kronwall

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.

Throwback Thursday: Looking to the 1998 Red Wings for Tonight’s Motivation

Chris Osgood

Photo courtesy of AP

Around this time of the year in 1998, the Red Wings were gearing up for Game 4 of their first round matchup against Phoenix. They had just come off of back-to-back losses to the Coyotes, where Chris Osgood had performed below expectations. We all remember Jeremy Roenick blasting a clapper past Osgood from center ice.

Going into Game 4 down two-to-one in the series and on the road, Detroit had every reason to lose and eventually lose the series. Chris Osgood could have let the Coyotes rattle him again and it looked that way early after an early goal. After that, Osgood shut them down. The Red Wings roared back and took the game, winning 4-2.

The current Red Wings are in a similar situation today. Although they are not the favorites this year, the Red Wings have their backs against the wall going into Game 4 against Boston. The Bruins could beat Detroit tonight and finish off the Red Wings at home in Boston on Saturday. I don’t think the Red Wings’ locker room leadership will let that happen though.

Imagine the confidence tonight. Todd Bertuzzi is in the lineup and ready to go. Henrik Zetterberg may make his return tonight. There is no one in the locker room who thinks they are the underdogs tonight. Bertuzzi has played the game a long time and is dying for a Cup before he calls it quits. He will be on his horse tonight and hitting everything he can. Zetterberg, though probably not at 100%, will give it all he’s got. The team will see that and take note (see Zetterberg’s Impact on the Offense).

Can today’s Red Wings repeat history and follow in the footsteps of Chris Osgood and company? Can Jimmy Howard step up and shut down Boston on his own like he did in the first game of the series? Will Bertuzzi and Zetterberg have an impact the offense that has scored two goals in three games?

Game 2 of the 1998 first round matchup with Phoenix was the last time the Red Wings lost on April 24th. I’d like to wait before seeing another loss on today’s date.

Side Note: Congratulations to Pavel Datsyuk and his wife, Svetlana, on the birth of their baby girl. Also, best of luck to Niklas Kronwall and his girlfriend, who is currently in labor.

Tonight’s Projected Lines:

Zetterberg (hooray!) – Datsyuk – Abdelkader

Franzen – Helm – Nyquist

Tatar – Sheahan – Bertuzzi

Miller – Glendening – Legwand

Kronwall – Smith

Quincey – DeKeyser

Kindl – Lashoff

Top 9: Odd Facts from the Regular Season

This past season has been a strange one by Red Wings’ standards. Injuries, new conference opponents, youth in the lineup, and a compressed schedule (because of the Olympics) have made the regular season a trying one at times. However, Detroit persevered and made the playoffs for the 23rd straight season. Before the Red Wings take on the big, bad Bruins on Friday, let’s take a look at the Top 9 odd notes from this season:

Mike Babcock

Photo courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI

9. In a season marred by injuries and losing streaks, Mike Babcock passed both Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams to become the Red Wings’ all-time coaching wins leader. Babs finished the regular season with 415 wins in Detroit. Hopefully there will be many more wins added to that number.

 

 

Gordie Howe

Photo courtesy of Richard Meek/SI

8. In his first season in Detroit, Daniel Alfredsson led the Red Wings with 49 points. He is the oldest player (41) to lead the Red Wings in scoring since Gordie Howe did it during the 1969-70 season. I’d like to see Detroit bring back Alfredsson for another season, but we will get to that once the playoffs are over and free agency and the draft are the priorities.

 

 

 

Daniel Alfredsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

7. Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall led the team with 49 points this season, though Alfredsson scored that many in fewer games that Kronwall. Their point totals were the lowest to lead the Red Wings in scoring since Joe Carveth led Detroit with 35 points during the 1945-46 season. Back then, teams only played 48 games in the regular season.

 

 

Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

6. Alfredsson and Kronwall’s 49 points is the lowest to lead Detroit in scoring in the Modern Era. No one has led Detroit with less points since teams began playing 70 games (or 80, or 82, or 84…) in the regular season. Players like Howe, Steve Yzerman, and Sergei Fedorov consistently scored more than 49 points. In fact, they usually hit the 49-point mark 49 games into the season (or earlier).

 

 

 

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports

5. On that note, Pavel Datsyuk scored 49 points last season…in 47 games. The Magic Man scored as many points as Detroit’s leaders this season in a lockout-shortened year last year. In addition, during the 1994-95 lockout-shortened season, both Fedorov and Paul Coffey bested 49 points each. Offense dipped this year, but it was spread out amongst many different players.

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Howard

Photo courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

4. Jimmy Howard‘s 21 wins are the lowest to lead the Red Wings since Glen Hanlon only won 15 for Detroit during the 1989-90 season. That was the last season before the playoff streak started. Injuries to the lineup, inconsistent play, and injuries to Jimmy himself prevented that number from being higher.

 

 

 

 

 

Gustav Nyquist

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings

3. Gustav Nyquist led Detroit with 28 goals this season. The odd fact about that was that he was not part of the opening night lineup. Nyquist started the year in the minors and played 15 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins before getting called up to the show. It was more of a salary cap move to keep Nyquist in the minors for so long, but the signings of Daniel Cleary during training camp and Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo the previous season to play over Nyquist was questionable then and now.

