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.

TGTW: Wings Fall From Central Lead in Week Twelve

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

The Detroit Red Wings went 1-2 on a Christmas week road trip, dropping them out of first place in the Central Division heading into the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.

Opening their trip in Raleigh on Wednesday, the Red Wings rallied late for a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. After a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes got on the board with a Drayson Bowman goal at 6:30 of the second and made it 2-0 with 1:29 left in the period on a Jamie McBain tally. Pavel Datsyuk cut the lead in half at 3:10 of the third but Eric Staal made it 3-1 at 4:41. Johan Franzen put the Wings back within a goal while shorthanded at 7:27 and Todd Bertuzzi tied things up with 8:21 left in the period. Jonathan Ericsson‘s sixth goal of the year with 2:23 remaining gave Detroit their first lead of the game and they held on for the win. Jimmy Howard made 24 saves on 27 shots in earning the win while Cam Ward stopped 30 of 34 shots for Carolina.

The next night in Pittsburgh would feature no such comeback for the Wings, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Penguins. Chris Kunitz opened the game’s scoring at 4:40 of the first and Tanner Glass made it 2-0 midway through the opening period. Sidney Crosby‘s shorthanded goal at 3:16 of the second extended the lead to three and Kunitz added another with 6:19 left in the middle period. Carlo Colaiacovo finally got the Red Wings on the board with a power play goal with 3:03 remaining but Evgeni Malkin scored with 1:13 left to chase Howard from the Detroit crease. Jonas Gustavsson would face only six shots in the third, stopping them all for a 5-1 final. Howard finished the night with 12 saves on 17 shots in 38:47 of play while Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves on 25 shots.

The Red Wings’ scoring troubles continued on Saturday in Ottawa, where they couldn’t score a goal in a 1-0 loss to the Senators. Daniel Alfredsson scored the game’s only goal at 5:13 of the first period and 28 saves by Robin Lehner made it stand up as the game-winner. Howard rebounded from his awful night in Pittsburgh with a 31-save performance.

With only two of a possible six points earned on the week, the Red Wings fell to third in the Central Division, four points back of both the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators but with two games in hand on the Preds. The Blues are the hottest team in the league heading into the New Year, riding an eight-game winning streak.

The next week will see the Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium, then host the Nashville Predators in the last game before a five-game road trip.

Datsyuk, Howard Selected by Team Chara for All-Star Game

Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk and goalie Jimmy Howard were selected by All-Star team captain Zdeno Chara at the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft on Thursday.

Datsyuk was the first overall selection of the draft. Howard was the last goalie selected, going in the tenth round (the round by which all goalies were required to be selected).

Team captains were Boston’s Chara, with Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul as an assistant, and Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson, assisted by Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.

The full draft list is as follows:

Round 1
Team Chara: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit
Team Alfredsson: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa

Round 2
Team Chara: Tim Thomas, Boston
Team Alfredsson: Jason Spezza, Ottawa

Round 3
Team Chara: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
Team Alfredsson: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles

Round 4
Team Chara: Marian Hossa, Chicago
Team Alfredsson: Claude Giroux, Philadelphia

Round 5
Team Chara: Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia
Team Alfredsson: Kris Letang, Pittsburgh

Round 6
Team Chara: Corey Perry, Anaheim
Team Alfredsson: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay

Round 7
Team Chara:Carey Price, Montreal
Team Alfredsson: Brian Elliott, St. Louis

Round 8
Team Chara: Phil Kessel, Toronto
Team Alfredsson: Shea Weber, Nashville

Round 9
Team Chara: Ryan Suter, Nashville
Team Alfredsson: Daniel Sedin, Vancouver

Round 10
Team Chara: Jimmy Howard, Detroit
Team Alfredsson: Dan Girardi, NY Rangers

Round 11
Team Chara: Brian Campbell, Florida
Team Alfredsson: Keith Yandle, Phoenix

Round 12
Team Chara: Patrick Kane, Chicago
Team Alfredsson: Milan Michalek, Ottawa

Round 13
Team Chara: Dion Phaneuf, Toronto
Team Alfredsson: Henrik Sedin, Vancouver

Round 14
Team Chara: Jarome Iginla, Calgary
Team Alfredsson: James Neal, Pittsburgh

Round 15
Team Chara: Dennis Wideman, Washington
Team Alfredsson: Alexander Edler, Vancouver

Round 16
Team Chara: Marian Gaborik, NY Rangers
Team Alfredsson: John Tavares, NY Islanders

Round 17
Team Chara: Jordan Eberle, Edmonton
Team Alfredsson: Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia

Round 18
Team Chara: Tyler Seguin, Boston
Team Alfredsson: Jason Pominville, Buffalo

Round 19
Team Chara: Jamie Benn, Dallas
Team Alfredsson: Logan Couture, San Jose

Franzen’s Five Goals Carry Red Wings over Senators

Johan Franzen scored five goals Wednesday night, equaling the output of the Ottawa Senators as the Detroit Red Wings earned a 7-5 win.

