Red Wings Leave Mrazek Exposed for Expansion Draft

There were few surprises when the Red Wings’ expansion draft protection list was (eventually) released this morning, but the one that did come down was a big one, as the team opted to protect goalie Jimmy Howard rather than Petr Mrazek.

Available
Louis-Marc Aubry (F)
Mitch Callahan (F)
Colin Campbell (F)
Martin Frk (F)
Luke Glendening (F)
Darren Helm (F)
Drew Miller (F)
Tomas Nosek (F)
Riley Sheahan (F)
Ben Street (F)
Eric Tangradi (F)
Adam Almquist (D)
Jonathan Ericsson (D)
Niklas Kronwall (D)
Brian Lashoff (D)
Dylan McIlrath (D)
Xavier Ouellet (D)
Ryan Sproul (D)
Jared Coreau (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
Edward Pasquale (G)
Jake Paterson (G)

Protected
Justin Abdelkader (F)
Andreas Athanasiou (F)
Anthony Mantha (F)
Frans Nielsen (F)
Gustav Nyquist (F)
Tomas Tatar (F)
Henrik Zetterberg (F)
Danny DeKeyser (D)
Mike Green (D)
Nick Jensen (D)
Jimmy Howard (G)

I’ve been ranting about this on Twitter all morning, so obviously I think this is the wrong move.  Let me touch on a couple other things first, though.

I half-expected Niklas Kronwall to be protected, even though his contract and injury history make him pretty much unclaimable, so seeing him available is good.  Similarly, the Red Wings could have left Andreas Athanasiou unprotected to protect Darren Helm but didn’t.  So there were some good choices here.

Let’s come back to the goalies, though.

Yesterday the Arizona Coyotes and Calgary Flames made waves with the Coyotes sending veteran goalie Mike Smith to the Flames for a pick and a prospect.  At the time, I wondered how Ken Holland couldn’t have gotten a deal done to send Jimmy Howard to Calgary instead, as the Wings certainly could have asked for less, with the cleared cap space being the real acquisition for Detroit.  After all, Smith is two years older than Howard, signed for more money, and had worse stats than Howard last season.

One response was that Smith is seen as more durable than Howard.  While that’s possible, it’d be somewhat ridiculous, as Howard missed significant time last season but Smith missed half the year in 2015-16.

Another idea was that Calgary GM Brad Treliving specifically wanted Smith, as he was with the Coyotes when they signed him.  That’s always possible, but I find it hard to believe that familiarity was worth the higher price paid for Smith than the Wings would have to have asked for Howard.  Either Treliving did a disservice to the Flames by overpaying for a goalie or Ken Holland did a disservice to the Red Wings by not negotiating hard enough to trade Howard.

I’m also focusing on Howard here because we know the Flames traded for Smith and Howard is more like Smith than Mrazek is.  We have no idea what kind of deal it would have taken to move Mrazek to Calgary but we can guess what kind of deal would have gotten Howard there.

If Howard gets dealt yesterday, Mrazek gets protected today, and concerns about losing a goalie for nothing are gone.

I think it could have been avoided, but regardless the reason, the Red Wings hit yesterday’s deadline with two NHL goalies on their roster and could only protect one.

With that out of the way, some thoughts on protecting Howard over Mrazek…

There’s a lot of chatter that neither will be selected because there are better goalies available.  If that’s the case, I would think you try to slide Howard through because at 33 and with a $5.29 million cap hit and coming off an injury-filled season, it’s less likely that he gets claimed, just in case.

If there’s a deal in place to “guide” the Golden Knights towards picking a certain player, it doesn’t matter who you have unprotected.  That said, Ken Holland said he wasn’t going to do that.  Kenny has lied to us before, though.

Ignoring both of those, the reason to leave Mrazek unprotected is because you don’t care if you lose him.  For a team in the Red Wings’ position, that’s a mistake.  This team needs to get younger and cheaper, even if that means worse (which I think it arguable).  Shed bad contracts and look to the future.  You do that by protecting Mrazek, not Howard.

