Thoughts on Xavier Ouellet’s Roster Spot

Danny DeKeyser returns to the Red Wings’ lineup on Tuesday, meaning that the Detroit blueline is back to 100% healthy. Despite that, call-up Xavier Ouellet remains on the roster, as forward Stephen Weiss has been placed on injured reserve to keep a spot available.

It’s undeniable at this point that Detroit head coach Mike Babcock thinks Ouellet is one of the top six defensemen available to him right now. Both Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff will sit against Columbus while Ouellet remains in. Whatever order you place Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, DeKeyser, Kyle Quincey, and Brendan Smith in, Ouellet is Detroit’s number six defenseman while Kindl is seventh and Lashoff is eighth.

Reportedly, Babcock wanted Ouellet up with the Red Wings to start the season but Detroit general manager Ken Holland couldn’t make it happen, as there were no takers on the trade market for Kindl.

When Weiss returns, assuming another player isn’t on IR by then, will Ouellet be sent back to Grand Rapids? One would think so, as that’s what happened to start the season, under the label of “asset management” (you don’t want to lose anyone for nothing).

That said, with the Wings fighting for the top spot in the conference, do you dump one of your top six defensemen in the minors? Or do you risk losing a player who isn’t playing anyway (Kindl or Lashoff) on waivers? Worst-case scenario in the latter option is losing a player you’re not playing anyway, though that’s a hit to organizational depth. If he clears, you keep the player but don’t get the salary cap relief, though Detroit isn’t against the cap right now so it doesn’t hurt them as much as it would have in seasons past.

I’m very curious as to how it’ll play out.

Red Wings Drop Third Straight with Loss to Leafs

A 4-1 loss to Toronto Saturday night gave the Detroit Red Wings their third consecutive loss and second in four nights to the Maple Leafs.

Detroit scored the game’s first goal but Toronto took over the scoring from there, potting four goals of their own.

Niklas Kronwall‘s blast from the blue line with 4:33 left in the first period found its way through traffic to beat Maple Leafs’ goalie Jonathan Bernier. The power play goal came off a quick pass from Johan Franzen.

Toronto would even things up just one minute later on a power play of their own, with Phil Kessel‘s shot from the left wing deflecting off of James van Riemsdyk in front and past Red Wings’ netminder Petr Mrazek.

The Leafs took the lead with 2:10 left in the second period, as a bad line change by Detroit let Richard Panik get in behind the defense and take a stretch pass from Korbinian Holzer. Panik beat Mrazek five-hole to make it 2-1.

Just 1:42 into the third period, Morgan Reilly made it 3-1. During a line change, Reilly streaked down the left side all alone and snapped a shot past Mrazek.

Nazem Kadri added an empty-net goal to round out the scoring.

Mrazek finished the night with 37 saves on 40 Toronto shots. Bernier stopped 27 of 28 Detroit chances.

The Red Wings were one-for-two on the power play while the Maple Leafs scored once on five tries with the man-advantage.

After three games in four nights, Detroit is now off until Tuesday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Detroit remained without forward Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Danny DeKeyserStephen Weiss was also out for the Red Wings, having suffered a shoulder injury on Friday night against the Florida Panthers. Daniel Cleary took his spot in the lineup… Jakub Kindl was a healthy scratch, replaced in the lineup by Brian Lashoff.

Red Wings Drop Shootout Decision to Panthers

For the second consecutive game the Detroit Red Wings fell in the shootout, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Florida Panthers Friday night.

Detroit is now 1-5 in the shootout on the season, their only victory coming against the winless New Jersey Devils. Gustav Nyquist and Pavel Datsyuk failed to beat Florida netminder Roberto Luongo while both Vincent Trochek and Brandon Pirri scored on Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.

Despite the loss, the point for surviving regulation moved the Red Wings into a three-way tie with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh for first place in the Eastern Conference.

All of the game’s scoring came in the first period.

RIley Sheahan started things off at 5:03 on the power play. Tomas Tatar‘s shot from the left faceoff circle was knocked out to Datsyuk in the slot for a chance that Luongo stopped. Sheahan was on the doorstep to knock the rebound into the back of the net.

