Monday, June 30, 2008

Road to Repeat: Christmas Eve

...or Nothing Eve, depending. Okay, Kenny, here it is. This is your Stanley Cup winning roster:




Look at those three frigging scoring lines. Holy shit. How can that team not win a cup. Well, injuries, that's how. But that's true any year.

The more I think about Rolston the more I like him. Wasn't interested in Minnesota, despite being a great hockey environment. And he seems determined to hit UFA despite what must be piles and piles of cash being thrown at him by Tampa right now. It almost seems like he has someone in mind. Someone guaranteed to give him his best shot at winning. Also it's his hometown. Have you figured it out yet?

That Rolston would want to come here doesn't make me like him better as player, but it does make me think he'll be more willing to take less than Sundin. Er, more willing than Sundin, that is. Mats is still my favorite at this point. But you can't go wrong. Hmm, if Rolston takes a cut... could you imagine? Maybe... 3.5 for Rolston and 5 for Sundin? Maaaybe? In a strange, terrible world? Okay, okay, I'll just take one.

Notice your boy Mikael Samuelsson still has a spot on my dream roster. This is before we trade him to make room for Leino/Helm. I'm not banking on that because Babcock is enamored with him, strangely. My problem with Samuelsson is similar to Lebda - he's not bad, he's not a liability the way Lang and Williams were and Lilja is (sometimes). It's just that he is a checking line player who is put in a scoring line situation. Yes he has the ability to break out from time to time but it's time to stop thinking of him as "a streaky player" and start thinking of him as a checking line guy who very occasionally pots a couple. Unfortunately he had one of those streaks the instant he got here, and Babcock hasn't been able to shake the notion of him as a scorer since.

The logic for trading him works the same as Lebda as well - his value couldn't be higher and you make room for the kids. Remember the last time an NHL team repeated? I believe you know the team. I believe you also are familiar with a trade they made the offseason between. It was their starting goalie in fact, also Conn Smythe winner. I am not talking about dismantling a Cup winning team. I'm not even talking about dealing Zetterberg or Osgood. Lebda and Sammy are fringe players, and the Wings should capitalize on their value given the kids they have in the system. Last time I'll say it. Well, no, it's not, but let's pretend it is.

Let's get back to Sundin. I don't know if I've made this clear: sign him. Do it. Hey Kenny, I have advice for you: sign Sundin dammit. Here's what you should do: instead of signing not Sundin, you know who you should sign? Sundin. That's who. Let me repeat: sign Sundin.

Get Lidstrom on a plane. Z and Kronner too. Hell, the whole Swedish contingent. On second thought, leave Lilja and Samuelsson home. Try not to bring them up. Send the Captain and Gordie while you're at it.

This is how it should go down: July 1, 12:00PM, Yzerman and Lidstrom ring Sundin's doorbell (it may be the middle of the night in Sweden or something - this doesn't matter). Yzerman just says "Six point five million." Then, he and Lidstrom raise their ring-laden right hands, point to them with their lefts, raise their eyebrows suggestively and nod. I can't imagine that this wouldn't be enough to seal the deal. Additionally, Emma Andersson may need to be brought in. I don't know how Z will feel about that, but look Hank - it's all about the team.

Hey Kenny, here's something else, in addition: sign Sundin. Do it. DO IT.

Sign him. Have I made this clear? I'm not sure I have. What I want you to do is sign Mats Sundin. Big, bald, 200+ pound Swede, 70 points a year guaranteed, normally wears 13 but that's going to change. I'm thinking 15 or 17 maybe. 8 wouldn't look too bad. Hey Kenny: fucking sign Sundin. Do it.

What about Wally? I've backed off the ledge concerning our Finnish friend. There are few things that support a non-suicidal position. First of all, there are a number of RFAs ahead of Filppula in terms of point totals last year, so even if the top one or two RFAs (point-wise) get offer sheets, Wally shouldn't be touched.

And if he is? A scenario occurred to me that didn't before: say he gets something ridiculous like 4.5 or 5 over 5 or 6 years. The Wings can't afford to have Fil at that salary and re-sign Z and Franzen, it's just a fact. But they might match anyway. The Wings have this one-year window and especially if their offseason acquisition is Rolston they'll have the room for Wally - this year. The year after they'll be up against the cap, but then you can trade somebody, or maybe someone will suddenly suck and you buy them out. But there's no rule that says the Wings can't get themselves into a little trouble as long as they're sure they can extricate themselves. And as a bonus possibility, the cap goes up wildly again and it all fits after all.

Hey Kenny: you know what I'm gonna say.

-Do I need to recap this? Sign Sundin.
-Samuelsson is a very good checking line player. Too bad we have plenty of those. Need scoring depth. Sorry Sammy. Peace.
-Wally is still my biggest concern, but I am no longer tortured by nightmares worse than staring into the black heart of the devil collapsing in on itself while the four horsemen of the apocalypse fornicate on the plains of Armageddon. What I'm trying to say is, I'm not that worried any more.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Road to Repeat: Making Room on the Blueline

Helene St. James is a pretty smart writer. Her Free Agency Preview over at the Freep assures us that indeed, Sundin is the Wings' number one target, the ideal if they can get him, although that's far from a certainty. She also points out that the Wings are willing to go ahead with what they've got on the blueline, as I think they should.
...the Wings are well set on defense. Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Kronwall are under contract, as are Derek Meech and Brett Lebda. Unrestricted free agents Chris Chelios and Andreas Lilja both are expected to be re-signed, as are restricted free agents Jonathan Ericsson and Kyle Quincey. If the Wings sign everyone they want to on defense, they'd have to move one guy just to get down to eight bodies.
Move one guy indeed. And who moves? The "easy" guy to move is Jonathon Ericsson, and by move I mean send to Grand Rapids. It's easy in the sense that he doesn't have to clear waivers and you don't give up any commodities that way. It's really not easy in the sense that Ericsson may be the most talented defenseman outside of the Big 3 on the Wings' roster, if not the most polished or experienced.

I fully expect the Wings to go to camp with 9 D, ten if Stuart signs (more unlikely every day, imho - if he makes it to July 1, some Brian-Campbell-Sweepstakes-Loser is going to overpay for him). There's no sense in making any moves now, now when everybody thinks they can go out and fill their holes on FA. And if the Wings do go to camp, there's a possibility that Ericsson isn't one of the six best D in camp, in which case it is indeed easy to send him down.

But I expect Ericsson to win a job on the final pair in camp, and eventually work his way up to the #4 slot (the Wings will probably start out with Lilja at #4 - not exciting, but not terrible either). That leaves the Wings with one too many D as St. James points out. So who goes?

It's not Lilja or Chelios - the Wings value veteran depth way too much and it would be mind-boggling to trade a guy who you just re-signed. And obviously it's not one of the Top 3. So that leaves Lebda, Meech, and Quincey.

