Monthly Archives: June 2015

Wings lean ‘right,’ but not at any cost as free agency set to open Wednesday

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ free agency shopping list hasn’t changed from a season ago.

The only thing different is that the pool of potential fits to fill those needs is much smaller, which should make the end result the same … the Wings re-signing the players within their organization.

“If we don’t do anything I’m satisfied heading into the season,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview. “We probably have interest on the market of guys that are shorter term rather than longer term, depending who they are.

“Our young players are going to be our future and are going to work their way into the lineup and allow us to be competitive,” Holland added.

The Wings are still looking to add a right-handed shot defenseman — there are only 28 unrestricted ones available — that can quarterback the power play.

The top one available is Mike Green (Capitals), but he’s most likely looking for a long-term deal worth at least $6 million a season.

Green, 29, can run a power play and pile up points, but he’s not air tight defensively, especially in the defensive zone.

Johnny Oduya (Blackhawks) is another option, but he’s a left-handed shot and is not a big point producer. He’s a mobile defensive defenseman which the Wings’ blue line is full of already.

Cody Franson (Predators) could also fit. He’s a right-handed shot and has an offensive upside. He’s also been on Detroit’s radar in the past.

In all likelihood the Wings’ blue line will be made up of Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Danny DeKeyser, Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith, with Jakub Kindl, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Brian Lashoff fighting the final two spots.

The Wings are also deep at forward, but could have interest in two players out there – Joel Ward (Capitals) and Matt Beleskey (Ducks).

The knock on Ward is his age; he turns 35 in December.

Beleskey, 27, is going to have teams lined up to sign him after scoring a career-high 22 goals last season. With the Wings’ top six forwards pretty much set in stone – Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist – they most likely aren’t willing to pay him top-six forward money if Beleskey is playing on the third line with Darren Helm and Luke Glendening.

Detroit also needs to slot Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco and Landon Ferraro in the lineup.

“I want to be able to have the flexibility that some of these kids can make our team or have an opportunity throughout the season to call them up if they’re playing well and we can wheel them up,” Holland said. “We’re going to explore free agency. It’s not a deep class. There’s lots of players there, but most of the players that are available we feel our young players can develop into that somewhat quickly.

“What we’ve been doing on the fly is develop some of our young players in Grand Rapids into NHL players, give them some opportunities and exposure for them so we know what they can do,” Holland added. “That’s the direction we’re going.”

Then there are prospects Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Tomas Nosek and Tyler Bertuzzi that could get a shot to show if they are NHL ready.

“We think, even if we don’t do anything, guys like Larkin, Athanasiou and Nosek are in the process of developing into Red Wings and some of them might be one more year and some of them may even be just 40 games,” Holland said. “Anthony Mantha had a year where he had some adversity. I think he’s still in our plans big time. Some of these guys are going to need two to three years in the American Hockey League. Dylan Larkin, we’re anxious to see what he can do in training camp.”

The one position Holland won’t be focused on during free agency is in goal where Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will battle for playing time.

“We’ve got eight or nine defensemen in our system that we think can play in the NHL,” Holland said. “A couple of them are going to go back to Grand Rapids and one of them might make Detroit. Would we like a right-shot defenseman? Yes I would, but if I can’t have a right-shot defenseman we have one in Marchenko and Jensen. We’ve got good depth. Are we looking to upgrade? Whether it’s on defense on forward, yeah, if you upgrade it fits in.”

The Wings also have to look towards next season when they’ll need to re-sign Helm, Abdelkader, Sheahan, DeKeyser and Mrazek.

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Stephen Weiss no longer a Wing as club decides to buy out the final three years of his contract

DETROIT >> Stephen Weiss is no longer a Detroit Red Wing.

The Wings decided to buy out the remaining three years of his contract prior to the buyout period ending for players with no-movement clauses in their contracts, Tuesday.

Weiss, 32, had three more years at $4.9 million a season left on the five-year deal he signed prior to the 2013-14 season.

Weiss, who had a no-movement clause in his deal, will get paid two-thirds of the remaining deal spread out over twice the remaining length of the deal.

The Wings’ cap hits over the next six years will be $1.066 million in each the next two seasons, $2.56 million in 2017-18 and $1.67 million for each of the three seasons after that.

The team didn’t want to keep Weiss around if he was going to be the 13th or 14th forward on the roster, averaging less than 10 minutes a game when he’s in the lineup, or just an insurance policy if someone doesn’t play.

The roster does have two question marks.

