Red Wings Leave Mrazek Exposed for Expansion Draft

There were few surprises when the Red Wings’ expansion draft protection list was (eventually) released this morning, but the one that did come down was a big one, as the team opted to protect goalie Jimmy Howard rather than Petr Mrazek.

Available
Louis-Marc Aubry (F)
Mitch Callahan (F)
Colin Campbell (F)
Martin Frk (F)
Luke Glendening (F)
Darren Helm (F)
Drew Miller (F)
Tomas Nosek (F)
Riley Sheahan (F)
Ben Street (F)
Eric Tangradi (F)
Adam Almquist (D)
Jonathan Ericsson (D)
Niklas Kronwall (D)
Brian Lashoff (D)
Dylan McIlrath (D)
Xavier Ouellet (D)
Ryan Sproul (D)
Jared Coreau (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
Edward Pasquale (G)
Jake Paterson (G)

Protected
Justin Abdelkader (F)
Andreas Athanasiou (F)
Anthony Mantha (F)
Frans Nielsen (F)
Gustav Nyquist (F)
Tomas Tatar (F)
Henrik Zetterberg (F)
Danny DeKeyser (D)
Mike Green (D)
Nick Jensen (D)
Jimmy Howard (G)

I’ve been ranting about this on Twitter all morning, so obviously I think this is the wrong move.  Let me touch on a couple other things first, though.

I half-expected Niklas Kronwall to be protected, even though his contract and injury history make him pretty much unclaimable, so seeing him available is good.  Similarly, the Red Wings could have left Andreas Athanasiou unprotected to protect Darren Helm but didn’t.  So there were some good choices here.

Let’s come back to the goalies, though.

Yesterday the Arizona Coyotes and Calgary Flames made waves with the Coyotes sending veteran goalie Mike Smith to the Flames for a pick and a prospect.  At the time, I wondered how Ken Holland couldn’t have gotten a deal done to send Jimmy Howard to Calgary instead, as the Wings certainly could have asked for less, with the cleared cap space being the real acquisition for Detroit.  After all, Smith is two years older than Howard, signed for more money, and had worse stats than Howard last season.

One response was that Smith is seen as more durable than Howard.  While that’s possible, it’d be somewhat ridiculous, as Howard missed significant time last season but Smith missed half the year in 2015-16.

Another idea was that Calgary GM Brad Treliving specifically wanted Smith, as he was with the Coyotes when they signed him.  That’s always possible, but I find it hard to believe that familiarity was worth the higher price paid for Smith than the Wings would have to have asked for Howard.  Either Treliving did a disservice to the Flames by overpaying for a goalie or Ken Holland did a disservice to the Red Wings by not negotiating hard enough to trade Howard.

I’m also focusing on Howard here because we know the Flames traded for Smith and Howard is more like Smith than Mrazek is.  We have no idea what kind of deal it would have taken to move Mrazek to Calgary but we can guess what kind of deal would have gotten Howard there.

If Howard gets dealt yesterday, Mrazek gets protected today, and concerns about losing a goalie for nothing are gone.

I think it could have been avoided, but regardless the reason, the Red Wings hit yesterday’s deadline with two NHL goalies on their roster and could only protect one.

With that out of the way, some thoughts on protecting Howard over Mrazek…

There’s a lot of chatter that neither will be selected because there are better goalies available.  If that’s the case, I would think you try to slide Howard through because at 33 and with a $5.29 million cap hit and coming off an injury-filled season, it’s less likely that he gets claimed, just in case.

If there’s a deal in place to “guide” the Golden Knights towards picking a certain player, it doesn’t matter who you have unprotected.  That said, Ken Holland said he wasn’t going to do that.  Kenny has lied to us before, though.

Ignoring both of those, the reason to leave Mrazek unprotected is because you don’t care if you lose him.  For a team in the Red Wings’ position, that’s a mistake.  This team needs to get younger and cheaper, even if that means worse (which I think it arguable).  Shed bad contracts and look to the future.  You do that by protecting Mrazek, not Howard.

Protecting Howard over Mrazek feels like sacrificing youth for another playoff push.  It feels like the tie goes to the veteran.  It feels like the “Red Wings Way” that led to the end of the playoff streak and no long playoff runs in nearly a decade.

Revisiting the Myth of “Playing the Kids”

It was a summer that saw the Red Wings swing and miss on a free agent signing that would have filled a massive hole in their roster.  The team’s blueline corps was looking ineffective.  Fans were clamoring to see more of the exciting forward prospects in the system but there was no room for them on the roster.

It was 2012.

I wrote then about how the team needed defense but instead had a glut of forwards.  Unlike then, now there’s actually talk of swapping some of the forward depth for defensive help.  Maybe they can actually do that, but no trade they do for a defenseman is going to clear up the logjam they have at forward.

