On Possible “Reverse Retro” Jerseys for the Red Wings

All is quiet around the Red Wings as we wait for news of Tyler Bertuzzi‘s arbitration ruling.  With that in mind, and with last week’s leak of several “Reverse Retro” jerseys across the league, I figured I’d take a look at what the Wings could wear as part of this program.

The Red Wings have never had an official alternate jersey, though they’re no strangers to one-off sweaters, with a throwback set from the 2009 Winter Classic, a “fauxback” set from the 2014 Winter Classic, a retro-inspired set from the Centennial Classic in 2017, and something else entirely for the 2016 Stadium Series.

Not much is known about the NHL’s new fourth jersey program.  Supposedly, every team will participate, regardless of whether or not they have a third jersey.  Additionally, the rumor is the program has been driven by the league and adidas, rather than the individual teams, and as such has some rules to be followed.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ leaked design, for example, takes their mid-1990s road (black) set, flips the colors to become a white jersey, and the switches the athletic gold to the “Vegas gold” the team introduced in 2000.  The Philadelphia Flyers, meanwhile, use a version of their orange jersey introduced in 1982 with the black and white swapped.  Vegas’ design is taken from the Las Vegas Thunder of the International Hockey League, with the Golden Knights’ colors and logos swapped in.

Further, there are rumors that the Montreal Canadiens will wear a jersey based on their current home sweater, with the blue and red swapped, and the Washington Capitals will wear a version of their mid-1990s set in red, white, and blue.

So if we’re assuming the base will be an existing jersey – rather than a totally new one – with its colors swapped, where does that leave Detroit?  The team has a lot of history to work with but not a lot of different designs or colors, giving them a surprisingly limited set of options.

Detroit could wear a color-swapped version of their current home jersey, which would essentially be their road jersey without the red sleeves.  The team wore this as their road jersey from 1934 to 1961, though, and if this Reverse Retro program is intended to avoid actual throwback jerseys, it would seem this would be ruled out.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Red Wings’ current home jersey.

They could color-swap their current road jerseys, giving them a red jersey with white sleeves.  It’s a clean look that the team has never worn but others across hockey have, so it might not be an option, either.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Red Wings’ current away jersey.

The Wings could go back to their roots as the Detroit Cougars.  Even then, though, there are issues.  Their initial set from 1926-27 was the basis of those 2009 throwbacks and the color-flipped version has already been worn in the Alumni Showdown as part of the 2013 Hockeytown Winter Festival.

The Red Wings wore the 1927-28 Cougars’ sweater as part of the NHL’s 75th anniversary proceedings in 1991-92.  I suggested the color-swapped version as a possible option for what was then the 2013 Winter Classic but, as I noted then, the red lettering on a white stripe seemed off to me.  With a new template, I drew it up anyway, and don’t dislike it as much as I did originally.  It could be an option.  That’s a lot of stripes, though.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Detroit Cougars’ 1927-28 sweater.

Out of sheer, morbid curiosity, I swapped out that red “DETROIT” text for the Winged Wheel and…  It’s certainly something, but, again, isn’t as bad as I expected.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Detroit Cougars’ 1927-28 sweater, with the Winged Wheel in place of the “DETROIT” text.

The 1928-29 set opens up another option.  This is the sweater that the Centennial Classic jersey was based on and a color-flipped option has never been worn, though I suggested it in that Winter Classic concept series and the eventual 2014 Winter Classic jersey did take some cues from it.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Detroit Cougars’ 1928-29 sweater.

The 1928-29 sweater also gives options for the crest, depending on what the Reverse Retro “rules” are for such things, as the standard Winged Wheel could be used, or it could be placed under “Detroit” text as the cougar head logo was in the original.

With the striping in the Cougars’ 1929-30 set the same as the 1927-28, there’s not enough difference there to pick one over the other.  If the striping on the 1927-28 set is problematic, the Detroit Falcons’ 1930-32 sweater isn’t going to be any better, so I didn’t even try.

