Monthly Archives: July 2015

Ferraro gets deal done

DETROIT >> The Wings came to terms with Landon Ferraro on a one-year, two-way deal for $600,000.

Ferraro will get $175,000 if he’s assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

He’s guaranteed $200,000.

If Ferraro, who turns 24 on Aug. 8, doesn’t make the team out of training camp he’ll have to clear waivers to be assigned to the Griffins.

Playing well enough in a three-game audition to end the regular season, where he notched his first NHL goal in the finale at Carolina, Ferraro dressed for all seven games of Detroit’s first-round playoff series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ferraro, who will compete for a fourth line spot in training camp, scored a career-high 27 goals and had 15 assists in 70 games in his fourth season in Grand Rapids.

The Wings, who took Ferraro with their first pick (32nd overall, second round) in 2009, like his speed and forechecking ability.


Nyquist lone Wing to file for salary arbitration

DETROIT >> Gustav Nyquist has sped up the process of getting a contract done with the Detroit Red Wings.

The 25-year-old restricted free agent forward filed for salary arbitration Sunday.

He was one of 23 players to file for salary arbitration.

Arbitration hearings will take place from July 20 through Aug. 4 in Toronto and all decisions are due by Aug. 6.

The Wings’ other two restricted free agents – Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen – didn’t file.

Nyquist, who is no longer eligible to sign an offer sheet from other teams, will continue to negotiate with the Wings.

Nyquist, who turns 26 on Sept. 1, appears in line to receive a similar deal Tomas Tatar signed last season, three years at $2.75 million. He had a yearly salary-cap hit of $950,000 each of the last two seasons.

Nyquist burst onto the scene during the 2013-14 season.

After beginning the year in Grand Rapids because he didn’t have to clear waivers in order to be assigned there, Nyquist was recalled and promptly scored two goals in his first game.

He finished with 28 goals, six of which came on the power play, and 20 assists. He also was a plus-16.

Last season, in 82 games, Nyquist had 27 goals, 27 assists and was a minus-11. Fourteen of his goals were on the power play.

Nyquist, like many of the Wings’ younger players, has struggled in the postseason. He has three goals, four assists and a plus-1 in 30 games.

Detroit normally gets a done with players that file prior to the actual hearing.

Brendan Smith was the last Wing to file in 2013, but got a deal done prior to the hearing.

Jiri Hudler was the last Wing to get to the hearing in 2009.

However, Hudler signed a deal with the Kontinental Hockey League’s Dynamo Moscow just prior to his arbitration case was heard.

Hudler received a two-year deal via the arbitrator at an annual salary cap hit of $2.875 million.

Hudler spent just one season in the KHL before returning to the Wings where the played out a two-year deal prior to signing with the Calgary Flames.

The last one prior to that occurred in 1995 with Ray Sheppard, who lost his case. He was awarded a one-year deal worth $1.55 million, which was $400,000 short of what he requested and $200,000 more than the Wings had wanted.

Sheppard, who demanded a trade and was dealt to San Jose a month later, had scored 30 goals in 43 games. He had totaled 84 goals combined the two seasons prior.

Detroit has 21 players signed, 12 of which are forwards, at just over $65 million. That leaves just over $6 million left under the $71.4 million cap.

Will the Wings retire No. 91?

DETROIT >> Let the debate begin.

That debate being, should the Detroit Red Wings retire No. 91.

And it all began with the signing for unrestricted free agent Brad Richards, who wore No. 91 his only season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said when asked if Richards would wear No. 91. “You’re a step ahead of me.”

The only Wings player to wear No. 91 is Sergei Fedorov, who was just named, along with Nicklas Lidstrom, to the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class.

“Jimmy D, Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and at the appropriate time I’ll weigh in, whether his number should be in the rafters or not,” Holland said. “Certainly being selected to go in the Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment. He was a great player and a great Red Wing. So it’s certainly worth serious consideration.”
Lidstrom had his No. 5 retired last season by the Wings after spending all 20 seasons of his career in Detroit.

