Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

On sniffles and the Red Wings’ conundrum that is Valtteri Filppula

I'm feeling absolutely miserable, and it seems to have little to nothing to do with the Wings' ugly 7-1 loss to Chicago, so I'm going to do something very rare: I'm going to direct you to Gregg Krupa's, "The sky is not falling, the Wings are just in flux" column, because I really do believe what Krupa suggests--that this team simply has suffered too many injuries and too much roster turnover to be particularly consistent or truly embrace that post-Lidstrom identity until April 27th at the earliest--I will remind you that the Wings play tonight against Colorado (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/NBCSN/97.1 FM), and will probably do so without the services of Henrik Zetterberg...

And before this polar bear crawls back under the covers to get warm, which is my surest, "George, you have a bad cold" sign, I'm going to throw something out that Paul sent to me: the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes that the Red Wings need to do something that goes against every, "We never 'sell' assets at the trade deadline, even if we are remotely playoff-bound" philosophy-believing bone in their management's bodies.

With the salary cap going down, with Jimmy Howard and Damien Brunner the only locks to return as unrestricted free agents because Danny Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White's jobs may be usurped by three players who are simply ready for full-time NHL employment next season in restricted free agent-to-be Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Brian Lashoff, and with Nyquist, already full-time-NHL'er's Joakim Andersson, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith coming off their entry level contracts...

And, realistically, little in the way of possibilities to meaningfully improve the team before a summer of cap-compliance buy-outs might finally give the team a no-cost method of improving their team by predating upon other teams' cap woes for once (as for the Wings' own pair of cap compliance buy-outs,  the Wings will most likely buy out Carlo Colaiacovo and Mikael Samuelsson, swallow hard and accept Jonas Gustavsson as their back-up as Petr Mrazek's not quite NHL-ready, and will have to accept that Johan Franzen's size and strength are too cheaply already purchased in terms of his cap hit to cut ties with the frustratingly streaky forward--and one could argue that Darren Helm's eventual return to health and Todd Bertuzzi's possible return to health, combined with Nyquist and Tatar's emergence's, may mean more subtractions in the form of Cory Emmerton or Patrick Eaves)...

Matheson believes that the Wings have one trade chip that they might be able to use, and that's unrestricted free agent-to-be Valtteri Filppula.

It's pretty evident that either Filppula's not happy in Detroit or that he's simply not going to reach his potential here. While most Wings fans root for the players they like and against the players they don't (see: Ericsson and Franzen, Red Wings Nation's favorite scapegoats), I root for everybody, but somewhere during the Wings' Western U.S. swing, I'd just seen ten too many times when Filppula passed up an open lane to shoot or skate to the net to try and loop back and make a complicated pass, or too many times when Filppula roared up ice with that amazing skating speed and ever-so-predictably pulled up ten feet within the blueline to spin back and try to make a blind pass to a forward who usually wasn't just crossing the blueline...

And I kind of gave up on the concept that, after so many years, the 29-year-old would finally develop into that 50-to-60-point forward that the Wings have always hoped he'd become.

I don't know what's going on with Filppula, because his talent is clearly there and is heart is clearly there and is brain is clearly there, but they're never on the same page this season, and whether it's trying to play through a still-sore knee that's limiting his maneuverability, dealing with a healed shoulder sprain that might still be reducing his ability to win puck battles via upper-body strength...

It's just hard to imagine the Wings offering what Matheson and MLive's Ansar Khan reported was a $4.5-5 million asking price for a player who's skating into the boards and stripping himself of the puck lately.

So Matheson suggests that the Wings need to bite the bullet and part ways with #51 now instead of waiting until the draft to move Filppula's rights--even given the fears that Pavel Datsyuk may head home to be with his daughter in Yekaterinburg after next season:

Is it possible that the Detroit Red Wings would trade enigmatic unrestricted free-agent centre/winger Val Filppula at the deadline, knowing he wants north of $5 million in a new deal, something they are loathe to do?

Yes. They’re a playoff team and Filppula has teased Detroit for years. He’s an outstanding one-on-one talent, but he doesn’t bring it every night like Pavel Datsyuk, for example, does.

Filppula, who turned 29 last week, has had one excellent season when he garnered 66 points in 2011-12. To me, he’s the perfect example of a guy who should stay where the grass is greenest as a support player rather than being pegged as a go-to guy on another team.

The Chicago Blackhawks, looking for a No. 2 centre rental so Dave Bolland can be their No. 3 guy, have been monitoring this situation. But would Detroit trade him to a division rival and a possible playoff foe this year?

If I was GM Ken Holland, I’d move Filppula somewhere. Holland let Jiri Hudler go for nothing last summer. The Blackhawks, who won’t be in the same Central Division with Detroit next year as the Red Wings move east in the realigned NHL, do have lots of young talent in the pipeline.

I like Filppula as a player and I like him as a person. I want him to succeed here. I hope that the Red Wings can find a way to keep him.

But while I've come to terms with Franzen's ups and downs and I've accepted that Jonathan Ericsson's realistically a really solid #3/4 defenseman, and that, in all honesty, Niklas Kronwall rather desperately needs a true #2 defenseman to partner with if he's going to sacrifice his physical game to play 25-27 minutes a night, because his over-extension in terms of minutes is yielding defensive mistakes...

