Red Wings Sign Raymond to ELC

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of 2020 fourth-overall draft pick Lucas Raymond to his three-year entry-level deal on Friday.

The contract begins with the 2021-22 season.  This does not preclude him from appearing in North America – either with the Red Wings or the Grand Rapids Griffins – at some point this season, simply that he would need to sign an additional amateur try-out contract to do so.

Raymond had put up 18 points in 34 games for Frolunda of the SHL this season before  a shoulder injury sidelined him in February.

Post Trade Deadline Thoughts

I started mentally putting this post together just as today’s NHL trade deadline passed but held off on actually writing it for a little bit, knowing how trades often aren’t announced until well after the actual deadline.

That was somewhat fortuitous, given that the Red Wings’ biggest deadline deal wasn’t officially announced until 45 minutes post-deadline, when the team confirmed that Anthony Mantha had been traded to the Washington Capitals for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a first-round pick this year, and a second-round pick next year.

As I said in my write-up of the deal, I can’t stand Panik.  I hope he’s made available in the expansion draft and, for some reason, the Kraken take him and his contract.  But I’m curious about Vrana in a top-line role with this team.  I also think the Wings’ rebuild probably won’t work with third and fourth round picks alone so getting the first and second from Washington is important.

Detroit’s previous deals were to send Jon Merrill to the Montreal Canadiens, Patrik Nemeth to the Colorado Avalanche, and to help facilitate the Columbus Blue Jackets’ trade of David Savard to the Tampa Bay Lightning.  These were all players on expiring contracts or just salary cap space and, while fourth and fifth rounders aren’t sexy (and, as I said, probably aren’t enough on their own to facilitate a rebuild), they’re essentially free picks and you take those every time.

It’s the deals that didn’t happen that bother me about this deadline, as they have with every deadline since the Red Wings became sellers.

For years we’ve been told to just wait for some of Detroit’s players to hit the final year of their contracts and we’d see them flipped at the deadline.  Mike Green, Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson.  Of them, only Green netted anything, and that was on his second expiring contract with Detroit after everyone passed the first time around due to him being injured.

This year was supposed to be the year for flipping vets for picks.  Bobby Ryan, Jon Merrill, Patrik Nemeth, Marc Staal, Sam Gagner, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula, Jonathan Bernier.  All on expiring deals.  But then, like Green before him, Ryan got hurt.  Like Howard, no market developed for Bernier.  Merrill and Nemeth were moved but no one called on the league’s leading faceoff man in Glendening, playoff performer Helm, or versatile veteran Gagner.

As I said in 2019, “I get that you can’t trade for things that other teams don’t want to give you.”  If there wasn’t a trade to be made, then there wasn’t a trade to be made, and that’s that.  But as I also said then, “I think that’s the part that’s depressing to me. Not that the Wings were sellers. Not that the team is in a rebuild. That they’re sellers with not much to sell, so they can’t get big pieces back for the rebuild.”

The Red Wings sold Mantha because he was the only piece anyone wanted, much like when they moved Tomas Tatar in 2018.  Both the Mantha and Tatar deals were good deals but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard to look at the big picture and think it wasn’t enough.

Especially when, back in the final years of the Red Wings’ playoff streak, a Glendening or Helm or Gagner or Staal is exactly the kind of player then-GM Ken Holland would have paid a hefty price to acquire for a postseason push.  Is Staal really that different from Marek Zidlicky or Gagner that different from Erik Cole?  Squinting a little, are Glendening or Helm that far off from the David Legwand the Red Wings acquired (rather than the one he had been for years up to that point)?

Nine years ago, Paul freakin’ Gaustad fetched a first-rounder when he was sent from the Sabres to the Predators.  Now no one wants Glendening.  And you know what?  That’s smart.  Gaustad never was worth that much and Glendening isn’t, either.  But it’s hard to see buyers giving up that much when the Red Wings were buyers but now that the Wings are sellers, the market has changed.

Blame the flat cap, blame Detroit just not having good enough players to sell.  Whatever it is, it doesn’t make it easy to see.

Red Wings Trade Mantha to Capitals

As the NHL’s trade deadline came and went on Monday, it looked like the Red Wings had remained relatively quiet, until the late-breaking news that they had sent forward Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals, first reported by Kevin Weekes.

