Red Wings Sign Pair of Depth Defensemen

The Red Wings are signing a pair of depth defensemen: Jordan Oesterle from the Arizona Coyotes and Ryan Murphy from the American Hockey League’s Henderson Silver Knights.

Oesterle, a Dearborn Heights native and Western Michigan University product, effectively replaces Alex Biega in the Detroit system while Murphy, signed to a two-way deal, can be expected to spend most of his time with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

This effectively locks in Detroit’s blueline for the coming season as follows:

Filip HronekDanny DeKeyser
Moritz SeiderNick Leddy
Troy Stetcher – Marc Staal
Gustav Lindstrom
Oesterle

Murphy helps fill gaps in a Griffins’ defensive corps that could be decimated by free agent departures.  Captain Brian Lashoff and veteran presence Dylan McIlrath are both free agents and longtime Griffin Joe Hicketts just signed with the Minnesota Wild.

Wings Sign Pickard to One-Year Extension

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of goalie Calvin Pickard to a one-year contract extension on Wednesday.

Pickard is expected to serve as the starting goalie with the Grand Rapids Griffins, behind newly-acquired Alex Nedeljkovic and returning Thomas Greiss in Detroit.

With the Red Wings’ organizational goaltending in a bit of flux, keeping the veteran netminder with the Griffins gives a bit of important continuity.

Red Wings Extend Gagner for One Year

Just before NHL free agency opened on Wednesday, the Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of veteran center Sam Gagner to a one-year contract extension.

Financial terms were not announced but the deal is reportedly worth $850,000.

Of the Red Wings’ three pending unrestricted free agent veteran forwards, Gagner was the one who made the most sense to me to re-sign.

Luke Glendening seems likely to sign a contract for more money and/or more term than I think the Wings should pay.  Bobby Ryan may be in the same situation, with an added negative of being a winger when the Red Wings seemingly needed to focus on center depth.

Red Wings Re-Up Staal on One Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Sunday the signing of defenseman Marc Staal to a one-year contract extension.

Staal had been a pending unrestricted free agent.  He was originally acquired last offseason in a salary dump move from the New York Rangers.

The deal is reportedly worth $2 million and includes a full no movement clause.

There were probably better defensemen that the Wings could have chased down in free agency but, since the end of the season, word from the organization has been that they wanted to bring Staal back.  Clearly the interest was mutual.

I don’t love the deal.  I’d rather have seen that cap space spent on another salary dump from another team.  That said, there are only so many of those available.  Also, $2 million is an absolutely fine number for Staal.  If he’s open to it (because of the no movement clause), the Wings can retain half of his salary and move him on to a contender at the deadline pretty easily.

It does mean that Detroit’s blueline is pretty set at this point.

Filip HronekDanny DeKeyser
Moritz SeiderNick Leddy
Troy Stetcher – Staal
Gustav Lindstrom

Those aren’t meant to be true pairings, just an idea of how spots could play out.  The point is that Staal is a $2 million third-pairing guy and that’s not horrible, even if I don’t entirely love it either.

Wings Select Defenseman Edvinsson, Goalie Cossa in First Round of Draft

The Detroit Red Wings made two selections in the opening round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft on Friday, adding defenseman Simon Edvinsson and goalie Sebastian Cossa to their slate of prospects.

The Red Wings took Edvinsson with the the sixth overall pick in the draft, where they had been projected to take center Mason McTavish.  McTavish went third overall to the Anaheim Ducks, however, and Edvinsson – projected to have been picked third by some – dropped to Detroit.

Later in the round, Detroit executed a trade with the Dallas Stars to move up from 23rd overall to 15th overall, sending the 48th and 138th overall picks to Dallas to complete the transaction.  The move enabled the Red Wings to pick the goalie, Cossa.

I had been really high on McTavish and was certain he was Detroit’s pick – if he made it to #6.  He didn’t.  With McTavish, as well as Michigan’s Kent Johnson, off the board by the time Detroit got to pick, I’m not surprised that they went with the big Swedish defenseman Edvinsson.

