Reviewing the Summer of Regret

With Jordin Tootoo having been called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins to replace Mikael Samuelsson in the Red Wings’ lineup tonight – and Samuelsson returning to his place as a healthy scratch – I figured it was a good time to go back and take a complete look at the signings of Detroit’s “Summer of Regret” (copyright The Production Line), the summer of 2012.

Step back to before the end of the actual 2011-12 season and we’ve got the signing of Riley Sheahan to his three-year entry-level deal in time for the last game of the regular season. There was no expectation that he’d do anything in Detroit immediately but he’s centering the fourth line tonight.

Teemu Pulkkinen was up next at the end of May, though he didn’t even come to North America until late last season. He’s yet to get a look at the NHL level but apparently was the other option when Sheahan got the call this week.

Darren Helm signed a four-year contract extension in June, the team’s last move before the opening of unrestricted free agency opened on July 1.

Three unexpected signings were Detroit’s big splash on the first day of free agency. Goalie Jonas Gustavsson would go on to displace Joey MacDonald as the backup last season. With Jimmy Howard hurt, he’s the starter tonight. Forwards Samuelsson and Tootoo were the other two. The team also announced the signing of Swiss forward Damien Brunner, a deal that had been expected at that point.

A few days later, Marek Tvrdon and Max Nicastro signed their ELCs. Both are in ECHL Toledo today.

Kyle Quincey re-signed as a restricted free agent on July 18. By avoiding suspension for his boarding of Ryan Getzlaf on Tuesday, he remains in the lineup tonight, one of only four Wings to play every game this season.

Martin Frk and Tomas Jurco signed their ELCs in August. Jurco is with the Wings now, having scored his first NHL goal on Tuesday. Frk is with Toledo in his first pro season.

Lastly, on the day before the league’s lockout of the players began, the Wings signed defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to a two-year deal and RFA forward Justin Abdelkader to a four-year one.

The breakdown on that…

Six entry-level deals, all of whom are still in the Detroit organization. Three are currently in the ECHL, two of whom made their pro debuts this year. The others debuted with GR last season (though one was late in the year) and two of those are up as injury replacements with Detroit now.

Three re-signed restricted free agents, all of whom are still with the Red Wings.

Five unrestricted free agent signings. Colaiacovo has since been bought out and Brunner was allowed to walk last summer. Tootoo has been buried in the AHL for most of this season. Samuelsson has been a healthy scratch and would have been bought out last summer had he not been hurt at the time. Then there’s Gustavsson, who played in only seven games last year but started this season with a nine-game streak without a regulation loss.

Is there a point to this other than “2012 was a terrible summer?” I’m not sure. Maybe this just illustrates how awful of a summer it really was.

Red Wings Hold Off Flames for 4-3 Win

Despite surrendering a 2-0 lead in the second period, the Detroit Red Wings held off a late push by the Calgary Flames on Friday night to pick up a 4-3 win.

Joakim Andersson threw a shot towards the net from below the goal line in the right-wing corner at just 1:25 of the third period. The puck deflected off a skate and slipped past Calgary goalie and former Red Wing Joey MacDonald to put Detroit up 3-2.

Justin Abdelkader scored the eventual game-winner with 3:24 remaining in the period, wristing a shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle over MacDonald and into the top of the net.

With MacDonald on the bench for an extra attacker, Curtis Glencross made it 4-3 with just 10 seconds remaining, throwing the puck to the front of the net from behind the goal. It deflected off of Niklas Kronwall and slipped past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard to round out the game’s scoring.

Pavel Datsyuk had gotten the Red Wings on the board with 9:03 left in the opening period. Jakub Kindl‘s shot from the blue line was stopped but MacDonald couldn’t control the rebound, with the puck coming to Datsyuk in the slot for a chance into the open side of the net.

Henrik Zetterberg made it 2-0 with 2:45 left in the period, fed by Todd Bertuzzi on a cross-crease pass for a shot into the vacated net before MacDonald could get back across.