So these might be the options we’re looking at for Detroit’s coming “Reverse Retro” jersey.  Or there could be other rules for these jerseys that we don’t know yet, opening up other choices.  Maybe they’ll decide the Falcons’ brief use of black is enough to make the Red Wings’ old black fashion jerseys an official alternate.  With the entire 2020-21 NHL season in flux, who knows when we’ll even see the actual designs?

Personally, I really like the color swap of the current home jersey, but I’ve always preferred the Red Wings’ white jerseys to their reds.  With no other colors to balance it out, I find their current homes to just be a bit too much red.  For the same reason, I like the color swap of the current road jersey.

That said, for a team with as much history as Detroit, I like to see them pull from it more.  The 1928-29 Cougars’ set would be a safe place to go for that.

The usual jersey design caveats apply here, of course.  These aren’t meant to be predictions, just artists renderings of possibilities.  They’re not even my designs, really, just existing jerseys redrawn into a modern template with the colors appropriately swapped.

On the Red Wings 2020-21 Lineup

The 2020-21 season is, at best, about 12 weeks away.  With Detroit GM Steve Yzerman‘s signings over the last couple days, though, we can get a look at what the Red Wings’ lineup might look like.

I’ve touched on this as players were signed but want to pull it all together and take a full look at it here.

Anthony ManthaDylan LarkinTyler Bertuzzi
Filip ZadinaVladislav NamestnikovRobby Fabbri
Dmytro TimashovSam GagnerBobby Ryan
Darren HelmLuke GlendeningValtteri Filppula
Adam Erne
Frans Nielsen

Danny DeKeyserFilip Hronek
Patrik NemethTroy Stecher
Marc StaalJon Merrill
Alex Biega

Jonathan Bernier
Thomas Greiss

I think that lineup is an upgrade over the one they iced on opening night a year ago.  The question is, how much better?  Playoff contention better?  Or just “not the worst team in the league by far” better?  Probably somewhere in between.

There are a few players missing here, which could be a problem.

Evgeny Svechnikov doesn’t have a roster spot.  Given that he’s on a one-year deal and isn’t waiver exempt anymore, he kind of needs one and a final chance to prove himself.

Maybe Filip Zadina stays in Czechia and Bobby Ryan moves up a line and Svechnikov slots in where Ryan was.  Maybe Tyler Bertuzzi goes to arbitration and that opens up a new buyout window for the Wings, and Frans Nielsen gets bought out, opening up a spot for Svechnikov.  There’s been interest in Luke Glendening in the past; maybe the Wings move on that sooner rather than later, Helm or Filppula move to centering the fourth line, and Svechnikov slots in there.

Similarly, there’s not a spot on defense for Moritz Seider, Gustav Lindstrom, or Dennis Cholowski.  I don’t see how Seider and Lindstrom aren’t in Europe for the duration of the season but that doesn’t help Cholowski.  If the AHL actually has a season, I think we’ll see Cholowski with the Griffins, getting a lot of minutes.  If the AHL can’t go, we’ll have to see how the NHL adapts before guessing what happens with Cholowski.

Of course, depending on what the NHL schedule looks like, the trade deadline could come around the end of the season for the European leagues, so Detroit could sell at the deadline and then fill their roster spots with players coming back over.  There are a lot of questions to answer with how the season will work, first.


Update, October 12, 11:30 AM: There is an option with regards to Nielsen that I failed to note above.  The Red Wings don’t need to clear his cap space or his spot on the 50-man Reserve List; he could just be waived and assigned to the Griffins (or somewhere else).  With buyouts on the brain, somehow I missed that.

They’d be paying him a lot of money to play in the AHL but it might serve a dual purpose.  Depending on what happens with the AHL season and the various European leagues, the Red Wings might have players who would otherwise be filling roster spots in GR instead playing overseas.  By sending Nielsen down, they’d get the Griffins a body that they’d otherwise have to sign.