Pavel Datsyuk is sidelined after ankle surgery and Johan Franzen is still recovering from a season-ending concussion he suffered last year.

Datsyuk had surgery Friday to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle. He’ll be in a cast four-to-six weeks before starting rehab. He’ll be re-evaluated around the time the team wraps up training camp.

The Wings felt if Datsyuk would be back on the first of October and if Franzen, who has experienced numerous concussions, was going to play 75 games this season the decision on waiving Weiss would be easy.

Weiss was brought in to fill the second-line center spot left open when Valtteri Filppula signed with Tampa Bay.

During training camp in Weiss’ first season in Detroit, he tried to play through a sports hernia. He wound up having sports hernia surgery and then had a second procedure later to repair an issue with scar tissue.

He managed to play just 26 games totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4.

He played in 52 games regular season games last year and finished with nine goals and 16 assists.

Weiss appeared in the first two playoff games against Tampa Bay before finding himself benched the rest of the series.

In all, he’s appeared in just 78 of a possible 164 regular-season games since signing with the Wings.

Weiss remains a Red Wing … for now

DETROIT >> Stephen Weiss is still a Detroit Red Wing, for now.

It appears the Wings have decided not to waive Weiss in order to buy out the remaining three years of his contract prior to the buyout period ended Tuesday at noon.

The team has yet to confirm.

Detroit could still try and trade Weiss, who has three more years at $4.9 million a season left on the five-year deal he signed prior to the 2013-14 season.

Weiss, 32, however has a no-trade clause.

Had the Wings placed Weiss on waivers and he cleared, they would have paid out two-thirds of the remaining deal spread out over twice the remaining length of the deal.

There is one more buyout period in August, but that’s just for teams with arbitration cases.

If the Wings had bought him out this year, their cap hits over the next six years would have been $1.066 million in each the next two seasons, $2.56 million in 2017-18 and $1.67 million for each of the three seasons after that.

New coach Jeff Blashill must feel Weiss will help the lineup.

The team didn’t want to keep Weiss around if he was going to be the 13th or 14th forward on the roster, averaging less than 10 minutes a game when he’s in the lineup, or just an insurance policy if someone doesn’t play.

The roster does have two question marks.

Pavel Datsyuk is sidelined after ankle surgery and Johan Franzen is still recovering from a season-ending concussion he suffered last year.

Datsyuk had surgery Friday to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle. He’ll be in a cast four-to-six weeks before starting rehab. He’ll be re-evaluated around the time the team wraps up training camp.

If Detroit knew Datsyuk would be back on the first of October and if Franzen, who has experienced numerous concussions, was going to play 75 games this season the decision on whether to waive Weiss may have been different.

“I think the way things ended last year when I came back when the season started I wasn’t in the lineup, I was a healthy scratch, sat around for a while,” Weiss said during the end of year locker cleanout. “They told me they were going to put me in and wanted to know if I wanted to go play a couple games in Grand Rapids. I wanted to. I went and did that, came back and got a good opportunity then. Playing with Pav there for a little bit and playing pretty well. And then, for whatever reason, I just fell down the lineup. I wasn’t playing a ton and when you’re not playing a lot it’s tough to do what you’ve always done.”

Weiss was brought in to fill the second-line center spot left open when Valtteri Filppula signed with Tampa Bay.

During training camp in Weiss’ first season in Detroit, he tried to play through a sports hernia. He wound up having sports hernia surgery and then had a second procedure later to repair an issue with scar tissue.

He managed to play just 26 games totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4.

He played in 52 games regular season games last year and finished with nine goals and 16 assists.

Weiss appeared in the first two playoff games against Tampa Bay before finding himself benched the rest of the series.

“I’ve been around long enough, it was frustrating,” Weiss said. “You always want to do more. You feel like you can do more. I felt that way. I wanted to be in there, especially in the playoffs playing and have a bigger role, but it wasn’t to be.”

In all, he’s appeared in just 78 of a possible 164 regular-season games since signing with the Wings.

Weiss was has been passed up on the center depth chart by Riley Sheahan, Darren Helm and Luke Glendening and could get pushed further down if Dylan Larkin makes the roster out of training camp.

Wings consider buyout of Weiss contract; deadline is noon Tuesday

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings have until noon Tuesday to make a decision on Stephen Weiss.

And it appears they’ll take up until that time to make it.

“We have until noon (Tuesday),” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview Monday. “Let’s leave it at that.”