With 9:45 left in the middle frame, Chris Butler got the Flames on the board. On a broken play the puck came out to Butler at the blue line. As he drifted towards the high slot he unleashed a shot that deflected off Joakim Andersson and past Howard to make it 2-1.

Rookie Sean Monahan tied things up 2:32 later when he was left untouched driving through the left circle to take a pass from Mike Cammalleri and snap a shot past Howard.

Howard would finish the night with 22 saves on 25 shots against. MacDonald made 18 saves on 22 Detroit chances.

Neither team scored on the power play on the night. Detroit had three tries with the man-advantage to Calgary’s five.

The Red Wings continue their Western Canadian road trip on Saturday in Edmonton.


Johan Franzen left the game after the second period with flu-like symptoms… Petr Mrazek was called up before the game to back up Jimmy Howard, as Jonas Gustavsson suffered a strained neck during warm-ups in Vancouver on Wednesday… Prior to the game the Red Wings announced the signing of 2013 draft pick Zach Nastasiuk to a three-year entry-level contract.

Flames Claim Goalie MacDonald on Waivers

The Calgary Flames claimed goaltender Joey MacDonald on waivers from the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. MacDonald, 33, has missed the entire 2013 season due to a back injury.

MacDonald played well enough during a call-up from the Grand Rapids Griffins at the end of the 2011-12 season to take the backup role in Detroit away from Ty Conklin. Heading into the 2012 offseason, it looked as though he would be Jimmy Howard‘s backup with the Red Wings but the team opted instead to sign Jonas Gustavsson.

Though Gustavsson has been injured for much of the season, the emergence of rookie goalie Petr Mrazek made MacDonald expendable.

Rather than first send him to Grand Rapids on a conditioning assignment, the Red Wings waived MacDonald in an effort to accommodate his request to join another NHL team.

It marks the second time the Red Wings have lost MacDonald on waivers. The Boston Bruins claimed him on February 24, 2007. He has also spent time with the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Red Wings Place Goalie MacDonald on Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings placed goalie Joey MacDonald on waivers on Sunday as they prepare to bring him off the injured reserve list. MacDonald has missed the entirety of the 2013 season with a back injury.

MacDonald outplayed Ty Conklin late in the 2011-12 season while Jimmy Howard was injured, earning the backup spot in Detroit. Heading into a 2012-13 season where he had a one-way contract, it looked like MacDonald would remain Howard’s backup until the Red Wings signed Jonas Gustavsson to fill that role.

Like MacDonald, Gustavsson has spent most of the season on IR, but the emergence of rookie netminder Petr Mrazek has provided the team yet another option. With MacDonald desiring to remain in the NHL, the Red Wings waived him to see if another team will take a chance on him.

Should he go unclaimed, MacDonald is expected to be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins, at least for a reconditioning stint. His one-way deal means he’ll be paid the same amount and have the same salary cap hit in Grand Rapids as he would if he were in the NHL.

Mrazek Leads Wings to 5-1 Win over Blues in Debut

Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek carried the Red Wings to a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, allowing the fewest number of goals by a Red Wings rookie in his debut game since Kevin Hodson blanked the Chicago Blackhawks on January 6, 1996.

Mrazek stopped 26 St. Louis shots in the effort. He was only beaten when Alex Steen found Alex Pietrangelo wide open in the left faceoff circle on a Blues’ power play with 4:15 left in the second. Mrazek couldn’t get over to cover the open side of the net in time and Pietrangelo lifted a shot in to cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1.

The Red Wings had opened the scoring 5:14 into the game, when Daniel Cleary scored his first goal of the year by following up his own rebound and knocking the puck past Brian Elliot from the top of the crease. It was the first goal of the season by one of the Wings’ bottom six forwards.

Contributions from Detroit’s secondary scoring continued with 8:10 left in the period, as Jakub Kindl‘s shot from above the top of the right faceoff circle deflected off of St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk and past Elliot to make it 2-0.

After Pietrangelo’s goal, Cory Emmerton got the Red Wings back in control with 2:27 left in the second. Emmerton corralled the puck at the edge of the crease off a pass from Jordin Tootoo and shoveled it past Elliot.

