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?
Well, not retire, but pull a Chris Pronger (or Marc Savard) and reside on the Detroit Red Wings’ long-term IR for the duration of his contract. Johan Franzen has had a great career with the Red Wings, but he should focus on what matters most—his family.
After reading his story of not being able to spend time with his kids and living most of his life in the darkness of his bedroom to recover, a return to hockey may not be in his best interest, and we should not frown upon a decision to step away. Of course, I wish Franzen could have retired on his terms rather than being forced into early retirement by injury. If he was healthy, I would be happy to have Franzen on the Red Wings for the remainder of his contract, despite his declining production.
It is fitting that this topic comes up four years and a day after the death of former NHL enforcer, Derek Boogaard. Stories like his and Wade Belak’s cautionary tale really make you re-evaluate what matters most.
“Hockey isn’t the end-all, be-all.”
Darren McCarty said this after overcoming drug and alcohol abuse (the first time). This also applies to Franzen’s situation. Hockey should not be his number one concern, especially at this stage of his life.
Even if Johan Franzen is given a clean bill of health before training camp, I hope he does what’s right. Another concussion could make life much worse. Don’t bet that it won’t happen again.
Enjoy the memories.More concussions could result in the loss of them.
Sigh. We all feel robbed that the Red Wings did not advance further in the playoffs. But, it also signifies that there is still work to do in Detroit. Scoring and team defense were issues this playoff season, much like last year. Those areas of concern should be addressed this offseason, which looks to be a big one for the Detroit Red Wings.
We are going to count down the top five offseason storylines, briefly touching on each of the five in this post. All five storylines will also get an in-depth look in their own post. Enjoy the fireworks this summer, both for America and the Red Wings.
5. The Future of Johan Franzen
While Franzen barely played 30 games this season, he is a big part of the Red Wings and their success. When healthy, Johan Franzen possesses a lethal shot and size to bully his way around the offensive zone. Unfortunately, he has suffered quite a few concussions over his career, with the last one leaving doubts about returning to hockey. Can Franzen fully recover and return to form?
4. Young Guns Taking Charge
Mike Babcock said it in his season-ending press conference: the young guys need to step up and make the older players better. The Red Wings have Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening, and Tomas Jurco contributing, but not taking control. They need to in order to set the Wings apart form the competition. It wasn’t that long ago that Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg stepped up in place of aging Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan. You can forget about Teemu Pulkkinen, Anthony Mantha, and Dylan Larkin coming soon as well.
3. The Tendys
It has already been said that Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will compete for the starting goaltender position heading into training camp. Will one or both goalies come into camp hungry for playing time? Petr Mrazek is heading into a contract year that could pay huge dividends if he can seize the opportunity. Howard needs to prove that he can be the #1 goalie the Red Wings thought was worth over $30 million.
2. Improving the Defense
Dion Phaneuf stated that he wanted to be traded to Detroit at the trade deadline. Mike Green has long been linked to the Wings. Jeff Petry grew up in Michigan with his dad pitching for the Tigers. The Red Wings need to improve their defense beyond Niklas Kronwall, Danny DeKeyser, and Kyle Quincey (I know right? Quincey?). Marek Zidlicky was a nice addition this season, but is almost 40, and not a long-term solution. Will youngsters like Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, or Ryan Sproul step up and earn a starting spot? Will the Wings make a splash in free agency or offseason trades?
Please stay. Jeff Blashill isn’t a bad #2 option, but Mike Babcock is the best coach in the NHL. Please stay. Please.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Though no Detroit Red Wings player will be a part of it, the NHL All-Stars will be participating in the All-Star Skills Competition this weekend in Columbus. Among the events are competitions for fastest skater, fastest slap shot, most accurate shot, and best at breakaways. Looking at this from a different and probably more entertaining perspective, I wonder which Red Wings would participate in each event if the team had its own skills competition.
