Red Wings’ 2014 Development Camp Sweater Number Stuff

I write about possible sweater number changes every summer and with Monday’s release of the Red Wings’ 2014 Development Camp roster, we’ve got the first opportunity to take a look at some possibilities.

As always, the official disclaimer from Detroit is that these numbers mean nothing. As I always say, however, history doesn’t show that. Usually if a number is assigned to a player in camp, it won’t be worn by a roster player in the coming season.

Last year was the first year since I’ve been tracking that players in development camp were assigned numbers already worn by roster players, as Petr Mrazek‘s #34 went to free agent try-out Andrew D’Agostini. Tomas Tatar‘s #21 was given to Luke Glendening but there is evidence that Tatar was going to switch to #90 before Stephen Weiss got it. Phillippe Hudon getting the #63 previously worn by Joakim Andersson was the first sign of Andersson taking #18.

This year we have no obvious changes as all of the players wearing numbers that were taken last season have the numbers that belonged to departing free agents.

There are some oddities and humorous assignments, though.

For the first time I can remember, numbers in the 90s are in use. One of those is Axel Holmstrom being assigned the #96 formerly worn by the unrelated Tomas Holmstrom. Similarly, returning camp invitee Dean Chelios wears the #24 previously worn by his father, Chris Chelios. Dominic Turgeon will don a number one higher than that of his dad, Pierre Turgeon, having been assigned #78. The team missed out on one more such opportunity, as Tyler Bertuzzi keeps his #59 rather than taking his uncle’s #44, with Todd Bertuzzi now out of the Red Wings’ plans.

For the record, I expect the #44 to go to Colin Campbell in the main camp.

Only one returning player who isn’t a free agent tryout is changing his number from last season, as David Pope drops down from #64 to the #63 vacated by Hudon.

Numbers for players making their first appearance at development camp are as follows (again, with free agents excluded):

Player Name Number
Christoffer Ehn 92
Axel Holmstrom 96
Dylan Larkin 25
Ben Marshall 51
Mike McKee 58
Dominic Turgeon 78
Julius Vahatalo 94

Larkin takes the #25 vacated by Cory Emmerton, Marshall gets the #51 assigned in training camp to Brennan Evans last year, and Mike McKee gets the #58 previously assigned to Max Nicastro, who was not giving a qualifying contract offer by Detroit.

Assorted Monday Notes

I don’t usually do daily notebook-style posts but there were a few items of note worth mentioning today.

Roster Moves
After demoting center Landon Ferraro to the Grand Rapids Griffins overnight last night, the Red Wings called up forward Mitch Callahan today. It’s still unclear whether or not Callahan will play on Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. If he does, he’ll be the first Red Wing to wear number 57.

The Wings also assigned defenseman Max Nicastro to the Griffins from the Toledo Walleye and the Griffins signed Detroit prospect MarcMcNulty to a try-out contract.

Nyquist Named First Star
The NHL named Detroit forward Gustav Nyquist its first star of the week. Nyquist scored six goals and added an assist as the Red Wings went 3-0-1 over the week.

Babcock Approaching Record
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock is approaching a record and I’m not seeing anyone making note of it. Babcock currently sits at 409 regular-season wins as head coach of the Red Wings, only one behind Scotty Bowman‘s 410 for second-most in franchise history. Jack Adams sits at first overall with 413. With five more wins, Babcock becomes the all-time winningest coach in Detroit history.

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 Send 17 to Grand Rapids

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Sunday the assignment of 17 players to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Forwards Tomas Jurco, Martin Frk, Andrej Nestrasil, Trevor Parkes, Mitch Callahan, Marek Tvrdon, Calle Jarnkrok, David McIntyre and Jeff Hoggan were sent down in preparation for the Griffins’ training camp this week in Grand Rapids. They are joined by defensemen Gleason Fournier, Ryan Sproul, Brennan Evans, Max Nicastro, Xavier Ouellet and Richard Nedomlel. Goalies Tom McCollum and Cam Lanigan will also join the Griffins at camp.

Of the 17, McIntyre, Hoggan, Evans, McCollum and Lanigan were not under contract with Detroit and were in the Red Wings’ camp as invitees. None of the others were expected to compete for a spot with the Red Wings, though Jurco could see time as a call-up in case of injury.

The moves leave Detroit with 38 players remaining on the roster.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Blue Jackets – 1/21

Well I’ll be damned if that wasn’t an exciting finish. Let’s take a step back, though.

With the Red Wings up by two and dominating in the second period, that game never should have made it to the shootout. The Wings got sloppy (again) and Columbus made them pay.

The Jackets’ first goal never should have happened. Once again, the Kyle QuinceyBrendan Smith pairing got split and let someone in behind them, and Jimmy Howard got burned on the breakaway. If we can count on that happening once a game, it won’t be a good season.