The “more” ended up being a first round draft pick in 2021 and a second round draft pick in 2022.

As I mentioned on Twitter, the longer the Wings went without moving some of their depth pieces, the more it was looking like the 2018 deadline, where Detroit had to sell Tomas Tatar just to get anything of value back.  And Mantha was primed to be this year’s Tatar, so this doesn’t come as a complete shock.

I’ll be honest, I can’t stand Richard Panik.  I pulled up CapFriendly to see how long he’s signed for and audibly sighed: Through 2023 with a $2.75 million salary cap hit.  My hope right now is that Seattle claims him in the expansion draft this summer but I’m not expecting it.

Jakub Vrana is a restricted free agent this summer.  He’s 25 so the Wings get a little younger there.  With 25 points, he immediately slots in as Detroit’s top scorer.

It’s clear that the picks are the big win for Detroit, though.

I’m not okay with how the rest of the deadline went, and I’ll write about that later, but this is a good deal for Detroit.

Red Wings Trade Merrill to Montreal

The Detroit Red Wings traded defenseman Jon Merrill to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, bringing back a fifth-round pick and prospect Hayden Verbeek in return.

Verbeek is the nephew of Detroit assistant general manager Pat Verbeek.  In three professional seasons, his AHL performance has been underwhelming.  He’s had to spend time in the ECHL in two of those three years.

With the fifth-round pick belonging to the Ottawa Senators, it will be early in the round.

It feels like the Wings could have gotten more for Merrill, one of their better defensemen this season on a cheap contract, than a fifth-rounder and a seemingly washed-up prospect.  As I said with the Patrik Nemeth trade, I’d rather see all of Detroit’s expiring contracts traded for something than nothing, but stocking up on fourth and fifth rounders isn’t exactly a sexy rebuild.

Red Wings Acquire Fourth-Round Pick in Three Team Trade

The Detroit Red Wings acquired a fourth-round pick in a three team trade on Saturday, acting as a middle-man to retain salary on behalf of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Detroit effectively gave up Brian Lashoff and $1 million of salary cap space for Tampa Bay’s fourth-rounder in 2021.

However, even that is somewhat overstated, as Lashoff was immediately re-assigned by the Lightning back to the Grand Rapids Griffins.  As such, he remains with the Detroit organization but cannot be called up to the Red Wings.

This is Detroit’s second retained-salary transaction in as many days.  They retained half of Patrik Nemeth‘s salary when trading him to the Colorado Avalanche.

Given that teams can only have three players with retained salary on the books, this seems to limit the Red Wings’ options heading into the trade deadline, as they’ll only be able to do that once more.

I think this means that there isn’t much of a market for Detroit’s trade chips, as the Red Wings would almost certainly need to retain salary to move Jonathan Bernier, Marc Staal, or maybe even Luke Glendening.

Red Wings Trade Nemeth to Avalanche

The Red Wings traded defenseman Patrik Nemeth to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth round draft pick in 2022 on Friday night.

The move comes in advance of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.  The Red Wings will retain 50% of Nemeth’s salary in the transaction.

Detroit signed Nemeth as a free agent from Colorado during the summer of 2019.  He played 103 games for the Red Wings, notching 17 points in a shutdown role.

Nemeth is due to become an unrestricted free agent in the coming offseason.

The deal marks the first-ever direct trade between the Red Wings and the Avalanche.


The first report that something might be up came via DH.N’s roster monitoring.


I will continue to lament the fact that the Red Wings don’t have the pieces to acquire better picks than this, but I like the move.  Just because they can’t get anything better doesn’t mean they shouldn’t sell what they have.

Red Wings Lose Ryan for Season

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill announced on Friday that forward Bobby Ryan will miss the remainder of the season.

Ryan had a setback in recovering from an upper-body injury that was originally though to be minor.  He may now require surgery.

With the Red Wings’ season all-but-lost, this hurts the franchise more by how it impacts their trade deadline strategy.  With just three days until the trade deadline, they’ve lost one of their more valuable trade pieces.

Ryan is a veteran presence who has put up 14 points in 33 games with Detroit, seemingly rebounding from several off years with the Ottawa Senators.  Additionally, he’s on a contract for just $1 million.  As the Red Wings could be expected to retain salary on any potential Ryan trade, he would have been able to slot into almost any contender’s lineup.

