Pregame: Red Wings @ Flyers – 11/2

Hey, have you heard?  The Red Wings are in Philadelphia tonight.  You know what else?  They haven’t won there since 1997!  I’m sure no one else has mentioned this.

It’s not just the ongoing 11-game losing streak, the Red Wings have always been bad in Philadelphia.  Their .285 road winning percentage against the Flyers is their worst against any team.  The only other sub-.300 road winning percentage they’ve got is a .294 at the old Omni against the Atlanta Flames.

The Red Wings have a losing record on the road against all of the teams of the 1967 Great Expansion.  They’re at .311 in Pittsburgh, they went .397 against the Oakland/California/Cleveland franchise, they’re .429 visiting Los Angeles, they’re .457 in St. Louis, and they’re at .460 between Minnesota and Dallas.

For the record, the Detroit went 2-1 while visiting Philly during the only season of the Philadelphia Quakers’ existence, back when Detroit was still the Falcons.


Petr Mrazek gets the start in goal for the Red Wings and Xavier Ouellet swaps back in on the blue line, with Ryan Sproul coming out.

With Martin Frk re-claimed from the Carolina Hurricanes and immediately sent back down to the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wings don’t have any extra forwards to make changes up front if they wanted to.

Game time is 8:00 PM with NBCSN giving it the Rivalry Night treatment.

Pregame: Hurricanes @ Red Wings – 10/25

After a successful weekend with back-to-back wins over the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks, the Red Wings are back at it again tonight hosting the Carolina Hurricanes.

Detroit will be without Justin Abdelkader for the second game in a row.  He returned to practice today but his middle-body injury will keep him out of the game.

With Abdelkader out, the only lineup change will be Petr Mrazek starting instead of Jimmy Howard.

The game marks Detroit draft pick Martin Frk‘s first NHL game at Joe Louis Arena, after having been claimed via waivers by the Hurricanes before the start of the season.  He’ll be joined by former Red Wing and previous waiver claim Andrej Nestrasil.

Stupid Stat of the Day:  The Red Wings only have three regular season losses to the Hurricanes at Joe Louis Arena.  They’ve all come in the last four times they’ve hosted Carolina.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.

An Alternate Red Wings Roster

After publishing my post explaining why I’m not excited about the start of this season, I went outside and mowed my lawn, which gave me more time to think.  A dangerous thing.

I started mentally re-working the Red Wings’ roster, imagining a lineup featuring none of Detroit’s summer free agent signings or re-signings.  This is what I came up with:

Justin AbdelkaderDylan LarkinRiley Sheahan
Tomas TatarHenrik ZetterbergAnthony Mantha
Gustav NyquistAndreas AthanasiouTeemu Pulkkinen
Tomas NosekLuke GlendeningTyler Bertuzzi
Martin Frk

Those lines are based on the ones the team practiced with today, so they can be shuffled however you want.  The important thing is the 13 forwards.

Yeah, not having Frans Nielsen and needing to move Zetterberg back to center hurts, but look at the opportunity on that lineup.  That’s Mantha, Athanasiou, and Pulkkinen getting top-nine (none of this top-six, bottom-six nonsense) minutes.  That’s Glendening still centering a line of grinders, just as he is now.

Is it as likely to make the playoffs?  Well, I don’t think the current roster is going to make it, so zero percent chance is equal to zero percent chance.  That said, no, I can’t say I think this roster has as good of a chance.  I’m okay with that.

This roster also includes an effort to fix the Red Wings’ defense.  While the same blueliners make the team as did in reality (which is why I didn’t specifically note them), there is an additional defensive prospect in the system.

This roster has a low enough salary to absorb Pavel Datsyuk‘s cap hit, which means he’s never traded and the Red Wings draft Jakob Chychrun.

Chychrun made Arizona’s opening night roster but I have no expectation that he’d do the same in Detroit, given the Wings’ logjam.  That said, two years down the road you can expect there’d be room for him, the kind of player Detroit has been unable to sign as a free agent or trade for.

