On Hope and Excitement, and Lack Thereof

I’m not excited for the start of the Red Wings season.

I’m not saying that I won’t watch the opener tomorrow or I won’t be at the Joe for the home opener on Monday.  I just wouldn’t feel an absence in my life if those games weren’t happening.

I’m also not saying that I don’t care what happens with the team.  Quite the opposite.

At the end of last season, even with the Wings bowing out so early in the playoffs, there was hope.  General Manager Ken Holland spoke about giving opportunity to the team’s prospects, about revamping the defense, about ways to make the team better.

In June Pavel Datsyuk left but Holland managed to unload his contract.  It came at a high cost but was necessary given what the team was trying to do.  There was still hope.  I still had hope

As free agency approached, the Red Wings had money to spend and roster spots to fill, as well as prospects like Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi and Tomas Nosek ready to challenge for a role.

Then the Wings brought back Drew Miller, the penalty-killing specialist who missed most of the season with a pair of injuries.

Then the Wings brought back bottom-six forward Darren Helm on a five year deal.

On July 1st, the Red Wings signed Frans Nielsen to replace Datsyuk and Thomas Vanek to replace the soon-to-retire Brad Richards and Steve Ott…  For some reason.

Suddenly those open roster spots were filled and the hole in the team’s defense hadn’t been addressed.  Holland reassured us that the glut of forwards gave him pieces to use in trade for a defender.

Training camp approached and there was no trade.  News broke that Jacob Trouba, Michigan-native and right-shooting defenseman, exactly what the Wings were coveting, was demanding a trade.  But those pieces that Holland had assembled wouldn’t be enough.  So there was no fix for the blueline and there was no battle for forward spots.  Athanasiou beat out Teemu Pulkkinen – waived off to Minnesota – but it was for the 13th forward spot, relegated to the press box.

This season’s roster is last season’s roster.  From opening night to the end of the season to today, Johan Franzen became Pavel Datsyuk who is now Frans Nielsen.  Brad Richards became Thomas Vanek.  Landon Ferraro was replaced by Darren Helm – re-signed due to a need for speed.  Drew Miller became Joakim Andersson who became Drew Miller again.  Teemu Pulkkinen became Andreas Athanasiou who became Steve Ott – despite that supposed need for speed.  Jakub Kindl and Kyle Quincey became Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet.

The team that backed into the playoffs and only made it there because they got help from the Ottawa Senators on the last day of the season is much the same as the team that begins this season.

I expect this team to miss the playoffs.  I expected that this would be a losing season last May.  But in May, I had hope that this losing season would feature learning experiences for the next generation of Red Wings.  Instead, they’re going to lose with the same guys that lost last year.

So I’ll watch and I’ll root for the Wings, but I’m not getting my hopes up.  I’m not getting excited.

Red Wings Jersey Number Updates

The Red Wings revealed a set of new jersey numbers via Twitter earlier today.

Steve Ott had previously Tweeted he would take the #29 that had briefly been assigned to Dylan Sadowy and was worn by Landon Ferraro before he was waived and claimed by the Boston Bruins.

With it available, it comes as no surprise that Frans Nielsen takes the #51 he wore with the New York Islanders.

As Tomas Jurco has the #26 he usually wears, I’d expected Thomas Vanek to take the #27 made available by the departure of Kyle Quincey.  Instead he flips the number and takes #62.  He’ll be the first Red Wing to ever wear that number.

I’d thought that Alexey Marchenko might see a new number this year to represent his solidified roster spot.  While I thought he’d get the #4 formerly worn by Jakub Kindl, instead he went the opposite direction and took the #53 he’s been wearing internationally.

The #4 ended up going to Teemu Pulkkinen, switching from #56.  I’m on the record as disliking forwards wearing numbers that low.  He becomes the first forward to wear #4 for the Red Wings since Colin Campbell in 1985.

2016 Free Agency Day One Recap / Notes

Oh man, midway through the afternoon today, I was thinking that when I got around to writing this post, I’d start at the beginning.  Given how the day ended, though, how do you not skip straight to Steve Ott?

After a series of signings that were, if not smart, at least acceptable, the Red Wings went out and chased the mythical fourth-line grit that will supposedly put their team over the top and signed Steve Ott away from the St. Louis Blues.

I hate chasing veteran grit when Tyler Bertuzzi is waiting in the wings and I don’t like Ott as a player.  I’ll let Winging it in Motown’s J.J. from Kansas say it.

