So I was thinking something watching the Rangers’ power play last night…
No, it wasn’t, “Boy, that does not look like a very confident power play.” Though it definitely didn’t.
It was this: If you’re a right-handed shooting defenseman that can play a regular number of five-on-five minutes and help a team’s power play, you’re going to be a hot commodity this summer.
Because the Rangers — with all due respect to Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman, Kevin Klein, and Raphael Diaz — don’t really have one of those double threats. Or, at the very least, they don’t have one that’s doing a very good job of it at the moment.
And the Rangers aren’t alone. The Red Wings made no secret that they’re in the market for “a top-four right-handed shooting defenseman.” Detroit’s power play hasn’t been the same since Brian Rafalski retired.
The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, were forced to dress seven defensemen on occasion this season, just so power-play specialist Yannick Weber could be available. Vancouver’s power play hasn’t been the same since Sami Salo took his booming shot to Tampa Bay. (And similarly, since right-handed shooter Mikael Samuelsson was traded.)
Read this post on the Phoenix Coyotes for more on the importance of right-handed shooters to teams’ power plays.
Then, after you read that, read MLive’s list of players the Wings could target this offseason, whether in free agency or a trade. Safe to say, Matt Niskanen is going to get PAID.
Finally, just in case you’re not sold yet, here are the top 10 d-men in terms of power-play points during the regular season. Notice anything about seven of them?
Having made the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons, Detroit has often been a club looking to add talent at the trade deadline.
Year 23 could be different, however.
“We have to play our way into being a buyer,” Wings GM Ken Holland said on Wednesday, per MLive.com. “There’s no use spending assets unless we play our way into a buyer position.”
Detroit heads into Thursday night’s action on the outside of the playoff picture, tied on points (57) with eighth-place Carolina but sitting in ninth thanks to fewer regulation victories. That, combined with the schedule — the Wings have just five games left until the Olympic break, then another three between the end of the break and the deadline — is making Holland’s assessment difficult.
Further complicating things? Detroit’s injury and cap issues. From MLive.com:
The Red Wings will be over the cap when all their injured players return (Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss), if everyone else is healthy, even after sending some players back to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
So in order for the Red Wings to acquire a player, they need to shed at least an equal amount of salary.
Detroit has already tried to save space this year by jettisoning veterans like Jordin Tootoo, Patrick Eaves and Mikael Samuelsson to the AHL, so it’s possible the club could do it again. But even with that option available, Holland may end up standing pat.
“We like our kids,” Holland said. “I don’t know that there’s players available on the market that are better than the kids we got.”
Johan Franzen is set to return for the Detroit Red Wings and they’re sending Mikael Samuelsson to the AHL to make it happen.
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports Franzen will return to the Wings lineup against the Florida Panthers today and helps give them another of their usual weapons.
The Red Wings are still without Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) and are also missing goalie Jimmy Howard (knee) but getting Franzen and his goal-scoring ability back should give Detroit a lift.
Samuelsson, meanwhile, is on his way to Grand Rapids after clearing waivers, but the Wings won’t be getting a break on his $3 million salary cap hit. Samuelsson’s contract is a 35+ deal which means the Wings can’t bury his money in the minors.
The Detroit Red Wings are expecting to get Johan Franzen back in the lineup Sunday, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, as they close out a five-game home stand against the Florida Panthers.
The veteran forward hasn’t played since Dec. 15 due to a concussion suffered on what Franzen thought was a relatively harmless hit from Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas. However, the symptoms, particularly headaches, for a time just wouldn’t let up.
“I thought I was going to be out five days because it wasn’t much of a hit and that’s usually how long it takes before you get rid of the headache,” Franzen said, as per MLive.com.
“It just wouldn’t go away. Just cross my fingers now and hopefully it’s going to stay away.”
In order to make room for Franzen, the Red Wings on Saturday put another veteran forward, Mikael Samuelsson, on waivers.
Detroit Red Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson and Calgary Flames defenseman Shane O’Brien were waived by their teams this afternoon.
The Red Wings are expecting Johan Franzen to return to action on Sunday and to make room for him they opted to waive Samuelsson.
Samuelsson’s season has been a rough one, playing in 26 games with one goal and two assists. He’s been a healthy scratch often this season and has lost his spot in the lineup to the younger players like Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, and Gustav Nyquist.
O’Brien landing on waivers also doesn’t come as much of a surprise, although he’s had more game time this season. In 45 games, he has three assists and 58 penalty minutes. Kris Russell’s return to the Flames lineup forced O’Brien to the press box. He has averaged 11:16 of ice time this season as a third-pair blue liner.
Both players have until noon tomorrow to be claimed. If they go unclaimed, they’re likely destined for the AHL.