Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Khan offers his end-of-season Red Wings player grades

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan and the Free Press's Helene St. James have weighed in with their end-of-season player grades, and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offered an alternate angle on the season-in-review via player, coach and GM's quips regarding player performance. Today, MLive's Ansar Khan offers a slate of player grades, splitting regular season and playoff marks and offering contract numbers as well (cue George's 8,589,354th Capgeek.com's Wings organization chart reference). I'm gonna reference a couple of "ouch" grades and let you read the rest of his take on your own--and then ask you to weigh in.

Valtteri Filppula (D/D): Curiously disappointing season from start to finish. Rarely showed much spark or competitiveness after a career year, which was surprising since he was playing for a contract.

Contract: Unrestricted free agent.

Johan Franzen (C+/D): His statistics (14 goals, 31 points, plus-13) don't reflect how inconsistent he continues to be. He's a non-factor for several games and then suddenly dominates for a stretch.

Contract: Seven years at a cap hit of $3.95 million.

On defense, Khan did indeed zero in on the...Let's call them "interesting" pair...

Kyle Quincey (C+/B): He played better than he did late last season, but still not at the level the club expected when it spent a first-round pick to reacquire him.

Contract: One year at a cap hit of $3.775 million.

Brendan Smith (C+/C): A strong skater who is good at rushing the puck out of the zone. Still has much to learn about playing defense in the NHL, as evidenced by his many mistakes in the playoffs. But he will improve over time.

Contract: Restricted free agent.

And in terms of the coaching staff...

Mike Babcock and staff (B/A-): The team never gained traction during an up and down regular season. But, considering the plethora of injuries and resulting lineup shuffling, coaches did a good job to keep the club in playoff contention before the season-ending four-game winning streak that kept intact the postseason streak. They made the right adjustments during playoffs, when the team overachieved.

Again, Khan continues at length, and his insights are worth reading...

But in terms of this blog and this blogger, I'm curious as to whether you feel "grades" or "observations" are even necessary. I think we've all made up our minds as to the value of the Wings by now, but...

I know that waiting to do grades and/or observations isn't going to help in terms of relevance (or that issue that I try to totally ignore in terms of posting anything that is "page views," because I may do this for a living, but if you're gonna post something just to get a reaction...Well, I make it a rule to not do that. If that's the sole motivation for writing something, as far as I'm concerned, I need to stop writing the entry)...

But in terms of being a fan as well as a blogger, I feel that waiting another day or three to start the process isn't going to hurt in terms of letting those playoff contributions settle into the memory bank and tug at the heartstrings a little less.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


OnlyWings's avatar

I personally don’t mind seeing others opinions and reasons for ratings/grades.  I might not agree but there might be something that makes me think “Hmmm I didn’t think of that?”

I like the ratings.

In the end I am waiting to see what KH and his group do at the draft, UFAs, trades, etc.

Should be an interesting summer!

Posted by OnlyWings on 06/09/13 at 07:37 AM ET

EDJ's avatar

It might be interesting to see how the players fit into the structure of the team and not merely how they performed individually, looking forward to future seasons instead of pounding on what’s already happened.

For instance, if we look at the defense,

1 pair: Kronwall     Ericsson
2 pair: Smith         Quincey
3 pair: Colaiacovo Kindl     Dekeyser
7th d:  Lashoff

This is sort of where we expect each defenseman to fit in. We can look at whether a player belongs in the spot he is in.

Kronwall looked capable of playing the first defenseman role, although he was a little overmatched defensively. That’s more than I expected out of him, as he didn’t look that good against second lines in previous years, but he looked better than he has in the past, especially considering that Lidstrom is no longer taking on the top competition.

Ericsson looked solid in the shutdown role next to Kronwall, making few of the ghastly turnovers we criticized him so often for just a season or two ago. Like Kronwall, for the Wings to take another step he may have to improve his puck moving or his physicality as Kronwall needs to improve his defense. This may take some of the heat off of Kronwall.

Quincey looked shakier than he should in the defensive end at times, even after factoring in Smith’s many mistakes. He needs to be better to take some of the defensive workload off of Kronwall and Ericsson. He needs to win the puck more often and make a better first pass. He doesn’t make his teammates look any better. I don’t know at this point whether he is capable of filling in the shutdown position on the second pair.

