The Alternate Wings All-Stars

I was talking expansion draft with Michael Petrella, of the now-defunct Production Line blog, yesterday and we got on the topic of draft picks that the Red Wings have traded away.

Many of those picks were used to select players that were never heard from again but some were used to grab some guys who the Wings probably wish they could have gotten.

I went back through the last twenty years of traded Red Wings draft picks – players who could have landed in Detroit – and I give you the Alternate Wings All-Stars.

Forwards

Patrick Sharp
With 277 goals and 322 assists in 869 career NHL games, Sharp is easily the most productive player selected with a traded Detroit draft pick in the last twenty years.  Sharp was picked in the third round, 95th overall, by the Philadelphia Flyers.  The Wings traded that pick to Nashville on June 24, 2000, for a 4th-round pick in the 2000 Entry Draft, which they used to select Stefan Liv at 102nd overall.  The Predators later flipped the pick to Philadelphia for defenseman Mark Eaton.

Alexei Ponikarovsky
Ponikarovsky was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round of the 1998 Entry Draft, 87th overall, with the pick the Leafs acquired from Detroit on March 24, 1998, in return for Jamie Macoun.  Macoun would with a Cup with Detroit that spring and play one more season with them before retiring.  Ponikarovski would go on to score 139 goals and 184 assists in a 12-year NHL career spent mostly with Toronto.

Mike Comrie
Coming out of the University of Michigan, Comrie was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the third round, 91st overall, of the 1999 Entry Draft.  The Oilers got that pick from the Nashville Predators in return for defenseman Craig Millar.  Nashville got it on July 14, 1998, as part of the package that returned Doug Brown to the Red Wings after the Predators claimed him in the expansion draft.  In a 589-game NHL career split across six teams, Comrie would score 168 goals and add 197 assists.

Defensemen

Mike Green
Now a Red Wing via free agency, Detroit gave up the chance to pick Green when they sent their first-round pick in the 2004 Entry Draft (29th overall) to the Washington Capitals in the deal for Robert Lang.  Green went on to score 113 goals and 247 assists in ten years with the Capitals, driving their power play.  He’s added 21 goals and 50 assists in two seasons since coming to Detroit.

Steve McCarthy
Never a flashy player, McCarthy nonetheless appeared in 302 career NHL games over a nine-season career split between the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, and Atlanta Thrashers.  McCarthy came into the league via Detroit’s first-round pick in the 1999 Entry Draft, 23rd overall.  That pick was acquired by the Blackhawks along with a first-rounder in 2001 and Anders Eriksson for Chris Chelios on March 23, 1999.  Chelios would play 578 games with the Red Wings over ten seasons.

Honorable Mention – Jakub Chychrun
Chychrun, a top prospect heading into the 2016 Entry Draft, slid down to Detroit’s spot at 16th overall before the Red Wings traded that pick and Pavel Datsyuk‘s salary cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes for the 20th and 53rd overall picks.  If he lives up to expectations, he could easily replace McCarthy on this list.

Goaltender

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Newly-annointed starter for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vasilevskiy has appeared in 90 NHL games, compiling a 2.60 GAA and a .915 save percentage.  The Lighting acquired him with the first-round draft pick in the 2012 Entry Draft (19th overall) that they got from Detroit in return for Kyle Quincey.

Red Wings Release 2017-18 Schedule

The Red Wings released their schedule for the 2017-18 season – their first at Little Caesars Arena – on Wednesday afternoon.

It was already known that the Wings would open their new home on October 5, hosting the Minnesota Wild.  They’ll close out the inaugural season on April 7, 2018, hosting the New York Islanders.

Detroit’s first visit to the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena will be early in the season on October 13, part of their first road trip.  Vegas will visit Detroit on March 8.

With no outdoor game this season, the annual New Years Eve game returns.  The Pittsburgh Penguins will be the visitors in the 2017 edition.

The schedule features 11 sets of games on back-to-back nights, down from sixteen last year.

The Red Wings will travel on two five-game road trips and three four-game trips.

