Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 NHL Draft and the Red Wings

In a year where we saw Tatar and Nyquist blossom, it has become apparent that we have to grow our team from the inside. Before the boom of the internet, all you had were sporadic NHL scout reports, notes on a napkin or ''I heard that...''. Now, thanks to Twitter and other social media, text messaging and email on your smartphone, the information on prospects is available faster.

How is this year’s Red Wing draft looking to shape up?

The Red Wings are looking to draft some forwards, as per Joe McDonnell, the team’s head scout. “We'd really like to get a forward, unless there's a defenseman that's too good to pass up,'' he said. “If we feel there's two players (at different positions) that are even we'll lean toward the forward. … If we can add a little size up front, it would be beneficial.''

So here’s the top-3 draft-eligible players the Red Wings should look at from the 18th pick overall.

Alexander Wennberg – Center – Djurgarden (SWE)


This relatively big center (6’1’’, 190lbs) has all the tools to be a playmaking center. ‘’Wennberg is an offensive forward with smooth hands and terrific puck-handling ability. He has great vision and patience with the puck on his stick.’’ (source) He’s more of a finesse player though, he might not be exactly what the Red Wing’s brass is looking for, but he’s been playing with men the past two seasons and has excelled, amassing 32 points in 47 games with Djurgarden. Plus he’s Swedish, a known commidity for the Red Wings.

Ryan Hartman – Right Winger – Plymouth Whalers

Pictured here on left (Tumblr)

He’s the type of player every coach would like to have on his team. Strong, versatil and a deceptive goal-scorer, Hartman was a part of the World Junior squad that won the Gold for Team USA. The 6’ 185lbs player from Illinois would be just what the Red Wings’ ordered, playing a Ryan Callahan / David Backes type of game, a player that’s no fun to play against. Had 60 points in 56 games in injury-shortened season, so he can rile up players and add points in the meantime.

Bo Horvat – Center – London Knights


The best faceoff man available at this year’s draft is Horvat. In the mold of Mike Richards, he excels at every aspect of the game, as much defensively (+29 this year) as offensively (61 points in 67 games, including 33 goals). In addition to his size, the 6’, 205lbs center from Rodney, Ontario is agressive in his forecheck and is always finishing his checks, something that Babcock would like more of his players.

Blogger’s pick : Nikita Zadorov – Defense – London Knights


Even though the brass says they won’t pick a defenseman, if this guy shows up, they should pick him. The 6’5’’ bruising defenseman is just what the doctor ordered for the Red Wings. He has a game similar to Dion Phaneuf, a booming shot from the point and would make a great pairing with Ryan Sproul or Brendan Smith, in the long run. TSN scout Craig Button said that ‘‘he has good awareness with the puck and has a heavy shot that can make it very difficult for goaltenders to corral it.’’

This draft is exciting, not only because it is said to be a very deep draft, but also Detroit gets to pick higher than it has in the last 22 years, picking Marty Lapointe in 1991 with the 10th pick overall, the same year that they took Osgood, Knuble and Jamie Pushor - yeah, that long ago!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Legend Continues: Pavel Datsyuk Signs 3-Year Extension

The Magician has a few more tricks to perform in Hockeytown.

As per's Ansar Khan, Pavel Datsyuk has agreed to, and signed, a new 3-year contract extension that will see him don the Winged Wheel at least until the end of 2016-17.  Datsyuk had recently hinted on Twitter that a deal was close, and he later confirmed it today on his timeline, stating:

"Signed 3 yr. extension. Detroit, glad to be here for 4 more yrs.Thanks to our fans, friends and Ilitch family".

Khan detailed the specifics of Datsyuk's extra three years in his report, stating that #13 will make a cool $10 Million in the first year of the extension, followed by a drop to $7.5 and finally $5.5 Million over the last two years of the deal, coming to a grand total of $23 Million over the extension's full term.

How happy am I? Well...
That is a pretty good indicator.

The fact that we got our boy Dats back for $23 Million over three years is exceptional on both sides: management for swinging the deal, and Datsyuk for being a true Red Wing and not low-balling the team for more cash.  Yes, I know $23M is lots of money, but I could easily see some teams paying him anywhere between $8-9 Million per season, and it wouldn't be overpaying.  Pavel does so many good things on both ends of the ice, and players like him do not come around often.  He's a proven winner, class act, and part of the heart and soul of this team.  With the fresh talent coming up through the Grand Rapids Griffins, the next few years should be kind to Datsyuk, with lots of skilled players to make plays with and big bodies to do play the puck-retrieval game and give Dats room to maneuver--not that he needs much.  The next few years could present one of the most talented Detroit lineups since the 2002 campaign.  It is certainly speculation at this point, but the possibility is there.
And so is Pavel Datsyuk.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Drew Miller Returns, and That's a Good Thing

The Red Wings have a lot on their plate heading into the summer.  The salary cap is dropping significantly and there are more players with the potential to play on the active roster than there are spots to accommodate them.  Detroit confirmed one spot recently, however, with the signing of forward Drew Miller to a 3-year deal.  The reaction I've seen across Red Wings Nation has been divided, to say the least: Some agree with the signing and are glad it happened, while some like Drew's style but don't feel there's room for him anymore, and others downright don't like him and wish he were already gone.

My thought? You can do FAR worse than Drew Miller. I'm glad he's staying.