Watching Filppula flail at the puck, fail to win one-on-one battles and cough it up with the kind of glib naivete of the much-less-seasoned Damien Brunner has me worried that Filppula simply doesn't want to be here, and I'm just genuinely at a loss as to what the Wings should do with Filppula going forward.

I don't know who they'd move him for--the only blueline "fit" cap-wise in my opinion is the slow-footed Robyn Regehr, and I sure as hell wouldn't give Filppula to Chicago, period, but I have no clue as to what's eating Gilbert Grape in this instance, but it's incredibly painful to watch Filppula struggle so mightily.

And again, I don't root against Wings players, regardless of whether I like them or whether they dropped the Cup at Cheli's Chili and I heard the clang. I want each and every one of the Wings' players and prospects to succeed and to succeed right here in Detroit. It doesn't matter whether they're Henrik Zetterberg, Filppula, Franzen, Ericsson, Tom McCollum or whoever else. I root for "my" Wings players and prospects, even if they drive me nuts, and I hope against hope that they all make the Wings roster and stay here for the balances of their careers.

Sometimes it just doesn't work out that way.

Anyway, you can read the rest of Mathson's column and his other Hockey World columns here and here, but there's not much else that's Wings-related...

And for the sake of at least writing something about the Wings-Hawks game on Monday, covering the Wings-Avs game and being available to help Paul out as we head toward the deadline on Tuesday and Wednesday, this sniffly and cold blogger needs to cuddle up under the covers and call it a night. I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

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Comments

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There really should be no conundrum and, with all due respect George, I don’t see a single “hard decision” that Detroit has to make in the off-season.

This is the perfect time for change, and as such I really think that Howard and Brunner are the only two UFAs the Wings need to re-sign.  All other UFAs should be gone by Wednesday.

White did what he was brought in to do last year, but this year he’s been outplayed by every other D on the team.

Filppula is an experiment in which the results came in a long time ago.  One big year at Wing doesn’t mean much in the greater scheme.  He’s a centre who isn’t good enough for the second line and he’s a winger who hates to shoot.

Cleary, clearly, is done.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’d love for them to make a “hockey trade” that will benefit them in the future, something proactive that will bring in a scoring winger that will help them next year and beyond, but I’ve given up hope on that. 

This off-season I would love for them to bring in a scoring winger and/or a true power forward, I’d love to see Tatar, Nyquist and Andersson playing everyday next year and I really think that either Abdelkader or Tootoo need to go because they play the same game, despite Abdelkader’s hat-trick game, he really has no business on a top line (remember when Datsyuk used to set Abdelkader up with gimmes that Abdelkader couldn’t bury?  Has anyone else noticed that Datsyuk has stopped doing that for the most part and is now simply trying to do everything himself?  GET HIM A WINGER) and I would rather complain that someone who should be in a top-six role is playing in the bottom six that the other way around, the way it is now.

I really hate the idea of Filppula being the “safety net” for Datsyuk leaving and Abdelkader being a “defacto” top six player for whenever a real top sixer gets injured.

I also think that, however it is possible to do so, they need to get rid of Colaiacovo and Samuelsson.  Maybe Colaiacovo puts together a few good games in GR so that he’s dealable in the off-season or maybe he’s bought out, and Sammy definitely needs to be bought out since he somehow, bafflingly, earned a full NTC.

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 06:18 AM ET

Chet's avatar

tough to argue w any of that. cleary on pace for 16-17 goals over 82 games, which given the minutes and pp time he gets just isn’t enough.

i don’t dislike the general idea of a near full on youth movement as you seem to advocate, but we need to get a bit bigger as well. nyquist and tatar against chara? orpik even? not a pretty thought.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/01/13 at 06:28 AM ET

Chet's avatar

in fairness you do mention a power forward, so i should read more carefully. a thought re abby: he’s just…replaceable, on every level, and one has to think some other player even in his rightful 4th line role would produce more as less a liability.

i’ve never really understood the tootoo signing. he’s another guy brought in to fill a role—one that’s debatably necessary at that—who’s slowed or stopped filling that role of late. play tough, agitate, drop em if need be, hit the other team’s good players with a fast forecheck, chip in a few points. what’s he done for us lately?

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/01/13 at 06:37 AM ET

gt500x's avatar

i’ve never really understood the tootoo signing. he’s another guy brought in to fill a role—one that’s debatably necessary at that—who’s slowed or stopped filling that role of late. play tough, agitate, drop em if need be, hit the other team’s good players with a fast forecheck, chip in a few points. what’s he done for us lately?

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/01/13 at 07:37 AM ET

I think he’s taken too much abuse. He’s not a heavyweight but he’s forced to act like one on this team.

Posted by gt500x on 04/01/13 at 07:52 AM ET

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The Tootoo signing was bad, mostly because if you’re going to sign a guy to play <9:30 minutes a night and get in fights you can do that for a hell of a lot less than 1.9 freaking mil a year.

I didn’t particularly care for the Quincey trade, for pretty much all of the reasons we’ve come to subsequently understand as fact about Quincey.

I was and am ambivalent about the Abdelkader deal.  I would have been fine either letting him walk or just qualifying him (had that been an option, I forget what his status was at the time).

Beyond those three recent deals what’s been killing Detroit isn’t cap, but health and performance.  Detroit hasn’t had Bert, Sammy and Helm for pretty much all year at forward, and then Colaiacovo and Smith have missed between a lot and a whole lot of time.

And then, and then, and then.

