Wings Re-Up Bertuzzi and Frk

The Red Wings announced contract extensions for Tyler Bertuzzi and Martin Frk on Monday.

As per annoying club policy, financial terms were not officially announced but leaked almost immediately.  Bertuzzi’s deal is reportedly for two years at a $1.4 million cap hit while Frk’s is for one year at $1.05 million.

Both players will be restricted free agents upon the expiration of their deals.

Frk’s contract is interesting in that the Red Wings did not give him a qualifying offer over the weekend, meaning he was set to become an unrestricted free agent.  The qualifying offer would have been less than what he ended up signing for.  It’s possible that the Red Wings didn’t bother with a paper qualifying offer because they knew they had a deal hammered out already but that’s conjecture on my part.

Bertuzzi’s deal is a healthy raise from the $661,667 salary cap hit he carried last season, bringing him closer to in line with Luke Glendening.


With Bertuzzi re-signed and bound for the Red Wings’ roster next season, I predict that he’ll wear the #17 he wore in juniors now that David Booth is no longer using it.


In addition to not qualifying Frk (before re-signing him anyway), the Red Wings did not give qualifying offers to Dan Renouf or Zach NastasiukMatt Puempel did receive a qualifying offer.

Random Season-Ending Thoughts

I’ve been holding off on writing an end-of-season post because something felt off about the end of the Red Wings’ season and I think I’ve figured it out.

This doesn’t feel like the end of the season.  Not because the Red Wings aren’t advancing to the playoffs, but because the 2017-18 campaign didn’t feel like a season to me at all.

I had no expectations last fall.  I knew that this was going to be another lost year.  While it was good to get to open Little Caesars Arena and there were some important milestones and some young players took big steps forward, there wasn’t a single game this season that really mattered.  It was essentially a six-month slate of exhibitions.

I’m okay with that.  Another year has been burned off of the contracts of Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm and Luke GlendeningNiklas KronwallDanny DeKeyserJonathan Ericsson.

But where the Wings stand today is almost exactly where they were at this time last year.

There’s room for change at forward.  David Booth is likely done.  Evgeny Svechnikov is likely up for the season next year.  Michael Rasmussen will get a chance to make the team.  Andreas Athanasiou could be gone but would likely bring a roster player back in return so that doesn’t open up a spot for anyone.

If you assume that restricted free agents Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Martin Frk all return, that’s eleven forwards under contract for next year.  Athanasiou would make it twelve.  Svechnikov is thirteen.  Rasmussen is fourteen.

On the blueline it’s worse.  Mike Green is the only pending free agent defenseman on the team and there has already been talk about bringing him back.  That would give the Wings seven defensemen, though one has to think they’ll find a way to move spare part Xavier Ouellet.  Where’s the roster spot for Joe Hicketts or Filip Hronek or Vili Saarijarvi?

In goal, Jimmy Howard is the man.  They’ll need to find a backup with Petr Mrazek gone and Jared Coreau seemingly out as well, but aside from no longer paying $9 million for their goaltending tandem, that doesn’t impact space for kids to come up.

So in April 2018 we’re in the same spot we were in April 2017, and probably in a spot similar to where we’ll be in April 2019.

Until some of these dead weight contracts are up, all of these games are an extended preseason.


Ken Holland said something that really annoyed me during the Red Wings’ locker room cleanout, speaking about the infeasibility of icing a roster of “20 kids” – which absolutely no one has suggested.

Holland’s strawman arguments and false equivalencies annoy the hell out of me.  It comes across as condescending and insulting.

Another of his favorites is that it takes ten years to do a full rebuild, which the organization refuses to do.  But I want to take a look at that one.

The Red Wings squeaked into the playoffs with a win on the last day of the 2013 season.  They then went on a short run that pushed the eventual champions to overtime of Game Seven in the second round.  The playoff run makes the season seem better than it was but, given that this was an improvement over their first-round loss to the Nashville Predators the previous season, I’m willing to call 2013 a success.

In 2014, Detroit backed into the playoffs with a point earned in a shootout loss in the antepenultimate game of the season, then got bounced by the Boston Bruins in five games.

It was a similar story in 2015, making the postseason on the strength of an overtime loss in Montreal with two games remaining, then getting bounced by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.

In 2016 the Wings were only in the playoffs because, after Detroit dropped a 3-2 decision to the New York Rangers in the last game of the season, the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins to push the Bruins behind the Red Wings.  It was another short postseason and another elimination by the Lightning.

So we’ll call 2013 acceptable but I’m not willing to say the same for anything since.  Yes, they made the playoffs.  I’m not saying it’s Cup-or-nothing.  I’m just not willing to settle for backing into the postseason and then doing nothing once you’re there.

