Red Wings Lose Comrie to Jets via Waivers

Less than three weeks after acquiring him via trade, the Detroit Red Wings lost goalie Eric Comrie to the Winnipeg Jets via waivers.

The Jets are the team that originally drafted Comrie before losing him to the Arizona Coyotes via waivers to start the season.

As I Tweeted yesterday, this move feels wrong to me.  If waiving Comrie was about clearing a roster spot for Jimmy Howard to return from injury, that could have just as easily been accomplished by sending Christoffer Ehn to Grand Rapids.

The argument against that seems to be that this team needs more than one spare at forward or defense due to injury and illness.  I’d counter that the Wings will also need insurance in goal with Howard coming back from injury.

Mostly, though, it seems like waste of resources.  Yes, Vili Saarijarvi, who was traded for Comrie, probably had no future with the Red Wings.  He was still an asset, though, who could have been traded for someone who did have a future.  The two starts and one relief appearance made by Comrie could have been taken care of by Calvin Pickard and cost Detroit nothing.

Finally, there’s this:


Update, 12/20/2019: I’ve gotten some replies to the above Tweet scoffing at the idea of judging Steve Yzerman for such a low-risk move and want to address that further.

As I noted above, Vili Saarijarvi probably had no future in Detroit.  I don’t like how that came to be, I liked Saarijarvi back when he was with the Flint Firebirds, but there were simply too many prospects who had passed him on the Detroit depth chart so his lack of future was undeniable.  As such, trading him for something makes sense.

My problem with how this all went down is three-fold.

First off, why trade for a goalie at all if Howard’s injury was only going to keep him out for three weeks?  That’s what Calvin Pickard is for.  I’m sure the argument could be made that, with Filip Larsson struggling, the Griffins needed Pickard, but that’s the nature of being a farm team.

Secondly, Max Bultman of The Athletic notes today that Jeff Blashill had issues with Comrie’s rebound control.

“That’s an area that I know that he’s got to get better at, and I thought he struggled a little bit in Winnipeg that way, too,” Blashill said.

If rebound control is such an issue for Comrie – an issue bad enough that the Red Wings felt comfortable losing him on waivers – why didn’t their pro scouts note that before the trade?  If this is a dealbreaker now, why wasn’t it three weeks ago?

Finally, two games is just an absurdly small sample size to judge Comrie on.  A player who is in his third organization of the season, joining a team that’s the worst in the league with a god-awful goal differential, has two bad starts?  Yeah, I can see how that would happen.

But maybe it was some kind of 3D chess for Steve Yzerman to turn a low-value defenseman into a goalie rental for three weeks.  Maybe it was, in fact, necessary to rent a goalie for three weeks.  I just don’t see it.

Red Wings Deal Defenseman Saarijarvi for Goalie Comrie

With goalie Jimmy Howard injured, the Red Wings improved their depth at that position on Saturday, trading defenseman Vili Saarijarvi to the Arizona Coyotes for minor league goalie Eric Comrie.

I’ve always been a Saarijarvi fan but over the last several years it’s become clear that he was not in the Red Wings’ long-term plans.  As such, with it seeming like Howard will be out for an extended period, it makes sense to use the player you’re not going to use to acquire something you need right now.

Comrie is not waiver-exempt, and Calvin Pickard has already cleared waivers, so it seems likely that Comrie will back up Jonathan Bernier while Howard is out with Pickard heading back to Grand Rapids (and Pat Nagle headed back to Toledo from there).

At only 24, Comrie could also have a future with the organization, rather than just being a stop-gap.  He’s signed through the end of next season, as is Bernier, so Detroit could be looking at a Bernier/Comrie tandem for 2020-21, with Howard a free agent this summer and potentially departing.

Of course, Pickard is also signed with Detroit for next season, so it gives the team options.  The Red Wings will want Filip Larsson getting playing time in Grand Rapids, though, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see both Pickard and Comrie with the Griffins at any point in the next 18 months.

2019 Training Camp Jersey Number Notes

With the Red Wings having claimed the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup as champions of the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, the team is ready for their main training camp to begin, and with that comes the release of their training camp roster.

The roster includes 67 players.  Only two players who were on the Prospects Tournament roster will not be appearing in the main camp – Elmer Soderblom and Gustav Berglund.  No NHL free agents will be appearing with the Red Wings as pro try-outs.

There are no surprise jersey number changes revealed by the roster announcement.

Evgeni Svechnikov, who missed the entire 2018-19 season, will keep the #37 he was scheduled to wear last year.  He wore that number for his debut in 2016-17 before switching to #77 for the 2017-18 campaign.

