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.

Red Wings – Blackhawks Postgame Thoughts

I said before the game that it wasn’t going to be a good one and it certainly turned out to be true.

The morning after, I’m trying to think of a single time where the Red Wings had sustained pressure in the Chicago zone, excluding their power plays. I can’t remember any.

I’m not going to directly blame that on injuries. There may not have been a lot of pressure but the kids called up from Grand Rapids were moving well. Cory Emmerton scored his first NHL goal (on a bit of a lucky bounce) just hours after being called up. The problem wasn’t so much a lack of talent out there for the Wings. It was a lack of energy.

Maybe that’s the ultimate effect of the injuries, but what we saw yesterday was a very tired Detroit team against a very rested Blackhawks squad. Aside from the fourth line, I didn’t see any jump from anyone.

You’re not going to win many games where you can’t get anything done in the offensive end but I think defense might have lost this game for the Wings. They’re relatively healthy on the blue line so there’s no excuse for Ruslan Salei backing off Bolland in the slot for Chicago’s first goal or the awful miscommunication that left both Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall going behind the net on the fourth goal, leaving the slot open.

That first goal still bothers me for another reason, though. I don’t agree with Salei backing off Bolland but I can see why he did it. Bolland got away with whacking the hell out of him in their battle in front of the net. I think that was why Salei backed off, and the minute he did the puck got there. Bolland then scored and hit Salei one more time for good measure.

It’s a common thing for Red Wings fans to say but I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that Tomas Holmstrom would get away with doing the same thing without a penalty.

Just to pile on the refs, I thought the Henrik Zetterberg non-goal was a quick whistle. We’ve been through that one before. Yes, the ref lost sight of the puck. Yes, the play is dead as soon as he intends to blow the whistle. As I’ve always said, that’s not an absolute. The ref loses sight of the puck when he blinks but he assumes it’s still in play. In this case, the ref assumed Corey Crawford had control when he didn’t. I think he made that assumption too quickly.

I don’t think there’s much to take from this except for the All-Star break is coming exactly when the Red Wings need it. One game in the next eleven days, with many of the team’s injuries expected to return at the end of the break. Things should turn around.

Zetterberg Out Against Rangers

The New York Rangers visit Joe Louis Arena tonight as the Red Wings host their second exhibition matchup of the season.

Detroit will be playing using their “White Team” lineup, with Chris Osgood and Thomas McCollum splitting time in goal.

Henrik Zetterberg, who was expected to lead the White Team, will miss the game while resting a groin injury that flared up before training camp. He will be kept out of the next two games.

The lines announced before Zetterberg was removed from the lineup were as follows:

Todd Bertuzzi-Henrik Zetterberg-Dan Cleary
Ville LeinoValtteri FilppulaJason Williams
Johan Ryno-Justin AbdelkaderKirk Maltby
Mattias RitolaCory EmmertonJan Mursak

Niklas KronwallDoug Janik
Brett LebdaBrad Stuart
Derek MeechJakub Kindl

Chris Osgood
Thomas McCollum

The game will be televised in New York on MSG. It will not be on TV or radio in Detroit.

Red Wings Kick Off Preseason Schedule Tonight

The Red Wings kick off their preseason schedule tonight, hosting the Philadelphia Flyers less than 24 hours after wrapping up training camp with the Red and White Game Monday night in Traverse City.

Detroit will use two rosters to start the exhibition schedule. The Red team featuring Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Nicklas Lidstrom will get the nod tonight. The White team with Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall will play on Friday against the New York Rangers.

It looks like there will be no live media coverage of tonight’s game. It will not be televised in Detroit or Philadelphia and it looks like radio coverage is out as well.

Tonight’s Red team lineup is as follows:

Johan Franzen-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom
Kris DraperJustin AbdelkaderPatrick Eaves
Mattias RitolaKris NewburyJan Mursak
Johan Ryno-Cory EmmertonJeremy Williams

Nicklas Lidstrom-Jakub Kindl
Derek MeechBrian Rafalski
Jonathan Ericsson-Andy Delmore

Jimmy Howard
Daniel Larsson

A note… If you see images from tonight’s game and wonder what’s wrong with the Wings’ jerseys, the answer is nothing. Every preseason the Wings use sweaters with names straight across the shoulders rather than the arched names they use during the regular season. Every season people forget about that and think a big change has been made.