Tag: Mikael Samuelsson

Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson

Risk Factors: Detroit Red Wings edition


From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you“Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Detroit Red Wings 

1. Who steps up if Daniel Alfredsson retires?

It hardly seems like a good idea to rest your goal-scoring hopes on a 41-year-old to begin with – Alfredsson was tied for the team-lead in points last season (49) along with defenseman Niklas Kronwall – then there’s the concern over the health of Alfredsson’s back, which has kept him out of camp and predominantly off the ice. If one had to guess, at this point, it seems as though the 18-year NHL veteran has played his final game. So where does the offence come from? Obvious choices are Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but Datsyuk will start the season injured reserve nursing his shoulder injury suffered in the preseason and Zetterberg is coming off an injury plagued 2013-14 campaign (more on that below).

Detroit finished the 2013-14 season second in the league with 421 man games lost due to injury. As a result, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening were all given significant looks by the Red Wings last season. Nyquist, Tatar and Sheahan finished in the Top 10 in Wings scoring. However, the five aforementioned players are all 24 years of age and younger. As is always the case with young players, growing pains occur.

Detroit finished 16th last season in both goals-for per-game (2.65) and total goals scored (217) – only the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens finished with less total goals scored and wound up in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference last season. With veteran players such as David Legwand, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson not returning for 2014-15, it’ll be interesting to see whether the five youngsters can take another step forward. Otherwise Detroit’s streak of 23 consecutive seasons in the playoffs could be in serious jeopardy.

2. Finding a puck-moving defenseman

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock recently told MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, “I like when we move the puck. I like when the puck gets going in a hurry. I like guys who can make good decisions and move it. We’re going to do everything we can to upgrade our D, so is that the guys who’ve been here in the past? Is that someone new? I don’t know the answer for sure but I got two more opportunities to watch before we got to make decisions.”

The Wings still have Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko and Nick Jensen on their roster, but asking too much from, or relying on a young defenseman to make an immediate impact, is a recipe for disaster. The trio have a combined five NHL games played on their respective resumes.

As Khan points out in his piece, Ouellet, who leads all Red Wings in average ice time (over 24 minutes) in the preseason is the furthest along in his development.

“He’s just kind of an old-time player; he’s got great hockey sense,” Babcock said. “The sum of the parts add up greater than anything. He just thinks so good. You look at him, he’s not huge (6-1, 190), he’s not an elite skater, he’s just an elite thinker and plays right all the time.

“He just looks like a hockey player to me, looks like he’s played here 10 years.”

But before Red Wings fans go pondering the idea of placing someone like Brian Lashoff or Jakub Kindl, who despite putting up career-highs in assists (17) and points (19), was a minus-4 last season, on waivers consider that Ouellet has just four career NHL games under his belt.

Losing a veteran like Lashoff (106 NHL games) or Kindl (213 career NHL games) could be a disaster down the road should the injury bug hit. And if anyone knows how bad the injury bug can bite, it’s Detroit.

3. How will Henrik Zetterberg’s back hold up? 

One of the hardest hit by the injury bug was Zetterberg. The Wings captain was limited to just 45 games in 2013-14 due to an on-going back injury which finally needed surgery causing him to miss the final 24 regular season games and first three playoff games.

Zetterberg has had a slow start, albeit in preseason action, but even Babcock called out his top dogs this week.

“They’ve got to get going, just like everybody in exhibition. A lot of your veteran players, it takes them awhile to get going; the urgency isn’t quite there, even though they know they’ve got to be ready to go,” Babcock told the Detroit Free Press. “Our kids have won three, our big dogs 0-1. That’s all part of whether you’re engaged or not.”

Zetterberg turns 34 next week, is he on the decline? Its difficult to say that since he still managed 48 points in 45 games last season, but the key for Zetterberg will be to stay healthy. He’s only played 82 games once in his career (2011-12).

Despite being without both Zetterberg and Datsyuk for 16 of the final 24 regular season games last spring, the Red Wings still managed to cobble together a 13-8-3 record to snag the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

This season Detroit’s young stars won’t surprise anyone. If the Red Wings are going to make the playoffs, both Datsyuk and Zetterberg will need to stay healthy and contribute regularly. If not, like Babcock’s reign in Detroit, the Wings’ playoff streak could come to a screeching halt. Babcock of course is heading to the final year of his contract and says he’s not interested in negotiating once the season begins.

Interesting, or should we say concerning, times could be ahead in the Motor City.

Wings to begin talks with DeKeyser, Sheahan, Tatar


Contract negotiations are soon to begin for three of Detroit’s key restricted free agents.

GM Ken Holland is planning to speak with the agents for defenseman Danny DeKeyser and forwards Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar at this week’s NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, per MLive. The news comes just shortly after reports surfaced that Daniel Alfredsson is interested in returning next season, meaning Holland might need to work quickly in order to get his financials in place.

