Cleat Geeks

Winged Wheel Watch: Free Agency Round-Up

After a successful draft, the Detroit Red Wings turned their attention to free agency, where unrestricted and top restricted targets loomed. General manager Ken Holland was able to tie up most of those loose ends quite quickly, however.

Restricted free agents

This off-season’s top priority fell here as Holland was tasked with retaining top young talents like Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Andreas Athanasiou.

Bertuzzi and Martin Frk were the first to re-sign, signing, respectively two-year and one-year deals worth $1.4 million and $1.05 million annually. Retaining Bertuzzi, especially at that cost, is a huge victory for the Red Wings, as his grit, presence on the power play, and eye for making the play led to 17 assists and 24 total points in 48 games. Frk adds depth and a mighty slap shot, but little else. And until he learns to better control his shot, he is even dangerous. But, as a fourth line presence, there are worse options than Frk.

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Photo by; ClickOnDetroit

Next came Athanasiou. After a lengthy holdout to begin the 2017-18 season, many feared a similar scenario would unfold this summer. Further headache was expected as Athanasiou was eligible for arbitration rights. Luckily, the signing went off without a hitch as The Athletic’s Craig Custance reported a two-year deal in early July. The contract is worth $3 million annually. In this, the Red Wings hold onto a talented forward with incredible speed and ability to score goals.

Mantha followed suit not long after, inking a two-year, $3.3 million AAV deal. The team’s leading goal scorer in 2017-18, Mantha brings size, skating ability, and an incredible eye for the net. Consistency has been an issue, as have a few nagging injuries, but there’s no reason to believe that Mantha can’t be a 30 goal scorer (or more) if paired with the right line mates.

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Photo by; Zimbio

Finally, after much anticipation, Dylan Larkin re-signed with the largest contract of any of the RFA group, returning on with a five-year deal worth $6.1 million AAV (breakdown of the deal can be found here). Perhaps the most important target, Larkin was the Red Wings leading points scorer last season (16 G, 47 A, 63 points), he has developed more of a playmaker’s eye than that of a goal-scorer, which is acceptable given the presence of the likes of Mantha and Athanasiou, as well as up-and-coming youngsters Filip Zadina and Michael Rasmussen. Larkin also took a step into more of a leadership role last season and is, by all accounts, primed to be the next captain for the storied franchise. And perhaps sooner than later, as recurring back issues have cast doubt on the future, both immediate and long-term, of current skipper Henrik Zetterberg.

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Photo by; Detroit News

Unrestricted free agents

The Red Wings acted quickly in the UFA market, making all of their moves immediately after free agency officially opened on July 1. The club elected to add one new face, veteran goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and a couple of familiar faces in winger Thomas Vanek and defenseman Mike Green.

Bernier (three years, $9 million) is coming off of a solid season with the Colorado Avalanche (19-13-3, .913 SV%, 2.85 GAA). He is a sensible addition, as there is no heir apparent in their system to serve as a backup to Jimmy Howard following last season’s trade of Petr Mrazek and the off-season departures of Jared Coreau and Tom McCollum. Bernier’s three-year term will, ideally, provide enough time for one of the goalie prospects in the Red Wings system to step in and take the reins.

Vanek (one year, $3 million) previously starred for the Red Wings in the first half of the 2016-17 season, where he recorded 38 points (15 G, 23 A) and served as a strong presence on the power play before being traded to the Florida Panthers after 48 games. In 2017-18, at age 34, he recorded 56 points (24 G, 32 A) in 80 games with both the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets. He will provide a good veteran presence, if not a familiar one, for younger players like Zadina, Rasmussen, Mantha, Athanasiou, and Evgeny Svechnikov.

Green (two years, $10.75 million) returns after spending the last three seasons with the Red Wings. When healthy he proved to be a solid offensive presence from the blue line, recording 104 points (29 G, 75 A) in 212 games. He provides veteran experience and some offensive prowess from the defensive zone. However, he provides very little stopping presence in that zone, posting a -40 plus/minus rating during his time in Detroit. And ,with the likes of Filip Hronek, Joe Hicketts, and Dennis Cholowski waiting in the wings (no pun intended), one has to wonder if Green’s presence, along with other, more concerning contracts given to other defenseman, will block the road for any of these talented prospects.