Performance-wise, Fil’s taken a step back, Franzen hasn’t gotten hot yet, Kronwall’s defense is pretty bad, Zetterberg’s goalscoring continues to slide (especially at ES) and the whole middle tier forward group of Abby, Cleary, and Miller just hasn’t contributed.

Off the whole ‘established’ roster I’d say only Datsyuk, Brunner, Ericsson, Howard and Kindl have either met or exceeded expectations.

It’s pretty stupid to blame Holland for the players on his team either not playing as well as they should or not playing at all, and it’s stupidity compounded to then not only blame him for that but then to blame him for not being aggressive in the trade market to try and bailing wire a fix together for the 2013 season.

The real problem with regards to rebuilding, as much as this irony escapes and chafes the haters, is that Holland’s too good to be in a position to have this much bad luck result in a true rebuild.  Most teams that had as much injury and performance issues as Detroit would be such a dumpster fire by now their GM would have no reason not to just sell off every piece and give up for next year.

‘Unfortunately’, Holland’s done such a great job gathering depth and drafting over the past few years that even though a bunch of forwards and a bunch of dmen have been hurt while others have just stunk, he’s compiled enough youth and competent veteran assets to be able to limp along far enough into the playoff race that it’s pretty tough to just become a full-out seller and asset hoarder at the deadline.

If only he were as bad as the people who want him fired thought he was, eh?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 04/01/13 at 08:22 AM ET

OnlyWings's avatar

What I find odd is KH and Babs haven’t said much about Fil all year regarding his play or his contract (talks??) which is a red flag for me.

Do they know he is hurt, doesn’t want to be here, etc.?

If he doesn’t want to be here then move him at the deadline for whatever the Wings can get.

Like George says he has everything to succeed but isn’t.  The only thing I keep remembering when there is talk of Fil is that great breakaway goal but that is about it.

Other than that I might move White at the deadline as the Depth on D is getting better but not that elusive 1/2 D , PP QB.

KH has used the rebuild word a lot which leads me to believe he won’t let assets go and he says he won’t sign rentals so Wed might be slowwww!!

Teams are trying to lock up their UFAs quickly prior to Trade Deadline, Smid, Visnovsky, ...

It might be sit tight for KH and see what the next 13 games bring and the shop in the summer.  Playoffs? Who knows but Wings will be at most 7 or 8 seed, just my take.  I really think sometimes not making the playoffs might be better , this year and I have been a have twice as long as George.(without the boogers, lol)

Lose to Avs at Home would be a huge blow to making the playoffs

Oh just about forgot the Swedish Hole is not a backup NHL goalie, loses his composure and hopefully lost his job to young Mrazek against the Hawks.

Get feeling better George the race to the dance starts Wed!!!.

Posted by OnlyWings on 04/01/13 at 08:22 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

and hopefully lost his job to young Mrazek against the Hawks.

I didn’t see the game, but my guess is Jimmy wasn’t much better.  Either that, or the team was so bad in front of both that you shouldn’t use this game as a goalie measuring stick?

Posted by MoreShoot on 04/01/13 at 08:34 AM ET

OnlyWings's avatar

Moore Shoot

Put it this way , Kindl scored one on Howie and the defense wasn’t great but Gus was jittery as normal. Howie will be fine but Gus will cost the Wings points in the Back to Back game left on the Schedule.

Posted by OnlyWings on 04/01/13 at 08:43 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 07:18 AM ET

Agree on all accounts.

The number of ways Holland has spun the team’s position in the NHL for the past five seasons should be a continuous cause for alarm among the RW faithful. 

Unfortunately the local media continues to look kindly upon his tenure despite the fact that he hasn’t been able to indicate that he knows how to steer this franchise into another phase of being a top-half club ever since Scotty Bowman left town a few weeks following the Hossa signing. 

Has anyone seen a piece out of the Freep or News talking about how the Wings could be improved or better yet, suggesting a high-level blueprint for success like Garth just did?  It’s quite remarkable how strong the hold is on the beat writers in today’s era of sports journalism.

The writing is on the wall as far as I’m concerned, we’re going to continue to watch a slow death as Holland and his yes-men scramble to plug holes on the roster.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy watching Babcock squeeze every ounce of success out of this 1991-like Red Wing roster with the high expectations of past RW seasons tucked away into the corner of my mind.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 04/01/13 at 08:43 AM ET

John W.'s avatar

If Fil wants to stay for 3rd liner money, keep him, anything more and buh-bye.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 04/01/13 at 08:52 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

What I find odd is KH and Babs haven’t said much about Fil all year regarding his play or his contract (talks??) which is a red flag for me.

Posted by OnlyWings on 04/01/13 at 09:22 AM ET

After the way Holland let Hudler go without getting dime out of him last summer, I’m not surprised at all.  The franchise invested years in that guy and they let him walk away without getting a dime in return.

No reason to believe that they won’t fumble Fils in the same manner.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 04/01/13 at 08:53 AM ET

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We have 9 defensemen (when Lashoff comes back up) and all are healthy, right?

I understand not shaking things up too much before the playoffs and I am sure one will get hurt this last month. (or two or five the way this year is going).  So Kenny isn’t just going to let all nine sit on the roster for the playoffs??? You can sit a rookie or two (Lash and DD) but you have to think the vets are not going to be as happy about sitting and would rather go to a team that could use an extra d-man.

