Saturday, August 28, 2010

X-Factors: Three Wings who Need to Make a Difference

From the iPod:

I've been thinking more on the upcoming season as it inches closer, and one thing I've been dwelling on is asking myself who will step it up this season. Rather, my bigger question is about who NEEDS to step it up this season. There are players on the Wings roster who are playing well, but need to play great in order to put Detroit over the top this year. This was a question brought up previously in a round table discussion on 'The Obstructed View', and it was interesting to hear the opinions given on the topic. I've decided now, to help break that awkward silence that is the offseason by tossing up this article on who I feel needs to go from pony to stud for the Wings to get back to the top.

1.) Val Filppula - Flip has always been the 'right there' or 'on the cusp' forward for the Wings. His flashes of brilliance on the line with Hank and Bert were inspiring, if not all that consistent. Val should have a lot of good things going for him this season, and if he stays healthy I see no reason as to why he can't put up solid numbers this year. He missed some time last season, playing 55 of 82 regular season games, and got himself 11 goals and 24 assists.

My expectations for Valtteri: 20G and 30A for at least a 50pt season, if not more.

2.) Jiri Hudler - Here's a guy everyone thought of when he left, but nobody is thinking of now that he's returned. Huddles, along with Hoss and Sammy, didn't cripple Detroit offensively when he left, but we sure felt his absence when everyone else was down with injuries. After winning the arbitration case, Jiri knows he's making more than Kenny Holland felt he was worth, so now it's time for little Rex to show what he can really do and earn that $2.75M. As the second year on his contract is for $3M, I'm expecting Huds to put up at least 100pts over the next two seasons.

What I want for this is a 60/40 split, but I'm more prepared to see a 40/60 split or worse. I felt betrayed by Hudler when he left, I admit that. Because of this, I'm setting his bar high.

3.) Jonathan Ericsson - In my opinion, Ruslan Salei was brought for one simple reason: our young defensemen are not stepping it up. This is the year for Big E if ever there was one. He showed promise when he first hit the NHL scene, but In recent history, Jon has not been doing well. With the veterans lined up on the blueline, there's no lack of talent for the youngin's to learn from, but the younger D-men, Ericsson especially, just don't seem to be picking up the tricks of the trade. The Wings look much better and should be much healthier this year, but Big E and the rest of the young guard need to be able to come in and eat up minutes to keep the vets from getting overworked.

I have no expectations of Ericsson as far as offense, but I'm praying hard that he will put together a good season and be much more defensively aware. We dumped Lilja, we don't need anyone replacing him for the role of turnover machine.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ab is Fab: Red Wings Ink Abdelkader for Two

Detroit rounded out their offseason moves today as young forward Justin Abdelkader signed a two-year deal with the Wings. Terms of the deal were, of course, not immediately disclosed; however, it is now known that Abby signed on for a total of $1.574 Million, making an average cap hit of $787,000/year.

Abdelkader will no doubt find his ice time on the fourth line in his usual checking role.

And now that the roster is all but finalized (with the exception of one or two salary cuts/dumps), all that is left is to wait for the season to roll around.

Is it October yet...?

Monday, August 9, 2010

6th D-Man Decided: Red Wings Wrangle Ruslan Salei (UPDATE: 1:35PM EST)

In an interesting turn of events, the newest move by the Wings was not the re-signing of a Detroit free agent, but rather the filling of the mysterious 6th defense spot on the roster that everyone was curious about. Kenny Holland ended the speculation today by signing veteran defenseman Ruslan Salei to a one-year contract. Currently, the amount has not been disclosed, but TDG will update with the number as soon as we have it.

From numerous sources, Salei is seen as a big-minute defenseman who can spark a mean streak when needed, but is sometimes careless with his puck decisions in his own end (where have we heard THIS before...?). Last year, Salei notched a goal and five assists in 14 games with a -1 rating and 10 PIM. This was the second season in three years that Salei had played less than 20 games, making injury a cause for concern with the aging blueliner.

Overall, an interesting move by Holland, but if we can get 20-30 points out of Salei this season and he proves a true defensive asset, we got our money's worth. We'll have to wait and see.

(UPDATE): Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press has confirmed that the deal is worth $750,000 with $350,000 in bonuses.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Herm Rejoices: Helm Re-signs

It got a little louder in Brazil yesterday, as well as in many areas of Red Wings Nation, when the Wings announced they had re-signed forward Darren Helm to a 2-year deal. Reports indicated that Helm will be making $1.825 Million over the two year span, $825,000 in year one and the remaining million in year two.

As was expected, the gears have finally started turning in the Big Red Machine again after the signing of American hockey legend Mike Modano was confirmed. This likely does, however, mean that the Wings will have to let go of a roster player to keep the balance between optimal talent and staying under the salary cap.

We can only wait and see what the next set of moves--or non-moves--will be. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Report: Modano will Come Home, Sources Say

Finally some news!! I'll take anything at this point...!!

Sources are coming in now stating that Mike Modano has made his decision. The Free Press has reported that the former Dallas Star icon has chosen to come to the Red Wings and make the announcement on Thursday via a text sent by Modano on Monday.

No one is confirming a signing as of yet, mostly because sources do not wish to steal the thunder of the above-mentioned announcement later in the week. This does, however, seem to clinch it: Mike Modano will be a Red Wing this season. He will likely be signing for the $1.25 Million that was offered him already, and he will likely be in command of the 3rd line.

My Opinion: I have been skeptical abut the idea of Modano coming to Detroit. I admit I still am a bit skeptical, but I've had enough time to think things over and have decided that I'm willing to give Mike a chance. Centering the 3rd line does exactly what I wanted: it creates 3 legit scoring lines, 3 separate threats on the ice to score some goals, much more like past Wings teams that did lots of winning. It would also be nice to see Modano out in a 2nd PP role as well, to hopefully add some much needed improvement to what I felt was a dismal PP squad altogether last season.

I'll be waiting to hear the news on Thursday. Hopefully now we can finish signing the rest of our boys to contracts!!