And, of course, the injuries keep piling up. Carlo Colaiacovo is expected to miss weeks after being hit hard into the boards in the third period. If Jonathan Ericsson can’t go tomorrow, the Wings only have three signed defensemen in their system. Adam Almquist, Max Nicastro and Gleason Fournier. Almquist has at least spent the whole season in GR, as opposed to Nicastro and Fournier who have spent time in Toledo, but Almquist looks terrified of contact at the AHL level. Not ready for the NHL.

On the plus side, Brian Lashoff steps into a hole on the blue line to make his NHL debut and scores. He may have been the second or third best defenseman on the ice for the Wings tonight. Hell of a job by him.

Also great to see Johan Franzen looking like he cares. Great individual effort carrying the puck on the play to set up Ian White for the second goal, playing like the big man he is. And I mentioned it at the time but I love his defensive effort late in the OT, lying down to block a clearing attempt.

I also said this at the time, but I thought for certain I’d be bitching about Niklas Kronwall not shooting when he had the chance on the play that led to the tying goal. Great patience to see and get the puck to Datsyuk.

And, of course, Damien Brunner. Highlight-reel shootout game-winner in his second NHL game. Video will be going on the site shortly.

So not a perfect game by any means but the effort and the outcome were needed after the debacle in St. Louis on Saturday.

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.

Griffins 2012-13 Jersey Number Changes

With twenty-two players having been sent to Grand Rapids by the Red Wings in advance of the expected NHL lockout, the Griffins web site has updated the team’s roster with all the new player jersey numbers. Here’s a look at the changes we’ll see for the 2012-13 season.

Incoming netminder Petr Mrazek picks up the #34 worn last season by Ty Conklin during his AHL demotion, making him one of two Griffins wearing the same number as they are assigned by the Red Wings.

Nathan Paetsch takes the #4 vacated by Travis Ehrhardt. Adam Almquist switches from the #6 he got at the end of last season to the #5 that had been worn by Riley Sheahan, who takes the #19 from outgoing Mike Thomas.

Luke Glendening gets Jamie Johnson‘s old #10. Chad Billins claims the #14 last worn by Chris Minard after having shared #23 with Ryan Sproul last year, with #23 going to Triston Grant.

Fabian Brunnstrom‘s #17 goes to Max Nicastro and Chris Conner‘s #25 goes to Damien Brunner.

Tomas Jurco claims #28 from Alan Quine, making him the second Griffin with the same number he’s currently assigned with the Red Wings, pending Carlo Colaiacovo‘s number selection. Colaiacovo wore #28 with the St. Louis Blues and could request it in Detroit.

Finally, Brennan Evans will wear the #44 of the deceased Bryan Rufenach.

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.

On the Misguided Idea of Playing the Kids

In the aftermath of free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise having spurned an offer from the Red Wings to sign with the Minnesota Wild (and shortly thereafter, supposed Wings’ Plan B Matt Carle signing with Steve Yzerman‘s Tampa Bay Lightning), we’re hearing a lot about how Detroit should rebuild from within rather than signing free agents to replace their summer losses.

Red Wings’ GM Ken Holland himself has pushed that line of thinking.  I’ve already touched on his line of “There’s also got to be an opportunity for some of our kids and the guys we’ve just signed to play.”

That’s an idea that’s been espoused for some time by many fans.  With the constant idea that the Wings are too old and slow, there’s always a call to “just play the kids” and we’re seeing that again now.

There’s a problem with that idea this time around, though.

I’m not against playing the kids.  I want to see what Gustav Nyquist could do in a top-six role and I want to know whether or not Tomas Tatar is ready.  With Detroit’s current lineup, though, Nyquist and Tatar are going to start the season in Grand Rapids.

There are simply too many forwards on the Wings’ roster right now.  Up front is not where the kids will be given a chance.

Unless injuries happen, we’re not going to see Riley Sheahan ir Joakim Andersson.

It’s Detroit’s blueline that has holes.  Decimated by the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, the Wings’ defense is where there’s room for someone to step up and take a bigger role.  The problem?  The Wings have no defensive prospects to do that.

Brendan Smith will make the full-time jump to the big club next year but that was virtually a given at the end of last season.  Aside from him, there are no NHL-ready defensemen in the Red Wings’ system.

Gleason Fournier?  Spent most of last year (his first in the pros) in the ECHL.  Ryan Sproul?  Has yet to play a pro game.  Same for Xavier Ouellet.  Adam Almqvist has played all of three AHL games.  Max Nicastro will make his pro debut this season.  Travis Ehrhardt is an unrestricted free agent on his way out of the organization, as is Logan Pyett.  Brian Lashoff is entering his third pro season but I’ve heard exactly no one say he’s ready.

So there are no kids for the Wings to rely on here.  It’s a bigger role for Smith or Kyle Quincey or Jonathan Ericsson or Jakub Kindl.  Or all of them.  As of right now, two of those four will be in the Red Wings’ top four.

A trade could always happen that shakes things up.  As things are right now, however, “just play the kids” is not a solution to the Wings’ problems.

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.