Twenty-three

Today marks the twenty-third anniversary of the founding of DetroitHockey.Net, originally known as YzerFan19’s Detroit Red Wings Home Page.

Obviously, things have changed a lot since then.

I wish I had some words of wisdom to share with regards to that.  Things that I’ve learned or poignant commentary.  I don’t know.  I guess the lesson of DetroitHockey.Net’s most recent year is don’t get into trademark disputes with Major League Baseball.

Absent such a maxim, I’m going to take a page from DH.N’s 17th anniversary post and talk about Red Wings who have worn #23.

Greg Johnson was wearing #23 when this site was founded.  Mike Ramsey wore it for his only two games of the 1996-97 season, after Johnson was traded to Pittsburgh for Tomas Sandstrom; with Tomas Holmstrom having been assigned the #15 Ramsey had worn with the Red Wings up to that point.

Stacy Roest had the number next, before being selected by the Minnesota Wild in the expansion draft and wearing #22 for them.  While Roest was with Minnesota, Todd Gill had his second stint with the Red Wings and took the number up after – like Ramsey – having previously worn #15 for Detroit.

Roest returned to the Red Wings for the 2002-03 season and, with Gill wrapping up his career in Chicago, retook #23.  That didn’t last long, though, as the Red Wings acquired Mathieu Schneider at that season’s trade deadline and gave him the number, with Roest switching to #39.

Another trade deadline acquisition was next to have #23, as Brad Stuart took it in 2008.  Upon his departure in 2012, it was quickly snatched up by Brian Lashoff, who had worked his way from #32 to #25 to #23 during training camps.

Lashoff eventually ceded #23 to Dominic Turgeon, switching back to #32.  Despite the switch, Turgeon actually debuted wearing #45 as the team was on the road when he was called up and his #23 jersey wasn’t available.  Turgeon also briefly lost the number to Scott Wilson but never had to pick another number as Wilson’s entire Detroit tenure coincided with Turgeon being in Grand Rapids.

Kyle Quincey All-Stars Stay at Seven

Emergency call-up Ben Street did not play for the Red Wings in Montreal last night.  The mystery forward Street was called up to replace (probably Frans Nielsen) was able to play and Street was sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins.  With that, Street’s chance to become the eighth member of the Kyle Quincey All-Stars passed, at least for now.

As I Tweeted yesterday, the Kyle Quincey All-Stars is my name for the players who have played for both the Red Wings and the onetime-bitter-rival Colorado Avalanche.

Quincey is perhaps the most famous of the set, starting his career in Detroit before going to the Los Angeles Kings via waivers in 2008, then moving on to Colorado via trade in 2009.  In 2012 the Red Wings brought him back via the Tampa Bay Lightning, averting what would have been the first trade between the two teams.

The first member of the group was the infamous Uwe Krupp.  Signed as a free agent by the Red Wings from the Avalanche in 1998, Krupp played just 22 games of the 1998-99 season before suffering a back injury that (after being re-injured) kept him out until the 2001-02 season, when he played eight more games.

Todd Gill was the first player to go from Detroit to Colorado.  After parts of three seasons with the Red Wings, he signed with the Avalanche in 2001.

With just four games played in Colorado and eight in Detroit, Anders Myrvold is the shortest-tenured member of the group.  He broke into the NHL with the Avalanche during their inaugural season of 1995-96, then bounced around quite a bit before coming to the Red Wings’ organization for the 2003-04 campaign.

Brad May played 64 games for the Avalanche across parts of two seasons before being traded to Anaheim in 2007 for a goalie who never played in Colorado.  Anaheim traded him to Toronto in January 2009 for future considerations, then the Red Wings signed him as a free agent at the start of the 2009-10 season and he played 40 games with the team before being sent down to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

May was followed by fellow Number 24 Ruslan Salei.  After parts of three seasons with Colorado, Salei signed a one-year deal with Detroit for the 2010-11 season and played 75 games before fatefully signing with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL.

Brad Stuart is the most recent addition to the group.  With the Red Wings for parts of five seasons, including a Stanley Cup in his first year, Stuart returned to the San Jose Sharks in 2012 for family reasons.  After two years there, the Sharks dealt him to Colorado, where he played just 61 games across two seasons.

Of course, there’s a whole subset of players who were property of one of the teams but never actually played a game for them.  The Darryl Bootlands and Tomas Fleischmanns.  For now, Street remains in that group.