Another possibility is to waive Quincey, who had the worst season of any of them least year. However, I think it was a down-year for Quincey and there's no sense in getting rid of a player when his value is lowest. He will not make it through waivers - at this point, very few teams wouldn't take a flier on a Red Wing cast-off.

I think the answer is to trade Brett Lebda. There are two reasons: one, his trade value is highest among those three; and two, his value to the club in future years is lowest of the three. I'll start with the second one. Lebda is a UFA in two years and what are the odds he returns? Not good with this depth. Furthermore, although some people think of Lebda as an offensive defenseman, he really isn't. He's just small and fast. He's not capable of manning the point on the PP as he has proved. And while his speed does occasionally open up things and lead to the odd goal, a quick look at his stats will tell you that doesn't happen too often.

And he's not a bruiser either. He's competent along the boards and certainly he is sound positionally. He's not bad in any sense - he just doesn't offer anything. He doesn't scare anyone the way Kronwall scares opposing forwards or Lidstrom scares opposing D. He's a solid #6 NHL D-man, but the Wings are used to having what we call depth - Hall of Famers riding the bench, could-be superstars on second and third lines.

And direct comparison to Derek Meech should seal the deal. Meech is basically a Lebda clone except that he's not as fast, but can actually move the puck and handle the PP quite well. When Meech was playing regularly due to the injury plague, he, not Lebda or Lilja or Ericsson, was the Wings' #1 D, playing in all situations. After Babcock saw what he could do, Meech was working the PP every time he was on the roster, even when he was playing forward at even strength. And I think it's time to give the kid a shot.

So you deal Lebda. What do you get back? I couldn't say what his value is but I know it's higher now than it's likely ever to be. He's young and cheap - perfect for any rebuilding team, but relative to his youth he's got a ton of experience. Not only has he played a lot of games and a lot of playoff games, but he's been tutored by Chris Chelios, one of the greatest to ever lace them up. He's got that Red Wing pedigree that ought to have any team interested. And any team, especially in the east, has got to look at his speed and maybe hold out the hope that he could develop into more of an offensive threat. I don't think it's likely, but it is possible.

Meech and Quincey are way too unproven to draw much in return. Lebda, however, fresh off of a Cup, could bring in (relatively) a lot right now. Well, not right now, actually, but rather in training camp. Like I said above, every team thinks they have a shot at Brian Campbell or whoever and isn't going to offer anything for Lebda. But in training camp? Right around the time Jonathon Ericsson is earning a job, and the Wings are realizing they have more depth than they can handle, a number of team around the league are going to realize they have way, way too little. That's when you strike. I can see it now, whether it's Cliff Fletcher, Don Waddell, Jay Feaster, or whoever.

Kenny won't put Lebda on the block, no no, he'll talk about sending Ericsson down despite his fantastic training camp. "We like to have a potential Calder-winner in the AHL at every position," he'll say. "We're thinking about sending Filppula down too. Just to get some seasoning."

His phone will be ringing off the hook.

FLETCHER: Listen Kenny, you gotta help me out. I need to rebuild, but without actually rebuilding. My money's all tied up in bought out contracts. I need someone cheap, someone young, but someone who's got experience, and speed to boot.

HOLLAND: Well I suppose we have Brett Lebda, if that's what you're looking for.

FLETCHER: That is exactly what I'm looking for.

HOLLAND: I don't know... we were planning on having him as our waterboy. We like depth, you see.

FLETCHER: Kenny, this isn't fair. You have 17 NHL defensemen. I've got 3. My number four guy is forward, my number five guy is the backup goalie, my number six was the A/V coordinator for the Manitoba Moose last season. You gotta help me out.

HOLLAND: Weeeell, I'll see what I can do...

The one potential downside is it leaves the Wings a little green on the blueline, but hey, that's what the deadline is for. Whatever draft pick(s) you get for Lebda (I'm thinking he's worth a 4th maybe?) you can immediately turn around and deal for veteran help in February. Someone like Brad Stuart. Hell, maybe Brad Stuart himself. It worked pretty well the first time. He could just split his time every year, spending the fall and winter in Cali with his family, then come aboard every spring for a playoff run. I could get used to that.

-Brett Lebda is a solid NHL defenseman, by no means a liability
-however, his trade value is high and he has little future with Red Wings
-I have stopped making threats of violence against others/myself. Positive!
-hey kenny: sign sundin. do it fucker.
-Derek Meech is ready for a full-time job, and should be the Wings #4 D on the PP
-Quincey will likely ride the pines all year like Meech did this past season
-fuck the leafs

Friday, June 27, 2008

Road to Repeat: Keep Wally

Commenter Andrew at A2Y made a novel insight in the comments to the Chief's insane sign-Tucker post: Valtteri is Finnish for Walter. Flip, Fil, Val - they're all solid nicknames for Filppula and I endorse them. Me, I'm going with Wally from here on out. Don't try to stop me.

We've all got our eye on a UFA. I've got Sundin, Dave at GC's going for Rolston, the Chief as mentioned above is disturbingly in favor of Tucker. But let's get our priorities straight here. Acquiring a UFA forward is gravy at this point - this team is already Stanley Cup capable. You know what would make it significantly less Cup-capable? Losing a major cog like Wally. The, uh, YIG 6 beat me to the chase on that one. They're a pretty savvy group.

Having Wally poached by Kevin Lowe or whatever other douchebag would be a serious blow to the Wings, and to my mental health. It would be the 34.7 of Free Agency. Especially if it came on the heels of some pick-up like Sundin or Rolston that had us thinking repeat. BAM. 4.5M, 5 years. Unmatchable. Yes, Kenny has said he will match anything. But I agree with commenter Stytzer when he said that was more likely for scaring off potential poachers than true, in the comments of the Sundin post.

The fact is the Wings have their limits. Zetterberg and Franzen demand that. Yes Z has said he's not looking to break the bank and is willing to take a pay cut. He has said he wants to retire a Wing. But we don't know that about Franzen and even with a pay cut Z is going to command tremendous dollarage. I suggested 2.5M for Fil, that's a lowball estimate. Some of you said you thought it would be closer to 3M. I think that's warmer. And if Kenny can convince Wally to take his hair cut then it could be right in Dan Cleary's area.

But we don't know Wally is available for a hometown discount. Holland wanted to wrap him up during the season, but Wally's agent said no negotiations until the end of the year. Hardball. Well the season ended a a couple weeks ago and we've still heard nothing about an extension. Mike Richards just got 5M/year from Philly, a comparable player who put up 53 pts. Wally put up 36, so let's say that sets his value at 3.5M. How inconceivable is it that some team that's desperate for young talent and attention and is insanely reckless (Tampa Bay? Cough?) overpays for Wally by a measley million dollars? I don't think the Wings could match 4.5.

