Development Camp Jersey Number Stuff

I’ve been told time and time again that jersey numbers at the Red Wings’ development camp are meaningless but we’ve seen hints of pending changes there in the past.  For example, Philippe Hudon being assigned the #63 that had been worn by Joakim Andersson was the first sign of Andersson’s switch to #18 back in 2013.

That said, of late there have been many cases of assigned numbers being handed out for the development camp, especially goalie numbers.  A previously-assigned number being given out at camp doesn’t mean the player who had it is switching, it’s just worth looking out for.

This year the Red Wings didn’t release a roster that included player numbers but George Malik noted them in his first write-up from camp.

I predicted last week that Ryan Sproul might be changing his number.  With new draftee Gustav Lindstrom wearing #48, that could be a sign.  Of course, I thought Sproul might take #4, which is now assigned to Alfons Malmstrom.

Malmstrom wore #88 in camp last season, which is assigned to free agent signee Libor Sulak this time around.  Sulak’s usual number is #88 so it would appear that he wanted that number and would wear it if he makes the Wings’ roster.

Somewhat unexpectedly, 2017 first-rounder Michael Rasmussen is wearing the #37 that had been assigned to Evgeny Svechnikov.  Svechnikov also wore #37 in his first full season with the Grand Rapids Griffins before switching to #77.  Dan Renouf had been assigned #77 but is not in camp, so we don’t know if Rasmussen getting #37 while #77 is unassigned means Svechnikov is switching to #77 again.

Also somewhat oddly, Dylan Sadowy kept the #44 he got after Steve Ott took his usual #29 rather than switching back, with #29 going unassigned.

Aside from that, there are some relatively normal number shifts.

Dennis Cholowski switched from #95 to the #2 vacated by Brendan Smith, with Jordan Sambrook going from #94 to #95 (which he wore for the prospects tournament last fall).  Patrick Holway went from #4 to #24.  Mattias Elfstrom went from #82 to #56.  Chase Pearson took Tomas Jurco‘s #26 instead of #92 while David Pope got Daniel Cleary‘s #11 instead of #90 (which went to goalie Keith Petruzelli).

As I mentioned, the goalie numbers almost never matter, but there were changes there, too.  Filip Larsson went from #31 to #68, with Chase Perry going from #68 to #30 and Matej Machovsky going from #30 to #31, which is still assigned to Jared Coreau.  Meanwhile Joren van Pottelberghe went from #50 to #38, which will probably be assigned to Tom McCollum by the time the main camp comes around, as he wore it in his initial stint with Detroit.

What’s all that mean?  Probably not much.  I still think Sproul is changing and now I wouldn’t be surprised if Svechnikov is as well.  Numbers for Trevor Daley and Luke Witkowski probably aren’t reflected here as the roster was set before they signed (although I have a second prediction of Witkowski taking #28 and Vili Saarijarvi switching to #17).


Update – 7/9, 11:30 AM: The Red Wings tweeted out a roster with jersey numbers included in advance of today’s scrimmage.  It includes confirmation of Axel Holmstrom‘s #96 being assigned to Michael Pastujov and I think I know what to read into this now.

Evgeny Svechnikov, Axel Holmstrom, and Joe Hicketts (among others) were all expected to attend development camp until the Grand Rapids Griffins made their Calder Cup run.  The players wearing their numbers were all late additions to the development camp roster.  I’d be willing to bet the jerseys were already made up so they just swapped the names.


For the record, here’s the full list of numbers:

Forwards

Num. Name
74 Jack Adams
79 Oliver Castleman*
45 Christopher Ehn
56 Mattias Elfstrom
70 Luke Esposito+
73 Zach Gallant
76 Brady Gilmour
82 Isaac Johnson*
78 Sean Josling*
80 Luke Kutkevicius*
17 Tommy Marchin*
96 Michael Pastujov*
26 Chase Pearson
11 David Pope
37 Michael Rasmussen
44 Dylan Sadowy
63 Dominik Shine+
32 Graham Slaggert*
81 Givani Smith
47 Brett Supinski*
67 Lane Zablocki

