Thursday, September 29, 2011

... and the latest suspension goes to ...

Down Goes Frazier !!  Down Goes Frazier !! 

Congrats to Brendan Shanahan on his new disciplanarian role with the NHL, and on the fine job he is doing so far.  I'll reserve any sarcasm built into that last statement until we all find out what decision he makes on the latest 'head shot' to review ... Brendan Smith on Benn Smith in last nights game with the Blackhawks.

For those in Detroit that didn't venture onto the internet to find someone streaming the game (thank you and are pissed that Versus blacked out the game even though Detroit was on the road (i don't get that either) the video clip is here ...

I'll now give you two reasons why this coming season is going to be frustrating and awkward for players, officials, AND fans.
#1 - Shanny is new to the position and has to be tough in order to get his point across as well as gain the respect of players, coaches, and GMs.
#2 - Players are going to have to decide when not to take that risk and cut across the middle of the ice, risking a hit like that, and learn to respect the defenceman coming after them and back off of the puck.

Its always been a game of chicken and so far no one has learned their lesson. The defenceman is ALWAYS going to do what he can to prevent a shot on goal and thats exactly what Brenden Smith did. Caught him in the head instead of the sholder ?  OOPS ... my bad ... but thats what you get for putting your head down and chasing after that puck in the first place.

A Mike Babcock quote eatracted from Chuck Pleiness' blog...
“So, the interesting thing about the league now, and I don’t doubt his shoulder hit his head … is there any responsibility on the puck carrier, toe-dragging, sliding sideways, to look after himself,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the game. “Is there or no? It doesn’t appear like there is anymore, is there?"

Chuck's full blog post can be found HERE

Sometimes the offencive player has to take some or all of the responsibility for a hit like that and, depending on what Shanahan's decision is on this one, this could be a good learning experience for all forwards playing the game. Leave your head down and you're going to get whacked. If Brenden Smith gets all of the blame for the hit then its going to be a long season with an obnoxious amount of suspensions, and a bazillion games ending in unusually high scores because no one is going to want to throw a body check anywhere for fear of suspension.

League officials trying to create new rules in order to protect players is one thing ... abusing those rules and instilling fear into the player instead of teaching them to respect one another is another thing. Placing blame on the wrong player will cause more harm than good and raise more questions than it answers.

In the old days, after a hit like that, benches would have cleared and we would have had a gold old donnybrook at center ice. Fans would have been out of their seats, yelling and screaming at the tops of their lungs, further deepening the rivalry between these two original 6 teams. But, because of the enforcer misconduct penalty, all we saw was minor pushing and shoving and name calling in one corner. Last years Don Cherry 'your mother wears army boots' comment would fit here perfectly.

The pendulum swings both ways, and unfortunately, we are currently swung in the wrong direction ... the direction of league involvement and the attempt to remove fighting from the game. Some day we'll see that pendulum swing back the other way when the league gives up and says, "look, we've done all we could to protect you guys from each other and it didn't work. You want control of the game back so here ya go. No more suspensions, no more instigator rule, police yourselves". That will be the day players learn to respect one another more. That will be the day sticks and elbows come down. That will be the day refs won't look like the bad man and will be able to once again do their jobs properly.

Until then, Brendan Shanahan will have a job with the NHL. Until then he will have to release an new video every 3 days explaining his current suspension. As of 5:45pm, Shanny had his meeting with Brenden Smith and there is no official decision until tomorrow. Here's hoping Shanny makes the right decision and doesn't ruin an entire season of hockey.

Friday, September 2, 2011

... And Belak Makes Three

By now, everyone and their grandmother has written an article and expressed their opinion about the 3 NHL "tough guys" that have died in the past 3 months, and it is disgusting to see so much misinformation being spread.

First ... for those total morons that insist on lumping Bob Probert into this mess I say get a clue.  Probie was on a boat enjoying life with his family when his heart decided to explode.  You only get X amount of beats out of a heart and Probie used his all up.  If it weren't for that, he'd still be here, commenting on those others that have passed.

