On the Red Wings’ Next Alternate Captain

With Pavel Datsyuk having departed, the Red Wings are left with an open spot among their contingent of captains.  I brought this up on Twitter a month ago and WiiM did a post on it a couple weeks ago.  I went back through the team’s recent history to see if anything can be gleaned from it to show us who might be picked.

The 2015-16 season was unique for the Red Wings in that captain Henrik Zetterberg and alternates Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall were the only players to wear letters for the team all year.  That doesn’t mean there wasn’t opportunity – both Datsyuk and Kronwall missed significant time due to injury – it means that there were 34 games where Detroit didn’t even bother sewing an “A” on anyone else’s sweater.

Captains are the only players who can speak to on-ice officials but the Red Wings’ going with fewer than the allowed number of captains shows how unimportant that rule.  Of note: Teams may have no more than three lettered players on the roster but there is nothing saying that they have to have that number.

We have to go back to the 2015 season to find replacement captains used by the Red Wings.  Despite ten games with only two captains dressed, seven players still managed to wear a letter throughout the year.  The injured Johan Franzen wore it for ten games, Jonathan Ericsson and Daniel Cleary each wore it for three, and Darren Helm wore it for one.

If he were healthy, I think Franzen would get the A, but he’ll never play again.  Cleary may very well return to the organization and get a letter in Grand Rapids, but I think he can be ruled out in Detroit.  That leaves Ericsson and the recently-re-signed Helm.

Going back one more season to 2014 adds no new names to the list, as the now-retired Daniel Alfredsson was the most-frequent extra alternate, wearing an A for 36 games to Franzen’s 31 and Cleary’s 8.  Five games were spent with only two captains.

The lockout-shortened 2013 – Zetterberg’s first as captain – featured three games with only two captains but no replacement alternates.  It was also the first season since the 2007-08 campaign, when Datsyuk was given an A along with Zetterberg and Kris Draper, that the team had only three captains.

Even with four captains on the books in 2012, Tomas Holmstrom wore the A for eight games.  The team dressed three captains for every game.

Going back further, we see the names of long-departed defensemen Brian Rafalski and Chris Chelios…  Clearly players who won’t be options now.

In the last seven years there have been ten players to wear the C or A with the Red Wings.  Two of them – Zetterberg and Kronwall – still do.  Only two of the remaining eight are still with the team: Ericsson and Helm.

At three games to one, Ericsson has more experience wearing the letter than Helm.  Maybe that gives him an edge.

So can anything be pulled from these numbers?  I think the only thing they show is that it’s time for someone new.  The old standbys are gone.

While newcomers Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, and Steve Ott have all worn letters elsewhere in their career – Nielsen had an A with the Islanders last season while Vanek and Ott co-captained the Sabres back in the 2013-14 season – the Red Wings haven’t given the alternate captaincy directly to a newcomer since trading for Brendan Shanahan in 1996.

By my count, the Wings haven’t had two defenseman with letters since before the Steve Yzerman era, which would seemingly rule out Ericsson or any of the other blueliners, so long as Kronwall wears the A.

Jeff Blashill is not Jacques Demers.  I don’t think Dylan Larkin gets the available letter by virtue of being the team’s best player.

I think – almost from lack of better options – that we’ll see Justin Abdelkader get the A.

Of course, that could change if the mythical “trade for a top defenseman” ever emerges.  We’ll see.

Red Wings Sign Green to Three Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings signed free agent defenseman Mike Green to a three year deal on Wednesday. The deal is reportedly worth $6 million per season.

The 29-year-old – who has spent his entire career with the Washington Capitals – is a right-handed shot. The Red Wings will look for him to fill the offensive-defenseman role they’ve been missing since the retirement of Brian Rafalski.

A veteran of 575 NHL games, Green has scored 113 goals and 247 assists for 360 career points. A power play specialist, nearly half of his goals have come with the man-advantage.

Green has been a Norris Trophy runner-up twice and has played in one All-Star Game.