Damien Brunner added one more goal before the end of the period to make it 4-1 with 56 seconds remaining. Henrik Zetterberg won a faceoff in the Blues’ zone back to Jonathan Ericsson, who’s shot from the point was blocked but knocked out to Brunner in the slot for a wrister in behind Elliot.

Valtteri Filppula rounded out the scoring with 6:25 left in the third and the teams skating four-on-four. The Blues couldn’t hold in a pass at the Detroit blue line and the puck came out to the neutral zone, where Filppula raced past Andy McDonald and Wade Redden to break in all alone on Elliot and flip a shot past him.

Elliot finished the night with 24 saves on 29 shots against.

Detroit failed to score on their lone power play chance of the night. They killed off two of three St. Louis power plays.

The Red Wings return to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday to host the Edmonton Oilers.


Kent Huskins and Patrick Eaves were healthy scratches for the Red Wings… Jonas Gustavsson, Darren Helm, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Smith and Joey MacDonald all remain out with injuries.

Monday Recap: Mrazek, Tatar, Smith and a New Arena

I don’t like to do “quick hits” style posts but I wasn’t able to comment on some of today’s news so I’m going to bundle it all up into one post here.

Roster Moves
As mentioned yesterday, the Red Wings called up goalie Petr Mrazek and forward Tomas Tatar while sending down goalie Tom McCollum. In their first practice with the big club today, Tatar skated on the second line with Pavel Datsuk and Valtteri Filppula while Mrazek split time with Joey MacDonald.

Tatar may not actually play in that spot but it gets Todd Bertuzzi back down to the third line so I like the move. Keep in mind, though, that Gustav Nyquist started on the second line in his lone appearance of the season and was back down to the third before the game was out.

Mrazek won’t start tomorrow against the Flames and I don’t see him getting the nod against the Blues on Thursday. With back-to-back games this weekend, I see him making his debut on Saturday against Edmonton or Sunday against Los Angeles.

Injury Update
Because it had been too long since the Wings had an injury to announce, it was revealed today that the original 10-14 day estimate for Brendan Smith‘s shoulder injury may have been optimistic. He’s now expected to miss three to four weeks with a shoulder sprain. The Wings have not made a move to replace Smith in the lineup as Ian White is expected to return from his own injury in time for Tuesday’s game.

Additionally, Darren Helm‘s back pain hasn’t gone away, so he’ll be undergoing a bone scan to look for spinal damage.

Arena News
Late Sunday, Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business broke the story that construction on the replacement to Joe Louis Arena could begin this fall. Today he adds that we should expect a corporate name to the new arena.

While it’s disappointing, that move is inevitable. There’s too much money on the table not to sell the naming rights. For that same reason, you won’t see the new arena called the Little Caesar’s Coliseum or anything like that, as it does no good for Mike Ilitch to buy the naming rights from himself.

On the Other NHL Goalie Looking for a Trade

While the hockey media buzzes over the possibility of Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo being traded, one of the more forgotten stories of the NHL’s return is the to-be-determined fate of Detroit Red Wings netminder Joey MacDonald.

MacDonald supplanted Ty Conklin as the backup in Detroit late last season while starter Jimmy Howard was injured and was in net for the team’s record-setting 23rd consecutive home win. With Conklin a free agent last summer and MacDonald entering a season with a one-way deal, it looked like MacDonald would be the Wings’ backup for the 2012-13 season.

Then Jonas Gustavsson was signed.

Howard and Gustavsson are locked in as the tandem in Detroit for the coming campaign. MacDonald could be waived with the intent to send him to the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Wings have a logjam in the crease in their system, however, as Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum have carried the Griffins to a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference and Jordan Pearce is already down with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

The likely move is that MacDonald will be dealt in the week between the opening of training camp and the start of the season.

That said, a deal doesn’t have to happen so quickly. With the Red Wings carrying 14 forwards and six defensemen into the season due to injuries to Patrick Eaves and Carlo Colaiacovo, there is room for the team to keep three goalies on the roster.

Obviously MacDonald isn’t the goalie that Luongo is, so there’s not going to be as much buzz about what happens to him, but a move of some kind is coming. We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.