Jersey Geek Guessing Game Recap

Every player the Red Wings acquired via free agency previously wore a number that is currently assigned to a Detroit player or prospect.  Here are my guesses as to how each player’s number will work out with the Wings.

Bobby Ryan has worn #9 for much of his career, aside from #6 for a few years in Ottawa when #9 was taken and #54 as a rookie in Anaheim (and in some international tournaments).  Of course, #9 is retired in Detroit and #6 is out of circulation.  He said he’d like #17 because he was a Brett Hull fan, or #12,  but #17 belongs to Filip Hronek and #12 is retired as well.  My guess is that Ryan either pries #17 from Hronek (perhaps Hronek switches to the #79 he wore in his youth) or he goes back to #54.  Longshot option: He gets Hull’s number but it’s not the #17 he wore in Detroit, rather the #16 he wore elsewhere, with the Red Wings deciding it’s time to stop keeping it out of circulation.

Jon Merrill wore #15 for three years with the Vegas Golden Knights and #7 for much of his time prior to that with the New Jersey Devils.  Dmytro Timashov currently has #15 and #7 is retired.  I could see Timashov switching to the #88 he wore before coming to the NHL, which would open up #15 for Merrill, or I could see Merrill wearing the #24 he wore at Michigan, taking it from prospect Antti Tuomisto.

Thomas Greiss has worn #1 for his entire NHL career but it’s retired in Detroit.  It’s hard to tell if there’s a different number he prefers.  By keeping #30 and #33 out of circulation, the Red Wings make it hard to work with traditional goalie numbers.  I’m guessing they’ll hold off on assigning #35 for a bit but if they don’t, Greiss could take that.  They could make #30 available again and give him that.  They could take numbers from any of the goalie prospects.  He could go non-traditional with #60 or #80 or something.  If they don’t do any of those things, I’m guessing #29 goes to Greiss.

Troy Stecher wore #51 for his whole Vancouver Canucks career but Valtteri Filppula has that in Detroit.  Stecher wore #2 for his college career at North Dakota and, while that’s currently assigned to Joe Hicketts in Detroit, Hicketts’ path to the Red Wings seems to be gone, so the team could let Stecher take his number.  I could also see Stecher taking Jonathan Ericsson‘s #52, if the team allows it, or something like #42.

Vladislav Namestnikov has worn #90 for virtually his entire career.  Joe Veleno has it in Detroit but he’s not in Detroit right now.  Will the Red Wings make one of their top prospects give up his number to someone who’s on a short-term deal?  If so, there’s an easy answer.  If not, I’d love to see him take his uncle Vyacheslav Kozlov‘s #13, but it’ll probably be something like #95 or #98.  Or #60 if Greiss doesn’t go that route.

On the Yellow Detroit Falcons Logo, or How I Helped Break Red Wings History

Many Red Wings fans know that the team hasn’t always been called the Red Wings.  They were first the Detroit Cougars, then the Detroit Falcons, and didn’t take on their current name until 1932, six years into their existence.

It’s less widely-known that the team hasn’t always worn red and white.  Those familiar with the Falcons, though, may have seen that their sweaters featured yellow lettering outlined in red.

Except that may not be true.

And it might be partially my fault that people think it is.


It is 2002 and Bob Duff’s History of Hockeytown has just been published.  I’ve been tearing through both editions of Total Hockey and countless other hockey history books and, finally, here is one just about the Red Wings, written by one of the writers on the team’s beat, published by the team itself.  I can’t wait to see what weirdness we’ve never heard before will be found inside.

It doesn’t take long to find something new, with page 21 declaring the following in regards to the team’s 1930-31 season:

The Falcons donned new uniforms with gold lettering, the only time in team history that the jersey was adorned with any shade other than red or white.

As a logo geek, my mind is blown.  Everything to that point had shown the Falcons’ logo as red text with a black outline, and here is a book published by the team itself saying that was wrong.

