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.

Hurricanes Claim Nestrasil from Red Wings

Forward Andrej Nestrasil was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes from the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

The Red Wings had waived Nestrasil in an attempt to send him to the Grand Rapids Griffins, clearing a roster spot for the team to activate Stephen Weiss from injured reserve. Weiss is expected to be assigned to the Griffins on a conditioning stint.
In 13 games this season – his first in the NHL – Nestrasil has no goals and two assists. Nestrasil surprised many by making the Red Wings’ lineup out of training camp, beating out Landon Ferraro and Mitch Callahan for the spot opened up by a preseason injury to Pavel Datsyuk.

Red Wings Place Ferraro, Callahan, Porter on Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings placed three forwards on waivers on Sunday.

Landon Ferraro, Mitch Callahan, and Kevin Porter will all be available to be claimed by the rest of the league until noon on Monday. If they are not claimed, the trio are expected to be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Ferraro and Callahan have spent most of their professional careers with the Griffins, earning brief call-ups to the Red Wings last season. Porter was signed by Detroit to a two-way deal over the summer.

Ferraro, 23 and the son of former NHLer Ray, was held pointless in four career NHL games. In 200 AHL games he has 48 goals and 50 assists for 98 points, along with a -3 rating and 143 penalty minutes.

Callahan, also 23, was held off the scoresheet in his lone NHL appearance. In 189 games with the Griffins he has 43 goals and 30 assists for 73 points, a +17 rating, and 247 penalty minutes. His 26 goals in the 2013-14 campaign were good for second on the team.

Porter, 28, has played six NHL seasons split between the Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, and Buffalo Sabres. In 206 career games he has 29 goals and 26 assists for 55 points. He had 19 goals and 17 assists last season for the AHL’s Rochester Americans, where he played 50 games.

Notably not waived on Sunday was Andrej Nestrasil, who will require waivers to return to the Griffins this season.

Final rosters for the start of the NHL season must be set by Tuesday at 5:00 PM. Any players who need to clear waivers will need to be waived by noon on Monday.

Red Wings Re-sign RFA Ferraro

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Friday the re-signing of forward Landon Ferraro to a one-year deal.

As per club policy, financial terms were not announced. However, CapGeek reports it to be a two-way deal worth $550,000 at the NHL level, similar to those signed by Andrej Nestrasil and Mitch Callahan last week.

Like Nestrasil and Callahan, Ferraro is out of waiver options for the coming season. If he does not make the Red Wings out of training camp, he will have to be made available to the rest of the NHL’s teams before he can be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Ferraro made his NHL debut last season, going without a point in four games for the Red Wings. He also scored 15 goals and 16 assists for the Griffins in 70 games.

In three seasons with Grand Rapids, Ferraro has 48 goals and 50 points.

Ferraro, 22, is the son of former NHLer Ray Ferraro. He was selected in the second round, 32nd overall, by the Red Wings in the 2009 NHL entry draft.

Red Wings Re-Sign Callahan, Nestrasil

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday the re-signing of forwards Mitch Callahan and Andrej Nestrasil. Both were signed to one-year deals. Other terms were not officially announced but the pair reportedly received two-way deals. Callahan will make 555,000 at the NHL level and Nestrasil will make 550,000.

The pair are expected to be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins to start the 2014-15 season, however, both are out of minor-league options and would have to clear waivers to remain in the organization.

Callahan, 22, made his NHL debut last season, appearing in one game with Detroit. In his third season with the Griffins he scored a career-high 44 points with 26 goals and 18 assists in 70 games.

Nestrasil, 23, split his first two pro seasons between the Griffins and the ECHL Toledo Walleye. Last year was his first full year in the AHL, scoring 16 goals and adding 20 assists for 36 points.

Looking at the Red Wings’ 2014-15 Roster

We’re all of three days into the offseason but it’s never too early to start looking at next year. I’ve had a lot of side conversations about what I think the Red Wings’ roster will look like next year and what it should look like (which aren’t the same thing) so I figured I’d post my “ideal” opening night roster and go from there.

Henrik ZetterbergPavel DatsyukGustav Nyquist
Tomas TatarRiley SheahanTomas Jurco
Justin AbdelkaderDarren HelmDaniel Alfredsson
Drew MillerDavid LegwandLuke Glendening
Mitch Callahan
Landon Ferraro

Niklas KronwallDanny DeKeyser
Jonathan EricssonBrendan Smith
Ryan SproulXavier Ouellet
Adam Almquist

Jimmy Howard
Petr Mrazek

You’ll notice there are some names missing, and that’s why this may be my “ideal” roster but it’s also pretty much impossible.

The forward lines are build out from the second line. If the Red Wings are really going to embrace the youth movement, even when healthy, I want the Kid Line skating as Detroit’s second line again. It might not be the best possible lineup to start the year but I think it will be by the end of the season and for seasons beyond.