And Wally may not just not want a pay cut - he may want out. There's nothing to indicate that of course, I'm just going with reckless speculation at this point. But he's won his Cup. What is there left for him to do? Make mad money and be the stud on his own team, that's what. And how soon do you think either of those is going to happen in Detroit, with Wally stuck behind Z and Dats? Not for a while, I'd wager.

What if it happened? What if the unthinkable occurred? The bright side is the Wings would be up a bucketload of draft picks, which they could immediately turn around and trade for help. If the Wings did sign Sundin that would ease the pain. Rolston would make even more sense at that point since the Wings would have more room for a long-term contract without Wally's. Conceivably, without Flip's salary, the Wings could bring both in. Haven't done the math, just guessing at this point.

Ville Leino might also help ease the pain. I'm actually not expecting the Finnish C/RW to make the team due to the Wings' outstanding depth. In which case he'll go back to Finland and try his luck with a different squad next year, I'd guess. But without Filppula there'd be a need for a scorer like him.

But Leino may also give us a hint that we shouldn't be too worried - Wally was key in signing the Finn in the first place. As a countryman, Val sat down with Leino and told him to put on the Winged Wheel. That tells me Wally wasn't thinking of bolting. But I'm not convinced. Minds change, especially with money. And if we actually make it to July 1 without locking up Wally-o? I'll be under my bed until it's over. And if he's poached? I will fucking puke blood. Draft picks or no.

-Wally is the best name, like, ever
-I have turned to wanton fear-mongering
-i'm scared. someone hold me
-GMs who are potentially thinking of poaching Wally: I will murder your family.
-did anybody see that discovery channel commercial? boom de yada, boom de yada... it cheers me up in an otherwise grim time.
-pleeeeeeease come back Wally

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fifty-Six Point Seven

Make that 8.5M we can offer for Sundin. TSN has it.

If you're not interested in reading the comments on the TSN page, let me distill them for you:

Why the fuck was there a lockout?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Road to Repeat: Sign Sundin

There is no move the Wings could make that would better nail down a Stanley Cup victory than bringing Mats Sundin aboard. Dave at Gorilla Crouch has talked about this, and he rightly suggests that Sundin would be the ideal pick-up. Not only is Sundin probably looking for a one-year deal (given that he considers retirement after every season these days) but he is right in the Wings' price range. Actually, everyone is the Wings' price range. I keep reading all over the place about how the Wings could only spend ~5M on Sundin. I don't think that's true, at least if the Wings don't re-sign Brad Stuart and go with Jimmy Howard as the #2 netminder, which I think are both probable.

To sort it all out, let's consult the handy cap graph. Here is the Wings' current cap situation, assuming, as has been widely reported, a 56M cap, and taking a reasonable guess at what Ville Leino's salary would be if he makes the big club.

(full size chart)

Notice the Wings have a whopping $15M+ to work with. This is for a couple of reasons; one, the Wings were already under the cap by a significant amount. Two, Kris Draper and Nick Lidstrom's salaries went down while Zetterberg and Franzen continue to be dramatically underpaid. Finally the cap apparently will jump nearly 6M this season (it was 50.3M this past year.) Now, around the middle of the season I heard 53M (some article linked at Slapshots, don't recall which), then at the end of the year everyone started saying 56. So, I don't know how trustworthy 56 really is, but everyone is saying it. So if we assume that...

... and we assume a few other things: measly salaries for Chris Chelios, Andreas Lilja, and Darren McCarty, who figure to be part-time/role players, and peanuts as well for Kyle Quincey and Jimmy Howard, who are unproven. I also assume the Wings will at least start the season with Helm, Leino, and Ericsson in Grand Rapids (I don't think they will necessarily, but in order to have any of them on the big club, trades will have to be made, and I want to just paint a relatively simple picture here.) Finally, I have assumed below that Val Filppula will get 2.5M, which is maybe a little high but I'm playing it safe by assuming the upper bound on what he might get paid.

So how much does that leave for Mats Sundin, assuming the Wings want a 2M cushion as usual? It leaves eight million frigging dollars.

(full size chart)

I don't think Sundin deserves, or that any team will give him, 7.972M, I'm just proving a point. Look at the bottom - the Wings have 2M to spare still. I don't think any of the numbers for the other guys are lowballed, at least not by much. Now, to be fair, I am assuming the Wings don't bring back Stuart or sign a FA goalie. But really, what goalie is out there for much more than 900K who the Wings would be seriously interested in? Kolzig had a bad year by all accounts and wouldn't merit more than 2M, at the very most. And Stuart is a goner in my opinion. The Wings just simply can't devote any money to 09-10 and beyond without knowing how much the cap will go up that year. The cap's huge jump this year has been predicated on the strength of the Canadian dollar versus the American. Will it stay that way? I'm no economist, and I don't think Ken Holland is either.

So my point here is if the Wings make Sundin their only FA acquisition they can spend as much as I think any other team would be willing to. Sundin made 5.5M and I doubt he'll be looking for much of a raise at his age. The Wings could easily give him, say, 6M and 1M in playoff bonuses (which could potentially be deferred to next year if it's needed). I doubt any team could boast that kind of pay as well as a good shot to win the Stanley Cup. Throw in Little Sweden and the chance to not play against the team he has been so loyal to, and I don't see how Detroit isn't the best bet for Sundin.

And again, Sundin is the best bet for Detroit. He's probably the only player of his caliber looking for just a one-year deal right now. And he doesn't just give the Wings one more good offensive player, he makes them capable of rolling three scoring lines. Check it out:


If Sammy goes through one of his cold streaks, or gets traded as I hope, Leino could step in, or Kopecky could, playing Holmstrom to Fil's Zetterberg and Huds's Datsyuk. Now you have arguably the best line in hockey as your #1, a potential #1 line as your #2, and a potential #2 line as your #3, with a darn good checking line for your #4. And that's not even all Sundin brings. To me, the biggest thing he offers is this: hunger.

The Wings have just won a Cup and the hardest two things about repeating are: keeping a great team together given the cap (see: Pittsburgh's apparent loss of Malone, Roberts, and Hossa) and keeping players hungry. The Wings have no problem with the former, but will suffer with the latter. Gone is the Dallas-Drake-has-never-won-it story. Gone is the starvation for that first Cup among many of the young stars like Zetterberg, Kronwall, Filppula, Cleary, and Franzen.

Now, the Wings are a veteran team and so I like their odds of staying motivated. A this-could-be-Cheli's-last-season storyline would help as well, not that I'm hoping for that. But nothing would help more than bringing aboard a Hall of Famer who is late in his career and has never won. Not only will Sundin be individually motivated-as-hell (see: Drake's playoffs), but the team can rally around him.