I update the NHL logo history on DetroitHockey.Net to include the gold.  A short while later, I exchange emails with Andrew Greenstein of the NHL Uniform Database, explaining what I’d read and convincing him to change his site to reflect it, then I do the same with Donovan Moore of the Society for Sports Uniform Research.  Eventually, the change makes its way to SportsLogos.Net, as well, and spreads from there.

But images from the Red Wings’ dressing room at Joe Louis arena continue to show a framed print of the Falcons’ logo in red and black.  The red and black text continues to appear in the history section of Red Wings’ game programs.  When Little Caesars Arena is built, there is no sign of red and yellow in their logo timeline, just the usual red and black.

I discussed the color change further with SportsLogos.Net’s Chris Creamer while he was writing his new book, The Fabric of the Game (due out November 3).  It turns out that contemporary reports discuss the name change from Cougars to Falcons but say nothing about the addition of a new color.

Creamer’s presumption – and I agree – is that History of Hockeytown got it wrong.  The addition of yellow never happened and a black outline on the text displaying the team’s new name was simply not worth a specific mention at the time.

I don’t know how the idea of the Falcons wearing yellow letters outlined in red made it into History of Hockeytown but, as far as I can tell, every other place to do so traces back to my own propagation of that idea.  Unless I’ve missed something, the only place the Detroit organization has ever acknowledged the use of yellow was in History of Hockeytown; the uses of red and black far outnumbering those of red and yellow.

Perhaps there’s another source of information about the red and yellow logo, but until that surfaces, I can only signal boost a correction to try to undo the initial spreading of that idea that I did.

Red Wings Sign Forward Namestnikov

The Detroit Red Wings signed forward Vladislav Namestnikov on Sunday, continuing the rebuild of their roster.

Namestnikov is a familiar face for Detroit GM Steve Yzerman, who drafted him in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft for Tampa Bay.

Financial terms were, of course, not officially announced, but the deal reportedly carries a $2 million salary cap hit, with annual amounts of $1.5 million and $2.5 million.  Like Thomas Greiss‘ deal, more money is in the second year.  Whether as escrow protection for the player or expansion draft protection for the team, we’re seeing that become more common this year.

Namestnikov gives the Red Wings another option at second-line center, should Robby Fabbri not work out there.  Theoretically, the team could roll lines looking something like this:

Anthony ManthaDylan LarkinTyler Bertuzzi
Filip Zadina – Vladislav Namestnikov – Robby Fabbri
Dmytro TimashovSam GagnerBobby Ryan
Darren HelmLuke GlendeningValtteri Filppula
Adam Erne
Frans Nielsen

That’s a completely rebuilt middle six since the start of last season, done entirely on the cheap.  They’re not world-beaters by any means but that’s not a bad accomplishment for Yzerman.  Perhaps most importantly, that’s a lineup where you can clearly see a top nine and then a fourth line, rather than a top line and then a bunch of other players slotted in wherever they can.

The problem is that this leaves no room for Evgeny Svechnikov, who is basically on a “last chance” one-year deal and would have to clear waivers to be reassigned elsewhere.  Maybe this means the Wings let Zadina stay overseas for another year.  Maybe it means they dump a contract.  I don’t know.

Jersey number geek notes: Namestnikov has worn #90 for virtually his entire career, save for a stint as #65 as a rookie. Will the Red Wings let him take #90 from Joe Veleno? If not, I bet Namestnikov goes with something like #60 or #95. It certainly blocks Bobby Ryan from following in the footsteps of Mike Modano and Stephen Weiss, though, and turning his #9 into #90.  Outside chance?  Namestnikov wears #13 in honor of his uncle, Vyacheslav Kozlov.

The Big 50: Detroit Red Wings

My first thought when I saw longtime Red Wings beat writer Helene St. James’ new book, “The Big 50: Detroit Red Wings” was, “Oh, great, another one of these books.”

I’ve admitted in the past that I have a hard time with Red Wings history books because, in the world of Wikipedia and social media and blogs and so many outlets for storytelling, it’s hard for a physical book – with its long lead time – to have anything new.  When we’ve heard all the stories, the book has to find a new angle to grab us.

