Free Agent Preview Redux

A couple days ago I took a look at possible Red Wings free agent targets. Things have changed a little bit since then so I figure I’ll go over it again with just hours remaining before NHL free agency.

Centers
Vincent Lecavalier is now off the market after agreeing to a five-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers but a surprise addition is Mikael Grabovski, who was waived on Thursday by the Toronto Maple Leafs in order to be bought out. He’d be a great fit in Detroit, having had success playing with Pavel Datsyuk in Russia in the past. The two also share an agent, so there’s an “in” there. The issue is that his current $5.5 million cap hit – while more than the Red Wings would probably want to spend – really isn’t that bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a team that claims him on waivers before the Leafs even get a chance to buy him out, meaning he never hits the free agent market.

The Wings are supposedly still in on Valtteri Filppula but the local reports state he’s all but gone. I think he’s the best available fit for Detroit’s second-line center but I really don’t think he’s worth the money he’s supposedly asking ($5.5 million for five years).

Stephen Weiss plays a similar game to Filppula and he’s my third choice for the second-line center spot. He’s older and has accomplished less, and is supposedly asking for more money ($6 million/year), which he’s not worth. I wouldn’t pay him more than $4 million but given that his actual salary last season was $4.1 million, I don’t see him going for that.

Mike Ribeiro‘s name keeps coming up as an option for the Wings but I don’t see the fit. He probably wants a raise from his previous $5 million salary and his wife has been ranting about having to leave Washington, so he probably doesn’t want to move as far away as Detroit.

For some reason Matt Cullen’s name has come up as well. If the Wings sign him, it will be because they whiffed on all the other centers. He’s 36 and can probably be had for short term (two years) in the $3 million range. This signing would disappoint me so much. I’d rather see Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg split up (again), Johan Franzen shifted to center (again) or one of the kids being given a shot centering the second line than see Cullen signed.

Wingers
The Red Wings have been linked to Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson in recent days. I’ve long coveted him but would be shocked if he actually leaves the Senators. No idea what money he’s asking but it would be a one-year deal for the 40-year-old. I’d rather see Alfredsson signed for a year than Daniel Cleary brought back. Boston is also interested.

Damien Brunner is reportedly asking for $2.5 million per year, which I’d give him in a heartbeat. The concern is what he can do over a full season but I think he’s worth the risk at that relatively low amount. If he gets up to $3.5 million, then it’s something to worry about.

Daniel Cleary is apparently looking for a three-year, $9 million deal ($3 million cap hit). That just seems obscene to me. Given the Wings’ ability to fill his role from within via someone like Tomas Tatar, I don’t see a fit here anymore.

The Wings are reportedly among the many teams interested in ex-Flames captain Jarome Iginla. He’s another I’d love in Detroit (having hated him in Calgary for years) but I don’t think it’s a fit. Unless the Wings lose out on Brunner, they’re not looking for a scoring winger (I know, I said I want Alfredsson anyway) and Detroit wasn’t on Iginla’s list of acceptable trade destinations when he moved on from Calgary at the trade deadline. Maybe the prospect of a whole season with the Wings would be better than just closing out last season, but I don’t see it.

Defensemen
The Red Wings have seven defensemen under contract already after cutting loose Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo but for some reason Tom Gilbert’s name has come up. The Minnesota Wild buyout is a right-handed shot, which the Wings could use, but it’d necessitate Detroit moving one of their current d-men and I don’t see a move available.

Similarly, both Marek Zidlicky and Andrew Ference have been rumored as targets for the Red Wings. Specifically, it’s been stated that bringing in one of them would make Kyle Quincey expendable. I don’t see a market for Quincey so I don’t know how the Wings would dump him. I’d be very confused if Detroit signed a defenseman, I think they’ll look to make a trade if they want to upgrade.

Free Agency Preview 2013

With the 2013 NHL Entry Draft completed, focus around the hockey world turns to the league’s free agents.