Given all of this, I'm going to go out on a sensationalist limb here and say barring an injury shitstorm from hell, if Sundin signs here, the Wings will absolutely win the Cup and demolish everyone in their path.

-I think people are selling the Wings' cap space short
-the Wings can definitely afford to pay Sundin, unless he's looking for a HUGE raise, which would be undeserved by anyone's standard
-Sundin would keep the Wings from dreaded complacency
-wow, Pittsburgh is getting shit on by its UFAs, eh?
-if Sundin signs, I will be so happy I will light myself on fire

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wrapping Up the YIG Awards

I want to start talking about free agency and trades and shit, but I haven't finished those playoffs awards I started a while back. So let's just wrap those up real quick.

WTF!? Award
Goes to player who cowboyed up the most in the postseason, relative to their regular season performance. Nominees: Dallas Drake, Jiri Hudler, Val Filppula.

Winner: Hudler
Filppula had a strong regular season, but at times was electric in the playoffs (much like last year). To boot, he did it all on a pretty seriously banged up knee. The complaint about Fil though is that he didn't really show up when he was most needed, namely Johan Franzen's absence. Drake is a very close second, as he went from a fourth line minute eater to a third line energy guy extraordinaire, gaining notoriety especially for his vicious hits. Mike Babcock's infamous quote said it best: "Dally loves running defensemen and I love watching him run defensemen." But I've got to give it to Hudler.

The Oompa Loompa had a disappointing start to the season when he was paired mostly with Fil and Sammy or with Z and Sammy. After putting up fantastic numbers in extremely limited time last season, Hoodlum was expected to jump up the second line and completely failed to do so. As the season went on Babcock moved him to the third and fourth lines, although importantly kept him on the second power play unit. When the playoffs arrived, Hudler stayed right there, but his production jacked up - he was the catalyst on the Wings' potent second PP unit (Franzen got a lot of credit, but he was more of a finisher rather than starter) and maybe more importantly, he was the playmaker on the Wings' critical fourth line. His puck control led to goals small in number but huge in clutchness, as well as keeping the Wings deep in the opposing zone while teamed with Mac and Helmer. Strong work Jiri.

Baddest Ass Beard Award
Self explanatory. Nominees: Dan Cleary, Kris Draper, Henrik Zetterberg.

Winner: Draper
Z had a strong showing but didn't really compare to Cleary and Draper's pirate beards. If I had handed this one out last year it would have gone to Buckets for his red monstrosity, but this year his jaw surgery clearly had him playing catch-up. Furthermore, Kris "Chuck Norris" Draper (not to be confused with Norris Nick) sealed the deal by actually scoring a goal with his beard, and also refusing to shave it off when his chin required stitches. Truly, a god amongst beards. Pavel Datsyuk deserves honorable mention for actually managing to pull off a decent goatee for the first time.

Manliest Motherfucker Award
Goes to the motherfucker who went most balls out in the playoffs. Nominees: Dallas Drake, Val Filppula, Pavel Datsyuk. Popular choice nominee: Johan Franzen.

Winner: Tomas Holmstrom
I know I didn't nominate Holmstrom, but a dude can change his mind, alright? Filppula deserves mad credit for playing on a bum knee and Drake does as well for the viciousness of his hits (as does Kronner). I was originally going to give the award to mah boy Datsyuk for the way he totally blew up physically and manhandled the opposition (particularly the renowned bitch-ass, Gary Roberts. What would he do, anyway? Be a bitch, that's what.) Commenters demanded Johan Franzen, and indeed, playing with a brain injury is pretty frigging balls out. I didn't originally think of Mule because he actually didn't play once they found out about the injury, and he was kept out for a very long time (not that it was his fault). But in retrospect, even after his subdural hematoma had healed it takes serious balls to put your noggin out there again. Just ask Jason Williams, who completely wilted after taking a concussion early last year. The Wings ended up trading him because he became so averse to physical play even after recovering.

But then I found out Tomas Holmstrom, who on an average day takes a vicious beating, did his usual job while suffering from not only knee and hamstring issues but also a frigging sports hernia that he got before the playoffs even began. The abuse Homer takes in front of the net ought to merit him at least a nomination in this category anyway, although I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even think of it. Holmstrom is kind of like Nick Lidstrom (this is the only time the two will ever be compared, ever) in that he does his job so regularly and completely and so rarely falters that you just expect it and forget to praise him for it.

But then add the injuries he was dealing with already? Bingo. There's your Manliest Motherfucker. Would have won the award last year too, btw, had I handed it out. Remember 13 stitches, and then back the next period? Honorable mention goes to Ryan Malone, who was a frigging warrior for going out there with twenty broken noses or whatever. It's shitty that the Wings will probably be playing him 8 times a season next year with the BJs, but then again it will be fun to watching Pavs upend his ass 8 times a year.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Be Cool, Stay In School

Well the second day of the draft is well underway and a trend is developing among Wings' Day 2 picks: collegians. College players get four years to develop meaning they can be stashed longer than junior players or Europeans (well, except Russians, who can be kept indefinitely as of right now, but that's a whole other can of worms). The Wings organization is loaded and they have no immediate needs either on their pro-roster or in terms of near-to-pro prospects. Furthermore, they're very near the 50-man roster limit so keeping kids in college 4 years before signing them and thus adding them to the roster gives the Wings some breathing room and time to sort out their prospects. The Wings took Max Nicastro, D, Boston U. (3rd round); Gustav Nyquist, C, Maine (4th round); and Julian Cayer, C, Clarkson (5th round). Red Wings Central is updating with quick mini-analyses on each prospect as the draft unfolds, and Dave at Gorilla Crouch is also providing coverage.

But what boggles my noggin a bit is the Wings' first round pick, Thomas McCollum, who Central Scouting had as the number 1 North American Goaltender, ISS had as the Number 2 overall goaltender, and TSN had as the Number 3 overall goaltender. Now, it's true that the Wings are shallower at goal than any other position, but I'm just wondering where they're going to put McCollum. Daniel Larsson is slated to start in GR this year and Jimmy Howard should be joining the Wings in the NHL. McCollum has one year of junior eligibility left, but after that then what? Will he and Larsson split time in Grand Rapids? If they're eating into each others' IT, that can only hamper their development. You would think the Wings would have gone for a college or European goaltender who the Wings could keep out of the AHL for longer. That being said you can't argue with just going for the best player available at the position of greatest need.

As for McCollum, the kid has got to be breathing a sigh of relief right now. I'm sure he thought he was a pretty good goaltender, and it must have been reassuring to hear ISS, CSB, and the various media telling him he was very good as well. But he couldn't have really know that he was actually a very good player until he got the Jim Nill seal of approval. That must have been nice to hear. I heard that Jim Nill doesn't discover which players are good - he decides, and God then makes it true.