Second ... yes it's sad, shocking, and thought provoking when something like this happens, but do we know all of the circumstances as to why ?  No we don't.  At this time we can only assume it had something to do with their envolvement in hockey and the role they played.  We all know what happens when we 'assume' anything.  To assume their deaths had anything to do with them being 'enforcers' on the ice is just a knee-jerk reaction which could cause more problems than it fixes.

Being an enforcer in the NHL is a unique role in pro sports and it makes me wonder how much the instigator penalty influences their 'technique' and behavior both on and off the ice.  Because of that one penalty, fights pretty much have to be set up or pre-determined. Gone are the days when any random player can jump a guy the second he makes a stupid mistake.  The instigator penalty has shortened the list of players that will drop the gloves, and made those that do feel more isolated.  Eliminate the penalty and even the playing field ... get everyone involved and the 'enforcer' won't feel so alone.  For all we know, it may also lead to fewer stupid penalties like high sticks, stray elbows to the chin, head shots etc.  If all players know they are fair game and will get the crap beat out of them at any given time, maybe it will clean the game up and players will have more respect for one another, making it a safer game to play.

If we set aside our emotions and take the time to properly investigate each death individually, we will eventually come to a proper conclusion that may or may not involve hockey.  Depression ?  Perhaps, but not necessarily hockey related.  Until that happens, its all just speculation.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Can I Get An Attitude Adjustment ??

I purposely stayed as far away from twitter and other internet sources of hockey news this past holiday weekend in order to clear my head and digest everything that is going on. Between the Stanley Cup finals starting, the Amateur Draft a few weeks away, and the Atlanta to Winnipeg fiasco, I felt I had to avoid all further input. A re-evaluation ... an attitude adjustment of sorts ... that and I had a lot of yard work to do. After skimming through things that went on this past weekend, it looks like others should have done the same thing I did. I'm just not sure my weekend was long enough.

Seriously ??

Via a Sunday afternoon tweet from Detroit Red Wings Marketing and Communications Department:

"Former Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon has been hired as the head coach for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League."

And that's it. End of story. Literally nobody in the hockey world has commented and no one has been interviewed. Brad McCrimmon would rather be Head Coach of a KHL team as opposed to Asst. Coach of the mighty Detroit Red Wings ?? What does this say about Detroit or Mr. McCrimmon's judgment ?? Will his career blossom like Todd McLellan's or tank like Dave Lewis's ?? I think I need another quiet weekend to digest that one. I had a beer here somewhere ...

Bait & Switch ??

Finally, the formal announcement came this afternoon that the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg's True North Entertainment Group is final. While some are sad to see Atlanta lose their team, we all have to remember this is the second time it has happened. Expansion brought the Atlanta Flames to town in 1972 and they lasted just 8 short seasons before they picked up and moved to Calgary. Why the NHL chose to return to Atlanta in 1999 is a mystery.

Does anyone remember Benjamin Franklin saying "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results " ?? I guess not because we now have 10 teams in extremely warm weather climates that really don't belong there (yes, I'm including LA). For one thing, a warm climate is not conducive to any thoughts of hockey. Secondly, the ice in the buildings flat out sucks and is dangerous for the players health. The puck bounces like a superball and you can't complete 2 passes consecutively to save your ass. It's amazing hockey in the south has lasted as long as it has considering the poor quality of the game. Which brings us to the original team we all thought would be headed back to Winnipeg ... the Phoenix Coyotes.

One more season in Phoenix and you know they're gone. Anyone with half a brain can see it coming, but where will they move to ? Quebec City ? Seattle ?  Anyone that thinks the warm weather cities of Kansas City or Las Vegas are viable choices needs to have their heads examined thoroughly. Unfortunately, the NHL has a Commissioner that cares more about money than the actual game itself, and it's money that is driving these relocation choices, not hockey knowledge or passion. Bettman wasn't going to get a "relocation fee" out of Phoenix so the Coyotes stay put for another season.