The noon deadline ends the buyout period – June 15-30 – teams have to decide on whether to part ways with players and their contracts, paying out two-thirds of the deal spread out over twice the remaining length of the deal.

Weiss, 32, has three more years at $4.9 million a season left on the five-year deal he signed prior to the 2013-14 season.

“I think the way things ended last year when I came back when the season started I wasn’t in the lineup, I was a healthy scratch, sat around for a while,” Weiss said during the end of year locker cleanout. “They told me they were going to put me in and wanted to know if I wanted to go play a couple games in Grand Rapids. I wanted to. I went and did that, came back and got a good opportunity then. Playing with (Pavel Datsyuk) there for a little bit and playing pretty well. And then, for whatever reason, I just fell down the lineup. I wasn’t playing a ton and when you’re not playing a lot it’s tough to do what you’ve always done.”

If new coach Jeff Blashill feels Weiss, who has a no-trade clause, will help the lineup he’ll be back.

If Weiss will be the 13th or 14th forward on the roster, averaging less than 10 minutes a game when he’s in the lineup, or just an insurance policy if someone doesn’t play they’ll likely part ways.

Two other factors the Wings have to weigh when making their decision is how long Datsyuk will be sidelined after ankle surgery and if Johan Franzen is able to return from a season-ending concussion he suffered last year.

Datsyuk had surgery Friday to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle. He’ll be in a cast four-to-six weeks before starting rehab. He’ll be re-evaluated around the time the team wraps up training camp.

If Detroit knew Datsyuk was back on the first of October and if Franzen was going to play 75 games this season it would make this decision to part ways easier.

During training camp in Weiss’ first season in Detroit, he tried to play through a sports hernia. He wound up having sports hernia surgery and then had a second procedure later to repair an issue with scar tissue.

He managed to play just 26 games totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4.

He played in 52 games regular season games last year and finished with nine goals and 16 assists.

Weiss appeared in the first two playoff games against Tampa Bay before finding himself benched the rest of the series.

“I’ve been around long enough, it was frustrating,” Weiss said. “You always want to do more. You feel like you can do more. I felt that way. I wanted to be in there, especially in the playoffs playing and have a bigger role, but it wasn’t to be.”

In all, he’s appeared in just 78 of a possible 164 regular-season games since signing with the Wings.

Weiss was has been passed up on the center depth chart by Riley Sheahan, Darren Helm and Luke Glendening and could get pushed further down if Dylan Larkin makes the roster out of training camp.

Star studded 2002 Wings roster sends two more to Hockey Hall of Fame

DETROIT >> How star studded was that Detroit Red Wings’ 2002 roster?

Well, two more were named to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Monday.

Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov make it nine from that roster to enter the Hall.

“We played on some great teams together with some great players and I think we had a great coach in Scotty Bowman, too, that was able to lead us in the right path and we had a lot of fun along the way, too,” Lidstrom said during a conference call after the announcement. “We won lots but we had a lot of fun doing it too.”

Detroit now has nine players from its 2002 team in the Hall of Fame – Igor Larionov (2008); Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille (2009); Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan (2013) and Dominik Hasek (2014).

“When I first came to Detroit, Steve Yzerman was our captain and he was the player I looked up to before I joined the Wings,” Lidstrom said. “He’s been a big influence. Being close to Steve and watching how hard he worked every day and showing up at games and playing even better in bigger games, I think he’s been a big influence.

“Sergei and I were roommates for quite a few years when we played together here,” Lidstrom continued. “So Sergei helped me out a lot too, seeing how he played and prepared every day. So those are a couple players that I looked up to.”

Both players were drafted by the Wings in 1989.

Lidstrom, 45, was taken in the third round (53rd overall) and they got Fedorov, 45, a round later (74th overall).

“That was the draft of the century, a fabulous, fabulous draft,” Jimmy Devellano said. “I’ve gone over every draft since 1969. There’s no team in the history of hockey that had a better draft than that one. It set us up for 15 years, maybe longer.”

Lidstrom, who had his No. 5 retired last season, spent all 20 seasons of his career with the Wings, will go down as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history.
He helped the Red Wings win four Stanley Cups in 11 seasons.

He won seven Norris Trophies, one less than legendary Bobby Orr, and is a member of the exclusive “Triple-Gold” club, winning both an Olympic gold medal (2006) and an IIHF World Championship (1991) with Sweden.

Lidstrom is one of five Wings who played on all four of Detroit’s Stanley Cup championship teams since 1997.

