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Thoughts From Jeff Blashill

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Wings head coach Jeff Blashill shared his thoughts on that topic and more with the Free Press this week. 

HSJ: What are your thoughts on Filip Zadina’s NHL readiness after watching him at development camp?

JB: It’s hard to say definitely without watching him play against other guys that are going to play in the NHL. At development camp, there are a lot of young prospects, very good young prospects, but young prospects and until you get a player like Zadina where he is going up against other NHLers, it’s hard to say anything definitely about where he is at. What I like from both what I saw on tape prior to the draft and at development camp were a number of things. One, he has a real ability to score goals. It’s a unique skill that is a huge commodity in the NHL and obviously with our hockey team, we walked away a lot of nights where we thought we played pretty good hockey but didn’t score, and  certainly didn’t score easy. And what I mean by that is scoring on one shot, not have to have multiple opportunities to score. I think Filip certainly has shown the ability to score. So that was great to see. What I'm further impressed with was that he didn’t look like a guy whose only ability was to score. Some wingers don’t want the puck until they are ready to shoot, some wingers want the puck all the time. I got to coach Patrick Kane and Johnny Gaudreau at the World Championship — they want the puck all the time. I thought Filip Zadina, both on tape and at development camp, was a guy who wanted the puck and has the hockey sense to make plays. ...

HSJ: Is there a minimum number of prospects that you need to integrate on the team for the sake of rebuilding?

JB: I don’t know that there is a number. I think one of the big keys is that when you are a playoff team on an annual basis, the right move is that when a young player and a veteran player are tied, the tie goes to the veteran. When you are a team that hasn’t made the playoffs for two years and a young player and a veteran player are tied, I think now the tie should go to the young player. And I say that because we need different results, and part of having different results is improving internally, and that can come with new guys being in spots....

more on each of the above questions plus a few more questions...

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A New Contract For Dylan Larkin Is Getting Closer

from Craig Custance of The Athletic,

Asked for an update on Thursday, Larkin sounded upbeat.

“It’s coming together. Maybe something pretty soon,” Larkin told The Athletic. “It goes back and forth. I’ve learned the business part of it. Between free agency and the draft and everything, it’s tough to get time to talk for my agent and Kenny. That’s part of summer and part of how it goes.”...

The extension will likely be in the five- or six-year range, which would make him a rarity among Red Wings players — guys who will be under contract to start the 2021 season. The Red Wings are in the process of burning through their questionable contracts and this season marks a bit of a breakthrough on that front. For the first time during the rebuild, the Red Wings should have a ton of cap flexibility next offseason.

more ($$$), includes cap talk and what the team may look like in a few years...

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Chris Chelios Is Leaving The Organization

Detroit, MI…Chris Chelios, a legendary member of the Detroit Red Wings since 1999 as a player, advisor and ambassador for the team, announced today that he will be leaving the organization to return to his hometown of Chicago to be closer to family.

“I would like to thank everyone in the Red Wings organization, starting with the Ilitch family – Mrs. Ilitch, Chris Ilitch, and, of course, the late Mr. I.  There’s a reason the Red Wings are so revered around the National Hockey League and it starts at the top with ownership.  The Ilitch family’s dedication and passion for both the Red Wings and the city of Detroit is second-to-none.  I would also like to personally thank Ken Holland for everything he has done for me.  I’ve learned so much from him, both as a player and during my time on the management side.  Ken is a world-class general manager and he’s an even better friend and mentor.  I have no doubt the Red Wings will be Stanley Cup contenders again in the near future.

Continue Reading »

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Ken Kal Threw This Out Last Night

It forced me to think, who is #2-5?

Any Wings?



John Niyo of the Detroit News of the topic at hand...

Few owners in professional sports understood that better than the late Mike Ilitch, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars chasing big-name talent and box-office draws with the Tigers and Red Wings.

As ex-Tigers manager Jim Leyland often explained, “Mr. Ilitch always refers to ‘stars.’ Mr. Ilitch likes stars.” He liked them because he was as much a fan as he was a businessman, and Ilitch knew what resonated, packing Joe Louis Arena and eventually Comerica Park not just because his teams won, but also because he packed his lineups with high-profile players.

Those memories are starting to fade, though....

Dylan Larkin, a homegrown talent who made a big splash as a rookie All-Star and expects to sign a contract extension after an impressive 2017-18 campaign, is the best bet to grab the torch carried by Henrik Zetterberg the last several years. And the most recent first-round pick, 18-year-old Czech forward Filip Zadina, a goal-scoring winger brimming with confidence, probably carries the greatest hopes. 

more includes Lions, Tigers and Pistons...

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The Detroit Red Wings Plan Is To Build From Within

from Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News,

So, while veteran scouts and managers have left, Holland can hold out hope new, less-experienced personnel does better.

“It’s up to me and my people to prove that the plan that we’ve got is a good plan,” Holland said.

“How do we want to build our team?”

