Thoughts on Jacob Trouba’s Trade Demand

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba has demanded a trade.

Given that the Red Wings have been looking to upgrade their defense and that Trouba is from Rochester, it seems like this would make a lot of sense for Detroit, but a lot of teams are going to be interested in him and the Wings might not be able to offer enough.

This one’s hard for me to hear.  For years Wings fans have been told that there was nothing Ken Holland can do, the player they were targeting just didn’t want to come to Detroit.  Zach Parise and Ryan Suter wanted to go home.  Steven Stamkos wanted to stay in Tampa.

Now there’s a player who they could use, who wants to go somewhere that he’ll be used, who hails from the area and played college hockey at Michigan.  From what we’ve been told, this is exactly the kind of player the Red Wings should have no problem bringing in.

But this isn’t an unrestricted free agent.  It’s not a matter of finding a contract that works for both sides, it’s a matter of doing that and finding something of value to send back to the Jets, too.

As Holland has told us, trades are hard.

I don’t think Trouba is coming to Detroit.  I think the Wings have too many defensemen, too little cap space, and not enough to offer the Jets in return.

But there is this:

The Bad and Worse of Striking Out in Free Agency

That the Red Wings struck out in their search for a right-handed defenseman on the free agent market is bad, there’s no denying that. It’s also something that can be explained, though.

Sometimes there’s no amount of money you can throw at a player to make them sign with you. We saw that in 2012 when Ryan Suter and Zach Parise chose the Minnesota Wild over Detroit because it was closer to home for them. Sometimes you do everything you can and it’s just not enough.

Worse, though, is then compromising and making a signing for the sake of making a signing, as the Red Wings appeared to do today. For weeks the story was that they wanted a right-handed defenseman; that they wanted to upgrade. The names weren’t always the same, sometimes it was Dan Boyle and sometimes Matt Niskanen. And then they missed out on Boyle. And Niskanen. And Anton Stralman. And the left-handed Christian Ehrhoff.

As the list of players spurning Detroit grew longer, the goal seemingly changed. It no longer became about getting a right-handed defenseman or an upgrade but about signing someone, anyone, for the sake of making a signing.

With the signing of Kyle Quincey, Detroit has not found a right-handed shot (something that could have been done by simply not signing anyone and promoting Ryan Sproul from Grand Rapids). The blueline has not been upgraded as it’s the exact same septet as skated there last season.

Bad is not being able to draw in free agents. When you’re not a destination, you have to do more to pull people in. We saw that in 2008 when the Chicago Blackhawks had to overpay to bring in defenseman Brian Campbell. In that case, money was enough. Sometimes it takes something else.

Worse is not knowing what the something else is.

“We made pitches to a number of defensemen,” general manager Ken Holland said. “For a variety of reasons, they opted to go elsewhere. I don’t know why they’re not coming here.”

The NHL now has an interview period prior to the opening of free agency. It’s no longer a matter of throwing your best cash offer out there on July 1 and hoping it’s good enough, you’ve got an opportunity to sell the player on your team.

But it works both ways. GMs have the opportunity to talk to players, see what fit they’re looking for, see what makes them tick. And if July 1 comes around and you’re left saying that you don’t know why a player isn’t coming to your team, it means that you didn’t do your job in the lead up to free agency.

On Going All-In on Dan Boyle

There’ve been a handful of reports today basically stating that the Red Wings are targeting free agent defenseman Dan Boyle and only Boyle, having determined that Matt Niskanen will be asking for too much money (though recent reports say the Wings are on his shortlist) and Christian Ehrhoff is too left-handed (and maybe also asking for too much term).

No (or little) mention of Anton Stralman. Same for Mike Weaver or Tom Gilbert.

It’s all-in on the 38-year-old Boyle, which worries me significantly.

Boyle isn’t my first choice, I’ll admit, but that’s not my concern. That the Wings seem to have only one plan is what bothers me. It reminds me of 2012, when they watched a number of feasible backup plans sign elsewhere while waiting for Ryan Suter, then ended up whiffing on him, too, when he chose Minnesota.

It’s all reports as of right now. And until noon tomorrow we’ll probably hear a lot of things. With the Red Wings on Niskanen’s shortlist, maybe he’s more likely to come to Detroit than anyone thought today. But Boyle being the only target was a serious red flag for me.