Defensemen

Num. Name
2 Dennis Cholowski
92 Tomas Dvorak*
27 Mitch Eliot*
75 Evan Fiala*
85 Cole Fraser
24 Patrick Holway
87 Filip Hronek
94 Kasper Kotkansalo
97 Adam Larkin*
48 Gustav Lindstrom
4 Alfons Malmstrom
58 Patrick McCarron+
53 Alex Peters*
28 Vili Saarijarvi
95 Jordan Sambrook
86 Malte Setkov
88 Libor Sulak
84 Reilly Webb

Goalies

Num. Name
36 Kaden Fulcher*
68 Filip Larsson
31 Matej Machovsky
30 Chase Perry
90 Keith Petruzzelli
38 Joren van Pottelberghe

Thoughts on Day One of Free Agency

Sigh.  Okay, I guess we’re doing this.

Day One of the 2017 Free Agent Season is in the books (or at least as far as the Red Wings are considered).  Detroit general manager Ken Holland called it “a great day for the Red Wings.”  Lets take a look at what the team did and didn’t do.

Trevor Daley

The big – and most-expected – signing for Detroit was veteran defenseman Trevor Daley.  It’s a three-year deal for $9.5 million with a no-trade clause that scales back in the third year.

I don’t love it.  I wish the Wings were just going with the kids for a bit and seeing where it takes them.  That said, I don’t hate it, either.  By all accounts, Daley will be a great mentor for some of those kids and, assuming Mike Green is dealt at the deadline next year, the lost roster spot will only be for half a season.  The contract is much better than I was expecting.

It says something when a resounding “meh” is the most you can say for the best signing of the day.

Luke Witkowski

The other deal the Wings closed immediately upon the opening of free agency was to bring in Tampa Bay defenseman Luke Witkowski.

This is the guy who broke Anthony Mantha‘s hand in a stupid fight near the end of the season.  I see no reason to bring a guy like him in.

The deal is for $750,000, which can be completely buried in the AHL.  But we said that about Steve Ott‘s deal at this time last summer and he saw zero minutes in Grand Rapids so don’t count on it.

If the Wings were looking for a big, tough, young defenseman, they had Dylan McIlrath in Grand Rapids already.  If they wanted that from a forward, where they supposedly are ready to shift Witkowski, then they had Tyler Bertuzzi.  This signing was completely unnecessary.

I feel like this is also part of a “grass is greener” issue with the Wings’ front office.  Too many times of late they’ve brought in someone else’s marginal player rather than give their own marginal player a shot.  Which is funny because if someone lasts long enough to become a veteran in the Detroit system, Holland will bring them back repeatedly.  See Darren Helm, Daniel Cleary, Kyle Quincey.

Tom McCollum

Speaking of bringing someone back, the Wings traded for goalie Tom McCollum, one year after letting him walk from the Griffins as a free agent.  I guess this makes McCollum and Matej Machovsky the tandem in Grand Rapids after the Wings find a way to unload Petr Mrazek.

Turner Elson

In another Grand Rapids move, the Wings signed Turner Elson out of the Colorado organization.  He’s a center, so I suppose he somewhat makes up for the loss of Tomas Nosek to the Vegas Golden Knights via expansion.  Or he makes up for any of the other minor leaguers getting shuffled around this summer…

Kyle Criscuolo

… such as the Griffins losing Kyle Criscuolo to the Sabres.  It’s always tough to see big pieces of a championship team depart.  He had an AHL-only deal with Grand Rapids and now he gets a two-way deal with Buffalo so he’s moving up in the world.

Mitch Callahan

Moving up or moving home is Mitch Callahan.  He signed with the Edmonton Oilers and will either get the shot with them that he never really got in Detroit or will get to play closer to home, as the Oilers’ AHL affiliate is the Bakersfield Condors, who play just a couple hours from Callahan’s hometown of Wittier, CA.

Eddie Pasquale

Joining Callahan in the Edmonton organization is goalie Eddie Pasquale, who spent only a season with the Griffins.  As mentioned above, the Griffins seem to have their tandem set, but that’s a lot of turnover at goaltender through the organization.

