Tag: Daniel Alfredsson

Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings - Game Three

Datsyuk says his knee no longer bothers him

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Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland has repeatedly expressed his hopes that his team will be healthier in 2014-15 after a season full of challenging injuries. Having Pavel Datsyuk as close to 100 percent as possible might just be on the top of Holland’s list, so this story from the team website regarding the star forward’s knee should stoke optimism.

“It looks like the work has helped me,” Datsyuk said on Tuesday. “And I don’t need the surgery … I’m skating now and it feels much better. Nothing bothers me and we’ll see.”

Hey, sounds great … except that “we’ll see” part.

It’s understandable that Datsyuk provided such a caveat, though. Knee injuries can be tricky, and considering his age (36) and the mileage he’s accrued from deep playoff runs and international competition, No. 13 probably doesn’t want to make too many bold bets.

No doubt about it, Datsyuk’s still a difference-maker when he can get on the ice, though. His possession stats are still impressive and he continues to score; Datsyuk collected 37 points in 45 games last season.

As excited as the Red Wings likely feel about the growth of younger players like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, the 2014-15 season is likely to go as far as Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and other veterans can take them. (Getting Daniel Alfredsson to join that veteran group for another season remains a work in progress.)

There’s no denying the possibility that things won’t work out for Detroit yet again in 2014-15, but at least the stories are more positive than negative right now.

Five interesting players still on UFA market

Ilya Bryzgalov

We’re into September now, so naturally the list of noteworthy unrestricted free agents has gotten pretty thin, but there are still some players that might sign contracts just before, during, or even after training camp that are still worth keeping an eye on.

In that spirit, here are five guys that might still make an impact in 2014-15 despite going unsigned in July and August:

Dustin Penner — His value has dropped substantially since the Edmonton Oilers inked him to a controversial five-year, $21.25 million offer sheet, but he’s still just 31 years old (32 on Sept. 28) and might be able to play a supporting role. He had some success doing just that in Los Angeles and aided them in their 2012 Stanley Cup championship. He had also looked good at times playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry last season before Anaheim traded him to Washington. There were rumors recently about him joining Philadelphia’s training camp on a tryout basis, but Flyers GM Ron Hextall denied those reports.

Scott Gomez — There’s no question that Gomez isn’t the offensive threat that he once was, but the 34-year-old forward might still be able to serve as a capable bottom-six forward. His ability to mentor young players has also been praised in the past, with Sharks bench boss Todd McLellan referring to him in 2013 as a third or fourth coach.

More recently he played for Florida and spent a fair amount of time as a healthy scratch. He considered retirement, but instead accepted a training camp invite with New Jersey. He’s on this list though because he hasn’t signed with the team and there’s no guarantee that he will.

Martin Brodeur — He’s one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time, but at the age of 42 the demand for his services has obviously decreased dramatically. At this point, teams are pretty much set as far as their goaltending tandems go, with the exceptions, like Anaheim, mostly interested in having internal options compete in training camp. That being said, the landscape is always one major injury away from changing and Brodeur is open to the idea of signing during the season if he can’t work anything out ahead of time.

Daniel Alfredsson — Alfredsson is a bit of a different case because part of the issue is that he’s not sure whether or not he wants to return. He’s been training over the summer, but hasn’t decided if he feels like he can contribute at the age of 41. If he ultimately decides that he wants to return for one more season, then he’s expected to approach the Detroit Red Wings and at that point, it will be up to the team to decide if they want to re-sign him to add another veteran presence and offensive depth or if they want to keep the roster spot open for one of their young forwards.

Ilya Bryzgalov — Like Brodeur, Bryzgalov is stuck in a situation where there aren’t many goaltending opportunities out there, but the two netminders don’t have much else in common. Bryzgalov is a far more polarizing figure due to his tenure with Philadelphia, but he’s coming off of a decent season with Edmonton and Minnesota. He would love to re-sign with Minnesota, but the Wild already have Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding under contract and possess the rights to free agent Darcy Kuemper. As is the case with Brodeur, Bryzgalov might not find an opening in the NHL until there’s a goaltending injury.

Alfredsson’s future remains uncertain with camp looming

Daniel Alfredsson

One of the bigger X-factors surrounding the Detroit Red Wings is a player that isn’t even on their roster.

Daniel Alfredsson turned some heads last summer when the long-time Ottawa Senators captain decided to sign a one-year deal with Detroit. Although he was once a star player, the Red Wings were well aware that at the age of 40 (he turned 41 in December), he would be more of a complimentary forward.

In that role, Alfredsson performed largely as advertised, scoring 18 goals and 49 points in 68 games and helped the team squeak into the playoffs even as the Red Wings coped with a number of major injuries to key forwards.

Now an unrestricted free agent again, Alfredsson’s future with the team remains uncertain. He has some interest in returning to Detroit, but only if he feels he can contribute. With training camp just a few weeks away, it sounds like he still hasn’t found the answer he’s looking for.