Smith was an adventure, which goes without saying, but has shown he can make some good offensive decisions. The problems are that he needs to be stronger on the puck in the defensive zone and not give it away in such dangerous places. He is probably capable of being the offense on the second pair but hopefully his defense improves sooner rather than later.

Colaiacovo showed that he can play consistently and solidly but he wasn’t playing the strongest competition and with Dekeyser returning and Lashoff filling the seventh position, there probably isn’t room for him. He doesn’t look good enough to beat out Quincey for the second pair role and who knows when he’ll get injured again. He doesn’t stand out.

Kindl has improved dramatically but could still cut down on turnovers and get the puck back quicker in the defensive zone. For a third pair defenseman he looks good but if he could be trusted to take on more minutes it would reduce wear on Kronwall and Ericsson or allow Babcock to put Smith out in less dangerous situations. Both Colaiacovo and Kindl weren’t playing that many minutes and not against that strong of competition and that may have made them look better than they are.

Dekeyser makes the team look faster, which says a lot about how he moves the puck. He looks more than capable of filling the third pair role, enough to possibly have second pair potential in the future. He is the only one that I think plays significantly better than the spot I put him in.

Lashoff looked solid at times but if you look at his plus-minus rating (or how many times he was on the ice for goals against) you realize that he wasn’t making the best decisions, even if they weren’t huge mistakes like Smith sometimes committed. In the end, I don’t think he has the puck moving skills or the hockey sense to grab a third pairing role, but he fills in okay as an injury replacement.

To be a Stanley Cup winning team, I think the top pairing is somewhat insufficient, Smith needs to improve and Quincey replaced, possibly by Dekeyser, and that the third pairing needs to rival the second, but currently is a long way from it. If Smith, Dekeyser and Kindl develop as planned, the team still needs one more defenseman at the level of Kronwall and Ericsson or above, unless “parity” continues to knock down the level of the top teams. If they do not develop as planned, the team will need to sign more UFAs (unlikely with the market as thin as it is) or wait until Almquist, Ouellet, Sproul, Marchenko or Backman enter their primes, which will be a good five to eight years from now. Of course, good goaltending or help from the forwards may be able to make up for subpar defensemen.

Posted by EDJ on 06/09/13 at 07:49 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Griffins Game Two Game Day Preview.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 06/09/13 at 01:52 PM ET

Bugsy's avatar

Does Emmerton’s cheap contract mean he’s more likely to stay or is more attractive trade bait?
Here’s hoping Smith improves next year like Kindl did this year.

Posted by Bugsy on 06/09/13 at 02:00 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

grin  VOTE for Datsyuk for “Play of the Year”  



Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michgian on 06/09/13 at 03:31 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The future of the Wings’ defense is very important to me. Watching the Blackhawks advance, it becomes increasingly clear that the Wings’ puck possession system will require the team to attempt to either foster or import Hjalmarsson and Oduya-style second-pair guys to help Kronwall and Ericsson out…

But the Holland very explicitly stated to WBBL’s Bill Simonson that he plans on starting the 13-14 season with Kronwall and Ericsson, and then seeing what Kindl, DeKeyser, Smith, Quincey and Lashoff can do.

It *appears* that the Wings will use what little extra cap space they have to either bring in a Filppula replacement (Shawn Horcoff at a discount?) or another goal-scoring forward with size and strength (Bickell?), and my gut suggests that they’re going to ride out the youth movement on defense until next year’s trade deadline given that a) we should see a *few* more trades next year, and by the time the Wings are actually in the Eastern Conference, some Western Conference teams may be more willing to deal with ‘em and b) next summer, the cap will probably rise from $64.3 million back up to at least the upper sixties.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/09/13 at 03:49 PM ET

EDJ's avatar

This is merely a theory, but I don’t think the Wings’ management goes around searching for certain types of players so much as it inquires about any player that is of any interest to the Wings (right now, probably a top four defenseman and top six forward/Abdelkader-type, but I think every team in the league is looking for those two all the time) and pulls the trigger on any trade that sounds reasonable to them.

What I mean to say by this is that I don’t think the Wings are any more likely to trade for a top six forward than for a top four defenseman. It’ll just depend on what the market has to offer, and the Wings won’t say no to a top four defenseman if the price is right. All the same, the trade will probably have to involve Lashoff, Colaiacovo or maybe Quincey for the Wings to pull it off, as I don’t see the Wings trading any of their other defensemen.

Posted by EDJ on 06/10/13 at 12:57 AM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


Recommended Sportsbook