Wings Announce Signing of Olli Maatta

The Detroit Red Wings formally announced the signing of defenseman Olli Maatta on Thursday, a day after news of the deal broke.

The one-year deal reportedly carries a $2.25 million salary cap hit.

I have to say, I was shocked to learn that Maatta is only 27.  It feels like he’s been in the league forever.

Given the one-year term, and the fact that the Wings have a ton of cap space this year, this is a great deal.

2022 Free Agency: Day One Thoughts

The Red Wings were busy on the opening day of free agency, signing six NHLers, one draft pick, and agreeing to terms with one more player.

Eighth-overall pick Marco Kasper kicked things off, agreeing to his entry-level deal.  The contract was announced just after free agency opened, which wasn’t necessary, and feels like a bit of a troll by the Red Wings’ PR team.

Just after that, Andrew Copp joined Detroit.  He immediately slots in as the team’s second-line center.  As I said earlier, I wish his five-year deal was four years, but I don’t think that’s the end of the world.  If he’s playing out the end of his deal on the third line, having made way for Kasper on the second line, that’s not a bad place to be in.

Detroit was then linked to Olli Maatta, and by all accounts a deal is in place there but not finalized.  I like that move to shore up the left side of the defense with the departures of Marc Staal and Danny DeKeyser.  I just wish they’d get it done.

Insiders linked the Red Wings to both Ben Chiarot and David Perron but the next deal announced was Dominik Kubalik.  I love his two-year, $2.5 million deal.  This is a cheap, short-term move with nothing but upside.

Chiarot, however, concerns me.  Four years at at $4.75 million cap hit feels like it will age horribly.  That said, the cap should start increasing so it may not hurt as much as it looks like right now.  There’s some hope there, but hope is not a strategy.

Perron rounded out the day at the NHL level.  This one leaves a bad taste in my mouth but doesn’t appear to be a bad deal.  After all this time, I just don’t like Perron.  Now maybe it’s time for the Wings’ opponents to not like him, too.

Detroit also signed Matt Luff and Austin Czarnik to two-way deals, joining previously-signed Steven Kampfer as likely Grand Rapids-bound.

My takeaway after this big day of signings is that there is probably a forward on his way out of Detroit.  Robby Fabbri is expected to start the season on IR but that still pushes one of Joe Veleno or Adam Erne out of the lineup, which seems less than ideal.  Erne, in particular, seems redundant now and I wonder if Steve Yzerman might end up shopping him around.

Because I’m a jersey number geek, my other takeaway is that there are going to be a lot of people looking for new numbers.  Perron is likely to get his usual #57.  Simon Edvinsson has been assigned #3 in development camp but it’s not his usual number so it probably goes to Maatta.  Chiarot and Kubalik have both been wearing #8, which is currently assigned to Jake Walman, so two of those three will need new numbers.  Additionally, Staal’s departure to the Florida Panthers opens up #18.  Will Lucas Raymond switch to his usual number or will Copp, who usually wears #9, take #18 instead? Or is that what Kubalik, who has worn it for Czechia, gets?

I’m going to say Perron gets #57, Maatta gets #3, Raymond switches to #18, Copp takes #29, Kubalik wears the #89 he wore in the OHL, and Chiarot takes #2 or #77.

Red Wings Sign Veteran Forward Perron

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of veteran forward David Perron on Wednesday.

I’ll be honest, this move surprised me.  That it’s a two-year deal surprised me even more.  Perron seems like the guy you sign late in the summer and flip to a contender looking for veteran depth at the trade deadline.

That said, he scored 27 goals last year – 11 of them on the power play – and 57 points total.  That should help Detroit’s anemic offense.

And he’s a pain to play against.  I rarely like bringing players like that to Detroit because I’ve gotten too used to hating them.  Chris Chelios was pretty much the lone exception to that rule.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial.

Free Agent Kubalik Signs with Wings

Free agent forward Dominik Kubalik signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

As per usual, financial terms of the deal were not announced, but the deal reportedly carries a $2.5 million salary cap hit.

Kubalik became an unrestricted free agent earlier in the week when the Chicago Blackhawks chose not to give him a qualifying offer, which would have made him a restricted free agent.  He is the second player in as many years to depart Chicago for Detroit under those terms, following Pius Suter.