To make matters worse, on its face, “The Big 50: Detroit Red Wings” is built a lot like 2014’s “100 Things Red Wings Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” by Kevin Allen and Bob Duff.  It’s a collection of independent stories, each focusing on a different topic, without a narrative thread to follow aside from everything being about the Red Wings.  The two books even have the same image – a replica version of Henrik Zetterberg‘s home jersey – on their covers.

With that in mind I wasn’t expecting much and ended up happily surprised.

Many of the chapters, specifically early chapters on Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, and Mike Ilitch, are surprisingly in-depth.  The Ilitch chapter, notably, includes a sidebar on often-overlooked Marian Ilitch.  This is repeated in a later chapter on James E. and Bruce Norris, where the sidebar covers the short reign of Marguerite Norris.

While certainly not a scathing commentary, St. James doesn’t shy from touching on some of the negatives of the Red Wings’ history.  The chapter on Bob Probert, for example, focuses as much on his off-ice issues as his on-ice successes.  With Probert it’s hard to separate the two but it can be – and has been – done, and St. James doesn’t take that out.  These books have the tendency to lean towards “fluff” but this one doesn’t, with the Probert chapter a particularly painful read.

Additionally, while the Red Wings organization has a tendency to ignore Larry Aurie and his retired sweater number 6, St. James includes it in a sidebar in the chapter about the team’s retired numbers.  As someone who thinks #6 should be in the Little Caesars Arena rafters, I think she could have taken that further, but just mentioning it at all is more than usually happens.

The book’s format does prove difficult from time to time, as it leads to a lot of repetition.  The story of the Russian Five, for example, is told in their own chapter, chapters on individual members, the chapter on the Red Wings’ playoff streak, Scotty Bowman‘s chapter, and the chapter on the 1989 Draft.  Somewhat humorous, to me, is that despite all of that repetition, there is no reference to the short-lived Russian Five II featuring Dmitri Mironov (though Mironov himself gets a mention in Tomas Holmstrom‘s chapter, with Mironov’s acquisition being the catalyst for Holmstrom’s early-career jersey number change).

There were also two editing errors that jumped out at me, taking me out of the story.  At one point, Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere is referred to simply as “Sebastien Giguere” while the 2016 Stadium Series game in Denver is referred to as the Winter Classic.  Those things happen in publishing but seeing them made me laugh.

My original thought did hold in one part: There’s no getting away from comparing this book to Allen and Duff’s.  In my opinion, this one is the better of the two.

“The Big 50: Detroit Red Wings” by Helene St. James will be available from Triumph Books on October 13, 2020.

Red Wings Add Defenseman Stecher

The Detroit Red Wings continued rebuilding their roster on Saturday afternoon, adding defenseman Troy Stecher.

Stecher was linked to the Red Wings pretty much immediately after Vancouver failed to give him a qualifying offer.  His two-year deal reportedly carries a $1.7 million salary cap hit.

With Stecher in the fold, Detroit’s blueline appears to be set for the coming season.  Assuming that none of the Red Wings’ prospects currently playing in Europe come back for the start of the NHL campaign, they would be able to roll out pairings something like this:

Danny DeKeyserFilip Hronek
Patrik Nemeth – Troy Stecher
Marc StaalJon Merrill
Alex Biega

Jersey number geek notes: This is Detroit’s fourth free agent signing of the season who had been wearing a number that’s unavailable with the Red Wings, as Stecher wore #51 for the Canucks.  He wore #2 with North Dakota and while that’s currently assigned to Joe Hicketts, Hicketts seems to have lost his chance in Detroit.  I wonder if they might assign Hicketts a different number and give Stecher #2.  I could also see Stecher getting #52 with Jonathan Ericsson gone.

Red Wings Sign Goalie Greiss

The Detroit Red Wings got their goalie on Saturday, signing Thomas Greiss to a two year deal.