Where do you stand on the signings made by the Red Wings this offseason? Let us know in the comments below!

Winged Wheel Watch: NHL draft round-up

As their rebuild continues, the Detroit Red Wings are hot off of ten selections in the 2018 NHL entry draft. And, by all accounts, general manager Ken Holland and company made the most of them, putting together a very solid draft.

Here’s what you need to know about the selections made by the Red Wings.

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Photo by; Freep.com

Filip Zadina, RW/LW (round 1, 6th overall)

Age: 18

Height/weight: 6’0″/196 lbs

Shoots: Left

Amid heavy speculation that they’d select a defenseman, the Red Wings were presented an unexpected opportunity as Czech winger Filip Zadina, a projected top three pick, fell squarely into their laps.

Widely considered one of the best offensive prospects available in this year’s draft, Zadina impressed in the QMJHL last season with the Halifax Mooseheads, scoring 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists) and recording a +23 +/- rating in 57 games. Zadina’s accurate release on his shot, per EliteProspects.com’s Curtis Joe, is a defining aspect of his offensive game. Joe also notes that, in addition to his scoring and playmaking abilities, Zadina is a strong two-way player, arguably the strongest in the draft, who’s adept at breaking up the passing lanes and creating issues in the defensive zone.

The Red Wings have long needed an elite offensive player, and Filip Zadina fits the bill.

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Photo by; MIHockey

Joseph Veleno, C (round 1, 30th overall)

Age: 18

Height/weight: 6’1″/192 lbs

Shoots: Left

Another pick that fell squarely into their laps, Veleno was projected as a mid-first round pick by most outlets. But there he was for the taking at 30th overall.

Once considered a generational talent, Veleno became the fifth player in the history of the Canadian hockey system to be granted exceptional player status. Though he hasn’t lived up to that label, there is still a lot to like. Across 64 games with Saint Johns and Drummondville of the QMJHL, Veleno recorded 79 points (22 goals, 57 assists). EliteProspects notes Veleno’s speed and his ability to make plays while going at top capacity are among his most desirable assets. They also note his vision of the ice, as well as a refined defensive game that makes him a viable two-way threat.

He’s not as exciting as Zadina, but Veleno holds the potential to slot in well with a future generation of Red Wings centers led by Dylan Larkin and last year’s ninth overall pick Michael Rasmussen.

Other PicksImage result for jonatan berggren

The Red Wings continued with an offensive trend with their first selection of the second round, using their #33 pick on 17-year-old Swedish winger Jonatan Berggren, a player described by Draft Europe as agile, able to control the puck well, and make Image result for jared mcisaacthreading passes.

The Red Wings took their first defenseman in the second round, as they selected Jared McIsaac three picks later at #36. A teammate of Zadina’s in Halifax, McIsaac is a good skater that is primarily an offensive blue liner with a left-handed shot, more than worthy of his position in the draft.

The Red Wings further shored up their blue line as they snagged Alec Regula, a big (6’4″, 205 lbs), 17-year-old, right-handed shooting defenseman, as a sleeper pick at #67. A local product from West Bloomfield, Michigan, Regula is described by Future Considerations as being mobile for his size, with a penchant for making safe decisions in his handling of the puck. He, along with McIsaac, bolsters a crop of young blue liners waiting for their chance at the NHL level.

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The Red Wings further added depth at defense by taking right-handed blue liner Seth Barton (#81), as well as goaltending depth with Swedish prospects Jesper Eliasson (#84) and Victor Brattstrom (#160). They also added a power forward in Ryan O’Reilly (#98).

Overall

It’s hard not to like what Holland and company did with this draft, particularly their first couple of rounds. With some potentially elite offensive talent, as well as appealing defensive pickups, his next chapter is off to about as strong of a start as one could hope for.

However, the task becomes more daunting as free agency looms on the horizon, with key restricted free agents such as Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi, headlining the list.

What did you think of the Red Wings’ draft this year? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

The Sabres Shootout

And just like that, the Buffalo Sabres 2017-2018 has come to an end. The Sabres have ended their season with a record of 25-45-12 to total 62 points. The Sabres did set a team record this year though. With the addition of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, then Sabres are the first team in NHL history to finish in 31st place.
The last week of the season did not go well for the Sabres, where they did not amass a single point in their final 4 games and were outscored by a total of 20-12.