We’ve hit Canada Day, the traditional start to NHL free agency, but it will be a quiet day this year as the new CBA has pushed free agency back to July 5 to avoid this week’s holidays in the United States and Canada.

With a couple days before unrestricted free agent signings begin, I figured I’d take a quick look at where the Red Wings sit right now.

Overview
With pending restricted free agent Jakub Kindl having been signed last Friday, Detroit currently has 21 players signed for next season and roughly $8.2 million remaining in space under the salary cap. The 21 players include forward Tomas Tatar, who spent most of last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins but is expected to join the Red Wings full-time next season (and has also requested a jersey switch from #21 to #90, reportedly). Not included are any of Detroit’s seven pending free agents.

External Targets
Now-former Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier is the only external target I’d really like to see the Red Wings bring in, even at the cost of internal options, and I don’t expect him to come cheap. He’s reportedly asking for $5 million per season for five years. The $5 million I think is entirely appropriate (much more so than Valtteri Filppula requesting that amount, which I’ll get to shortly) but the term worries me. I’d hate to see the Wings lose out on him because of term, though. The contract he was just bought out of carried a $7.727 million cap hit and carried through the 2020 season.

Nathan Horton (Boston) and Viktor Stalberg (Chicago) are other names that Detroit is being associated with, as well as Stephen Weiss (Florida). Horton has injury concerns and Stalberg is entirely unproven, I have no interest in them. Weiss has local ties, having played with the Plymouth Whalers, and I like him if the Wings are unable to land Lecavalier or retain Filppula, but he has to come at a good deal. He carried a cap hit of $3.1 million on his last deal with an actual salary of $4.1 million, I’d hate to see the Wings give him more than $4 million annually.

Mike Ribeiro (Washington) and Michael Ryder (Montreal) are also options but will likely want more money and/or term than Detroit is willing to offer.

Unrestricted Free Agents
The aforementioned Filppula is Detroit’s highest-priority unrestricted free agent. There were rumors that his rights might be moved during the draft, ending his tenure with the Red Wings. As that didn’t happen, it would appear that the two sides are still working on a deal to keep Filppula with the team that drafted him. He’s reportedly asking for five years at $5 million or more, which is an obscene amount for a player who’s scored twenty goals once (though he came close with 19 in his last contract year). He’s likely to get it in the open market as there’s a weak free agent pool this summer. I think he’s gone and I’d rather give his money to Lecavalier anyway.

Both the Red Wings and forward Daniel Cleary have said they’d like to work our a deal but I just don’t see a roster spot for him. At 34 he might be convinced to come back at a discount to the team that resurrected his career following the Great Hockey Stoppage of 2004-05 but even if he signs for $1 million annually, I don’t see a spot for him unless the Wings move players out before the start of the season. They may have to do that anyway (more on that below) so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cleary brought back on the (relative) cheap but I expect him to head elsewhere.

Damien Brunner is the big wild card of the UFA bunch. He says he wants to come back and Detroit wants him back but how do you value a player who has half an NHL season under his belt? I wouldn’t mind throwing him a three or four year deal for Filppula’s old cap hit of $3 million but, like Filppula, Brunner has a chance to get paid on the shallow open market. Brunner is the only Detroit UFA I’d be disappointed if they lost out on.

Ian White is Detroit’s last unrestricted free agent and it’s already known that the team won’t offer him a contract, nor should they. He should have been dealt at the trade deadline, as he only played a grand total of two games after that date anyway.

Restricted Free Agents
With Kindl signed, Brendan Smith is Detroit’s lone defensive RFA. He’s not going anywhere, the Red Wings will match offers for any of their RFAs this season. I don’t think Smith should get much more than Kindl’s $2.4 million cap hit but he’ll probably get somewhere between that and the $3.775 that Kyle Quincey makes. Smith hasn’t proven himself so the Wings would be paying for potential if they hit the high end of that range, which always happens with players coming off their entry-level deals.

