Red Wings Acquire Goalie Husso

The Detroit Red Wings acquired goalie Ville Husso for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft on Friday, then signed him to a three-year contract extension.

Financial terms of Husso’s new contract were not announced (of course) but it reportedly carries a $4.75 million salary cap hit.

I’m fine with that deal because of its relatively short term.  $4.75 million seems a little high for someone so unproven, especially compared to the $3 million deal that Alex Nedeljkovic signed last summer, but the Red Wings have a ton of cap space right now so it’s manageable.

If Husso ends up not being worth it, Detroit has Richard Panik‘s retained salary coming off the books in 2023-24, Justin Abdelkader‘s buyout cap hit gets cut in half, and Frans Nielsen‘s buyout cap hit disappears entirely, so overpaying on a goalie can be accommodated.

Red Wings Name Derek Lalonde Head Coach

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday evening that Derek Lalonde will be the team’s next head coach.

Lalonde replaces Jeff Blashill, who was let go by the team after the Red Wings missed the playoffs in six of his seven years behind the bench.

The move was somewhat expected, as it was Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman – then in the same role for Tampa Bay – who hired Lalonde as an assistant coach with the Lightning, his most recent role.

As my primary hope for the Red Wings’ next head coach was new blood, this move works for me.  I kind of would have preferred someone from Europe – Roger Ronnberg would have been interesting and Sergei Fedorov would have been entertaining – but Yzerman specifically said he wanted someone he was familiar with and this certainly checks that box.

Somewhat interestingly, Lalonde’s coaching staff was not announced.  Alex Tanguay remains as an assistant coach with the team but assistant Doug Houda and goalie coach Jeff Salajko were let go with Blashill.

This is just one in many dominoes to fall for the Red Wings this offseason, but it’s certainly a large domino.

Red Wings Announce 2022 Exhibition Schedule

The Detroit Red Wings announced most of their exhibition schedule for the 2022 preseason on Thursday.

They will play their traditional eight-game slate against a set of familiar teams.

The Red Wings will both host and visit the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Toronto Maple Leafs.  Their preseason schedule has featured those teams for the last decade, with the exception of 2021.

The Washington Capitals are Detroit’s fourth opponent, their first appearance on the Wings’ preseason schedule since the lockout-cancelled 2012 exhibition season.

Detroit’s visit to Chicago has yet to be finalized but the remaining seven games are as follows:

  • September 27, 2022 – at Pittsburgh
  • September 28, 2022 – vs. Chicago
  • September 30, 2022 – vs. Washington
  • October 3, 2022 – vs. Pittsburgh
  • October 5, 2022 – at Washington
  • October 7, 2022 – vs Toronto
  • October 8, 2022 – at Toronto

On Blashill and Other Season-Ending Thoughts

The Red Wings ended their season on Friday night in New Jersey and entered the offseason with a slate of decisions to make about the direction of the team. It took under a day for General Manager Steve Yzerman to make the first one.

Jeff Blashill will not return as the team’s head coach.

The move comes in the form of the team cleaning house behind the bench. Assistant coach Doug Houda and goalie coach Jeff Salajko will also not return.  It is believed – coach contracts are rarely made as public as player contracts – that none of the three were explicitly fired; instead their contracts were not renewed.

Assistant coach Alex Tanguay remains with the team.  The 2021-22 campaign was his first in Detroit.

Blashill, as The Athletic’s Max Bultman notes, never had much to work with as far as player personnel goes, taking the team over from Mike Babcock as the Red Wings entered their current rebuild.  There seems to be the thought that he’ll end up coaching back in the NHL sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, there’s already buzz that he could take over the Ferris State program in 2023.

For the Red Wings, though, answering the question of whether or not Blashill would return has just raised another; that of who will replace him.

I won’t pretend to have insight into what Yzerman might be thinking regarding that (turn to Bultman again for some options Yzerman might be considering).  My hope – and my expectation given Yzerman’s history – is that we won’t see someone from the NHL coaching carousel brought in.  No John Tortorella or Paul Maurice or Dave Tippett.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m equal parts curious and terrified of the idea of bringing Sergei Fedorov over from CSKA Moscow of the KHL, with all the baggage that would entail. I’d been on the Roger Ronnberg bandwagon for a while but I’m not so sure about that anymore.

Whoever the new coach is, another big question for the summer is how similar the team he takes over looks to the one Blashill leaves behind.

Thomas Greiss is expected to depart as a free agent this summer, opening up the backup slot with the Red Wings.  Is the late-season signing of Magnus Hellberg, who made his Detroit debut in the season finale, a sign that he has the inside track on replacing him?  Hellberg himself is an unrestricted free agent, so he might not even return.  If Calvin Pickard leaves the organization and Victor Brattstrom returns to Europe, Alex Nedeljkovic would be the only returning goalie from Detroit or Grand Rapids, so upheaval is coming there.