On April 21, as the Red Wings closed out their season in Tampa with a loss to the Lightning, they had 14 forwards on the roster.  Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen were healthy scratches.  Andreas Athanasiou was in the lineup.  So were the since-departed Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, and Joakim Andersson.

Red Wings’ brass implied that there would be a battle for roster spots up front in the aftermath of another early playoff exit.  With two top-six forwards and a fourth-liner gone, there would seemingly be plenty of opportunity.

Then, when free agency opened on July 1, the Red Wings signed two top-six forwards and a fourth-liner.

Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin, and Frans Nielsen are locked in as four of the top six forwards.  One of Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar might be traded but probably not both, so there’s five.  Darren Helm or Tomas Vanek likely makes the sixth, with the other dropping to the third line with Riley Sheahan.  Your fourth line is the returning Drew Miller, the extended Luke Glendening, and the recently-signed Steve Ott.

That’s one roster spot on the third line open.  Athanasiou.  Pulkkinen.  Jurco.  Anthony Mantha.  Tyler Bertuzzi.  Tomas Nosek.  Martin Frk and Mitch Callahan have to clear waivers.  Hell, throw Eric Tangradi and Louis-Marc Aubry in the mix.  That’s ten players (okay, realistically five to seven) fighting for one roster spot.  That’s not even mentioning Dylan Sadowy or Evgeny Svechnikov.  That is not opportunity.

Opportunity would have been letting Helm walk.  Letting Miller go.  Not signing Ott.  Not extending Glendening.

Vanek takes the second line spot.  The third line is Sheahan with Mantha and Pulkkinen or Jurco.  The fourth line is Athanasiou with Bertuzzi and whichever of Pulkkinen or Jurco that’s not on the third line.  Some combination of Glendening (who, without that extension, isn’t as cemented into the lineup), Nosek, Frk, and Tangradi provide your depth/healthy scratches.


Let’s go back to the trade for a defenseman plan.  This is not going to be a fantasy hockey quantity-for-quality deal.  No one is going to take Jurco and Pulkkinen and Frk for a top-pairing blueliner.  This theoretical deal starts with Nyquist or Tatar.  Maybe another prospect forward gets included but more likely Ryan Sproul or Xavier Ouellet or Nick Jensen.

That deal would help solve the Wings’ defensive problems but it does not suddenly clear up the logjam at forward as well.

Red Wings Re-sign Goalie Coreau

As CapFriendly first revealed last night, the Detroit Red Wings have re-signed goalie Jared Coreau.

The deal sheds some light on what the Wings’ organization expects their goalie situation to look like in the coming years.

While Coreau’s one-way deal for 2017-18 does not prevent him from being sent down to Grand Rapids, it would appear that the 2016-17 campaign will be his last with the Griffins and he’ll be with the Red Wings for their first season at Little Caesars Arena.  One can assume that he would back up Petr Mrazek, with Jimmy Howard having been traded or claimed by Las Vegas in next summer’s expansion draft.

Coreau had opted for salary arbitration earlier in the day but, obviously, the hearing was not necessary.  This leaves defenseman Danny DeKeyser as the lone Red Wing facing arbitration.

Along with DeKeyser, the Red Wings still need to sign Teemu Pulkkinen, Mrazek, Colin Campbell, Ryan Sproul, Mitch Callahan, and Louis-Marc Aubry, who are all restricted free agents.

Red Wings Sign Cleary to One-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced late on Friday the signing of veteran forward Daniel Cleary to a one-year deal.

The contract is reportedly a two-way deal for $950,000. The entire amount of the contract would come off of the Red Wings’ salary cap if Cleary were assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Cleary, 36, is coming off a season that saw him play just 17 games, scoring a goal and an assist while on a contract that paid him $2.5 million.

The deal is reportedly the result of a handshake agreement between Cleary and Detroit general manager Ken Holland two years ago. Supposedly, at the urging of then-head coach Mike Babcock, Holland promised Cleary a series of one-year deals to match the three-year offer he was rumored to be mulling from the Philadelphia Flyers. Such an agreement, however, is expressly forbidden by the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA.

With the signing, the Red Wings now have 20 forwards who would have to clear waivers to be sent to the Griffins to start the season, though two of those players are Andy Miele and Eric Tangradi, who were specifically signed for Grand Rapids. Another, Louis-Marc Aubry, is unlikely to get a shot with the Red Wings. This leaves Cleary, Joakim Andersson, Landon Ferraro, and Mitch Callahan fighting for the final roster spots.