Finnish free agent signing Oliwer Kaski claims that #77, after having worn #7 with Pelicans last season.  Kaski taking #77 would explain why Taro Hirose, who specifically was looking for a number with seven in it, took #67 instead of #77.

I had speculated that #26 might have gone to Thomas Vanek on a PTO but that ended up going to Grand Rapids Griffins’ captain Matt Ford, who was assigned #77 last fall.  Similarly, I thought that #50 might go to someone on a try-out but, instead, it’s been assigned to Dominik Shine, with Ryan Kuffner having taken the #56 that Shine wore in camp last year.

Goalie Calvin Pickard, the Red Wings’ only remaining free agent signing to not have a number announced, has taken #31.  He’s worn #30 in the past but Detroit has that semi-retired for Chris Osgood, it would seem.

The #3 worn last season by Nick Jensen has been assigned to defenseman Jared McIsaacLibor Sulak‘s #47 has gone to Marcus Crawford of the Griffins.

Any other changes are related to camp invitees and/or were already confirmed.

The full training camp roster is as follows:

Forwards

Num. Name
8 Justin Abdelkader
11 Filip Zadina
15 Chris Terry
23 Dominic Turgeon
26 Matthew Ford
27 Michael Rasmussen
37 Evgeny Svechnikov
39 Anthony Mantha
41 Luke Glendening
42 Mathieu Bizier
43 Darren Helm
46 Chase Pearson
48 Givani Smith
50 Dominik Shine
51 Valtteri Filppula
54 Matt Puempel
56 Ryan Kuffner
57 Turner Elson
58 David Pope
59 Tyler Bertuzzi
61 Jacob de la Rose
62 Cody Morgan
64 Josh Kestner
67 Taro Hirose
70 Christoffer Ehn
71 Dylan Larkin
72 Andreas Athanasiou
73 Adam Erne
75 Troy Loggins
76 Jarid Lukosevicius
78 Gregor MacLeod
79 Thomas Casey
81 Frans Nielsen
82 Tyler Spezia
88 Chad Yetman
89 Owen Robinson
90 Joe Veleno

Defensemen

Num. Name
2 Joe Hicketts
3 Jared McIsaac
17 Filip Hronek
20 Dylan McIlrath
21 Dennis Cholowski
22 Patrik Nemeth
25 Mike Green
28 Gustav Lindstrom
29 Vili Saarijarvi
32 Brian Lashoff
47 Marcus Crawford
52 Jonathan Ericsson
53 Moritz Seider
63 Alec McCrea
65 Danny DeKeyser
74 Madison Bowey
77 Oliwer Kaski
83 Trevor Daley
86 Charle-Edouard D’Astous
87 Marc-Olivier Duquette
94 Alec Regula
98 Owen Lalonde

Goalies

Num. Name
31 Calvin Pickard
35 Jimmy Howard
36 Kaden Fulcher
38 Filip Larsson
45 Jonathan Bernier
60 Pat Nagle
68 Sean Romeo
80 Anthony Popovich

2019 Free Agency Thoughts: Day One

I noted my thoughts about each of the Red Wings free agent signings yesterday as they were announced.  Since then, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has spoken and explained some of his plan.

I’m not sure I buy it, so I’m going to revisit those thoughts a bit.

Calvin Pickard

Yzerman confirmed that Pickard is bound for Grand Rapids, not competing with Jonathan Bernier for the backup role in Detroit, as was suggested when rumors of the deal broke on Sunday.  That makes significantly more sense.

My only concern is how Pickard (along with Curtis McElhinney) was claimed on waivers at the start of last season, leaving the Toronto Marlies without any goalies.  That said, veteran goalies make it through waivers every year, it’s last year that was the outlier.  I think it’s safe to blame my concern on recency bias.

Patrik Nemeth

I honestly don’t know much about Nemeth.  At first glance he seems like a good fit for the Red Wings.  Yzerman specifically mentioned that he could play with either Mike Green or Filip Hronek.  I imagine that whichever of those two doesn’t pair up with Nemeth gets Danny DeKeyser and, while not great by any means, that could be a solid top four.

The problem is the ever-present logjam.  Assuming a third pair of Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson with Madison Bowey as the seventh defenseman, that means there’s no room for Dennis Cholowski or Oliwer Kaski or anyone who might surprise in training camp.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying that it’ll be okay because there will be injuries, which was the case to start the season last year.  In all likelihood, yes, players will get hurt.  If you are counting on that, though, you have to count on someone getting hurt badly enough that they go on injured reserve, otherwise their roster spot isn’t cleared and no one can be called up to fill in.  So to get significant time for anyone outside that top seven, you have to hope for significant time lost due to injury to someone, which doesn’t sit well with me.