On defense, it’s hard to see Danny DeKeyser – waived and unclaimed during the season – returning next year.  Mid-season waiver claim Olli Juolevi was largely ineffective in his time in Detroit and – as a pending restricted free agent – may not be given a qualifying offer, becoming unrestricted.  Jake Walman was good for the Wings after being acquired in the Nick Leddy deadline day trade and can reasonably be expected to return as a restricted free agent.

The biggest question mark of the current blueliners is Marc Staal.  Along with DeKeyser, he was named an alternate captain to start the season and the team appreciates his veteran leadership.  Though he’s not the player he once was, his performance didn’t drop as much as DeKeyser’s did, so there may be interest in bringing him back.

If Staal and Walman return, the Detroit blueline would be made up of Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek, Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Lindstrom, Staal, and Walman.  Simon Edvinsson, the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, could claim a spot out of training camp.

Even with the addition of Edvinsson, it’s hard to see that defense corps being much of an improvement over what the Red Wings had this year, so there may be appetite to let Staal (and/or Walman) walk to clear roster spots for upgrades brought in via free agency.

Up front there’s a similar situation.  Ten of the 12 forward spots are accounted for by returning players.  One of those is restricted free agent Filip ZadinaJonatan Berggren, who set a new Grand Rapids Griffins rookie scoring record this season, can also be expected to take up a spot.  That’s 12 just by letting pending restricted free agent Mitchell Stephens and unrestricted free agents Sam Gagner, Turner Elson, and Carter Rowney walk.

Like Staal, the team has appreciated Gagner’s veteran hand and may want him back next year.  Pushing Givani Smith into the 13th forward slot wouldn’t be the end of the world but it again means that there’s little room to add upgrades via free agency.

The Red Wings are getting into a dangerous spot in their rebuild.  To take advantage of the prime of Dylan Larkin‘s career, they will need to add pieces now.  Trotting out the same basic lineup behind a new head coach won’t do it (though having both Robby Fabbri and Jakub Vrana healthy at the same time would be a benefit).

If they can’t do that, realistically, this rebuild is going to take at least another three or four years and they should be looking at selling Larkin or Tyler Bertuzzi or Vrana for assets that will make them competitive when Seider and Lucas Raymond are in their primes.  It might be a hard pill for Wings fans to swallow but it makes sense.

Wings Deal Namestnikov to Stars

The Detroit Red Wings traded forward Vladislav Namestnikov to the Dallas Stars for a fourth-round draft pick in 2024 on Monday, just as the NHL’s trade deadline approached.

Namestnikov was the third pending free agent shipped out by the Red Wings in advance of the deadline, following defensemen Troy Stecher and Nick Leddy.

While a higher return could have been hoped for, Namestnikov’s value had kind of been set by previous trades.  In October of 2019, he was traded by the New York Rangers to the Ottawa Senators for a fourth-round pick.  Almost five months later, the Senators moved him to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth-rounder again.  Namestnikov played well for Detroit over the last two seasons but not well enough to change his perceived value.  I referred to it on Twitter as the Standard Namestnikov Return.

As useful as he’s been in Detroit, I don’t think Namestnikov was a long-term piece of the puzzle, so I’m not worried about losing him.  The Wings also have a ton of forward depth to ride out the rest of the season, so it’s not like his departure leaves a hole in the lineup.

This is what a rebuilding team should do.  Shipping out pending free agents for draft picks is part of the process.  It’s just that the Wings haven’t had many pending UFAs that other teams have actually wanted in awhile.

Red Wings Trade Leddy, Witkowski to St. Louis

The Detroit Red Wings made an expected move in the lead-up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline, sending veteran defenseman Nick Leddy to the St. Louis Blues for Oscar Sundqvist, Jake Walman, and a second-round pick.

Luke Witkowski, currently with the Grand Rapids Griffins, also goes to St. Louis as part of the deal.

Leddy had been a healthy scratch in games against the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken last week to prevent him from being injured before a trade could be worked out.

Leddy was acquired by the Red Wings for a second-round draft pick last summer.  With Sundqvist, Walman, and Witkowski all depth pieces, the core of the deal is essentially Leddy for a second-rounder, meaning that the cost of Detroit renting Leddy for most of this season was punting a second-round pick from 2021 to 2023.

Sundqvist is a fourth-line forward with one year left on his contract after this one, carrying a salary cap hit of $2.75 million.  Walman, a defenseman, will be a restricted free agent this summer.