By moving Jiri Fischer from director of player development to director of player evaluation, and hiring Shawn Horcoff to direct development and Daniel Cleary to assist him, the Wings are hoping to improve the preparation of their prospects, Holland said.

After dispatching Jurco, Kindl, McCollum, Ouellet, Sheehan, Smith and Sproul, in recent seasons, development results clearly could improve.

“We’re trying to develop the skill of the players that we’ve drafted,” he said.

much more

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Dylan Larkin’s Next Contract And Trade A Depth Forward

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press answers a few questions today.

This question is regarding Larkin's next contract and should the Wings trade a depth forward for a defenseman?

HSJ: The Wings are working on a long-term extension for Larkin — they’d prefer five years, but may have to go to six. Of the young forwards who were restricted free agents this summer (Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi and Martin Frk), Larkin is the one who’s earned a big commitment because of the growth and character he’s shown since being drafted in 2014.

Regarding the second question, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wings trade Athanasiou in exchange for a high draft pick/prospect. His skill and speed should hold appeal (especially if he gets hot for a stretch) and yield a good return. 


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Is Andreas Athanasiou About To Have A Breakout Year?

Rory Boylen of Sportsnet lists a few players who could have a breakout season, including Andreas Athanasiou.

There is some speculation that the Red Wings could still trade Athanasiou before the start of next season as their group of forwards gets a little more crowded with the additions of Filip Zadina and Thomas Vanek. His explosive speed makes him exciting to watch and the offensive upside is still there — the question is whether Athanasiou’s defensive game will become strong enough that a coach can comfortably make him a top-six player.

In Athanasiou’s first two NHL seasons, his shooting percentages were 17 and 15, but that dropped to 9.4 in 2017-18 as he registered 16 goals. It’s fair to say that over a full season he should be at least a 20-goal scorer with the possibility for more.

Remember, too, that the 23-year-old missed training camp and the first 10 games in 2017 due to a contract dispute and that often leads to an underwhelming season. Now he’s locked in with a two-year, $6 million deal so should get off to a better start. On top of that, only three of his 33 points came on the power play despite averaging 1:44 PP minutes per game, so there could be an uptick there as well. The crux of Athanasiou’s breakout candidacy is in how much ice time the Red Wings (or an acquiring team) give him.

If his goals come up as expected, can his assists and ice time rise to a level that allows him to have a true breakout?

read on for a chart comparing him to other Detroit players and also read about the five other players he mentions from around the league...

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The Rebuild

from Adam Gretz of the Sporting News,

The Red Wings had 11 draft picks in 2017, including six in the first three rounds.

They made 10 selection in 2018, including seven in the first three rounds (with four of the first 36 picks in the draft).

They already have stockpiled 11 more for 2019, including three in the first two rounds.

Detroit accumulated those picks by trading the likes of Brendan Smith, Tomas Junco, Vanek, Steve Ott, Jakub Kindl, Scott Wilson, Petr Mrazek and Tomas Tatar, not to mention picking up an extra second-round pick from the Coyotes in exchange for moving back four spots and sending Pavel Datsyuk’s contract the other way.

That means over a three-year stretch between 2017 and 2019, the Red Wings could potentially add 32 young players to the organization, including as many as 14 in the first three rounds. That is a lot. They also increased their odds at finding an impact player or two by loading up the picks.

Not all of them are going to turn into NHL players, and once you get beyond the first half of the first round the odds of selecting an All-Star-level talent drop significantly. Those picks can be nothing more than lottery tickets. The best way to win in that drawing is to give yourself as many chances as you can possibly get.


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Wings Needed A Defenseman Like Jared McIsaac

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

With nifty footwork, Jared McIsaac navigated the Power Edge Pro system obstacles like a pro during Detroit Red Wings development camp.

Grand Rapids Griffins coach Ben Simon, who was putting 40 or so prospects through the paces at the Belfor Training Center inside Little Caesars Arena, was impressed.

"Some guys have trouble doing that and it's tough, not just physically with your feet but mentally just to remember this stuff," Simon said. "That was one thing you notice with him, phenomenal footwork. He did a great job with his mobility.

"He does a lot of good things. He's put together well as a hockey player. I think his feet are one of his biggest attributes."

McIsaac was the first defenseman the Red Wings selected in this year's draft, at No. 36, after they grabbed three forwards who were too good to pass up.

Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright described the 6-1, 193-pound left-shooting McIsaac as steady and hard-nosed, a good skater who can play against the opposition's top line.

"With McIsaac, we liked the defense," Wright said.


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A Look At The Detroit Red Wings

2 1/12 minutes to watch.



Nicholas J. Cotsonkia takes a look at the Wings too.

What they still need

Difference-makers. The biggest reason the Red Wings have fallen off after a quarter-century of success is the erosion of their top-end talent. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom retired in 2012. Center Pavel Datsyuk returned to Russia in 2016. Center Henrik Zetterberg is 37 and battling back problems, and although he is expected to return this season, it is not certain. The Red Wings need to draft and develop not just NHL players, but impact players. Can Zadina be one?


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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com


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