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Detroit Red Wings Offseason Outlook

Johan Franzen

Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

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?

1. Babs

Please stay. Jeff Blashill isn’t a bad #2 option, but Mike Babcock is the best coach in the NHL. Please stay. Please.

Recapping the Detroit Red Wings’ Trade Deadline

With another excited trade deadline in the books, the Detroit Red Wings came away with two players that improve their roster and didn’t have to mortgage much of their future to acquire them. Let’s take a look at the players the Red Wings targeted and where they ended up.

9. Oliver Ekman-Larsson – The Red Wings would love to acquire the offensive defenseman, but the cost would be way too high, likely costing them at least one of Dylan Larkin, Tomas Tatar, or Gustav Nyquist. There is no rush to more Ekman-Larsson, but perhaps Ken Holland could create a package around Brendan Smith and Tomas Jurco to acquire him. Arizona did not end up moving Ekman-Larsson, opting to keep the young defenseman as part of their rebuild. Seeing what the Rangers paid to acquire Keith Yandle, it’s probably for the best that the Red Wings did not meet Arizona’s demands for a better Ekman-Larsson.

8. Roman Polak – Toronto’s defenseman could occupy a third-pairing spot and help on the penalty kill. His cost should not be terribly high, but there’s a chance that the market and demand for defensemen could drive up the price higher than the Red Wings are willing to pay. Surprising, Polak stayed put in Toronto. A number of teams were rumored to attempt to acquire the Maple Leafs’ blueliner, but no one offered the right package for Polak. 

7. Matt Hendricks – Perhaps costing the Red Wings only a late round draft pick, gritty Matt Hendricks could help the Red Wings form a formidable fourth line alongside Luke Glendening and Drew Miller. This new iteration of the Grind Line could pester the best lines in the Eastern Conference. Hendricks also has experience killing penalties and winning shootouts. Hendricks will stay put on Edmonton’s fourth line for now. His name was not mentioned in rumors today on social media, so he either was not in demand or Edmonton was not looking to part with his services.

6. Erik Cole – Dallas’ power forward has plenty of playoff experience and will fill any role the Red Wings ask him to fill. I’m sure Dallas GM Jim Nill has a few prospects in Detroit’s system he could try to pry away. Cole could add some depth to an already deep forward lineup. Pairing him with Riley Sheahan and Teemu Pulkkinen could pay dividends. We got him! The Red Wings acquired Erik Cole and a conditional pick from Dallas for prospects Mattias Backman and Mattias Janmark, and a second round pick. The conditional choice depends on if the Red Wings make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Cole could wind up playing alongside Sheahan or Henrik Zetterberg on Wednesday.

5. Alexander Semin – This trade would only benefit the Red Wings if Carolina retains a good portion of Semin’s salary. He is a high risk, high reward potential acquisition, but could enjoy a career renaissance in Detroit playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk. His right-handed shot would be welcomed in the Red Wings’ lineup. No one appeared to be interested in Semin’s trainwreck of a contract. Carolina still has Semin rostered for quite a few years. They could look to make a move in the offseason to unload his contract, while likely retaining some salary, to a team that can help turn Alex Semin around.

4. Adam Larsson – the former fifth overall draft pick of the New Jersey Devils has struggled to establish himself among the Devils’ blueliners. If the Red Wings could pick up Larsson or fellow Devil Marek Zidlicky, their defense would improve. Larsson would fit right in among Swedes Niklas Kronwall and Jonathon Ericsson and may not require a huge return for acquiring his services. While the Devils did not part with Larsson, they did with Zidlicky. The right-handed defenseman is coming to a hockey rink near you after the Red Wings acquired Marek Zidlicky from the New Jersey Devils for a conditional third round pick. The condition of this choice depends on if the Red Wings reach the finals.

3. Jeff Petry – Michigan-born and a right-handed shot? Jeff Petry has long been linked to the Red Wings in the rumor column. Until now, the Red Wings have not met Edmonton’s demands for the defenseman. A mid-level prospect and a draft choice could likely bring in Petry. Edmonton dealt Jeff Petry to the Montreal Canadiens for a couple of draft picks. While Andrej Sekera and Cody Franson netted a first round pick, Petry did not, and some wonder if Edmonton could have held out for more in return.

2. Mike Green – While his defense is not his strong point, Green’s offensive flair is exactly what the Red Wings are looking for. The Capitals acquisition of Tim Gleason solidifies their defense, so Green may no longer be on the market. A conditional draft choice plus a player could net Green if the Capitals are looking to deal him. It would be nice to see Green in Detroit after the Red Wings traded his draft pick to the Capitals for Robert Lang at the 2004 trade deadline. Green was not dealt and will stay in DC for the rest of the season. It’s good news for him, as the Capitals are looking awfully dangerous for a playoff run. Washington features one of their deepest teams in recent history, especially on the blue line.