View the full season schedule

Red Wings Lose Nosek to Golden Knights

The Detroit Red Wings lost center Tomas Nosek to the Vegas Golden Knights via the expansion draft, the National Hockey League revealed on Wednesday night.

The Golden Knights selected one player from each of the other NHL teams to build out their initial roster.  Their list was due to the NHL at 10:00 AM but was not announced until the NHL Awards show in the evening, leading to a day of leaks and rumors about the team’s picks.

Nosek’s name began circulating as the likely selection early in the afternoon.  With names such as Riley Sheahan, Xavier Ouellet, and Petr Mrazek available from Detroit, the move comes as something of a surprise.

Nosek scored ten goals and added 12 assists in 19 playoff games to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins on their run to the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Championship.  He scored a goal in eleven appearances with the Red Wings during the 2016-17 season and was expected to join the club full-time next year.

The move makes plenty of sense for the Golden Knights.  As I stated yesterday, Nosek would have been the obvious, cheaper replacement for several of the players Vegas could have selected off of the Red Wings’ NHL roster.  With that in mind, why would general manager George McPhee take one of the more expensive players, such as Sheahan, when he can cut straight to the player who would have been his replacement?

With Nosek selected, Detroit has failed to unload any of their troublesome contracts or troublesome players.  Notably, GM Ken Holland will now have to try to find a taker for Mrazek – whose attitude has been called into question since it was revealed that he was not on the team’s protected list – and his $4 million contract, or keep him and hope that his brief availability serves as a wake-up call.

Red Wings to Open LCA on October 5

The Detroit Red Wings announced their home opener for the 2017-18 season on Wednesday, and it will be October 5 against the Minnesota Wild.

The Red Wings will not be participating in another team’s home opener this season so we’ll have to wait until the full schedule is released on Thursday to find any more game dates.

Detroit is winless all-time when opening up a new arena.  On December 27, 1979, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues in their first game at Joe Louis Arena.  They opened Olympia Stadium with a 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on November 22, 1927.  Their first game in Windsor’s Border Cities Arena – the team’s home for their first season – was a 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on November 18, 1926.


With the announcement comes our first look at the Inaugural Season logo for Little Caesars Arena.  I’d like it a lot more with the Winged Wheel left out.  As it is, the LCA logo kind if looks like a toilet, and putting the Wings’ logo over top of it implies the Wings are in the toilet.  Of course, given the season they just had, that might be accurate.

Red Wings’ New Jerseys Revealed

The National Hockey League unveiled its new adidas-made jerseys in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.  As expected, there weren’t significant changes for the Red Wings.

Only home jerseys were unveiled but given the lack of change for Detroit’s red jersey, it’s safe to assume that the white jersey will remain similarly untouched.

With the shift to the adidas “AdiZero” template, materials of the jersey will change, as will the position of some seams.  This is most noticeable in the shoulders and collar area.

I speculated when a jersey preview was released last week that the Red Wings would be changing to a a sewn-on nameplate instead of individually-sewn letters.  It turns out that this nameplate was just for demonstration and the game jerseys will not include it.  Either way, the Wings will be keeping their vertically-arched names.

It appears as though the bottom stripe has changed a little.  It now follows the curved hem of the jersey at a constant width.  In the now-defunct Reebok Edge jersey template, the stripe was straight across the top, effectively changing width with the curve of the hem.  Prior to the Edge design, NHL jerseys had a straight hem so both the top and bottom of the stripe were straight.

One remaining question was the placement of the captains’ letters.  Per SportsLogos.Net founder Chris Creamer, who was on hand at the unveiling, the Red Wings will keep their letters on the right-hand side of the chest, opposite most of the league.

As the AdiZero template features a more squared shoulder than the Edge template, the contrasting-color shoulders of the Red Wings’ road jerseys could be in for a slight change.  That said, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ jerseys have translated the same effect to the new template.


Update, 10:45 PM: The Red Wings were quick to tweet out photos of their road white jersey.

This seems to confirm that the distinctive shoulders will remain. Additionally, the red waist stripe, like the white stripe on the home jersey, follows the curve of the hem rather than appearing straight.  Finally, the team is utilizing a thick, red collar rather than the thinner collar some teams opted for.