It’s already been a fairly busy offseason for the Wings. They used a compliance buyout on Jordin Tootoo’s contract, announced they wouldn’t be bringing back veterans Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson, and inked backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year extension.

Now, there are deals to be made with a trio of young talents.

The most pressing is DeKeyser, the 24-year-old rearguard that blossomed in his second professional season. Despite missing significant time with a separated shoulder, he racked up 23 points in 65 games while averaging 21:38 TOI — technically considered a rookie this year, DeKeyser finished second among all freshman D in minutes per game (only Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba played more.)

DeKeyser’s first NHL contract was a two-year, $2.7 million pact, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of bump he gets on his new one.

As for Tatar and Sheahan, they’re both coming off solid efforts in the last of their three-year entry-level deals. Sheahan turned into an everyday player for Detroit halfway through the season and finished with 24 points in 42 games, while Tatar posted career highs across the board in games played (73), goals (19) points (39) and TOI (14:21).

One thing to keep an eye on is how long it takes Holland to actually finalize deals for his RFAs. Talks are starting early but, traditionally, Detroit has let these types of negotiations linger well into the summer — last offseason, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist weren’t signed until mid-August.

Detroit cutting ties with Bertuzzi, Samuelsson


Two of the most tenured Red Wings are on their way out.

On Wednesday, Detroit GM Ken Holland confirmed that pending UFA forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi wouldn’t be brought back next year, per the Macomb Daily. Bertuzzi, 39, had nine goals and 16 points in 59 games last season — his fifth in Detroit — while Samuelsson, 37, had one goal and four points in 31 games during his second stint with the Wings (Samuelsson also played in Detroit from 2006-09).

The moves come on the same day that Detroit waived Jordin Tootoo for the purpose of using a compliance buyout on his contract. Tootoo, 31, signed with Detroit in June of ’12, inking a fairly lucrative three-year, $5.7 million deal. The former Nashville Predator never really seemed to fit with the Wings’ style of play and though he continued to showcase his trademark passion and energy, Tootoo always seemed like an odd fit on a puck-possession team. Last year he appeared in just 11 games for the Wings, registering one point.

When he’s bought out, Detroit will owe Tootoo $1.33 million over the next two seasons.

After the dust settles from these moves, the Wings will have $18 million in cap space with 18 players under contract. Unrestricted free agents Daniel Alfredsson, David Legwand, Dan Cleary, Kyle Quincey and Jonas Gustavsson will still need new deals, as will RFAs Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar.

Wings GM Holland likes his team, keeping ‘options open’ on trades

Ken Holland

The Detroit Red Wings’ offseason is one where they’ve got some improvements to make around the roster if they want to escape the first round of the playoffs next season.

Wings general manager Ken Holland knows he’s got some work to get done to make the team better, but getting it done through free agency may be risky. As Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press shares, he’s willing to talk trade.

“I’m moving along slow to keep our options open,” Holland said. “We’ll see what’s out there via trade. But we feel good about our team, and our fallback position is our kids.

“We’re trying to move kids in, and also have the right amount of vets.”

Keeping the right number of veteran players is where things may get tricky for Holland.

The Red Wings have six potential unrestricted free agents on July 1, five of whom are forwards: Daniel Alfredsson, Danny Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson, and David Legwand. Those five make up a large part of the forward unit from last season. Defenseman Kyle Quincey could also test the free agent waters.

With younger players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco playing such important roles down the stretch and into the postseason, Holland’s job figuring out how to set it all up won’t be easy.

Alfredsson unsure about future, Wings willing to wait

Daniel Alfredsson

It’s starting to look a little like last season for Daniel Alfredsson.

The 41-year-old Detroit Red Wings forward is again weighing his thoughts on whether he wants to play another season. As Bob Duff of The Windsor Star shares, Alfie is leaning towards playing again but recognizes it has to end eventually.

“There’s a lot of factors that play in, mentally, physically and family,” Alfredsson said. “I still love the game, there’s no question about that. At the same time, you’ve got to end it sometime.”

Don’t expect the same kind of dance to develop between Alfredsson and the Red Wings like he had with the Ottawa Senators last summer.

Alfredsson led the Wings in scoring and he said he’ll take as long as he needs to figure out if he can give it another go. As Duff shared, Detroit GM Ken Holland told Alfredsson they won’t start making decisions on the roster until mid-June.

Detroit will have to make decisions on where some veterans up front belong on the roster as Alfredsson, David Legwand, Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi, and Danny Cleary are all unrestricted free agents. With the emergence of young guys like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, and Riley Sheahan there could be a significant drop in the average age of the team next season.