We don’t need to have a fire sale, but we really shopuld be selling a few of these extra peices. Especially since we could get quite a bit for any of them in this years market.

And with capable backups in GR I would do the same with the forwards. No fire sale, but if we have an extra peice who can’t get in the lineup of can be replaced with a player we expect to replace them anyways next year, move them. I don’t see that as throwing in the towel. Kenny held on to assets and this is the perfect year to be a seller of all the extra peices. And those extra pics/prospects could later be turned into that elusive #1 d or top 6 big winger.

We make/ don’t make the playoffs with/or without _______ (insert one of 4-5 names here).  Maybe not Franzen or Flip or any of the big names. But we have a lot of bodies filling the same roles right now.

Posted by lancer on 04/01/13 at 09:10 AM ET

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It’s pretty stupid to blame Holland for the players on his team either not playing as well as they should or not playing at all

But it’s not stupid to blame him for making bad signings in the first place.  Samuelsson was a bad signing in the first place especially with the inexplicable NTC and it’s only been compounded by his injuries.  Coaliacovo was also a terrible, terrible signing.  And Holland can also be blamed for the Tootoo and Abdelkader contracts (neither of which was great on its own but when you put them together it’s pretty awful).

Most teams that had as much injury and performance issues as Detroit would be such a dumpster fire by now their GM would have no reason not to just sell off every piece and give up for next year.

Let’s face it, of the guys who have missed significant time, the only real impact player has been Helm.  Sammy, Bert and Colaiacovo were never going to be game changers.

BTW, #3 on man-games lost is Ottawa and they’re finding a way to keep going.  Oh, and they’re missing probably their best centre and their Norri-winning #1 defenseman, so not having Sammy, Bert, Colaiacovo or, frankly, even Helm really doesn’t really compare.

One thing I noticed this weekend was Montreal waiving Kaberle.  While a good portion of it rests on Kaberle’s shoulders, I think it’s interesting to see an organization that actually rewards good play with playing time.

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 09:12 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I didn’t see the game, but my guess is Jimmy wasn’t much better. Either that, or the team was so bad in front of both that you shouldn’t use this game as a goalie measuring stick?

Posted by MoreShoot on 04/01/13 at 09:34 AM ET

All of the above.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/01/13 at 09:22 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

i’ve never really understood the tootoo signing.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/01/13 at 07:37 AM ET

Red meat for the mouth breathers in a transition period.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 04/01/13 at 09:30 AM ET

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but you have to think the vets are not going to be as happy about sitting and would rather go to a team that could use an extra d-man.

Yeah, but who do you trade?  Colaiacovo?  Who’s going to want to trade for a guy who has played two games this year and has another year on his contract?  Quincey?  Again, who’s going to trade for a guy with three more years on a bad contract?

If Fil wants to stay for 3rd liner money, keep him, anything more and buh-bye.

Honestly, and I don’t dislike Filppula, but keeping him around seems like giving up to me.  We’ve got a more than four lines worth of centres (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Helm, Abdelkader, Emmerton, Andersson) and he’s not doing anything special as a winger, so why not take the chance to bring in a shooting winger?

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 09:33 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

the only real impact player has been Helm. 

Unfortunately, that injury is also going to muck up the ‘decision making’ WRT Abbey, Emmerton, Andersson, and maybe Fil.  Until they have a sense of the long term impact of his injury, they will probably want to cling to at least one more of that group than they should.  For me, Keeping Andersson and Emmerton is an easy decision, and dealing Abbey and Fil is also.  I already said they should have packaged Abbey to the Rangers for Gaborik, and I still like that.  But, if Helm comes back healthy, I like going forward with Datsyuk, Z, Helm, and Andersson as my four centers to build around.  Shed Abbey, Cleary, Sammy, probably Miller, perhaps also Tootoo, and move on.

Posted by MoreShoot on 04/01/13 at 09:37 AM ET

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For me, Keeping Andersson and Emmerton is an easy decision, and dealing Abbey and Fil is also.

Me too, even though I know they won’t deal Abdelkader.  But that’s also not a huge deal to me because Abdelkader (or Emmerton) could probably play the wing on the fourth line with no issues.

Assuming that Helm gets healthy, either he or Andersson could centre the third line and the other could be the guy they try out as the second line centre at the beginning to see if they can work a Datsyuk w/Zetterberg first line.

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 09:49 AM ET

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Someone will be willing to pay Fil at least $4.5 next year, and I absolutely don’t want it to be the Wings.  He has to be traded this year?  There aren’t a lot of sellers right now at least, and Holland should be able to get something good in return even if it is only picks.  I know, I know….how’s that help the Wings this year.  Well, it doesn’t.  With Fil and with everyone healthy I just don’t see this team having more than a very outside chance to win the Cup.  Without Fil their chances at the Cup go from not very good to just a little worse than not very good.  Holland has to stop living in this dream world where the Wings suddenly become a team that has a good chance to win the Cup just because they make the playoffs.

If Fil’s not dealt now, we’re looking at best getting a low round conditional pick for him if his right’s are dealt before free agency starts, or at worse having Holland decide to bite the bullet and pay Fill his ridiculous $4.5-5 mil.  Either of these in my mind would be way worse than dealing him now and the team being a bit worse for the rest of this year.

