contracts. Niskanen signed with Washington for seven years and $40+ million. Boyle signed with the New York Rangers for two year and $9 million.

Per Ansar Khan, the Red Wings offered Boyle three years and $12.5 million, but he declined in favor of the Rangers. Niskanen followed his former defensive coach from Pittsburgh to Washington. Todd Rierden also got former Penguin Brooks Orpik to DC, but the Caps grossly overpaid (over $5 million per season for five years).

With the market thinning out, we signed Kyle Quincey.. I am only okay with this if Ken Holland and company can still pull off a trade. Hopefully Quincey will be on the third pairing an help Danny DeKeyser develop more. In addition to Quincey, they are looking to the trade market for a top defenseman. Could Keith Yandle, Tyler Myers, or another young defenseman be available for a reasonable price?

The Red Wings did sign Kevin Porter to a two-way deal to add depth in Grand Rapids. It’s good to see the University of Michigan alum back in Michigan.

As for everyone else, there were some good deals and some bad ones. They are summarized below in the SOLID and LOL categories:

 

SOLID:

Ryan Miller to Vancouver

Boyle to New York

Jim Nill acquiring Jason Spezza from Ottawa

 

LOL:

Benoit Pouliot to Edmonton (five years at $4 million per year)

Orpik to DC

Florida drawing names out of a hat to sign

 

Stay tuned tomorrow for more updates and commentary. Hopefully the Red Wings can add and not subtract key pieces.

 

 

Do the Red Wings Need Size in the Lineup?

Bob Probert

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

It was apparent against the big, bad Bruins that the Red Wings were lacking in the physicality department. Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, and Kevan Miller pushed the Red Wings around and did not allow them to achieve consistency in their speed game. Since the Red Wings couldn’t play their game, they could not generate optimal scoring opportunities. Tuukka Rask is a world-class goalie and stopped everything the Bruins kept to the outside with ease.

Look at the teams still in the playoffs. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Montreal all have complete teams with size and toughness to keep things in check. In Sunday’s Western Conference matchup, players like Brandon Bollig, Matt Greene, and Bryan Bickell keep everyone in line on the ice. There is no one player dominating or roughing everyone up. Those players police the ice, but have skills other than toughness.

Justin Abdelkader has similar attributes for the Red Wings, but no one fears him on the ice. He hits and fights more out of necessity than desire. Other than Abdelkader, the Red Wings really don’t have players that grind and wear down opponents physically, much like how the Grind Line was so effective for the Red Wings from 1997 to 2002.

Should the Red Wings invest in players to fill that role? Jonathan Ericsson, Drew Miler, and Brian Lashoff can be physical, but they don’t scare anyone. In the past, guys like Bob Probert, Darren McCarty, and Kirk Maltby created room for other players and lines to generate scoring chances. I think they need one more player to really wear down some teams.

Imagine an energy line of Darren Helm at center, Justin Abdelkader on a wing, and another player with grit. They could rough up a team with their up-tempo, physical style and create room for the other lines to score. Steve Downie, Steve Ott, and Brian Boyle cold all fill this role and contribute on the penalty kill if called upon. Boyle is currently filling this role for the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. He gets under the skin of opposing players and has the physical strength to keep them from playing their game.

On the other hand, the Red Wings have not really employed this strategy lately. They tried with Jordin Tootoo, but he was too one-dimensional to fit the Red Wings system. In addition, Drew Miller is already slated for energy line duty and does not fit anywhere else on the team. Miller could play with Helm and an addition, but is slower and less physical than Abdelkader.

My vote is to add size. The players mentioned above would be good fits, as would Mitch Callahan on a line with Helm and Abdelkader. Speed and physicality will allow smaller players on other lines to do their thing without much resistance, or else those defenders would be dealt with. Detroit doesn’t need a fighter, just someone to scare the other teams.