Gustav Nyquist falls into that scenario. As a projected top-six forward, he’s got a lot of potential to get paid for. He hasn’t shown (because he hasn’t had the opportunity) that he can play on a top line consistently, though, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he got a deal under $2 million, in the Justin Abdelkader range.

Joakim Andersson is in much the same position as Nyquist but seemingly has less offensive upside. On a team loaded with bottom-six forwards, that doesn’t give him as much leverage. $1.3 million?

Buyouts / Trades
Even assuming the Wings retain only their restricted free agents and don’t bring in anyone new – thus losing Filppula, Cleary, Brunner and White with no replacements – the team will still have 24 players on its roster heading into training camp. Someone won’t be coming back.

Mikael Samuelsson is a frequent mention as a possible candidate for a compliance buyout, which would get his $3 million off the books. He’s got a no-trade clause so this is the only way the Wings could be rid of him, but he may not be eligible for a buyout as he spent much of the 2013 season injured and injured players can’t be bought out. If he’s injured all year next year that’s not a problem as he can go back on long-term injury reserve but it’s tough to count on him being hurt the whole time. Samuelsson is probably the fan consensus as the most likely buyout.

Todd Bertuzzi is another buyout candidate with a NTC and a $2.075 cap hit. I have to think the team would prefer to keep him but might buy him out if Samuelsson can’t be dumped.

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is almost assuredly gone, whether by buyout or trade. General manager Ken Holland was reportedly looking to move him during the draft but apparently didn’t find any buyers. The thought on Colaiacovo has been that he’d been a relatively cheap veteran guy for a team to pick up, so there would be trade interest. If no trade is found, he’ll probably be bought out, so we should know what happens to him by July 3 (the last day a player can be placed on waivers with enough time to clear before the July 4 buyout deadline).

Jordin Tootoo is like Colaiacovo in that the team seems open to trading him. They probably won’t buy him out, though, so if a deal comes along that works they’ll take it but if not they’re fine keeping him.

Cory Emmerton could be this year’s Mattias Ritola. The Wings likely won’t try to move him until they know whether or not they have to as the season gets closer. If they can’t move him, they’ll lose him for nothing on waivers in October.

Red Wings Re-Sign Defenseman Kindl

The Detroit Red Wings agreed to terms with defenseman Jakub Kindl on a four-year contract on Friday.

As per club policy financial terms were not announced, however the deal is reportedly worth $9.6 million for an annual salary cap hit of $2.4 million. His previous salary was $1.05 million.

Kindl, coming off a breakthrough season that saw him solidify a role on the Detroit blue line, was set to become a restricted free agent on July 5.

Appearing in 41 of the Red Wings’ 48 games this season, Kindl scored 13 points and was a +15 – good for second on the team behind Pavel Datsyuk. He played in all 14 of the team’s playoff games, adding five more points while going +4.

Kindl was Detroit’s first-round selection in the post-lockout 2005 NHL Entry Draft, where the Red Wings selected 19th overall.

With Kindl signed, the Red Wings have approximately $8.2 million in salary cap space remaining for the 2013-14 season. Restricted free agents Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist are expected to return while unrestricted free agents Valtteri Filppula, Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary are less certain. Unrestricted free agent defenseman Ian White will not be back with the club.

Red Wings go from being the Dead Things to seeing what the East brings

This season has seen it all. Another lockout. The first post-Lidstrom era season. No chemistry to players disappearing after not being able to shut their mouths to the media. About 3 dozen defensemen and nearly as many rookies.

Zetterberg’s era dawning…

Wings fans should be proud.

Yeah those that don the winged wheel are done until fall and some won’t be back, others not yet with the crest upon their chest will come to be.

Griffins will come up, hopefully players like Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist will return.

Mike Babcock will return – sorry Rangers fans I know you think for some bizarre reason that he is going to just jump ship and try to right your sinking one.

Detroit entered their biggest rebuild in the past two decades and came out far better than any expert predicted.

Before break up day hits take a moment to really look at what this team pulled off this year and get some distance from losing to the Chicago Blackhawks not only once but twice in a Game Seven.