Pregame: Avalanche @ Red Wings – 12/21

With their losing streak now at five games, the Red Wings host the Colorado Avalanche tonight in their penultimate game before the Christmas break.

The Red Wings will look a little different, as starting goalie Jimmy Howard is out with a groin injury. Tom McCollum has been called up to back-up Petr Mrazek. To make room in the lineup for McCollum, Xavier Ouellet was sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins, so Jakub Kindl will slot back in on the Detroit blueline.

Unrelated to any injuries, Daniel Cleary will replace Joakim Andersson at forward. It will be Cleary’s tenth game of the season, triggering a $1 million bonus in his contract.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 1-2-2 against Brad Stuart‘s teams since he left Detroit in 2012.

Game time is 6:00 PM on FSD.

Thoughts on Trading as a Fall Back Option

It’s been known since before the 2013-14 season was even over that the Red Wings would be looking to upgrade their defense this summer and their best opportunity to do some comes tomorrow as free agents become eligible to sign contracts with new teams at noon.

The costs are expected to be high, however. Even with the late additions of Christian Ehrhoff and Ed Jovanovski to the free agent pool (due to buyouts by Buffalo and Florida, respectively), there are roughly fifteen teams legitimately thought to be in the mix for only six or seven players.

If Detroit were to miss out on Ehrhoff or Matt Niskanen or Anton Stralman or whoever (as they did when they were unable to woo Ryan Suter in 2012 and had to settle for Carlo Colaiacovo), they would be forced to turn to the trade market, where their history isn’t quite so successful.

The Red Wings haven’t traded for a roster player signed beyond the end of the current season since acquiring Robert Lang from the Washington Capitals in 2004, when he was two years into a five-year deal.

Oh, sure, they picked up Brad Stuart at the deadline in 2008 and managed to sign him just before he became an unrestricted free agent that summer. They also got Kyle Quincey – likely departing in the coming weeks – in 2012 and re-signed him as a restricted free agent, as they expected to do when they paid the hefty price of a first round draft pick to get him.

By and large, however, Detroit’s method of acquiring players for the last decade has been via free agency, which means that if they miss out in the next few days they’ll be entering relatively-uncharted territory for the club.

TGTW: Red Wings Atop Central After Week Three

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

The Detroit Red Wings rode a three-game winning streak into the third week of the NHL schedule and extended it on Monday with a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Livonia-native Ryan Kesler opened the game’s scoring at 3:42 of the first period but a pair of goals just 1:38 apart were enough for the Red Wings to get the win.  Pavel Datsyuk‘s first of the season came with 6:45 left in the opening period and Johan Franzen‘s first of the year came with 5:07 remaining.

Jimmy Howard made 26 saves on 27 shots in the effort, while Vancouver’s Cory Schneider stopped 25 of 27 chances.

The Red Wings’ winning streak came to an end the next night in Columbus.  The Blue Jackets’ win briefly pulled them into first place in the Central Division.

Jack Johnson opened the scoring with 11 seconds left in the first period and Justin Abdelkader replied at 3:11 of the second.  Nick Foligno‘s shorthanded marker and 6:27 of the third put the Jackets back out in front and Derrick Brassard added another at 9:46.  Steve Mason shut the door on the Wings, stopping 23 of 24 shots while Howard made 22 saves on 25 Columbus chances.

Howard rebounded on Friday with a 22-save shutout of the San Jose Sharks as the Red Wings picked up a 2-0 win.  Mikael Samuelsson scored the game’s opening goal at 4:38 of the second period, with former Red Wing Brad Stuart in the penalty box.  Pavel Datsyuk added an insurance marker at 1:02 of the third.

To close out the week on Saturday, the Red Wings picked up a 4-2 win in their first visit back to Winnipeg since the Atlanta Thrashers relocated there.

Abdelkader opened the scoring at 3:48 of the first period, Kyle Quincey had a pair of goals, and team leading scorer Valtteri Filppula also scored.  Evander Kane and Alexei Ponikarovski scored for the Jets.  Howard stopped 23 of 25 while Ondrej Pavelec made 14 saves on 18 shots against.

After three weeks, Detroit sits atop the Central Division, three points up on the Blue Jackets, who have two games in hand.  Howard’s 1.64 goals-against average is second in the league, just 0.02 back of Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.  His two shutouts are tied for the league lead.

2012 Red Wings Number Changes

It’s looking like some of the jersey numbers we saw at the Red Wings’ summer development camp weren’t as meaningless as was originally suggested.