Anyway, ultimately the Wings only need one of these guys to develop into a number 1 NHL netminder, something I was confident would happen just going with Howard and Larsson. McCollum gives the Wings an even stronger possibility of that. Down the line the Wings could very well be able to trade one of these guys if the Wings get themselves into a Giguere-Bryzgalov or Nabokov-Toskala situation. And let's face it, the Wings could have drafted Pierre McGuire with their pick and would still be set to maintain the Dynasty for a long time to come.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Montreal!? Wha!?

Come on Mats. If you are going to leave the Leafs after refusing to do so a couple of months ago, to their great detriment, you're not really going to go to Montreal are you? You'd just have to play your old team over and over again, and do you really want that? And some 20 year old kid in net?

Everyone with a brain knows Detroit is your ideal landing spot, should you leave the Leafs. Different conference from your Leafs, but not geographically far. Novi of course, would be your home. And a shot at the Cup? Pshh. If the Wings grab Sundin forget about it. Number 12, locked up, bam. The Wings' offense would be ridiculous. It would be ridonkulous. I'm willing to say, in fact, that it would be ricountchoculous. What I'm trying to say is, it would be good.

As has been said, a lot, the Wings have a one-year window to take on a big FA before Z and Franzen's contracts are up and the Wings' cap number will rise dramatically. Again, Sundin is the ideal. If the cap really is going to hit 56M, the Wings could throw 6M at Sundin easily. I'll have charts later. They're around here somewhere.

Don't do it Mats. I've been resisting speculating about you because you in the Winged Wheel would be just waay too frigging cool and I've been sure you'd either return to TO or retire. But now this... this day may hold drama for the Wings yet. Or heartbreak. Or both.

Judgment Day!

...for teams that actually, you know, have work to do. Ahaha. Anyway, the Central is abuzz. The Preds dealt Mason to the Blues for a 4th-rounder. Strong move by the Preds, as it clears room for them to re-sign Dan Ellis, who stood on his head against Detroit in round 1. If Mason continues to be a bust for the Blues, however, I can't say how much sense it makes to pay $3M for a backup to Manny Legace. If he returns to the form that earned him that contract, however, the Blues could sport a pretty decent 1-2 goaltending punch. Risky move though.

As for the BJs? Rumors have them eyeing Ryan Malone, as well as a trade for Patrick Marleau. If they get both? A Nash-Marleau-Malone line? Yikes. That line would be... what's the word I'm looking for... legitimate. Throw in that Leclaire kid and we could be talking a strong bid for the 8th seed. Yowza.

The only prospect whose name I know is Stamkos but Bruce MacLeod has the nitty gritty on who should be available come pick #30. Bruce's hunch is the Wings trade down, however, much as they did a couple years ago when they moved their first round pick for two 2nds - they grabbed Cory Emmerton (RWC's #8 prospect) and the much-lamented Shawn Matthias. I'm trusting MacLeod on this one.

Really, the Wings having a first-round pick is just a sin. It's like the Penguins getting another hot-shot 18 year old skilled center. It's like the 2002 Red Wings getting another Hall of Famer. It's like Iwo getting another reason to bag on the Dive. What I'm trying to say here is we don't need it. Whoever we get is gravy. This team is already stocked to make a run next year and well after that. Let's just sit back, relax, and enjoy this.

Edit: Whoa! Should have finished perusing the blagotron before spouting my mouth off. Looks like Dave at GC's got all the information you could ever want, ever, about the draft today. Check it out.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Okay, so my well-laid plans of keeping the posting up through my hellish finals week and then through my excitingly painful wisdom tooth extraction recovery may have been... dumb. But I'm rounding back into shape! I'll be wrapping up those awardy things I was talking about before and then maybe chat a bit about the cap and some intriguing fellows around the league.

In the meantime, I've been watching, you know, other sports, which I'm told do exist. For some reason I haven't been able to catch a single Tigers game all week, particularly disappointing since they apparently have finally located their asses vis-a-vis holes in the ground. So with no baseball I've been subsisting off of UEFA championship soccer.

Now I like the idea of soccer as much as anyone but I don't really follow the sport. There are a few things I do know: I'm pretty sure they play soccer year round and I think hockey needs that. They have hilariously delightful Scottish and/or Irish commentators (we're talking Lucky Charms level of accent here) and we need that kind of accent in hockey. Speaking of which, it tickles me when those silly Brits say things like "And Germany win!" instead of "And Germany wins!" you know? How great would it be, Ken Kal's hoarse voice shouting "And Detroit have won their 11th Stanley Cup Championship!"

Naah that would be dumb. This is America. Anyway, back to hockey. I can't stop reading PensBlog. At first I just read it when I couldn't find any more Detroit-angle articles or blog posts on the Wings' championship so I'd go to PensBlog to delight in their misery. But now I'm just hooked because they run a damn good blog. It's magically delicious. Possibly the best on the net, but I wouldn't know because I otherwise don't read non-Wings blogs (more of a time thing than anything else). I think they employ 10 or 20 bloggers because every other day they're bring aboard somebody new, and after all how the hell else could they put up those massive posts, rife with brilliant photoshoppery. Man, if only their team hadn't heartbreakingly lost the Stanley Cup. Hahaha. Ahhh. Man, that's going to be funny all summer.

Anyway, back to daily posting soon. Ish. Or something. No promises.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blackest Ace Award

I made up the Blackest Ace Award last year because I thought Jiri Hudler should have played and might have made the difference in the Anaheim series. This year, it doesn't make nearly as much sense. But nonetheless, I will present it to...

Jonathon Ericsson

He's number 52 there. Good number.

Few can argue with the benching of Aaron Downey or Justin Abdelkader; given how well the fourth line performed throughout the playoffs, Darren Helm in particular, it's hard to see how either could possibly have done better. Jonathon Ericsson probably was best left on the bench too - having only played 17 NHL games, all earlier in the year, Ericsson was about as green as you get (well, actually, not as green as Kyle Quincey or Darren Helm....) Even so, there were two points when I was extremely nervous, and in my panicky rage, I told myself that Ericsson ought to be sent in, namely after Game 4, Round 1, and after Game 5, Round 3.

I'm not a huge Brett Lebda fan, not because he's incompetent but just because he doesn't bring a lot to the table. He is solid defensively and only getting better in that respect as he matures and gains experience. He isn't overly physical, however, and he has little offense to contribute. So when things got rough and Lilja was already out of the lineup, I thought Babcock had little choice but to shake things up by inserting Ericsson. Babcock himself had said in a presser that he couldn't believe Ericsson wasn't playing, and had earlier in the year called him "an NHL defenseman".

He's a big fella. Skates, scores, fights. I'm pumped.