The Panthers got on the board 2:07 later, when former Detroit prospect Tomas Fleischmann snapped a shot from the slot past Howard.

With 6:05 left in the period, Jonathan Huberdeau fought off pressure by Datsyuk to spin and shovel a shot from the near edge of the right circle past Howard to give Florida a 2-1 lead.

Nyquist knotted things back up with 38.5 seconds left. While falling, Nyquist backhanded a shot from the slot past Luongo in the final second of a Detroit power play.

The Red Wings scored twice on four power play tries while the Panthers were scoreless on five attempts with the extra attacker.

Howard finished the night with 24 saves on 26 shots. Luongo stopped 29 of 31 shots against.

The Red Wings are back in action on Saturday when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Detroit was without defenseman Danny DeKeyser, replaced in the lineup by call-up Xavier Ouellet… The Red Wings lost forward Stephen Weiss to injury mid-game… Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches.

Red Wings Rally Past Rangers, 3-2

The Detroit Red Wings trailed 2-0 after the first period on Saturday night but scored two quick goals in the second and another in the third to complete a come-from-behind win over the New York Rangers.

It was Detroit’s first win over the Rangers in six tries and was head coach Mike Babcock‘s 500th career victory.

Riley Sheahan started the Red Wings’ comeback with 5:46 remaining in the middle frame. Johan Franzen gained the New York zone but had nowhere to go, dropping the puck off to Stephen Weiss as he was pushed into the left wing boards. Weiss moved it on to Sheahan in the slot, who spun to backhand a chance past Rangers’ netminder Cam Talbot to make it 2-1.

Just 1:01 later it was tied up, as Luke Glendening banged a loose puck in the crease behind Talbot after chances by Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson.

Darren Helm put the Red Wings out front at 7:40 of the third period, catching up to a deflected pass by Tomas Tatar in the left faceoff circle and snapping a shot over Talbot’s shoulder for a 3-2 lead.

The Wings preserved the lead through 5:24 of shorthanded time caused by three consecutive, overlapping penalties. The Rangers had a five-on-three for 2:36 of that time and Drew Miller was without a stick for part of that.

Kevin Klein had opened the game’s scoring at 9:31 of the first period, shoveling a backhander past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard from right in front.

With 5:48 left in the opening frame, Derick Brassard sprung Rick Nash on a breakaway, with Nash beating Howard stick-side to put the Rangers up by a pair.

Howard finished the night with 27 saves on 29 shots against. Talbot made 31 saves on 34 shots.

Neither team scored a power play goal. The Rangers had seven tries with the extra attacker to Detroit’s three.

The Red Wings are back in action on Sunday as they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.

Detroit remained without forward Justin Abdelkader (shoulder). Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches.

Helm Scores Twice as Red Wings Defeat Stars

Detroit forward Darren Helm scored two goals Thursday night, leading the Red Wings to a 5-2 win over the visiting Dallas Stars.

Helm opened and closed the game’s scoring for his first multi-goal game of the season.

At 3:58 of the first period, Helm threw a shot from the left of Dallas netminder Jussi Rynnas that bounced off the goalie and into the back of the net to get the Red Wings on the board early.

Just 15 seconds later, Colton Sceviour drove to the net to tap in a pass from Jordie Benn, tying things right back up.

Stephen Weiss restored the Detroit lead with 8:46 left in the opening period off tic-tac-toe passing from Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan. Jurco’s pass from the right wing boards found Sheahan in the opposite faceoff circle, where he immediately moved it back across to Weiss at the edge of the crease. Weiss held the puck for just a second before throwing it past the sprawling Rynnas.

With 1:08 left in the first, Pavel Datsyuk‘s backhander from the slot made it 3-1 on a Detroit power play.

Tyler Seguin‘s power play goal with 5:34 remaining in the middle period cut the Red Wings’ lead back to one. Seguin’s heavy shot from the blue line sailed through traffic and past Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard to make it 3-2.