I don’t buy the “don’t trade him to Chicago” argument.  Yes, it would suck to meet the Hawks in the first round and have Fil play well while knocking the Wings out of the playoffs.  However, it’s just 1 year in the division/conference and I just don’t see a playoff battle with Chicago ending differently regardless of which team Fil plays for especially given that the Hawks will likely upgrade anyway whether it’s Fil or someone else.  Why not take the Hawks 1st rounder and a few other picks if the Wings are probably losing anyway?

In regards to Kruppa’s article, if this was one blip of a game during the year then I’d agree the loss doesn’t mean much.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the first time the Wings have spent most if not all of 60 minutes of a game looking listless and disinterested.  The Wings are pulling this act on a pretty regular basis this year.  Even taking injuries and lineup flux into account, if you’re going to lose at least do it while appearing to care.  Other than a few players yesterday, guys played like they had somewhere better to be.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 04/01/13 at 09:54 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Me too, even though I know they won’t deal Abdelkader. 

But I contend that’s stupid.  We have more Abbey’s in GR that, frankly, are probably going to be better: Sheahan and Aubry at least, and Andersson is already here.  Abbey could probably be dealt to any team looking for extra grit (hello Rangers) right now.

Posted by MoreShoot on 04/01/13 at 09:56 AM ET

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The number of ways Holland has spun the team’s position in the NHL for the past five seasons should be a continuous cause for alarm among the RW faithful.

I have a serious question: do people just not understand with how a hard-capped league works?  It’s literally impossible to be consistently successful to the degree the Wings were pre-cap.  Literally impossible.

Those days are dead, gone, and completely, totally over.  That’s not Holland’s fault.  It’s not Holland’s fault that the vast majority of teams in the top 5-10 of the NHL are there with rosters that have multiple top 10 picks on them, or are only there one year in 3.

Those are endemic, structural realities of today’s NHL, and people really need to start educating themselves about them before they start saying or implying really stupid things like ‘Holland’s not a good enough GM for my favorite NHL franchise’.

Coming into the cap Detroit had Zetterberg’s cap-cheap entry level RFA deal while he was ringing up 30+ goals at 2ish mil a year.  Unless and until Detroit lands another elite-level talent in the draft what a hard cap does is it completely prevents teams from stockpiling elite talent through FA mechanisms… and landing elite-level talent in the draft without having a pick inside the top 10 for 20 years or so is sort of a tough job.

Within a capped league the only way for a team to be consistently elite for a period of 4-5+ years is to be completely awful for 2-4 years and stockpile those assets and have most of them turn out to be elite players the team can then keep fairly cheaply for a number of years.  That’s why Pittsburgh is good.  That’s why Chicago is good.  That’s why Vancouver is good.  It appears fans can’t even stomach the Wings being tepidly mediocre for a period of 2 seasons.  I have a hard time believing they’d be any more comfortable being outright awful for 3.

What the fans here seem to want is for their GM to be so incredibly dominant that he can keep the team performing at a high level in spite of any degree of injury and to keep a steady stream of elite talent coming onto the system despite never having a top 10 pick, ever.  This would be like demanding Datsyuk be a 100 point player every year or that Zetterberg has to be a 40 goal scorer every year or that Howard has to pitch 12 shutouts a year.

It’s an absurdly high level of expectation against which to judge the performance of anyone.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 04/01/13 at 10:03 AM ET

Avatar

The Tootoo signing was bad, mostly because if you’re going to sign a guy to play <9:30 minutes a night and get in fights you can do that for a hell of a lot less than 1.9 freaking mil a year.

I didn’t particularly care for the Quincey trade, for pretty much all of the reasons we’ve come to subsequently understand as fact about Quincey.

I was and am ambivalent about the Abdelkader deal.  I would have been fine either letting him walk or just qualifying him (had that been an option, I forget what his status was at the time).

Beyond those three recent deals what’s been killing Detroit isn’t cap, but health and performance.  Detroit hasn’t had Bert, Sammy and Helm for pretty much all year at forward, and then Colaiacovo and Smith have missed between a lot and a whole lot of time.

And then, and then, and then.

Performance-wise, Fil’s taken a step back, Franzen hasn’t gotten hot yet, Kronwall’s defense is pretty bad, Zetterberg’s goalscoring continues to slide (especially at ES) and the whole middle tier forward group of Abby, Cleary, and Miller just hasn’t contributed.

Off the whole ‘established’ roster I’d say only Datsyuk, Brunner, Ericsson, Howard and Kindl have either met or exceeded expectations.

It’s pretty stupid to blame Holland for the players on his team either not playing as well as they should or not playing at all, and it’s stupidity compounded to then not only blame him for that but then to blame him for not being aggressive in the trade market to try and bailing wire a fix together for the 2013 season.

The real problem with regards to rebuilding, as much as this irony escapes and chafes the haters, is that Holland’s too good to be in a position to have this much bad luck result in a true rebuild.  Most teams that had as much injury and performance issues as Detroit would be such a dumpster fire by now their GM would have no reason not to just sell off every piece and give up for next year.

‘Unfortunately’, Holland’s done such a great job gathering depth and drafting over the past few years that even though a bunch of forwards and a bunch of dmen have been hurt while others have just stunk, he’s compiled enough youth and competent veteran assets to be able to limp along far enough into the playoff race that it’s pretty tough to just become a full-out seller and asset hoarder at the deadline.

If only he were as bad as the people who want him fired thought he was, eh?