The five goals were the most by a Red Wing since Sergei Fedorov scored all of the Detroit goals in a 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals on December 26, 1996.

Ottawa’s Alexei Kovalev opened the game’s scoring just 1:15 in, when he lifted a shot over scrambling Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard for a power play goal.

Franzen scored his first at 6:52 of the opening period, banging the puck past Ottawa netminder Robin Lehner from the side of the crease.

Just 48 seconds later, Franzen made it 2-1 when he beat Lehner from the high slot off a feed from Henrik Zetterberg.

The Senators replied one minute later, with Peter Regin deflecting a shot from Kovalev past Howard to tie the game back up.

With 8:48 left in the period, Daniel Alfredsson found a wide open Chris Campoli in the left faceoff circle to snap a shot past Howard, putting Ottawa up 3-2.

Kris Draper put a rebound chance past Lehner with 9:24 left in the second period and Niklas Kronwall blasted a shot into the back of the net 13 seconds later to make it 4-3 Detroit and chase Lehner from the net.

Milan Michalek tied the game back up 29 seconds after Kronwall’s goal, beating Howard on his own rebound chance to make it 4-4.

Franzen’s third of the night came just 30 seconds into the third period. He snapped a shot from the left faceoff dot past Brian Elliot on a rush and a Detroit power play.

Michalek’s second goal of the game tied it back up 29 seconds later. He tipped a Kovalev shot past Howard to make it 5-5.

Franzen scored on a two-man advantage at 7:10 of the third to put the Red Wings back out in front. Brian Rafalski‘s shot went wide of Elliot but the puck bounced off the back boards and came out the other side, where Franzen lifted it into the net.

The Senators appeared to tie the game with about eight minutes left when Chris Neil poked the puck out from under Howard and into the net but the play was blown down.

With 34 seconds left, Franzen completed the scoring, adding an empty net goal.

The Red Wings finished the night with two goals on three power play chances. The Senators scored once on two power play tries.

Howard made 29 saves on 34 Ottawa shots. Lehner stopped 15 of 19 shots faced while Elliot took the loss, stopping 16 of 18 Detroit chances.

The Red Wings are back in action on Friday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.


Danny Cleary returned to the Detroit lineup after missing 14 games with a broken ankle… Pavel Datsyuk is expected to return from his broken hand on Friday or Saturday. Tomas Holmstrom could also return from injury this weekend.

Red Wings Fall Short Against Senators

In a matchup that could be a preview of this spring’s Stanley Cup Finals, the Detroit Red Wings’ third-period comeback wasn’t enough as the Western Conference’s leaders fell to the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators, 3-2.

The Red Wings scored twice in the third period to tie the game but a late Ottawa power play goal gave the Senators the win.

Ottawa got on the board just 1:09 into the game on a power play when Daniel Alfredsson scored on a blast from the blue line.

Mike Fisher put the Senators up by a pair at 3:26 of the second. A Chris Chelios turnover put the puck on the stick of Luke Richardson, who sprung Fisher into the Detroit zone on a 3-on-2. Fisher raced in on goal and put a shot on Red Wings’ netminder Dominik Hasek, then poked the rebound past him.

Detroit began the comeback with a power play goal by Brian Rafalski at 7:46 of the third. Pavel Datsyuk got the puck after coming across the ice to help a two-on-two battle for the puck on the right wing boards. He tapped it along to Rafalski, who jumped in from the blue line for a blast over the glove of Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery.

With 7:54 left in the period, Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot from the blue line wide of the net and off the back boards. The puck came out high into the left circle and Hudler stepped up to rifle a shot to the top corner of the net.

Alfredsson’s second of the night negated the Detroit comeback. With 2:56 left in the game, Alfredsson’s acute-angle shot from the bottom of the right circle slipped through a Jason Spezza screen and past Hasek for a power play goal.