Richards wore No. 19 for the longest time, including his three seasons with the New York Rangers before having his contract bought out. He wore No. 91 with the Dallas Stars.

No. 19 is already retired by the Wings.

“I don’t want to gauge it, but we’re certainly going to have that conversation,” Holland said. “I’m not sure when we’re going to have that conversation. I think at the tail end of his career we tried to re-sign him and it didn’t work out and he ended up leaving.”

The Wings selected Fedorov in the fourth round (74th overall) in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

He 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.

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.

The first road block occurred when Fedorov, a restricted free agent at the time, had a lengthy holdout to start the 1997-98 season. He signed a six-year offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes worth $38 million.

The Wings matched it and because of the wording in the offer sheet Fedorov made $28 million that first year of the deal.

Fedorov finally left Detroit after signing a mega free agent offer sheet with Anaheim in 2003. He turned down four- and five-year offers by the Wings worth $10 million a season.

And the fans made him hear their disappointment as every time he touched the puck when he returned to Joe Louis Arena he was booed heavily.

“I don’t know, we’ve never talked about it,” Holland said if that would be a sticking point. “All I’m saying is he had a great career, he’s going into the Hockey Hall of Fame. At the
end of his career he left. It’s a little easier to make the decision when the player plays 20 years for you and he retires and it’s Steve Yzerman, who’s the captain and it’s Nick Lidstrom, who’s one of the greatest defenseman that ever played the game with seven Norris Trophies. Those are decisions that I think get made very quickly.

“In Sergei’s case, at the end of his career I think he left,” Holland continued. “Is that going to factor in? I think part of the reason we put players’ jerseys in the rafters is because of what they accomplished for the Detroit Red Wings. I think if we start just putting jerseys up there – if you think about the ’02 team, we could start putting jerseys up there every year. But many of those great careers were elsewhere. They came here for a very short period of time.”

He’s one of nine players from the Wings’ 2002 team in the Hall of Fame – Lidstrom (2015); Igor Larionov (2008); Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille (2009); Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan (2013) and Dominik Hasek (2014).

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

“I think we’ve got to factor in and look at what they accomplished in a Red Wings jersey versus what they accomplished in their careers,” Holland said. “I think it’s a long answer to say you take a little bit of time to make sure. Those jerseys that go in the rafters are incredibly special. He’s certainly somebody that will be discussed and talked about but we haven’t got to that decision yet and I really don’t have an answer for you why.”

Fedorov’s career took a downturn from that point and had five undistinguished seasons with Anaheim, Columbus and Washington before finishing his career in his native Russia.

Anthony Mantha ready to fight to ‘earn the jersey’

DETROIT >> Last year at this time, Anthony Mantha had a realistic shot at making the Wings’ roster out of training camp.

This year it appears he’ll be a longshot to do so.

“Realistically, I think it’s going to be a struggle for him to make the team,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “I use the word “earn the jersey.” You’ve got to come in and take a job.

“We probably got 14, 15, 16 forwards we think can legitimately fight for a spot on the team,” Holland continued. “I’m not even sure if Anthony is in that group.”

His attempt to make the Wings out of camp was slowed considerably after getting his skate caught in a rut and suffering a fractured right tibia during a rookie tournament game in Traverse City.

That sidelined him all of training camp, where he was slated to get some time on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Mantha, who was taken by the Wings 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, struggled in his first season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring 15 goals and to go with 18 assists in 62 games.

This came on the heels of scoring 57 goals and 63 assists in 57 games for Val d’Or in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was also named the CHL’s Player of the Year.

At the Wings’ annual development camp in Traverse City, which began Friday, Mantha gets a chance to re-establish himself as a player that’s close to making an NHL roster.

“I’m here a little bit more confident than last season,” Mantha said. “I need to keep showing stuff to the organization in this camp and I need to come in September and be ready for a fresh new start. My goal is the same, to play in the NHL, so I need to come here and be ready and have a better season for sure.

“It was difficult, especially right off the bat like that after coming off a great season,” Mantha continued. “It’s a fresh start right now and I hope it’s going to go upward from here on.”

