The Detroit Red Wings are falling out of the playoff race in the Atlantic Division, and will now be without one of their best defensemen for quite some time. Mike Green will be out three to five weeks with a lower-body injury according to head coach Jeff Blashill, who spoke with reporters including Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia today. Filip Hronek has been recalled to fill Green’s spot on the roster.
Red Wings Rumors
While the latest “31 Thoughts” of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned several major names as speculative trade targets, the insider buried the lede with his knowledge of the price of a more concrete trade block name. Friedman writes that Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard is in fact available, as expected. However, he also notes that GM Ken Holland and company have “made it clear (they) want at least a first-round pick” in return.
Howard, 34, has had his fair share of struggles over the year, with one strong season for every one off season over his ten years as a regular in Detroit. However, the impending free agent picked a good season to be on an upswing. Howard has a .923 save percentage thus far, a top ten rate in the NHL, as well as a 2.67 GAA in 22 games. The veteran has thoroughly outplayed free agent pickup Jonathan Bernier, who has struggled greatly in 13 appearances and has settled into a backup role.
Yet, Bernier signed a three-year deal in Detroit this off-season while Howard’s contract is set to expire and is time with the Red Wings is ending. The team has little hope of contending for a playoff spot this season, making Howard an identifiable trade option to teams around the league. Detroit seems ready to oblige the demand of the market, but they won’t give Howard up for nothing. A first-round pick “at least” could be seen as a lofty expectation for a goaltender at the trade deadline, as few teams generally in the playoff race need a starter and are hesitant to overpay for a backup. However, unless Sergei Bobrovsky or another yet unknown big name hits the trade market, Howard is the top available name and by a wide margin. Friedman tabs 37-year-old Craig Anderson as another option, but doesn’t endorse the Ottawa Senators veteran as an ideal pickup and casts doubt on the availability of young Montreal Canadiens keeper Charlie Lindgren. The likes of Michal Neuvirth and Anders Nilsson are also likely to be available, but may wind up on waivers for free as well. Depending on how their respective team’s seasons go from here on out, Cam Talbot and Brian Elliott could potentially hit the market as well, but not until the deadline at the earliest. Howard is and will likely remain the top name on the rumor mill and if the Red Wings want to hold out for a package including a first-rounder, odds are they will eventually receive just that.
With Seattle being officially announced as the upcoming 32nd franchise in the NHL, teams are already starting to prepare for an upcoming expansion draft. While the Vegas Golden Knights will be exempt from the draft, June 2021 will be a focus for all other 30 teams. One of the most notable rules as we move towards the process is the one surrounding no-movement clauses and their automation protection. Teams’ ability to protect their young skaters will hamstrung by these clauses, and could force them into a trade with Seattle.
The Detroit Red Wings were one of these teams, as it appeared that Frans Nielsen had a no-movement clause that would force protection despite him nearing the end of his playing career by the time the draft rolls around. CapFriendly today reported that they had been mistaken previously when listing Nielsen with that clause, as it actually expired at the end of last season. Nielsen now only holds a modified no-trade clause, which does not have the same restrictions in the draft process.
- Micheal Ferland has been activated by the Carolina Hurricanes, as he has fully recovered from his recent concussion. The forward still leads the Hurricanes in goals this season despite his four-game absence, and will try to step right back into the top-six role he’d shown the aptitude for. The physical, skilled forward is the only player on Carolina with double digit goals this season, something they’ve sorely lacked all year. Ferland is also a pending unrestricted free agent that carries just a $1.75MM cap hit this season, and will be very appealing to many teams at the deadline if Carolina drops out of the race.
- Ian Mendes of TSN recently looked at the history of eight-year extensions and when they were usually signed, noting that the Ottawa Senators are approaching “uncharted territory” if they still intend on signing long-term deals with Matt Duchene and Mark Stone. Both players are pending unrestricted free agents and could very well be among the highest-paid players on July 1st. The Senators meanwhile will have to consider long and hard on whether they want to hand out huge extensions during the very early stages of their current rebuild.