The most exciting game of the week happened last Friday when the Sabres were down in Tampa Bay to take on the Lightening. Not only did the Sabres score 5 goals, but they saw a pair of first NHL goals. Both Alexander Nylander and Casey Mittelstadt.

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Photo by; Buffalonews.com

The first game of the week brought the Sabres a 5-2 loss to the Stanley Cup Playoff contender Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sabres had goals scored by Same Reinhart, in the 2nd period, and Jason Pominville, in the 3rd period, a power play goal.

On fan appreciation night at the Key Bank Center, the fans thought they were going to see something to be appreciative of. The Sabres scored a goal within the opening 30 seconds of the 1st period, courtesy of Ryan O’Reilly. After that is was all Senators scoring 3 unanswered goals until Kyle Okposo scored 16:41 into the 2nd period. That would be all the scoring that the fans would see of the Sabres in their final home game of the season.

When the Sabres took on the best team in the Eastern Conference on Friday they came with a purpose. The Lightening started off the game by scoring the first goal just 30 seconds into the 1st period. The Sabres answered back 2:27 seconds later when Casey Mittelstadt scored his first NHL goal The Lightening once again answered back scoring a goal of their own. Less than 2 minutes later, Alexander Nylander tallied his first NHL goal, to tie the game at 2. The Lightening would go ahead and score 2 unanswered goals, before the Sabres struck again. The Sabres scored 3 unanswered goals in the 2nd period to take a 5-4 lead. The goal were courtesy of Jason Pominville, Jordan Nolan, and Kyle Okposo. In the 3rd period, the best team in the East showed why they are on top, scoring 3 unanswered goals to had the Sabres a 7-5 loss.

The Sabres stayed in Florida for their final game of the season to take on the Panthers. The Panthers came out swinging scoring 3 goals in the 1st period. There were no more goals scored until 5:30 left in the 3rd period. The Sabres scored 2 goals in 21 seconds, by Jason Pominville and Sam Reinhart to cut the lead to 1. The Panthers wanted nothing to do with that, and extended their lead with a goal 1:46 seconds after Reinhart’s goal. The Sabres would tally their final goal of the season by Ryan O’Reilly, but it wasn’t enough and the Sabres suffered their 45th loss of the season.

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Photo by; Puck Prose

The Sabres season was another one with highs and lows and although the Sabres did not make the playoffs for the 7th straight year. The Sabres showed a lot of promise this season with their younger core coming together. The years to come could be very exciting for Sabres fans.

So until next time Sabres fans, Lets Go Buffalo!

The Sabres Shootout

The win loss record isn’t something that matters at this point of the season, it matter who is playing and how they look playing. Jack Eichel has been red hot this week scoring 3 goals (2 versus the Maple Leafs and 1 against the Red Wings). There has also been some excitement in Buffalo surrounding the Sabres and that is due to the fact that the young 19 year old Casey Mittelstadt made his NHL debut last Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings. Mittelstadt, in his NHL debut also tallied his first NHL point with an assist Oman Evan Rodrigues goal in the third period. 

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The Sabres started the week well when the went up the Toronto Monday and beat the Maple Leafs 3-2. As afore mentioned Jack Eichel had two goals and Casey Nelson added the third to take two points from the Maple Leafs, who have already punched their tickets to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

When the Red Wings came into the Key Bank Center on Thursday, the Sabres did not quite play to their full potential, falling 6-3. The Sabres started hot with goals from Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly to take an early 2-0 lead. From that point on the Red Wings scored 4 unanswered goals to make the game 4-2. Even though the Sabres scored 3 minutes after the 4th Red Wings goal to pull within one, the Red Wings continued to pour it in scoring 2 more goals in the 3rd period. 

When the Sabres travel to Nashville on Saturday for a battle between the best and worst in the NHL. The Sabres trailed 4-3 late in the 2nd period when Scott Hartnell sent Victor Antipin into the boards causing Antipin to be taken off the ice on the stretcher. This caused a 5 minute major penalty, and the Sabres took advantage scoring 3 goals. I had said to myself during the five minute power play “who is this team and why haven’t they played like this all year? That penalty marked a turning point in the Game where the Sabres never looked back and scored 4 unanswered goals to go on to defeat the best team in the league 7-4. 