Who's next on the list ? Florida ? Carolina ? Columbus ? Nashville ? Give it time ... the subject of league contraction will soon rear its ugly head again.  And realignment will be all the rage this coming season as well. Winnipeg playing in the Southeast Division this coming season is going to be a joke. Will the True North Entertainment Group get a kickback from the NHL to cover the extra travel expenses ?? Will CBC cover any or all of Winnipeg's road games without subsidy fees from the league ?? This move creates more problems than it solves and I think I this too calls for another long holiday weekend to sort out. Damnit ... where's my beer ???

For those of you that are excited about Atlanta's move, Kuklas Korner has conveniently posted video clips of the press conference and a short interview with Commissioner Bettman on one page. No doubt, there will be much more chatter on CBC tonight during Game One of the SCF.

 ...and if you are of the opinion that playing in the weaker Eastern Conference for one season could be to Winnpeg's advantage as they go UFA shopping July 1st, this article by's Matthew Wuest lays out all of their options.

Potential Upside ??

Scott Campbell over at The Scouting has posted an incredibly detailed article on the 2011 NHL Draft Top 100 Skaters.
Here's to hoping these kids know what they're in for if they're drafted by a warm weather climate team.

HA !! Found my beer !! ewwwww it's warm ... off to the store for another 6 pack before the game starts.

Tomorrow ... has the influx of European players over the last couple of decades helped or hurt the NHL ??  This has Don Cherry written all over it, doesn't it ??

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shhhh ... I'm Hunting Wabbit !!

More bench clearing news surfaced over-night ... via Helen St. James over at the ... Asst. Coach Doug MacLean would like to test the waters and look for a Head Coaching job before he signs the contract extension offered to him by the Red Wings organization.  "We've offered him a contract", general manager Ken Holland said this week of MacLean. "We're prepared to sit tight for a bit. He's hoping to get an opportunity to interview with some of the head-coaching jobs available".  Doug and his moustache (which ranks 2nd to former Calgary star Lanny McDonald's) have a lot of competition for the 5 vacant Head Coaching spots.  I expect they will be back in Detroit for the 2011-12 season.

Future Mobility

As we were all going to sleep last night, posted the signing of 2009 7th round pick Adam Almqvist to a 3 year entry level contract. He's a nice mobile, offencive minded defenceman, and yes, Rafalski's name does come up when describing his style of play, but he's only 20 and needs to fill out physically (ie: he's gotta hit the weights) before he plays on this side of the pond.  For a little more insight as to who Adam Almqvist is, check out this Google translated interview by Daniel Hultqvist at

C'mon Already !!

Lastly ... no official word out of Atlanta yet, nor will there be until sometime after the Memorial Day weekend.  I suppose this is good news legally.  They're being careful, making sure all the T's are crossed and I's are dotted and monies are distributed properly before any formal announcements are made.  Winnipeg playing in the southeast for a season is just going to be weird, but realignment really doesn't make sense until Phoenix's future is settled.  If they end up going to Quebec City, you can be sure Detroit is going to get screwed again and end up staying right where we are.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Scouting We Will Go

While everyone is worrying about and speculating on how the Red Wings brain trust will fill the hole left by Rafalski's retirement, we can't forget the NHL Draft (June 24-25) is rapidly approaching and lists are being finalized for finding Detroit's next Steve Yzerman.

If we're thinking offencively, Detroit likes to draft Centers that are in the 5' 10" to 6' 1" range, fast & flexible like Pavel Datsyuk or Val Filppula or even Chris Draper.  They're thinking is, it's easier to switch a center to a wing spot than vice versa. Available in this upcoming draft is a Russian that could pique their interests.