That means we’re five years in to the downturn.  Next year will be six.  I could very easily see it taking a few more years to get back on the upswing.  All the sudden we’re looking at the ten year rebuild that Holland refused to do.

On the Red Wings’ Blueline Depth and Future Callups

Last week I wrote about how the Red Wings’ then-upcoming road trip through Western Canada, specifically Sunday afternoon’s tilt with the Edmonton Oilers and last night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, might give them an opportunity to get a prospect such as Joe Hicketts into the lineup.

My thinking was that with Danny DeKeyser eligible for long-term injured reserve, a roster spot and cap space would be available.  Combined with road games on consecutive nights, the team might have wanted to rest someone (I was thinking Niklas Kronwall), giving a chance for Hicketts to step into the lineup.

We know now that that didn’t happen.  While the Wings won both of those games, it still concerns me a little.

What this trip seems to have shown us is that Luke Witkowski is the team’s eighth defenseman.  He’s also the 13th forward but I’m not worried about getting him in the lineup, I’m looking at how he blocks others.

It appears to me that the Red Wings are not going to call up a defenseman when Witkowski is available.  That means that to get someone like Hicketts into the lineup, three injuries need to happen, either three defensemen or two defensemen and a forward.

Right now Detroit has only one blueliner hurt.  If another was, or needed to be rested, Witkowski would step in.  If a third defenseman got hurt, it would open up a spot.  If a forward got hurt, Witkowski would shift there and his blueline spot would open up.

That final scenario could be further complicated, though, as David Booth could take over for an injured forward while Witkowski continued to skate on defense.  This means it might take the right combination of four injuries for one of Grand Rapids’ defensemen to get called up.

Obviously I could be reading too much into one road trip.  Maybe Hicketts didn’t get a look because the Griffins were playing on Sunday and the team figured he should stay there.  I don’t know.  But it seems to me like it’s going to take a lot for one of the Red Wings’ prospects to get a chance in Detroit this season.

Red Wings Sign David Booth

After yesterday’s roster moves, it seemed pretty inevitable that the Red Wings would sign David Booth when they met with him today.  It didn’t take very long for that to happen.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m not thrilled about this move.  I like it better than signing P-A Parenteau, who did not look good over the preseason.  But it feels like a year-long commitment to a stopgap.

That said, it is at least a two-way deal, so Booth could end up in Grand Rapids if it doesn’t work out.  That said, we said that about Steve Ott last year with his deal being buryable and that never happened.

Michael Rasmussen and The Plan

“That was always the plan.”

Among other moves today, the Red Wings assigned Michael Rasmussen – their first rounder from last summer’s draft, ninth overall – back to the Tri-Cities Americans of the Western Hockey League.

Rasmussen led the Red Wings in goals scored over the preseason, with four goals in five games.  One might think that’d earn him an extended look, especially considering that he could play up to nine games in the NHL without burning the first year of his entry-level contract.  As I was reminded many times via Twitter and has been included in most of the articles about his demotion, though, it was always the plan to send him back to junior.

It might be the right move.  With the salary cap crunch the Red Wings are facing, buying an extra year before Rasmussen hits free agency definitely makes sense.  With the roster the team is looking at, though, there’s certainly a case that can be made for keeping him up (at least for those free nine games).

Rasmussen is better served by playing top-line minutes, we hear, than toiling on the fourth line in Detroit.  Absolutely true.  But that’s a false equivalency.

Martin Frk, who has made the opening night lineup after being waived out of town (and later brought back) to start the season last year, is currently slotted on the nominal top line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.  I suggest that he could have gone on a line with Frans Nielsen and Justin Abdelkader instead, bumping Darren Helm onto Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening‘s line, and pushing Luke Witkowski into the 13th forward’s spot.  Then Rasmussen would join Larkin and Mantha, getting those top-line minutes.

This has trickle-down impact as by the time Rasmussen’s nine games are up – or it has been determined that he’s unable to play that role, if that’s what comes of it – Tyler Bertuzzi or Evgeny Svechnikov may be ready to step up.  This would make signing David Booth, which seems inevitable right now, unnecessary.

Whether or not it’s the right move, the fact that this was always the plan smacks of “Red Wings Way” to me.

No one expected Rasmussen to come in and score four goals.  That’s fine.  But how many goals would he have had to score to change the plan?  Is it even possible to change the plan?  Because there’s another plan that looks like it could be good here, but we won’t see it because it was never the plan.

TGTW Week Four: Wings Almost Sweep Western Canadian Trip

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 opened up their first four-game Western Canadian road trip with a win in Winnipeg last week and continued their streak into Vancouver and Calgary before dropping the final game of the swing in Edmonton.

