Thoughts Heading Into Free Agency

NHL free agency opens in about three hours and, while some signings seem certain thanks to the league’s interview period, some things are still up in the air.

The Red Wings are likely to sign veteran defenseman Trevor Daley.  Five years ago, I love this deal.  I still like Daley quite a bit.  I don’t think he makes Detroit a competitor, though, so I’m not sold on him taking a roster spot from Xavier Ouellet or Ryan Sproul.

In no particular order, that would give the Wings Daley, Ouellet, Sproul, Nick Jensen, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Green, and Danny DeKeyser on the blue line.  Eight guys who’d have to be waived to go to Grand Rapids, plus Robbie Russo, Dan Renouf, and Joe Hicketts waiting with the Griffins.  Quite the logjam.

The Wings are rumored to be interested in another defenseman or a forward but it looks like the cap hit for Daley – coupled with re-signing Ouellet and forwards Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou – takes them out of consideration there.  I would be completely against bringing in another defenseman but given the loss of Tomas Nosek via expansion, adding a center as a reclamation project wouldn’t be a horrible move.

I’d love to see the Wings take a flyer of Mikhail Grigorenko, who Craig Custance wrote about a couple days ago at The Athletic.  It would have to be on the cheap and it would have to be with the caveat that the Wings don’t try to turn Grigorenko into a grinder.

If you want a grinding center who can play on the fourth line, bring back Landon Ferraro.  Worst-case scenario, you can probably get him through waivers to Grand Rapids, as the Blues slid him through last year.

On Hope and Excitement, and Lack Thereof

I’m not excited for the start of the Red Wings season.

I’m not saying that I won’t watch the opener tomorrow or I won’t be at the Joe for the home opener on Monday.  I just wouldn’t feel an absence in my life if those games weren’t happening.

I’m also not saying that I don’t care what happens with the team.  Quite the opposite.

At the end of last season, even with the Wings bowing out so early in the playoffs, there was hope.  General Manager Ken Holland spoke about giving opportunity to the team’s prospects, about revamping the defense, about ways to make the team better.

In June Pavel Datsyuk left but Holland managed to unload his contract.  It came at a high cost but was necessary given what the team was trying to do.  There was still hope.  I still had hope

As free agency approached, the Red Wings had money to spend and roster spots to fill, as well as prospects like Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi and Tomas Nosek ready to challenge for a role.

Then the Wings brought back Drew Miller, the penalty-killing specialist who missed most of the season with a pair of injuries.

Then the Wings brought back bottom-six forward Darren Helm on a five year deal.

On July 1st, the Red Wings signed Frans Nielsen to replace Datsyuk and Thomas Vanek to replace the soon-to-retire Brad Richards and Steve Ott…  For some reason.

Suddenly those open roster spots were filled and the hole in the team’s defense hadn’t been addressed.  Holland reassured us that the glut of forwards gave him pieces to use in trade for a defender.

Training camp approached and there was no trade.  News broke that Jacob Trouba, Michigan-native and right-shooting defenseman, exactly what the Wings were coveting, was demanding a trade.  But those pieces that Holland had assembled wouldn’t be enough.  So there was no fix for the blueline and there was no battle for forward spots.  Athanasiou beat out Teemu Pulkkinen – waived off to Minnesota – but it was for the 13th forward spot, relegated to the press box.

This season’s roster is last season’s roster.  From opening night to the end of the season to today, Johan Franzen became Pavel Datsyuk who is now Frans Nielsen.  Brad Richards became Thomas Vanek.  Landon Ferraro was replaced by Darren Helm – re-signed due to a need for speed.  Drew Miller became Joakim Andersson who became Drew Miller again.  Teemu Pulkkinen became Andreas Athanasiou who became Steve Ott – despite that supposed need for speed.  Jakub Kindl and Kyle Quincey became Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet.

The team that backed into the playoffs and only made it there because they got help from the Ottawa Senators on the last day of the season is much the same as the team that begins this season.