Update, 6/21 12:30 AM: Creamer confirms that the Red Wings’ game jerseys will not feature the nameplate shown during the jersey unveiling.  The nameplate was just there for demonstration.

How Losing Players in Expansion Can Help the Wings

I wrote yesterday (and ranted on Twitter before that) about the Red Wings leaving Petr Mrazek unprotected for the expansion draft but I should make something clear: No player the Golden Knights claim is going to immediately hurt Detroit to lose.  In fact, many of them would be addition by subtraction.

Oh, there are players that might sting more than others but even Mrazek (among others) is “only” a problem from an asset-management perspective.

Let’s look at it player-by-player (or group of players)…

Petr Mrazek
I’ll get this one out of the way first.  If Mrazek is claimed it clears $4 million from under the salary cap and solves the Wings’ goalie logjam.  Since all of the hit pieces went out, Mrazek probably doesn’t even want to come back to Detroit, so that awkward situation is resolved.  Jimmy Howard was the better goalie last year so assuming he can keep that up, the Wings actually upgrade in goal (if you’re comfortable making that assumption about a 33-year-old goalie).

Riley Sheahan
If Sheahan is claimed, the Wings get $2 million back on the salary cap and lose a player who can probably be replaced by Tomas Nosek.  Like Mrazek, there’s an asset-management issue here, as Sheahan was reportedly worth a first-round pick in trade and the Wings are risking giving him away for nothing.

Luke Glendening
See Riley Sheahan, minus the first-round pick.  Glendening is entirely replaceable at a cheaper rate.

Darren Helm
Helm is a little less replaceable but his contract is an albatross.  Getting out from under it would be helpful a few years down the road.  Supposedly other teams were interested in signing him last summer, so maybe he has trade value that would be forfeited.

Jonathan Ericsson / Niklas Kronwall
While there would be a PR hit from losing alternate captain Kronwall, both of these defensemen are somewhat replaceable and carry relatively large contracts.  Both have negative trade value, so unloading one via expansion would be useful.

Ryan Sproul / Xavier Ouellet
These are the players that could sting most to lose (outside of Mrazek).  Giving up young, cheap defensemen for nothing is never good.  Given their play to-date, they’re probably replaceable, but given their youth we can’t say that for sure.

Jared Coreau
The Golden Knights aren’t going to pick Coreau but if they did it’d leave the Wings with two goalies with NHL experience in the system, one of whom they just burned bridges with.  Ouch.  Perhaps there’s some entertainment value in that.

Any of the other Griffins names or free agents
Include Coreau in this one.  If Vegas were to, for some reason, claim someone who spent most of the season in Grand Rapids, it would mean Detroit’s roster survived expansion intact.  Of course, whether that’s a plus or a minus is really a matter of opinion.


One thing to consider in all of this is that cap space may not matter if the Wings are rebuilding.  Rebuilding means not signing big-name free-agents, so cap space becomes less important.

Term, however, can start to matter.  Helm and Glendening have the longest deals available, so having those off the books might not be helpful immediately but could pay off down the road.  Which is why the Golden Knights won’t claim them.

On Mrazek’s Attitude

I don’t buy it.  I’m just going to come out and say that up front.

Yesterday morning the surprise news dropped that the Red Wings were leaving Petr Mrazek available in the expansion draft, opting instead to protect Jimmy Howard.

By the end of the day, MLive’s Ansar Khan had released a piece declaring that Detroit “seemingly soured on Mrazek due to a combination of performance and attitude.”

Performance?  Absolutely.  Howard had a career year in which his playing time was limited due to injury.  In his absence, Mrazek – who was supposed to be the starter anyway – put up a career-worst 3.04 GAA and .901 save percentage.

Attitude, though?

Khan points to Mrazek’s unhappiness with losing starts to rookie Jared Coreau – specifically the outdoor Centennial Classic game in Toronto – as a sign of his attitude problem.  I’d argue the opposite: If – in the middle of a down year and lost starts – your goalie is happy with how things are going, you’ve got a problem on your hands.

