Posts Tagged ‘Red wings’

I’m too old for this

January 6, 2017

Alright, I’m a hockey fan, been following the Wings since 1987. Since getting married, getting kids, etc., time to watch games has kind of tightened a bit over the years. I fit in games when I can, occasionally watching them later. With the Wings in the Western Conference for so long I was sort of accustomed to late games, as the Wings swung out west playing games in Colorado, Dallas, Arizona, Alberta, California, etc. It was something you lived with.

I’m not accustomed to it any more.

Making it worse is that the Wings have had a lousy year, most games seeming uninspired drubbings. Last night they actually showed up to play and it was entertaining. The game also started at 103o.

I made it through two and a half periods. The Wings were up 4-0 at that point, it seemed pretty in hand, and I was dead to the world at that point. So I went to bed.

And then I was up again at 6 this morning to get The Boy ready for school. Then Little Girl was up. Then my day was off and running.

I was not running to keep up. I felt like hell, felt like hell for most of the day, probably looked like it. Still, I managed to get the meals on the table, kept the kids from seriously harming themselves or eachother and I think I did a decent job of things.

But I can’t do this any more. I just can’t do the physical turn around of a few hours sleep and trying to be functional. All day I felt miserable. I was constantly snacking on junk foods and feeling like crap because it was junk food. Now it’s 11pm, I’m feeling drained, a little sick, been sucking on a zinc cough drop. It feels like I’ve been trying to desperately mend holes and throw patches over worn out patches all day.

Days like today make me realize the real cost of adulthood is just the cold hard reality of getting older, and having to accommodate for that.

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Wings ink Sheahan

June 15, 2016

So, the Wings gave Riley Sheahan a bridge deal. What I am left wondering, though, is where exactly this bridge is supposed to be leading to. He’s a big guy who has filled in at center on the second and third lines the past couple of seasons and the way he is most often described is that he’s a guy who always leaves you expecting more, only to not deliver. He doesn’t have bad hands, but he has yet to be consistently productive – his point per game has actually declined the past three years. He can be good defensively, but he’s not a master at it like Draper was. Sheahan has a big frame, but he’s not physical.

Reall, I’m not sure that Athanasiou couldn’t give the Wings pretty much everything Sheahan gives us while being paid just $630K. The one benefit is that Sheahan will still be an RFA at the end of the deal, but so is Dekeyser now and there’s no guarantee we’re going to get some great deal just because the guy isn’t unrestricted.

This seems like a pretty weak deal from the Wings side, and it does not give me a lot of optimism regarding the other RFA.

Torchetti Mirrors Our Downfall

June 13, 2016

I don’t dislike John Torchetti. From everything I have read and heard about him, he seems like a good guy, with an established track record, who brings a lot of positives to the Wings’ bench.

Signing him is also a reflection of the Wings having fallen from the upper echelon of the NHL.

It’s not that we signed Torchetti, it’s that we didn’t sign Marc Crawford. Or Todd Richards. Or any of the other guys the Wings were rumored to be pursuing only to see them sign elsewhere.

I know it’s the Wings’ story that they interviewed all of these guys, and that they liked Torchetti, and they brought him because they believe he will be a good fit, or whatever. All of which can be true, it probably is, but it doesn’t mean he was ever their first choice.

Or their second choice.

Or even their third choice.

He’s the guy the Wings ended up signing after a whole bunch of other guys they were interested in had signed elsewhere. He’s the guy we ended up with. That we settled for. He might do a great job here but, make no mistake, he’s here because we couldn’t close the deal on some other guys. Because we weren’t a good enough draw to pull in the better talent that wanted to go to better places.

The only thing that can change this is the obvious one. The Wings need to start winning again, and being a serious contender that people don’t look at and figure will be a first round knock out at best every year. And with all of the bad deals on our books, and the lack of impact young D knocking on the door in our prospect pipeline, it’s probably going to be awhile. And we’re going to end up with more John Torchettis.

Jason Demers

May 13, 2016

I’ve been seeing Wings fans throwing around Jason Demers as a guy we should target to improve our blueline, and I can’t help but wonder what they are thinking when guys like  Yandle and Goligoski (and even Campbell) could be on the market. This isn’t to say Demers is a bad players, he’s a fine D, but he’s not exactly anything special. Our blueline is weak with the puck, weak generating offense, and is weak in our transition game. Nothing about Demers makes me think he’s much more than a more experienced Marchenko. Give Marchenko another year or two, and I don’t think we’ll see a huge difference between the two – especially not a difference worth what it would likely cost to sign Demers in free agency.

Spend a little more, get a guy who is a little less safe, but who brings qualities we need. No one who might be available on the open market will be a Suter-esque move that could single-handedly revamp our blueline, but we should at least go for players with qualities we don’t really have. Also, if Mrazek is as good as he appears he might be, we can lean on him to make those big saves where we leave him out to dry occasionally.

Just Go In Straight Lines

May 6, 2016

Chelios: Well, I adjusted I think because I played so long and had been through different types of games. Mike Babcock, I don’t think there’s a more structured coach than him, and I struggled with him. I tried to do what he wanted me to do. I was one of those players, you talk about elite players, I had a vision, I could see the puck and plays developing before it happened, but once he had me doing straight lines, I was worthless. Then I knew the end was there.

 

I pulled the above quote from an interview posted at ESPN.  Chelios touches upon the prevalence of systems in the NHL a few times in the interview, but this was the most direct connection he made to the Wings. When Babcock first came on board, and really throughout his tenure in Detroit, there were often rumors of him rubbing players the wrong way. Shanahan’s dislike for Babcock was the worst kept secret in Detroit the little time they co-existed. For awhile Babcock was seen as essentially shoving Yzerman off the ice. Rumors of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Lidstrom rebelling against Babcock seemed to surface every couple of years, only to have everyone stay where they were and keep saying the right things. I  have to believe, though, that Chelios wasn’t the only high end player who looked at how Babcock wanted them to play and thought, “Just kill me now.”

I totally get the idea of cutting down on mistakes by taking as much of the unknown out of the game as possible. And as a team becomes less skilled, this makes a lot of sense. However, at some point I have to wonder if it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We don’t have enough skill to let guys go out and create a bit, so we go out and get guys who are better at a simpler, more straight forward game, but they are also less skilled, bringing the team down further, and pushing the game plan to be even more conservative. And on. And on. And on. Before you know it, you have a team that is very limited on the skill front, with grinders playing up in the lineup, and having a difficult time consistently producing offense.

Sound familiar? I think it does. Maybe the Wings are hitting a point where they will realize they either need to go back to what was really the Wings hallmark or to just go all out with the crash&bang limit mistakes lineup they keep flirting with. Unfortunately, the lack of high end skill coming up through the farm system may make the decision for them.

why would Radulov sign a short term deal?

May 3, 2016

Alright, in my near weekly attempt to burst balloons regarding the wings, I want to say something about the possibility of signing Alex Radulov. For those who don’t know (or remember – dude’s not exactly been seeing a lot of NHL action lately – Radulov jumped ship from Nashville to make a living in the KHL something like six or seven years ago (maybe eight, it’s been a long time) .He was/is incredibly talented, and his leaving opened a massive hole in Nashville’s offensive production. He was a guy a club would look at as being a pillar of their forwards for ten years, he was that good.And then he just up and left after being suspended for partying with a russian buddy while in the playoffs.

And now he wants to come back to the NHL. And he’s been linked to the Wings for obvious reasons, such as averaging less than two goals per game in the playoffs. However, Radulov’s off-the-ice problems of the past hasn’t made his possible signing a slam dunk with a lot of fans. It seems the most enthusiastic endorsements are usually along the lines of, “well, he’s better than what we have and we aren’t in a position to complain,” while a lot of responses are closer to, “screw him, he’s a cancer.”

The truth is we do need a guy like Radulov. We need a center more, but any guy we should be able to look at and say will score 20+ goals for us with regularity would be a wonderful problem to have  at this point. Also, it’s not like we haven’t employed players who we later discover had their fair share of problems. McCarty definitely had his demons, and even a guy like Fedorov had quite the off-ice life going on. So, I think that part of the Radulov saga is overrated. If the Wings think Radulov will show up and produce, they’ve shown the ability to live with some of the extra stuff. Also, Radulov is nearly 30 now and has a kid, and by many reports has calmed the off-ice issues substantially.

A bigger problem, in my eyes anyway, is this idea that I’ve seen that signing Radulov would be okay if it’s on a short deal and the money isn’t exorbitant. Well, yeah, signing a top6 player on the cheap and not being on the hook for a lot of years is always preferable. But why would Radulov do it? The guy is coming back as a straight UFA, he doesn’t have to sign for the ELC like a guy like Panarin. Radulov is going to be looking for some cash here, folks. Also, the Wings are not exactly the cream of the NHL crop. Five years ago, signing a short deal to fit into a lineup of a real Cup contender would have made a lot of sense. Now? Going purely by chances of winning the Cup, there are a lot of teams on equal footing with the Wings. There is absolutely no reason for Radulov to take a discount to sign with us for that reason.

so, why would he give us a discount? well, the most obvious reason is because someone (Datsyuk) gave us a glowing recommendation, and make certain promises to make sure Radulov is employed beyond whatever deal he signs with us to start. Think Dan Cleary for the past three years where we just kept handing out contracts like candy to make good on some promise Holland made to him –  a promise that probably should have landed us in hot water with the league over cap circumvention, but I have to assume having Cleary on the payroll was seen as punishment enough. Do we want to bring in a guy on a short term but with the knowledge that there is likely a promise for more down the road, regardless of play?

in the end, we’re not going to get any serious help on the cheap. There is no reason for a guy like Radulov to sign a deal here for term or money that they can’t easily beat elsewhere. Whatever we sign Radulov/Okposo/Stamkos/whoever for, it’s not likely to be far off from what other teams are offering, and in some cases it’ll likely have to be clearly more than other teams.

Howard won’t be moved anytime soon

April 26, 2016

As people look for ways for the Wings to find salary room, or just looking to axe “bad” contracts, moving Jimmy Howard almost always comes up at some point. He’s never really lived up to his contract, injuries have been a concern, and his game seems to go off the rails out of the blue. At the same time, after a rough start, he stepped up and played no small part in getting the Wings into the playoffs this year.

However, we have Petr Mrazek here. By all appearances he’s going to be a very good goalie (to say the least), his deal should be quite a bit more affordable than Howard’s, and people just seem ready to turn the page. It’s not like there is not another viable option if Howard is moved.

So, why not move him? Well, it might just not be worth it. Yeah, he makes $5.2 million (roughly) and freeing that up to pursue other upgrades would be nice. Except we wouldn’t be freeing up all of that $5.2m. First, we’d probably have to eat some salary in any move. The absolute best we could probably hope for is to retain just $1 million per year for the rest of his deal. Even after eating some salary, it’s unlikely we can move him and take no salary back. Again, probably the best we could hope for is someone making around $1 million a season. So, there’s $2 million in empty salary and a guy the other team wants around about as much as we want Howard. And now we still have to sign a backup goalie. The best (cheapest) option would be internally, which would mean either Coreau or McCollum. That gets us to ~$3 million spent, meaning we would have a little over $2 million extra to spend over the summer.

Which would be good. However, there are problems with this. First, we’d probably have to retain more salary. I would guess upwards of $2m would be more likely. Second, we’d probably be taking back more than $1 million in salary. Third, would anyone feel comfortable walking into next season with Coreau or McCullum as our backup, with the other being the third stringer waiting to be called up from GR? I’m not saying it’s a non-starter, but it doesn’t seem like a move Holland would make, and I think it would be a big telegraph that making the playoffs is seen as a massive long shot next year.

The third point can be worked with if the rest of the team is strengthened enough with other moves. I mean, we’ve went into seasons with “Ticker” Hodgson and Manny Legace as our dedicated backups in the past, and we did it largely because the rest of the team was so freakishly deep. While there isn’t a chance we approach that sort of depth in the near future, it does show it’s doable. The bigger obstacles are the first two. For every dollar we have to retain, and for every dollar we take back in a modestly undesirable deal, and then for every dollar we have to spend to secure a backup, it becomes increasingly pointless to move Howard at all. At that point, our best move might just be to roll with the guy we know, and look for a better opportunity to move him later – either next offseason, when another year has eclipsed from his deal, or even in an expansion draft where we could leave him exposed.

What hurts is that the same argument can be made for/against moving Jonathan Ericsson. The big guy’s play has slipped, he has a deal not a lot of us like, but try moving him. It becomes a more difficult proposition than it appears. While we could buy him out, and at least lessen his cap hit, we then have that cap hit over a longer period, and we’re already paying Stephen Weiss not to show up at the rink.  We might be better off just demoting him to GR at that point, and hoping either that someone is desperate enough for help that they pluck him away for free, or that he clears and can be recalled from GR at will in case injuries cause a need for a Rent-a-Player.

And all of this is without going into the Zetterberg/Franzen contract mess.

To revisit the Howard situation for a moment, one suggestion floated by, I think, one of the Wings’ beat writers was moving Howard straight up for Wideman out of Calgary. Which actually looks good on paper, except Wideman’s deal isn’t that much better than Howard’s. It’s shorter, but we also saw Wideman be less than an ideal teammate over the course of this season when he decided to bump a ref.

Don’t Expect Help from Free Agency

April 20, 2016

The Wings are on the brink of another early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the post-mortems will begin shortly, and we might be saying goodbye to Pavel Datsyuk as he heads back to Russia a year early – stiffing the Wings with a $7.5m cap hit. We’re going to hear a lot about how the Wings have to find a way of moving Datsyuk’s cap hit off of the books, but I disagree with that. We’re also going to see every half-way decent UFA rumored for us, like most summers. I don’t think we’re going to be casting that wide of a net in free agency, though, and the chances of us getting an upgrade are pretty slim.

So, what do we need? I think it’s clear we need a blueline that is better with the puck. Looking at the UFA list, though, and I see only three guys who really stand out as players who would be worth the money and term to sign: Brian Campbell, Keith Yandle, and Alex Goligoski. None of these guys are true #1s, but I think all three are capable of first pair minutes. All there could/should come in and be able to put up at least 30 points and knock half of our blueline down a spot the moment they are signed. There are some other guys like Dan Hamhuis and Jason Demers who would provide upgrades, but I don’t see either as a significant upgrade worth the money and term over just promoting a XO/Jensen/Sproul or even just sending Smith out there again.

Up front, we need a quality top6 center. I think we are clearly seeing Zetterberg on the downside of his career, he’s taking a lot of flak from fans, but he’s being overused and overexposed because our depth is so mediocre outside of Larkin (and Datsyuk, though he’s also shown his age/injury shortcomings) – who we haven’t even been using as a center. While Andrew Ladd and Milan Lucic would be really nice adds, providing us with some needed size and snarl, it’s far easier for us to fill spots along the wings. And without quality centers driving our game and putting those wings to good use, while winning defensive match-ups against the opposition, blowing a big chunk of cash on a wing just doesn’t make a lot of sense. The problem here is the same as the problem on the blueline, a lack of options. There’s the obvious, Stamkos, but why would he sign here? He’s 26, likely looking for the best place to land for the next seven years, and I have to believe he’ll likely find better options if he’s not artificially limited by refusing to play in different geographical areas. Assuming Stamkos is a non-starter, who is left that would be a viable top6 center? At that point, we’re looking at Frans Nielsen, David Backes, and Eric Staal. If Nielsen is leaving NYI, I think he’s looking for his first (only?) big contract of his career. He hasn’t been seriously paid yet, and I think he’s got to be looking for it. If St. Louis doesn’t win the cup (again), I think Backes is going to go Cup shopping, looking to land somewhere that guarantees him at least a decent shot at the cup, which means not here. We could have a shot at Staal, but there are legitimate concerns of his game slipping and injuries being an increasing problem. Also, all three of these guys are on the wrong side of thirty, so going four or five years on them should be a proposition that causes some pause among fans.

Rather than spending money and term on a moderate upgrade, I think we’ll probably be better off just going with the kids in significantly bigger roles. Let Larkin and Athanasiou center the top2 lines, shift Z to wing, bump up the ice times for Nyquist and Tatar, have Mantha up, etc. and let the pins fall where they may. On the blueline, let Quincey walk, and go with something like:

Dekeyser-Green

Kronwall-Marchenko

XO-Ericsson

Smith, Jensen/Sproul

 

Next season will likely be pretty ugly, but we’re to a point where easy answers just are not plentiful. Our best bet might be just taking solace in (hopefully) seeing the kids mature and become better players.

 

It Doesn’t Matter If The Wings Trade Datsyuk

April 12, 2016

So, Pavel Datsyuk is likely going to home to Russia after the playoffs this season. This will clearly hurt the Wings next season, though how much depends on how much of  contender you view them as. If you don’t view them as a contender, and Datsyuk leaves, they’re still not a contender. If you don’t view them as a serious contender, and Datsyuk stays, they’re still not a contender. The only circumstance where Datsyuk leaves really hurts if is you see the Wings as a serious Cup contender next year. His absence would just cripple those expectations.

But what about the money the Wings would still have tied up on their cap if Datsyuk leaves? Isn’t that crippling? No, I don’t think so.  It would be nice if we could wade into free agency and grab a piece or two that would solve some long term problems. It’s something Holland has attempted to do off and off since Lidstrom retired. the problem has been that it hasn’t been happening. The Wings finally pulled in Green last summer to fill a massive hole on the backend, marking the first major UFA signing since, well, that guy from Florida, who was also a rarity for Wings free agent pickups in recent years. So, the chances of us landing a guy we want are likely pretty slim.

Now, how many guys out there do we really want that are going to carry a significant cost? Up front there’s definitely Stamkos, maybe Lucic. On the backend…Yandle? Maybe?

Now, here’s what really crazy. We don’t really need to move Datsyuk’s salary to afford a couple of smaller, more likely, moves this summer. Here’s a quick and dirty look at a possible roster to build off of over the summer. Despite the odd formatting, it looks like Datsyuk’s salary is included. I tried to be as realistic as I could with the RFA deals, I let Helm, Richards, and Quincey walk, and I dealt Smith to Edmonton for a pick. As you can see, at this point we have a full roster, and $8m in cap space. The only significant loss from last year to this year, imo, is Datsyuk. And his production has become steadily easier to replace as age and injuries have taken their toll.

While we wouldn’t have the room, at this point, to add Stamkos and the likely $10+m cap hit he’ll command, we should have enough space to add a couple of $3-5m cap hits to bulk out the roster. That’s assuming you want to do that sort of shopping and not just run with the kids and see where they get us. Datsyuk leaving a year early puts a wet towel on next season, but I’m not sold it really changes the team’s goals much. They aren’t a serious cup contender with or without him, and it’s unlikely they could add a significant free agent piece in either case. It would be easier to build a better team on paper with Datsyuk around, yes, but even then I’m not sure we’d be building a Cup contender, or a another 3 seed contender.