Protecting Howard over Mrazek feels like sacrificing youth for another playoff push.  It feels like the tie goes to the veteran.  It feels like the “Red Wings Way” that led to the end of the playoff streak and no long playoff runs in nearly a decade.

Quincey Signing Proves the Youth Movement is a Lie

Much has been made of the Red Wings’ supposed youth movement over the past two seasons. Last year alone, eleven rookies played at least one game for Detroit. That number does not include Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson, who had played too many games previously to count as rookies. Eight of those made their NHL debut during the 2013-14 season.

In the face of injuries that decimated the Detroit lineup, the kids were called upon, and there was much rejoicing. But while the focus is on the fact that the kids got their shot, maybe it should be on the qualifier that it was only in the face of so many injuries.

The Red Wings did not make an effort to further their youth movement. If anything, they tried to avoid it, as Tatar was benched to start the season and Nyquist was in Grand Rapids following the late-summer re-signing of Daniel Cleary.

Of the players making their much-lauded NHL debuts, three played only that game. The now-departed Adam Almquist played two. Teemu Pulkkinen played three. Xavier Ouellet and Landon Ferraro played four. Only Luke Glendening played a significant portion of the season, getting into 56 games (more than Jurco and Sheahan, only one less than Nyquist).

Which brings us to this summer, where the Red Wings wanted to upgrade their defense and failed, missing out on every free agent they attempted to woo. Did this open a spot for Ryan Sproul, the right-handed shooter of the kind they said they were looking to acquire via free agency? No, the team instead brought back Kyle Quincey, a left-hander and the very definition of not an upgrade, as it leaves the team with the exact same blueline as it had last year.

The Red Wings have Sproul, Ouellet and Alexey Marchenko all nearly ready (if not now ready) to make the jump to the NHL and they’ve assured that no roster spots are available to do so. There will be at most one spot available next summer, and that’s only if the team opts to let Brendan Smith walk as a restricted free agent.

Three players near-ready on the blue line, where there won’t be three spots available until 2016-17, at which point the three will all be restricted free agents.

The Red Wings had their chance to commit to the youth movement. Let Sproul have a shot to win a spot in camp. Instead they opted to make no spots available and bring back Quincey.

Report: Almquist Bolts to Russia

A report out of Russia Wednesday morning states that Red Wings’ defensive prospect Adam Almquist will leave the Detroit organization, signing a two-year deal with the Kontinental Hockey League’s Severstal Cherepovets.

The Red Wings will retain his NHL rights as a restricted free agent by virtue of giving him a qualifying contract offer.

Almquist, 23, made his NHL debut this season, playing in two games for Detroit and scoring a goal. He had 14 goals and 70 assists in 144 career games for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate.

If Almquist had not made the Red Wings’ roster out of this fall’s training camp, he would have been subject to waivers and a possible claim by another NHL team. Given that he had seemingly slipped down Detroit’s depth chart behind players such as Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet and Alexey Marchenko, that had become a likely outcome.

Looking at the Red Wings’ 2014-15 Roster

We’re all of three days into the offseason but it’s never too early to start looking at next year. I’ve had a lot of side conversations about what I think the Red Wings’ roster will look like next year and what it should look like (which aren’t the same thing) so I figured I’d post my “ideal” opening night roster and go from there.

Henrik ZetterbergPavel DatsyukGustav Nyquist
Tomas TatarRiley SheahanTomas Jurco
Justin AbdelkaderDarren HelmDaniel Alfredsson
Drew MillerDavid LegwandLuke Glendening
Mitch Callahan
Landon Ferraro

Niklas KronwallDanny DeKeyser
Jonathan EricssonBrendan Smith
Ryan SproulXavier Ouellet
Adam Almquist

Jimmy Howard
Petr Mrazek

You’ll notice there are some names missing, and that’s why this may be my “ideal” roster but it’s also pretty much impossible.

