Red Wings Logjam Won’t Get Better On Its Own

Xavier Ouellet is back in Grand Rapids and Mattias Backman has returned to Sweden. For the time being, the Red Wings’ logjam on the blue line is resolved. Seven defensemen in Detroit, seven with the Griffins (Scott Czarnowscan was called up from Toledo when Ouellet was brought to Detroit).

That the Red Wings aren’t icing the best lineup they can right now is irrelevant. That one of their prospects is now disgruntled is as well. There is now a spot for everyone, that’s all that matters, fixing it is a problem for the future.

So let’s look at that future.

We’ll assume that the Red Wings don’t trade anyone (because they haven’t yet) and sign all of their restricted free agents. We’ll also assume that the Griffins bring back Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans because they’re a couple of blue line leaders in GR. None of the unrestricted free agents return.

That means that Niklas Kronwall is back. And Jonathan Ericsson. And Kyle Quincey. And Danny DeKeyser, and Brendan Smith, and Jakub Kindl, and Brian Lashoff. Ouellet and Ryan Sproul and Alexey Marchenko and Nick Jensen. Evans and Paetsch and Backman. Richard Nedomlel, currently in Toledo.

Joe Hicketts, who just made the Canadian World Junior team? He’s probably turning pro. Marc McNulty? Mitch Wheaton? Ben Marshall? James DeHaas? Not under contract yet but very well could be by next year.

The Red Wings have zero unrestricted free agents on defense next summer. Their two RFAs are Smith and Jensen, both of whom will return. In short, there are exactly as many roster spots available throughout the organization next year as there are right now. And in all likelihood there will be even more players fighting for them.

Without the Red Wings making a trade – dumping one or more players – their current roster crunch isn’t getting any better until at least the summer of 2016. That’s one more full season before there’s even a roster spot in Detroit available, which means another full season before there’s even a spot in Grand Rapids available, which means the Wings are dumping their prospects straight to the Walleye.

Or back to Sweden, in the case of Backman, ’cause why should he stick around for that?


I’ve been among the crowd clamoring for the exit of Jakub Kindl (and, to a lesser extent, Brian Lashoff) as a means to clear up the logjam. At varying points the Red Wings have said they’re trying to move Kindl but just how hard they’re trying is up for debate, as the Carolina Hurricanes just managed to get a sixth round pick back for Jay Harrison while Kindl remains in Detroit.

I see three possibilities: The Red Wings see value in Kindl and want a return that reflects that. Teams are interested in Kindl but not given his current contract. No one is interested in Kindl.

All three of these reflect poorly on Detroit.

If the Wings want more for Kindl than anyone is willing to give, then they’re overvaluing him and are no better than the Buffalo Sabres asking for Anthony Mantha for Tyler Myers. This is an addition by subtraction move, stop worrying about the return.

If the contract is the issue, it means the Red Wings gave him a contract that no one else would have.

If no one is interested, then Detroit continues to employ a player that no other team wants.

Red Wings’ 2014 Development Camp Sweater Number Stuff

I write about possible sweater number changes every summer and with Monday’s release of the Red Wings’ 2014 Development Camp roster, we’ve got the first opportunity to take a look at some possibilities.

As always, the official disclaimer from Detroit is that these numbers mean nothing. As I always say, however, history doesn’t show that. Usually if a number is assigned to a player in camp, it won’t be worn by a roster player in the coming season.

Last year was the first year since I’ve been tracking that players in development camp were assigned numbers already worn by roster players, as Petr Mrazek‘s #34 went to free agent try-out Andrew D’Agostini. Tomas Tatar‘s #21 was given to Luke Glendening but there is evidence that Tatar was going to switch to #90 before Stephen Weiss got it. Phillippe Hudon getting the #63 previously worn by Joakim Andersson was the first sign of Andersson taking #18.

This year we have no obvious changes as all of the players wearing numbers that were taken last season have the numbers that belonged to departing free agents.