Vladislav Namestnikov, born in Voskresensk, Russia in November of 1992, is a 6' 0" 166lb. center for the London Knights in the OHL. Namestnikov led the Knights in goals with 30, and finished second in team scoring with 68 points in 68 games played, and was fifth in scoring among rookies league-wide. Quoting NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards:  “Vlad plays a high-energy, two-way game. He’s very aggressive on the forecheck and backcheck and has the ability to beat defenders outside and cut back to the net. He has an excellent wrist shot that he can release with accuracy on the rush. I find him most effective at center, but he is versatile enough to play a solid game on the wing, he’s very responsible defensively and is not afraid of getting involved and battling for pucks. He’ll take the body and take a hit to make a play”.

At just 166lbs, he'll have to hit the weight room and fill out a bit so he doesn't get beat up by taller, older players but, considering his father, Evgeny, was drafted with the 117th overall pick (1991) of the Vancouver Canucks, played 43 NHL career games with the Canucks, New York Islanders and Nashville Predators from 1993 to 2000 and his mother was an elite Russian figure skater, it sounds like he's genetically destined for the NHL.  The kicker ... his mother is the sister of former Detroit Red Wing Slava Kozlov.

Yep, he's Kozzy's nephew ... and if that isn't enough to make you go 'oooooooooo', read the rest of the scouting reports on this kid in Brendan Ross's article posted at The Hockey

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Updates And Filler Fodder

Official press release directly from the Detroit Red Wings Marketing and Communications Department twitter acct.:
Press conference 11:00 AM tomorrow. Ken Holland and Brian Rafalski are scheduled to attend. It will be carried live on

Posted by The Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey ... deputy commissioner of the National Hockey League Bill Daly has been quoted as saying the salary cap for the 2011-12 season "could jump to between $60.5 million and $63.5 million".  That's good for the Red Wings who will have to go UFA hunting to fill a gap on D, but as the ceiling rises, so does the floor, which is bad for low attendance/minimum salary teams like Florida and Columbus and Phoenix etc.

In his "Tuesday's with Tom" article, The Muskegon Chronicle's Tom Kendra thinks that ... a) the Red Wings are 'lucky' to have a player of Justin Abdelkader's quality and skill level and  b) Babcock should put him and keep him on one specific line so Abby can feel more comfortable and improve his offencive output.  I whole heartedly agree on both counts, which is why I suggested Abby center the 3rd line with Bertuzzi on one side and possible UFA signing Jamie Langenbrunner on the other side.  Not the fastest line in the world but all 3 are not afraid to throw their weight around, pass well, and don't have a problem crashing the net ... and we know at least 2 of the 3 have a nice scoring touch.

Posted at earlier this afternoon ... Grab your passport and your loose Loonies and Toonies ... The Detroit Red Wings are headed to London, Ont. for a Sept. 22nd exhibition game against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Sounds like the perfect opportunity to throw an Octopus or three at Chris Pronger ... baaaahahahaha.

This weeks '30 Thoughts' from CBC's Elliotte Friedman ... as always, a must read.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Roster Update #2½

From Out Of Left Field ...

Rumours are flying fast & furious that Brian Rafalski is going to leave $6 mil. on the table and retire.  Between 2 wonky knees and a back that spasms at will, it looks like the 37 year old Rafalski is going to hang them up for good.  Word is there will be a press conference Wednesday afternoon (may 25th) to make his decision offical. I could provide a bazillion links to just about every hockey writers web post or various tweets but they all say the same thing. The one thing that differs is whom they speculate the Red Wings will go after via free agency.

This certainly clears the way for my Joni Pitkanen prediction to come to fruition but, with $6mil. a certainty to be available, there are now a few other options.

In the over 30 crowd, the 'Holy Trinity' (Holland/Nill/Babcock) could go with Windsor native Ed Jovanovski (yummy!), Bryan McCabe (nice shot but not the best defencively), Roman Hamrlik (showing his age), Sami Salo (injury prone), or Tomas Kaberle (uber inconsistant & sloppy).

The under 30 crowd looks a bit better with Kevin Bieksa (picture D-Mac as a defenceman), James Wisniewski (just wow), Christian Ehrhoff, and Joni Pitkanen (still my first choice) as possibilities.