Hasek finished the night with 29 saves on 32 shots against. Emery made 27 saves on 29 Detroit shots.


Ottawa’s Dany Heatley left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.

Americans, Canadians Drop Second-straight

The United States and Canada each dropped their second game in a row on Sunday, as the Americans suffered a 2-1 loss to Sweden and Canada fell to Finland, 2-0. It was the second time in as many days that the Canadians were held without a goal.

Antero Nittymaki (Philadelphia Flyers) made 24 saves to lead the Finns to the win while goals came from Teemu Selanne (Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) and Niko Kapanen (Dallas Stars).

With 8:46 remaining in the first period, Saku Koivu (Montreal Canadiens) beat Canadian defenseman Chris Pronger (Edmonton Oilers) in a battle for possession behind the goal. He sent a pass out to Selanne for an open shot at the goal.

Kapanen scored just minutes later when a shot by Kimmo Timonen (Nashville Predators) was tipped by Ville Niemenin (New York Rangers) off the back boards. The puck came to Kapanen for a tip in past Team Canada goalie Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers).

Even without superstar Peter Forsberg (Flyers), Sweden was able to hold off a late comeback by the United States.

Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders) made 24 saves but two goals allowed were enough to hand the Americans their second loss.

Sweden’s Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators) opened the game’s scoring at 7:50 of the first period, flipping a shot over the sprawling DiPietro.

Mike Modano (Stars) scored late in the period on a delayed penalty to tie the game but that was all the scoring the Americans would get.

At 4:22 of the third, Mikael Samuelsson (Detroit Red Wings) kicked the rebound of a shot by Alfredsson from his skate to his stick and banged it into the net for the eventual game-winner.

Canada is now 2-2-0 in the tournament and will advance to the quarterfinal round. The United States is 1-2-1 and can advance with a tie or win against Russia, a Latvian loss, or even a Latvian win in some cases.

Four Red Wings Named to Swedish Olympic Team

The Swedish Olympic men’s ice hockey team will feature four current Detroit Red Wings when they take to the ice in February. Defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall as well as forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg were named to their native country’s roster.

Additionally, Red Wings prospect Stefan Liv was announced as the team’s third goaltender.

Lidstrom has twice before represented Sweden in the Olympics. Zetterberg was a member of the team in 2002, before his first season in the NHL with Detroit. Samuelsson and Liv will be making their first Olympic appearances.

Team Sweden’s complete roster is as follows:

Goaltenders (3)
Stefan Liv
Henrik Lundqvist
Mikael Tellqvist

Defensemen (7)
Christian Backman
Kim Johnsson
Kenny Jonsson
Nicklas Lidstrom
Niklas Kronwall
Mattias Norstrom
Mattias Ohlund

Forwards (13)
Daniel Alfredsson
Per-Johan Axelsson
Peter Forsberg
Mika Hannula
Jorgen Jonsson
Fredrik Modin
Markus Naslund
Samuel Pahlsson
Mikael Samuelsson
Daniel Sedin
Henrik Sedin
Mats Sundin
Henrik Zetterberg

Marathon Meetings Yield Some Progress

National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association representatives met for fourteen hours on Thursday and another eight hours on Friday, coming away from the meetings cautiously optimistic about the chances of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement.

“We had two long days of meetings in which the parties discussed and made progress on some of the key issues pertaining to a new economic system,” said NHL executive vice president Bill Daly in a release. “While we have not yet been able to reach agreement on those issues, we remain committed to continuing the process in earnest until a new collective bargaining agreement can be achieved.”

While both sides acknowledged the progress, NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin confirmed that there are many issues left to resolve.

“While we made progress in some areas there remain many issues to be addressed. Since so many of the systemic and economic issues are interrelated, it is clear that much work remains to be done.”

The two sides spent Thursday and Friday attempting to determine what constitutes a team’s revenue. The Players’ Association has long argued that it does not believe the league’s numbers in relation to team-by-team income and expenditures.

The league was represented by commissioner Gary Bettman, Daly, director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, NHL general counsel David Zimmerman, board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold, outside counsel Bob Batterman and lawyer Shep Goldfein.

Representing the NHLPA were executive director Bob Goodenow, Saskin, associate counsel Ian Pulver, director of business relations Mike Gartner, outside counsel McCambridge, Detroit Red Wings veteran Brendan Shanahan, and the executive committee, consisting of president Trevor Linden and vice-presidents Vincent Damphousse, Bill Guerin, Daniel Alfredsson, Arturs Irbe, Trent Klatt and Bob Boughner.