With countries releasing their preliminary rosters for the World Junior Championships, many teams must make some decisions on whether they intend to send some of their young prospects to World Juniors and interrupt their careers. The Montreal Canadiens could be one of those teams as they have a tough decision to make on Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who is on the Canadiens’ roster.
While on the surface it would be obvious the team would keep him, the team did allow defenseman Victor Mete to leave the team last year and play in the World Juniors. Mete, however, was struggling and was already losing playing time in Montreal. Kotkaniemi is in a similar boat as he started strong, but has just two points in the past eight games and has hit a “rookie wall.”
However, TSN’s Dan Robertson reports that general manager Marc Bergevin met the media this afternoon and stated that he’s 95 percent sure that Kotkaniemi won’t play in the WJC. The 18-year-old has three goals and 14 points in 29 games.
- The impressive play the Detroit Red Wings have gotten from Gustav Nyquist causes many long-term questions. Nyquist, who is on pace for a career season as the 29-year-old already has seven goals and 26 points in 29 games is in the final year of a four-year, $19MM deal he signed back in 2015, could be looking for another big contract. The question that MLive’s Ansar Khan wonders is whether Detroit will consider bringing back Nyquist. It’s likely he will be asking for $5MM per year for three or four years. With the team in the middle of a rebuild, there is no guarantee the Red Wings will consider signing Nyquist a priority, although the team is also well known to give out money to veterans.
- With the Seattle expansion draft on teams’ radars for the next few years, The Athletic’s George Richards (subscription required) writes that nothing worked out last time for the Florida Panthers who made a side deal to protect two defensemen by sending both Jon Marchessault and Reilly Smith to Vegas in the expansion draft. The team’s plan was to protect both Mark Pysyk and Alexander Petrovic. However, neither has been a key member of the team’s defense since then and both may not be on the roster by the time the next expansion draft rolls around.
- After being traded from Calgary to Montreal and finding himself in the AHL, defenseman Brett Kulak could have considered his situation dire. However, Kulak has since been recalled and has found himself a key piece to the Canadiens’ defense and is paired next to Shea Weber, which looks like a perfect fit, according to Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette. “He was playing in the NHL last year, so it was not like I got a guy from the East Coast Hockey League,” said general manager Marc Bergevin. “He’s an NHL defenceman. Our scouting staff liked him because of the way the game is going. He’s a good skater.”
- Although he has resumed skating, Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley will miss his fifth straight game tonight due to a lower-body injury, reports Dana Gauruder of the Detroit Free Press. The 35-year-old is off to a quiet start to his season with just a single goal and four assists through 21 games. That means that Luke Witkowski will likely be counted on to serve as a defenseman once again; he has predominantly played on the wing this year.
As the holiday season approaches, PHR will take a look at what teams are thankful for as the season heads past the one-quarter mark. There also might be a few things your team would like down the road. Let’s take a look at what’s gone well in the early going and what could improve as the season rolls on for the Detroit Red Wings. Click here for the other articles in this series.
What are the Red Wings most thankful for?
Their early-season resiliency. Detroit got off to an abysmal start as they won just once in their first ten games and looked like early contenders to finish in the league basement. However, they have picked up 11 wins in 18 games since that time and as a result, they now sit just three points out of a playoff spot heading into play on Thursday night. Considering they’re doing this while placing some of their younger players in more prominent roles, management has to be encouraged with what they’ve seen as of late.
Who are the Red Wings most thankful for?
It wasn’t that long ago that some of the shine had worn off center Dylan Larkin. He had followed up a strong rookie year with a mediocre sophomore campaign which had some questioning whether or not he’d be able to become a prominent fixture on their top line. It’s safe to say those questions don’t exist anymore.
After a breakout 2017-18 season that saw Larkin post 63 points, he’s on pace to beat that this season if he maintains his current output. He also is now among the league leaders in ice time among forwards, checking in at seventh overall at 21:34 per night. On top of that, he has gone from being a below average player at the faceoff dot to one of Detroit’s best threats in that regard. The improvement has been considerable and at just 22 years of age, it’s reasonable to think there could be more to come.