Former Canuck Mikael Samuelsson was the hero in his return to Vancouver on Tuesday, scoring a hat trick that included the game-winning goal in the game’s final minute.  Vancouver’s Mason Raymond had opened the game’s scoring at 8:33 of the first before Samuelsson responded at 11:40.  Niklas Kronwall made it 2-1 for the Wings at 9:15 of the second.  Keith Ballard tied things back up 39 seconds into the third, then Samuelsson put the Wings ahead again at 4:47.  David Booth knotted it at three at 9:50.  Samuelsson potted the game-winner on a power play with 46 seconds left in regulation.

Jimmy Howard made 20 saves on 23 shots to get the win while Canucks’ starter Cory Schneider made 25 saves on 29 shots.

Samuelsson notched another game-winner on Thursday in Calgary, when his second-period goal put the Wings ahead in an eventual 4-2 win.  Roman Horak opened the game’s scoring for the Flames at 2:50 of the first period and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk responded just 53 seconds later.  Henrik Zetterberg put the Wings out front 1:09 later before Mike Cammalleri tied it back up at 5:19.  Samuelsson scored at 4:04 of the second to put Detroit back out in front and Danny Cleary added an insurance marker on the power play at 3:27 of the third.

Again, Howard faced 23 shots, stopping 21.  Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff made 30 saves on 34 shots.

On Saturday in Edmonton, the Oilers got out to a strong start and the Red Wings couldn’t recover.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the game’s scoring at 7:00 of the first and Ryan Whitney added another goal at 10:07.  Ben Eager made it 3-0 in Edmonton’s favor just 53 seconds into the second period, with Samuelsson finally getting Detroit on the board with 1:25 left in the middle frame.  Zetterberg pulled the Wings to within a goal with 9:04 left in the third but they’d be unable to pull even.  Howard stopped 27 of 30 shots on the night and Edmonton’s Devan Dubnyk made 24 saves on 26 chances.

After four weeks, the Red Wings sit atop the Central Division and team-leading scorer Valtteri Filppula (seventeen points) is atop the league in assists with twelve.  Howard has a 1.92 goals against average and a .914 save percentage, having made every start (though he was pulled in favor of Jonas Gustavsson at the end of the first game of the season).

The fifth week of the schedule will see rematches with the Oilers and Flames and a visit from the Minnesota Wild.

Canucks End Red Wings’ Streak in Shootout

Newest Red Wing Kyle Quincey scored in his first game back with Detroit and the Wings’ third line contributed to three goals but it didn’t stop the Vancouver Canucks from ending their NHL-record home winning streak at 23 games, defeating the Red Wings 4-3 in a shootout.

Alexandre Burrows scored the only goal of the tiebreaker on Vancouver’s third shot, beating Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard high.

Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo stopped Jiri Hudler, Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi while Howard made saves on David Booth and Alexander Edler.

The Red Wings appeared to be headed to their 24th consecutive home win until the Canucks tied things up with 16 seconds remaining in regulation.

Off an icing call, Vancouver won the draw in the Detroit zone and kept control of the puck, getting a couple chances before Daniel Sedin blasted a shot from the high slot through a screen and past Howard.

Darren Helm had opened the game’s scoring with 8:44 left in the first period. On a two on one with Justin Abdelkader, Helm looked like he was going to pass all the way down the ice before finally flipping a weak shot past Luongo to give the Red Wings their first lead.

Daniel Sedin made it 1-1 with 6:26 left in the second period. Edler’s shot from above the right faceoff circle was slowed down by Henrik Sedin before Daniel picked it up at the edge of the crease and shoveled it in around Howard.

Quincey restored the Detroit lead at 6:08 of the third, swatting a shot from the slot past Luongo off a feed from Abdelkader.

With 6:34 remaining, Cody Hodgson‘s attempted pass from the left circle went off Detroit defender Niklas Kronwall‘s skate and past Howard to tie things back up.

Just twenty seconds later, Abdelkader made it 3-2. Helm drove to the net and put a shot off the post, with the puck sliding up to Luongo’s pad. Abdelkader jumped in and knocked the loose puck into the net.

Luongo finished the night with 33 saves on 36 Detroit chances while Howard stopped 40 of the 43 shots he faced.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night, with the Wings having five tries with the extra attacker to Vancouver’s four.

The Red Wings are next in action on Saturday night when they host Quincey’s former team, the Colorado Avalanche.


With the Red Wings now carrying eight defensemen on their roster, Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore were both healthy scratches… Pavel Datsyuk missed his second game since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday… Quincey wore #27, after having worn #45 and #4 in his first stint with the Red Wings.