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Do the Red Wings Need Size in the Lineup?

Bob Probert

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

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.

Friday Wish List

Ken Holland

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s finally Friday, which means it’s time for some fun.

The offseason is one of my favorite times of the year. I know, that’s strange for a Red Wings fan, but I enjoy the team management side as well. As the GM of the Red Wings, I have a few wishes for the offseason. The window for Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg is closing as they are getting older and more prone to injuries. I’d like to see at least one more Stanley Cup in their careers to cement their legacy with the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL.

The Red Wings have some obvious needs heading into the offseason. A scoring winger, top two defenseman, and some size would be nice. We can’t forget about a backup goalie either. Here are the priorities:

1. Sign a scoring winger to play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, and Jarome Iginla would be expensive, but would solve the scoring issue.

Daniel Alfredsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

2. Sign a scoring winger or someone with size to play on a line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar. Daniel Alfredsson would be perfect to fill this role, as would Steve Ott or Ales Hemsky.

3. Move Stephen Weiss to right wing. He could play on any of the top three lines as a Justin Abdelkader-type player, using his grit and physicality to retrieve the puck. His offensive abilities could be utilized as well in this role.

4. Move Johan Franzen to center. He has stated that he loves playing center because of the added responsibility. What better way to motivate the Mule than give him extra responsibility on the ice. Gustav Nyquist could play left wing on his line. The right side could be occupied by Weiss, Abdelkader, a free agent acquisition, or someone acquired in a trade.

5. Make a trade. Great transition right? The free agent market is a little bare this offseason and the Red Wings need an impact player. Or two. Buffalo, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver could be trading partners.

6. Sign a depth defenseman with size for the penalty kill. None of our defensemen block shots and the penalty kill is awful. I am hoping Brian Lashoff can fill that role, but I would want a veteran defenseman either this offseason or at the trading deadline as insurance. Someone proven in this role would boost the penalty kill immensely.

7. Move Jakub Kindl for whatever we can get in return. Xavier Ouellet leapfrogged him on the depth chart during the playoffs and deserves a starting spot more so than Kindl. Trading Kindl plus a prospect or pick to the Islanders for Michael Grabner would be great. Grabner would fit perfectly with Sheahan and Tatar.

Petr Mrazek

Photo courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI

8. Promote Petr Mrazek to the team as the backup goalie. Unless we can sign Brian Elliott to a cost-effective deal, I think Mrazek has earned a full-time gig as the Red Wings’ backup tendy.

9. Not worry about Mike Babcock. He isn’t going anywhere.

 

What are your thoughts? What would you do as the GM for the Red Wings.