The forward lines are build out from the second line. If the Red Wings are really going to embrace the youth movement, even when healthy, I want the Kid Line skating as Detroit’s second line again. It might not be the best possible lineup to start the year but I think it will be by the end of the season and for seasons beyond.

With the Kid Line in place, you can load up on the first line, with both Eurotwins and Gustav Nyquist.

On the third line you’ve got Darren Helm centering Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Alfredsson. I bring back Alfredsson if he wants to come back and put him on the third line to keep his minutes down and add some scoring. It also gives flexibility for the inevitable Line Blender, as you could bump Abdelkader to the top line as Mike Babcock loves to do, drop Nyquist down to the second, and play Tatar on the third.

The fourth line brings back David Legwand simply because I think he has to be re-signed or it makes the deal to trade for him look even more ridiculous. I wouldn’t bring back Glendening but Babcock loves him so he’s going to be in the lineup on opening night.

Callahan and Ferraro are out of waiver options, they stick with the big club out of camp.

Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson? All free agents, all allowed to walk.

Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss, Joakim Andersson, Jordin Tootoo? That’s where this gets messy, as I don’t have a spot for any of them or any player they might bring back in trade and there’s only one compliance buyout left.

The easy answer is that Alfredsson and Legwand don’t return and Franzen and Weiss take their spots. Tootoo gets bought out and Andersson gets the Cory Emmerton treatment. That makes the Legwand trade look awful but is that better than finding a way to unload Weiss (who’d probably just have to be waived with the hope that someone claims him)?

Franzen… Oh Franzen. There are going to be a lot of words written about him between now and the draft. I’ll try not to write too many of them. I say the draft because I think if he’s going to be traded, it’ll be then. He won’t be bought out. It’s not that Franzen necessarily is bad or overpaid (his cap hit is great for his potential). When he’s good, he’s among the best. When he’s bad, he looks like he doesn’t even want to be out there. Combined with his comments about not being paid to score goals, there’s a perceived attitude problem there. The negatives outweigh the positives to me.

On defense, I don’t think the top four are all that controversial. Kyle Quincey is gone. The UFA defense pool is shallow this year and Quincey is going to get absolutely paid by someone.

The third pair, though, is where the youth movement kicks in. Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul looked ready in their limited opportunity this season. I give them the chance to start next year.

I’d like to have a veteran seventh defenseman to back them up but – like Ferraro and Callahan – Adam Almquist is out of options so he stays up by default.

Brian Lashoff? Jakub Kindl? They’re in Franzen/Weiss/Andersson territory. Under contract but I don’t have a spot for them. Lashoff can be buried in Grand Rapids if necessary, the only “easy” decision available.

In goal we’ve got Howard back (of course) and Petr Mrazek making the jump to be his backup. Some (maybe even within the Wings organization) will argue that Mrazek is better served getting starts in GR than as backup, I disagree. A 50/30 split would get Howard some rest and get Mrazek into games.

This doesn’t answer the team’s reported interest in a top-four, right-handed defenseman (unless you want to count Sproul there). It leaves a bunch of players with contracts off the lineup. It doesn’t get anything in return for those missing players and it doesn’t utilize the cap space freed up by their absence. In short, it’s not going to happen. But it’s the starting point that I’m going to look at things from this summer.

Postgame: Maple Leafs @ Red Wings – 3/18

Postgame thoughts are going to be quick ’cause I’m sick…

Jonathan Ericsson lost for “some time” according to Mike Babcock due to a broken finger. That’s the sixth injury in six games. This nonsense just will not end. It looks like that just means Jakub Kindl gets to stay in the lineup but with Alexey Marchenko lost for the season in Grand Rapids, I have no idea who would even be the next call-up for the Wings. Adam Almquist and Xavier Ouellet have seen time with the big club this year and Ryan Sproul got a call-up for practice purposes at the end of the Olympic break.

Jimmy Howard, as they said on the FSD postgame, could have been the first star easily. Very solid game punctuated by some big stops, especially on Phil Kessel in the second period.

