Free Agency Day One Recap

It’s probably safe to say that Day One of NHL free agency is done and the site was down for a big part of the day so let’s do a recap.

Ryan and Merrill

The Red Wings started their day by signing forward Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1 million deal.  As I said at the time, I love it.  Is it possible that Ryan ends up injured and/or worthless?  Absolutely.  At $1 million for one year, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

The one funny thing about the Ryan deal is that, in an interview after signing, Ryan said he might want to wear #17 because it was Brett Hull‘s number in Detroit, apparently unaware that it belongs to Filip Hronek now.

As far as Merrill goes, well, everyone expected a hometown defenseman to be signing with Detroit today, right?  The Merrill signing signals to me that the Wings expect some of their young guys to not be available this season.  Mortiz Seider in Sweden, for example.  They need veteran guys to fill in for a season in the meantime.  Merrill can burn minutes on this team cheaply.

Talbot, Markstrom, Turris and Shattenkirk

Coming into the day, the Red Wings were linked to both Cam Talbot and Jacob Markstrom to fill their gap in goal.  I would have liked Talbot in Detroit but he got three years for $11 million from Minnesota.  I actually don’t dislike that cap hit but wouldn’t have wanted to give three years.

Markstrom was never going to sign that cheaply so I was glad to see him go to Calgary just to get him off the board, just in case Steve Yzerman did something ridiculous.  I think the six-year, $36 million he got from the Flames is ridiculous, too, but I don’t have to care what they pay.

Kyle Turris was linked to Detroit if for no reason other than his chemistry with Anthony Mantha playing for Team Canada.  He seemed like a prime candidate to want to sign with a contender for cheap, though, and that’s pretty much what he did, going to the Oilers for two years and $3.3 million.  Not a bad deal and I’d have been happy to see him sign it in Detroit, but the Wings aren’t a contender.

In the middle of the day, news broke seemingly out of the blue that the Wings were in on defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.  Just as quickly, he signed a three-year, $11.7 million deal with the Ducks.  So much for that.

Depth Signings

The Wings’s last move of the day was around 5:00 PM with a trio of AHL-level deals, bringing back forward Kyle Criscuolo, a former Griffin from the 2017 Calder Cup run, and adding goalie Kevin Boyle and forward Riley Barber.

If the AHL actually has a season, the Griffins will need bodies.  Even more so if some of the Wings’ kids are in Europe to start the year.  I’ve got no complaints about any of these moves.

The one thing I find interesting is that Detroit brought in a minor-league goalie even with Cal Pickard, Filip Larsson, and Kaden Fulcher all signed, plus Pat Nagle on an AHL deal.  I don’t think it means that Pickard has been tabbed as Jonathan Bernier‘s backup in Detroit but it could.

Torey Krug

The big late-night news was Torey Krug signing with the St. Louis Blues for $45.5 million over seven years.  For months we’ve heard about the possibility of him coming to Detroit but that was from a lot of people ignoring his exit interviews with the Bruins.  He made it clear that his top priority was getting paid, not coming back to his hometown team, and he got his money.

Tyler Johnson

To close out the night was a weird rumor from Frank Seravalli:

So the theory behind this is that Lightning tried to trade Johnson as a salary dump but he has a no-trade clause and would have used it to block a move to any team who could take his salary.  Unable to trade him, the Lightning instead waive him, which he can’t block.  Nominally, it’s for the purposes of a buyout, in which case they’d be on the hook for part of his cap hit but not all of it, so it’s a small win.

But what if a team, such as Detroit, claimed him?  His full cap hit would be gone from Tampa and Johnson would have no recourse to stop the transaction.  And if Tampa then just happened to complete a deal with the Red Wings to send something of value in to Detroit in return for peanuts, well, that’s a totally separate thing, certainly not a handshake deal to send Johnson (and his salary) to the Red Wings, circumventing Johnson’s no-trade clause.