I like the deal.  I was beginning to think there was no way Leddy would bring back a second-rounder and I’m glad to see that.  The rest is a big “meh” from me but it doesn’t matter with that second included.

Red Wings Deal Stecher to Kings

In what The Athletic’s Max Bultman referred to as the “first domino of of the deadline”, the Detroit Red Wings traded defenseman Troy Stecher to the Los Angeles Kings for a seventh-round draft pick on Sunday.

The pick is an underwhelming return for Stecher, who was a steadying influence on the Detroit blue line last season and starred for Canada at the World Championships.  This season, however, Stecher has been limited to just sixteen games between injuries and fighting for a roster spot with Gustav Lindstrom.

I was a little surprised that Stecher even played last night in Seattle, with Lindstrom sitting, as I thought that he might be kept out in advance of a trade.

My concern with Stecher only bringing in a seventh is that now we’re going to see Nick Leddy only be worth a fourth or something like that.

Red Wings Shut Down Through Christmas

The National Hockey League announced on Sunday that the Detroit Red Wings would be shut down until at least after the league’s Holiday Break.

The Wings would be eligible to resume their schedule against the New York Rangers on December 27.

The move comes with the team announcing that forwards Sam Gagner, Pius Suter, and Joe Veleno has been placed in COVID protocol, along with assistant video coach Jeff Weintraub.

Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen had been placed on the COVID list on Thursday.  Givani Smith, Carter Rowney, Alex Nedeljkovic, and coaches Jeff Blashill and Alex Tanguay were added on Saturday morning.  Filip Zadina was a late addition on Saturday, announced just before the Red Wings hosted the New Jersey Devils.

The team had only one game remaining on the schedule in the week leading up to Christmas anyway, a Thursday visit to the Minnesota Wild.  Monday’s matchup between the Wings and Colorado in Detroit had already been postponed due to COVID concerns with the Avalanche.

The Red Wings join the Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Florida Panthers as teams having been temporarily shut down.

As I said yesterday, some kind of league-wide shutdown seems inevitable at this point.  There are over 100 players across the league in COVID protocol.  This isn’t contained.

Cross-border travel was also cancelled through the end of the Holiday Break so no one would be forced to quarantine on the wrong side of a border for Christmas.

So it seems like the league recognizes that it’s not contained.  But, to give them the benefit of the doubt, it’s also not contained in communities, so would shutting the league down actually do any good?  I’m not an epidemiologist, I don’t know.

Red Wings Add Five to COVID Protocol

With Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen already in COVID protocol, the Detroit Red Wings added five more to that list on Saturday.

The Red Wings are set to host the New Jersey Devils tonight.

New Jersey, meanwhile, placed defenseman P.K. Subban on the COVID list.

This comes as the virus runs rampant through the NHL.  Per CapFriendly, 90 players across the league are in COVID protocol.  The Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche have had their seasons paused until after Christmas, with Detroit’s matchup against the Avalanche on Monday yet to be rescheduled.

Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Ben Simon and assistant Todd Krygier have been tapped to join Detroit assistant coach Doug Houda behind the Red Wings’ bench with Blashill and Tanguay unavailable.  Simon and Krygier are available because the Griffins’ weekend series with the Toronto Marlies was postponed due to an outbreak on the Marlies’ roster.

It seems like some kind of league-wide pause is inevitable at this point, however no further cancellations involving the Red Wings have been announced.

Red Wings Extend Fabbri with Three-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of forward Robby Fabbri to a three-year deal on Monday night.

And… Can it be?! They actually included financial terms!

I didn’t love the deal when I first heard it but, after sleeping on it, I think it’s entirely reasonable.

My initial thought was that it didn’t look right to have Fabbri signed for longer than any other player on the roster. But that’s just an effect of the Red Wings having so few players signed to term. There’s nothing wrong with three years given what Fabbri has shown in his time with Detroit.

The AAV of $4 million might be a touch high but the Red Wings aren’t projected to be a cap team in the next three years so it’s not the end of the world by any means.  In a cap world we’d love everyone to want to sign with our team for the league minimum, of course.  But this is an amount that can probably be traded, if necessary, or can be traded with salary retained (if even more necessary).

A contract for Fabbri was always going to be interesting because of where the Wings are in their rebuild.  A pending free agent this summer, Fabbri could have been flipped at the deadline for assets towards the rebuild.  That would have just left the team needing to replace him, though.

On a three-year deal, he’ll still be young enough that, if the Wings are still rebuilding at the end of his contract (or if young players from the rebuild have pushed him out of the lineup, in a more optimistic scenario), he can be flipped as a pending free agent down the road.

I think it’s a safe deal, if a little expensive.

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