Next year is new. New for all. Realignment is coming and though people want to say it is the end of Chicago and Detroit the fans know it isn’t. It’s been going on since the start of the NHL, it won’t be the same, but it won’t go away.

Chicago will now be that annoying “only team in the West that ever gets games on national coverage.”

Little Brother. Your time has come.

As Big Brother has been too old for too long the Wings are now young again – almost Phoenix like (no not the Coyotes that is another issue for another day) but from the ashes the Red Wings have been reborn.

A young team is going to take this team to the East.

A young team is now going to renew rivalries with old friends… old Canadia(/e)n friends. The battles with the Habs and the Leafs are around the bend. The Winter Classic is finally coming.

Detroit leaves Chicago to dominate the west while they forge forward to invade the east.

Get ready. Detroit is ready to bring their game.

Red Wings’ Collapse Allows Blackhawks to Force Game Seven

For the seventh time in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs the Red Wings were outscored in the third period, with a final-frame collapse by Detroit on Monday giving the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 win to force a deciding Game Seven.

Detroit carried a 2-1 lead into the third in Monday’s Game Six with the opportunity to eliminate Chicago. Instead, the Blackhawks scored three times in the first ten minutes of the period.

Michal Handzus tied things up just 51 seconds into the period when he was left alone at the side of the net to take a pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson. He then made a quick move on Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard to make it 2-2.

At 5:48 it was Bryan Bickell who was left all alone, untouched at the top of the crease as he banged in the rebound of a Jonathan Toews chance and put the Blackhawks out in front.

Carlo Colaiacovo‘s slash on Michael Frolik during a breakaway at 9:43 gave Frolik a penalty shot, on which he converted to put Chicago up 4-2.

Damien Brunner scored for the Red Wings in the final minute to pull them back to within a goal but Detroit would be unable to force overtime.

Marian Hossa had crashed the net at 3:53 of the first period to knock the puck past Howard for a power play goal to give Chicago the early lead.

With 1:09 left in the opening frame Patrick Eaves gathered up the rebound of a Drew Miller chance and shoveled it past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford, tying things back up.

Joakim Andersson‘s knuckling shot from the left wing midway through the second gave Detroit a 2-1 lead.

Howard finished the night with 24 saves on 28 shots while Crawford stopped 35 of 38 chances.

The Blackhawks scored on one of five power play tries and added another on Frolik’s penalty shot. Detroit was scoreless on three attempts with the man-advantage.

Game Seven will be on Wednesday.

Red Wings Down Blackhawks in Game Three to Take 2-1 Series Lead

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks for the second consecutive game on Monday night, taking a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference Semifinal matchup on the strength of a 3-1 win.

Pavel Datsyuk scored at 6:46 of the third period to halt a Chicago comeback and seal the victory. After Johan Franzen gained the Chicago zone, he dished the puck off to Datsyuk for a heavy wrister from the right faceoff circle over the shoulder of Blackhawks’ goalie Corey Crawford to make it 3-1.

Patrick Kane had gotten Chicago on the board 2:11 earlier. After Franzen was seemingly boarded in the Blackhawks’ zone, Duncan Keith flipped a long pass out to Kane in the neutral zone, springing him in all alone to beat Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard and cut the Red Wings’ lead to 2-1.

The Blackhawks thought they had tied things up just moments later but their apparent second goal was called back for goaltender interference as Andrew Shaw was perched in Howard’s crease.

After a scoreless first period, Gustav Nyquist opened the game’s scoring at 7:49 of the second. Damien Brunner chipped the puck into the Chicago end and Nyquist chased it down before skating around defenseman Brent Seabrook and outwaiting Crawford, lifting a shot over the sprawling pair.

Just 31 seconds later, Patrick Eaves batted his own rebound in behind Crawford, with Johnny Oduya diving to keep the puck out of the net. Drew Miller was there too, though, and poked the puck off Oduya’s stick and across the goal line to make it 2-0.