Ott’s value is entirely contained within intangibles in which I don’t necessarily believe.

The good news is that he signed for $800,000 on a one-year deal, which can be buried in Grand Rapids if needed.


The day had started with the Wings bringing back Darren Helm.  Five years is too long but $3.85 million is a hometown discount.  Especially with the other signings, I don’t think Helm needed to come back.  I don’t love this deal.


Restricted free agent Alexey Marchenko signed a bridge deal for two years at $1.45 million per year.  It a great deal.  A significant raise from the $666,666 AAV he had in his previous contract but not the ridiculous money previous RFA defensemen have gotten in Detroit.


Frans Neilsen‘s signing was the Plan B the Wings had to resort to when Steven Stamkos opted not to test free agency.  Six years for a 32-year-old is pretty brutal.  $5.25 million is probably high, too, but not as bad.  I’d rather have had three years at $6 million each than this deal.  But, as I said last night, someone was going to give him that term.


I like the signing of Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $2.6 million deal.  The Wings have the cap space, so worst-case scenario they pay him too much this year and then just walk away from him.  It’s an overpayment if he only does what he did last year but this Wings team could use what he did last year, let alone any improvement.


At 11:59 AM, I wasn’t happy.  By 4:15 PM, I was pretty content with what the Wings had done.  By 4:45 PM I was outright pissed off.

There’s still a lot to fall out here.  I think the Vanek signing means that one of Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar is gone in trade for a defenseman.  This team has far too many forwards and not enough blueliners, so we know the lineup as it is now just can’t be the opening night lineup.  I’m willing to hold off on judging too much until we see how it all falls out.

Except for the Ott signing.  That’s a joke.


Lost in all the signings for the big club were three two-way deals for guys headed to the Griffins.  Forwards Matt Lorito and Ben Street and goalie Edward Pasquale.

There’s a lot of change coming to Grand Rapids this year.  Andy Miele signed in Philadelphia and captain Jeff Hoggan won’t return.  Some guys with AHL experience will help fill the holes.

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.

Trade Deadline Thoughts

The National Hockey League’s 2016 trade deadline came and went on Monday with the Red Wings refraining from making a move. For the most part, I’m okay with that.

Saturday’s trade of Jakub Kindl to the Florida Panthers for a sixth-round draft pick was a great move. GM Ken Holland unloaded the salary of a player who would probably never play for the Red Wings again and actually got an asset in return.

Kindl became expendable with the emergence of Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet, both of whom had passed Kindl on the Red Wings’ depth chart and both of whom will have to clear waivers to be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins next season.

Assuming Kyle Quincey is not re-signed this summer, there will be room on the Detroit roster in 2016-17 for both Marchenko and Ouellet – but not Nick Jensen, who has yet to get a real look at the NHL level (he was a healthy scratch during his call-up earlier this season).

So the Kindl move makes sense on several levels. From there the Red Wings could decide to either load up for a playoff run, as they traditionally do, sell off any additional parts, which they rarely do, or stand pat.

Unless an exceptional deal to add a piece came along, I’d have liked to see them deal away Brendan Smith. His name came up as a player who would be available at the deadline, often compared to Kris Russell. With Russell fetching Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock, and a conditional second round pick, I’m really curious as to what Holland turned down for Smith, assuming anyone called. Smith has seemingly been demoted to being the Red Wings’ seventh defenseman and $2.25 million is too much to pay for someone who’s in the pressbox most nights.

I’m sure Holland thinks he can keep Smith for the run to the playoffs and then deal him at the draft but I’m not sure the market will be as favorable then.

I didn’t want to see the Red Wings load up without an exceptional deal because, frankly, this team is too many missing pieces from being a Stanley Cup contender. It’s possible they ride Petr Mrazek to an extended playoff run but without that, they’re not going to go far. It would have taken something like a trade for Eric Staal, combined with Staal returning to his early-career form, to be enough. Looking at the players traded on Monday, none of the, would have been enough on his own.

Kindl Clears Waivers

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl cleared waivers on Sunday, clearing the way for him to be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Kindl, 28, was Detroit’s first-round draft pick (19th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. In 271 career NHL games for the Red Wings he’s scored 16 goals and 51 asists for 67 points.

In 23 games this season, Kindl has two goals and three assists.

Kindl has played 237 career games in the AHL, all with Grand Rapids. He most recently scored one goal during a two-game conditioning stint last season.

