Flames Claim Goalie MacDonald on Waivers

The Calgary Flames claimed goaltender Joey MacDonald on waivers from the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. MacDonald, 33, has missed the entire 2013 season due to a back injury.

MacDonald played well enough during a call-up from the Grand Rapids Griffins at the end of the 2011-12 season to take the backup role in Detroit away from Ty Conklin. Heading into the 2012 offseason, it looked as though he would be Jimmy Howard‘s backup with the Red Wings but the team opted instead to sign Jonas Gustavsson.

Though Gustavsson has been injured for much of the season, the emergence of rookie goalie Petr Mrazek made MacDonald expendable.

Rather than first send him to Grand Rapids on a conditioning assignment, the Red Wings waived MacDonald in an effort to accommodate his request to join another NHL team.

It marks the second time the Red Wings have lost MacDonald on waivers. The Boston Bruins claimed him on February 24, 2007. He has also spent time with the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Red Wings Place Goalie MacDonald on Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings placed goalie Joey MacDonald on waivers on Sunday as they prepare to bring him off the injured reserve list. MacDonald has missed the entirety of the 2013 season with a back injury.

MacDonald outplayed Ty Conklin late in the 2011-12 season while Jimmy Howard was injured, earning the backup spot in Detroit. Heading into a 2012-13 season where he had a one-way contract, it looked like MacDonald would remain Howard’s backup until the Red Wings signed Jonas Gustavsson to fill that role.

Like MacDonald, Gustavsson has spent most of the season on IR, but the emergence of rookie netminder Petr Mrazek has provided the team yet another option. With MacDonald desiring to remain in the NHL, the Red Wings waived him to see if another team will take a chance on him.

Should he go unclaimed, MacDonald is expected to be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins, at least for a reconditioning stint. His one-way deal means he’ll be paid the same amount and have the same salary cap hit in Grand Rapids as he would if he were in the NHL.

Mrazek Leads Wings to 5-1 Win over Blues in Debut

Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek carried the Red Wings to a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, allowing the fewest number of goals by a Red Wings rookie in his debut game since Kevin Hodson blanked the Chicago Blackhawks on January 6, 1996.

Mrazek stopped 26 St. Louis shots in the effort. He was only beaten when Alex Steen found Alex Pietrangelo wide open in the left faceoff circle on a Blues’ power play with 4:15 left in the second. Mrazek couldn’t get over to cover the open side of the net in time and Pietrangelo lifted a shot in to cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1.

The Red Wings had opened the scoring 5:14 into the game, when Daniel Cleary scored his first goal of the year by following up his own rebound and knocking the puck past Brian Elliot from the top of the crease. It was the first goal of the season by one of the Wings’ bottom six forwards.

Contributions from Detroit’s secondary scoring continued with 8:10 left in the period, as Jakub Kindl‘s shot from above the top of the right faceoff circle deflected off of St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk and past Elliot to make it 2-0.

After Pietrangelo’s goal, Cory Emmerton got the Red Wings back in control with 2:27 left in the second. Emmerton corralled the puck at the edge of the crease off a pass from Jordin Tootoo and shoveled it past Elliot.

Damien Brunner added one more goal before the end of the period to make it 4-1 with 56 seconds remaining. Henrik Zetterberg won a faceoff in the Blues’ zone back to Jonathan Ericsson, who’s shot from the point was blocked but knocked out to Brunner in the slot for a wrister in behind Elliot.

Valtteri Filppula rounded out the scoring with 6:25 left in the third and the teams skating four-on-four. The Blues couldn’t hold in a pass at the Detroit blue line and the puck came out to the neutral zone, where Filppula raced past Andy McDonald and Wade Redden to break in all alone on Elliot and flip a shot past him.

Elliot finished the night with 24 saves on 29 shots against.

Detroit failed to score on their lone power play chance of the night. They killed off two of three St. Louis power plays.

The Red Wings return to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday to host the Edmonton Oilers.

Kent Huskins and Patrick Eaves were healthy scratches for the Red Wings… Jonas Gustavsson, Darren Helm, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Smith and Joey MacDonald all remain out with injuries.

Monday Recap: Mrazek, Tatar, Smith and a New Arena

I don’t like to do “quick hits” style posts but I wasn’t able to comment on some of today’s news so I’m going to bundle it all up into one post here.

Roster Moves
As mentioned yesterday, the Red Wings called up goalie Petr Mrazek and forward Tomas Tatar while sending down goalie Tom McCollum. In their first practice with the big club today, Tatar skated on the second line with Pavel Datsuk and Valtteri Filppula while Mrazek split time with Joey MacDonald.

Tatar may not actually play in that spot but it gets Todd Bertuzzi back down to the third line so I like the move. Keep in mind, though, that Gustav Nyquist started on the second line in his lone appearance of the season and was back down to the third before the game was out.

Mrazek won’t start tomorrow against the Flames and I don’t see him getting the nod against the Blues on Thursday. With back-to-back games this weekend, I see him making his debut on Saturday against Edmonton or Sunday against Los Angeles.

Injury Update
Because it had been too long since the Wings had an injury to announce, it was revealed today that the original 10-14 day estimate for Brendan Smith‘s shoulder injury may have been optimistic. He’s now expected to miss three to four weeks with a shoulder sprain. The Wings have not made a move to replace Smith in the lineup as Ian White is expected to return from his own injury in time for Tuesday’s game.