Instead, he’ll be on the shelf and Detroit won’t add whatever he would have brought in trade.

It feels, to me, a lot like the 2018 deadline, when Mike Green was Detroit’s top trade piece, only for him to get injured down the stretch and no market to develop.  Eventually, Green was signed for two more years, much of which he spent out, before being traded for the injured Kyle Brodziak and a conditional pick that ended up being a fourth-rounder in this year’s Entry Draft.  He retired last summer.

I’ve often compared the Red Wings’ rebuild to that of the New York Rangers, citing the main difference (aside from the Blueshirts’ ability to win the lottery) as New York having players to sell.  When their rebuild started in 2018, the Rangers were able to move Michael Grabner and Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh.  Then the next year it was Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes.  With the draft picks they acquired, they were able to acquire Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba, making Brady Skjei expendable so he could be flipped for yet another first-rounder.

The Red Wings haven’t been able to do that. They have a lot of expiring contracts to offer up in the next few days, so I’m not willing to write that off as a possibility this season, yet.  But they did just lose a big potential piece.

Postgame Thoughts: Panthers @ Red Wings, 2/20

I’ll start with something I said via Twitter that wasn’t appreciated: I don’t like Anthony Mantha challenging Aleksander Barkov for Barkov’s hit on Dylan Larkin late in the third period today.

Part of it is that bad things happen when Mantha plays that role.  The guy’s hands are glass.  If someone needs to step up, it should not be him.

More controversially, I don’t think the hit was that bad.  I know there are a lot of people saying Barkov stuck his leg out, even saying that it was a (or was at least an attempted) knee-on-knee hit.  I see an awkward hip check.  Barkov’s hip went backwards, his leg went out sideways, and his hip is what made contact.  I’m sure we could say that he stuck his hip out to cover for the fact that he was sticking his leg out but I just don’t see it.

I could see the argument that it was late, maybe.  But I just don’t see that as one that someone should be made to answer for.

Anyway…

Going into the game I was unhappy to see the Red Wings going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen with Evgeni Svechnikov left out of the lineup.  I was going to say that, as much as I didn’t like it, much like the healthy scratch of Mantha earlier this season, it would probably work.  I should have hit send.

After so many missed chances this season, it was great to see Mathias Brome get his first career NHL goal.  It’s also funny because he’s had better chances than that one but that’s the one that went in.  I didn’t realize until he scored that goal that he didn’t even have a point yet this season.  Eye-test-wise, he’s played way better than that.

Despite the Brome goal and the outcome, this didn’t feel particularly fun to watch.  Wings games rarely have over the last couple seasons. so that’s not a surprise, but it makes it feel like wins aren’t as earned.

On the aesthetic side, man, I love those Panthers’ Reverse Retro jerseys.  I thought for sure that the Red Wings would use an opportunity when they were already wearing white at home to break out their own Reverse Retro set but they didn’t.  Part of me wonders if the Wings will try to slide through the season never wearing theirs.

Speaking of Reverse Retros, that’s what all four teams are wearing in this weekend’s Outdoor Games at Lake Tahoe.

Seeing media coverage of the event via Twitter has been difficult for me.  As I noted earlier today, it seems like there are a lot of journalists or other media personalities praising the visuals at Lake Tahoe, calling for more events like that.  And I applaud the NHL for giving this a shot, even though the first game is currently paused after one period because of ice issues, because it is a gorgeous setting.

But there are no fans there.  This season, that’s not a big deal.  But you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that, in a normal season, we should be doing made-for-TV events that only media actually get to go to live.  I get that these events (hell, even normal games) have gotten so expensive that a lot of fans are unable to attend in person.  But crossing the line to events that no fans can attend in person seems like too much.

Especially as the line between “fan” and “journalist” seems to dissolve further and further.  In the bad old days of the blogosphere, one of the knocks against bloggers was our fandom, our partiality.  Now there are credentialed media who feel a lot like cheerleaders on Twitter.  So to see those journalists calling for more events without fans, which would be open to them, while they act more and more fan-like…  It rubs me the wrong way.

