Morning After: Mistakes, Instigators, and Howard

A week and a half ago I wrote about how Ryan Sproul made a mistake that directly led to the overtime game-winning goal for the Florida Panthers.  While I didn’t like the mistake, I was glad that Sproul was out there to make it.  I saw it as a sign that he was getting his chance, that the Red Wings were willing to suffer through some growing pains.

The next game, Sproul was on the ice for three of the Penguins’ four third-period goals as Pittsburgh rallied to win. The only mistake I see on those plays is his failure to cut off a cross-crease pass on the third.

He hasn’t played since, having been replaced by Brian Lashoff (of all people) and then Alexey Marchenko, having returned from injury.

Maybe I was wrong about him getting his shot.  Or maybe I’m missing a mistake that earned him a spot in the pressbox.  Xavier Ouellet has been playing while Sproul sits and I think Sproul has been better this season than Ouellet.  But what do I know?


Speaking of Ouellet, he took an insigator minor and a misconduct for jumping Michael Raffl last night after Raffl hit Steve Ott.  I think it’s hilarious that Ott, the guy who was brought in to stand up for guys, needed someone to stand up for him.

While Matt Shepard was quick to throw praise to Ouellet for fighting on behalf of the guy who usually sticks up for everyone else, I think that was a really dumb move.  Midway through the third period of a tied game you put your team down a man for two minutes and short a defenseman for effectively the rest of the game.

There’s standing up for your teammate and there’s making a smart play.  Sometimes that overlaps.  This time it didn’t.


Jimmy Howard didn’t deserve that loss, but that’s not the first time it’s happened this season.  It’s nothing new that his goal support has been pathetic this season and while a 1-0 loss (even in overtime) doesn’t help the Red Wings much, his play in those games does.

Howard, in all likelihood, will not be a Red Wing next season.  Vegas should claim him in the expansion draft if he’s available.  If they’re not right now, the team should try to trade him at the deadline.

Who knows what kind of market there will be but a team like the Calgary Flames may decide that the Brian Elliot experiment was a failure and, as they scratch for a playoff spot, they need someone more reliable than career backup Chad Johnson.

My point being that Howard’s play makes it easier to trade him, and trading him means that they’re not only free of his contract but also the player who Vegas ends up taking instead of Howard.

This is nothing new, of course.  It’s just worth mentioning that Howard’s play might make it a little more possible to pull off.

Pregame: Marchenko, Athanasiou, Howard Return as Wings Host Jackets

The Red Wings are getting some bodies back, as three players will return from injury tonight.

Goalie Jimmy Howard, defenseman Alexey Marchenko, and forward Andreas Athanasiou will all be in the lineup as Detroit starts a five-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With Howard – who will back-up Petr Mrazek tonight – and Athanasiou back, Jared Coreau and Tomas Nosek returned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.  Brian Lashoff remains with the Red Wings but will likely be a healthy scratch in place of Marchenko.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD+.


Stupid Stat of the Day: The Red Wings have never lost in regulation to the Blue Jackets in December at Joe Louis Arena.  The last meeting between the teams in December in Detroit was a 1-0 shootout win for Columbus.

Red Wings to Honor Howe with Jersey Patch

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Tuesday that they will honor the life of Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe by wearing a patch on the front of their jerseys for the 2016-17 season.

The patch – a simple rectangle containing Howe’s #9 – will appear on the left side of the chest, above the tip of the Winged Wheel logo and opposite the captain’s C and alternate captain’s A.

The Red Wings' jerseys featuring the Gordie Howe patch (Credit: Detroit Red Wings)
The Red Wings’ jerseys featuring the Gordie Howe patch (Credit: Detroit Red Wings)

On the red home jersey, the patch will be red with a white outline and a white number.  On the white road jersey, the colors will be reversed.

“Our team wanted to honor ‘Mr. Hockey,’ due to his incredible impact on the game of hockey, the Red Wings organization and the city of Detroit,” said Tom Wilson, President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment, in a statement. “Wearing the ‘9’ jersey patch will be one of many ways our team will celebrate and look back on the life and career of Gordie during the upcoming season.”