That’s a lot of conspiracy theory talk for me, and I like sports conspiracy theories.  I can’t see Yzerman going for a move that would likely be subject to a grievance if there was any chance of it being perceived as less than legal.

That said…  I want the Wings to take bad cap dollars on to gain other assets but Johnson’s deal is really bad.  Four more seasons at $5 million per year for a guy whose numbers dropped off dramatically during the Bolts’ Cup run.  That side deal would have to be extremely impressive to make that move.

What’s Left?

As free agency moves on, the Red Wings still need a goalie, probably at least one defenseman, and maybe some forwards.  I’d hold off and save some of those roster slots for potential salary dump deals but that’s just me.

In goal, Thomas Greiss is still on the board, and he’d probably be my top choice.  As I write this, Corey Crawford signed with New Jersey for less than $2 million per season, which seems to be a sign that goalie contract numbers are getting back to sane after Markstrom’s ridiculous deal.

I wonder about Tyson Barrie on defense.  Coming off a relatively bad season in Toronto, a “show me” deal could work.  I still think I’d prefer a trade candidate, though.

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.

TGTW: Wings’ Skid Reaches Seven Games

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.

Two weeks after sitting in a tie for the top spot in the National Hockey League, the Detroit Red Wings have dropped seven consecutive games and are eight points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for the league lead. The Los Angeles Kings are six points up on the Red Wings in the Western Conference. Detroit remains tied with the Nashville Predators atop the Central Division, with the Columbus Blue Jackets one point back and the St. Louis Blues two points back, each with three games in hand.

The Wings’ abysmal seventh week of the season began with a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. Deryk Engelland, Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz each scored for the Penguins before the Red Wings got on the board with a third-period Johan Franzen goal. Jimmy Howard made 24 saves on 27 shots in taking the loss. Detroit lost forward Pavel Datsyuk to a knee injury in the first period after taking a charge from Brandon Sutter, who was ejected on the play.

With Datsyuk out on Wednesday, the Wings dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues. Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie scored in the game’s first 5:43 before Kyle Quincey got the Red Wings on the board with 6:24 left in the second. Kevin Shattenkirk re-extended the Blues’ lead with 2:47 left in the period to round out the game’s scoring. Howard stopped 23 of 26 shots on the night.

Datsyuk returned to the lineup as the Red Wings visited the Florida Panthers on Friday night but his return couldn’t prevent a rout, with an explosive second period propelling the Panthers to an 8-2 win. Jack Skille and Valtteri Filppula traded first period goals to keep the game even after a period but former Detroit prospects Shawn Matthias and Tomas Fleischmann scored three goals in the first 6:16 of the second to put the Wings out of it. Marcel Goc scored just past the game’s halfway point to chase Howard from the net, then Jonas Gustavsson allowed goals by Peter Mueller and Matthias just 18 seconds apart to make it 7-1. Mikael Samuelsson got the Wings’ a second goal late in the second and Fleischmann wrapped up the hat trick late in the third to round out the scoring.

Howard stopped only six of 11 shots in 30:09 of play while Gustavsson stopped eight of 11 in 29:51.

Howard didn’t fare much better on Saturday in Tampa, where the Red Wings took a 4-2 lead into the third period only to lose, 6-4. Filppula gave the Wings’ the lead just 3:41 into the game but Vincent Lecavalier tied things up 34 seconds into the second. Darren Helm and Franzen put Detroit up by a pair with goals at 5:45 and 7:23. Ryan Malone pulled the Lightning back to within one with 2:56 left in the middle period but Drew Miller‘s first of the season made it 4-2 with 58 seconds left.

Malone’s second of the night cut the lead again at 4:13 of the third and J.T. Wyman tied things up on the power play at 9:00. Teddy Purcell chased Howard from the net just 59 seconds later with another power play goal and Lecavalier rounded out the scoring with a third power play tally with 4:48 remaining.