Kindl became expendible with the emergence of Detroit rookie defenseman Alexey Marchenko, who seemingly leapfrogged Kindl and Brendan Smith on the Red Wings’ depth chart.

With Kindl in Grand Rapids, $950,000 of his $2.4 million salary cap hit will come off the Red Wings’ books. Reportedly the team will need to make another move to clear space under an internal salary cap of $66 million.

Red Wings Waive Kindl

The Detroit Red Wings waived defenseman Jakub Kindl on Saturday.

With Kyle Quincey returning from injury for Detroit’s Sunday matchup with the Anaheim Ducks, the Red Wings’ roster would have had been at eight defenseman, a position general manager Ken Holland said the team would not accommodate.

Alternatively, the Red Wings could have returned Alexey Marchenko to the Griffins. Marchenko would not require waivers but has seemingly passed both Kindl and Brendan Smith on the team’s depth chart.

Kindl will have until noon on Sunday to be claimed by another team. Should he clear waivers, he will be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Kindl, 28, was Detroit’s first-round draft pick (19th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. In 23 games this season, he has 2 goals and three assists in a third-pairing role.

Defenseman Quincey to Have Surgery

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced that defenseman Kyle Quincey will have surgery on his ankle this weekend.

He is expected to miss six weeks recovering from the procedure.

Quincey, 30, played in the Red Wings’ first seven games of the season before taking a hit to the head from Calgary’s Sam Bennett. He hasn’t been on the ice since October 23. While he passed concussion protocol, his ankle issue became severe enough that surgery is required.

In May, Quincey had surgery on his left ankle to remove bone spurs. A similar issue was discovered with his right ankle during training camp but he had been playing through it.

With Quincey out, defenseman Alexey Marchenko is likely to remain with the Red Wings, though the team may choose to give Xavier Ouellet and/or Nick Jensen a look as well.

Pregame: Stars @ Red Wings – 11/8

The Red Wings get one player back and possibly lose another on Sunday as they host the Western Conference leading Dallas Stars.

Defenseman Mike Green will make his return from injury, presumably replacing Alexey Marchenko in the lineup. Up front, with Landon Ferraro (among others) banged up, Andreas Athanasiou has been called up to make his NHL debut.

Kyle Quincey (ankle) was placed on injured reserve to make room for Athanasiou on the roster.

The mid-afternoon start means no morning skate for Detroit. Head coach Jeff Blashill said that the team’s roster would be determined after pre-game warmups. Jimmy Howard is the presumed starting goalie.

Stupid stat of the day: Since the 2005 NHL lockout, the Red Wings are 6-3-1 in games played at Joe Louis Arena starting at 3:00 PM.

Game time is 3:00 PM on FSD.

Red Wings Rally for OT Win over Canucks

The Detroit Red Wings scored twice in the third period and again in overtime, erasing a 2-0 deficit and snapping their four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Gustav Nyquist scored the game-winner with 1:10 remaining in the extra period. The Canucks were unable to chase down a loose puck entering the Detroit zone and goalie Petr Mrazek came out to get it. Mrazek sent a long pass to Nyquist at the far blue line, who broke in all alone to snap a shot past Vancouver netminder Ryan Miller.

The Canucks had opened the game’s scoring with 6:57 left in the opening period. Alexandred Burrows gained the Detroit zone down the left wing on a power play and fed Christopher Tanev for a shot from the high slot through traffic and past Mrazek for a 1-0 lead.

Another power play goal made it 2-0 at 8:02 of the second period. Quick passing got the puck from Bo Horvat in the left faceoff circle to Burrows behind the goal line and back out to Brandon Sutter in the slot for a quick shot that beat Mrazek.

Two quick third-period goals got the Red Wings even.

At 4:25, Teemu Pulkkinen collected a pass from Tomas Tatar in the neutral zone, then turned and drove to the net, fending off defender Ben Hutton and flipping a shot past Miller to make it 2-1.

Just 2:34 later, Tatar scored a goal of his own on the power play, snapping a shot from the right circe over Miller’s shoulder and tying things up.

Miller finished the night with 25 saves on 28 shot while Mrazek stopped 30 of 32 chances.

The Red Wings went one-for-six on the power play. Vancouver went two-for-four.

With their Western Canadian road trip complete, the Red Wings are now off until Tuesday when they host the Carolina Hurrcianes.


Detroit was without injured defensemen Mike Green and Kyle Quincey, who were replaced by Jakub Kindl and call-up Alexey Marchenko in the lineup.