Thoughts on Trading as a Fall Back Option

It’s been known since before the 2013-14 season was even over that the Red Wings would be looking to upgrade their defense this summer and their best opportunity to do some comes tomorrow as free agents become eligible to sign contracts with new teams at noon.

The costs are expected to be high, however. Even with the late additions of Christian Ehrhoff and Ed Jovanovski to the free agent pool (due to buyouts by Buffalo and Florida, respectively), there are roughly fifteen teams legitimately thought to be in the mix for only six or seven players.

If Detroit were to miss out on Ehrhoff or Matt Niskanen or Anton Stralman or whoever (as they did when they were unable to woo Ryan Suter in 2012 and had to settle for Carlo Colaiacovo), they would be forced to turn to the trade market, where their history isn’t quite so successful.

The Red Wings haven’t traded for a roster player signed beyond the end of the current season since acquiring Robert Lang from the Washington Capitals in 2004, when he was two years into a five-year deal.

Oh, sure, they picked up Brad Stuart at the deadline in 2008 and managed to sign him just before he became an unrestricted free agent that summer. They also got Kyle Quincey – likely departing in the coming weeks – in 2012 and re-signed him as a restricted free agent, as they expected to do when they paid the hefty price of a first round draft pick to get him.

By and large, however, Detroit’s method of acquiring players for the last decade has been via free agency, which means that if they miss out in the next few days they’ll be entering relatively-uncharted territory for the club.

Bertuzzi Scores Twice in Return, Wings Down Wild 5-3

Todd Bertuzzi returned from the flu for his first game of the season Friday night, scoring twice in leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-3 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild.

All five Detroit goals came from the Red Wings’ top two lines after those units had only scored twice in the previous three games.

After a scoreless first period, Damien Brunner got Detroit on the board just 13 seconds into the middle frame. With the Red Wings on a carry-over power play, Brunner took a pass on the right wing from Henrik Zetterberg at the Minnesota blue line and raced to the right faceoff dot, snapping a shot over Wild netminder Josh Harding‘s shoulder into the far top corner of the net.

Bertuzzi’s first of the night made it 2-0 just 42 seconds later when Valtteri Filppula‘s backhanded bouncing chance from the slot deflected off Bertuzzi’s leg and past Harding.

Zach Parise cut Detroit’s lead to a goal with the Wild on a two-man advantage at 2:49. The rebound of a Mikko Koivu shot came out to Ryan Suter in the high slot. Suter sent it down to Parise in the right faceoff circle for a shot over the still-sprawling Jimmy Howard.

At 6:29 of the period, Minnesota’s Tom Gilbert tied things back up, snapping a shot from the high slot through a screen and past Howard just as a power play expired.

Zetterberg put the Wings back up with 7:05 left in the second. Datsyuk fed Zetterberg with a long backhand pass to the left faceoff circle. Zetterberg outwaited Harding, dropping almost to the goal line before putting a shot towards the net. The puck went past Harding’s glove, off the post, off a retreating Mikael Granlund, and into the net to make it 3-2.

With 2:36 remaining, Datsyuk restored the two-goal lead, snapping a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle through a Johan Franzen screen and past Harding on a Detroit power play.

Datsyuk fed Bertuzzi for the Red Wings’ final goal at 4:18 of the third period, sending a saucer pass from the left circle over two defenders and onto Bertuzzi’s stick in the right circle to bang off of Harding and into the net.

Parise’s second of the game closed out the scoring with 9:42 remaining when his attempted pass from behind the net deflected off of Zetterberg at the post and in behind Howard.

Howard finished the night with 23 saves on 26 shots against while Harding made 22 saves on 27 shots.

The Red Wings scored twice on five power play tries. Minnesota had one goal on eight power play attempts.

The Wings are next in action on Sunday when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.


Bertuzzi, Darren Helm and Jakub Kindl all returned from various injuries to make their first appearances of the season… Kindl replaced Ian White on the blue line after he suffered a deep cut abobe his knee against Dallas on Tuesday… Patrick Eaves was a healthy scratch up front… Aside from White, the Red Wings were also missing Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jonathan Ericsson, and Jonas Gustavsson to injury… Thomas McCollum backed up Howard in place of Gustavsson.