Rather than wearing the #25 assigned to him last season, Brian Lashoff wore the #23 vacated by Brad Stuart.  Additionally, Martin Frk wore the #48 that Cory Emmerton wore last campaign.

Today, Bill Roose Tweeted that Emmerton would be switching to #25.  This means, of course, that #48 is available for Frk to keep and that Lashoff’s switch would be required.

Assuming the development camp numbers are all accurate, the following changes have taken place:

Louis-Marc Aubry – from #53 to #32
Mitch Callahan – from #65 to #42
Willie Coetzee – from #70 to #45
Landon Ferraro – from #57 to #41
Gleason Fournier – from #67 to #46
Richard Nedomlel – from #73 to #3
Xavier Ouellet – from #61 to #54
Alan Quine – from #74 to #59
Marek Tvrdon – from #71 to #60

Additionally, Trevor Parkes switched from #60 to #37, which is now taken by Mikael Samuelsson.  Ryan Sproul went from #62 to #22, which now belongs to Jordin Tootoo.

If the Red Wings have a training camp this season, we’ll see if any of the development camp numbers stick around.

On the Misguided Idea of Playing the Kids

In the aftermath of free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise having spurned an offer from the Red Wings to sign with the Minnesota Wild (and shortly thereafter, supposed Wings’ Plan B Matt Carle signing with Steve Yzerman‘s Tampa Bay Lightning), we’re hearing a lot about how Detroit should rebuild from within rather than signing free agents to replace their summer losses.

Red Wings’ GM Ken Holland himself has pushed that line of thinking.  I’ve already touched on his line of “There’s also got to be an opportunity for some of our kids and the guys we’ve just signed to play.”

That’s an idea that’s been espoused for some time by many fans.  With the constant idea that the Wings are too old and slow, there’s always a call to “just play the kids” and we’re seeing that again now.

There’s a problem with that idea this time around, though.

I’m not against playing the kids.  I want to see what Gustav Nyquist could do in a top-six role and I want to know whether or not Tomas Tatar is ready.  With Detroit’s current lineup, though, Nyquist and Tatar are going to start the season in Grand Rapids.

There are simply too many forwards on the Wings’ roster right now.  Up front is not where the kids will be given a chance.

Unless injuries happen, we’re not going to see Riley Sheahan ir Joakim Andersson.

It’s Detroit’s blueline that has holes.  Decimated by the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, the Wings’ defense is where there’s room for someone to step up and take a bigger role.  The problem?  The Wings have no defensive prospects to do that.

Brendan Smith will make the full-time jump to the big club next year but that was virtually a given at the end of last season.  Aside from him, there are no NHL-ready defensemen in the Red Wings’ system.

Gleason Fournier?  Spent most of last year (his first in the pros) in the ECHL.  Ryan Sproul?  Has yet to play a pro game.  Same for Xavier Ouellet.  Adam Almqvist has played all of three AHL games.  Max Nicastro will make his pro debut this season.  Travis Ehrhardt is an unrestricted free agent on his way out of the organization, as is Logan Pyett.  Brian Lashoff is entering his third pro season but I’ve heard exactly no one say he’s ready.

So there are no kids for the Wings to rely on here.  It’s a bigger role for Smith or Kyle Quincey or Jonathan Ericsson or Jakub Kindl.  Or all of them.  As of right now, two of those four will be in the Red Wings’ top four.

A trade could always happen that shakes things up.  As things are right now, however, “just play the kids” is not a solution to the Wings’ problems.

On Free Agent Splashes

With about fourteen hours before NHL free agency opens up, Hockeytown anxiously awaits what Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland will do to address the holes in the team’s lineup.

Holland has gone on the record saying that he’s looking for a defenseman to help offset the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, possibly a top-six forward (especially if Jiri Hudler bolts) and possibly a goaltender (either to back up Jimmy Howard in Detroit or to take Joey MacDonald‘s spot in Grand Rapids, with MacDonald as Howard’s backup).

There is an expectation that the Red Wings will make a “splash” given those holes to fill and approximately $20 million of cap space to use.  The primary targets are expected to be Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter and New Jersey forward Zach Parise.

Here’s what terrifies me:  Considering who Detroit has already lost this summer, would signing Suter even be a splash?

That move seems more like signing Brian Rafalski when Mathieu Schneider left the team, or Curtis Joseph to replace Dominik Hasek when he retired the first time.

As much as we talk about the Red Wings being big spenders, aside from Marian Hossa in 2009, those are the kind of moves they’ve made since the last lockout.  Their big signings are still somewhat lateral overall.