Matt Caito

The Griffins also lost Matt Caito to the Iowa Wild.  Caito spent most of the season with ECHL Toledo so I don’t think we can call this a big loss.


So the Wings got the defenseman they wanted but who might not be able to help them much at a price that was acceptable.  They added a guy they definitely didn’t need, and they swapped some players around at the AHL level.

Are they better than they were yesterday?  Probably.  Are they good enough to make the playoffs?  Probably not.  And the Griffins are probably worse than they were when they won the Calder Cup.

Wings Add Defenseman Witkowski

The Red Wings signed defenseman Luke Witkowski from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at the opening of NHL free agency.

The move comes paired with the signing of veteran defenseman Trevor Daley from the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Assuming Witkowski isn’t bound for the Grand Rapids Griffins, it gives the Red Wings nine defensemen on their roster.

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports that the team may shift Witkowski to forward.

Witkowski, a native of Holland, Michigan, captained the Syracuse Crunch team that the Griffins defeated in the Calder Cup Finals for the first half of the season.  After being called up to the Tampa Bay Lighting, he could not be returned to the team for the playoffs.

I don’t like this move.

As a defenseman, Witkowski doesn’t seem to provide anything that the recently re-signed Dylan McIlrath can’t.  If he makes the Wings’ roster, it’s at the expense of Xavier Ouellet or Ryan Sproul.  If he’s in Grand Rapids, he’s taking a roster spot from Joe Hicketts or Filip Hronek or Robbie Russo or Dan Renouf, or forcing Vili Saarijarvi back to juniors.

As a forward…  Why not just sign a forward?  Why not give Tyler Bertuzzi a shot?

Update, 5:25 PM:  I completely missed this earlier but the Red Wings announced this as a two-year deal.

The official press release did not include term and seemingly all other outlets continue to report it as a one-year deal but it’s probably safe to trust the official Twitter account.

Red Wings Sign Defenseman Daley

As expected, the Detroit Red Wings signed defenseman Trevor Daley today.

The team didn’t even get a chance to make an announcement before TSN’s Bob McKenzie was on top of it.

As I wrote earlier today, I don’t dislike the deal but I don’t love it.  I would have liked Daley a lot more five years ago but he’s still a steadying presence on a young blue line.  The problem is that we know Niklas Kronwall or Jonathan Ericsson isn’t going to sit, so he’s also taking a spot from one of those young players who need steadying.

The $3.178 million cap hit is better than the $4.5 million that had been reported earlier in the day but comes at the cost of being a three-year deal.  That’s not awful.

Thoughts Heading Into Free Agency

NHL free agency opens in about three hours and, while some signings seem certain thanks to the league’s interview period, some things are still up in the air.

The Red Wings are likely to sign veteran defenseman Trevor Daley.  Five years ago, I love this deal.  I still like Daley quite a bit.  I don’t think he makes Detroit a competitor, though, so I’m not sold on him taking a roster spot from Xavier Ouellet or Ryan Sproul.

In no particular order, that would give the Wings Daley, Ouellet, Sproul, Nick Jensen, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Green, and Danny DeKeyser on the blue line.  Eight guys who’d have to be waived to go to Grand Rapids, plus Robbie Russo, Dan Renouf, and Joe Hicketts waiting with the Griffins.  Quite the logjam.

The Wings are rumored to be interested in another defenseman or a forward but it looks like the cap hit for Daley – coupled with re-signing Ouellet and forwards Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou – takes them out of consideration there.  I would be completely against bringing in another defenseman but given the loss of Tomas Nosek via expansion, adding a center as a reclamation project wouldn’t be a horrible move.

I’d love to see the Wings take a flyer of Mikhail Grigorenko, who Craig Custance wrote about a couple days ago at The Athletic.  It would have to be on the cheap and it would have to be with the caveat that the Wings don’t try to turn Grigorenko into a grinder.

If you want a grinding center who can play on the fourth line, bring back Landon Ferraro.  Worst-case scenario, you can probably get him through waivers to Grand Rapids, as the Blues slid him through last year.