TGTW: Wings Drop Three Consecutive Games in Week Six

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

Three consecutive losses dropped the Detroit Red Wings out of a tie for first place in the National Hockey League in the season’s sixth week but the team remains in a tie with the Los Angeles Kings atop the Western Conference.

The Red Wings dropped their first overtime game of the season on Tuesday when they hosted the Dallas Stars.  Dallas’ Vern Fiddler opened the game’s scoring at 9:27 of the first but Johan Franzen responded for the Wings with 49 seconds left in the period to even things up.  Pavel Datsyuk made it 2-1 in Detroit’s favor at 1:51 of the second, a score that would hold until Michael Ryder made it a 2-2 tie with 7:38 left in regulation.  At 1:34 of the overtime period, Eric Nystrom gave Dallas the win.

Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard allowed the three goals on just 19 shots while Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen made 19 saves on 21 shots.  The lone bright spot for the Red Wings was the return of Todd Bertuzzi to the lineup after missing two games with concussion-like symptoms.

The Wings’ skid continued on Thursday with a 5-3 loss to the visiting New Jersey Devils, fueled by three quick goals in the middle of the third period.  Datsyuk got the Red Wings out to a quick start, scoring just a minute into the game and adding another at 9:38 of the first on a power play.  Ilya Kovalchuk got the Devils on the board at 3:21 of the second and Dainius tied things up with a power play goal at 6:14 of the third.  Jordin Tootoo‘s first as a Red Wing put Detroit back out in front at 8:05 but Tim Sestito re-tied it 23 seconds later.  Adam Larsson gave the Devils their first lead with 9:32 remaining and Zubrus extended after only three seconds, chasing Howard from the crease in favor of Jonas Gustavsson.

Gustavsson stopped the three shots he saw in the final 9:29 of play after Howard made 24 saves on 29 shots.  New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced.

A six-round shootout loss in Minnesota closed out the week for the Red Wings.  Cal Clutterbuck got the Wild out to an early lead at 1:04 of the first before Darren Helm responded with his first of the season at 6:46.  Valtteri Filppula put the Red Wings out front at 6:58 of the second with a power play goal and Jakub Kindl extended the lead 53 seconds later.  With 8:35 left in the third, Jared Spurgeon cut Detroit’s lead to a goal.  Just eight seconds later, Kyle Brodziak tied things up.

Franzen and Brodziak scored to open the shootout.  Datsyuk was stopped and Devin Setoguchi scored in the second round but Henrik Zetteberg scored and Howard stopped Pierre-Marc Bouchard to keep the Wings alive.  Mikael Samuelsson, Matt Cullen, Bertuzzi, Steven Kampfer and Drew Miller would all fail to score before Ryan Suter beat Howard to give the Wild the win.

Howard finished the night with 24 saves on 27 shots.  Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves on 32 chances.

After six weeks of play, Filppula remains the team’s leading scorer with 26 points, five more than Datsyuk and good for second in the NHL, one behind Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.  Datsyuk sits fourth in the league in scoring.  Howard’s 2.09 GAA puts him at fifth in the league.

The next week will see the Wings host the Penguins and Blues before visiting the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

TGTW: Wings Lead NHL After Week Five

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

After finshing their first four-game Western Canadian road trip since the return of the Winnipeg Jets with a 3-1 record, the Detroit Red Wings returned home this week for rematches with the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames and a visit from the Minnesota Wild.

On Tuesday, Jordan Eberle scored twice to lead the Oilers past the Wings to sweep their home-and-home series. Eberle opened the game’s scoring at 4:25 of the first. Kyle Quincey‘s third goal of the season tied things back up on the power play at 2:36 of the second, but Eberle put the Oilers back out in front with 24 seconds left in the middle frame. Also in the second period, Edmonton defensemen Jeff Petry left the game after taking an elbow to the face from Johan Franzen, for which Franzen was ejected.

Edmonton’s Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves on 34 shots to get the win while Detroit’s Jimmy Howard made 16 saves on 18 shots against.