Red Wings Announce Signings of Jensen, Callahan

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signings of defenseman Nick Jensen and forward Mitch Callahan on Monday.

Jensen’s deal is for two years while Callahan’s is for one. Both are two-way contracts. Financial terms were not officially announced but reportedly Callahan will make $600,000 at the NHL level while Jensen will make $882,000.

Both players are expected to spend next season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Jensen, 24, was selected by the Red Wings 150th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. In two seasons with the Griffins, he’s played 120 games, scoring six goals and adding 30 assists for 36 points.

He has yet to receive an NHL call-up.

Callahan, 23, was also selected in the 2009 draft (180th overall). In 237 AHL games, all with the Griffins, he has 59 goals and 52 assists for 111 points. He also has 271 penalty minutes.

Callahan made his NHL debut with Detroit during the 2013-14 season, playing one game and being held off the scoresheet.

With Jensen and Callahan inked, in addition to last week’s signings of Gustav Nyquist and Jared Coreau, the Red Wings’ remaining restricted free agents are Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco, and Louis-Marc Aubry.

Red Wings Re-sign Nyquist

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Friday the signing of forward Gustav Nyquist to a four-year contract. As per club policy, financial terms were not announced. Reportedly the contract is worth $19 million, carrying a $4.75 million cap hit.

Nyquist was a restricted free agent who had opted for arbitration. He and the Red Wings continued negotiating leading up to the arbitration hearing – which would have been in late July or early August – and came to terms on the new deal.

Nyquist, 25, has led the Red Wings in goals each of the last two seasons. In 179 career NHL games he has 59 goals and 56 assists for 115 career points.

Originally drafted in the fourth round, 121st overall, in 2008, Nyquist has spent his entire career with Detroit.

With Nyquist locked up, Detroit’s remaining free agents are RFAs Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen, with Nick Jensen, Louis-Marc Aubry, and Mitch Callahan of Grand Rapids also due extensions.

Red Wings Assign Eight to Griffins

One day after sending seventeen players to the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings assigned eight more to their American Hockey League affiliate.

Forwards Riley Sheahan, Triston Grant, Landon Ferraro, Louis-Marc Aubry and Luke Glendening were sent down as the Griffins begin their training camp in Grand Rapids. They’re joined by defensemen Nathan Paetsch and Alexey Marchenko and goalie Jared Coreau.

The Red Wings are now down to 30 players on their training camp roster. Expected Griffins still in Detroit are Teemu Pulkkinen, Willie Coetzee, Adam Almquist and Petr Mrazek. Pulkkinen is currently suspended and required to remain with the Red Wings but is practicing with the Griffins, Coetzee has been injured, and Mrazek is expected to fill in for injured Detroit backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson.

Detroit has three preseason games remaining. The Griffins play two preseason matches this weekend.

Pregame: Blackhawks @ Red Wings – 9/22

A night after dropping a 2-0 decision to the Boston Bruins in their preseason home opener, the Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks. Detroit lost to the ‘Hawks in Chicago last Tuesday.

The Wings will be using the following roster:

Forwards
Justin Abdelkader
Pavel Datsyuk
Gustav Nyquist
Riley Sheahan
Joakim Andersson
Tomas Tatar
Cory Emmerton
Landon Ferraro
Louis-Marc Aubry
Mikael Samuelsson
Henrik Zetterberg
Luke Glendening

Defensemen
Brendan Smith
Nathan Paetsch
Alexey Marchenko
Jonathan Ericsson
Adam Almquist
Niklas Kronwall

Goalies
Jimmy Howard
Petr Mrazek

Game time is 5:00 PM on FSD.

Red & White Game Rosters Announced

The Detroit Red Wings announced the tentative rosters for tomorrow’s Red & White Game at Plymouth’s Compuware Arena earlier today.

Pavel Datsyuk will be a game-time decision, having arrived back in Detroit from Russia late Monday. Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson will be kept out due to injuries.

Red Wings Assign 22 to Griffins

In advance of the NHL lockout expected to begin this weekend, the Detroit Red Wings assigned 22 players to the Grand Rapids Griffins, their afflilate in the American Hockey League.

The complete list of players assigned is as follows:

Adam Almqvist
Joakim Andersson
Louis-Marc Aubry
Damien Brunner
Mitch Callahan
Willie Coetzee
Landon Ferraro
Gleason Fournier
Tomas Jurco
Brian Lashoff
Thomas McCollum
Petr Mrazek
Andrej Nestrasil
Max Nicastro
Gustav Nyquist
Francis Pare
Trevor Parkes
Jordan Pearce
Brent Raedeke
Riley Sheahan
Brendan Smith
Tomas Tatar

Of those, only Pearce and Pare had needed to clear waivers, having done so earlier in the week.