Howard faced 22 shots and made 17 saves in 49:59 while Gustavsson stopped three of four shots in 10:01. Captain Henrik Zetterberg was lost to a shoulder injury in the first period and did not return to play.

After the disastrous seventh week, Howard has fallen off the NHL leaderboard in all goaltending categories. Filppula remains one of the league leaders in scoring, with his 28 points putting him behind only Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (31). Despite missing time to injury, Datsyuk sits fourth with 25 points, with Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar (27) in third. The pair lead the league in assists with 18 each, tied with Carolina’s Eric Staal.

The next week will see the Red Wings return from their Florida trip to host a trio of Pacific Division teams in the Phoenix Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks.

Red Wings Rally for Win over Blues

The Detroit Red Wings scored three unanswered goals Tuesday night, rallying from down 2-0 for a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Nicklas Lidstrom started Detroit’s comeback with a second-period power play goal. With 1:03 left in the period, Lidstrom’s shot from the left point found its way through traffic and past St. Louis goalie Brian Elliot to get the Red Wings on the board.

Pavel Datsyuk tied things up with 8:41 left in the third period, tipping an Ian White shot past Elliot while driving to the net.

Just 56 seconds later, Niklas Kronwall beat Elliot with a shot through traffic from the blue line for Detroit’s first lead.

The Blues had opened the game’s scoring at 6:51 of the first, when Matt D’Agostini tipped a Kevin Shattenkirk shot from the blue line past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard while St. Louis was on a power play.

A second power play goal gave the Blues a 2-0 lead with 6:52 remaining in the second period. Jason Arnott‘s shot from the left point just slipped through Howard’s pads, but no one could see the puck free behind him. When play wasn’t blown dead, Alexander Steen jumped in and dug the puck out, knocking it into the net.

Each team had four power plays on the night. St. Louis scored twice with the extra skater while Detroit scored once.

Both of the goalies made 29 saves, with Elliot facing 32 shots and Howard facing 31.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday in the Detroit’s annual New Years’ Eve game. The Wings will next be in action the night before when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.


Detroit was without forward Tomas Holmstrom, expected to miss a week with a groin injury. Joakim Andersson was called up from Grand Rapids to make his NHL debut in Holmstrom’s place.

Datsyuk Leads Red Wings to Second Consecutive Win

Pavel Datsyuk scored the game-winning goal for the second consecutive night, leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

On Friday night, Datsyuk scored in overtime to give Detroit a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Datsyuk scored with 6:47 remaining in the third period Saturday, breaking a 3-3 tie. Ian Cole turned the puck over to Datsyuk along the boards right wing boards, then Datsyuk jumped between Cole and T.J. Oshie. Moving to the slot, Datsyuk stickhandled around Roman Polak and snapped a shot past goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Justin Abdelkader scored 1:20 later, taking a feed from Niklas Kronwall to break in alone and wrist a shot past Halak, locking up the win.

The Blues had opened the game’s scoring at 9:17 of the first when Adam Cracknell took a feed from Ryan Reeves and whipped a shot past Jimmy Howard from the left faceoff circle.

Ruslan Salei took advantage of a St. Louis turnover to get Detroit on the board 2:34 later, picking up a loose puck at the top of the right circle and snapping it past Halak.

Just 16 seconds later, Darren Helm knocked the rebound of an Abdelkader chance past Halak to put the Red Wings in the lead.

Niklas Kronwall’s power play blast from just inside the blue line made it 3-1 in favor of the Wings with 1:25 remaining in the second.

David Backes started St. Louis’ rally at 3:48 of the third, snapping the rebound of his own shot from the left faceoff circle past Howard.

Matt D’Agostini tied it up 2:31 later, deflecting a Kevin Shattenkirk shot from the point past Howard.

Kronwall’s goal was the only power play tally of the night. Detroit had two chances with the extra attacker while the Blues had four.

Howard made 26 saves on 29 shots. Halak stopped 22 of 27 chances.

The Red Wings will be off until Wednesday when they host the Washington Capitals.