The sides hope to meet every week until a new CBA is negotiated.

Wings Representatives Ineffective at All-Star Game

The representatives of the Detroit Red Wings at Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game in St. Paul didn’t fare so well, combining for a single point and a plus/minus rating of zero.

Nicklas Lidstrom‘s assist on a goal by Phoenix’s Shane Doan midway through the second period was the only point tallied by a Red Wing in the game as Pavel Datsyuk was held scoreless.

Datsyuk’s line with Columbus’ Rick Nash and Calgary’s Jarome Iginla was held off the scoresheet and Datsyuk did not have a single shot while going 2-for-7 one faceoffs.

Lidstrom played the game alongside Colorado’s Rob Blake. His assist on Doan’s goal helped put the Western Conference team up by a goal but the Eastern Conference struck back before getting the win.

Despite a hat trick for the Western Conference by Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche, the Eastern Conference was able to pull out a 6-4 victory.

The Eastern Conference got goals by Adrian Aucoin (NY Islanders), Mark Messier (NY Rangers), Gary Roberts (Toronto), Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta) and two goals by Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa).

Doan and Sakic were the only Western Conference scorers.

Detroit Power Play On A Roll

It’s been a hockey fact for the past several years: if you give the Red Wings a power play chance, you are very likely going to go down by a goal. The Ottawa Senators tested this theory on Saturday night, and it proved true once again. Detroit had a 37.5% power play success rate, leading to a 3-2 overtime win over the Senators.

Both teams had a strong first period. Ottawa had the edge in shots on goal, with nine to Detroit’s five, but few of those nine were high quality scoring chances, and Dominik Hasek was able to control most of them without any problems. Hasek had a lot of help from Derian Hatcher and Jiri Fischer. The two big defensemen did a very good job of pushing away any Ottawa players who got too close to the goal crease.

The Senators took a bench minor penalty for having too many men on the ice late in the first period, and the Red Wings were able to set up the first goal of the game. Nicklas Lidstrom passed the puck from the left side to Mathieu Schneider at the point. Schneider’s shot bounced off goaltender Patrick Lalime. Tomas Holmstrom, tenaciously standing his ground in front of the net, was able to get the rebound and stuff it past Lalime.

The Red Wings played more offensively in the second period, slipping through the Senator’s trapping style of play and generating more shots on net. The power play got another chance to shine when Marian Hossa was sent to the penalty box for holding the stick 4:51 into the period. Brendan Shanahan took a hard shot from the right faceoff circle. Holmstrom was screening Lalime once again, and the puck bounced off Holmstrom and fell into the goal crease. Steve Yzerman sped towards the net and slammed the puck in for the goal.

The Senators answered just over a minute later. Schneider attempted to clear the puck away from behind Hasek’s net. Instead of sending it up one of the sides of the ice, he sent it up the middle. Jason Spezza was right there in the slot to intercept the pass, and he lifted it over Hasek and into the net.

Ottawa was able to tie the game midway through the third period when they got a five-on-three power play chance. Fischer had been sent to the box for tripping. That penalty was down to 23 seconds remaining when Ray Whitney was sent out for tripping Daniel Alfredsson. The Wings attempted to argue that Alfredsson had simply fallen over Hasek’s skate in the crease, but the referee was unmoved and the Senators took advantage of their golden opportunity. Radek Bonk took a pass from Hossa and placed it past Hasek.

Both teams tried to win the game before the end of the third period, but defense prevailed and the game went into overtime. Zdeno Chara took a foolish penalty 55 seconds into the extra period. He knocked down Kris Draper far behind the play, and the referee was right behind them. The Senators did a good job clearing the puck out of their zone for most of the two-minute minor, until only three seconds remained. The Red Wings had finally managed to get set up in Ottawa’s zone. Henrik Zetterberg sent the puck across to Brett Hull, who dropped it back to Lidstrom. Lidstrom moved to his right down the blue line and let fire a laser of a shot which went right past Lalime and into the net.

The shot totals favored Ottawa, 23-18. The Red Wings’ next opponent will be the hard-hitting Vancouver Canucks, Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.


Yzerman has already tied his goal total of last season. He had two goals in the 16 regular-season games he played after his recovery from knee surgery. Okay, it doesn’t mean much to say so after only two games, but the Captain is the team’s current goal-scoring leader. It’s all about leading by example.