datsyuk

Red Wings’ Shootout Troubles: Who’s to Blame?

This season has not been the Red Wings’ best when it comes to shootouts. Long gone are the days when Pavel Datsyuk could dangle Tomas Vokoun with his patented move resulting in Vokoun’s jock strap landing in Section 415. Detroit is 0-3 in shootouts so far in the 2014-15 season and need to improve. Those extra standings points can go a long way at the end of the season.

 

The Suspects

The Tendys

The Shooters

The Coaches

 

Jim-meh

As a goalie, it is easier for me to find blame in the goaltenders for goals allowed. Mike Babcock summed it up perfectly during the 2008 playoffs when pucks kept finding their way past Dominik Hasek in the first round against Nashville, “Pucks went in the net.” It doesn’t matter who made a bad play that resulted in a goal, the puck went in, and it’s the goalie’s duty to prevent that.

Unfortunately, there is a move, that when correctly executed, beats Jimmy Howard. A couple actually, and they are both similar plays. David Krejci and Ryan Callahan (both right-handed) deked blocker and pulled back to tuck in the glove side. Howard was nowhere near the puck. Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis (both left-handed) sniped blocker on a quick backhand-to-forehand-shoot move. It moves the angle before the goalie can get there. As for Reilly Smith‘s snipe, the last of the five Howard has allowed, his five hole was wide open. This is because Jim leans forward and angles his blade at a 45 degree angle along the ice. Tuukka Rask and Ben Bishop have a crouched, but upright stance that let’s their stick blade run perpendicular to the ice.

By the way, Howard’s save percentage in shootouts is a paltry .286 this season (two saves on seven shots). To be fair, Lightning defenseman Matt Carle missed the net on one of Howard’s “saves”.

 

One and Done

Apparently Detroit’s scoring troubles don’t stop when regulation time does. Darren Helm, Tomas Tatar, and Andrej Nestrasil all had terrible attempts. Gustav Nyquist scored once, but tried the same exact move in his next attempt and was easily stopped by Ben Bishop. His goal is the only one the Red Wings have tallied in any shootout this season.

To their credit, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg both almost scored if it wasn’t for Michal Neuvirth’s dumb luck. Pav’s snipe hit the knob of Neuvy’s stick in a wide-open high blocker area. Z’s fake slapshot deke almost trickled through. If Zetterberg deked to the backhand instead, he would have had a wide open net.

 

The Brains of the Operation

Why Helm and Nestrasil? Seriously. Helm is a great hockey player, but finesse is not his thing. It often looks like he moves too fast for his brain to keep pace. How much studying is done to prepare players for shootouts? Is that the coaches’ or players’ responsibility to know the tendencies of their opponents? The coaches do pick the shooters, so hopefully they have some reasoning behind their selections.

 

The Verdict

Everyone.

Jimmy, don’t get sniped. Fake shot, deke blocker, pull back to glove side is 100% effective of embarrassing you this season.

Shooters, know your goalies.

Coaches, know your goalies too. Also, don’t let Helm or Nestrasil shoot again.

Very Special Teams

Last season, the Red Wings’ special teams were, well, not up to par. Our penalty kill was atrocious at times, especially against the Bruins in the first round. Additionally, the power play was not very powerful. It was difficult to gain some consistency on special teams with players missing so much time during the season, but that should not stop world-class hockey players from capitalizing on the man advantage.

Looking ahead to next season, I wonder if the Red Wings will continue to use the Tomas Holmstrom screen in front of the net. Todd Bertuzzi, Justin Abdelkader, David Legwand, and even Riley Sheahan filled that role at times last season, but none caused as much havoc as Homer once did. With Bertuzzi and Legwand departing, I wonder if the Red Wings will shift to a more puck possession-focused power play next season.

For the power play, I have to imagine the set up will stay the same, unless Mike Babcock devises some ingenious strategy over the summer involving newly re-signed Daniel Cleary. Here is what the top two power play lines will probably look like:

(Note: other signings and TRADES could change these lines below.)

First PP: Niklas Kronwall up top, Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Zetterberg on the half walls of the respective off wing, Pavel Datsyuk as the rover finding space and creating space, and Johan Franzen in the slot.