1. Dion Phaneuf – I am convinced that a change in scenery will get Phaneuf back on the right track. His stock has never been lower and if the Leafs are willing to keep some of his salary, Phaneuf could be a great acquisition for Detroit’s top four defense. His cannon of a shot would certainly bolster an already strong power play for the Red Wings. Detroit was pushing hard to acquire Phaneuf from Toronto, but in the end, their demands were just too high. Before trading for Marek Zidlicky, Toronto was asking for either Brendan Smith or Anthony Mantha as part of the deal according to different sources. The Wings would not budge, but could look to acquire Phaneuf in the offseason for the right price.

Note: Bleacher Report produced a similar article to this and featured David Legwand as a potential trade option for the Red Wings. LOL. Legwand was not dealt and Bleacher Report still does not know a thing about the Red Wings.

One Day Left! Players the Detroit Red Wings Could Target Before the Trade Deadline

With quite a few trades already completed this past week, the Detroit Red Wings have less than 24 hours to make upgrades to their roster. Curtis Glencross, Jaromir Jagr, and Kimmo Timonen have already switched teams in deals. It has long been rumored that the Red Wings are looking to acquire another defenseman and possibly some size upfront. Darren Helm’s injury should not impact the trade outlook. It is still to be determined if Helm will be out for an extended period of time.

Let’s take a look at the Top 9 potential trade deadline targets the Red Wings could acquire:

9. Oliver Ekman-Larsson – The Red Wings would love to acquire the offensive defenseman, but the cost would be way too high, likely costing them at least one of Dylan Larkin, Tomas Tatar, or Gustav Nyquist. There is no rush to more Ekman-Larsson, but perhaps Ken Holland could create a package around Brendan Smith and Tomas Jurco to acquire him.

8. Roman Polak – Toronto’s defenseman could occupy a third-pairing spot and help on the penalty kill. His cost should not be terribly high, but there’s a chance that the market and demand for defensemen could drive up the price higher than the Red Wings are willing to pay.

7. Matt Hendricks – Perhaps costing the Red Wings only a late round draft pick, gritty Matt Hendricks could help the Red Wings form a formidable fourth line alongside Luke Glendening and Drew Miller. This new iteration of the Grind Line could pester the best lines in the Eastern Conference. Hendricks also has experience killing penalties and winning shootouts.

6. Eric Cole – Dallas’ power forward has plenty of playoff experience and will fill any role the Red Wings ask him to fill. I’m sure Dallas GM Jim Nill has a few prospects in Detroit’s system he could try to pry away. Cole could add some depth to an already deep forward lineup. Pairing him with Riley Sheahan and Teemu Pulkkinen could pay dividends.

5. Alexander Semin – This trade would only benefit the Red Wings if Carolina retains a good portion of Semin’s salary. He is a high risk, high reward potential acquisition, but could enjoy a career renaissance in Detroit playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk. His right-handed shot would be welcomed in the Red Wings’ lineup.

4. Adam Larsson – the former fifth overall draft pick of the New Jersey Devils has struggled to establish himself among the Devils’ blueliners. If the Red Wings could pick up Larsson or fellow Devil Marek Zidlicky, their defense would improve. Larsson would fit right in among Swedes Niklas Kronwall and Jonathon Ericsson and may not require a huge return for acquiring his services.

3. Jeff Petry – Michigan-born and a right-handed shot? Jeff Petry has long been linked to the Red Wings in the rumor column. Until now, the Red Wings have not met Edmonton’s demands for the defenseman. A mid-level prospect and a draft choice could likely bring in Petry.

2. Mike Green – While his defense is not his strong point, Green’s offensive flair is exactly what the Red Wings are looking for. The Capitals acquisition of Tim Gleason solidifies their defense, so Green may no longer be on the market. A conditional draft choice plus a player could net Green if the Capitals are looking to deal him. It would be nice to see Green in Detroit after the Red Wings traded his draft pick to the Capitals for Robert Lang at the 2004 trade deadline.

1. Dion Phaneuf – I am convinced that a change in scenery will get Phaneuf back on the right track. His stock has never been lower and if the Leafs are willing to keep some of his salary, Phaneuf could be a great acquisition for Detroit’s top four defense. His cannon of a shot would certainly bolster an already strong power play for the Red Wings.

Note: Bleacher Report produced a similar article to this and featured David Legwand as a potential trade option for the Red Wings. LOL.

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

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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?

 

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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.