On the Red Wings’ Next Alternate Captain

With Pavel Datsyuk having departed, the Red Wings are left with an open spot among their contingent of captains.  I brought this up on Twitter a month ago and WiiM did a post on it a couple weeks ago.  I went back through the team’s recent history to see if anything can be gleaned from it to show us who might be picked.

The 2015-16 season was unique for the Red Wings in that captain Henrik Zetterberg and alternates Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall were the only players to wear letters for the team all year.  That doesn’t mean there wasn’t opportunity – both Datsyuk and Kronwall missed significant time due to injury – it means that there were 34 games where Detroit didn’t even bother sewing an “A” on anyone else’s sweater.

Captains are the only players who can speak to on-ice officials but the Red Wings’ going with fewer than the allowed number of captains shows how unimportant that rule.  Of note: Teams may have no more than three lettered players on the roster but there is nothing saying that they have to have that number.

We have to go back to the 2015 season to find replacement captains used by the Red Wings.  Despite ten games with only two captains dressed, seven players still managed to wear a letter throughout the year.  The injured Johan Franzen wore it for ten games, Jonathan Ericsson and Daniel Cleary each wore it for three, and Darren Helm wore it for one.

If he were healthy, I think Franzen would get the A, but he’ll never play again.  Cleary may very well return to the organization and get a letter in Grand Rapids, but I think he can be ruled out in Detroit.  That leaves Ericsson and the recently-re-signed Helm.

Going back one more season to 2014 adds no new names to the list, as the now-retired Daniel Alfredsson was the most-frequent extra alternate, wearing an A for 36 games to Franzen’s 31 and Cleary’s 8.  Five games were spent with only two captains.

The lockout-shortened 2013 – Zetterberg’s first as captain – featured three games with only two captains but no replacement alternates.  It was also the first season since the 2007-08 campaign, when Datsyuk was given an A along with Zetterberg and Kris Draper, that the team had only three captains.

Even with four captains on the books in 2012, Tomas Holmstrom wore the A for eight games.  The team dressed three captains for every game.

Going back further, we see the names of long-departed defensemen Brian Rafalski and Chris Chelios…  Clearly players who won’t be options now.

In the last seven years there have been ten players to wear the C or A with the Red Wings.  Two of them – Zetterberg and Kronwall – still do.  Only two of the remaining eight are still with the team: Ericsson and Helm.

At three games to one, Ericsson has more experience wearing the letter than Helm.  Maybe that gives him an edge.

So can anything be pulled from these numbers?  I think the only thing they show is that it’s time for someone new.  The old standbys are gone.

While newcomers Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, and Steve Ott have all worn letters elsewhere in their career – Nielsen had an A with the Islanders last season while Vanek and Ott co-captained the Sabres back in the 2013-14 season – the Red Wings haven’t given the alternate captaincy directly to a newcomer since trading for Brendan Shanahan in 1996.

By my count, the Wings haven’t had two defenseman with letters since before the Steve Yzerman era, which would seemingly rule out Ericsson or any of the other blueliners, so long as Kronwall wears the A.

Jeff Blashill is not Jacques Demers.  I don’t think Dylan Larkin gets the available letter by virtue of being the team’s best player.

I think – almost from lack of better options – that we’ll see Justin Abdelkader get the A.

Of course, that could change if the mythical “trade for a top defenseman” ever emerges.  We’ll see.

2016 Free Agency Day One Recap / Notes

Oh man, midway through the afternoon today, I was thinking that when I got around to writing this post, I’d start at the beginning.  Given how the day ended, though, how do you not skip straight to Steve Ott?

After a series of signings that were, if not smart, at least acceptable, the Red Wings went out and chased the mythical fourth-line grit that will supposedly put their team over the top and signed Steve Ott away from the St. Louis Blues.

I hate chasing veteran grit when Tyler Bertuzzi is waiting in the wings and I don’t like Ott as a player.  I’ll let Winging it in Motown’s J.J. from Kansas say it.

Ott’s value is entirely contained within intangibles in which I don’t necessarily believe.

The good news is that he signed for $800,000 on a one-year deal, which can be buried in Grand Rapids if needed.


The day had started with the Wings bringing back Darren Helm.  Five years is too long but $3.85 million is a hometown discount.  Especially with the other signings, I don’t think Helm needed to come back.  I don’t love this deal.


Restricted free agent Alexey Marchenko signed a bridge deal for two years at $1.45 million per year.  It a great deal.  A significant raise from the $666,666 AAV he had in his previous contract but not the ridiculous money previous RFA defensemen have gotten in Detroit.


Frans Neilsen‘s signing was the Plan B the Wings had to resort to when Steven Stamkos opted not to test free agency.  Six years for a 32-year-old is pretty brutal.  $5.25 million is probably high, too, but not as bad.  I’d rather have had three years at $6 million each than this deal.  But, as I said last night, someone was going to give him that term.


I like the signing of Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $2.6 million deal.  The Wings have the cap space, so worst-case scenario they pay him too much this year and then just walk away from him.  It’s an overpayment if he only does what he did last year but this Wings team could use what he did last year, let alone any improvement.


At 11:59 AM, I wasn’t happy.  By 4:15 PM, I was pretty content with what the Wings had done.  By 4:45 PM I was outright pissed off.

There’s still a lot to fall out here.  I think the Vanek signing means that one of Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar is gone in trade for a defenseman.  This team has far too many forwards and not enough blueliners, so we know the lineup as it is now just can’t be the opening night lineup.  I’m willing to hold off on judging too much until we see how it all falls out.