The Red Wings rebounded on Friday with a 4-1 win over the Flames, in a game in which all goal-scorers played for Detroit last season. Jiri Hudler scored the game’s opening goal just 1:48 into the first period. Todd Bertuzzi tied things up with 5:26 left in the period and the Red Wings never looked back. Pavel Datsyuk put Detroit in front at 8:43 of the second and Valtteri Filppula extended his team scoring lead with 4:55 left in that period. Ian White added his first goal of the season with ten seconds remaining in regulation on the power play to finish off the win.

Howard made 21 saves on 22 shots while Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 21 of 25 chances. Todd Bertuzzi left the game with concussion-like symptoms after being boarded by Lee Stempniak late in the third.

With Bertuzzi injured, Cory Emmerton made his first appearance of the season the next night against the Wild, a 4-0 win for Detroit. Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring with 5:31 left in the first period and Mikael Samuelsson made it 2-0 at 9:08 of the third. Samuelsson and Filppula added goals in the final minute to round out the scoring.

Minnesota free agent signings Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, who both spurned contract offers from Detroit over the summer, finished the night -2. Howard made 20 saves in his third shutout of the season. Niklas Backstrom of the Wild made 26 saves on 30 shots.

After five weeks, the Red Wings sit tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals atop the NHL standings. Filppula leads all NHL scorers with 23 points, two more than Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. Howard is tied for the league lead in shutouts (three) and wins (10) and second in goals-against average (1.72).

Next week the Red Wings host the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils, then visit the Wild.

What makes Hockeytown Hockeytown?: Evil scheming conniving greatness.

Once again the masterminds that are behind one of the greatest sports dynasties of all times is at it again; and no one saw it coming.

Fans, even Red Wing fans, were angry, disheartened and frustrated this summer as they watched their team lose their captain (who just happens to be the best defenseman to ever play the game) to retirement and then have a General Manager do nothing with the teams large cap space.

By nothing I mean nothing. Detroit’s General Manger failed to bring Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to Hockeytown. The two biggest free agency is what is probably the history of the NHL. They were only missing an hour long tv special on ESPN 2 to become the most over hyped signings in sports history. Kenny instead brought in a back up goaltender with a bad heart.

No I don’t mean he doesn’t have love or passion for the game – he literally has a bad heart (medical test have proven he is fine – so says The Monster).

So, Ken Holland brought in a Monster to back up Jimmy Howard – then he brought back Mikael Samuelsson and followed that up 60 seconds later with the signing of Jordin Tootoo.

The announcement of one Jordin Tootoo becoming a Red Wing set off a mass hysteria with Detroit fans on Twitter that can only be compared to the Vancouver riot for utter over reacting. Alright, Ken Holland did something; but according to Wings fans the dawning for the Dead Wing 2.0 Era was upon us all.

Forget the fact that Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch had helped land not only the 2013 Winter Classic to be hosted by Detroit – well, Ann Arbor – in what is to be the largest hockey audience of all time. What Mr. Ilitch could not do was twist the arm of the NHL to get the game in Detroit at Comerica Park where his baseball team plays.

fail there Mr. Ilitch.

Guess you will have to settle for having that Alumni game there. Oh and the AHL game between the Wings’ and Leafs’ affiliate teams, and the Great Lakes Invitational, oh and those OHL teams that are going to play.

Still though, the Hockeytown Hockey Festival is NOT the Winter Classic.

In listing all the major fails of the Detroit Red Wings organization this summer is where we fail to see the devious, conniving, scheming plan that was well played on all of us mere mortals.

Let’s go back to GM Holland:

In the massive failure in bringing the two highest contracts in the NHL it has left the Red Wings being one of 14 teams sitting below what is being speculated at the new cap under the pending CBA agreement. Sixteen teams are going to have a massive trading frenzy to get under the $58 million cap if the latest proposal from the NHL is accepted by the NHLPA; and lets face it, it really is not a horrible team. Pavel Datsyuk is still Pavel Datsyuk, even if he wasn’t rated as a top fantasy hockey pick – but look at who they picked for one of the top wingers … James Neal.

Alright Kenny Holland. We may have freaked out about your lack of inactivity; but you have proven once again why you are the greatest GM in hockey.

Now Mr. Ilitch. You Sir are one amazing man.