Teams used to hold these kind of events for fans in the past, but have since allowed players not invited to the NHL events to take the time off and rest up for the stretch run. Red Wings like Tomas Tatar and Petr Mrazek have already found sun and warm weather for the week break. If those two and the rest of the team were still in town, who would participate in what event? Who would win? Well, we thought about it and need your opinion regarding the participants and winners.
Who has the fastest clapper on the team? There is no clear answer like Alex Ovechkin in DC or Zdeno Chara in Boston. The Red Wings boast a few players with hard shots, but none that could break a goalie’s hand. Who gets your vote? The winner receives the Reed Larson Award for hardest shot.
Niklas Kronwall – Known for blasting shots from the point on the power play, Kronwall probably takes a clapper more than anyone on the team. He tries to be more accurate that powerful with his shot like the great Nick Lidstrom.
Jonathan Ericsson – “Big Rig” can really bring it from the blue line, but does not wind up for the cannon shot very often. He has rifled some big shots in the past though.
Teemu Pulkkinen – You can’t be compared to Brett Hull unless you have a heavy shot. Teemu’s go-to is his cannon that we are all hoping he’ll get to shoot a lot of in the show soon.
Danny DeKeyser – Another blueliner who favors the smart play over the big wind up, DeKeyser would be another participant in the hardest shot competition. Does he trump the field?
Most Accurate Shot
Guys like Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov come to mind when thinking of Red Wings who can pick a corner. Who from today’s team would win the competition though? There is an abundance of talent here, but we picked the top four for consideration. The winner receives the Sergei Fedorov Award for Shooting Excellence.
Pavel Datsyuk – Obvious participant. Magical in general for snipage.
Johan Franzen – Though he goes through dry spells, Franzen can snipe. He can go bar down on most goalies in the league when his confidence is riding high.
Tomas Tatar – Could he be the next best pure goal-scorer for the Red Wings? His team-leading 21 goals don’t lie. He could reach 40 goals this season if he keeps making goalies look bad.
Henrik Zetterberg – Most of Z’s goals are not fancy snipes, but accurately and strategically placed shots to where the goalie is not covering. Could that translate to hitting all four targets at each corner of the net?
Which Red Wings player has the best wheels? We cannot go into bars to determine that, but we can quantify who can skate around the rink the fastest. Speed is another talent the Wings have collectively, but here are the top four. Winner receives the Kris Draper Hustle Award.
Darren Helm – Like Datsyuk when it comes to sniping, Helm is an obvious candidate for fastest skater.
Luke Glendening – He would probably have Mike Babcock‘s vote. Hustle is key here.
Brendan Smith – When given a lane and an opportunity, Brendan Smith can really fly. As a defenseman, you wouldn’t normally consider him for a fastest skater competition, but he deserves the chance.
Justin Abdelkader – Just another Red Wings player who can move in a fast manner. Abdelkader could definitely keep pace with the other competitors.
Breakaway Survival Challenge
For the sake of changing things up from the norm, this competition would be to see which Red Wings player would be the last man standing in a breakaway contest. To ensure that all four are not stopped on the first try, imagine Jimmy Howard is in net for the event. This winner receives the Steve Yzerman Award.
Pavel Datsyuk – We haven’t seen as many Datsyukian Dekes lately, but Pav can still dangle with the best. He is currently the active leader for shootout goals.
Gustav Nyquist – He’s the next man up after Datsyuk in the shootout and has converted on a few attempts this season. Could he outlast the Premier of Danglestan?
Tomas Tatar – Typically number three in the shootout lineup, Tatar can also snipe goalies when it comes to shootouts.
Tomas Jurco – He was highly-touted in juniors for his dangles and we have seen flashes of that over the past season and a half. Jurco is a wild card here with the skills and not much shootout experience.
Just for funsies. Which player on the Red Wings would take the longest doing a lap around the Joe? Could one of the goalies beat them? These players can have cinder blocks in their skates at times. Johan Franzen is not an option here because he can skate fast…when he wants. I won’t elaborate on why they are slow to prevent hurt feelings. Just vote for who you think needs turbo boosters to reach normal speed. I’m not sure this warrants an award, but winner get the Andreas Lilja Cement Shoes Award.