What the injuries have shown is that Holland didn’t need to go out and sign players like Samuelsson in the first place, let the young kids play, how else are you going to showcase them?  As far as stockpiling “depth” you must mean finally allowing the kids to play, which he was not going to do until injuries forced their hand.  Again, Holland may have stockpiled all this depth, but he is horrible at managing it.  Look at his track record, his over reliance on ex-Red Wings has forced him to let go of “depth”, meaning young prospects for nothing, and cost him a first round pick in the case of Quincey.  Again, this is not a conundrum, from a business sense it is easy, the ufa’s need to go.  Holland for whatever reason refuses to take advantage of the “seller’s market” refuses to take advantage of this, he is very poor at managing his assets, he is too conservative in making deals, and he is too loyal to former Red Wing players, thus not allowing his propsects the ability to develop.  If it was not for the injuries we would STILL have no idea if Tatar, Lashoff, and even Nyquist could play, Emmerton ould’ve been waived for nothing.  Holland now has a ton of prospects, and he knows that the majority of them will never be Red Wings (may be NHL players, but no room here) is he going to get something for them, or is he just going to sit on his hands like always?  Either way, you and the other fan boys will praise his inactivity, apologize for him, and explain why he sat on his hands.  There is no excuse, his team has plateaued, his core players are getting older, and he needs some new blood and fast, does he have the stones to make the moves?  I doubt it, and given that the media and fans don’t hold him accountable, he can continue to make his 7 figure salary while doing nothing to make this team better.

Posted by bababooey on 04/01/13 at 10:15 AM ET

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But I contend that’s stupid.

I completely agree, but they see him as an acceptable top-six replacement forward, so I really don’t see them dealing him.  I also think that the fact they way overpaid him shows what they think of him.

Of course, if he had shown that he belongs in the top six for more than one game, he could’ve been traded for a pretty solid return.

I have a serious question: do people just not understand with how a hard-capped league works?  It’s literally impossible to be consistently successful to the degree the Wings were pre-cap.  Literally impossible.

The cap has nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with not preparing for Lidstrom’s retirement.  It has nothing to do with making a move like trading your first rounder for Quincey and then re-signing him to a contract that is too big and for too long.  It has nothing to do with overpaying Tootoo and Abdelkader and nothing to do with re-signing Samuelsson and giving him a no trade.  It has nothing to do with signing a defenseman made of fake Hollywood sugar glass to a two- year deal.

What the fans here seem to want is for their GM to be so incredibly dominant that he can keep the team performing at a high level in spite of any degree of injury and to keep a steady stream of elite talent coming onto the system despite never having a top 10 pick, ever.

The injuries are irrelevant.  Completely irrelevant.  The team is mediocre even if they were completely healthy.  Injuries are just an excuse, not an explanation.

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 10:19 AM ET

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He’s right Garth, the Wings would be competing with Chicago for top record if not for the injuries to Samuelsson, Bertuzzi and Cocacolio (whatever).  Interesting way to spin things.

Posted by bababooey on 04/01/13 at 10:24 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

amazing how quickly people forget what Gus did in the back-to-back-to-back road wins last weekend.

if you place ANY blame on him for yesterday, then you don’t know what you were watching.  it’s as simple as that.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/01/13 at 10:35 AM ET

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if you place ANY blame on him for yesterday, then you don’t know what you were watching.

Completely agree.  He’s probably tied for last place on who should get the blame for yesterday.

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 10:50 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

The Chicago Blackhawks, looking for a No. 2 centre rental so Dave Bolland can be their No. 3 guy, have been monitoring this situation. But would Detroit trade him to a division rival and a possible playoff foe this year?

As Valek indicated, whether or not Chicago has Fil in their lineup, the Wings aren’t going to beat them if they meet in the playoffs. Hell, the Hawks creamed the Wings without Sharp or Hossa. So sell the “full of potential” guy to the highest bidder and move on.

As for the Tootoo signing, the money may be a bit much, but I think he’s brought a lot more benefit to the Wings than just having a guy who’s willing to drop the gloves with anyone in the league. I think his energy is a big reason Emmerton has played the best hockey of his short career. He’s hitting more people and blocking more shots than he ever has. IMO, playing alongside Tootoo is the reason.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/01/13 at 10:51 AM ET

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Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/01/13 at 11:51 AM ET

You might be right about Tootoo, and I actually have liked him on the team, but my main problem is that he and Abdelkader play a similar role and either one of them would be overpaid as it is but to have both of them and to pay them both that much is ludicrous.

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 10:57 AM ET

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@HinHD
I think your real issue isn’t that the people you are having trouble with are stupid or uneducated in hockey it’s that you have not a shred of empathy. Because of this you come across as hostile, rude and a dick. These are all traits of a bulky and hence you have repeatedly been called a troll by others and no one takes you seriously here (most of the time).

Redwing fans are in trouble here. Most, I gather, have been fans for 10-15 years and don’t remember at all what the team was like with a young yzerman nor the time before that. Winning is all most fans have known. None, I bet, follow other teams that have gone through rebuilding years (Pittsburg went through more than just losing years to build the franchise they have now. They nearly folded after one of Mario’s retirements). Red wing fans do not know theses times (which you have pointed out). Red wing coaches and GMs have more than the average team’s expectations to win (you have pointed this out too) because of this fact. When weighing that point, yes, Holland and Babs are failing. Failing badly. That is what people see.