Kyle Quincey‘s first of the year made it 4-2 at 7:39 of the third period. From the right point Quincey ripped a shot that seemed to deflect on its way through a Weiss screen, beating Rynnas.

With 6:53 left, Helm took a feed from Tomas Tatar all alone in close and outwaited Rynnas before throwing a shot past him to wrap up the scoring.

Rynnas finished the night with 24 saves on 29 shots while Howard stopped 22 of the 24 chances he faced.

Each team scored a power play goal on three chances with the extra attacker.

The Red Wings are back in action on Saturday when they host the New York Rangers.

Detroit was once again without forward Justin Abdelkader, out with a shoulder injury… Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches for the Red Wings… During the pre-game skate, Cleary returned to wearing the #11 jersey he’d previously worn, made available once again by the retirement of Daniel Alfredsson.

Datsyuk Scores Twice in Return, Red Wings Down Flyers 5-2

Pavel Datsyuk returned to the Detroit lineup on Wednesday night after missing four games with an aggravated groin injury, scoring twice to help the Red Wings over the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2.

Datsyuk’s first – the eventual game-winning goal – came with 8:13 left in the second period as he snapped a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle past Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason through traffic to make it 3-1 on a Detroit power play.

Mason was pulled in favor of backup Ray Emery after the goal.

With 1:21 left in the period, Datsyuk scored his second of the night to put the Wings up by three. Darren Helm‘s shot bounced off the post to the left of Emery and out the other side, where Datsyuk knocked it out of mid-air and into the net.

Jakub Voracek pulled the Flyers back to within a pair with 7:35 left in the third period, snapping a shot from the left circle past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard on a power play, off a feed from the opposite side of the net by Wayne Simmonds.

Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg added an empty net goal in the game’s closing minutes to round out the scoring.

Stephen Weiss scored his third goal in two games since returning from a groin injury of his own to open the game’s scoring at 10:12 of the first period, tipping a Helm shot past Mason.

Claude Giroux tied things up at 2:31 of the second. Picking off a pass by Danny DeKeyser in the netutral zone, Giroux skated into the Detroit zone and snapped a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle off the skate of defenseman Kyle Quincey and past Howard.

Tomas Jurco would restore Detroit’s lead at 10:18 of the period, swatting the rebound of a DeKeyser shot past Mason from the right circle.

Mason finished the night with 11 saves on 14 shots before giving way to Emery, who stopped nine of ten shots. Howard made 22 saves on 24 shots.

Each team had a single power play goal. Philadelphia had four tries with the extra attacker to Detroit’s three.

The Red Wings are back in action on Friday when they visit the New Jersey Devils.

Kyle Quincey and Sean Couturier fought late in the second period… Daniel Cleary, Joakim Andersson, and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches for Detroit.

Pregame: Flyers @ Red Wings – 11/26

Pavel Datsyuk returns to the Detroit lineup tonight as the Red Wings host the Philadelphia Flyers.

Datsyuk will skate on a third line made up of three natural centers, along with Darren Helm and Stephen Weiss. Tomas Jurco drops to the fourth line to make room for Datsyuk.

Joakim Andersson will join Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff as healthy scratches. Brendan Smith will miss at least one more game with his hand injury/infection while Jonas Gustavsson is weeks away from returning from a shoulder injury.

Jimmy Howard gets the start in goal.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 22-16-4 on the day before Thanksgiving since 1942.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD+.

Weiss Returns to Score Two as Red Wings Top Senators

Detroit forward Stephen Weiss made his return from injury Monday night, scoring twice to help the Red Wings to a 4-3 win over the visiting Ottawa Senators.

Weiss made just his second appearance of the season for Detroit after having spent much of last year injured. Over the weekend he scored two goals in two games for the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins in a conditioning stint.

With 6:24 left in the second period, Weiss scored his first of the game. After a shot from the point by Kyle Quincey, Weiss drove to the net to bang the rebound past Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson.

Weiss added the eventual game-winner with 2:08 left in the period. The rebound of a Darren Helm shot was loose in front of Anderson and Weiss knocked it past the netminder to make it 4-1.