“I played with Larry Robinson,” former teammate Chris Chelios said. “I played against (Raymond) Bourque. You go even further with Doug Harvey, but in my opinion there couldn’t have been anyone better than Nicklas Lidstrom.

“His demeanor was really something,” Chelios continued. “Because of the passion I played with, I got too high, too low. Nick kept it at an even keel. Watching Nick and the effect he had on players, not losing his composure, never panicking, I slowly but surely, like the rest of the team, caught onto that.”

Fedorov, who in 1990 became the second player to defect from the Soviet Union during the Goodwill Games in Seattle, was as versatile as they come, being able to play wing, center and on the blue line.

Yzerman called Fedorov the “best skater” he had ever seen.

“When I was coming to the Red Wings I was 20 years old, Fedorov said. “I had no idea what’s going to happen to me. But I love playing hockey and when I came and played my first year I see 20,000 people cheering me. So it was very exciting. Honestly, that’s all I can refer to.

“At the same time, I don’t know, it was unbelievable because from where I come from in Russia we don’t have those kind of huge arenas and we don’t have that kind of, or sort of venues where so many people cheer you on and like what you do,” Fedorov added. “I don’t know, I’m in Detroit right now with my mom and we’re hanging out and we heard the news and it’s exciting.”

Fedorov won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1993-94, after racking up 56 goals and 120 points. He won the Selke Trophy twice, handed out to the league’s top defensive forward (1994 and 1996), and was part of three Cup-winning clubs in Detroit.

With the Wings, Fedorov finished with 400 goals and 954 points – fourth and fifth, respectively, on the franchise list.

When he signed a mega free agent offer sheet with Anaheim in 2003 his career took a downturn. He had five undistinguished seasons with the Ducks, Columbus and Washington before finishing his career in his native Russia.

Defensemen Chris Pronger and Phil Housley as well as Angela Ruggiero were also named to the Hall of Fame by the 18-member selection committee. Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. and Bill Hay of the Hockey Hall of Fame were named in the builder’s category.

For a seventh year in a row the Wings select a forward … Evgeny Svechnikov

The Detroit Red Wings kept their trend of picking forwards with their first pick in the NHL Entry Draft, Friday.

Detroit took 6-foot-2 Evgeny Svechnikov, 18, with the 19th overall selection in the first round.

It’s the seventh year in a row the Wings have selected a forward with their first pick, the last three prior to this year were centers.

The last defenseman Detroit selected in the first round was Brendan Smith in 2007, getting him 27th overall.

A native of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, Svechnikov, has twice represented Russia at the Under-18 World Junior Championship.

Troy Dumville of NHL Central Scouting said of Svechnikov: “He proved to be a very skilled skater, strong on the puck and a player capable of doing a lot of things well. He plays a physical game, doesn’t back away, is aggressive on the forecheck and finishes checks.”

His point per game average of 0.95 was second-best among draft eligible QMJHL forwards, only Timo Meier (1.48) was better.

Svechnikov, whose final draft ranking was 17th, finished second among Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookies with 78 points (32 goals, 46 assists) in 55 games.

Svechnikov, who was born on Halloween, is considered a power forward that can beat you physically. He also has enough skill and creativity offensively to beat defenders one-on-one.

His size, strength and skill allows him to compete against a variety of opponents.

His game has been compared by scouts to Max Pacioretty.

He’s the first Russian the Wings have taken in the first round since defenseman Max Kuznetsov was claimed 26th overall in 1995.

The final six rounds of the draft will take place Saturday.

The Wings don’t have a second round picks season, which they dealt away to Dallas for Erik Cole at the trade deadline last year.

The depth on the blue line in the organization is lacking with their top four prospects – Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul – will no longer be waiver-exempt after this season.

Datsyuk could miss start of season

Pavel Datsyuk could miss the start of the regular season after having surgery Friday to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle.

Wings general manager Ken Holland said Datsyuk will be in a cast four four-to-six weeks before starting rehab. He’ll be re-evaluated around the time the team wraps up training camp.

“We felt time off would get the job done,” Holland said. “He went to Russia for six weeks. He called (trainer) Piet Van Zant on Saturday and said his ankle’s not better.”

Datsyuk, who missed eight of the final 14 games of the regular season, had the procedure done by Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina.

“A lot has to do with how the body heals and how we go about the rehab process,” Holland said when asked if he could miss the start of the season.

In just 63 regular season games, Datsyuk had 26 goals and 39 assists.