Second PP: Danny DeKeyser up top, Tomas Tatar and Brendan Smith on the half walls, Gustav Nyquist filling Datsyuk’s role, and Riley Sheahan in the slot. Stephen Weiss will also get some time in Sheahan’s role, as could Justin Abdelkader. It all depends on who is playing best at the time.

Now, on to the penalty kill. Woof.

We need improvement. Period. The strategy needs to improve in order to prevent goals. We have great players, but the positioning and assignments need adjustment.  The first thing that needs to happen is our defensemen need to be more physical down low. Boston’s defense hit our forwards enough that they won battles in the corner before they even begun. Intimidation goes a long way. Unfortunately, Kyle Quincey doesn’t scare anyone. Let’s take a look at who will most likely start the season on the penalty kill teams:

Forward pairings: Darren Helm and Drew Miller; Luke Glendening and Justin Abdelkader; Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson.

Defense pairings: Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson; Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff.

With Bill Peters gone and Tom Renney possibly accepting a role with Hockey Canada, Coach Babcock has the opportunity to add an assistant coach with a great special teams background. I heard Adam Oates is available.

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 Who Have Switched Positions

Sergei Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

While watching the Tigers get pummeled by the Rangers last week, I found a bright spot in the game when manager Brad Ausmus sent Danny Worth to the mound to pitch the ninth inning. Worth, who normally plays shortstop, enjoyed being on the mound for a change and even struck out a couple of batters in his first appearance.

After seeing that feat, I remembered how Scotty Bowman would shift Sergei Fedorov back to defense for a game. Instead of just playing the point on the power play, Fedorov took regular shifts as a defenseman because of his great hockey sense and two-way game.

It made me wonder – who else in Red Wings history switched positions?

Some players, like Daniel Alfredsson, move to the point for the power play. These players below switched for entire games or more. Like Fedorov, they helped the team however they could.

Mathieu Dandenault

In his first few seasons, Mathieu Dandenault was primarily a forward after being drafted as a right winger. He continued to play wing until the 2001-02 season, when he was partnered with Steve Duchesne on defense. Before switching to defense that season, Dandenault played on a line with Boyd Devereaux and Pavel Datsyuk and had a part in Datsyuk’s first NHL goal.

Chris Chelios

Yeah, Cheli even played some forward. For a few games during his last season with the Red Wings, the team was without a few forwards and defenseman to spare. Due to salary cap complications, the Red Wings could not call up any forwards, so Chelios volunteered to play forward. Brendan Smith did a similar thing this season as well.

Red Kelly

Kelly was one of the key factors of the Red Wings’ cup runs in the 1950’s. It wasn’t only Gordie Howe and the Production Line creating the offense. Kelly was a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman that regularly moved up to forward when the team had injured forwards. His puck-moving skills helped the team create offense and win games. Once he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kelly became a full-time center.

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

Top 9: Best Swedes in Red Wings History

This season, the Red Wings were graced by the breakout of future star, Gustav Nyquist. Goose erupted after his promotion from Grand Rapids to lead the Red Wings in goals with 28. He bolstered the team’s offense with stars, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, out of the lineup.

Though he put up a solid campaign this year, Nyquist still has not scored enough points to crack the Top 9. He will surely be there next year though. There were a few names on the list ahead of him that I had never heard of. That feat itself is unheard of. Take a look at the Top 9 Swedes to ever play for the Red Wings and tell me you’ve heard of everyone.

9. Thommie Bergman– 65 points in 246 games.

Thommie Bergman

Photo courtesy of icehockey.wikia.com

8. Jonathan Ericsson– 68 points in 325 games.

Jonathan Ericsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

7. Dan Labraaten– 106 points in 198 games.Dan Labraaten

6. Mikael Samuelsson– 163 points in 308 games.

Mikael Samuelsson

Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

5. Niklas Kronwall– 295 points in 594 games.

Niklas Kronwall

Photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

4. Johan Franzen– 347 points in 567 games.

Johan Franzen

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

3. Tomas Holmstrom– 530 points in 1026 games.

Tomas Holmstrom

Photo courtesy of Tim Sharp/AP

2. Henrik Zetterberg- 720 points in 759 games.

Henrik Zetterberg

Photo courtesy of AP

1. Nicklas Lidstrom– 1142 points in 1564 games.

Nicklas Lidstrom

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek-NHLI-Getty Images

Top 9: Red Wings References in Pop Culture

As a Red Wings fan, we are accustomed to success and the fame that comes with it. TV shows, music videos, and movies often reference the popular team when including hockey and that team has frequently been the Red Wings since the mid-90’s. Two decades of dominance equals two decades of sporadic cultural references.