His lack of offensive production didn’t go unnoticed and Wings senior vice president Jimmy Devellano made it known saying the organization was “very, very, very disappointed” in Mantha’s performance.

“I didn’t really listen to his comments,” Mantha said. “We were in playoffs. I talked to (Jeff Blashill) a little bit and he just told me to keep playing my way. So we tried to just keep that aside.”

Then reports surfaced as Detroit prepared for the draft and free agency that Mantha was no longer untouchable and could be available in a trade if the right offer came along.

“As for the trade rumors, if they wanted to trade me, they would have and if not, I’m still here and my goal is still the same,” Mantha said. “I want to play for Detroit.

“It’s part of adversity,” Mantha added. “You need to build through it and come out stronger. I was telling myself, I had the rest of the playoffs to show them wrong and I tried building off of that. I had a few good games, a few bad games in playoffs but that’s part of hockey.”

But Mantha struggled in the playoffs as well, scoring just two goals to go with two assists in 16 games.

And know he finds himself in the second tier of players like Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Nosek to make the Wings out of camp.

“We think they are going to be Red Wings,” Holland said. “Are they going to be Red Wings in September? They got to come in and knock somebody out of a job.”

The Wings have 11 forwards under contract for next season and four more restricted free agents to sign before camp opens.

Mantha also has fallen behind Dylan Larkin on the depth chart.

“It always has been,” Mantha said when asked if his expectation this year will be to make the Wings’ roster out of camp. “I won’t lie. This is the same this year. I need to come here and maybe try playing a few exhibition games. I’ve only had one in two camps so far so I obviously aim for quite a few exhibition games this year and build off of that and try to make the lineup for sure.”

With additions of Green and Richards, Blashill now has limitless options

DETROIT >> If Jeff Blashill wanted options heading into training camp, he’s got them now.

With the addition of free agent defenseman Mike Green and veteran forward Brad Richards on the first day of free agency Wednesday, the options are endless.

“You’d rather have more options than not enough,” Blashill said Thursday at Joe Louis Arena prior to departing for development camp in Traverse City. “Obviously by adding those two guys that gives us more options, more abilities to do different things.

“It puts a premium on guys playing great in order to earn their different spots in the lineup and I think that’s a positive thing,” Blashill continued. “We were happy with the outcome, but we also understand it’s one day. We were able to acquire a couple guys that can really help us, but we have lots of work ahead of us.”

Early on it appears that Green, who’s a right-handed shot that the Wings have coveted since last offseason, will be paired with Danny DeKeyser.

Green, who signed a three-year deal worth $6 million a season, can run a power play and will rack up the points.

He’s not air-tight defensively, but it doesn’t concern Blashill because of how the Wings’ system is set up.

“I think their skill sets matchup,” Blashill said. “I think both guys can help each other and that’s a positive. I think the other thing is the best D-zone coverage is breaking the puck out of your own end and both guys skate really well and can break the puck out so that could be a good combo.

“I thought with Mike, he’s got a unique skill set,” Blashill added. “He’s different than a lot of defensemen on our team. We have some great, great quality D, but he brings an offensive ability beyond probably most of the guys.”
Mike Knuble, who was an assistant coach last season in Grand Rapids under Blashill, knows Green, 29, well from his time in Washington with him.

“He had a lot of great things to say about him as a person and as a teammate so I think that’s a really good fit,” Blashill said.

Green is a two-time Norris Trophy finalist, awarded annually to the league’s top defenseman.

Richards, who signed a one-year deal worth $3 million and could earn an extra $1 million if he meets playoff bonuses, is a number two center ice man, but could slot up to number one if Pavel Datsyuk isn’t ready to being the season after ankle surgery.

“Throughout his career he’s proven to be a top couple line center,” Blashill said. “That’s something I thought going into free agency if we can add somebody that could give us that potential that would be a positive thing. He can do that.

“He’s been a great power play guy his whole career,” Blashill continued. “He’s run it from up top. He also has the ability to play off the half wall. It gives you opportunities to have what Detroit had last year, two real good units and if you have two real good units I think you can really be successful instead of relying on one and kind of having a half unit. That’s our goal going in is to have two real strong power play units and he’ll be a big part of that and then five-on-five I think he can really help us.”