According to Khan, there were also off-ice issues – which we conveniently heard nothing of until the day Mrazek was left unprotected for expansion.

Part of the reason Mrazek’s luster has faded could be due to deportment issues that can be traced to contentious off-season contract negotiations (they settled on a two-year, $8 million deal; Mrazek will be a restricted free agent in 2018).

Mrazek was not happy the Red Wings were unable to trade Howard in the off-season and let the club know in less-than-tactful terms.

I repeat: I don’t buy it.

Were Mrazek’s contract negotiations contentious?  I’m sure they were.

Going into last summer, Mrazek had claimed the starting role in Detroit, a spot the team had been paying Howard $5.3 million to occupy.  This is just conjecture, but it’s easy to see how Mrazek would think he was worth that money and the Red Wings wouldn’t want to have to pay him that.  Of course it’s going to be a contentious negotiation.

Mrazek was handed the starter’s role and was upset that the team kept around the previous starter?  I was upset about that, too.  I’m not going to fault Mrazek for being frustrated with Ken Holland‘s tire kicking not finding a taker for Howard.

I think you could just as easily spin this as saying that Holland and the Detroit brass have thin skin and can’t handle being criticized.  Is is a bad move by Mrazek?  Uhh, yeah, don’t go making your boss angry.  Does it mean he has a bad attitude?  I wouldn’t say that, and I certainly wouldn’t base roster decisions on it.

There’s also the timing of this to consider.

Mrazek’s contract negotiation took until the 11th hour, which doesn’t happen without at least a bit of contentiousness, but there was never any publicized indication of lingering animosity from that.

Similarly, nothing was made of Mrazek’s frustration with Holland being unable to deal Howard.

The “oh, by the way, all this horrible stuff has been happening in the background, trust me” tone makes it feel like a hit piece to me.  The timing is just too convenient and I don’t trust it.

Do I buy that Mrazek has an attitude?  Yes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Do I buy that he has an attitude problem?  Not a chance.

Red Wings Leave Mrazek Exposed for Expansion Draft

There were few surprises when the Red Wings’ expansion draft protection list was (eventually) released this morning, but the one that did come down was a big one, as the team opted to protect goalie Jimmy Howard rather than Petr Mrazek.

Available
Louis-Marc Aubry (F)
Mitch Callahan (F)
Colin Campbell (F)
Martin Frk (F)
Luke Glendening (F)
Darren Helm (F)
Drew Miller (F)
Tomas Nosek (F)
Riley Sheahan (F)
Ben Street (F)
Eric Tangradi (F)
Adam Almquist (D)
Jonathan Ericsson (D)
Niklas Kronwall (D)
Brian Lashoff (D)
Dylan McIlrath (D)
Xavier Ouellet (D)
Ryan Sproul (D)
Jared Coreau (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
Edward Pasquale (G)
Jake Paterson (G)

Protected
Justin Abdelkader (F)
Andreas Athanasiou (F)
Anthony Mantha (F)
Frans Nielsen (F)
Gustav Nyquist (F)
Tomas Tatar (F)
Henrik Zetterberg (F)
Danny DeKeyser (D)
Mike Green (D)
Nick Jensen (D)
Jimmy Howard (G)

I’ve been ranting about this on Twitter all morning, so obviously I think this is the wrong move.  Let me touch on a couple other things first, though.

I half-expected Niklas Kronwall to be protected, even though his contract and injury history make him pretty much unclaimable, so seeing him available is good.  Similarly, the Red Wings could have left Andreas Athanasiou unprotected to protect Darren Helm but didn’t.  So there were some good choices here.

Let’s come back to the goalies, though.

Yesterday the Arizona Coyotes and Calgary Flames made waves with the Coyotes sending veteran goalie Mike Smith to the Flames for a pick and a prospect.  At the time, I wondered how Ken Holland couldn’t have gotten a deal done to send Jimmy Howard to Calgary instead, as the Wings certainly could have asked for less, with the cleared cap space being the real acquisition for Detroit.  After all, Smith is two years older than Howard, signed for more money, and had worse stats than Howard last season.

