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?
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.
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.
Often times, NBCSports’ Wednesday Night Rivalry Night delivers a matchup of two marketable teams from big market cities. Tonight’s Red Wings-Blackhawks matchup offers that, plus a respectable rivalry in today’s NHL.
Jonathon Ericsson once said in a Bob Duff article that the players from both teams always get up for the Detroit-Chicago games and have mutual respect for each other. The matchup is truly quality hockey at its finest.
Already this season, the Detroit Red Wings have been featured on Rivalry Night a number of times, including matchups with the Capitals, Penguins, and Avalanche. There is plenty of bad blood with the Avalanche in the history of the two franchises, but none as of late. The Penguins and Capitals are obviously former Stanley Cup opponents, but do not offer much else in history or distaste for each other.
The Red Wings-Blackhawks rivalry can be traced back to the days when the Norris family owned both teams. Their proximity to each other and distance from other original six teams offered a Midwest rivalry during Original Six play. Red Wing greats Glenn Hall, Ted Lindsay, and Sid Abel all spent a portion of their careers in Chicago (usually through unbalanced, intra-family trades to improve the Blackhawks).
Of the players on today’s teams, only Marian Hossa and Danny Cleary have played for both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. Greats Chris Chelios and Bob Probert also spent time as fan favorites for both franchises during their careers.
The showcase of these two teams for Rivalry Night features Detroit’s one true, contemporary rivalry. It can be traced back to the franchises’ entrance to the NHL, but most recently to the 2009 Western Conference Finals, where the Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks in five games on Darren Helm’s overtime goal.
Since then, the Red Wings and Blackhawks have been among the NHL’s most talented teams year-after-year. They feature superstars, budding players, and the most pure skills between any two teams in the NHL. Look back to the quality of hockey played during the 2013 playoff matchup of these two teams. Though the Red Wings lost, you can’t help but appreciate the talent these two teams put on the ice for that series.
The teams’ talent and compete levels are similar because their systems are bred from the same template: the Red Wings franchise. It’s no wonder the Blackhawks resemble the Red Wings—Scotty Bowman is a team consultant and his son is the GM. The Blackhawks are modeled after the success the Red Wings experienced over the past two decades. Pretty cool to be model franchise for rival teams and other NHL clubs, huh?
Enjoy the game tonight. It’s the best matchup in the NHL and the best rivalry the Red Wings are a part of today.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.