I expect this team to miss the playoffs.  I expected that this would be a losing season last May.  But in May, I had hope that this losing season would feature learning experiences for the next generation of Red Wings.  Instead, they’re going to lose with the same guys that lost last year.

So I’ll watch and I’ll root for the Wings, but I’m not getting my hopes up.  I’m not getting excited.

Red Wings Lose Frk to Carolina

For the second time in three years, the Red Wings lost a player to the Hurricanes via waivers, as Carolina claimed Martin Frk on Sunday.

Frk, Detroit’s second-rounder in 2012, never saw a game with the Red Wings.  He had 27 goals and 17 assists for the Grand Rapids Griffins last season.

In 2014, Carolina claimed Andrej Nestrasil from the Red Wings.  Last season, Detroit lost Landon Ferraro to the Boston Bruins.

While Frk was claimed, Nick Jensen, Brian Lashoff, Mitch Callahan, and Eric Tangradi cleared waivers.


My thoughts on this are on Twitter but to re-hash…  I don’t think losing Frk by itself is a major issue.  I do think losing him for nothing combined with the coming demotions of Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha is disheartening.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it when those moves become official tomorrow.

Red Wings Waive Five

Per Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports, the Red Wings placed five players on waivers today.

Mitch Callahan, Eric Tangradi, and Brian Lashoff come as no surprise, as they all cleared waivers last year and spent the season (aside from a brief call-up for Tangradi) in Grand Rapids.

Martin Frk seems to be a victim of the Red Wings deciding to keep eight defensemen on the roster while Niklas Kronwall recovers from injury.  With eight blueliners, there’s only room for 13 forwards, leaving Frk out.

Nick Jensen has lost the battle for the final spots on the blue line, as it would seem the seventh and eighth spots have gone to Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul.

If I had to guess, Jensen will be claimed.  Frk might be as well, but I thought there was no way Landon Ferraro and Callahan would make it through in 2014 so what do I know?

Red Wings Jersey Number Updates

The Red Wings revealed a set of new jersey numbers via Twitter earlier today.

Steve Ott had previously Tweeted he would take the #29 that had briefly been assigned to Dylan Sadowy and was worn by Landon Ferraro before he was waived and claimed by the Boston Bruins.

With it available, it comes as no surprise that Frans Nielsen takes the #51 he wore with the New York Islanders.

As Tomas Jurco has the #26 he usually wears, I’d expected Thomas Vanek to take the #27 made available by the departure of Kyle Quincey.  Instead he flips the number and takes #62.  He’ll be the first Red Wing to ever wear that number.

I’d thought that Alexey Marchenko might see a new number this year to represent his solidified roster spot.  While I thought he’d get the #4 formerly worn by Jakub Kindl, instead he went the opposite direction and took the #53 he’s been wearing internationally.

The #4 ended up going to Teemu Pulkkinen, switching from #56.  I’m on the record as disliking forwards wearing numbers that low.  He becomes the first forward to wear #4 for the Red Wings since Colin Campbell in 1985.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Lightning – Game 1

Though they may not deserve it, the Red Wings open their 25th consecutive trip to the playoffs in Tampa tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

These two teams met in the opening round last year, with Tampa Bay rallying from down 3-2 in the series to win in seven games, but there are some differences this year.

For the Red Wings, Jimmy Howard has reclaimed the starting role in goal. Forward Brad Richards – who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs with the Lightning during their Stanley Cup run in 2004 – joined Detroit in the offseason. Mike Green is in on the blueline with Marek Zidlicky having moved on to the New York Islanders. Landon Ferraro is now in Boston. Rookies Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou will be making their playoff debuts.

For the Lightning, a powerhouse team has been crippled by injuries. Forward Steven Stamkos is likely to miss the entirety of the playoffs with blood clots. Anton Stralman is out on the blue line. Tyler Johnson – who the Red Wings couldn’t contain last year – is questionable for Game One. Victor Hedman is returning from injury.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are a perfect split 17-17 all-time in Game One of the playoffs coming off a loss in their last game of the regular season.