The actual first star was Gustav Nyquist, who had one of the better games of his career. His first goal was a bit of a fluke (though still a great play) but that second goal was amazing. Absolutely fantastic shot off the far post and in.

Landon Ferraro… Aside from the early giveaway, pretty invisible, which is good for a player like him. Being out on the PK late was clearly a sign of faith in him.

Red Wings Call Up Defenseman Marchenko

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Friday the recall of defenseman Alexey Marchenko from the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Marchenko joins the team in Dallas, where he will replace Danny DeKeyser in the lineup. DeKeyser is day-to-day with a groin injury.

Detroit’s seventh-round pick from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Marchenko will be the third defenseman to make his NHL debut with the Red Wings this season, following Xavier Ouellet and Adam Almquist. In 33 games with the Griffins this season, he has two goals and 14 assists for 16 points.

The twenty-two year old came up through the CSKA Moscow system and was a teammate of Pavel Datsyuk during the 2012 NHL lockout.

Red Wings Fall to Lighting in Second Consecutive OT Loss

For the second-straight game, the Detroit Red Wings fell in overtime, dropping a 3-2 decision in the extra frame to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

They had previously lost in overtime to the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

With 1:19 remaining, Richard Panik stole the puck from Kyle Quincey behind the Detroit goal and sent a pass out to Teddy Purcell all alone in the slot for a quick snap past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard into the top of the net.

The goal gave the Lighting just their second-ever win at Joe Louis Arena, their first since 1994.

Henrik Zetterberg had opened the game’s scoring just 3:51 into the game. Pavel Datsyuk pressured Steven Stamkos in the left wing corner and Stamkos threw the puck out into the slot, where Zetterberg picked it off and whipped a shot past Tampa Bay netminder Ben Bishop.

The Lighting would tie things back up midway through the period, as Ryan Malone was left untouched on a wraparound chance off a feed from Matthew Carle. Howard stretched to stop Malone’s first attempt but Malone got the rebound and lifted it over the prone goalie at 10:11.

Immediately after killing off a long series of Detroit power plays, the Lightning would take the lead with 7:10 left in the second period. Stamkos was left alone as the Red Wings attempted to clear their zone but Victor Hedman stepped up to hold the puck in and sent it to Stamkos, who rifled a shot past Howard to make it 2-1.

Zetterberg’s second of the night evened things back up with 4:12 remaining in regulation. Danny DeKeyser dumped the puck in from the neutral zone and it wrapped around the boards. On the right wing Datsyuk let it go back to Zetterberg, who stepped up to the faceoff dot and fired a slapper off the stick of former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula and past Bishop.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night, with the Red Wings having four chances with the extra attacker and Tampa Bay having three.

Howard finished with 31 saves on 34 shots against while Bishop stopped 25 of 27.


The Red Wings were without Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson and Brendan Smith due to injury. Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves were healthy scratches… Xavier Ouellet and Luke Glendening were called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins for the game, with Adam Almquist being sent back to Grand Rapids.

Pregame: Stars @ Red Wings – 11/7

The Red Wings are back home after a 3-1 Western Canadian road trip, hosting the Dallas Stars tonight.

Winning three of four on the road would normally be a good thing but the lack of effort in their 4-2 loss to close out the trip in Winnipeg should be a concern. It was a standard trap game and the first game back home is one as well so we’ll see what kind of team comes out tonight.

Jimmy Howard gets the start for the Wings with Jared Coreau backing him up, having switched places with Petr Mrazek earlier in the week as Jonas Gustavsson remains injured.

Mikael Samuelsson swaps in for Patrick Eaves on the fourth line. Johan Franzen remains out with a mystery injury and Jordin Tootoo, who cleared waivers earlier in the day, will be the healthy scratch.

On defense, with both Brendan Smith and Jonathan Ericsson still hurt, Adam Almquist makes his first home appearance.

Kari Lehtonen gets the start for Dallas.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are .500 all-time on November 7 with a 11-11-6 record.