Now, the playoffs being now over and the Cup being won, I was obviously on crack. But Ericsson still merits discussion. Particularly, the question is, does he make the team next year? Babcock's clearly in love with him, and so am I. And let's face it, those are the two most important voices in the Red Wings organization. But Ericsson's got a few folks ahead of him. As of today (ie, prior to free agency) here's the Wings defensive depth chart:


Given the Wings organizational stance against having kids on the roster who aren't getting significant playing time, Ericsson will have to secure a Top 6 job to make the squad. Assuming Lilja doesn't come back, Ericsson is still number 9, stuck behind Derek Meech and Kyle Quincey because they can't be sent down to the AHL without clearing waivers. Mathematics tells me that means he has to move up three spots. Here's what Ken Holland has to say on the issue, courtesy of Bruce MacLeod:
General manager Ken Holland said this morning that the Red Wings will carry eight defensemen again next season. Holland said that if unrestricted free agents Brad Stuart and Andreas Lilja both sign with Detroit, the Red Wings will have "10 NHL defensemen." That figure includes the eight that Detroit had on its roster through this season -- Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, Stuart, Lilja, Brett Lebda, Chris Chelios and Derek Meech. Holland also labeled prospects Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson as NHL defensemen...
Well that makes things pretty darn interesting. MacLeod goes on to guess that the Wings' outstanding depth and the Wings' tight budget means Stuart won't be back. And as much as I would be content to see Stuie return as the number 4 D-man, I wouldn't cry if he got replaced by Ericsson either. You see, to me Brad Stuart is a rich man's Andreas Lilja. Yes he has offense and moves the puck better than Lilja. Otherwise they're the same. Stuart gets caught out of position alot going for hits. He makes bonehead mistakes (the Crosby goal in game 3) and he wanders out of position in the offensive zone. I would always see him in Holmstrom territory and wonder who that forward was, then I realized it was Brad Stuart. The Wings like D to jump up, but only in an opportunistic sense - jump up when there's something "up". Otherwise hold the frigging line. Stuart didn't really ever catch on to that.

What the fuck are you DOING!? Blue LINE not blue ICE!

Now, with a team defense as good as the Wings' and a partner like Nik Kronwall, Stuart's errors likely will not be very noticeable, but his physicality and offensive contributions will be. But that being said, I would not put Stuart's value at more than 2M. I'm not saying that he needs to take a pay-cut to 2M to stay here, I'm saying he's not worth more than 2M in the first place. In March I wrote that I thought Stuart would leave in FA and that Ericsson would take the number 4 spot next to Kronner. I'm sticking with that. I thought Lebda would get traded because I didn't think the Wings would go with 8 defensemen, but apparently they are. So here's my guess for next year's D:


Chelios and Ericsson will likely rotate out with Meech and Quince. It's certainly a very green blueline but hey, that's what trade deadlines are for. If the Wings go into the season with this lineup, they're sure to pull the trigger on a Stuart-like deal in February. So all this having been said, yeah I see Ericsson in the lineup. 6-5, 220, scores, skates, hits, even fights. Oh, and one more note about Ericsson: I consider myself a number afficionado, and I have to say: 52? Gorgeous. Looks great on a big guy. Couldn't say why. It just does.

Tomorrow: WTF!? Award
Nominees: Jiri Hudler, Dallas Drake, Val Filppula

Monday, June 9, 2008

Děkuji, Dominik

As expected, Hasek called it quits Monday. As I talked about earlier, this paves the way for Jimmy Howard, and Kenny Holland sure makes it sound like that's what he's thinking. HockeyTown Todd has a pretty reasonable solution if the Wings decided to go for a one-year stopgap, though. Oh, or how about Curtis Joseph!?

And this guy has his own fashion line?

Drew Sharp suggests Dom's number be retired. It's not a... crazy thought - Hasek is undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and was a Stanley Cup champ for this team. He had a falling out with Buffalo, where he did most of his best work - six Vezinas and two (consecutive) Harts - so his number will not likely hang there. His stays with Chicago and Ottawa were far too brief and inglorious to merit anything from either of them. And it would be just all too sad if the iconic 39 didn't hang somewhere.

Ah, we got used to this kind of shit. Almost.

But this is Detroit. We have enough tradition and mystique for three or four teams (nine or ten Colorado Avalanches) and retired numbers aren't cheap. Just ask Larry Aurie, Red Kelly or Norm Ullman. Marcel Dionne played four seasons for the Wings, same as Hasek (way more games than Dom), and is one of the greatest ever at his position, too. He set the rookie record for point with the Wings, but his number isn't anywhere close to the rafters. And such current greats as Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, and Chris Chelios are unlikely to have their numbers retired as well. Nick Lidstrom is likely the only player of this generation to already have that honor secured. Having been the starter for just one championship, I don't think that cuts it. Ask Mike Vernon.

But I will always look back on Dom fondly, for all his... quirks. He was exciting, and pretty damn good when healthy. He won two cups and that's more than can be said for a lot of folks. He inspired and excited us. And you have to wonder, will any goaltender ever do this again?

Thanks, Dom.

Best n00b Award

Yeah, it's pretty much Darren Helm.

I had to look him up - I didn't know what he looked like.

Last year Best n00b went to Kyle Quincey. Quincey was thrust into action by injuries, and had one job: don't screw up while playing 8 minutes a night on the third pair. Helm was in a similar position, playing on the fourth line with the hope that he would solidly eat minutes while giving the others rest, allowing Mike Babcock to keep rolling four lines. Helm took the job and ran with it, literally; his speed gave the fourth line a boost, and teamed mostly with Darren McCarty and Jiri Hudler, Helm's line gave the Wings energy, occasionally offense, and tireless puck pursuit. Helm was a demon on the forecheck and was all over the puck at all times. The ability of Babcock to role four lines was crucial throughout the playoffs and was a major reason the Wings went all the way. Helm may not have put in a lot of offense or killed many crucial penalties, but helped round out the team and keep the big guns fresh. Strong work, Helmer.

Helm roofs it on Turco for his first NHL goal.

Now the question becomes, does he make the team next year? If not for his playoff performance, the answer would almost certainly be no. The Wings strategy with kids is to keep them in the juniors, minors, college, or Europe until they are way past ready. The other half of that is that the Wings keep their veterans around, never releasing them to make room for kids. The Wings maintain the status quo until they are forced to give a kid a spot. That's how Val Filppula got on the roster.

And Helm may very well Filppula his way onto the roster as well. After this performance it's hard to see him getting cut come training camp - hard to see him not deserving it, and hard to imagine how he'd take it. Quincey had high hopes of parlaying his strong playoffs into a regular season job, and whether that was realistic of him or not it led to disappointment when he got sent back to Grand Rapids this past fall. That in turn led to a poor season which now sees Quincey behind Derek Meech and Jonathon Ericsson on the depth chart.