There are a few famous people who known to be Red Wings fans. When a celebrity is a fan, it often plays into their roles. For example, Dave Coulier, Tim Allen, Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, and Kristen Bell are all confirmed Red Wings fans. Kristen Bell grew up a fan and had a big crush on Chris Osgood during his first tenure with the Wings.

Today, we are not counting down a certain statistic achieved while in a Red Wings uniform, but the top appearances of a Red Wings uniform in pop culture. Enjoy!

9. Dr. Perry Cox on Scrubs and his love for the Red Wings

Dr. Cox was often seen in a Red Wings jersey, usually with Chris Chelios and #24 on the back. According to his Wikipedia page, actor John McGinley, who plays Dr. Cox, narrated the Red Wings’ 2008 Championship DVD and is a neighbor of Chelios at his Malibu home. McGinley is a big fan of the team in addition.

 

8. Tupac

This may not have been Tupac’s finest moment, but at least he had the right jersey on. He spit on reporters on his way to his car. I’m more curious about the jersey. Why Red Wings and why that day?

Tupac

Photo courtesy of Complex

7. Gordie Howe’s “cameo” on The Simpsons

In 1992, The Simpsons aired an episode that featured Bart responding to his teacher’s personal ad as a fake person. When Mrs. Krabappel asked for “Woodrow” to provide a picture of himself so she could know what he looks like, Bart sends her a cut out picture of Gordie Howe.

Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe on The Simpsons. Photo courtesy of simpsonswiki.com

6. Mack Maine’s jersey on Lil’ Wayne’s music video for “Got Money”

When this song came out in 2008, I was a huge fan. It was classic Lil’ Wayne and not garbage like a lot of his other songs at the time. Once the music video came out, I was even more pumped. Mack Maine makes a cameo appearance in the video and is sporting a Red Wings jersey. Mack Maine and his jersey first appear about a minute into the video. He has a solo at 3:03 in as well. Great song.

 

5. Red Wings defeat Stan Marsh’s peewee team on South Park

Stan is tasked to coach a peewee team in his hometown a la Gordon Bombay in the first Mighty Ducks movie. His team makes it all the way to the championship game, but has to play the Detroit Red Wings and get crushed as a result. Normally, I would root for some miracle and have Stan’s team win, but I thoroughly enjoy watching the Red Wings beat a team from Colorado.

 

 

4. Mike Posner’s Fedorov jacket in his “Cooler Than Me” music video

Mike grew up in suburban Detroit and has always been a Red Wings fan. I know this because he ran track with my cousins at Groves High School in Beverly Hills, Michigan. In his first big video, “Cooler Than Me”, Posner is wearing a Sergei Fedorov varsity jacket styled after Fedorov’s 1997 jersey with the Stanley Cup patch. It appears about two minutes into the video. Where can I get a jacket like that?

 

3. Dave Coulier on Full House

In multiple episodes of Full House, Dave Coulier, or “Uncle Joey”, sports a Red Wings jersey around the house. Coulier is a big Red Wings fan in real life and appeared in Detroit’s 1997 championship DVD interviewing fans prior to the Stanley Cup Finals against Philadelphia.

Dave Coulier

Uncle Joey looks to make a save in net.

 

2. Mike Posner and Big Sean in “Top of the World”

As mentioned before, Posner is a big Red Wings fan. Big Sean is as well and is also from Michigan. In their latest video, Posner and Big Sean wear a Detroit sports fan’s wardrobe. Tigers, Lions, Pistons, and Red Wings apparel everywhere. Big Sean is also rapping on the stairs leading up to the Joe Louis Arena.

The most important part of this video, however, is Pavel Datsyuk‘s appearance. Pav is pulling a Birdman and standing by Mike Posner and Big Sean like a boss. He doesn’t rap, but is there to validate that he is awesome. Enjoy this gem.

 

1. Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Poor, misunderstood Cameron. It’s all about Ferris and Cameron is just there. Throughout the entire movie, Cameron is sporting a Gordie Howe Red Wings jersey, despite being in Chicago. Gutsy, I know. Great movie and great wardrobe selection by the crew there.

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.