By the end of the season things might be different.  Ericsson and Daley and Green could all be gone.  Of course, there’s most of a season to play between now and the trade deadline and the last time the Wings expected to see a veteran defenseman moved in February, he got hurt and ended up signing an extension.

Valtteri Filppula

Oh, here’s the big one.  Yzerman says that Filppula was brought back to give the Red Wings depth at center, allowing them to shift Andreas Athanasiou back to his natural position at wing.

Obviously the organization thinks Athanasiou’s try-out as second-line center to end last season didn’t go well enough.  That’s fine.  I don’t think it was enough time to tell but I’m willing to accept their conclusion.  The issue is that I don’t accept that Valtteri Filppula is a second-line center.

The Wings now have a top line center in Dylan Larkin and bottom-six centers in Filppula, Frans Nielsen, Luke Glendening, Christoffer Ehn, and Jacob de la RoseDarren Helm can fill in at center and Yzerman mentioned Justin Abdelkader as well, which I think would be awful.  Helm and Abdelkader can be ignored anyway, though, because that’s six centers for three lines, none of which is the second line.

If the choice is between playing Athanasiou out of position and seeing how it goes or playing Filppula up a line, I’d pick Athanasiou.

I have nothing against Filppula as a third line center.  If Yzerman were to find a way to move Nielsen and slot Filppula in there, I’d be all for it.  Especially with Filppula coming in cheaper than Nielsen.  But that’s not the move that’s happening.

Red Wings Sign Goalie Pickard

As rumored yesterday, the Red Wings announced today the signing of goalie Calvin Pickard to a two-year deal.

As per club policy the financial terms were not announced.

Until yesterday, I’d been unaware that the Detroit organization wasn’t expecting Patrik Rybar to return, so this deal was not on my radar at all.

Frank Seravalli said yesterday that Pickard should be expected to compete with Jonathan Bernier for the backup role in Detroit while Max Bultman pointed out that seemingly-Grand Rapids-bound Filip Larsson was expecting the team to bring in a veteran to work with him on the Griffins.

Given the money involved, I have to think the Wings have Pickard slotted in for GR, but even that is problematic.  It was just last fall that Pickard was headed to the Toronto Marlies to start the season when he was claimed on waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers.  Another rash of goalie injuries like we saw last year and the Wings could lose whichever veteran they try to send to the Griffins, leaving Larsson alone there.

That said, much has already been made of the free agent goalie-go-round.  It’s possible that whoever gets left out on that ride would be available to a team facing an injury, so this year is a little different from last year.

Red Wings’ Slump Reaches Six with Shootout Loss to Avalanche

The Detroit Red Wings lost their sixth consecutive game on Sunday night, a 2-1 shootout decision to the Colorado Avalanche.

It was the fourth loss of the sixth to come in the tiebreaker.

Petr Mrazek took the loss for the Red Wings, making the start in goal in place of the injured Jimmy Howard. Mrazek stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced and six of nine shootout attempts.

Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene beat Mrazek to start the shootout, then Mrazek made six straight stops before Jarome Iginla scored what would be the game-winner.

Avalanche netminder Calvin Pickard stopped Pavel Datsyuk before Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar scored to force sudden death rounds. Pickard wouldn’t allow a goal the rest of the way, stopping Brendan Smith to secure the win in the ninth round.

Pickard made 34 saves on 35 shots in regulation and overtime.

After two scoreless periods, Pavel Datsyuk opened the game’s scoring at 4:52 of the third. With Detroit on a power play, Datsyuk took a feed from Riley Sheahan in the left faceoff circle and snapped a shot past Pickard.

With 4:15 left in the period, the Avalanche tied things up on a power play of their own. Erik Johnson‘s blast from the top of the right circle appeared to deflect off defenseman Jonathan Ericsson‘s stick on its way past Mrazek.

Detroit finished the night one-for-four on the power play while Colorado went one-for-two.

The Red Wings have one more game remaining before the Christmas break, Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.


With Howard injured and Jonas Gustavsson still weeks from returning, Tom McCollum was called up to back up Mrazek… Jakub Kindl was back in the lineup as Xavier Ouellet was sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins to make room for McCollum… Daniel Cleary replaced Joakim Andersson for his tenth appearance of the season, triggering a $1 million bonus in his contract.