Howard finished the night with 39 saves on 40 shots. Crawford stopped 27 of 30 Detroit chances.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. Detroit had five tries with the extra attacker to Chicago’s four.

Game Four will be in Detroit on Thursday night.

Red Wings Even Series with Game Two Win

After a Game One that saw the Red Wings unable to generate any offense while dropping a 4-1 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit turned the tables in Game Two, evening their series while carrying play in a 4-1 victory of their own.

The series will shift to Joe Louis Arena for Game Three on Monday.

Brendan Smith – having taken the blame on several plays throughout the playoffs – ended up with the game-winning goal on Saturday afternoon. With 3:52 remaining in the second period, Smith jumped into the play as Henrik Zetterberg drove to the net, getting wide open in the left faceoff circle to take a pass and snap a shot past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford.

At 7:19 of the third Johan Franzen extended the Detroit lead. From inside his own zone, Jonathan Ericsson hit Franzen with a stretch pass at the Chicago blue line, springing him in all alone to whip a shot past Crawford to make it 3-1.

Valtteri Filppula finished off the scoring with 7:57 left to play. Zetterberg won a faceoff in his own zone and carried the puck down the left wing to cross the Blackhawks’ blue line before dropping it off to Filppula. Filppula cut to the slot and as he was tripped, slipped a shot past Crawford.

Chicago’s Patrick Kane had opened the game’s scoring with 5:55 remaining in the first period. Smith missed a check on Patrick Sharp on the left wing, leaving the Blackhawks on an odd-man rush. In front of his own goal, Kyle Quincey cut off a cross-ice pass from Sharp to Kane but the puck came right up top to Michal Handzus, who pushed it on to Kane alone in the left faceoff circle for a shot past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard.

Damien Brunner evened things up at 2:40 of the second period, deflecting a Jakub Kindl shot from the blue line past Crawford to make it 1-1.

Crawford finished the game with 26 saves on 30 shots against. Howard made 19 saves on 20 shots.

Neither team scored a power play goal. Detroit had four chances with the man-advantage to Chicago’s two.


Detroit’s Drew Miller made his 2013 playoff debut, returning from a broken hand suffered late in the regular season to replace Todd Bertuzzi on the fourth line.

Red Wings Overwhelmed in 4-1 Game One Loss to Blackhawks

The Detroit Red Wings couldn’t hold off a sustained attack by the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night, dropping a 4-1 decision in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinal series between the teams.

After a first period that saw Detroit outshoot Chicago 7-6, the Blackhawks had a 36-14 shot advantage for the remainder of the game.

Former Red Wing Marian Hossa opened the game’s scoring at 9:03 of the first on a Chicago power play. When the Red Wings were unable to clear their own zone, Jonathan Toews sent a pass from the right faceoff circle to Hossa in the slot for a quick shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard to make it 1-0.

Detroit responded just 1:54 later. Streaking down the left wing, Damien Brunner attempted a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that was blocked. He continued after the puck, though, and batted his own rebound past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to tie things up.

Howard held off the Blackhawks’ push in the second period but Johnny Oduya put Chicago back out front at 8:02 of the second. Oduya snuck in from the point to take a feed from Patrick Sharp in the slot and snap a shot past Howard.

With 8:38 remaining in the period, Marcus Kruger put the Blackhawks up by a pair. Off a dump-in the puck ended up on the back of the Detroit net. Howard attempted to hold it there for a faceoff but it was knocked free and came out to Kruger in front for a backhander into a mostly-vacated net.

Sharp added an empty-net goal in the game’s final minute.

Hossa’s goal was the only power play tally of the night. Each team had three tries with the man-advantage.

Howard stopped 38 of the 41 shots he faced. Crawford made 20 saves on 21 shots against.

Game Two will be Saturday afternoon in Chicago.


The Red Wings are now 0-7 all-time in series opening games played in Chicago.