On the other hand, there are 13-14 forward spots as opposed to 7-8 defense spots. Assuming Val Filppula returns, here are the Wings commitments:


Looks like a good spot for Helm. McCarty will likely be re-signed as a depth forward. Downey could also be back as the 14th forward if the Wings elect to keep only 7 defensemen. The one possible sticking point is Ville Leino. The Wings signed him from Finland during the playoffs on a one year deal with the expectation that Leino would return to Finland if he didn't make the team. Leino is no prospect, really - the Wings are hoping he'll make the club because otherwise they'll lose him. So I think for Helm it comes down to a one-on-one battle between him and the Finn.

He's under there. Trust me.

And what if Helm and Leino both perform well? I suppose the Wings could trade somebody. Somebody who doesn't pitch in enough offense, but had a strong Finals, dramatically inflating his value? Hmmm....

Tomorrow: Blackest Ace Award
Nominees: Justin Abdelkader, Jonathon Ericsson, Aaron Downey.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Road to Repeat: The Unrestricted Warriors

Chelios. Drake. Downey. McCarty.

Three of the four are ancient, three of the four are known fighters, all of them bring physicality and leadership to this team, and each played a significant role in the long haul. All four are unrestricted free agents. Will they be back, and should they? First I'll say I'd love any and all of them to return - I don't know if you're all familiar with this axiom, but when you win the Cup basically you want everyone to come back. I know, it's unintuitive, but true. The real question though, is, can they?

I'll start with McCarty. His resurrection was a phenomenal story and I can still hardly believe it. He showed himself to be a valuable contributor even during the postseason when fighting, his milieu, is not a treasured commodity. Mac could easily come back to the team and, besides being a huge draw, contribute on the fourth line the way he did in the playoffs - fists, stare-downs, hits, and the occasional offense. If Mac returns he's likely to play a role similar to Dallas Drake's this past season - every-other-day player who will see more ice time in the case of injuries and will be especially valuable come playoff time. And, to my great joy, it seems Mac will indeed be back - Holland says he'll offer #25 a contract (at the very end of Khan's article). Fuck yeah bitches.

On to Drake. A contract is his if he wants it. His performance in the playoffs was unreal, and he was a solid contributor in the regular season especially as injuries mounted. That being said he played out of his mind in the playoffs, and having finally achieved his life-long goal of the Stanley Cup it's hard to imagine him having that same kind of special season that he did this past year. And late in the season and in the postseason he sure sounded like this was it. It would be all too story-bookish for Drake to go out on top now, having returned to his original team to finally win the Cup. And it's not to say he'll be unmotivated or complacent if he returns, but he probably won't be as good as he was without the possibility of never winning a cup driving him. I think he retires, but like I said, it's up to Drake, and if he wants back Holland brings him back.

Downey's future rests on Drake, I think. If Drake comes back, then the Wings will be almost sure to return every one of their Top 14 forwards (includes Helm). It's not even clear the Wings will carry 14 forwards since they're loaded at defense right now and could very well carry 8 blueliners. In that case it's obviously against Downey returning, especially with Mac around. In the case of injuries the Wings would more likely turn to Abdelkader or Ritola than the one-dimensional Downey. But that being said I think the Wings will give him a two-way contract and see what he can make out of training camp - he's earned that much. If he gets waived I think he's certain to get nabbed by someone else after his strong season - 5-0-5 and some impressive beat-downs of Ian Laperierre and George "Porn 'Stache" Parros. I'm not very optimistic, but I sure hope he returns. I love you Deputy Downer.

Chelios is going to get his knee scoped apparently, and frankly, I mean, come on, that was obvious. Lilja? Really? Cheli was hurt, and if he had been in perfect health you have to think he'd be in there. Anyway, he's a lock to return. Holland's policy with veterans is generally "bring them back until they die." If you bring back a vet, you can always bench them if a kid outplays them. If you deign not to re-sign a vet so as to give a kid a spot you're risking a lot on that kid. With Chelios there's no risk. The Wings are vastly deep at D: if Stuart returns they'll have five D, plus Meech and Quincey who can't be sent down, add Chelios that's eight, and that's without re-signing Lilja, and that also means sending Jonathon Ericsson to Grand Rapids again which is so fucking ridiculous I can' t believe I just typed it, but keeping kids in GR way longer than necessary has always been the Wings' strategy. Chelios is just too good at killing penalties, too cheap,and too good a leader and a mentor not to bring back. I think he returns.


This upcoming week's going to be hell for me school-wise, so I've planned out my posts ahead of time. I'll be spending this week handing out playoffs awards (I know, a little out of order since I've already started talking about next season) as I did last year. The week will proceed like so:

Monday: Best n00b Award
Goes to the best rookie in the playoffs.
Nominees: Darren Helm. Yeah, it's pretty obvious.

Tuesday: Blackest Ace Award
Goes to the best player who I can't believe didn't play. This was more appropriate when we didn't win last year and it was cool to second-guess the coach's decisions.
Nominees: Justin Abdelkader, Jonathon Ericsson, Aaron Downey.

Wednesday: WTF!? Award
Goes to the player who most improved his performance from the regular season to the playoffs.
Nominees: Dallas Drake, Jiri Hudler, Val Filppula.

Thursday: Best Beard Award
Goes to the most pirate beard adorned in the playoffs.
Nominees: Dan Cleary, Kris Draper, Henrik Zetterberg.

Friday: Manliest Motherfucker Award
Goes to the player who manned up the most during the playoffs.
Nominees: Dallas Drake, Val Filppula, Pavel Datsyuk.

Holy SHIT.

So, uh, subdural hematoma, eh? Yeah that's a pretty good reason to keep a guy out of the lineup.
I just spoke to Johan Franzen, and he told me the reason he missed six games during the playoffs was because he of a bruise inside his head.

"I had a collection of blood, it was not in the brain, but between the skull and the brain," Franzen said.

The team said Franzen was suffering from headaches, saying the symptoms were concussion-like, but an MRI revealed the blood.

"It self-absorbed between two and three weeks," Franzen said. "It was a little bit scary. I couldn't do anything because that would have been dangerous."

I'll say.

Road to Repeat: Goaltending

Maybe the most solid and intrigue-less position for the Red Wings is goaltending. Osgood is entrenched as the starter, obviously, and will be back for the next three years at a meager 1.4M cap hit. Osgood will likely transition to backup over the life of his contract, depending mostly on how Jimmy Howard performs.

And it will be Howard as the #2, no doubt about that. Kenny Holland is saying nice things, that if Dom wants to come back they'll sit down and talk, but KH isn't planning on it and if there is a talk it will amount to "thanks for your service." I've read some national pundits say Howard needs another year. Are you kidding? Three in college and three in the AHL? He's ready. Need further proof? Take a look at his performance this season against Dallas, a 1-0 loss in a critical game. He's ready.