What is wrong isn’t that Holland isn’t good at his job, its that his job was too easy while Detroit was at its peak. Players wanted to play there. The money and championships were there. There was a great assembly of players top to bottom. Why wouldn’t Luke or Brett want to play there?

Holland hasn’t caught up to the salary cap. I guess this is really what you are saying but it’s so damn difficult to sift through you contemp for others being so stupid that the point is lost. People are actually upset by this because he (and they) still think that free agency builds teams. Fans just went through an incredible hyped summer of landing two star players. I’ve never seen this much hype over a fee agency period. Fans were talking like it was a done deal. The two hottest FAs would be wearing a winged jersey. Guess what, did anyone learn something from Brad Stewart? Hockey players aren’t all after the money. They, more than other athletes follow other motivations when making decisions. Sure zack and Ryan got their money but they also went home. That’s a strong pull that Brad poetically displayed last spring and DeKeyser has recently reminded us of this fact as well.

I suggest you shut you compete off for the remainder of the season and spend some time analysing what you aren’t doing that will make you a benefit to other people. Spend some time home to reground yourself in humanity. A reminder of where you came from will put perspective into how to move forward.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 04/01/13 at 11:02 AM ET

statelouis26's avatar

Holland’s two cavernous mistakes were not going all out when the 2008 core was still together and not getting anything for players that were out the door.  When Lidstrom was still on the team and Datysuk/Z were in their prime he should have done everything to try for cups in that window.  He could have signed Franzen AND Hossa at the expense of bottom six depth.  I’m not going to fault the Franzen signing because there was no indication that he would be a bum at the time.  Knowing that Hudler, Stuart and others were leaving he should have moved them for picks or something at the TD instead of letting them walk following first round exits.

Now Holland needs to avoid making the same mistake again by keeping Filppula and Cleary.  Cleary is not likely worth much but a pick (5th?) is better than nothing.  As has been mentioned a lot, Fil has to be moved at this TD if he wont accept less than $4M/per.  White has to be moved as well.  Samuelsson and Cola have to be bought out at seasons end.  I’d rather Q be dealt but that would be the equivalent of throwing a 1st right in the toilet.  Let the team continue to make the playoff push on its own.  If the Wings don’t make it, that sucks but not the worst thing for the future.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 04/01/13 at 11:08 AM ET

statelouis26's avatar

amazing how quickly people forget what Gus did in the back-to-back-to-back road wins last weekend.  if you place ANY blame on him for yesterday, then you don’t know what you were watching.  it’s as simple as that.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/01/13 at 11:35 AM ET

Nice point.  Monster was thrown in a game that was lost after puck drop.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 04/01/13 at 11:11 AM ET

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Nice point.  Monster was thrown in a game that was lost after puck drop.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 04/01/13 at 12:11 PM ET

I thought a few of the goals were saves he could have made, but wouldn’t have mattered.  He certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that his teammates were letting the Hawks skate with impunity where ever they wanted.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 04/01/13 at 11:17 AM ET

statelouis26's avatar

What is wrong isn’t that Holland isn’t good at his job, its that his job was too easy while Detroit was at its peak.
Posted by howeandhowe on 04/01/13 at 12:02 PM ET

I don’t think Holland is bad at his job, he just has not done a good job as of late.  There are at least 20 other GMs in the league that are probably worse, a lot worse.  Holland and his team are still quite good at finding talent.  He failed to act the past few years undoubtedly but who out there could the Wings bring in that’s better?  Holland has the rings (I know its questionable how much was Scotty’s doing) and I’d rather give him the opportunity to dig himself out that bring in an unknown.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 04/01/13 at 11:20 AM ET

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To me Holland hasn’t done a bad job the past few years, he’s done a safe job.  He’s made sure the Wings can get in the playoffs and then have a chance, even if it’s an outside chance, of winning the Cup.  Unfortunately for many Wings’ fans, that yes have been spoiled for the past 20 years, that’s not good enough.  We want the Wings to be a lock for the playoffs and have a real good chance to win the Cup.

Holland doesn’t seem willing to take a chance to shake things up significantly for fear of missing the playoffs.  He may be right in a way since the uproar from the fan base if the Wings miss the playoffs would be rather immense I imagine.

Yes, Bettman’s parity has made just getting into the playoffs a viable way to run a team, but to me all you’re doing is gambling that you can win the Cup.  I’d like to see Holland take some chances.  I’ll certainly be upset if the Wings miss the playoffs, but I’d rather see them miss the playoffs to create a better team for the future than to make the playoffs and be in the same “if we get in we have a chance” mode next year.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 04/01/13 at 11:36 AM ET

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I don’t have an opinion as to whether Holland is good at his job or not, I’d have to see him actually do something grin.  In all seriousness, he is not Jay Feaster of course, but he is extremely overrated and for some reason beyond reproach when it comes to assigning blame.  Why?  He’s the highest paid front office person, has the most help, has an owner who spends money like a fan spending someone else’s money.  To me, there are no excuses anymore, there is no foresight, it just seems that he sits on his hands and comes up with comments like ‘I like our team” and “.....is like a deadline acquisition” stuff that insults the fanbase.  The fanbase that is becoming more and more apathetic, while the owner tries to get a new arena in place.

