On Judging the Kids

It’s no secret that I’ve written off this season for the Red Wings and want to see them “play the kids.”  I wrote early this month that I liked that Ryan Sproul had been in position to make the mistake that led to a Florida Panthers overtime win.

The game after that mistake, Sproul was a minus-3 in a loss to Pittsburgh.  He’s played in just four of the Red Wings’ 11 games since then.  He’s spent time behind both Brian Lashoff and Nick Jensen on the Wings’ depth chart.

Andreas Athanasiou had seven shifts last night.  At the end of the first period, on his fourth shift, the Senators scored with seconds left to tie things up.  On his sixth shift, he jumped the gun to try to force an odd-man rush and was out of position when the pass he was waiting for got picked off, turning into an Ottawa goal.  His seventh shift closed out the second period.  He didn’t play in the third.

I want to see what the kids can do when given opportunity.  Benching takes that opportunity away.  We may find out over a season that Sproul doesn’t have it.  We may find out that Athanasiou can’t handle more than 12 minutes per night.  But we don’t know unless they get that opportunity.

I will say that, with Sproul benched, I’m glad that Nick Jensen is getting his own opportunity.  That makes a lot more sense to me than Lashoff playing.


There are two things about the small sample size that these guys have to prove themselves that have been rattling around in my head.

#1 – Lets say that Sproul plays a full season, fills in well, but is otherwise unspectacular.  Hey, a kid stepped into the NHL and proved he belonged and that’s good, right?  Yeah, but don’t throw a four-year deal at him all of the sudden.  Looking at you, Brian Lashoff.

#2 – Jared Coreau is a great story.  Two wins in his first three NHL starts after he started his pro career going a full year without a win.  He’s probably going to start the Centennial Classic and, given Petr Mrazek‘s struggles, he probably should.  But you know who else won two out of his first three starts for the Red Wings?  Norm Maracle.  Just saying, lets not get ahead of ourselves proclaiming him the starter or anything.

Red Wings Call Up Nosek, Lashoff

The Red Wings announced a slate of roster moves this morning as they head into back-to-back games this weekend while dealing with injuries to Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith.

To make room for Nosek and Lashoff, they shuffled Abdelkader and Andreas Athanasiou around on various forms of injured reserve.

My initial thought is that the Red Wings will try to see if Niklas Kronwall can go for both games, which is why Lashoff got the call instead of Robbie Russo.  I mean, if the call-up is actually going to get minutes, don’t you want the guy who has a future in the organization getting a look?  Call up Russo or Nick Jensen and see what they can do.  If the guy is expected to just sit in the press box, go ahead and call up Lashoff, and if he ends up being needed then you already know what he’s capable of.

I’m curious whether Nosek will actually play, and where he’ll play.  If he’s on the third line, I guess I’m okay with it.  I’ve already said that I wanted to see Evgeny Svechnikov and that Matt Lorito would be an interesting option.  I just don’t want to see the Wings do the whole “call up a grinder, drop him on the fourth line, and pull Drew Miller or Steve Ott up to the third line” thing they’ve traditionally done.  Scratching Nosek and bringing back the OMG line also works, I suppose.

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.

Trade Deadline Thoughts

The National Hockey League’s 2016 trade deadline came and went on Monday with the Red Wings refraining from making a move. For the most part, I’m okay with that.

Saturday’s trade of Jakub Kindl to the Florida Panthers for a sixth-round draft pick was a great move. GM Ken Holland unloaded the salary of a player who would probably never play for the Red Wings again and actually got an asset in return.

Kindl became expendable with the emergence of Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet, both of whom had passed Kindl on the Red Wings’ depth chart and both of whom will have to clear waivers to be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins next season.

Assuming Kyle Quincey is not re-signed this summer, there will be room on the Detroit roster in 2016-17 for both Marchenko and Ouellet – but not Nick Jensen, who has yet to get a real look at the NHL level (he was a healthy scratch during his call-up earlier this season).

So the Kindl move makes sense on several levels. From there the Red Wings could decide to either load up for a playoff run, as they traditionally do, sell off any additional parts, which they rarely do, or stand pat.

Unless an exceptional deal to add a piece came along, I’d have liked to see them deal away Brendan Smith. His name came up as a player who would be available at the deadline, often compared to Kris Russell. With Russell fetching Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock, and a conditional second round pick, I’m really curious as to what Holland turned down for Smith, assuming anyone called. Smith has seemingly been demoted to being the Red Wings’ seventh defenseman and $2.25 million is too much to pay for someone who’s in the pressbox most nights.

I’m sure Holland thinks he can keep Smith for the run to the playoffs and then deal him at the draft but I’m not sure the market will be as favorable then.

I didn’t want to see the Red Wings load up without an exceptional deal because, frankly, this team is too many missing pieces from being a Stanley Cup contender. It’s possible they ride Petr Mrazek to an extended playoff run but without that, they’re not going to go far. It would have taken something like a trade for Eric Staal, combined with Staal returning to his early-career form, to be enough. Looking at the players traded on Monday, none of the, would have been enough on his own.