The Red Wings didn’t announce financial terms, of course, but even before they confirmed the deal, it was reported to carry a $3.6 million salary cap hit.

The hit feels a tiny bit high to me but I really don’t care, because it’s a two-year deal, which was my biggest hope.  They could have dropped $7 million on Marc-Andre Fleury as long as it was only two years.  That term gets them through the Seattle expansion draft but not to the point that the rebuild should be done, so there’s a ton of flexibility.

Also, $3.6 million is less than I expected even if I feel like it’s a little high, so it’s a win either way, I’m just nitpicking the amount.

Greiss was one of my top two targets for Detroit, along with Cam Talbot.  So the Wings got the cheaper of the two on shorter term.  Win all around.

Jersey number geek thoughts: Greiss has worn #1 throughout his NHL career, which won’t be possible here.  He wore #40 with Germany but probably can’t have that.  He wore #33 early in his career in the minors but it seems like if anyone gets that in the Detroit organization, it’s going to be Kienan Draper.  Will the Red Wings hold #35 out of respect to Jimmy Howard?  If not, that makes sense for Greiss.  With Brendan Perlini gone, #29 could make sense.


Some additional contract talk:

I wonder if that structure is with the Seattle expansion draft in mind.

The Red Wings will have to make at least one goalie signed for the 2021-22 season available via the expansion draft.  Right now, only Greiss and Kaden Fulcher are signed for that season, so Fulcher would be the one available.  But if Detroit happened to pick up another goalie between now and then, someone they wanted to protect, putting more of the actual cash owed to Greiss in the 2021-22 season could serve to scare off the Kraken, making it so that Greiss could be left unprotected but not selected.

Of course, it could also be that, for the 2020-21 season, Greiss is expected to split time with Jonathan Bernier.  For 2021-22, with Bernier possibly gone, Greiss would be the starter and would get paid like it.

Free Agency Day One Recap

It’s probably safe to say that Day One of NHL free agency is done and the site was down for a big part of the day so let’s do a recap.

Ryan and Merrill

The Red Wings started their day by signing forward Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1 million deal.  As I said at the time, I love it.  Is it possible that Ryan ends up injured and/or worthless?  Absolutely.  At $1 million for one year, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

The one funny thing about the Ryan deal is that, in an interview after signing, Ryan said he might want to wear #17 because it was Brett Hull‘s number in Detroit, apparently unaware that it belongs to Filip Hronek now.

As far as Merrill goes, well, everyone expected a hometown defenseman to be signing with Detroit today, right?  The Merrill signing signals to me that the Wings expect some of their young guys to not be available this season.  Mortiz Seider in Sweden, for example.  They need veteran guys to fill in for a season in the meantime.  Merrill can burn minutes on this team cheaply.

Talbot, Markstrom, Turris and Shattenkirk

Coming into the day, the Red Wings were linked to both Cam Talbot and Jacob Markstrom to fill their gap in goal.  I would have liked Talbot in Detroit but he got three years for $11 million from Minnesota.  I actually don’t dislike that cap hit but wouldn’t have wanted to give three years.

Markstrom was never going to sign that cheaply so I was glad to see him go to Calgary just to get him off the board, just in case Steve Yzerman did something ridiculous.  I think the six-year, $36 million he got from the Flames is ridiculous, too, but I don’t have to care what they pay.

Kyle Turris was linked to Detroit if for no reason other than his chemistry with Anthony Mantha playing for Team Canada.  He seemed like a prime candidate to want to sign with a contender for cheap, though, and that’s pretty much what he did, going to the Oilers for two years and $3.3 million.  Not a bad deal and I’d have been happy to see him sign it in Detroit, but the Wings aren’t a contender.

In the middle of the day, news broke seemingly out of the blue that the Wings were in on defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.  Just as quickly, he signed a three-year, $11.7 million deal with the Ducks.  So much for that.

Depth Signings

The Wings’s last move of the day was around 5:00 PM with a trio of AHL-level deals, bringing back forward Kyle Criscuolo, a former Griffin from the 2017 Calder Cup run, and adding goalie Kevin Boyle and forward Riley Barber.