Alumni Showdown Roster Review

I’ve been (finally) going through my photos from the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park on New Years Eve and my lack of familiarity with some of the Toronto players has been causing some problems. I look at my photos and say “Who is that guy and why don’t I see a #28 listed on the roster?”

Well, it’s because the announced rosters weren’t the final rosters. A couple players were listed for one game and played in the other or were listed with different numbers or were listed and didn’t actually play. I went back through the player introductions to put together a complete list and I figured I’d share it out for posterity.

Game One

Toronto Maple Leafs

# Name Pos.
33 Doug Favell G
1 Mark Laforest G
1 Peter Ing G
4 Mike Pelyk D
4 Cory Cross D
33 Matt Martin D
3 Brad Marsh (A) D
4 Greg Hotham D
24 Dan Daoust F
21 Mark Osborne F
19 Bill Derlago F
9 Stew Gavin F
15 Pat Boutette F
12 Rob Pearson F
15 Claude Loiselle F
10 Brad May (A) F
14 Dave Reid F
19 Tom Fergus (A) F
26 Mike Krushelnyski F
7 Dave McLlwain F
8 Todd Warriner F
20 Mike Johnson F
16 Nikolai Borschevsky F
32 Lou Franceschetti F

On the Toronto side, Doug Favell wasn’t listed on the roster but did play. Jamie Macoun and Shayne Corson were listed but didn’t play. Mike Johnson wore #20 after being listed without a number.

For Detroit, Ken Holland was on the roster but did not play.

Game Two

Toronto Maple Leafs

# Name Pos.
29 Mike Palmateer G
31 Curtis Joseph G
29 Felix Potvin G
24 Bryan McCabe (A) D
34 Jamie Macoun D
4 Dave Ellett D
15 Bob McGill D
33 Al Iafrate D
34 Bryan Berard D
27 Darryl Sittler (C) F
22 Rick Vaive (C) F
17 Wendel Clark (C) F
93 Doug Gilmour (C) F
14 Dave Andreychuk (A) F
16 Darcy Tucker (A) F
18 Kevin Maguire F
4 Gary Leeman (A) F
9 Russ Courtnall F
7 Gary Roberts (A) F
7 Lanny McDonald (A) F
22 Tiger Williams F
16 Mike Walton F
28 Tie Domi (A) F
11 Mike Gartner F
25 Joe Nieuwendyk (A) F
32 Steve Thomas (A) F
11 Steve Sullivan F

For Detroit, the only oddity was that Joe Kocur was introduced in and played the first period wearing Bob Probert‘s #24 jersey.

For the Leafs, several things were different. Macoun played after having been on the Game One roster. Curtis Joseph wore his usual #31 and Felix Potvin wore #29, having been listed with #35 and #36, respectively. Bryan McCabe wore #24 instead of #29. Up front, Gary Leeman wore #4 instead of #11, Tie Domi wore #28 instead of #20, and Mike Gartner wore #11 instead of #22.

As I said, compiling this list is nothing groundbreaking, I just wanted it to be documented somewhere so I figured I’d write it up.

Alumni Showdown Rosters

Possibly lost in the shuffle yesterday between the Griffins/Marlies tilt at Comerica Park, the Red Wings’ visit to Nashville, and other build-up to tomorrow’s Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Bill Roose had the rosters for Detroit’s two alumni teams for today’s Alumni Showdown.

Kocur was listed as wearing his usual #26 but announced that he would don #24 in honor of Bob Probert.

Seventeen

I have the tendency to wax nostalgic about the site and/or make grand statements when DetroitHockey.Net’s birthday comes up. Nothing makes me feel quite as old as this date, though I’m told my kid’s birthday will do it as well.

Today DH.N is seventeen years old. I’m not going to do my Old Man Rasmussen spiel, though. Because the biggest news out of the Red Wings for the last couple days has been about jersey numbers, I’m going to talk about seventeen for a bit.