Hasek is one of the greatest goalies of all time, and I don't believe his skills or his passion deteriorated this season. As has been noted, the four straight against Nashville was the first time Hasek played four straight all season. His body is just no longer willing. The Wings can maybe count him for short bursts (which I suppose is what you want in a backup) but they need to get Howard NHL experience so they aren't caught with their pants down when Osgood retires.

Ansar Khan at MLive says much the same, that Hasek's time is past and the Wings need to get a good look at Howard. However, he suggests that if Howard doesn't cut it this year the Wings should jettison him and go for Ryan Miller, as has been speculated all year. Earlier this year I posted about how ludicrous it is for the Wings to target Miller. A lot has been said about the Wings' enormous cap space and it's true the Wings are in great shape for next year. But that's because Z and Franzen will still be on very cheap deals (2.45M and 0.9M respectively). In 09-10 those numbers will go up dramatically and the Wings will be counting on that when they make their moves this offseason and next. Miller will be the premiere goaltender on the market when he hits and will command 6M at least. The Wings will not be able to afford this, and as Holland has said, the Wings don't spend money on goaltending - they spend it on defense.

To quote myself:
-the only reasonable move would be to trade Rafalski, which might happen only if the Wings are very happy with Ericsson and the other young D's development, and very unhappy with Osgood/Howard
-but if Osgood stays steady and Howard develops well, why would you even entertain the notion?
-boldface allows you to highlight key ideas and is fun to use!
-avs suck
If Howard struggles next year the Wings will stick with him and be patient, as they always have (unless Osgood falls off dramatically). If Howard still doesn't develop the Wings will move to the next guy - Daniel Larsson. Larsson was compared to Henrik Lundqvist two years ago when he was drafted. This past year Larsson won the Honken Award (best goalie) and the Swedish Elite League Rookie of the Year while playing for Djurgarden. Having done all he can do in the SEL, Larsson will be the Griffins' horse next year and the year after. If he follows the Jimmy Howard route for goaltending development, he'll be ready for the NHL just as Chris Osgood's contract is expiring. The Wings will then have the option of going with the two youngsters or re-upping Osgood and dealing one of the kids (or keeping Larsson stashed in GR.)

-Osgood is like... what's the adjective I'm looking for... competent? effective? great? something like that. If only his name contained such a word, I could make a clever pun!
-Hasek is an all-time great, but he's done.
-Much like Whitney Houston, I believe that children are our future, and Jimmy Howard is one such child.
-Miller is unrealistic. Get over it. (Unless things change dramatically, mind you. The Wings could always make space or the cap could go up wildly or something.)
-Larsson ensures the Wings have a Plan B when it comes to developing the next Wings franchise goaltender.
-new banner! yes!

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Well, with the exception of learning all the injuries (if we ever do), it's done. But I'm not. I'll spend the next week or so going nuts finishing papers and the like (finals week is next week, damn you quarter system!) and then it's on to Wings' offseason analysis. I'll look at each player's season and postseason performance, give my take on which players should be brought back (hint: most if not all) and what the future holds for the Wings. I've already come up with a name for my summer analysis series: The Road to Repeat. Alliteration for the win, as always.

Topics on the agenda:
-player reviews
-the UFAs: Chelios, Drake, Hasek, McCarty, Downey, Stuart (who's done? who's gone? who's back?)
-the RFA: Val Filppula (I predict re-signing him may be tougher than people think...)
-the Extensions: Zetterberg and Franzen (both are eligible for contract extensions July 1, and their respective break-out performances could put a strain the Wings' Cap...)
-the kids: Howard, Ericsson, Meech, Quincey, Helm, Abdelkader, Leino (who's ready for the NHL? Is there even room for any of them?)
-the draft (hint: the Wings will pick good players)
-the trade/FA market (hint: Wings do little, if anything...)

All along the way I'll be dragging along my handy spreadsheets and crunching cap numbers for every scenario, as well as taking looks at what the other Wings bloggers in the community are saying. Should be a fun summer!


Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I am abundantly overjoyed, as are my compatriots! Cheers, friends!

In other words:


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hung over

Can I be real with you guys?

That sucked.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Zetterberg Drinks Crosby's Milkshake

Hank is the Conn Smythe, there's no doubt really. Ozzie could give him a run for his money, except that Ozzie and Hank are on opposite ends of the hype spectrum. While Z has been fabled all year long as the Wings' best player (which I've found to be silly, given Dats and Lids) and has always been in the spotlight (especially compared to Dats), Osgood still has detractors who say his team is more the reason for the Wings' defensive dominance than he is. And I do agree that Hank is more deserving than Ozzie, although I'm not sure he is more so than Lidstrom. I have to re-iterate that really, I mean, really when you think about it, Lidstrom is the most valuable player on this team and has been for a while and will continue to be, and it's not really close. Compare how the Wings have done without Z (like the 19 game stretch at the end of last year) with how the Wings have done without Lids (like the games he missed this year).

That being said, Lids has always gotten the shaft for not being a more spectacular player (probably costing him a few Norrises and a lot of Hart votes) and so I suppose I'm pretty used to it. I'll cheer when Z lifts that leaf-house thing, especially in light of his dominant performance last night. As many have said, Z ensconced himself as the best player in the league with that game. Crosby may be the best... something in the league, but offense is only half the game. It's Z, duh. (or Pavel. I imagine if Pavs were out there for that kill we'd be talking about him in the same terms.)

Homer likely in, Mac probably out. I feel bad about Chelios not playing. I know him and Mac and Downey will probably get their gear on and join the team during the celebration, but it sucks especially for Cheli to not play in the Cup-winning game (or series for that matter). Up until now it was basically assured he'd be back at the same old one year cheap-o deal to patrol the blueline on the third pair, kill penalties, and teach the young Wings' D how to play the game. Now I'm not so sure. I'm scared.

I'm also scared about Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg, both of whom are entering their contract years. Hank winning the Conn will likely add a penny or two to his value. The Wings will do whatever it takes to keep Hank, and furthermore Hank has stated he doesn't care about his salary and wants to stay a Wing for life. But it's possible we're talking about a two or three million dollar spread between the open market and what the Wings will top out at. And assuming we do sign Hank, it makes Mule all the harder. I don't want to think about the Cap right now. As soon as we win I'll bust out the spreadsheets and start looking at what the Wings can potentially offer these guys. But for now let's just think about Stanley.

How about this kid? It takes balls, and dedication, to buy an extra Stanley Cup playoffs ticket and also get risk getting arrested just to toss the ol' octopus. I love it. Nice jersey choice too.