There are some oddities and humorous assignments, though.

For the first time I can remember, numbers in the 90s are in use. One of those is Axel Holmstrom being assigned the #96 formerly worn by the unrelated Tomas Holmstrom. Similarly, returning camp invitee Dean Chelios wears the #24 previously worn by his father, Chris Chelios. Dominic Turgeon will don a number one higher than that of his dad, Pierre Turgeon, having been assigned #78. The team missed out on one more such opportunity, as Tyler Bertuzzi keeps his #59 rather than taking his uncle’s #44, with Todd Bertuzzi now out of the Red Wings’ plans.

For the record, I expect the #44 to go to Colin Campbell in the main camp.

Only one returning player who isn’t a free agent tryout is changing his number from last season, as David Pope drops down from #64 to the #63 vacated by Hudon.

Numbers for players making their first appearance at development camp are as follows (again, with free agents excluded):

Player Name Number
Christoffer Ehn 92
Axel Holmstrom 96
Dylan Larkin 25
Ben Marshall 51
Mike McKee 58
Dominic Turgeon 78
Julius Vahatalo 94

Larkin takes the #25 vacated by Cory Emmerton, Marshall gets the #51 assigned in training camp to Brennan Evans last year, and Mike McKee gets the #58 previously assigned to Max Nicastro, who was not giving a qualifying contract offer by Detroit.

Red Wings Send 17 to Grand Rapids

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Sunday the assignment of 17 players to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Forwards Tomas Jurco, Martin Frk, Andrej Nestrasil, Trevor Parkes, Mitch Callahan, Marek Tvrdon, Calle Jarnkrok, David McIntyre and Jeff Hoggan were sent down in preparation for the Griffins’ training camp this week in Grand Rapids. They are joined by defensemen Gleason Fournier, Ryan Sproul, Brennan Evans, Max Nicastro, Xavier Ouellet and Richard Nedomlel. Goalies Tom McCollum and Cam Lanigan will also join the Griffins at camp.

Of the 17, McIntyre, Hoggan, Evans, McCollum and Lanigan were not under contract with Detroit and were in the Red Wings’ camp as invitees. None of the others were expected to compete for a spot with the Red Wings, though Jurco could see time as a call-up in case of injury.

The moves leave Detroit with 38 players remaining on the roster.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Penguins – 9/16

The Red Wings’ exhibition schedule kicks off tonight in Pittsburgh against the new conference-rival Penguins.

As per usual, only half of the team tonight will be made up of players actually expected to play in Detroit this season, the other half will be prospects and Griffins. The Red Wings will roll with a split squad for most of the preseason, allowing them to more easily play on back-to-back nights (tomorrow they’re in Chicago) while evaluating players.

Tonight’s roster is expected to be as follows:

Henrik ZetterbergPavel DatsyukJustin Abdelkader
Daniel ClearyJoakim AnderssonMikael Samuelsson
Tomas Tatar – Luke Glendenning – Landon Ferraro
Anthony ManthaCalle JarnkrokJordin Tootoo

Danny DeKeyserJakub Kindl
Kyle QuinceyBrendan Smith
Brennan EvansAdam Almqvist

Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will split time in goal.

Game time is 7:00 PM. The game will not be on TV or radio in the Detroit area but will be televised in Pittsburgh so a stream might be available somewhere.

2013 Red Wings Jersey Number Wrap-Up

I’ve already touched on the sweater numbers worn by the Red Wings at their development camp in July and the fact that Joakim Andersson has (as expected) switched from #63 to #18. Since the full training camp roster is now out, I’ll take a look at some of the remaining numbers.

With Daniel Cleary accepting a PTO from the Flyers (with a three-year deal on the way as soon as they can clear the cap space by putting Chris Pronger on LTIR), there’s no conflict as Daniel Alfredsson takes #11.

Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans, having lost the #3 he wore in January’s Red and White Game to Nick Jensen, takes the departed Valtteri Filppula‘s #51. Similarly, Nathan Paetsch drops from #71 to the #24 vacated by Damien Brunner and Triston Grant takes the #28 that formerly belonged to Carlo Colaiacovo. Grand Rapids captain Jeff Hoggan goes from #73 (now assigned to Griffins’ forward David McIntyre) to the #81 worn in the development camp by Mattias Janmark.

Calle Jarnkrok gets the #70 that was worn in development camp by free-agent tryout Jaimen Yakubowski. McIntyre’s #73 came from try-out Brody Silk. Teemu Pulkkinen gets #56.

Free agent try-out Michal Plutner gets the #75 worn by James de Haas in July while try-out Cam Lanigan gets the #68 that was worn by Jake Patterson.

As per usual, most of these changes mean nothing as they relate to players not under contract with Detroit. The Red Wings do have a tendency to give players acquired in midseason the number of someone already in the organization, as those jerseys are already made up, but given the cap space this year Detroit is unlikely to be making any big deals.

Griffins Claim Calder Cup, Tatar Named MVP

The Grand Rapids Griffins claimed their first-ever Calder Cup Championship on Tuesday night, defeating the Syracuse Crunch 5-2 to complete a 4-2 series win.

Forward Tomas Tatar was named the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs. He scored twice in the final game for a total of 16 goals and five assists for 21 points in 24 playoffs.

Richard Panik opened the game’s scoring with 2:45 remaining in the opening period, jamming a rebound chance past Petr Mrazek with the Grand Rapids netminder out of position.

The Griffins tied things back up at 2:23 of the second when Mitch Callahan whacked a shot from the inside edge of the right faceoff circle past Syracuse goalie Cedrick Desjardins.

Tatar’s first of the night put the Griffins up with 7:19 remaining in the middle frame. On a Grand Rapids power play, Tatar found open space on the far side of the crease and banged the rebound of a Gustav Nyquist chance past Desjardins.

Andrej Sustr would pull the Crunch back into a tie at 5:14 of the third but Brennan Evans snuck a shot from the left point through traffic and past Desjardins at 9:54 for the eventual game-winner.

Tatar and Joakim Andersson each added late-game empty-net goals to confirm the victory.

Red & White Game Rosters Announced

The Detroit Red Wings announced the tentative rosters for tomorrow’s Red & White Game at Plymouth’s Compuware Arena earlier today.

Pavel Datsyuk will be a game-time decision, having arrived back in Detroit from Russia late Monday. Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson will be kept out due to injuries.

Griffins 2012-13 Jersey Number Changes

With twenty-two players having been sent to Grand Rapids by the Red Wings in advance of the expected NHL lockout, the Griffins web site has updated the team’s roster with all the new player jersey numbers. Here’s a look at the changes we’ll see for the 2012-13 season.

Incoming netminder Petr Mrazek picks up the #34 worn last season by Ty Conklin during his AHL demotion, making him one of two Griffins wearing the same number as they are assigned by the Red Wings.

Nathan Paetsch takes the #4 vacated by Travis Ehrhardt. Adam Almquist switches from the #6 he got at the end of last season to the #5 that had been worn by Riley Sheahan, who takes the #19 from outgoing Mike Thomas.

Luke Glendening gets Jamie Johnson‘s old #10. Chad Billins claims the #14 last worn by Chris Minard after having shared #23 with Ryan Sproul last year, with #23 going to Triston Grant.

Fabian Brunnstrom‘s #17 goes to Max Nicastro and Chris Conner‘s #25 goes to Damien Brunner.

Tomas Jurco claims #28 from Alan Quine, making him the second Griffin with the same number he’s currently assigned with the Red Wings, pending Carlo Colaiacovo‘s number selection. Colaiacovo wore #28 with the St. Louis Blues and could request it in Detroit.

Finally, Brennan Evans will wear the #44 of the deceased Bryan Rufenach.