Postgame Thoughts: Red Wings @ Panthers, 2/7

I’m not going to say that the Red Wings looked good in their 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers today. This is still, in general, a Not Good team. For the first time in a long time, though, they did all the things (consistently) that they needed to do to win a game, though.

Specifically, what I liked seeing today was how much Detroit was getting in the way of Florida passes, or knocking the puck off the Panthers’ sticks. It was a level of grind we haven’t seen from the Wings much. And it led directly to Detroit’s second goal, with Bobby Ryan stealing the puck and getting it to Givani Smith in front of the net.

Thomas Greiss got his first win as a Red Wing and it’s kind of funny because I don’t think he looked much better or worse than he usually does. Shows how much a goalie’s stats can be impacted by the team in front of him, which isn’t exactly surprising but is always interesting when such a strong example comes up.

Radko Gudas’ hit on Luke Glendening…  Gudas has a history of dirty stuff. I could see – if one wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt – calling the head contact incidental. I don’t see why anyone would give Gudas the benefit of the doubt. We’ll have to see what the NHL thinks.

Aside from that hit, I thought Florida’s Mackenzie Weegar was throwing his weight around in some annoying ways today. Earlier this season he bloodied Glendening without a penalty, then when Michael Rasmussen took him into the boards, Aaron Ekblad attempted to fight Rasmussen in retaliation. Today Smith hit Weegar and Ekblad again stepped in. I really don’t like it when players are willing to throw hits but can’t take one, and I really don’t like it when physical players have someone else do their fighting for them. This checks both of those boxes, so I was happy to see Weegar was the one who lost the puck on the play leading to Detroit’s empty-net goal.

As I’ve been writing this, the story behind Anthony Mantha‘s unexpected scratch was revealed: He was a healthy scratch. Look, I get that Mantha is underperforming. I thought he’d looked better over the last week than most of the team, though. I don’t get how you look at this roster and, eight games into a losing streak, say it’s time for him to sit. The Wings won, so you could say it worked, but this baffles me. It’s the first time I’ve moved strongly into the “Fire Blashill” camp. This is a rebuild. This kids are going to make mistakes. But why give Mantha the contract they gave him if this is how he’s going to be handled? I don’t get it.

Postgame Thoughts: Blue Jackets at Red Wings, 1/18

Well, that was something.

I was all ready to talk about what an ugly third period the Red Wings had this afternoon and how much it looked like last season’s Red Wings.  They got pinned down, they didn’t control anything, and they allowed two quick goals.  It was bad.

That is going to happen this season.  Just because this Detroit team looks better on paper doesn’t mean they’re all that good and some of the issues from last season are bound to carry into this season.  It’s not the end of the world as long as we temper our expectations.

Then the final minutes of the third period happened and I got all riled up.

The scoresheet will show a false-hope goal by Bobby Ryan with 57 seconds left and a bunch of fighting penalties at the same time.  It will not show that that goal was first emphatically waved off and had to be allowed via video review.

After years of goals being called back due to Tomas Holmstrom being within 50 feet of the goal, this kind of thing is a trigger for me.  The idea that the refs can be so emphatic, so sure of what they saw, only for the video to show that they didn’t actually see that, and then they just get to carry on like they didn’t botch it and only get saved by review.

Ken and Mick like to talk about how officials have a hard job and they get most of the calls right, and it’s true, but no one is talking about the line changes that Marc Staal got right today, just the one he was slow on that led directly to a goal against.  We talk about player screw-ups, we talk about coaching screw-ups, we should talk about officiating screw-ups, too.

Of course, that goal was, as I said, a false-hope goal.  Neither it, nor how it happened, mattered in the end.

Positives…

Two more goals from Bobby Ryan, on top of the one he scored on Saturday night.  I’m giddy thinking about what he might bring back at the trade deadline if he keeps this up.

I thought Michael Rasmussen looked decent centering the second line for much of the game.  Certainly not great, but a sign that he still has some upside.  That said, his demotion late in the third when the Wings were pressing to get back into it was absolutely the right decision.

I think Thomas Greiss looked good.  He’s winless as a Red Wing but that feels more like the team in front of him than the goalie himself.  It wouldn’t make me feel better if I were him but I’m not so I can silver-lining it.

Negatives…

Looking like last year’s Red Wings.  Like I said, it’s going to happen, we should expect it.  But, ugh, it’s still painful to see.