Rookie OT Heorics Lift Red Wings Past Ducks Again

For the second time in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with Anaheim, one of Detroit’s rookies provided the heroics to lift the Red Wings past the Ducks and into a series tie after four games.

Damien Brunner scored with 4:50 remaining in the overtime period on Monday night to give the Red Wings a 3-2 win over the Ducks.

Joakim Andersson fed Gustav Nyquist – who scored Detroit’s overtime winner in Game Two – with a long outlet pass to start the play. Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller hesitated to come out of his crease with Nyquist not in full control of the puck as he crossed the blue line and by the time Hiller poked it away from the Swedish forward, it just deflected off of defenseman Bryan Allen and sat at the edge of the crease. Brunner swept in and banged home the rebound to finish the game.

Matt Beleskey had opened the game’s scoring at 5:07 of the first. Defenseman Brendan Smith lost the puck at the side of the Detroit net and Andrew Cogliano worked it out front to Beleskey. Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard made a pair of stops from right on the doorstep but Beleskey put in his third chance to give the Ducks the 1-0 lead.

Smith would make up for his giveaway in the third period, as his blast from the blue line at 1:18 of the period deflected multiple times on its way past Hiller to tie the game, 1-1.

David Steckel put the Ducks back out in front with 9:20 remaining in regulation. Kyle Palmieri’s chance from the inside of the right faceoff circle was stopped but the puck flipped into the air and landed at the far side of the net. Steckel and Emerson Etem jumped on it, with Steckel poking it into the open side of the net.

An individual effort by Pavel Datsyuk 2:47 later tied things back up. Skating down the left wing, Datsyuk whipped a snap shot past Hiller and into the top of the net to make it 2-2.

No power play goals were scored on the night, with Anaheim getting three tries – including one in overtime – and Detroit getting one.

Howard stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced. Hiller made 46 saves on 49 Detroit chances.

Game Five will be in Anaheim on Wednesday.


With Justin Abdelkader suspended for two games for his hit on Toni Lydman in Game Three, Mikael Samuelsson played on the top line. Todd Bertuzzi took Samuelsson’s spot in the lineup.

Red Wings Collapse in Third Period Again, Drop Game Three 4-0

For the second consecutive game, the Red Wings allowed three third-period goals by the Ducks. On Saturday night, however, there was no overtime hero as Detroit dropped a 4-0 decision to Anaheim.

The Ducks broke a scoreless tie late in the second period on a power play brought on by a controversial Justin Abdelkader hit. With 4:49 remaining in the period, Abdelkader left his feet and hit the head of Anaheim defender Toni Lydman. Replays were inconclusive as to whether he left his feet during the hit or before and whether or not Lydman’s head was the initial point of contact. Further complicating matters, Abdelkader was given a five minute major and ejected for charging, when he had actually stopped skating leading into the hit.

Just 13 seconds into the five-minute power play. Nick Bonino swatted a loose puck at the top of the crease past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard on a goal-mouth scramble to make it 1-0.

Ryan Getzlaf made it 2-0 at 6:33 of the third, capitalizing on a Damien Brunner turnover in the Detroit zone to skate around a poke-check from Howard and put the puck into the empty net for a shorthanded goal.

Teemu Selanne fed Emerson Etem with a backhand pass from behind the net just 1:31 later, with Etem wristing a chance past Howard to put the Ducks up by three.

With 6:26 remaining, Matt Beleskey rounded out the scoring on an Anaheim power play. Beleskey was left uncovered in the low slot to tip a pass from Saku Koivu in behind Howard.

The Ducks finished the night with two power play goals on six tries while the Red Wings could not score in the same number of attempts with the man-advantage.

Howard made 25 saves on 29 shots. Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller stopped all 23 shots he faced to earn the shutout.

Game Four will be on Monday in Detroit, with the Ducks leading the series 2-1.


Brian Lashoff made his first appearance of the playoffs for the Red Wings, swapping in for the injured Danny DeKeyser. Mikael Samuelsson also entered the Detroit lineup, replacing Todd Bertuzzi on the fourth line.

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