Except for the Ott signing.  That’s a joke.


Lost in all the signings for the big club were three two-way deals for guys headed to the Griffins.  Forwards Matt Lorito and Ben Street and goalie Edward Pasquale.

There’s a lot of change coming to Grand Rapids this year.  Andy Miele signed in Philadelphia and captain Jeff Hoggan won’t return.  Some guys with AHL experience will help fill the holes.

Red Wings Sign Nielsen

The Detroit Red Wings have announced the signing of center Frans Nielsen to a six-year contract.

Per Aaron Ward, who has been on top of all things Detroit this morning, the deal carries a $5.25 million salary cap it.

I don’t love the term.  The money is about what I expected.  Now it’s time for Holland to not do anything else.

Nielsen, 32, has spent his entire career with the New York Islanders.  In 606 career games he has 119 goals and 230 assists.

Red Wings Rebound with 4-1 Win over Islanders

Two days after an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning ended their six-game winning streak, the Detroit Red Wings bounced back with a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders.

The win kept the Red Wings in a tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Montreal Canadiens, one point back of the division-leading Lightning.

Tomas Tatar opened the game’s scoring for Detroit. At 5:29 of the first period, Tatar snapped a shot from near the right faceoff dot through traffic and into the far top corner, beating goalie Chad Johnson just 12 seconds into a power play.

Brendan Smith made it 2-0 with 47 seconds left in the period, wiring a one-timer into the same corner of the net from five feet further out.

The Islanders cut Detroit’s lead in half at 5:24 of the second. On a power play, Lubomir Visnovsky was left all alone in the high slot to take a feed from Frans Nielsen and tee up a shot past netminder Petr Mrazek.

Jonathan Ericsson restored the two-goal lead at 9:21 just as a Detroit power play expired. Ericsson’s shot from the left point deflected off Thomas Hickey, then bounced off the post and in for a 3-1 lead.

With 6:52 left in the middle frame, Gustav Nyquist knocked the rebound of a Henrik Zetterberg one-timer past Johnson to round out the game’s scoring with a power play goal.

Johnson finished the night with 15 saves on 19 shots while Mrazek stopped 22 of 23 attempts.

Detroit scored on two of their four power plays. The Islanders went one-for-four with the man-advantage.

The Red Wings are now off until Thursday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.


Prior to the game, defenseman Brian Lashoff cleared waivers and was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Additionally, goalie Jonas Gustavsson was sent to the Griffins on a conditioning stint… Defenseman Alexey Marchenko made his season debut, replacing Xavier Ouellet in the lineup. Ouellet was returned to the Griffins on Friday… Daniel Cleary, Jakub Kindl, and Gustavsson were the healthy scratches… Goalie Jimmy Howard and forward Johan Franzen remain on injured reserve.

TGTW: Wings Remain Atop Central Eleven Weeks In

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 remain atop the Central Division after the eleventh week of play in the 2012-13 NHL season, but the Nashville Predators have moved into a tie with them, having played one more game. The Predators went 3-0 in a week that saw the Red Wings go 2-1, making up two points lost last week.

The Red Wings opened their week with a 3-2 win over the league-leading Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Todd Bertuzzi scored at 3:57 of the first to get Detroit out to an early lead and Henrik Zetterberg made it 2-0 just 32 seconds later. Darren Helm extended the lead to three goals at 1:03 of the second. Simon Gagne got the Kings on the board with 8:55 left in the middle frame and Anze Kopitar pulled LA to within one with 7:08 left in regulation but Jimmy Howard held on for the win, stopping 26 of 28 shots on the night and ten of 11 in the third.

The New York Islanders continued their run of wins over the Red Wings on Thursday, as Detroit dropped a 6-3 decision. Valtteri Filppula scored the only goal of the first period at 4:17 but the Islanders would score the next five goals. Frans Nielsen tied the game up at 2:15 of the second and Brad Boyes put the Islanders in front with 7:14 left in the period. Kyle Okposo’s power play goal 1:49 later made it 3-1. Josh Bailey made it 4-1 at 8:04 of the third period and Nielsen’s second of the night with 7:00 remaining chased Howard from the Detroit net. Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson scored 1:04 apart to make it 5-3 but Matt Moulson closed out the scoring with 2:38 remaining. Howard made 19 saves on 24 shots in his abbreviated night, with Jonas Gustavsson stopping two of three shots he faced.

The Red Wings appeared to be heading to another loss on Saturday but rallied for a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Drew Miller opened the scoring with a power play goal with 50 seconds left in the first period. Derick Brassard scored at 8:52 and 9:01 of the second to put the Jackets in front and Cam Atkinson made it 3-1 with 6:48 remaining in the middle period. It looked like the Wings would be down a pair heading into the second intermission, but Jonathan Ericsson scored with 49 seconds remaining and again with 31 seconds left to tie things back up. Todd Bertuzzi’s power play goal at 3:15 of the third would be the difference-maker as the Wings went on to win. Howard made 23 saves on 26 shots in the effort.

After eleven weeks of play, Valtteri Filppula leads the Wings in scoring with 40 points, six back of the league-leading Kopitar. Howard’s 19 wins leave him tied for second in the NHL and his five shutouts are tied for first in the league.

The Red Wings hold the Central Division’s top spot by virtue of a game in hand on Nashville, who also has 40 points. The St. Louis Blues sit two points back with a game in hand on Detroit.

The coming week will see the Red Wings play three games on the road after the Christmas break. On Wednesday they’ll visit the Carolina Hurricanes before moving on to see the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.