One response was that Smith is seen as more durable than Howard.  While that’s possible, it’d be somewhat ridiculous, as Howard missed significant time last season but Smith missed half the year in 2015-16.

Another idea was that Calgary GM Brad Treliving specifically wanted Smith, as he was with the Coyotes when they signed him.  That’s always possible, but I find it hard to believe that familiarity was worth the higher price paid for Smith than the Wings would have to have asked for Howard.  Either Treliving did a disservice to the Flames by overpaying for a goalie or Ken Holland did a disservice to the Red Wings by not negotiating hard enough to trade Howard.

I’m also focusing on Howard here because we know the Flames traded for Smith and Howard is more like Smith than Mrazek is.  We have no idea what kind of deal it would have taken to move Mrazek to Calgary but we can guess what kind of deal would have gotten Howard there.

If Howard gets dealt yesterday, Mrazek gets protected today, and concerns about losing a goalie for nothing are gone.

I think it could have been avoided, but regardless the reason, the Red Wings hit yesterday’s deadline with two NHL goalies on their roster and could only protect one.

With that out of the way, some thoughts on protecting Howard over Mrazek…

There’s a lot of chatter that neither will be selected because there are better goalies available.  If that’s the case, I would think you try to slide Howard through because at 33 and with a $5.29 million cap hit and coming off an injury-filled season, it’s less likely that he gets claimed, just in case.

If there’s a deal in place to “guide” the Golden Knights towards picking a certain player, it doesn’t matter who you have unprotected.  That said, Ken Holland said he wasn’t going to do that.  Kenny has lied to us before, though.

Ignoring both of those, the reason to leave Mrazek unprotected is because you don’t care if you lose him.  For a team in the Red Wings’ position, that’s a mistake.  This team needs to get younger and cheaper, even if that means worse (which I think it arguable).  Shed bad contracts and look to the future.  You do that by protecting Mrazek, not Howard.

Protecting Howard over Mrazek feels like sacrificing youth for another playoff push.  It feels like the tie goes to the veteran.  It feels like the “Red Wings Way” that led to the end of the playoff streak and no long playoff runs in nearly a decade.

Red Wings to Add Nameplate to Adidas Jerseys?

The National Hockey League’s jersey manufacturer will switch from Reebok to adidas next season and with it comes new standards in jersey design.

Much like the league’s hyped move to the Reebok Edge system in 2007, many teams are taking the opportunity to change up their looks in some way or form.  Fortunately – as was the case then – the Red Wings are not expected to make much of a change.

A teaser image Tweeted out today does seem to show a difference, however.

That appears to be a sewn-on nameplate, which the Red Wings haven’t used with their vertically-arced lettering.  Up until now, Detroit player names have been sewn directly onto the jerseys.

Personally, I think arched nameplates look awful, but the replica jerseys have been sold this way for several years now and I’m sure they’re easier to manufacture.

Across the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers are the only other teams to used arched player names.  Both of those teams use nameplates sewn onto the jerseys.

We’ll have to wait until the new jerseys are unveiled in five days to see if the arched nameplate makes an appearance.

Red Wings Announce 2017 Exhibition Schedule at LCA

The Detroit Red Wings announced their 2017 exhibition schedule via Tweet on Thursday.  It will be their first preseason at Little Caesars Arena.

As per usual, the schedule consists of home and road games against the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Toronto Maple Leafs.  The Red Wings will start with three games on the road, then come to their new home for four games, then close things out in Toronto.

The full schedule is as follows:

Date Opponent Location Time
September 19, 2017 Boston Bruins Away 7:00 PM
September 20, 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins Away 7:00 PM
September 21, 2017 Chicago Blackhawks Away 8:30 PM
September 23, 2017 Boston Bruins Home 7:00 PM
September 25, 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins Home 7:30 PM
September 28, 2017 Chicago Blackhawks Home 7:30 PM
September 29, 2017 Toronto Maple Leafs Home 7:30 PM
September 30, 2017 Toronto Maple Leafs Away 7:00 PM

Of note, per the Red Wings’ initial release, the arena for the preseason closer in Toronto is listed as “TBD” rather than “Air Canada Centre.”