Combined with the signing of Andrew Copp and the expected deal for David Perron, Detroit GM Steve Yzerman has added an entire line’s worth of forwards to the Red Wings’ lineup.  As such, is sure seems like someone from last year won’t be back in the Winged Wheel next season.

Red Wings Add Defenseman Chiarot

The Detroit Red Wings signed defenseman Ben Chiarot on Wednesday.

The deal is reportedly for four years at a cap hit of $4.75 million.

That term is hard to swallow.  The cap hit…  If it had been two years, sure.  The Wings won’t be near the cap for the next couple years, let Chris Ilitch spend money.  But at four years, that gets into extension time for a lot of players.  As I said with the Andrew Copp deal, that gets problematic.

The difficult thing is that Chiarot is an upgrade to Detroit’s defense.  Certainly not a particularly exciting upgrade, but the Wings were bad last year.  He should make them much harder to play against.

Maybe next fall I can look at this deal and appreciate that more.  In the summer, though, it’s a lot harder to see that.

Red Wings Sign Center Andrew Copp

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of center Andrew Copp on Wednesday.

The deal had been rumored in the lead-up to NHL free agency opening.

While the team did not announce financial terms – as per usual – Copp’s contract reportedly carries a $5.625 million salary cap hit over five years.

That feels like a high number to me but it’s the same cap hit that Vincent Trocheck got from the New York Rangers – Copp’s now-former team – so it seems to be market value.  I do like that it’s “only” five years, as opposed to Trocheck’s seven-year deal.  I think it was probably GM Steve Yzerman‘s best option.  That doesn’t mean there’s not risk, though.

Copp put up points at a prolific rate in his short run with the New York Rangers last spring but never matched that during his tenure with the Winnipeg Jets.  Is the former indicative of what he can do with an increased role or an outlier?

My biggest feeling is that the deal seemed inevitable.  The Ann Arbor native played with Compuware, the USNTDP, and at Michigan.  But if this is a “local guy comes home” thing, it would have been nice to see a hometown discount as part of it.  The Wings have plenty of cap space now but raises will be due for a ton of players over the life of this deal.

Wings Sign Eighth-Overall Pick Kasper

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of Marco Kasper to a three-year entry-level contract on Wednesday.

The move came just as NHL free agency opened.  Kasper, as an unsigned draft pick, was not required to wait until then.

The eighth-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Kasper is expected to play for Rogel BK of the SHL next season.

2022 Development Camp Jersey Number Notes

The Red Wings opened up their first development camp since 2022 today and announced the rosters for it via Twitter.

Unlike previous years, the team did not announce sweater numbers, and since I’m a numbers geek I couldn’t allow that to stand. I went through Dave Guralnick’s excellent photo gallery to match names and numbers and started filling in gaps from anywhere else I could find… And then the ever-thorough George Malik posted his Day One impressions and included player jersey numbers to fill in the gaps.

There are a handful of returning players who have kept their jersey numbers.  Goalie Sebastian Cossa keeps the #33 he wore last fall in camp.  Defensemen Oscar Plandowski and Donovan Sebrango keep #77 and #44, respectively.  Up front, Pasquale Zito keeps #56 and Cross Hanas holds on to #74.

Returning goalie Carter Gylander has graduated from the #60 he wore in 2019 to #35, which he’ll probably immediately lose to new Red Wings goalie Ville HussoRobert Mastrosimone, making his return to development camp, takes the #54 that was last assigned to Bobby Ryan with the #14 he wore in 2019 now taken by Robby Fabbri.

Some of the other assignments show players who aren’t expected to return to Detroit.  Chase Bradley takes over Carter Rowney’s #37, Kienan Draper gets Dan Renouf‘s #21, Owen Flores takes over Kaden Fulcher‘s #36, and Andrew Oke is wearing Calvin Pickard‘s #31 (though, with regards to the latter two, try-out goalie numbers are even more meaningless in development camp).

One interesting assignment is Simon Edvinsson getting the #3 that had been assigned to Jared MacIssac.  MacIssac still has one year left on his deal with Detroit so presumably one of those two will be wearing a different number come the main camp in the fall.