What would the Red Wings be even more thankful for?
More production from their veterans. Thomas Vanek has just three goals in 20 games this year, a pace well short of his 24-goal output a year ago. Frans Nielsen has only four goals on the season (and three of those came in a single game earlier this week against a career minor league goalie). Justin Abdelkader also sits at just four tallies. Combined, the trio makes $12.5MM this season. No matter how you slice it, that’s not a good return on their investment.
Beyond that, they’d be thrilled if they could find a way to keep their defense corps healthy. No fewer than six players on their back end have missed multiple games already which has resulted in them having to call upon youngsters that aren’t quite NHL ready yet and that has cost them some games in the early going.
What should be on the Red Wings’ Holiday Wish List?
With all of the injuries they’ve had on their back end, GM Ken Holland will likely be looking to supplement their depth at that position and considering there always seems to be one or two out, that’s something they may want to add sooner than later. Up front, with their secondary scoring lacking and injuries to Anthony Mantha and Darren Helm that will keep them out for a little while yet, they may want to try to add some help in that department as well. However, even with the usage of LTIR, their cap space is limited so the odds of them being able to get help both up front and on the blueline are low.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Detroit Red Wings have made some decisions on which of their young players they’ll allow to play in the upcoming World Junior Championship. Michael Rasmussen, who has been playing in the NHL this season will not leave the Red Wings to join Canada according to Dhiren Mahiban, who spoke with head coach Jeff Blashill. Filip Zadina though, who has spent the season playing in the AHL, will be released to join the Czech Republic for the tournament. Zadina isn’t expected to leave the Grand Rapids Griffins until just before the tournament, but Blashill told Max Bultman of The Athletic that he’s excited for the young forward’s opportunity:
I think it’s great for him. … I think he can go to play for Czech and be the man, and I think there’s nothing like the confidence that you get when you produce offensively and you have the ability to control the game.
Zadina, 19, was the sixth overall pick in June’s draft despite being rumored to be in contention for the top three picks at one point. His fall is Detroit’s gain, snapping him up to immediately inject some high-end scoring talent into their prospect system. The team was eventually allowed to send him to the AHL instead of back to the QMJHL where he played last season, and Zadina has excelled with 15 points in his first 23 games as a North American professional. That success should carry over to the World Juniors, where he was already a dominant presence last year alongside Martin Necas. Zadina’s seven goals trailed only Kieffer Bellows’ nine for the tournament lead, and this year should be more of the same.
The fact that Rasmussen will not be released to join Team Canada comes as no surprise, given that he is playing regularly for the Red Wings this year. Another high draft pick, ninth overall in 2017, Rasmussen turned heads at training camp and earned a spot despite his still developing offensive game. Things really started to click for the 6’6″ center in the WHL playoffs last season, where he scored an incredible 33 points in 14 games for the Tri-City Americans. Though he has just nine points in 26 games for the Red Wings this year, the development he’s receiving by being around the team on a daily basis is clearly worth more to the organization than a few weeks at a junior tournament.
Canada meanwhile has plenty of options down the middle already, likely adding another reason to the decision to keep Rasmussen in Detroit. There is no guarantee that he would even play a big role on the team, something that Zadina is assured of. In fact, another Detroit prospect Joe Veleno might actually get an increased role given Rasmussen’s absence, as part of a center group that also includes Cody Glass, Gabe Vilardi, Barrett Hayton and Ty Dellandrea among others.
After a quiet Wednesday night in the NHL the league scheduler is back in action with 11 games on tap for tonight. That includes some prime divisional matchups in the Eastern Conference and a big game between the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames. While we wait for the action to get started this evening, we’ll keep track of all the minor roster moves made ahead of time.
- The Detroit Red Wings have recalled Brian Lashoff in time for their game tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. With Danny DeKeyser’s recent hand injury, the team was left with just six healthy defensemen for the game. It’s unlikely that Lashoff is inserted into the lineup, but will serve as insurance in case anyone is injured over the next few hours.
- Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled their own defenseman, as Gabriel Carlsson is on his way back to the NHL. Carlsson has played just a single game for the Blue Jackets this season, but is a huge part of their future blue line plans after being selected in the first round in 2015. His long reach and defensive ability should come in handy if the team puts him into the lineup right away.
- In a somewhat surprising move, the Dallas Stars have sent Roope Hintz to the AHL. If the move is anything more than a paper transaction to save some cap space during a day between games, it makes the loss of Gemel Smith on waivers even more questionable. The Stars were already carrying just 22 players after the loss of Smith, meaning they could activate Martin Hanzal from long-term injured reserve.
- Nelson Nogier made his season debut for the Winnipeg Jets this week, but is already on his way back to the minor leagues. The Jets made the move earlier today, expecting one of their regular defensemen to be ready when they get back on the ice. Nogier will surely get another chance, but for now will have to continue his development in the AHL.
- Matt Beleskey is on his way back to the Rangers who announced that they have recalled him from Hartford of the AHL. His stint in the minors was short-lived as he was sent down back on Sunday. The veteran has played just once with New York this season but has been productive in the minors with nine points in 14 games.
Stop reading if you’ve heard this one before. The Detroit Red Wings will be without another key player for more than a month, as head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters today including Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that Danny DeKeyser will miss four to six weeks with a hand injury. This comes after just yesterday announcing the same recovery timeline for Anthony Mantha, also out with a hand injury.
DeKeyser, 28, hasn’t quite turned into the star two-way defenseman that some thought he was on track to become after he experienced so much success as a young player, but is still a reliable option for the Red Wings on the blue line. Logging more than 21 minutes of ice time this season, he had seven points in his first 20 games and was on track for his best offensive season in quite some time. Unfortunately, injury limited him to 65 games last season and looks like it will keep him out of the lineup perhaps even longer this year. Six weeks would put DeKeyser on track for a mid-January return, at which point the Red Wings could find themselves out of the race for an Atlantic Division playoff spot.
As they continue to try and move on to the next wave of talent in Detroit, DeKeyser is the one defenseman who is still signed long-term. The team needs him and his $5MM cap hit to stay healthy enough to contribute going forward, especially as the other veteran options start to reach unrestricted free agency. Experience and leadership will be required as young players like Dennis Cholowski, Filip Hronek and others start to see more and more playing time, and DeKeyser will be the one who is looked at for both. That is of course if the Red Wings decide to keep him through this rebuild, which isn’t necessarily a guarantee.
The defenseman has a full no-trade clause currently, but that will reduce to just a 10-team clause on January 1, 2021. Even before that date the team could potentially approach him with a deal, given that he’s likely one of the only high-salary players on the team with any real value. For now though, he’ll have to work hard to get through his rehab and get back on the ice.
Not much has gone right for the Detroit Red Wings this season, but at least Anthony Mantha had developed into a legitimate top line option for the team. Unfortunately, that development will be put on hold for the time being, as head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters today that Mantha will be out four to six weeks with a hand injury. The big forward will undergo surgery today according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.
Mantha injured the hand while fighting with Patrik Nemeth of the Colorado Avalanche, in a game that hearkened back to the old Detroit-Colorado rivalry of the past. A suspension of Tyler Bertuzzi also came out of the game, though his two-game ban is nothing compared to the loss of Mantha for more than a month. The 24-year old has 14 points in 27 games this season and has used his 6’5″ frame to create room for himself and his linemates on a regular basis.
The Red Wings lost the game as well and have dropped to seventh place in the Atlantic Division, a stone’s throw away from the bottom of the Eastern Conference. While the team wasn’t expected to compete for the Stanley Cup this season, plenty of hope grew out of the early performances from some of their young core forwards. Mantha, Bertuzzi, Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, and Michael Rasmussen have all looked like they can be parts of the next wave of Red Wings success, and with others like Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina on the way there was plenty of reason to be excited for the future.
That excitement should still exist, though this outcome is far from ideal. While the team wants Mantha to get involved physically and defend his teammates, losing a big chunk of a developmental season could have tough consequences. The team will have to hope he can jump right back into the action once he returns in the New Year.