This is the first time this season that the Sabres scored 6 or more goals. Even more impressively, this is the first time the Sabres scored 7 goals since they did so on 1/31/13 at home versus the Boston Bruins. Also in Saturday’s contest, Jack Eichel recorded 5 assists which ties the franchise single game record. 

Around 12 am EST the Buffalo Sabres tweeted that defenseman Victor Antipin had been released from the hospital and further information on his injury will be released later on in the day. It has been further determined that Antipin has suffered a concussion, a broken nose, facial lacerations and various dental injuries. As expected, he will be out indefinitely. 

The Sabres have games on Monday (at Toronto), Wednesday (home versus the Senators), then two games to finish the season in Florida when the take on the Tampa Bay Lightening on Friday and the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Even though it could be a mute point at that time, the Sabres have one chance to play spoiler with the Florida Panthers being the only team with not having clinched a playoff spot or eliminated of the last four Sabres opponents of the season. 

The Sabres have a special “Fan Appreciation Night” on Wednesday for their last home game of the season. Every fan in attendance with receive a Dominik Hasek bobble head as they enter the arena. The Hasek bottle head was chosen from a list of plays by the fans for this giveaway, and in my opinion, is fantastic and I wish I could make the voyage out to Buffalo to get my hands on one of these. There will also be the always famous “Jersey Off My Back” promotion where lucky season ticket holders will get game worn Winter Classic jerseys. And finally the Sabres “Fan of the Year” will be presented. All of this on top of discounted concession items and various other fan experiences will all be apart of the Sabres 2017-2018 season Fan Appreciation Night.

 

I have one final wrap up coming next week, so until then Sabres fans, Let’s Go Buffalo. 

The Sabres Shootout

The Sabres are coming off a terrible week, where they were outscored 16-2. Just a few weeks ago, the Sabres looked like they could at least keep some games competitive, this week is a different story. The Sabres have seemed like they are just mailing it in for the rest of the season and seem to be thinking about their off-season plans. With six straight losing seasons, when will the Sabres get everyone on the same page and enjoy another winning season?

The two Sabres goals last week came from Jordan Nolan, who scored his 3rd goal of the season in the first period versus the Coyotes and from Sam Reinhart, who scored his 20th goal of the season in the 3rd period versus the Rangers. So last week the Sabres suffered through seven consecutive scoreless periods.

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This week the Sabres travel to Toronto on Monday to take on the Maple Leafs, then come home Thursday to take on the Detroit Red Wings, then end their week on Saturday when they travel to Nashville to take on the Predators.

With the trip to our neighbors to the north on Monday, the Sabres take on the Maple Leafs for the 3rd time this season (and the 3rd time this month). The Maple Leafs seem like nothing short of a lock to make the playoffs, but with the way the Sabres have been playing, it seems like they have another 4 points to add to their season long total.

Detroit has not been their normal power house this season only amassing 65 points thus far this season through March 24th. Still 7 points ahead of the Sabres. This seems like it could be the best match-up for the Sabres this week when they come to The Key Bank Center, and maybe a chance for the Sabres to prove to their fans that they still want to be on the ice and compete.

The final match-up before the end of the week takes the Sabres down south to some warm weather to battle the Nashville Predators. As afore mentioned, the Sabres “battled” the Predators last Monday, suffering a 4-0 loss. The Predators are tied with Tampa Bay for the most points in the NHL with 106 points. With Nashville only 5 points points ahead of the expansion Golden Knights, they are still going to be playing hard this week, trying to secure the top spot in the west.

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On the bright side for the Sabres organization their AHL team, the Rochester Americans clinched a playoff birth into the Calder Cup playoffs defeating the Springfield Thunderbirds 4-2 at the Blue Cross Arena. So even though the Sabres are not going to be competing in the playoffs this year, hopefully they can send down as many eligible players as possible to load up the Americans roster for a potentially deep run the in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Until next week Sabres fans, Let’s Go Buffalo!

The Sabres Shootout

The Sabres are staying in their home state of New York this week after splitting their only two games last week. They lost to the Maple Leafs 5-2, and beat the Blackhawks 5-3 this week. This upcoming week is a bit more difficult for the Sabres who play four games over the next seven days, compared to playing only two games last week.