Bonus stupid stat: The Red Wings have met the Stars organization exactly once on November 7, a 5-2 win over the Minnesota North Stars in 1968.

Game time is 7:30 on FSD.

Third-Period Lead Not Enough as Red Wings Fall to Stars in OT

Pavel Datsyuk gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 lead with 8:26 remaining in regulation on Thursday night but it wasn’t enough, with the Dallas Stars scoring in the final minutes of the third and again late in the overtime period for a 4-3 win.

Datsyuk got the puck all alone at the top of the right faceoff circle and faked around Dallas’ Shawn Horcoff to get into the slot, then snapped a shot past both defender Jordie Benn and goalie Kari Lehtonen to put the Red Wings in front.

A Justin Abdelkader penalty for goalie interference would set up the Stars’ tying goal.

Skating six-on-four with 1:10 remaining, Cody Eakin got the puck at the left faceoff dot and whipped a shot through traffic and off of Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard‘s blocker, into the top of the net for a 3-3 tie.

The Stars would sustain pressure in the Detroit zone leading to the game-winning goal. Valeri Nichushkin dropped the puck to Rich Peverley down low on the left wing and Peverley looped back up that side of the ice, cutting across the top of the faceoff circle to the slot before snapping a screened shot past Howard to give the Stars the win with just 19 seconds remaining.

Detroit had opened the game’s scoring at 7:44 of the second period when Henrik Zetteberg fed Todd Bertuzzi for a one-time from the left side of the high slot that deflected twice before getting past Lehtonen.

With 5:10 left in the middle frame, Adam Almquist‘s first NHL goal made it a 2-0 lead for Detroit. From down low, Zetterberg sent it out to Almquist pinching to the right side of the slot for a snap past Lehtonen.

Horcoff got the Stars on the board with 21 seconds left in the second. The Red Wings lost a puck battle along the right wing boards and Ray Whitney worked it to Horcoff all alone in front of Howard for a quick move to his forehand and a wrister into the back of the net.

Jamie Benn‘s individual effort at 4:08 of the third tied things up before the Datsyuk goal. Benn knocked the puck off Darren Helm‘s stick at the Dallas blue line then circled through his own zone before breaking down the ice, through four Red Wings, and sliding a shot under Howard while falling at the edge of the crease.

Howard would finish the night with 24 saves on 28 shots against. Lehtonen stopped 26 of 29 shots faced.

The Stars scored on one of two power play attempts. Detroit did not get any opportunities with the man-advantage.

The Red Wings are back at it on Saturday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Almquist was playing in just his second NHL game… Johan Franzen, Brendan Smith, and Jonathan Ericsson all missed the game with injuries while Patrick Eaves and Jordin Tootoo were healthy scratches… Tootoo cleared waivers earlier in the day… With Gustavsson returning from injury, Jared Coreau was returned to Toledo of the ECHL.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Jets – 11/4

Heading into tonight’s game in Winnipeg, all the makings of a classic “trap game” were in place. Third game in four nights, last game of an unbeaten road trip, playing against a pretty bad team.

Of course, most of those were in true against Calgary and Edmonton, as well, and Detroit overcame them. Tonight, though, not so much.

The Red Wings allowed 47 shots by Winnipeg. The Jets had previously matched that only once this season, taking 47 shots in a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals. Jimmy Howard had a stellar night allowing only four goals on that amount. He was hung out to dry far too often.

There were some good plays. Danny DeKeyser‘s (first career) goal was a great shot off a really nice setup by Stephen Weiss. Adam Almquist mostly looked good in his NHL debut (there was one shift leading to a Winnipeg goal where he and Brian Lashoff looked like rookies). The third line had some good jump in the offensive zone.

Overall, though, the Wings were slow and sloppy. The kind of game they had tonight isn’t going to get them a win most nights.

As I said via Twitter, if you’d told me before the road trip that the Wings would go 3-1, I’d have been fine with it. Its the way they lost this one that’s a problem.