I know that I’m looking at it with 20/20 hindsight.  At the time Datsyuk’s contract was traded, no one could have known whether or not Steven Stamkos would hit the open market and the Red Wings felt that they had to be prepared for that.

That said, it’s hard not to look at what might have been and wonder.

Red Wings Place Pulkkinen on Waivers

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Red Wings have placed forward Teemu Pulkkinen on waivers.

The move comes on the heels of the Red Wings losing Martin Frk to the Carolina Hurricanes via waivers.

I get that this move likely means that either Andreas Athanasiou or Anthony Mantha have made the Wings’ opening night roster, as there’s no spot for them without cutting someone loose, but I really hate this.  This is a direct result of unnecessary signings (or re-signings) last summer.  The Wings are going to lose Pulkkinen for nothing because they couldn’t resist bringing back Helm and Miller and bringing in Ott and Vanek.

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?

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-up Pulkkinen

The Red Wings announced the signing of restricted free agent forward Teemu Pulkkinen to a one-year contract extension today…  Sort of.

They later “corrected” the “typo.”

As per club policy, no useful information was announced.  So we’re waiting on that.

Pulkkinen is expected to miss the start of the season after off-season shoulder surgery.

The Red Wings now have 18 forwards signed for next season.  Johan Franzen and Joe Vitale will likely spend the entire year on LTIR while Pulkkinen will start the season there.  That’s still 15 players for 14 spots, meaning, one of Andreas Athanasiou or Anthony Mantha likely starts the season in Grand Rapids.  That’s not including Tyler Bertuzzi or Martin Frk or any of the other young guys that are supposedly going to fight for a roster spot next year.

Of course, there’s always the mythical “forwards for defense” trade that could clear up that logjam.

UPDATE: HSJ tells us that the deal is for $812,500.

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.

Griffins Jersey Number Updates

I’ve already looked at the Red Wings’ jersey number changes this season but now that the Griffins have released their camp roster, I can do the same for them.

None of last-season’s full-time Griffins are changing their numbers for the coming year but all of the players who joined the team late in the season have been assigned different numbers than those they wore during Grand Rapids’ Calder Cup run.

Defenseman Ryan Sproul gives up the #2 he had been wearing (having inherited it from Cody Lampl and Carlo Colaiacovo) to Joe Hartman, switching to the #7 vacated by Brendan Smith‘s ascension to the Detroit roster full-time. Fellow blueliner Xavier Ouellet switches from #37 to #16 while Richard Nedomlel goes from #41 to #45, a rare case of a Griffin wearing a high number.

With Ouellet taking #16, Marek Tvrdon drops to the #13 previously assigned to Gustav Nyquist, who seems poised to make the jump to the Red Wings.

Teemu Pulkkinen switches from #26 to the #6 that was briefly assigned to Andreas Athanasiou, with #26 going to free-agent signing David McIntyre. Calle Jarnkrok drops from the #25 he shared with Mike Knuble last year (and was originally assigned to Damien Brunner) to the #12 vacated by Brent Raedeke‘s departure. Kevin Lynch picks up the #25 from Jarnkrok.

Newcomer Alden Hirschfeld takes Francis Pare‘s old #9. Similarly, Martin Frk picks up Tomas Tatar‘s #27, Dane Walters gets Brian Lashoff‘s #32, Travis Novak will wear Jan Mursak‘s #39 and Alexey Marchenko gets the #3 that was shared by Erik Spady, Mark Mitera and Brett Skinner.

Goalie Jared Coreau gets his usual #31, meaning that he joins Landon Ferraro (#29) and Petr Mrazek (#34) as the only Griffins assigned the same number in Grand Rapids as they are in Detroit.

Joakim Andersson‘s old #18, Chad Billins‘ #14 and Danny DeKeyser‘s #55 were not assigned for camp.