The Sabres take on the Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes, and the Montreal Canadians at home before they travel downstate to battle the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

In the first game of the week the Sabres take on the red hot Nashville Predators who sit atop the central division already amassing 104. Not only have they amassed 104 points, they have also clinched a playoff birth.

After playing the Predators, the Sabres take on another bottom dweller of the NHL when they take on the Arizona Coyotes. Not only do they Coyotes have to travel across three time zones, they are the only team in the NHL that has a lower point total than the Sabres.

After the Coyotes come to town, the Montreal Canadians come into town with their 64 points, which are only 6 points ahead of the Sabres. Neither team is actually fighting for a playoff spot but at least the Canadians have a chance, whereas the Sabres are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

After their their six game home stand, the Sabres travel down to the Big Apple where they take on the New York Rangers who currently have 72 points are are currently 10 points behind the New Jersey Devils for a Wild Card spot with 10 games remaining.

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Photo by; NBC Sports

A positive for the Sabres after their last week is that superstar Jack Eichel returned to the ice after suffering an ankle injury on 2/10/18. In his return to the ice, Eichel amassed an assist with a -2 +/- rating with 5 shots on goal. Not a terrible return after being out over a month for the young star.

Fans of the Sabres have a lot more to look forward to this week with four games in seven days and the return of Jack Eichel. We are nearing the end of the season with only seven games remaining after this week. This week the Sabres do not have any chance to play spoiler since the teams they are playing are either already in the playoffs (Nashville) or do not really have a chance (Arizona, Montreal, and New York).

But until next time Sabres fans, Lets Go Buffalo!

Sabres Shootout

Last week the Sabres had a tough schedule. In that time period they played Toronto (5-3 win), Calgary (5-1 loss), Ottawa (4-3 shootout win) and Vegas (2-1 shootout loss). Playing four games in six days was a tough stretch for the team, especially with Kyle Okposo suffering another concussion. This up coming week, gets a little easier for the Sabres. Not in the quality of opponents, but in the fact that they only play two games.

The Sabres spent last week mostly at home except for a quick trip up to Ottawa. In that time period the Sabres tallied a total of 5 points, posting a 2-1-1 record. The Sabres, as of late, seem to be playing well against the top teams, but just need that little extra effort to get them the full two points consistently, except for the 5-1 loss that Buffalo endured versus Calgary. From the start of the game, the Sabres seemed to be flat on the ice and did not put in a full effort. You could tell after the first period that it was going to be a long night for the Sabres and their fans.

After starting strong against  Toronto, the Sabres fell flat against the Flames, then again played well against the Senators and the Golden Knights. Even though they did not earn the win against Vegas, they played one of the best teams in the NHL right now to a shootout to at least earn one point which is a positive note going forward for this young team.

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Photo by; The Color of Hockey

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Buffalo Hockey Beat

After playing Vegas last Saturday, the Sabres get to enjoy some home cooking and much needed rest, until they play Toronto on Thursday night at the Key Bank Center. After playing Toronto, for the second time in two weeks, the Sabres have yet another home game versus the struggling Chicago Blackhawks, who are sitting at the bottom on the Central Division.

As of Sunday morning, the Sabres have sent back down to the AHL Rochester Americans forwards Justin Bailey and Danny O’Regan. In only 8 games this season in the NHL, Justin Bailey has tallied 3 goals and 1 assist. Likewise, Danny O’Regan has played in 21 games this year with the Sabres and has tallied only 4 assists. These two players will greatly help the Americans as they push toward the Calder Cup playoffs as they sit in 3rd place in the North Division behind the Toronto Marlies, who have already clinched a Calder Cup playoff birth and the Syracuse Crunch. The Americans are holding on to a slim 4 point lead over the Utica Comets, who have had several hot and cold streaks this week.

So Sabres fans, hopefully you are a fan of hockey in general, or spring training baseball can keep you occupied for the first few days of the week because we don’t get to see our beloved Sabres until Thursday night when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So until the next time, Lets Go Buffalo!