Jensen, Tangradi Called Up as Andersson Demoted

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Sunday that defenseman Nick Jensen and forward Eric Tangradi were called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins. To help make room for the pair, forward Joakim Andersson – who cleared waivers at noon on Saturday – was sent to the Griffins.

Jensen gives the Red Wings seven defensemen on the roster with Niklas Kronwall recovering from knee surgery. The extra blueliner may be required, as Brendan Smith left Saturday’s game late in the third period and has been dealing with an unspecified injury.

Originally Detroit’s fifth round selection (150th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Jensen, 25, has eight goals and 36 assists over the last three seasons with the Griffins. He has yet to make his Red Wings debut.

Tangradi, signed as a free agent by the Red Wings last summer, is the Griffins’ heading scorer with 31 points in 36 games. He was called up to Detroit earlier this season but did not make an appearance in the lineup. In 143 career NHL games, Tangradi has five goals and ten assists for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets, and Montreal Canadiens.

Andersson will rejoin a Griffins team for whom he scored 38 goals and 63 assists in 189 career games. In 25 games with the Red Wings this season, he has one goal and two assists in a fourth-line role.

Jensen and Tangradi could be in the lineup for the Red Wings on Monday when they visit the New York Islanders.

Defenseman Quincey to Have Surgery

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced that defenseman Kyle Quincey will have surgery on his ankle this weekend.

He is expected to miss six weeks recovering from the procedure.

Quincey, 30, played in the Red Wings’ first seven games of the season before taking a hit to the head from Calgary’s Sam Bennett. He hasn’t been on the ice since October 23. While he passed concussion protocol, his ankle issue became severe enough that surgery is required.

In May, Quincey had surgery on his left ankle to remove bone spurs. A similar issue was discovered with his right ankle during training camp but he had been playing through it.

With Quincey out, defenseman Alexey Marchenko is likely to remain with the Red Wings, though the team may choose to give Xavier Ouellet and/or Nick Jensen a look as well.

Red Wings Open Preseason with OT Loss to Blackhawks

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night to open their 2015 exhibition schedule.

Featuring a team made up mostly of players destined for the Grand Rapids Griffins against a large NHL contingent playing in front of their home crowd, Detroit rallied from a 4-1 third-period deficit to force overtime before Trevor Daley scored to give the Blackhawks the win.

Detroit’s trio of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Nick Jensen sustained pressure in the Chicago end on the second shift of overtime but Larkin was tripped and took down Mantha, leading to a three-on-one against Ryan Sproul – who had come on for Jensen – for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane moved the puck to Artem Anisimov who moved it on to Daley for an easy snap past Red Wings’ goalie Tom McCollum at 1:40 of the extra period.

The Blackhawks had opened the game’s scoring 7:16 in, when Kyle Baun batted the mid-air rebound of a Ryan Garbutt chance past Jimmy Howard, who started the game in net for Detroit.

Jonathan Toews made it 2-0 just 1:08 later, snapping a shot from the top of the left circle past Howard.

Chicago’s power play gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead at 6:24 of the second period, as Howard stopped Toews’ initial shot was blocked aside by Howard but Teuvo Teravaninen put the puck back between the Detroit netminder’s pads from in close.

Mantha got the Red Wings on the board with 5:05 left in the middle period, beating Mark Visentin from the slot off a feed from Andy Miele. Visentin had replaced started Scott Darling midway through the period.

Garbutt restored the Chicago lead at 2:39 of the third period, capitalizing on a turnover by Brian Lashoff and a mental mistake by Sproul to step up and snap a shot past McCollum. Sproul appeared to think the play was offsides and made no move to challenge Garbutt as he jumped into the zone.

Riley Sheahan started Detroit’s comeback at 5:58 of the third, tipping a Nathan Paetsch shot past Visentin to make it 4-2.

With 7:07 remaining, Teemu Pulkkinen made it 4-3, crashing the crease to get to the rebound of a Miele chance and shovel it into the open side of the net.

Luke Glendening tied things up on a power play with just 2:05 remaining, gathering up the rebound of an Andreas Athanasiou chance and lifting it past Visentin from the edge of the crease.

Each team finished the night with a power play goal. Detroit had three chances with the extra attacker to Chicago’s four.

Howard stopped 18 of 21 shots he faced and McCollum made 14 saves on 16 shots for the Red Wings. Darling was perfect on 22 shots while Visentin stopped 12 of 16 for the Blackhawks.

The two teams will meet again on Wednesday in Detroit, with the Red Wings expected to dress a mostly-NHLer lineup and the Blackhawks icing a prospect-heavy team.


With none of their usual leaders in the lineup, Drew Miller, Riley Sheahan, and Luke Glendening wore alternate captain’s As for the Red Wings.

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.