 

 

Tomas Jurco

Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

2. The Red Wings had nine different players make their NHL debuts this season. Tomas Jurco, Luke GlendeningLandon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Mitch Callahan got a chance to crack the top-12 forwards, while Adam Almqvist, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, and Ryan Sproul made their NHL debuts on defense. So many rookies making cracking the lineup is certainly an oddity in Detroit, considering the Red Wings overdevelop their prospects and prefer to have veterans suit up over rookies.

 

Steve Yzerman

Photo courtesy of Mary Schroeder/Detroit Free Press

1. Detroit’s 39 wins this season is the lowest win total in a non-lockout-shortened season since the 1996-97 team finished the year with 38 wins. While losing sucks, I’ll gladly take 39 wins because the Red Wings happened to win the Stanley Cup in 1997 after the “subpar” regular season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statistics provided by hockeydb.com

Scoring By Committee

Gustav Nyquist

Photo courtesy of AP

Though Gustav Nyquist is tearing it up on the ice and making frequent appearances on the score sheet, he is still not leading the Red Wings in points this season. Nyquist is tied with Daniel Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall for second on the team with 45 points. Henrik Zetterberg currently leads the Wings with 48 points through the 45 games he has played.

While Detroit has been plagued by injuries this season, they have relied on several players to lead the scoring punch. Nyquist, Alfredsson, Kronwall, Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Tatar have all stepped up in a combined effort to keep the Red Wings in the playoff hunt. Though Detroit is scoring, no one is the stand out leading scorer.

Actually, Detroit’s leading scorer at the end of the regular season this year may have the lowest point total of any Red Wings’ leading scorer since the implementation of an 80 (or 82) game schedule. It’s just a matter of who leads the team at the end of the year. The previous lowest point total was 59 points be Walt McKechnie during the 1976-77 season. That season, the Dead Wings went 16-55-9.

This year’s lack of scoring is a bit of an anomaly. Detroit is having a much better season in comparison with the 1976-77 Red Wings team. Though this season is not up to Red Wing standards, we are still in the playoff hunt and have the potential to do some damage if we reach the playoffs. In addition, McKechnie scored his 59 points in 80 games, which translated to 0.74 points per game (ppg). Zetterberg is scoring over a point per game, but has missed time due to back injuries. He would score 87 points in a full season. Datsyuk (0.85), Alfredsson (0.71), Franzen (0.79), and Nyquist (0.90) all would be having better seasons had they not missed time due to injuries or time in the minors. Chances are that they would all score over 59 points this season with all 82 games under their belt. But that’s not how things work. Someone may make history this year with the lowest point total to lead the Red Wings in a non-shortened 82-game season.

Detroit has not had someone step up and dominate the scoring for the team, and even the league, in recent history, but they do score goals. I think this bodes well if they can squeak into the playoffs. A healthy Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will certainly help too. Gustav Nyquist is leading the team now, but the scoring has otherwise been pretty diverse, and that will be hard to defend against come playoff time. Mike Babcock used to split up Datsyuk and Zetterberg so the opponent’s shutdown line had to focus on one player, not both. Now, those two aren’t even in the equation, but could be for the playoffs. Imagine a world where a line with Datsyuk and Zetterberg isn’t the main focus of the opponent’s defense?

Looking into the Future: 2018 Lineup

After really thinking about how prospects like Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, and Petr Mrazek are getting a chance to prove themselves earlier than expected, I began to wonder what the lineup would look like when those players were in their prime. Five years from now, the current batch of prospects would be in their mid- to late-20s and hopefully will be mainstays in the Red Wings’ lineup.

Below is a depth chart of how I think the Red Wings lineup will look in five years. All of the players are in the organization, as I cannot predict who will get traded or let go in another way. Note: Pavel Datsyuk will not be playing in the 2018-19 season, unless he decides to follow in the footsteps of Igor Larionov and play until he is 44.

2018 Lineup

2018-19 Projected Lineup

It was tough to predict the future.

Only Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, and Jimmy Howard are under contract for that season currently. Everyone else will be on a new contract than the one they are currently signed under.

I surely hope Anthony Mantha is dominating the NHL by then. He has the makings of a goal-scoring power forward and would fit well with an aged playmaker in Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist in his prime.

Defense is a huge question mark in my opinion. I can see Brendan Smith or Brian Lashoff not being on the team in 2018, though I hope they are unless they are traded for even better players. Luckily, Detroit has a great batch of prospects on defense are could afford to lose Smith and/or Lashoff. Even some of the prospects could be dealt. Guys like Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, Ryan Sproul, Mattias Backman, and Adam Almquist should all be NHL-ready by 2018, it’s just a matter of who is with the Red Wings, in the minors, or elsewhere in the NHL.

Players I am hoping will be in the lineup: Zetterberg, Mantha, Marchenko, Mrazek, Pulkkinen.

Players who could be traded by 2018: Franzen, Howard, Smith, Jurco, any defenseman prospect.