The first Detroit #17 I remember was Gerard Gallant. Like probably any kid who became a Wings fan in the 1980s, for me, his is a name tied closely to Steve Yzerman as the pair helped lead the team out of the “Dead Wings” era.

After Gallant went to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the number went unused until Doug Brown picked it up during the (original) lockout-shortened 1995 season. Brown would go on to become an honorary member of Detroit’s Russian Five. He was integral enough to the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup Championship teams that when he was claimed by the Nashville Predators (who talked about naming him their first captain) in the expansion draft, the Wings traded to get him back. Detroit was the only stop in Brown’s career where he wore #17, though it wasn’t the only number he wore in Detroit. During a comeback attempt at training camp in 2002, Brown wore the #71 recently adopted by Daniel Cleary because Brett Hull had claimed #17.

Hull took #17 straight from Brown in 2001, as Brown wasn’t brought back that summer and Hull was brought on. Hull was briefly listed as #16 for the Red Wings, taking the number he’d worn for most of his career. The team’s unofficial retirement of that number for Vladimir Konstantinov held, though, and Hull ended up with #17 instead, another case where Detroit was the only stop where a player wore that number. I disagreed with the Hull signing at the time (what do I know?). Detroit’s Stanley Cup win in 2002 combined with Dallas’ in 1999, while Hull was wearing #22, gives Hull the distinction of winning two Cups while not wearing the jersey number he was famous for. Like Brown, Hull would go on to wear a different number in one training camp, adopting #80 in honor of Herb Brooks in 2003.

Brad Norton would be assigned #17 for his six forgettable games early in the 2006-07 season before trade deadline acquisition Kyle Calder claimed it when his usual #19 was – of course – unavailable. A trend continued, as for both players it was the only time in their careers where they had the number.

Returning to Detroit for the final season of his career that summer, Dallas Drake took on #17 as the #28 he wore in his first go-round with the Red Wings was in use by Brian Rafalski. The #18, #11 and #10 he’d previously worn in his career were also taken, marking yet another time #17 went to a player who had never worn it before and never would again. Drake would close out his career with a Stanley Cup Championship that season.

Number 17 sat dormant for two seasons before being assigned to its current holder, Patrick Eaves, in 2010. Eaves joined the Red Wings after the Boston Bruins (for whom he never played a game) bought out the contract they acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in return for former Red Wing Aaron Ward. During his stints with the Ottawa Senators and the Hurricanes, Eaves had worn #44 but his arrival in Detroit coincided with Todd Bertuzzi‘s return to the team. Bertuzzi took #44, putting Eaves in need of a new number. Due to the Wings’ glut of forwards, Eaves’ future with the team is currently in doubt. If he doesn’t wear the number again he would be the sixth consecutive player to don #17 in Detroit and nowhere else.

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.

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.

Numbers Game 2011 – Wrap Up

With Saturday’s release of the Red Wings 2011 Training Camp roster by Sarah Lindenau of the The Left Wing Lock, the final changed jersey number for the upcoming season is known.

As Mike Commodore has taken the #22 that Logan Pyett wore in camp last season, Pyett switches to the vacant #32.

The numbers for Detroit’s newest players have been known for awhile and I covered the prospects on Friday but here are the highlights now that everything is known.

Outgoing
Brian Rafalski – #28 (now assigned to prospect Tomas Jurco)
Chris Osgood – #30
Kris Draper – #33
Derek Meech – #14 (now assigned to prospect Gustav Nyquist)
Ruslan Salei – #24

Incoming
Mike Commodore – #22
Ian White – #18
Chris Connor – #41
Garnet Exelby – #3
Ty Conklin – #29

Switching
Logan Pyett – from #22 to #32
Joakim Andersson – from #62 to #63

Numbers Game 2011 – The Prospects

We already know the jersey numbers of the Red Wings’ newest additions but with today’s release of Detroit’s roster for the annual prospects tournament, a few more numerical changes are now known.

Joakim Andersson is the only prospect returning to camp with a different number, switching from #62 to the #63 worn last year by tryout Antonin Honejsek. Ryan Sproul will take Andersson’s vacated #62.