I don’t dislike the pick in a vacuum, it’s just that the Red Wings seemed to already have a bit of high-level defense in the pipeline, with Moritz Seider, William Wallinder, and Antti Tuomisto.  Their most glaring need was at center, but the two top centers were gone.  It left Detroit kind of in no-mans-land.

With Cossa at #15, the Wings got a player I really liked, but I’m not sure I would have traded up to get him.  Had he still been available at #23, I would have taken Cossa in an instant.  That said, the Wings had draft capital to burn.

The second rounder they gave up was acquired from the New York Rangers in the Marc Staal deal and the fifth rounder was originally Ottawa’s, acquired from Montreal for Jon Merrill, and the Red Wings still have their own picks in each of those rounds.  I’ve lamented the Wings’ having quantity but not quality when it comes to draft picks and, in making this deal, they converted quantity to quality.

So with the picks, Detroit improves on their already impressive slate of blueline prospects and gets a seemingly-legitimate goalie of the future in case Thursday’s trade for Alex Nedeljkovic doesn’t pan out (or is only a short-term fix).  They still need to find a center and improve their forward depth in general at some point.  If I were the Wings, I’d be hoping Aatu Raty continues his slide and is available at #38.

Red Wings’ 2021-22 Schedule Released

The National Hockey League released its schedule for the 2021-22 season on Thursday, including that of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings will open their campaign hosting the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on October 14, 2021, and will close it out with a visit to the New Jersey Devils on April 29, 2022.

There will be a handful of firsts for the Wings spread throughout the season.

Their first matchup against the expansion Seattle Kraken will take place at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena on December 1.  Their first visit to the New York Islanders’ new UBS Arena will be later that month, on December 29.  Their first game at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle will be on March 19.

New Red Wing Nick Leddy will face his former Islander teammates for the first time on December 4 in Detroit.  Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic will oppose his former Carolina Hurricanes teammates on December 16.

Detroit’s annual New Year’s Eve game returns to the schedule as the Red Wings host the Washington Capitals and Anthony Mantha.

There will be only two home-and-home series on the schedule, with the Red Wings facing the Buffalo Sabres on January 15 and January 17 and the Ottawa Senators on April 1 and April 3.

Detroit plays on back-to-back days 14 times throughout the season, with each one of them involving travel between the games.

Red Wings Acquire Goalie Nedeljkovic From Carolina

The Detroit Red Wings acquired goalie Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday in return for a third-round draft pick and the rights to pending unrestricted free agent goalie Jonathan Bernier.

The draft pick was Vegas’, acquired in the 2018 Tomas Tatar trade.

Nedelkjovic was a pending restricted free agent but, per his agent, immediately signed a two-year deal with Detroit carrying a $3 million salary cap hit.

The 25-year-old former Plymouth Whaler and Flint Firebird had a breakout season last year, putting up a .932 save percentage and 1.90 goals against average after taking over the crease when former Red Wing Petr Mrazek went down with an injury.

I love this move.  I think the Red Wings were going to pay around $3 million for a goalie to replace Bernier no matter what and giving up a third rounder makes it worth it to ensure that it’s someone who could be in Detroit for a long time going forward.  Nedeljkovic is immediately the Red Wings’ goalie of the future due to a complete lack of any prospects in the pipeline.

Wings Sign Rasmussen to Contract Extension

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of pending restricted free agent forward Michael Rasmussen to a three-year deal on Thursday.

Financial terms were not officially announced, of course, but PuckPedia reports the deal carries a $1.46 million salary cap hit.

This looks like a solid deal to me.  Rasmussen was one of the Wings’ better players late in the season but he has yet to fully prove himself.  This deal gives him a raise but not so much of one that the Wings will be weighed down by it if he doesn’t continue to grow as a player, and he will still be an RFA at its expiration.

With Rasmussen signed, the Red Wings are up tosix forwards from last season’s roster under contract.