Richards, 35, won a Stanley Cup with Chicago this season and also won one with Tampa Bay in 2004, when he also was named the playoff MVP. He won the Lady Byng for sportsmanship that same season.

Richards scored 12 goals and had 25 assists in 76 games with Chicago. He turned it up in the playoffs with three goals and 11 assists in 23 games.

“I just went back and looked at his scoring over the last number of years and in my opinion I don’t think he’s slowing down,” Blashill said. “I think he’s still got a lot of great hockey in him. He’s been a great playoff guy. This organization has a lot of Cup experience, but within our locker room that not only just won a Cup, but has won two Cups.

“This gives you flexibility with a Riley Sheahan,” Blashill continued. “Riley can play the wing, he can play center. It gives you more flexibility with a lot of those guys. It allows us an opportunity to have a couple more good players than we did before the beginning of (Wednesday).”

The Wings now have 20 players signed, 11 of which are forwards, for nearly $65 million. That leaves them just under $7 million under the $71.4 million cap.

The Wings still have restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro to sign this year, while factoring in the cost of re-signing Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, DeKeyser, Sheahan and Petr Mrazek in 2016.

Oleksy signs with Penguins because it was his ‘best opportunity’ to make an NHL roster

DETROIT >> Steve Oleksy has already been on a roster with one of the current greats – Alex Ovechkin – in the NHL.

He can add another one to that list – Sidney Crosby.

The unrestricted free agent defenseman inked a one-year, two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

“It’s incredible,” said Oleksy, who had offers from other teams. “I think I’m only going to one of a couple players to get a chance to be in the same locker room with both of those guys. They’re two of the best players in the world. To learn what I have from Ovechkin and now to get a chance to learn from Sid and his approach to the game that’s something I’m going to take with me long after my playing career.”

Oleksy, 29, will make $575,000 when he’s in the NHL and $250,000 in the American Hockey League.

He’s guaranteed $325,000.

It’s a nice raise for the L’Anse Creuse North graduate, whose average AHL salary over the last three seasons was roughly $107,000. His NHL salary was $525,000.

“It’s always nice to have a couple options,” Oleksy said. “The biggest reason I signed with them was the opportunity. Everything I’ve looked at and weighing all the options I had I felt Pittsburgh was my best opportunity.

“The organization has a strong passion to win and that was very attractive as well,” Oleksy continued. “They’re continually trying to get better and are constantly in the mix as a contender.”

Oleksy, a L’Anse Creuse North graduate, had spent the last three seasons in the Washington Capitals’ organization, appearing in 62 regular-season games scoring three goals to go with 16 assists. He was also a plus-15 and 86 penalty minutes.

The right-handed blue liner also appeared in seven playoff game registering just an assist and a minus-1 rating.

Oleksy, who has also played in the East Coast Hockey League and International Hockey League, is a rugged defenseman that isn’t afraid to drop the gloves.

Oleksy totaled seven fighting majors in the AHL last season according to

He’s got six fighting majors in the NHL during the regular season and four more during the preseason.

Oleksy went undrafted out of Lake Superior State University in 2009.

After minor pro stints that took him to Las Vegas, Port Huron, Toledo, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, Oleksy played in his first NHL game on March 5, 2013, and registered an assist in just over 10 minutes of ice time against the Boston Bruins.

Quote of the day … Brad Richards

DETROIT >> Brad Richards on whether he feels if the Wings are strong Cup contenders.

“They have a lot of young talent with great leadership. I watched their Game 7 this year, they probably deserved to win that game, I mean, that’s hockey. So, they’re one game away from maybe making a run. You don’t know as you get through a round and gain momentum you never know. So I’ve always been a fan of watching Datsyuk, Zetterberg play and I know they maybe getting a little older, but they’re still elite players that can lead a team through a deep run. You just look at that, so when I was picking teams I wanted to try and make another run and I think I’ve got a good chance here.”