With the Kid Line in place, you can load up on the first line, with both Eurotwins and Gustav Nyquist.

On the third line you’ve got Darren Helm centering Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Alfredsson. I bring back Alfredsson if he wants to come back and put him on the third line to keep his minutes down and add some scoring. It also gives flexibility for the inevitable Line Blender, as you could bump Abdelkader to the top line as Mike Babcock loves to do, drop Nyquist down to the second, and play Tatar on the third.

The fourth line brings back David Legwand simply because I think he has to be re-signed or it makes the deal to trade for him look even more ridiculous. I wouldn’t bring back Glendening but Babcock loves him so he’s going to be in the lineup on opening night.

Callahan and Ferraro are out of waiver options, they stick with the big club out of camp.

Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson? All free agents, all allowed to walk.

Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss, Joakim Andersson, Jordin Tootoo? That’s where this gets messy, as I don’t have a spot for any of them or any player they might bring back in trade and there’s only one compliance buyout left.

The easy answer is that Alfredsson and Legwand don’t return and Franzen and Weiss take their spots. Tootoo gets bought out and Andersson gets the Cory Emmerton treatment. That makes the Legwand trade look awful but is that better than finding a way to unload Weiss (who’d probably just have to be waived with the hope that someone claims him)?

Franzen… Oh Franzen. There are going to be a lot of words written about him between now and the draft. I’ll try not to write too many of them. I say the draft because I think if he’s going to be traded, it’ll be then. He won’t be bought out. It’s not that Franzen necessarily is bad or overpaid (his cap hit is great for his potential). When he’s good, he’s among the best. When he’s bad, he looks like he doesn’t even want to be out there. Combined with his comments about not being paid to score goals, there’s a perceived attitude problem there. The negatives outweigh the positives to me.

On defense, I don’t think the top four are all that controversial. Kyle Quincey is gone. The UFA defense pool is shallow this year and Quincey is going to get absolutely paid by someone.

The third pair, though, is where the youth movement kicks in. Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul looked ready in their limited opportunity this season. I give them the chance to start next year.

I’d like to have a veteran seventh defenseman to back them up but – like Ferraro and Callahan – Adam Almquist is out of options so he stays up by default.

Brian Lashoff? Jakub Kindl? They’re in Franzen/Weiss/Andersson territory. Under contract but I don’t have a spot for them. Lashoff can be buried in Grand Rapids if necessary, the only “easy” decision available.

In goal we’ve got Howard back (of course) and Petr Mrazek making the jump to be his backup. Some (maybe even within the Wings organization) will argue that Mrazek is better served getting starts in GR than as backup, I disagree. A 50/30 split would get Howard some rest and get Mrazek into games.

This doesn’t answer the team’s reported interest in a top-four, right-handed defenseman (unless you want to count Sproul there). It leaves a bunch of players with contracts off the lineup. It doesn’t get anything in return for those missing players and it doesn’t utilize the cap space freed up by their absence. In short, it’s not going to happen. But it’s the starting point that I’m going to look at things from this summer.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Blue Jackets – 3/25

I’m unhappy with the game-winner tonight but to focus entirely on that is to ignore the problems the Red Wings have.

Coming down the stretch, needing a goal to get even, how many unscreened shots from the blue line got straight through to McElhinney to grab for a stop in play? No second chances, no tips in front. And if it wasn’t the Gustav Nyquist / Riley Sheahan / Tomas Tatar line, there was no offense. They really are the new Eurotwins.

It’s not just Nyquist and Tatar, though. Sheahan is becoming a force. His move to get the puck to Nyquist on the first Detroit goal was beautiful.

Also on the personnel front, Mitch Callahan looked acceptable in his NHL debut. Better than Landon Ferraro, probably worse than Teemu Pulkkinen. Didn’t do enough to make me want to see more of him if Tomas Jurco comes back on Thursday but I wouldn’t expect that.

That said, let’s come back to that game-winner. I have issues with it on multiple fronts.

First is the call, that the net came off because Brendan Smith pushed Cam Atkinson into it. Yes, Smith pushed Atkinson. He didn’t push him that much.

Second is that Atkinson was standing in the space normally occupied by the post while he handled the puck. If he wasn’t able to be in that spot, he wouldn’t have been able to score. If he was able to be in that spot, clearly the net being off its moorings had an affect on the play.

Third, goes back to last weekend, when this goal was waived off but then Columbus’ is allowed to stand. Just feels like the Wings are the only team that can’t get away with anything around the net.

But coming out of the night Detroit still holds a playoff spot, sitting in eighth due to tiebreakers as they’re tied for seventh with Columbus, Toronto and Washington. Big games coming up against Montreal and Toronto later this week.

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.