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.

Larkin Makes Red Wings’ Lineup

Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill announced on Monday that 19-year-old rookie forward Dylan Larkin has made the team’s opening night lineup.

“We just felt, I specifically really felt, he makes us better,” Blashill said. “And to an exponential amount that we felt it was important he started on the team. We just felt he has earned the spot.”

Larkin, Detroit’s first pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at 15th overall, signed with the Red Wings after just one year at the University of Michigan. He appeared in six playoff games last spring for the Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring three goals and adding two assists. In five exhibition games with the Wings he scored three goals and one assist.

In Monday’s practice, Larkin skated on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. Blashill cautioned that lines are subject to change before Friday’s opener.

With Larkin’s spot in Detroit solidified, veteran Daniel Cleary would appear to be the odd-man out. However, Cleary was not placed on waivers on Monday, instead defenseman Jakub Kindl was placed on short-term injured reserve, as the Red Wings attempt to get as close to the salary cap as possible before placing Pavel Datsyuk on long-term IR, to maximize its benefits. Teams must set their cap-compliant season-opening rosters by Tuesday at 5:00 PM but can make lineup changes after that point.

Larkin’s spot on the Detroit roster is not secured long-term, as both Datsyuk and Darren Helm will need a spot when they return from injury.


Andy Miele, Mitch Callahan, and Brian Lashoff all cleared waivers on Monday.

Red Wings Open Preseason with OT Loss to Blackhawks

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night to open their 2015 exhibition schedule.

Featuring a team made up mostly of players destined for the Grand Rapids Griffins against a large NHL contingent playing in front of their home crowd, Detroit rallied from a 4-1 third-period deficit to force overtime before Trevor Daley scored to give the Blackhawks the win.

Detroit’s trio of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Nick Jensen sustained pressure in the Chicago end on the second shift of overtime but Larkin was tripped and took down Mantha, leading to a three-on-one against Ryan Sproul – who had come on for Jensen – for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane moved the puck to Artem Anisimov who moved it on to Daley for an easy snap past Red Wings’ goalie Tom McCollum at 1:40 of the extra period.

The Blackhawks had opened the game’s scoring 7:16 in, when Kyle Baun batted the mid-air rebound of a Ryan Garbutt chance past Jimmy Howard, who started the game in net for Detroit.

Jonathan Toews made it 2-0 just 1:08 later, snapping a shot from the top of the left circle past Howard.

Chicago’s power play gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead at 6:24 of the second period, as Howard stopped Toews’ initial shot was blocked aside by Howard but Teuvo Teravaninen put the puck back between the Detroit netminder’s pads from in close.

Mantha got the Red Wings on the board with 5:05 left in the middle period, beating Mark Visentin from the slot off a feed from Andy Miele. Visentin had replaced started Scott Darling midway through the period.

Garbutt restored the Chicago lead at 2:39 of the third period, capitalizing on a turnover by Brian Lashoff and a mental mistake by Sproul to step up and snap a shot past McCollum. Sproul appeared to think the play was offsides and made no move to challenge Garbutt as he jumped into the zone.

Riley Sheahan started Detroit’s comeback at 5:58 of the third, tipping a Nathan Paetsch shot past Visentin to make it 4-2.

With 7:07 remaining, Teemu Pulkkinen made it 4-3, crashing the crease to get to the rebound of a Miele chance and shovel it into the open side of the net.

Luke Glendening tied things up on a power play with just 2:05 remaining, gathering up the rebound of an Andreas Athanasiou chance and lifting it past Visentin from the edge of the crease.

Each team finished the night with a power play goal. Detroit had three chances with the extra attacker to Chicago’s four.

Howard stopped 18 of 21 shots he faced and McCollum made 14 saves on 16 shots for the Red Wings. Darling was perfect on 22 shots while Visentin stopped 12 of 16 for the Blackhawks.

The two teams will meet again on Wednesday in Detroit, with the Red Wings expected to dress a mostly-NHLer lineup and the Blackhawks icing a prospect-heavy team.


With none of their usual leaders in the lineup, Drew Miller, Riley Sheahan, and Luke Glendening wore alternate captain’s As for the Red Wings.

Red Wings Sign Cleary to One-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced late on Friday the signing of veteran forward Daniel Cleary to a one-year deal.

The contract is reportedly a two-way deal for $950,000. The entire amount of the contract would come off of the Red Wings’ salary cap if Cleary were assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Cleary, 36, is coming off a season that saw him play just 17 games, scoring a goal and an assist while on a contract that paid him $2.5 million.

The deal is reportedly the result of a handshake agreement between Cleary and Detroit general manager Ken Holland two years ago. Supposedly, at the urging of then-head coach Mike Babcock, Holland promised Cleary a series of one-year deals to match the three-year offer he was rumored to be mulling from the Philadelphia Flyers. Such an agreement, however, is expressly forbidden by the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA.

With the signing, the Red Wings now have 20 forwards who would have to clear waivers to be sent to the Griffins to start the season, though two of those players are Andy Miele and Eric Tangradi, who were specifically signed for Grand Rapids. Another, Louis-Marc Aubry, is unlikely to get a shot with the Red Wings. This leaves Cleary, Joakim Andersson, Landon Ferraro, and Mitch Callahan fighting for the final roster spots.

Red Wings Re-Sign Miele, McCollum

Just before free agency opened across the National Hockey League, the Detroit Red Wings locked up two pieces of their American Hockey League affiliate’s run to the Western Conference Finals.

Forward Andy Miele signed a one-year, one way deal with Detroit while goalie Tom McCollum also signed a one-year deal.

Miele, of Grosse Pointe Woods, led the Griffins in scoring during the 2014-15 season, his first with the team. His 26 goals and 44 assists for 70 points in 71 games were second-best in the AHL.

In 280 career AHL games, mostly with the Portland Pirates, Miele has 88 goals and 161 assists for 249 points. He has two assists in 15 career NHL games, all with the Phoenix Coyotes.

McCollum, 25, went 19-11-7 for the Griffins and helped carry the team after previous starting goalie Petr Mrazek was called up to the Red Wings. Originally drafted by Detroit 30th overall in 2008, McCollum earned his first NHL win in relief of Mrazek against Buffalo on January 18.

In 196 career AHL games, McCollum is 88-78-17.

The Griffins did lose one veteran on Wednesday as Kevin Porter signed a two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Report: Red Wings Add Miele to Griffins

The Detroit Red Wings reportedly signed center Andy Miele to a one-year, two-way contract on Tuesday.

Miele, 26, is expected to join the Grand Rapids Griffins next season.

The Grosse Point Woods native split the 2013-14 season between the Phoenix Coyotes and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Portland Pirates. In seven games with Phoenix he had two assists. He had 27 goals and 45 assists in 70 games with Portland.

Miele was the Hobey Baker Award winner in 2011 as the country’s best collegiate player, during his senior year at Miami University.