As previously mentioned, Jimmy Howard gets the start for the Red Wings opposite Ben Bishop of the Lightning. Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Brendan Smith will be healthy scratches for Detroit.

Game time is 7:00 on FSD and NBCSN.

Andersson Clears Waivers

Detroit Red Wings forward Joakim Andersson cleared waivers on Saturday.

Andersson, 26, had been placed on waivers on Friday to give the Red Wings flexibility to call up a defenseman with Niklas Kronwall recovering from knee surgery. Teams had 24 hours to make a claim on him. Unlike with Landon Ferraro – who was claimed by the Boston Bruins earlier this season – none did.

Andersson will remain with the team for now but could be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins if the defensive call-up ends up being necessary.

Red Wings Place Andersson on Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings placed forward Joakim Andersson on waivers on Friday.

Andersson, 26, has one goal and two assists in 25 games with the Red Wings this season, used mostly in a fourth-line role. In 201 career games he has 15 goals and 21 assists.

Teams have until noon on Saturday to place a claim on Andersson, who will be in the Detroit lineup tonight as the Red Wings visit the Buffalo Sabres.

The waiving of Landon Ferraro by the Red Wings earlier this season seemed to assure Andersson’s spot on the Detroit roster. The team stated that Andersson’s waiving was for salary cap reasons.

Should Andersson clear waivers he will be assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Selected in the third round (88th overall) by the Red Wings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Andersson has played 189 games for the Griffins, scoring 38 goals and 63 assists.

Datsyuk Scores 300th as Red Wings Fall to Bruins in OT

Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk scored his 300th career goal but it wasn’t enough for the Red Wings, who allowed late goals to the Boston Bruins to drop a 3-2 decision in overtime.

With 1:44 left in regulation, Boston’s Colin Miller tied the game at 2-2. After a long shift of Detroit control in the Boston zone, the Bruins finally got the puck into the end and were able to change faster than the Red Wings. Miller jumped on the ice and into the Detroit zone, taking a pass from Loui Eriksson and blasting a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past Wings goalie Petr Mrazek.

Miller would figure into the overtime game-winner as well, as his initial shot from nearly the same spot as the tying goal was tipped by Frank Vatrano in the crease and past Mrazek for the 3-2 win.

It was Vatrano’s second goal of the night, as he had opened the game’s scoring 7:11 into the first, slapping a shot from the high slot through traffic to make it 1-0.

Datsyuk’s milestone marker tied things up at 2:26 of the second. In the left circle, Datsyuk sent a saucer pass to himself over the stick of defender Torey Krug, then snapped a shot from the slot past Bruins goalie – and former Red Wing – Jonas Gustavsson.

With 5:07 left in the middle frame Tomas Tatar gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. Tatar jumped off the bench on a line change and picked up the loose puck, driving into the slot to rip a shot past Gustavsson.

Gustavsson finished the night with 32 saves on 34 shots while Mrazek stopped 19 of the 22 chances he faced.

Neither team scored a power play goal, with each team getting three tries with the extra attacker.

The Red Wings are back in action on Friday when they host the Edmonton Oilers.


The game was celebrated as Detroit’s 200th consecutive sellout… Former Red Wing Landon Ferraro, claimed by the Bruins off waivers on Sunday, assisted on Boston’s first goal of the game. It was his second assist in as many games for the Bruins after having none in his Detroit career.

Red Wings Waive Ferraro

The Detroit Red Wings placed forward Landon Ferraro on waivers on Saturday.

Ferraro, 24, is coming off a knee injury suffered two weeks ago against the Toronto Maple Leafs. With no room in the Detroit lineup, it’s expected that the Red Wings would assign him to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League should he clear waivers. This move spares Joakim Andersson, who was the other player likely to be waived to make room.

Teams have until noon on Sunday to place a claim on Ferraro.

In ten games with the Red Wings this season, Ferraro has no points. In 17 career games across three seasons he has one goal and no assists.

Selected in the second round (29th overall) by the Red Wings in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Ferraro has played 270 games for the Griffins, scoring 75 goals and 65 assists.