Just 2:43 into the third period, Erik Karlsson made it a two-goal game, beating Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard from the high slot.

The Red Wings would hold off a Senators surge for most of the period until 34.3 seconds remained, when Chris Neil tipped a Mike Hoffman shot past Howard to pull Ottawa to within a goal.

Howard would shut the door in the closing moments, including one last save in the final second of the game to preserve the lead.

Kyle Turris had opened the game’s scoring at 5:19 of the first period, firing a one-timer from the top of the right faceoff circle past Howard for an Ottawa power play goal.

Gustav Nyquist responded with a power play goal for Detroit with 3:15 remaining in the period, jumping up to put the rebound of a Henrik Zetterberg chance past Andersson from the slot.

Another power play goal gave the Red Wings the lead as Tomas Tatar‘s blast from the left wing was kicked right out to Riley Sheahan in the opposite faceoff circle for a shot into the open side of the net 2:23 into the second.

Detroit scored on two of their six power play attempts while the Senators scored once on four tries with the man-advantage.

Howard finished the night with 23 saves on 26 shots against. Anderson stopped 39 of 43 chances.

The Red Wings were without forward Pavel Datsyuk (groin)… Brian Lashoff was the healthy scratch on defense as Jakub Kindl swapped back into the lineup while Daniel Cleary was the odd-man-out at forward.

On Stephen Weiss and Expectations

Prior to Stephen Weiss‘ two-goal performance against the Ottawa Senators last night, Mlive’s Ansar Khan penned a note that shouldn’t be a surprise but is nonetheless a little interesting.

Weiss has played just one game for the Red Wings this season. It’s important that he plays regularly the rest of the season. They need to determine if he can contribute offensively and perform like the player he was in Florida.

If he can’t, they’re not going to keep his $4.95 million salary on their cap for the next three seasons, they’ll use a regular buyout on him in June, reducing their cap hit considerably.

That’s quite the statement. Not just that Weiss would be a buyout target, that he for certain will be bought out if he doesn’t justify his contract.

Less defined, though, is whether or not he “can contribute offensively.”

I don’t think anyone expects Weiss to score two goals a game from here on out. Last night was an awesome, well-timed outburst of scoring from him, not the start of a trend. That said, if we’re not expecting multi-goal games for the rest of the season, what are we expecting from him?

Is .71 points-per-game, his level from his last healthy season, acceptable? That’s what he was signed to provide.

He replaced Daniel Cleary in the lineup last night, does he just need to replace the .15 points-per-game that were good enough to get Cleary a contract for this year?

Some of that depends on how he ends up being used. In Florida, Weiss was a top-line player. Last night, he was in Cleary’s third-line spot.

That was with Pavel Datsyuk out of the lineup. With Datsyuk back, is there even a spot in the top six for Weiss to earn? Weiss may be in a Catch-22 here, needing top-six situations to put up the production expected from him but not being able to earn those minutes while playing on the third line.

He may be a perfectly adequate third-liner but in the salary cap world, you don’t pay a third-liner $4.95 million.

Are Weiss’ days with Detroit numbered? I don’t know. Given his paycheck, though, it looks like he’s facing an uphill battle.

Pregame: Senators @ Red Wings – 11/24

After failing to sweep their three-game road trip, falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Red Wings return home to host the Ottawa Senators tonight.

Former Senator and one-time Red Wing Daniel Alfredsson will not – as was briefly rumored – announce his retirement prior to the game. He’s still expected to do so sometime soon, just not now.

As the league gets closer to losing a player, the Red Wings get one back, with Stephen Weiss returning from his successful (two goals in two games) rehab stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Weiss will join Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm on the third line, replacing Daniel Cleary.

Meanwhile, Jakub Kindl gets back into the lineup on the blue line after four games as a healthy scratch, replacing Brian Lashoff.

Jimmy Howard gets the start in net for the Red Wings.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 63-24-22 all-time in the first game back home after a three-game road trip.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.