On the Red Wings’ Glut of Forwards

With the Detroit Red Wings set to return to the ice as soon as Wednesday, and games set to begin as early as January 15, questions about the team’s lineup will soon be answered.

On defense, things are pretty well set. Brendan Smith will make the jump from the Grand Rapids and newcomer Carlo Colaiacovo, will battle with Jakub Kindl for a spot on the third pairing when he returns from an injury suffered while playing for Canada in the Spengler Cup. Brian Lashoff may get a look as the seventh defenseman while Colaiacovo is out but that’s really the only question mark.

In the crease, Jimmy Howard is the established starter and Jonas Gustavsson will be his backup. Joey MacDonald is on a one-way contract and not likely bound for Grand Rapids as Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum have things locked down there. In all likelihood, Ken Holland will look to deal MacDonald in what little time he has before the start of the season.

Up front, however, things are much less certain.

The Red Wings will likely carry 14 forwards for the season, though they could go with 15 while Colaiacovo is injured. Patrick Eaves remains sidelined by post-concussion symptoms but even without him, the team has 16 NHL-ready forwards signed.

You can assume that everyone who had a job last year will be back, minus the likely-to-retire Tomas Holmstrom. This means that Justin Abdelkader, Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk, Cory Emmerton, Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Henrik Zetterberg have the inside track. That’s 13 skaters right there.

Then you’ve got Damien Brunner, who’s never played in North America but developed remarkable chemistry with Zetterberg while the pair played in Switzerland during the lockout. Based on that chemistry alone, you’d have to think he gets a shot in Detroit, which puts the team at the 14 they’re likely to carry but doesn’t account for the possibility of Eaves’ return.

On top of that is Gustav Nyquist, who showed he was NHL-ready last season and currently leads the Griffins in scoring.

My guess, and I hate to say it, is that Nyquist ends up staying in Grand Rapids. Jan Mursak will be the expendable forward if Eaves comes back, waived or traded to make room. We’ll see what happens in the next week.

Free Agency 2012: Day 3

The third day of NHL free agency was the quietest for the Red Wings in terms of activity but they gave the fans a lot to talk about.

To start the day, Zach Parise flew back from Toronto to Minnesota and Detroit coach Mike Babcock may or may not have been waiting for him.  Reports say that Babcock was in the Minneapolis airport prior to Parise’s arrival but he may have been their en route to somewhere else (or not been there at all).

Later in the day, a Wings’ contingent flew to Wisconsin to meet with Ryan Suter.  They didn’t speak to reporters upon arriving back at Metro Airport but supposedly their standing offer is $90 million over 13 years.

Parise may announce his decision on Wednesday while Suter is expected to wait until at least Thursday.

The Wings did make a pair of of signings official.  Defenseman Max Nicastro and forward Marek Tvrdon signed to entry level deals.

Nicastro, a third-round selection in 2008, signed a two-year deal.  He is expected to join the Grand Rapids Griffins next season.

Tvrdon was drafted in the fourth round in 2011.  He will remain with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants for one more season.

On top of all that, we have Joey MacDonald‘s trade request, which the Wings have said they’ll try to honor.  With the team having acquired Jonas Gustavsson, MacDonald wants to be dealt to a team where he can serve as an NHL backup.

So quiet day with a lot going on.

Red Wings Sign Goaltender Gustavsson

The Detroit Red Wings made their first move of the 2012 NHL free agency season on Sunday, signing Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a two-year deal.

The contract is reportedly worth $3 million for a cap hit of $1.5 million.

Gustavsson is expected to challenge Joey MacDonald for the backup role in Detroit.

Coming off a season in which he played 42 games and went 17-17-4 with a 2.92 GAA and .902 save percentage for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Gustavsson’s right were traded to the Winnipeg Jets on June 23 as a backup plan in case the Jets were unable to sign Ondrej Pavelec.

Gustavsson has played his entire career with the Maple Leafs after signing with them in 2009.  He is 39-45-15 overall with a 2.98 GAA and .900 save percentage.