The eighth-overall pick from last week’s NHL Entry Draft, Marco Kasper, is wearing the #92 that previously belonged to Vladislav Namestnikov.

Also worth noting is Carter Mazur having been assigned the #43 that previously belonged to his idol, Darren Helm.

The full roster is as follows:

Forwards

Num. Name
98 Brennan Ali
84 Julien Anctil*
72 Trenton Bliss*
37 Chase Bradley
21 Kienan Draper
88 Liam Dower Nilsson
74 Cross Hanas
87 Dylan James
92 Marco Kasper
57 Cole Knuble*
96 Amadeus Lombardi
94 Mitchell Martin*
54 Robert Mastrosimone
43 Carter Mazur
97 Owen Mehlenbacher
62 Theodor Niederbach
61 Ethan Phillips
58 Riley Piercey*
67 Redmond Savage
63 Sam Stange
64 A.J. Vanderbeck*
56 Pasquale Zito

Defensemen

Num. Name
55 Kyle Aucoin
75 Drew Bavaro*
78 Shia Buium
3 Simon Edvinsson
79 Cedric Fiedler*
95 Tnias Mathurin
81 Cooper Moore
77 Oscar Plandowski
44 Donovan Sebrango
51 Eemil Viro
83 William Wallinder

Goalies

Num. Name
80 Pierce Charleson*
33 Sebastian Cossa
36 Owen Flores*
35 Carter Gylander
68 Connor Murphy*
31 Andrew Oke*

Wings Select Nine Players in 2022 Entry Draft

The Detroit Red Wings completed their 2022 NHL Entry Draft on Friday, selecting nine players in total.

I’ve said it before but I’m not a big Draft guy.  When I draft over in the DFHL, I cram right before the draft and most of that information disappears from my head as soon as it’s over.  I really like Detroit taking Marco Kasper at eighth overall but aside from that, I don’t have strong feelings about any of these players.

That said, it feels like there’s a lot of Steve Yzerman signature picks here.  George Malik called Kasper “a very RED WINGS pick” (I can’t find the original Tweet or I’d link to it) and that makes a lot of sense to me. Big-ish guy, playing in Rogle, and a center at that.

That fourth-round set of Johansson, Lombardi, and Kilpinen screams Detroit.

It’s a little surprising that the team didn’t draft a goalie, but perhaps trading their third-rounder for Ville Husso was essentially drafting a goalie.

The one thing about this draft is there’s not a lot that really excites me.  That said, I probably would have said the same thing about the 2019 draft that brought Moritz Seider to Detroit (what I did say was that it gave me hope).  In all likelihood, none of these guys, even Kasper at #8, make an immediate impact.  And that’s disappointing.  Throughout the Wings’ rebuild, they’ve never been able to draft that one guy who comes in immediately and changes things.

But two years after being drafted, Seider finally made his debut and won the Calder in the process.  We’re going to have to be patient to see how this new set of Wings prospects pans out.

Wings Add Boughner, Westlund to Coaching Staff

The Detroit Red Wings announced the additions of Bob Boughner and Alex Westlund to their coaching staff on Friday.

Boughner had spent parts of the last three seasons as head coach of the San Jose Sharks before being let go last week.  Westlund spent the last five years as goaltending coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears.

I can’t speak to the Westlund hire but I love bringing in Boughner to coach the defense.  I almost said as much when San Jose fired him but figured the Wings probably had someone else in mind for that role by that point.

I also really like that Detroit saw a change, with Boughner suddenly available, and moved to work with that new scenario.  It’s a gut feeling kind of thing, but under Steve Yzerman, it seems like the Wings’ front office is more awake than it was in the closing years of Ken Holland‘s tenure.

By that I mean that, under Holland, it felt very much like, no matter what happened outside of the team, the response was “This is the plan, we have a plan, we’re sticking to the plan.”  Hiring a guy who wasn’t even available until a week ago is not something I would have expected him to do.

Whether or not Boughner’s hiring will help…  I don’t know if he’s the right man for the job.  That doesn’t mean he’s the wrong man for the job, either.  Just that it was time for a change on the bench, and this is a change, and it’s going to take some time to see how it works.

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