Many are mentioning restricted free agent Shea Weber as an option but, having never gone after an RFA in the past and having to give up way too much of their future to Nashville on top of paying Weber's salary make it a non-issue. Undoubtedly, Nashville will match any offer so just scratch that as a possibility.

Just a little something to make you go hmmmmmm ... what is Sheldon Souray's situation ???

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane ...

Still no official word on the Atlanta Thrashers being sold and moving to Winnipeg but, when only 200 fans show up for a weekend rally to save the team, even the people in Atlanta know it's a done deal.  It's also a good possibility Winnipeg will play one season in the Eastern Conference while Bettman and his henchmen ponder all reallignment options. Some very creative ideas have been posted already, including the elimination of East/West Conferences and going with Atlantic/South East/Central/West Divisions.  As soon as I figure out where Phoenix will end up after the 2011-12 season I'll post my ideas and see if they float.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roster Update Part Deux: Meech On The Move

Posted Saturday evening by George Sipple over at The Freep ...

After 7 years in the Red Wings' organization (and one stanley cup) defenceman Derek Meech has decided to seek employment elsewhere for the upcoming 2011-12 season.

Posting his best offencive numbers in Grand Rapids this past season since his 2002-03 season with the Red Deer Rebels in the WHA (partnered with Dion Phaneuf), Derek now feels he's ready to break into an NHL lineup full time, but doesn't see it happening in Detroit.

Will he head to Toronto and reunite with his old junior partner or will he end up in Europe ?  I'll let you know when there's word.

Good luck Meechie .. and thanx.

In the 'I Told You So' department ...

Posted yesterday by Jim Matheson at The Edmonton Journal ...

"Joni Pitkanen would be the perfect Detroit Red Wings defender because he can move the puck. But the Wings don’t have the money for the Carolina Panthers unrestricted free agent. Do the Columbus Blue Jackets have enough cash?"

If the salary cap goes up and management quits insisting Ericsson is useful then yes, they DO have the cap space to sign Joni.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Roster Update: Scratch One

As reported yesterday on their official website, Ilari Filppula, Valtteri’s older brother, has chose to sign a four-year contract with Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish SM-Liiga.

Ilari led the Griffins with 64 points in 76 games this past season (20 goals 44 assists), The Griffins didn't make the AHL playoffs, he wasn't called up to the Red Wings during the regular season, nor was he invited to participate as a Black Ace during their playoff run. All of that, along with more money and more exposure were undoubtedly the deciding factors for Ilari to return home.

Have no fear.  Red Wings’ Finnish scout, Ari Vouri, works in Jokerit’s player personnel department, so you can pretty much bet weekly reports will be on someone's desk this coming season.

Jokerit’s website also posted an interview with Ilari ... in Finnish ... so grab your Rosetta Stone DVD and brush up.

Also in the wind the past couple of days is the public announcement that Red Wing's assistant coach (and former player) Brad McCrimmon is fishing for a head coaching job with one of the 5 teams that have openings (Dallas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Florida). Brad faces stiff competition with from former NHL stars Kirk Muller, Craig MacTavish, Guy Carbonneau, and Kevin Dineen also on the prowl. We wish him good luck in his future endeavors and thank him for his 3 years behind the bench.

Former head coaches Ken Hitchcock and Mike Keenan have thrown their hats into the ring as well, with 'Hitch' being on the Wings short list to replace McCrimmon. Hitchcock's resume speaks volumes (defence first style/stanley cup in dallas/etc.) and will most likely be Detroit's choice to improve upon last seasons poor penalty kill stats, but it's early in the process and there are procedures to follow so no bridges are burned.

Lastly for today, even though they're still trying to sell season tickets in Atlanta, it looks like the finishing touches are being put on the sale of the Thrashers to the True North group in Winnipeg.  Holding up the deal is who gets how much money and why.  Naturally, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is trying to get his hands on as much as possible in an attempt to make up for the ongoing losses in Phoenix.  Relocation fee?? Seriously ?? It must be nice to be a lawyer and have the ability to make up new rules on the fly.  All the ugly details on the sale, and league realignment as they become final.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Analyzing and Scrutinizing and Summarizing ... Oh My !!