The Sabres Shootout

 

The Buffalo Sabres pulled out a big win last night when they earned their 21st win of the season versus the 39-22-7 Toronto Maple Leaves, who are fighting to stay hot into the playoffs, even though they have an 11 point lead over the New Jersey Devils, who sit at 74 points.

 

The Sabres win last night was only their 10th of the season, which is the lowest of any team in the NHL this season. Every other team has at least 12 wins at home. Whereas most teams have a better home record than a road record, Buffalo is one of two teams that have a better away record than home, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

 

The Sabres victory had 5 different goal scorers. Sam Reinhart (16th of the season), Jason Pominville (11th of the season), Zemgus Girgensons (7th of the season), Ryan O’Reilly (19th of the season) and Johan Larsson (4th of the season) fueled the fire for the Sabres while goaltender Chad Johnson had stopped 38 of 41 shots to earn his 7th win of the season.

 

The Sabres week does not get any easier this week when they play Calgary Wednesday 3/7/18 at the Key Bank Center, then travel to The Canadian Tire Centre to face the Ottawa Senators, then a Saturday matinee when the red hot Vegas Golden Knights come to the Key Bank Center. Of the three remain opponents this week, the Ottawa Senators are the only one with a losing record of 23-32-10, but with that being said, they are still 3 points better than the Buffalo Sabres for the season.

 

There aren’t many rays of hope for this dwindling season for the Sabres, the hint of light at the end of the tunnel is that Jack Eichel skated on his own last Saturday for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain on 2/10/18 versus the Boston Bruins. Eichel has no reason to rush back from this, since there is no chance for the Sabres to make the playoffs once again. Jack may be better off staying very limited, if active at all for the rest of the season and hope to be 100% come next October when the Sabres take on the 2018-2019 season.

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This Saturday should be an exciting matinee at Key Bank Center, when the Vegas Golden Knights come to Buffalo for the first time in the franchise’s history. The first time the Sabres played against the Golden Knights was 10/17/17 when they lost 5-4 in an overtime battle. Fans will be able to see the expansion Golden Knights keep their historic season going and try to win a Stanley Cup in their first season of existence, a feat in which has never happened in NHL history.

 

So for the casual fan, the Saturday matinee should be an exciting game, win or lose for the Sabres, the hardcore fan has 16 more chances to see if the Sabres who currently sit at 53 points can surpass last season’s team who ended up with 78 points. In order to surpass last year’s point total, the Sabres would have to win 12 of their remaining 16 games, with one of those loses being an overtime loss. Only time will tell where the bottom dwelling Buffalo Sabres will end up at the end of the 2017-2018 season, but one thing is for certain, the Sabres will be at home watching the playoffs once again for the 7th straight season.

Winged Wheel Watch: Petr Mrazek traded to Flyers

The long-awaited Detroit Red Wings sell-off has apparently begun.

Late on Monday night the Red Wings sent netminder Petr Mrazek to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for conditional draft picks in the 2018 (fourth round) and 2019 (third round) NHL Entry Drafts. The Red Wings will also retain $2 million of Mrazek’s $4 million salary owed for this season.

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The team’s decision to leave Mrazek unprotected in the 2017 expansion draft gave the first indication that the 26-year-old was not in the organization’s future plans. The decision to select the highly-touted, 19-year-old Keith Petruzzelli, who is lauded as having the potential to be a truly special goalie, only two days later furthered this sentiment. The situation was further solidified as Mrazek sat as a backup to a resurgent Jimmy Howard.

Mrazek is set to make his debut with the Flyers on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.

The picks received in return, for now, give the Red Wings nine selections in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, including at least five in the first three rounds, potentially increasing to six depending on how the Flyers and Mrazek perform for the rest of the season and in the playoffs.

This trade may very well mark the first steps into a larger scale sell-off in Detroit, as the team looks to stockpile picks and prospects at this year’s deadline.

“I’m looking to the future,” general manager Ken Holland told The Detroit Free Press on Monday. “I’m working the phones to see what’s out there that makes sense for us.”

With names like Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, and Gustav Nyquist drawing attention from suitors around the league, expect things to pick up as the February 26th trade deadline approaches.

What are your thoughts on the Mrazek trade? Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below!

Winged Wheel Watch: Deadline Trade Pieces

After their bye week, things still aren’t looking up for the Detroit Red Wings.