You bought half the city of Detroit; two sports teams, and much more that those out of the Detroit area have no idea – and all because of pizza.

PIZZA! PIZZA!

You “gave up” the Winter Classic to Ann Arbor for a door price that you tried to re-brand as some special. Something that did not have to be re-branded as special because it is special.It is the special loop hole that has been greatly overlooked.  On the day that the NHL U.S. national television appearances were released; when fans and media alike are doubting if the season will take place; or if the Winter Classic will even happen – you had a plan to save Hockeytown from going without hockey.

Not only is the Hockeytown Hockey Festival going to be a savior for hockey fans during a probable/possible lockout it could in fact be the Phoenix (not the Coyotes they are a lost cause) of the winter.Rising from the ashes of what could be another lost NHL season the Hockeytown Hockey Festival in Downtown Detroit left the biggest loop hole in history that no one could see. Almost like the Chicago Blackhawks sending Cristobal Huet to the Swiss league to get out of the contract.

With an NHL lockout the players are not allowed to work for the NHL; however, they are allowed to sign contracts and play for other leagues. Including the American Hockey League. Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings have their AHL affiliate teams within a greatly reasonable distance (Toronto and Grand Rapids respectively).

What is stopping the NHL players from signing with their AHL affiliates? You know those same teams that are playing an outdoor game at Comerica Park already?

The NHL cannot stop these players from playing with those teams, and they cannot stop the AHL outdoor game becoming what could have/should have been the NHL Winter Classic.

Just the NHL Winter Classic would not take place; and NBC would have to scramble to get a contract with the AHL to start setting up for the AHL Winter Classic, but HBO’s 24/7 could be produced, the same players could still don the blue and white and the red and white and fight it out in Original Six glory – just with different names.And now it would ALL be at Comerica Park.

Mike Ilitch.

Ken Holland.

You two are frickin’ geniuses’.

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 4

So far since the NHL’s free agency season opened, we’ve had a day where the Wings brought players in, a day where players left Detroit, and a day when the team was quiet.  Today we had the day the team was left out.

Things started with defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise – both Red Wings’ free agent targets – choosing to sign with the Minnesota Wild around noon.  About ten hours later, Detroit’s supposed Plan B – defensman Matt Carle – signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

I’m not going to fault any of the players for signing where they did or taking the time they needed to sign.  You become one of the top hockey players in the world and hit free agency, you get to decide things like that.

I’m not happy with the Wings’ organization, however.

I said on Twitter that I didn’t like comments that GM Ken Holland made after the Suter/Parise signings were announced.

“At the end of the day, we feel good about our offers. It was in the ball park of what they signed for.”

To me, that sounds like Holland is fine being close but not finishing on top, which sounds a lot like when Mike Babcock talks about winning forty minutes of a game after a loss.

It’s easy to look at the deals that Parise and Suter signed and say Minnesota overpaid.  It’s also easy to extend that and say we wouldn’t have liked Holland making those deals.  I don’t think it’s true, though.  I think Wings fans would have been thrilled to have the pair for that price and we’re only shaking our heads at the amount or the term because it’s another team that spent it.

“There’s also got to be an opportunity for some of our kids and the guys we’ve just signed to play. It’s not a high profile, big-star team that we’ve had in the past. We made our pitch the last three days and it didn’t fall in our favor.”

Quite honestly, that quote pisses me off.  After all the “we’re going to be very agressive” we heard from Holland, now we’re getting “We don’t need free agents, we’ll let the kids play.”

That means that we’ve got something like a top pair of Niklas Kronwall and Kyle Quincey with Ian White and Brendan Smith next and Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl on the third pair.  Quite honestly, I’m not okay with that.  Maybe I’m spoiled but I expect better from this team.

And something tells me that if the Wings roll into the 2012-13 season with a $60 million payroll instead of the expected $70 million, season ticket holders won’t be getting 1/7th of what they paid back.

The summer isn’t over and the Wings aren’t done.  I’m not going to write them off.  The buzz now is that they’re looking to make a trade and/or sign Shane Doan, who won’t make a decision about his future until July 8th.

Things could still happen for Detroit, I’m just not happy with how the organization has handled it thus far.