Red Wings entering new
January 10, 2017 | 2:53pm ET
It's time for Detroit to take advantage of their situation and make some
TORONTO, ON -- It was due. We all knew it. The Detroit Red Wings
haven't missed the playoffs since the 1989-90 season and each year
we've wondered if this is their year to fall out.
Last season, we expected them to miss the boat, but they managed to
get into the first round. It's been a heck of a long time, and much to
the disappointment of the current Red Wings group, it looks like their
run is finally coming to an end.
It's not necessarily a bad thing, but there has definitely been a big
shift in the NHL the last few years and it was only a matter of time
before things caught up to the Wings.
And now the hard part begins. A position they haven't been in since,
well, Dylan Larkin, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Anthony Mantha, Andrea
Athanasiou, Ryan Sproul and Petr Mrazek weren't even born yet.
It's time to retool.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland is in a tough spot. The team does not have
much salary cap flexibility, outside of the extra space created this
season with players on LTIR -- but you'd have to imagine Johan
Franzen's career is almost over, with his $3.955 million cap hit
technically off the books as long as he's on LTIR.
Detroit's focus, in the immediate future, will have to be the March 1
trade deadline, where players eligible for unrestricted free agency --
Thomas Vanek, Drew Miller, Steve Ott and Brendan Smith -- could fetch
some draft picks.
The first thing, beyond trade deadline thinking, Holland and his staff
need to worry about is June's expansion draft. By all accounts,
they're at risk of losing either goalie Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek,
or defenseman Danny DeKeyser or Jonathan Ericsson.
As things currently shape up, you'd have to imagine the Wings are
protecting seven forwards, three defenseman and a goalie. That means
Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, Frans Nielsen (NMC), Gustav Nyquist
and Justin Abdelkader are going to be protected, leaving two spots for
two of Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Anthony Mantha, Luke Glendening and
Athanasiou -- Dylan Larkin is exempt.
On defense, Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall are going to be protected,
leaving one spot for DeKeyser or Ericsson (flip a coin), and either
Howard or Mrazek in goal -- and based on performance this season,
Howard may be sticking around.
The concern, I'd imagine, is losing DeKeyser or Ericsson, and that's
who I'd look at if I'm Vegas GM George McPhee.
But it's a small loss, in the grand scheme of things. Sure, the Red
Wings have been trying to build up their blueline since Nicklas
Lidstrom called it a career, but I suspect the club will do all it can
to lure one of Kevin Shattenkirk or Karl Alzner to town, providing
they hit the open market July 1. They're two very different
defensemen, but both fill holes Detroit cannot currently close up.
The club's depth up front will ultimately play a roll in how the
entire club shapes up, at both ends of the rink.
The Red Wings have plenty of talent at the forward position, but a
limited amount of star power outside of Zetterberg and Larkin.
Whispers around the League claim Holland is looking for ways to
package some of his younger forwards in exchange for a top-level
player. They certainly have the depth to pull off a two-for-one or a
three-for-one trade, but it's always a matter of finding the right
dance partner, and that likely won't occur until the off-season, as
the pesky expansion draft will factor into every team's decision
making -- so expect activity around the NHL Draft a few days later.
Things do not look very good in Brooklyn, these days. The Islanders
are last in the Eastern Conference and questions continue to mount
over what direction ownership is going to steer the ship.
The team's main objective is not only getting John Tavares locked up
long-term, but convincing him he's making the right decision. The
26-year-old has one-year left on his contract, beyond this season, and
cannot sign an extension until July 1, at the earliest. He will get
his max, eight-year deal and see his salary likely hover around $9
But he'll get those kinds of dollars anywhere, just one year less on a
deal. The Isles need to show Tavares that they're building a long-term
successful club with the ultimate objective of competing for the
The Isles have some pretty solid kids coming up through the ranks,
such as Matthew Barzal, Josh Ho-Sang, Kieffer Bellows and Michael Dal
Colle, with Anthony Beauvillier already on the big roster, but it's
not going to be enough. Not now, anyway.
As each day passes, and the Islanders fail to gain any ground in the
standings, you have to wonder what the end goal will be, this season.
Do the Islanders pack it in and go into sell mode? Would Dennis
Seidenberg, Stephen Gionta or Thomas Greiss, the club's only pending
unrestricted free agents, bring back any decent draft picks? Does
moving Travis Hamonic for a stud forward in his mid-20s make more
All valid questions, followed up by: Does ownership relieve GM Garth
Snow and coach Jack Capuano of their duties after the regular-season
concludes, or just one of them?
I don't suspect we'll see any movement in the coaching or managerial
roles during the season, but you never know. The team has been a
disappointment, but you have to move forward. Suck up the Andrew Ladd
signing, and look towards other moves.
The Isles need, and want, a proven top-line winger to play alongside
Tavares. They have Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy locked in for five
more seasons, with Calvin De Haan and Adam Pelech on the big roster.
Their most valuable asset is Hamonic. It's time to make that move, add
an asset or two if need be, and get JT someone to play with.
Then, figure out what the heck to do between the pipes.
The NHL released its All-Star rosters earlier today, with some
surprises -- even Jonathan Toews couldn't believe he was selected.
Regardless of whether you agree with all the selections or not, the
weekend is going to be pretty fun. Everyone has their own picks,
myself included, so I'll share mine now.
Aleksander Barkov (FLA)
Patrick Kane (CHI)
Jeff Carter (LA)
Nikita Kucherov (TB)
Sidney Crosby (PIT)
Nathan MacKinnon (COL)
Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)
Auston Matthews (TOR)
Taylor Hall (NJ)
Artemi Panarin (CHI)
Kyle Okposo (BUF)
Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Tyler Seguin (DAL)
Ryan Kesler (ANA)
John Tavares (NYI)
Mark Scheifele (WPG)
Connor McDavid (EDM)
Henrik Zetterberg (DET)
Jake Voracek (PHI)
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)
Victor Hedman (TB)
Justin Faulk (CAR)
Duncan Keith (CHI)
Brent Burns (SJ)
Erik Karlsson (OTT)
Ryan McDonagh (NYR)
Kevin Shattenkirk (STL)
Drew Doughty (LA)
Shea Weber (MTL)
Zach Werenski (CBJ)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (AZ)
Carey Price (MTL)
Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ)
Corey Crawford (CHI)
Peter Budaj (LA)
Tuukka Rask (BOS)
Braden Holtby (WAS)
Devan Dubnyk (MIN)
I will point out one thing... I would have taken Patrik Laine, but
figured his little injury would have kept him out of the festivities,
thus Scheifele took his place.
David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of
The Fourth Period. Follow