They sit in 12th place in the NHL’s eastern conference and fourth in the Atlantic Division with 43 points, eight points out of the second wild card spot. After missing the playoffs in 2017 for the first time in 25 seasons they are no closer to making their return to the race for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The NHL’s trade deadline isn’t until February 26th, so the Red Wings have some time to show general manager Ken Holland exactly what course that he should take as clock ticks down. Though, if we were going off of the current state of affairs, Holland should look into what assets he can offload to better set the Red Wings up for the future.

The Candidates

Mike Green

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The 32-year old defenseman is the obvious choice for a trade due to his expiring contract. His $6 million cap hit will be off of the books at season’s end but the Red Wings would be foolish to not earnestly shop Green and net a return for him, rather than letting him walk away for free in July.

He’s also the most movable asset the Red Wings possess. An offensive blue line player is always a hot commodity for a team looking to make a contending run. With 25 points through 44 games, Green is on pace to record his highest scoring total since signing with the Red Wings. And his even plus/minus rating is the best he’s recorded in that span. While his exact market remains unclear, Green is Holland’s best bet to make a deal at the deadline. And if he finds the right partner, the return will not be shabby, either.

Trevor Daley

A signing that seemed out of place when it occurred in July, the 34-year old Daley has added very little besides a veteran presence to a Red Wings team laden with veteran deals. This loomed larger still when 21-year old blue line prospect Joe Hicketts impressed in the preseason only to be assigned to the minors due to an abundance of veteran defensemen.

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Admittedly, the proposal of a Daley trade is little more than a salary dump that opens a roster spot for someone like Hicketts. While they’ll have nearly $14 million in cap space to work with in the 2018 offseason, they’ll still be on the hook for Daley’s $3,166,667 cap hit until after the 2019-20 season. Moving him would allow them nearly $17 million with which to secure the long-term futures of Mantha, Larkin, and Athanasiou, as well as retaining other RFAs Martin Frk and Tyler Bertuzzi.

However, any move is complicated due to a no-trade clause in Daley’s contract, which he would have to waive before allowing any trade. But should another opportunity arise that would allow him to win his third Stanley Cup it’s hard to imagine Daley staying put for a rebuild that is just now getting underway.

Darren Helm

Predominantly a third-line presence for the Red Wings this season, the 31-year old Helm has posted 13 points in 41 games and is currently out through at least Saturday, per coach Jeff Blashill.

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While he provides a solid presence on the lower lines, his absence due to injury has allowed for 21-year old center Dominic Turgeon to gain ice time, allowing for him to develop and have the chance to crack the lineup long-term if his performance merits it. Should Turgeon emerge as a viable NHL-level player in need of no further minor league development, the idea of moving Helm is one that Holland should consider.

While he has speed he provides little else, especially for the $3.85 million of his contract that counts against the salary cap. He is injury-prone, playing more than 75 games only four times since entering the league in 2008-09. A move akin to the Riley Sheahan trade with the Penguins would be acceptable return for someone like Helm, though the size of his contract will make him difficult to move.

David Booth

Moving Booth would do little besides free up a roster space for someone like Turgeon long-term. It would likely bring in a late-round pick in a future draft at the most, similar to the Steve Ott/Montreal Canadiens trade of last year’s deadline. But allowing Turgeon to get more time at the NHL level could benefit his development. And if they don’t feel Turgeon is ready, the way is clear for someone like Evgeny Svechnikov or another well-performing player from Grand Rapids to step in.

Luke Witkowski

Image result for luke witkowski detroit red wings

A rugged winger who can drop back to play on the blue line with a beard game that rivals the best in the league, Witkowski is little more than an enforcer-type on a less than physical Red Wings team, similar to Ott on the 2016-17 team.

Witkowski’s $750,000 cap hit is not crippling the team by any means. But his ill-timed penalties, no matter how legitimate they may be, have proven costly to the Red Wings, most notably in Tuesday’s loss to the Dallas Stars. Any compensation for him would be meager, like cash considerations or a low draft pick. But, like a Booth trade, his absence would open roster space for a younger player to wet his feet and gain experience at the NHL level as the rebuild looks to begin in earnest.

Who would you like to see the Red Wings move at this year’s deadline? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

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