Additionally, Darren Helm‘s back pain hasn’t gone away, so he’ll be undergoing a bone scan to look for spinal damage.

Arena News
Late Sunday, Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business broke the story that construction on the replacement to Joe Louis Arena could begin this fall. Today he adds that we should expect a corporate name to the new arena.

While it’s disappointing, that move is inevitable. There’s too much money on the table not to sell the naming rights. For that same reason, you won’t see the new arena called the Little Caesar’s Coliseum or anything like that, as it does no good for Mike Ilitch to buy the naming rights from himself.

Red Wings Call Up Mrazek, Tatar

According to Ansar Khan of MLive, the Red Wings have called goalie Petr Mrazek and forward Tomas Tatar up from the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The Red Wings also returned goalie Tom McCollum to the Griffins. McCollum had been with the Red Wings since the second day of the regular season after backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson suffered a groin injury in the season opener. He has seen no action, backing up Detroit starter Jimmy Howard for six games.

Mrazek is coming off his first career AHL shutout on Saturday night, when he led the Griffins to a 1-0 win over the Abbotsford Heat. In his first professional season, he is 16-7-1 for Grand Rapids with a 2.26 GAA and a .916 save percentage, as well as earning the win for the Western Conference in the AHL All-Star Game. He started the season in the ECHL with the Toledo Walleye, going 2-1 in three games with a 2.02 GAA and .944 save percentage.

Tatar is currently second in scoring on the Griffins behind Gustav Nyquist, who made an appearance with the Red Wings for their home opener on January 22. Tatar has 19 goals and 20 assists for the Griffins after a hat trick on Friday against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Red Wings have been battered by injuries, with only three defensemen not having missed time due to injury and both their second- and third-string goalies out of the lineup. Tatar’s call-up is not due to a new injury at forward but Mrazek’s could be to provide an option for resting Howard, who has started every game of the season thus far.

On the Other NHL Goalie Looking for a Trade

While the hockey media buzzes over the possibility of Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo being traded, one of the more forgotten stories of the NHL’s return is the to-be-determined fate of Detroit Red Wings netminder Joey MacDonald.

MacDonald supplanted Ty Conklin as the backup in Detroit late last season while starter Jimmy Howard was injured and was in net for the team’s record-setting 23rd consecutive home win. With Conklin a free agent last summer and MacDonald entering a season with a one-way deal, it looked like MacDonald would be the Wings’ backup for the 2012-13 season.

Then Jonas Gustavsson was signed.

Howard and Gustavsson are locked in as the tandem in Detroit for the coming campaign. MacDonald could be waived with the intent to send him to the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Wings have a logjam in the crease in their system, however, as Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum have carried the Griffins to a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference and Jordan Pearce is already down with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

The likely move is that MacDonald will be dealt in the week between the opening of training camp and the start of the season.

That said, a deal doesn’t have to happen so quickly. With the Red Wings carrying 14 forwards and six defensemen into the season due to injuries to Patrick Eaves and Carlo Colaiacovo, there is room for the team to keep three goalies on the roster.

Obviously MacDonald isn’t the goalie that Luongo is, so there’s not going to be as much buzz about what happens to him, but a move of some kind is coming. We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.

On the Red Wings’ Glut of Forwards

With the Detroit Red Wings set to return to the ice as soon as Wednesday, and games set to begin as early as January 15, questions about the team’s lineup will soon be answered.

On defense, things are pretty well set. Brendan Smith will make the jump from the Grand Rapids and newcomer Carlo Colaiacovo, will battle with Jakub Kindl for a spot on the third pairing when he returns from an injury suffered while playing for Canada in the Spengler Cup. Brian Lashoff may get a look as the seventh defenseman while Colaiacovo is out but that’s really the only question mark.

In the crease, Jimmy Howard is the established starter and Jonas Gustavsson will be his backup. Joey MacDonald is on a one-way contract and not likely bound for Grand Rapids as Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum have things locked down there. In all likelihood, Ken Holland will look to deal MacDonald in what little time he has before the start of the season.

Up front, however, things are much less certain.

The Red Wings will likely carry 14 forwards for the season, though they could go with 15 while Colaiacovo is injured. Patrick Eaves remains sidelined by post-concussion symptoms but even without him, the team has 16 NHL-ready forwards signed.

You can assume that everyone who had a job last year will be back, minus the likely-to-retire Tomas Holmstrom. This means that Justin Abdelkader, Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk, Cory Emmerton, Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Henrik Zetterberg have the inside track. That’s 13 skaters right there.

Then you’ve got Damien Brunner, who’s never played in North America but developed remarkable chemistry with Zetterberg while the pair played in Switzerland during the lockout. Based on that chemistry alone, you’d have to think he gets a shot in Detroit, which puts the team at the 14 they’re likely to carry but doesn’t account for the possibility of Eaves’ return.

On top of that is Gustav Nyquist, who showed he was NHL-ready last season and currently leads the Griffins in scoring.

My guess, and I hate to say it, is that Nyquist ends up staying in Grand Rapids. Jan Mursak will be the expendable forward if Eaves comes back, waived or traded to make room. We’ll see what happens in the next week.

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.