Analyzing and Scrutinizing:

No changes at the goalie position maintains confidence and communication. With a better team up front, there is no reason why we shouldn't expect the same or better performance out of both Jimmy and Joey.

Are Joni Pitkanen and Brendan Smith an improvement over Salei and Ericsson ?  For an added $3.3 mil. in salary over last years, they damn better be.  It could be an awkward October while they both adjust to new systems but, by the All-Star break we'll have a much better idea if the changes were a bust or not.
Up front, Hudler's return to the NHL was a disaster to say the least, only scoring 10 goals when much more was expected from him. Modano's wrist injury put a quick and unfortunate end to what could have been a storybook season and a perfect ending to an amazing Hall Of Fame career. Just 4 goals in the 40 games he played leaves a bad taste in everyones mouths.  The energy and enthusiasm of Tatar and Mursak, increased ice time for both Filppula and Eaves, a 100% healthy Franzen, and the addition of Langenbrunner more than make up for what those 2 contributed last season. Langenbrunner's career average is 18.8 goals per season alone.
After finishing 2nd in the league in scoring in 2010-11, there is no reason (barring injuries) why this new roster wouldn't duplicate an identical level.
While there weren't the same amount of injuries this past season as we had in 09-10, they did hit at a crucial point of the post-season and it did us in.  Franzen's bad ankle, Bertuzzi and Cleary both hurt early in Game 7 against San Jose.  Any one of those 3 could have helped us over the hump and into the Conference Finals.  The biggest question in my mind is still "what if Modano hadn't gotten hurt ?".  Could he have been a bigger factor in the playoffs if he had a full healthy season under his belt ?  Unfortunately, we'll never know ... which is why we're sitting here mid May looking forward to next season.
There could be as many as 6 new faces this fall.  That's 25% of the roster.  To say this will be a different team next season is an understatement, but that's what we need.  Too many teams in today's NHL have stolen the Red Wing formula for success, and we need to get back to being one step ahead of everybody.
A little more youthful enthusiasm (smith/mursak/tatar) mixed with a little more veteran experience via free agency (pitkanen/langenbrunner) added to the existing amazing core should add up to a 21st consecutive appearance in the post-season follies.
As Ken Holland makes his changes to the team, I'll be adjusting my changes, so stay tuned ... it's going to be a busy summer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Salary Cap Concerns

Right from day one, the salary cap has been an issue for our beloved Red Wings. Many throughout the NHL thought this would be their undoing.
With a calculator surgically implanted in his brain, Ken Holland goes to work every summer and cobbles together the most impressive roster possible, constantly beating his head up against that salary cap ceiling. If he hadn't come so close to it this past season, we may have seen a bit more of Tatar and Murzak, and we may have seen a glimpse of Brendan Smith and Ilari Filppula.
$59.4 mil. was the 2010-2011 salary cap limit, and at seasons end, Holland came $44,155.00 from going over it.

As first reported by Larry Brooks at the N.Y. Post on April 10, 2011 ... "The NHLPA has told agents that the union projects a salary cap of approximately $62.2 million next season if the players vote to trigger the 5-percent escalator.  That represents an increase of $2.8 million from the current $59.4 million cap, or approximately 4.7 percent. This means that, 1) the NHL's "record" revenues have not increased by the 5 percent the players voted to bump the cap for this season; and, 2) the cap would remain flat or even decrease slightly for the first time if the players opt not to adopt the inflator for next season. This is a preliminary number recently given to the agents in the union's "marketplace" assessment that could change slightly depending upon the revenue generated in the playoffs."

Hopefully, we'll have a final amount in place by the beginning of free agent frenzy on July 1st.