Miller brings a lot of things to the table.  This isn't a 'devil you know' situation, because there's no devil.  Drew Miller is a bottom 6 forward who brings it every night and is usable in numerous situations.  He's never been on the roster to generate high production numbers, so it's a moot point to say he doesn't have a scoring touch.  Drew gets a goal here and there and helps set up some production, but it's his defensive awareness and his tenacity on the penalty kill that has made him a mainstay in Hockeytown.  As far as I'm concerned, the Red Wings' special teams units are the ones that need the most TLC and attention, and having Drew Miller on the PK makes that task that much easier.

There will be departures, and there will be buyouts.  I think the guys we have available might be a bit thinner than some people expect by the time training camp rolls around.  One thing is for sure, though: Drew Miller isn't going anywhere, and I'm pleased as Punch about it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ian White's Selective Memory Leads to His Confusion over Likely Departure

Recently, soon-to-be-former Detroit defenseman Ian White addressed the media in regards to the probable odds of his heading out of Hockeytown and looking for yet another rink to call home.  While speaking to the press, he basically came out and said, "Well gee, guys, I don't know what to tell ya! I guess it's because I'm such a little guy, they must just not like that I'm so little and so I have no place here anymore...!"

Allow me a moment to wipe my tears...of laughter.

No, Ian, this organization is not going to let you go just because you're small.  Does that aspect of you work against what you're paid to do? It certainly seems so, but it's by no means the sole reason you're time as a Red Wing has come to an end.  It seems you've forgotten a very important choice you made some months ago, or perhaps you've blocked it out of your memory already as you should be embarrassed by it in the first place.  You see Whitey, it's like this: If, when you don't get your way and you're frustrated, you run to the media and mouth off about your coach and the management team for not giving you more playing time, then you're going to have a lot of people in charge of your place on the team very pissed off at you.

Thus it stands to reason that if you do that while not even playing above-average hockey, you're REALLY going to piss them off; so much so that when a young guy like Danny DeKeyser comes along, the coaching staff is more than happy to give him minutes and see what he's got.  You know why, Ian? Because he won't bitch and complain about it if he doesn't play well and gets benched!  It's the nature of the game, Ian.  In a season where we weren't even sure of we'd make the playoffs, we had no time for you to be playing minus-rating hockey.

You're a defenseman and you were doing a terrible job at defending, so you got scratched.  It was YOUR reaction to this that punched your ticket out of Detroit.  Had you handled it like an adult and kept your snide comments to yourself, and tried to better or re-invent yourself to make a push to retake a spot on the defense pairings, perhaps we'd all be looking at a totally different picture.  But instead, you decided to piss you pants and run crying to the media, and THAT, Ian White, is the biggest--if not the sole--reason you are not welcome back for next season.  We've shown uppity players the door before, you need look no further than Jiri Hudler and Ville Leino.  Looks like you're the next one on the list, Whitey.  Don't let that door hit ya where Babcock split ya...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Geek News: Datsyuk Wants to Stay, Mule is Parked, Filppula Concedes Possible Departure

After the Red Wings saw their season come to a premature close on Wednesday night, it didn't take long for talks of what the offseason would bring as far as players who might be on the move.  Over the last few days, some of those rumors have seen new light and have revealed in part some of the things to expect from the Wings' bigwigs this summer.  Here are some of the most recent stories coming out of Hockeytown:

Datsyuk Hopes to Re-sign - It seems that people have been blowing smoke over comments made by resident magician Pavel Datsyuk with regards to him playing in Russia after his current contract in Detroit expires.  Datsyuk has since come out and said that not only does he hope to sign an extension to stay in Detroit for the foreseeable future, but that his answer to the media's questions about his desire to play in his home country was just that: an honest answer.  Pavel said that it would be great to play in his native country; however, that is still a far cry from him saying that his CURRENT desire was to play there immediately and more desirable than continuing his NHL career.

No Budging Mule from the Budget - In a recent comment from general manager Ken Holland, it was confirmed that Johan Franzen, a player who has garnered a considerable amount of ire from Wings fans this season, isn't going anywhere soon.  When asked if there was a possibility that the Red Wings might use one of their two Amnesty buyouts to pay out 2/3rds of Franzen's contract and send him on his way, Holland replied with a convincing, "No chance.".  Detroit would have to cough up around $15M up front to the Mule, and because of a thin free-agent market, as streaky and fickle as he's been it would still be hard to replace the production that Franzen brings in every year.  What is frustrating about this is that it's obvious Franzen is more talented than the level to which he actually plays, at times looking completely disinterested on the ice.  His contract isn't terrible, it's just that we know based on his past exploits that we should be getting more bang for the buck out of Franzen, but he seems content in the fact that unless we find someone willing to take him in a trade, he can putter along at his 25-30 goal pace every year with no worries of losing ice-time.

Filppula Preparing for Possible Departure - Nothing is set in stone, but it appears Valtteri Filppula is aware of the fact that, should talks not improve with the team, he may have to look to the market for his desired paycheck.  After making it known that he was looking for $5 million per year, talks between Filppula and the Wings came to a grinding halt.  The Wings are faced with a tough decision here as well: do they let Filppula walk and risk losing him and hope a signing of their own or a younger player can step up to fill the position, or do they bite the bullet, ink Filppula to a new deal and hope for the best?  Personally I would see him gone, but as with the Franzen situation the market is already thin, and replacing a guy like Filppula who is serviceable at his current rate of pay would not be easy.  I would suggest that, if necessary, the Wings sign him to his $5 million deal for 2 years.  I would also suggest that they save one of their buyouts if possible and if after the first year we see no improvement or a decline in production, buyout the 2nd year and send Flip packing.  Now more than ever, it's time for Flip to put up or shut up.