Red Wings Lose Cholowski to Kraken via Expansion Draft

The Seattle Kraken announced their thirty Expansion Draft selections on Wednesday night, including the pick of Dennis Cholowski from the Detroit Red Wings.

Cholowski was Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2016 Entry Draft but had a hard time sticking in the Red Wings’ lineup.

I didn’t want for the Wings to lose Cholowski, but at the same time I don’t feel bad that they did.  Maybe he’ll thrive in a different environment.  He’s not a Red Wing anymore so I don’t care either way.

But his departure causes me to look back at the Wings draft picks from that era with disappointment.

Going back to the 2014 draft, first-rounder Dylan Larkin is the only player to have established himself in the NHL.  Dominic Turgeon is still in the organization and Christoffer Ehn played with the Wings for a bit but Chase Perry, Julius Vahatalo, Axel Holmstrom, and Alexander Kadeykin never made it.

From 2015, first-rounder Evgeni Svechnikov hasn’t been able to regularly crack the lineup.  Fifth-rounder Chase Pearson might have fourth-line potential.  Vili Saarijarvi was traded away for a goalie who was waived after two games, Joren van Pottleberghe doesn’t seem to have a future in North America, Patrick Holway is unsigned and Adam Marsh never made it.

In 2016, there was the now-departed Cholowski, Givani Smith and Filip Hronek selected in the second round, and then Alfons Malmstrom, Jordan Sambrook, Filip Larsson, and Mattias Elfstrom.  Hronek is Detroit’s top defender right now and Smith probably has a spot on the fourth line.  Larsson could recover his college form, but the others are a loss.

Finally, there’s the 2017 draft, the first one where the team couldn’t deny that a rebuild was underway.  The Red Wings stocked up on third round picks that year, looking for as many “lottery tickets” as possible.  Those third-rounders ended up being Kasper Kotkansalo, who has yet to sign with Detroit; and Lane Zablocki, Zach Gallant, and Keith Petruzzelli, none of whom signed.  Michael Rasmussen came out of the first round and Gustav Lindstrom came out of the second.  Then there was Malte Setkov, Cole Fraser, Jack Adams, Reilly Webb, and Brady Gilmour.  Of those, only Adams still has a chance in Detroit.

So over four years, four first-round picks in the top twenty, and thirty-one draft picks overall, what the Wings have to show for it is Larkin, Smith, Hronek, Rasmussen, and Lindstrom.  A top two center, a fourth liner, a top four defenseman, a third liner, and a third-pair defenseman.  If you really want to reach, maybe Svechnikov still pans out.  Maybe Kotkansalo or Adams or Larsson does something.

That’s just abysmal for a time frame where the team’s core was aging and they really needed to be gearing up for the future.

Red Wings Announce 2021 Exhibition Schedule

The Detroit Red Wings announced their 2021 preseason exhibition schedule on Monday.

The eight-game slate includes home and away games against the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Detroit’s slate of opponents had remained relatively stable throughout the 2010s after the Boston Bruins replaced the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011.  This marks the second major switch-up in as many preseasons, however.  The New York Islanders replaced the Bruins in 2019 and, with no preseason games played in 2020, now the Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs have been swapped out for the Sabres and Blue Jackets.

The full exhibition schedule is as follows:

Date Opponent Venue Time
September 29, 2021 Chicago Blackhawks United Center 8:30 PM
September 30, 2021 Buffalo Sabres Little Caesars Arena 7:30 PM
October 2, 2021 Columbus Blue Jackets Little Caesars Arena 7:00 PM
October 3, 2021 Pittsburgh Penguins PPG Paints Arena 1:00 PM
October 4, 2021 Chicago Blackhawks Little Caesars Arena 7:30 PM
October 6, 2021 Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena 7:00 PM
October 7, 2021 Pittsburgh Penguins Little Caesars Arena 7:30 PM
October 9, 2021 Buffalo Sabres Key Bank Center 3:00 PM

The 2021-22 regular season schedule is expected to be announced on Thursday.