Just for the sake of simplicity, let's say the new salary cap actually is $62.2 mil.
These are the proposed changes I have in mind:

MacDonald [$750,000]Osgood (retire)
Lidstrom [$6,000,000]Ericsson (sign & trade)
Eaves [$900,000]Salei (no offer)
Miller [$800,000]Modano (retire)
 Hudler (trade)
 Draper (retire)
New Guys:
Joni Pitkanen [$4,000,000] (1 year)
Brendan Smith [$875,000]
Doug Janik [$512,500]
Jamie Langenbrunner [$2,500,000] (2 year)
Tomas Tatar [$840,000]
Jan Mursak [$550,000]

Signing Pitkanen to just a 1 year contract is beneficial to both parties. If he doesn't pan out, he can go elsewhere next season. If he does work out, then Lidstrom would most likely retire and Joni gets a raise.
Hopefully, there isn't a curse on players we sign away from Dallas a-la Hatcher and Modano. Signing Langenbrunner for 2 years tells him he's wanted and we think he's got plenty left in the tank.
Now let's do some math ...

Total Cap Hits:
Goalies --> $3,000,000
Defencemen --> $25,020,833
Forwards --> $33,640,378

Total --> $61,661,211
Cap Space Remaining --> $538,789

Of course, these signing salaries are guesses and should be looked upon as such.  If you want to do some guessing of your own, head over to and slap together something of your own.

Our sample is HERE.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moving Forward

When push comes to shove, we didn't have that "go to" guy to score the big goal when we needed it.  Could Modano have been that guy if he hadn't gotten his wrist sliced ??  Could Fil have been that guy if he was given one more minute of ice time per game ??  Is Franzen that guy if he ever stays healthy ??   Is Cleary that guy and we just don't know it ??  Are Helm or Eaves developing into that guy ??  Do we go UFA shopping for that guy ??  The list of high scoring unrestricted free agents this July 1st is pretty impressive, and trading Hudler for draft choices & pushing MoDo and Drapes into retirement frees up $5.5 mil. to go shopping with.

Of our UFA's, re-signing Eaves first makes the most sense.  He's almost as fast as Helm and he's proven he has an offencive upside.  Mursak and Emmerton are out of options and need to make the club.  Early returns have Emmerton turning into last years Mattias Ritola.  Tatar on the 3rd line and Mursak on the 4th line isn't out of the question after what we saw from them this past season, but we won't know for sure until training camp and exhibition games kick in.  Miller would obviously be a defencive signing, and after the numbers he put up in Grand Rapids this past season, I'd like to see what the older Filppula can do in the NHL.

Signing a UFA in the class of a Tim Connolly or Erik Cole or Michal Handzus would give us 3 strong forwards to rotate on the right side, and would probably keep Tatar in Grand Rapids for another season.  Signing a Jason Arnott or Steve Sullivan or Jamie Langenbrunner would be an upgrade from this past seasons situation with Modano.  Out of all of the skilled UFA's come July 1st, if I had to choose just one to be our new "go to" guy, I'd have to pick Langenbrunner.  At age 35, he's certainly got 1 or 2 more good years left, would work well on a line with Bertuzzi and Abdelkader, and he'd be another former captain to offer up stability and Stanley Cup experience to the locker room. Getting him the hell out of Dallas for 2 years at $2.25mil. each should be a piece of cake.

If Hudler hadn't come back last season, Alex Tanguay was my UFA choice before Calgary snatched him up, and he had a great season on a line with Iginla and Morrison.  Let's hope Langenbrunner doesn't turn into another one of those "geez, we coulda had him" guys.

Tomorrow ... Salary Cap Issues ?

For a look at everything including snazzy graphics, go here:

For a look at a 2011-12 roster I'd like to see Ken Holland put on the ice, go here:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let's Get Defencive

Yesterdays goaltending decisions were easy. Today we tackle a much more important position. A position everyone from top to bottom in the Red Wing organization agrees needs to get better ... the defence.

As well as both Nick's and Brad Stuart performed,  Rafalski had an average season,  we got what we paid for out of Salei, Ericsson was a disappointment, and Kindl began his NHL career on a high note showing much poise and potential.  That all adds up to a bottom 5 performance when compared to the rest of the league.  The biggest problem area was our penalty kill.  Some of that can be explained as just poor execution, and the rest explained by the removal of Lidstrom from one of the defencive pairs in an effort to lower the now 41 year olds ice time.

