Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Helm Inks 4-Year Deal

Detroit finally made a move of note this offseason by securing speedster Darren Helm till 2016.  Helm signed a 4-year $8.5 Million contract, sources say, which gives him an average cap hit of $2.125 Million/year.  This is great news, as Helm is one of the best energy players on the team--something the Wings could've used much more of during the playoffs.

Helm's season was interrupted last year by injuries, including a sliced tendon in the series against Nashville that sidelined him for the rest of the year.  Surgery on the injured arm was successful, however, and Darren is expected to be ready for training camp and should be back to his old self in no time.

The Wings are now left with 2 RFAs (Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey) and 3 UFAs (Jiri Hudler, Tomas Holmstrom, and Ty Conklin) to consider.  Abdelkader will be signed without question, and likely Quincey will return as well with the current situation on D in Detroit.  Hudler, Holmstrom and Conklin are a different story.  It is feasable to assume that all 3 may not be back with the Red Wings next year for various reasons.  This would leave 2 forward spots and a number 2 or 3 goaltender position open for either youngin's, free agents or players brought in via trade.  One thing I believe is sure: While most of the core is intact, the secondary look of the Red Wings is going to be much different next season.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Geek Week: Beginning the Post-Lidstrom Era

Now that the hankie and Visine stocks among Red Wings Nation have started to recover, I thought I'd take a quick moment to recap some of the stories that have been taking place in the last week regarding Hockeytown since Nicklas Lidstrom's announced retirement.  The future begins now:

Wings Seek Entry-Level Contracts - Detroit signed a pair of prospects in the days surrounding Lidstrom's retirement.  Winger Teemu Pulkkinen and center Calle Jarnkrok were both inked to entry level contracts, but both will remain in Europe for further conditioning.  Meanwhile, two further prospects are likely to be signed soon.  Former Saint John Sea Dogs winger Tomas Jurco is waiting for the completion of a transfer agreement between the IIHF and the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation.  An indefinite extension has been granted to resolve the situation, and Detroit is expecting to sign the talented forward soon after the agreement is reached.

Nicastro Cleared, Wings Ready to Sign - The other prospect Detroit looks to bring into the fold, 2008 draft pick Max Nicastro, is finally getting a chance to prove himself in the AHL.  Nicastro, a defensive prospect, recently had legal charges that were filed against him dropped.  The Wings are eager to see what he can bring to the Griffins next season.

Emmerton Earns Best Rookie - As voted by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association, Cory Emmerton was named the Red Wings' rookie of the year.  Cory still has lots of work to do to improve, but this should give him a good confidence boost going into next season.

A Moment for Bryan Rufenach - Finally, the Red Wings family was saddened to learn of the tragic death of one of its prospects.  Defenseman Bryan Rufenach, who split last season between Grand Rapids and Toledo, died in Grindelwald, Switzerland after being electrocuted by a power-line.  My personal condolences go out to Bryan's friends and family in the wake of their terrible loss.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thank You

Sometimes the simplest sights hold the most weight...

So much has been said of Nicklas Lidstrom in the last day since the stalwart Red Wings defenseman and team captain announced his retirement after 20 illustrious seasons.  There's the milestones, the accomplishments and accolades, and the legacy that he leaves behind--not to mention the honors yet to be bestowed on him in his life after hockey.  A first ballot Hall of Hame induction is inevitable, and the only question regarding the number 5 hanging from the rafters of the Joe next year is how much we all will tear up as we watch it ascend.

I am not going to talk about all these things, as it has all been said.  It has been said well and by many, and I feel my repeating much of that will do no further justice to it.  Instead, in honor of our beloved Number 5, I leave this note of thanks.  I feel my appreciation is the best thing for me to focus on as I still try to cope with the idea of a Detroit hockey club that does not sport the name 'Lidstrom' on the roster:

Mr. Lidstrom,

We have used the moniker 'The Perfect Human' to describe you for some time; and though you would humbly deny it, you are the closest thing I feel the modern hockey era has had to exemplify it.  You are class, you are poise, and you are non-stop heart and determination.  For two decades, you have given your mind, body, and soul for a single purpose: Bringing success to the place you helped rename 'Hockeytown'.

Thank you for your devotion and never giving up on this team, no matter how bleak things may have seemed at times.  You were blessed with a career that saw you in the playoffs every single season, a feat not many players can boast.  Through all the talk from the hockey world about the Red Wings' success coming to an end, there you were as staunch as ever on our blueline staying the course and proving the haters wrong.

Thank you for your great leadership.  Taking up the C of Steve Yzerman would make most men quake, but if there was one person to do it and do it well it was you.  You took that mantle, you bore that burden, and you were exemplary.  Your efforts made you the first European-born captain to ever raise the Stanley Cup, and there were none more fit to earn that honor.

As I conclude, it is sometimes difficult to keep the thoughts of people as accomplished as yourself grounded in reality, but that is the greatest thing about all you've managed to do: You have been real--with yourself, with us fans, and with the media--your entire career.  Fame and success has never gone to your head and you have quietly built yourself a legacy that I assure you will live on in Red Wings history.

Simply put, Mr. Lidstrom: Thank you for being you.  We will miss you.

All the best to you and yours,
Brad Butland