This patch is in addition to the “Farewell to the Joe” patch to be worn on the left shoulder this season.

Howe’s #9 will also be painted on the ice behind each net.

Zetterberg Out of World Cup

Team Sweden announced on Thursday that Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will miss the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland later clarified that Zetterberg suffered a knee injury while training.  He has yet to have an MRI but the injury does not appear to be serious.

Zetterberg, who was to serve as team captain for the tournament, is the second Swedish Red Wing to withdraw.  Earlier this summer, Niklas Kronwall was replaced in the lineup by Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm.

Mikael Backlund of the Calgary Flames will take Zetterberg’s spot.

It marks the second time that Zetterberg has been named Sweden’s captain only to not finish the tournament.  At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Zetterberg played one game wearing the C before suffering a back injury.

Red Wings Re-sign Goalie Coreau

As CapFriendly first revealed last night, the Detroit Red Wings have re-signed goalie Jared Coreau.

The deal sheds some light on what the Wings’ organization expects their goalie situation to look like in the coming years.

While Coreau’s one-way deal for 2017-18 does not prevent him from being sent down to Grand Rapids, it would appear that the 2016-17 campaign will be his last with the Griffins and he’ll be with the Red Wings for their first season at Little Caesars Arena.  One can assume that he would back up Petr Mrazek, with Jimmy Howard having been traded or claimed by Las Vegas in next summer’s expansion draft.

Coreau had opted for salary arbitration earlier in the day but, obviously, the hearing was not necessary.  This leaves defenseman Danny DeKeyser as the lone Red Wing facing arbitration.

Along with DeKeyser, the Red Wings still need to sign Teemu Pulkkinen, Mrazek, Colin Campbell, Ryan Sproul, Mitch Callahan, and Louis-Marc Aubry, who are all restricted free agents.

Pulkkinen Out Six Months After Surgery

According to MLive’s Ansar Khan, who still has me blocked on Twitter, Red Wings’ forward Teemu Pulkkinen is out up to six months after having offseason shoulder surgery.

This would seemingly lower his value as a restricted free agent.  Unfortunately, it also lowers his value as trade bait, if the Wings were trying to use him to acquire the much-needed defenseman.

On the plus side, it opens up a roster spot on a logjammed forward corps, at least until his return.

Wings Go Searching for “Grit” and Sign Steve Ott

Well, the beat writers have been talking about the Wings looking for some fourth-line grit all week, and it looked like we had all dodged a bullet when Matt Martin signed in Toronto, but no…

There is one small bit of good news.

That salary can be buried in its entirety in the AHL should the Wings snap out of it and decide to punt this jackass down to the Griffins to hang out with Daniel Cleary.

Wings Add Forward Vanek

In something of a surprise move, the Red Wings added a second forward on Friday, signing Thomas Vanek to a one-year deal.

Per Gord Miller of TSN, Vanek is set to make $2.6 million for the season.

I half-like the move. The cap hit is friendly. The term is perfect. It’s a lot like the Brad Richards deal last year. The problem is the roster crunch at forward, but clearly the Wings are trying to swing a trade to fix their blueline so who knows what forward(s) they’ll have to give up.

Vanek spent the last two seasons with the Minnesota Wild and was bought out this week.  In 817 career NHL games with Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Montreal, and Minnesota, Vanek has 316 goals and 333 assists.

According to his agent, Vanek expects to see time on the Red Wings’ power play.

Red Wings Sign Nielsen

The Detroit Red Wings have announced the signing of center Frans Nielsen to a six-year contract.

Per Aaron Ward, who has been on top of all things Detroit this morning, the deal carries a $5.25 million salary cap it.

I don’t love the term.  The money is about what I expected.  Now it’s time for Holland to not do anything else.

Nielsen, 32, has spent his entire career with the New York Islanders.  In 606 career games he has 119 goals and 230 assists.

Red Wings Re-Up Marchenko

Aaron Ward broke his second Detroit signing of the day, revealing that the Red Wings have signed would-be restricted free agent Alexey Marchenko to an extension.

Ansar Khan of MLive, who still has me blocked on Twitter so I can’t embed his Tweet, says the new deal is for two years and carries a salary cap hit of $1.45 million.