Last years prediction of ... "This could be the season Detroit's defence develops a big bad attitude" ... well, that just didn't happen. Salei showed why he signed for less than $1 mil. (adequate but not stellar) and Ericsson showed us why he started out as a forward. He doesn't hit anything and he barfs up the puck in his own end at least once a period.  Thank you for your services gentlemen and good luck in the future with whatever team will sign you.

The limited ice time Jakub Kindl got was more than enough for him to prove he's ready for a #6 spot this coming season.  Doug Janik has 1 more year on his contract and it's not a 2-way deal, so he either makes the roster or gets waived.  Derek Meech put up respectable numbers in Grand Rapids this past season and deserves to be re-signed to a 2-way contract at the very least.  The best option out of all would be to bring Brendan Smith up to be the #7 d-man and let him get a taste of  what could be Captain Nick's final season.
Dropping Salei and Ericsson and most likely Janik gives us about $2.5 mil. to go UFA shopping with.  If Lidstrom takes a pay-cut to re-sign (a-la yzerman) then we have more.  Going slightly over budget and signing Joni Pitkanen would be great for 2 reasons.  a) - it makes the distinction between #1 & #5 that much fuzzier and b) - it takes some of the physical pressure off of Kronner & Stuart.  Maybe Pitkanen and Rafalski could be your #3 & #4 so you could pair Lidstrom with Kindl and Smith on a rotating basis.

Ottawa's Chris Phillips could be another option, and Montreal has to decide if they want to bring back Brent Sopel, James Wisniewski, and Hal Gill so we could grab one of those guys if Pitkanen says no.

Our PK has to get better, we need to get more physical, and we need someone with skill so Captain Nick doesn't play more than 15 or 16 minutes a game.  Signing a skilled UFA will guarantee Lidstrom's return for one more season.

Tomorrow ... forward ho !!

See it all now, complete with graphics, here:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oh the pain ...

An early exit from the playoffs can drive a person to drink (more).  Me ?  It made me create this blog.  There are so many putting in their 2¢ worth, and most of them aren't worth that much, so I thought now would be a good time for me to join the 21st Century and add my voice to the throng.  There are already predictions of how Ken Holland is going to change the team to make it better. and some of them are so outrageous I won't even bother posting a link.

Todays entry will tackle the easy part ... Goaltending.

Unfortunately,  last years prediction came true and Ozzy yoinked a groin which gave Joey Mac half a chance to strut his stuff.  Was it enough to prove he deserves a shot at being the full time #2 or will The Holy Trinity (Holland, Nil, and Babcock) decide to go free agent shopping and duplicate the miracle Stevie Y pulled off in Tampa ??

Will Holland try to finish the Nabokov deal by wrestling him away from the Islanders ??  Will he bring back Ty Conklin ??  Other options could be Marty Turco (chi.) or Craig Anderson (col.) or Tomas Vokoun (fla.) ... but when push comes to shove, I'm all in favor of re-signing MacDonald.

His numbers while a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins are just epic, he shut US out when he was a member of the NY Islanders, and last seasons 2.21 GAA and .924 save percentage all speak volumes as to why he deserves a shot at being Tim Thomas v2.0.

The familiar tandem of McCollum & Pearce will once again share the #2 spot in Grand Rapids.  Daniel Larsson played fairly well back in Sweden last season, but did he take a step forward?  The Red Wings own his rights for one more year before a decision has to be made as to re-sign him or cut ties.

Bottom line ... Howard has answered the bell and proven he has what it takes to be Detroit's #1 for years to come.  Petr Mrazek could give him a run for his money, but that's a few years off.  Who backs Jimmy up come October is relatively inconsequential at this point.  It just depends on how much money you want to spend and how far past 100 points you want to go.

For my full team evaluation, complete with graphics, go here: