Throughout the preseason I'll be focusing on four major issues, each one meriting its own sensationally-titled recurring segment. They are:
RACE FOR THE CREASE 2008: The competition for backup goaltender has gone from practically sewed up to basically in the bag for Ty Conklin. Does that make sense? I was pretty offended before training camp to hear most people presuming Conklin would win the job with little difficulty, and predicted Jimmy Howard would storm the position. As it turns out, Conklin seems to be winning the job with little difficulty. Well. Shuddup.
HOSSAWATCH08: Marian Hossa is obviously the Wings' most exciting new commodity and will merit much attention. The real fun won't start until the regular season when he, Homer, and Pavs are hitting on all cylinders and actually have something to play for. Until then the preseason is mostly all about kids fighting for jobs.
THE BLUELINE CLUSTERFUCK: 5 dudes, 3 slots. Roster slots. Er, what I'm trying to say is, it's an intense competition. Lids, Raffy, Kronner, Stu, and the immortal Chris Chelios have 5 of 8 jobs locked up, leaving as many as two starting gigs and at least one enviable "season-long benchwarming" role. Lilja and Lebda have the most significant advantages, being experienced and entrenched. Kyle Quincey and Jonathon Ericsson represent the paths of least resistance: Ericsson can be sent to GR without clearing waivers, and at this rate I think Quincey will also be waived since he struggled badly last year and has done nothing to distinguish himself now. I'm guessing he wouldn't bring much if anything in a trade, and he might actually squeak through waivers at this point.
THE RACE FOR... NOTHING, PROBABLY: Darren Helm, highly touted young speedster. Aaron Downey, fan favorite pugilist. Justin Abdelkader, hometown hero. Darren McCarty, living Detroit legend. Ville Leino, Finn. The five of them are squaring off for the coveted 13th forward position... which, uh, may not exist, per Khan:
The club appears set with its top 12 forwards and will carry eight defensemen. Even after trading a defenseman, the Red Wings might not have the salary cap space to accommodate an extra forward, at least at the start of the regular season.Ouch. Here's the really disappointing bit (bold is mine):
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said he has talked with a couple teams but wants to see more preseason games before making a trade.
He said he would deal one defenseman to get under the $56.7 million cap and would not move a forward. He said it was possible the team could start the season with 22 players (12 forwards, eight defensemen, two goalies), one fewer than the maximum.Aaaauuuugh. He won't move a forward. That means another year of Samuelsson. I go back and forth on him. It's not that I don't like him, it's just that he's a glorified checker and the Wings aren't in need of that. I'd rather see Kopecky get more time with some playmakers, or Leino, or Mac, or Helm, or anybody. And I certainly hope Sammy's days on the point are done.
Like I said, I'll be floating between these topics over the next few days, spreading things out to artificially boost my productivity. Enjoy!