Gustav Nyquist makes his first camp appearance in Derek Meech‘s old #14 while Brian Rafalski‘s #28 goes to Tomas Jurco.

Other 2011 draft picks claiming abandoned numbers are Marek Tverdon, who takes the #71 of 2010 try-out Brenden Kichton, and Xavier Ouellet, who gets try-out Marc Zanetti’s #61.

With Sergei Kolosov returning to Europe, try-out Evan Mosher gets his #68.

Try-outs Nick Oslund, Adam Estoclet and Brian Rufenach replace players who were in a similar position last year, as Oslund takes Darren Archibald‘s #58, Estoclet takes Stephen Johnston’s #64, and Rufenach gets Alex Cord’s #56.

Six players make their first appearance at camp wearing a number that was un-used last season.

Brooks Macek will wear #50, Alan Quine will take #74, and Richard Nedomlel picks up #73.

A trio of try-outs rounds out the new numbers. Zach Frank will have #72, Artem Sergeev will take #75, and Ramis Sadikov will take #76.

Red Wings Free Agency Week in Review

We’re one week into the NHL free agency season and the Red Wings have seemingly made all the moves they expected to make, aside from signing a backup goaltender. Let’s take a look at each signing.

Jonathan Ericsson
Ericsson’s three-year term and $3.25 million annual salary rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way when this deal was announced the night before free agency opened. Detroit is clearly paying for potential here, as they have more faith in Ericsson’s continued development than the fanbase does. If Ericsson develops as the team hopes, this is a good deal given the market. If not, this is a rare mistake for Ken Holland.

Patrick Eaves
The Red Wings kept one of their top penalty killing forwards by signing Eaves just before free agency opened. $1.2 million doesn’t break the bank and the three-year term is nothing to be afraid of. It’s a very Kris Draper-like deal for a Draper-like player.

Drew Miller
Miller had said he was intent on testing the free agency waters but re-upped with Detroit a short time into free agency with a two-year deal worth $1.675 million. I have to think he could have gotten more on the open market – at least $1 million per year – so I wonder if the two years is what sold him on returning to the Wings.

Mike Commodore
Commodore hasn’t had good things to say about Mike Babcock in the past so this move seemed like it came out of nowhere to me. Add in the fact that he’s slotted to be a #5 / #6 defenseman, which the Wings already have several of (Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Doug Janik) and it’s that much more of a surprise. That said, Smith could use another season in Grand Rapids playing top-pair minutes and Janik may have never really been an option, even with the one-way contract he’s on this year. Commodore provides size and grit on the blueline and might be able to teach Ericsson a thing or two. After being bought out by the Blue Jackets, he has a chip on his shoulder.

Ian White
I like the White signing. As two years with a cap hit of $2.875, it’s a good deal for a replacement for Niklas Kronwall, who moves up to replace the retired Brian Rafalski. With no real replacement for Rafalski available via free agency, the Wings chose to promote from within and then replace the promoted Kronwall. White’s a solid puck-mover with a right-handed shot who should fit in nicely on the now-complete Detroit blueline.

Garnet Exelby
A big body for Grand Rapids, I liked Exelby when he broke into the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers but he really hasn’t done much in his career. He should never see time in Detroit but he’s a good depth signing just in case.

Logan Pyett
Pyett seems to be going nowhere in the Detroit system but he fits in Grand Rapids. Another blueliner unlikely to see time with the Wings.

Chris Conner
Brought over from the Penguins, Conner is signed to a two-way deal and expected to push Cory Emmerton for the last forward spot in Detroit. He’s small and fast and works hard in the corners, something the Wings organization likes. He’ll have to clear waivers to go to Grand Rapids, but so will Emmerton so one of those two could be lost.

Jordan Pearce
Nothing has been confirmed but there are reports that Pearce was re-signed for two more years. He outplayed Thomas McCollum at the end of the Griffins’ season last year and was apparently convinced to keep playing hockey rather than pursue his medical degree.