Vote! See, voting can be fun when it doesn’t involve politics or prom king or queen! Vote!
First off, happy weekend to everyone ready to enjoy a couple more days off. Cheers to another year of great Detroit Red Wings hockey and another season added to the Wings’ glorious playoff streak.
If you go to your local gym, you’ll likely see a lot of New Years resolutions in action. While those may only last a month or less, let’s hope the Detroit Red Wings stick to their resolutions. And by their resolutions, I mean the resolutions I am giving them.
For the New Year, the Red Wings should, and hopefully will, focus on five resolutions that will make them a better team — like how going to the gym will make me a better person. Five is a fair number because Nicklas Lidstrom is a fair person. In no particular order, here we go:
1. Wake Up the Hibernating Johan Franzen
Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez
Obvious, right? Right. Capable of being a 30-goal scorer for the Red Wings with his blistering shot, Johan Franzen only has seven goals to his name at the halfway point. He is always on the cusp of going on a hot streak. However, Franzen is currently enduring a shivering cold streak. How cold? Think north of the wall on Game of Thrones. If Franzen can put the biscuit in the basket in consecutive games, I am confident that will jump-start his game and be the goal-scoring power forward the Red Wings have been hoping for this season.
2. Add More Sandpaper to the Lineup
A healthy Stephen Weiss will help achieve this goal, but he alone is not enough. Weiss and Justin Abdelkader are primarily the only forwards that add grit to the lineup. Look back to the last game against Boston. The Bruins’ tough defense would not allow the Red Wings’ team finesse to get going in the offensive zone. While Detroit’s finesse game is what makes them a great team, they need to add more sandpaper and grit to the lineup if they are going to advance in the playoffs. Whether that comes from some soul searching or from another player being added to the lineup, the Wings need some toughness.
3. Let the Kids Play
Those not helping the grit department, the Red Wings could benefit from giving prospects like Teemu Pulkkinen and Anthony Mantha a game or two with the big league squad. Though their impact may be minimal at first, it certainly helps their development to skate along with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Niklas Kronwall. It certainly helped guys like Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, and Riley Sheahan play a game or two before they fully ripened. This brief experience teaches them that while they may be dominating the minor leagues, the NHL is a whole different world and that further development and training is necessary for success.
4. Insert Xavier Ouellet into the Lineup Permanently
As the only defenseman to be recalled from Grand Rapids this season, Xavier Ouellet is quickly making a case that not only does he belong in the NHL, but in Detroit’s top six defensemen as well. It is apparent that he has leapfrogged Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff in the depth chart. No transactions allowing Ouellet to occupy that spot have been made yet because neither Kindl or Lashoff have played poorly enough to garner one. Xavier Ouellet is better than the two, but neither Kindl or Lashoff have been good enough to warrant a fair return on the trading block or bad enough to force an action by Ken Holland. My thought is this: dress the best 20 guys in the organization for a complete, balanced team. Ouellet cracks the top 20.
5. Don’t Throw Away Prospects
For the love of God, do not repeat the Calle Jarnkrok-for-David Legwand trade. It is true that the Red Wings have an abundance of solid prospects within the organization. They have depth at forward and on defense in the prospect pipeline and are looking for a top defenseman for the big league squad, but the Wings cannot squander a good prospect for minimal, short-term impact. Make the right deals leading up to the trade deadline. As parents often say (too late) to their children, “Don’t make poor choices!”
Stick to the plan, Red Wings! Don’t be the fatty in May who hasn’t been to the gym since early January!
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 Smithon 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.
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:
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 Zetterberg, and 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?
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.
Photo courtesy of icehockey.wikia.com
8. Jonathan Ericsson– 68 points in 325 games.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
7. Dan Labraaten– 106 points in 198 games.
6. Mikael Samuelsson– 163 points in 308 games.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
5. Niklas Kronwall– 295 points in 594 games.
Photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
4. Johan Franzen– 347 points in 567 games.
Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek/NHLI via 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.
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.
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.