If the AHL actually has a season, the Griffins will need bodies.  Even more so if some of the Wings’ kids are in Europe to start the year.  I’ve got no complaints about any of these moves.

The one thing I find interesting is that Detroit brought in a minor-league goalie even with Cal Pickard, Filip Larsson, and Kaden Fulcher all signed, plus Pat Nagle on an AHL deal.  I don’t think it means that Pickard has been tabbed as Jonathan Bernier‘s backup in Detroit but it could.

Torey Krug

The big late-night news was Torey Krug signing with the St. Louis Blues for $45.5 million over seven years.  For months we’ve heard about the possibility of him coming to Detroit but that was from a lot of people ignoring his exit interviews with the Bruins.  He made it clear that his top priority was getting paid, not coming back to his hometown team, and he got his money.

Tyler Johnson

To close out the night was a weird rumor from Frank Seravalli:

So the theory behind this is that Lightning tried to trade Johnson as a salary dump but he has a no-trade clause and would have used it to block a move to any team who could take his salary.  Unable to trade him, the Lightning instead waive him, which he can’t block.  Nominally, it’s for the purposes of a buyout, in which case they’d be on the hook for part of his cap hit but not all of it, so it’s a small win.

But what if a team, such as Detroit, claimed him?  His full cap hit would be gone from Tampa and Johnson would have no recourse to stop the transaction.  And if Tampa then just happened to complete a deal with the Red Wings to send something of value in to Detroit in return for peanuts, well, that’s a totally separate thing, certainly not a handshake deal to send Johnson (and his salary) to the Red Wings, circumventing Johnson’s no-trade clause.

That’s a lot of conspiracy theory talk for me, and I like sports conspiracy theories.  I can’t see Yzerman going for a move that would likely be subject to a grievance if there was any chance of it being perceived as less than legal.

That said…  I want the Wings to take bad cap dollars on to gain other assets but Johnson’s deal is really bad.  Four more seasons at $5 million per year for a guy whose numbers dropped off dramatically during the Bolts’ Cup run.  That side deal would have to be extremely impressive to make that move.

What’s Left?

As free agency moves on, the Red Wings still need a goalie, probably at least one defenseman, and maybe some forwards.  I’d hold off and save some of those roster slots for potential salary dump deals but that’s just me.

In goal, Thomas Greiss is still on the board, and he’d probably be my top choice.  As I write this, Corey Crawford signed with New Jersey for less than $2 million per season, which seems to be a sign that goalie contract numbers are getting back to sane after Markstrom’s ridiculous deal.

I wonder about Tyson Barrie on defense.  Coming off a relatively bad season in Toronto, a “show me” deal could work.  I still think I’d prefer a trade candidate, though.

Red Wings Announce Three Depth Signings

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signings of forwards Kyle Criscuolo and Riley Barber and goalie Kevin Boyle on Friday.

All three are likely AHL-bound, assuming there actually is an AHL campaign in the coming season.

Criscuolo should be a familiar name to Griffins fans, having played 80 games with the team during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, winning the Calder Cup with Grand Rapids the second year.

Boyle is a little bit of a surprise as Detroit already has Cal Pickard, Kaden Fulcher, and Filip Larsson under contract for next season.  Given Larsson’s struggles at the AHL level, though, an insurance policy does make sense.

Wings Sign Defenseman Merrill

The Detroit Red Wings added some depth to their defense on Friday, signing former University of Michigan defenseman Jon Merrill to a one-year deal.

Merrill spent the last three seasons with the Vegas Golden Knights after starting his career with the New Jersey Devils.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have strong feelings about this signing.  He’s a cheap depth guy on a one-year deal, so I’m down with that, but I have no feelings about Merrill himself either way.

Jersey number geek notes: Merrill wore #24 at Michigan and Antti Tuomisto isn’t coming over this year so I’ll guess Merrill takes that number with Detroit.