“I haven’t talked to him in about a month,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press. “He’s training hard. He’s training to play. He does want to play. When I last talked to him, he said he felt good — he wanted to feel great. He would love to play another year. He wants to play for us. He only wants to play if he feels he can contribute. The best test for him is to skate a couple weeks prior to training camp.

“I’ll talk to him next week. We’ll wait 10-12 days. Do we sign him to a contract? Does he just want to come to camp? I’m lobbing everything out there.”

Of course, it takes two sides to reach an agreement and even if Alfredsson wants to come back, it’s debatable whether or not the Red Wings should sign him. Alfredsson would provide the team with veteran leadership and additional scoring depth, which might prove particularly valuable if Detroit’s sickbay fills up again this season.

At the same time, he’ll be 42 before the campaign ends so it’s fair to wonder if he has enough left in the tank. Additionally, if they sign him, he will be taking ice time away from one of the Red Wings’ young players and that might slow their rebuilding efforts.

As Holland noted, it’s entirely possible that Alfredsson might join the Red Wings as a training camp invite to provide both sides with more time to evaluate the situation and decide what is in everyone’s best interests.

Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha


Ever since being selected 20th overall by Detroit at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Anthony Mantha has been focused on one goal:

Make the Red Wings.

It’s what Mantha aimed to do during his first NHL training camp last fall — but fell short, getting returned to QMHJL Val-d’Or — and it’s what he’s aiming to do again this year, albeit with more experience under his belt.

Mantha, 19, cemented himself as a dynamic goalscorer in junior hockey last year, recording his second straight 50-goal campaign by potting 57 in 57 games for the Foreurs — then continued that pace by netting another 24 in 24 playoff games.

In short, the kid can put pucks in the net.

Mantha also racked up 11 points in seven games for Canada at the World Juniors, and earned huge praise from Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer.

“He’s unique. He’s fun to watch,” Fischer said of Mantha, per NHL.com. “The bigger the games, the bigger he plays, the bigger his performance, the more he wants to win. He loves playing games.

“He knows that he’s going to get a chance [at training camp]. He’s going to get a top-six forward chance in camp and he’s excited about it.”

Making the leap will prove difficult. Several factors are working against Mantha, the first being his lack of pro hockey experience. He’s never played a day in the AHL, and for an organization like Detroit — which has consistently benefited from players maturing in the minors — a year riding buses in the “A” might be the preferred approach, developmentally speaking.

Then there’s Detroit’s slew of forwards up front. Per CapGeek, the Red Wings have 14 forwards on NHL contracts; the club is also waiting on word from veteran Daniel Alfredsson, who may or may not return this season.

It doesn’t sound like either of these factors has lessened Mantha’s desire to crack the bigs, though. In July, he re-iterated what he said last summer — it’s the NHL or bust.

“If you ask me, I think I am [ready],” Mantha said, per MLive.com. “At the end of the summer, I’ll be a few pounds heavier. I think I can play there. But as I mentioned, it’s (about) coming to camp, being ready and we’ll see.

“The skill level is there. I’m a tall, big guy. I think I can play there.”

Fanspeak: Alfredsson voted greatest Senator in franchise history

Ottawa Senators v New York Rangers - Game One

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Ottawa Senators

1. Daniel Alfredsson (631)

2. Jason Spezza (132)

3. Alexei Yashin (128)

4. Dany Heatley (97)

5. Marian Hossa (67)

Whether the 2013-14 season was his last or he decides/is allowed to give it one more go, it doesn’t sound like Daniel Alfredsson’s last NHL games will come in an Ottawa Senators uniform. That certainly stings for Senators fans, yet at the same time, it’s clear that “Alf” has accomplished more than anyone else in franchise history.

Actually, it’s not even all that close.

Alfredsson set franchise records – by far – in stats ranging from goals (426), assists (682), points (1,108) and games played (1,178). Chris Phillips will probably catch him in that last category (he’s already at 1,143 games), but no one’s within breathing distance of those other numbers.

Of course, the talented Swede did more than just score.

He was a huge part of some very strong teams that dazzled the Eastern Conference in deep playoff runs, including a run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final (even if that loss to the Anaheim Ducks wasn’t particularly pretty). Alfredsson was known for his all-around play as the franchise saw other talents come and go.

Sure, it’s a shame that he ever left, especially since it delivered a blow to what Silver Seven Sens described as the Alfredsson “mythology” while discussing his return to town last season:

The Alfie legend is certainly part of the mythologizing tendency fans still exhibit when talking about their favourite games and favourite players. I’m guilty of it myself. Collectively, Sens fans were guilty of it the past several years. We talked about Alfie as if he had always been universally loved by Sens fans and as if he would march unquestioning ever forth for the organization. In reality, neither belief was true. For much of his first decade with the team, Alfredsson was a favourite scape-goat. This only increased after the departure of super-villain Yashin. Rather than draw support to Alfredsson, the captain’s C initially proved to be a lightning rod for criticism. He was injured too often, he was too soft, and he was too European. His strong performance in 2006-2007 changed that in the minds of many.

Ultimately, he leaves behind the kind of numbers and memories that speak for themselves.