To make a splash, the Wings can do no less than sign both Suter and Parise.  I’d love to see it but I’m less and less convinced that it’s possible,

I’ve decided to lower my expectations.  There’s no replacing Lidstrom and it’s hard to replace Stuart, but it’s impossible to do that by promoting from within given the Red Wings’ current blueline.  That means that Suter is a must.

Parise?  I hope so but it’s not enough without Suter.  I’d rather Suter and Alex Semin or Shane Doan than Parise without Suter.

Of course, 24 hours from now I might be saying something else entirely.  We’ll see what Holland does for us.

Red Wings Deal Stuart to San Jose

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Sunday that they have traded defenseman Brad Stuart to the San Jose Sharks in return for a conditional seventh round draft pick in 2014 and forward Andrew Murray.

Both Stuart and Murray are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Stuart spent the last four seasons with the Red Wings after being acquired by the team at the 2008 trade deadline.  He had made it clear that he intended to return to California – where his family remained during his time in Detroit – as a free agent this offseason.  Should he re-sign with the Sharks, it will mark his second stint with the team, as San Jose drafted him third overall in 1998.

Murray was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2001 and has played in 220 NHL games between the Blue Jackets and the Sharks.  He was reportedly included in the deal just to give the Sharks roster space to acquire Stuart, as the Wings will make no attempt to sign him.

The (True) Summer of Ken

I had planned on writing a bit on where the Red Wings should go from here, following their first-round loss to the Nashville Predators, but over at TPL Petrella already has a nearly-perfect post up so I’m not going to waste time just repeating him.

There’s an entry in the A2Y Glossary for “The Summer of Ken.” A little bit of an ode to Detroit general manager Ken Holland. Put briefly, the summer is Holland’s time to shine. It’s when he can spend Mike Ilitch’s pizza money to plug holes in the Wings’ roster. It’s when he can wheel and deal, turning spare parts into something useful.

This summer we’re going to find out just how good Holland is at his job.

Last year the Red Wings were a little underwhelming in the offseason. They replaced Brian Rafalski with Ian White at a good price and added Mike Commodore for some grit. They retained Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller and Jonathan Ericsson. We were told that they wanted to add more scoring but none was available for the price.

That was okay. The Wings had plenty of cap space, still, and would be able to make a move at the trade deadline. It was good to wait to see who would be available as a rental.

Detroit’s lone deadline acquisition: defenseman Kyle Quincey. Even knowing the outcome, knowing he didn’t play as well as anyone had hoped down the stretch, I’m not against this move. Quincey is not a rental (he’ll either be back or be moved, as an RFA he can’t bolt for free). The first-rounder traded for him will be after all the blue-chip prospects are off the board.

Quincey didn’t fix the Wings’ scoring issues, though.

By the time the trade deadline had passed, Detroit’s forward corps remained unchanged. Holland addressed the media and seemed unhappy that he hadn’t been able to make a move, so we know he tried, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Now we enter an offseason where the Red Wings need to make changes. As Petrella notes, teams have the “Red Wings Way” figured out. Now Detroit needs to evolve. And I worry that Holland can do it.

Name a free agent signing that Holland has made since the salary cap was implemented that really made a splash. Ignore Marian Hossa, since everyone knew going in that it was a one-year deal and he’d be gone the next summer.

The aforementioned White? Hardly a splash no matter how well it worked out. Dominik Hasek? No one else was after him. Todd Bertuzzi?

True, Holland hasn’t been working with the same kind of cap space as he’ll have this summer, but his record does leave a bit to be desired.

Now lets look at trades. Per Petrella, the Wings have a lot of roster spots taken for next season already. One way to make room for new blood while adding the scorer the team needs could be to deal depth for talent.

Holland hasn’t made a significant trade since the 2008 deadline, when he acquired Brad Stuart from the Los Angeles Kings. That’s another piece of track record that could be concerning.

I’m not saying Holland should be fired. He’s done a fantastic job of keeping Detroit’s core together and supplementing it with parts off the scrap heap. Danny Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi? Hasek and Chris Osgood? Classic Holland moves that paid off over time for the Wings.

Right now, though, the Red Wings aren’t looking to plug holes, they’re looking to reload. They need high-profile pieces to make an immediate impact.

It’s a situation that Holland hasn’t faced, at least not in the cap era. I think it will define his career. It will probably define the Red Wings as a team for years to come.