Posted by bababooey on 04/01/13 at 11:37 AM ET

d ca's avatar

Holland should be on the phone with Phoenix going after Yandle. Phoenix has both young talent and depth at the defensive position to make a 1st pair d-man available (ignoring JBo in Calgary because of the cap hit). Phoenix has Ekman-Larsson, Goncharov, Gormerly (10th best prospect in 2012 Hockey News Future Watch that just turned 21 in Feb), Murphy (turned 20 in March), Rundblad (turning 23 in Oct), Stone (turning 23), and Summers. Phoenix also has young goalies (Visentin, Lee, and Johnson). What they don’t have is skilled forwards. The obvious cost is going to be Filppula, insert one (Nyquist, Tatar, or Jurco), Emmerton, and a pick(s?).

After adding him then turn your attention to forwards via the defensive depth. How many 2nd pairing talent guys do you want to carry when scoring is an issue?

If that fails, both Filppula and White need to be dealt before the deadline. Filppula seeking $5M a season is not realistic given his career stats scoring 20+ goals once in 6 full seasons (plus not being close to that pace during this shortened season). It’s goal scorers that are paid the $$$. Why let him walk for nothing (like Hudler)? White played his way to the #7-8 d-man spot and clearly had no idea how detrimental his play was compared to even rookies: why not sell when prices are highest for offensive d-man rentals? I think it is totally realistic to be able to deal both these guys and still make the playoffs—-but if not, the new NHL lottery system can potentially be an even bigger reward.

Brunner, Miller, and Howard are the only UFA I want back (Miller fills a role while being able to chip in goals—a good quality for the 4th liner he is. Plus you know he won’t take days off b/c he’ll hear about it from family and friends in the stands). 

By clearing space the Wings could go after a deadline player, buyout, or UFA. Using that 5M towards someone like a Vanek (possible buyout candidate but probably going to be Leino), Stafford (trade candidate), Heatley (buyout), Gaborik (buyout), Stajan (buyout), Ruutu (buyout), Horcoff (buyout), Justin Williams(buyout), Ryan(either?) or Havlat. And there is also the UFA’s too.

Posted by d ca on 04/01/13 at 12:54 PM ET

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Miller fills a role while being able to chip in goals—a good quality for the 4th liner he is.

The only thing is that he fills the exact same role as Eaves, though Eaves has a right hand shot, more offensive upside and is still under contract.  I like Miller, but Detroit has too many bottom six forwards (and too much money tied up in the bottom six, thankyouverymuchJordinandJustin) as it is.

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 01:17 PM ET

d ca's avatar

Garth
The cap has nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with not preparing for Lidstrom’s retirement.

Sorry to put you in your place, but the Wings have been focusing on Lidstrom’s departure since after winning the back-to-back cups when his contract was expiring and he was openly talking about raising his young kids in Sweden.

Beyond that they were actively looking to replace Osgood, Legace, Hasek, and Jospeh with a young franchise goalie.

Take a look at how they used their 1st round picks:
‘98 Fisher,
‘99 traded pick for Chelios
‘00 Kronwall,
‘01 traded pick for Chelios
‘02 exception as they drafted forwards
‘03 Howard,
‘05 Kindl,
‘07 Smith,
‘08 McCollum,

So you are telling me that picking 4 d-men, trading for another franchise d-man that cost another 2 picks wasn’t preparing for Lidstrom’s retirement?

BS

and that isn’t even getting into dealing for Quincey (a minute eater and solid #4 d-man with a potential upside) knowing that you’d lose both Stuart and Lidstrom, but had a huge home winning streak and probably 1 last run at the Cup for a few years….

Posted by d ca on 04/01/13 at 01:30 PM ET

d ca's avatar

—-Garth

The only thing is that he (MIller) fills the exact same role as Eaves, though Eaves has a right hand shot, more offensive upside and is still under contract.  I like Miller, but Detroit has too many bottom six forwards (and too much money tied up in the bottom six, thankyouverymuchJordinandJustin) as it is.

Miller costs 0.84M this year. Eaves costs 1.2M. Even when raising Miller’s cap hit with a new contract that number is still probably cheaper than some of the guys you mention: Abdelkader’s 1.8M, Eaves 1.2M. Face it the term hometown discount applies to Miller (and the whole trying hard because of playing in front of friends and family every night does too).

Eaves had more offensive upside, but ever since the concussion he hasn’t been the same player. In the 32 games since he has 7 points with one goal. Miller in his last 32 games has 4 goals (14 the previous year). Eaves isn’t even shooting that much any more and his ice time has continued to slide. Beyond that he is at higher risk to have a career ending injury and is approx the same age as Miller.

So the logical thing to do would be keep Miller and trade Abdelkader and Eaves saving the 0.5M per year and getting that same role for less and getting the high deadline prices available.

Also paying a 4th liner around a 1M that can score 10 goals a year isn’t spending too much money on the bottom six. By the way this example is Andersson—who will still cost more than Miller and be the same bottom 6 forward too.

Posted by d ca on 04/01/13 at 01:51 PM ET

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So you are telling me that picking 4 d-men, trading for another franchise d-man that cost another 2 picks wasn’t preparing for Lidstrom’s retirement?

Yes, I am.  Simply drafting defensemen isn’t the same as preparing for retirement.  They’ve drafted a bunch of centres too, does that mean they won’t miss Datsyuk when he leaves?

When Rafalski retired, they brought in a journeyman to play with Lidstrom.  They signed a stopgap, then when Lidstrom retired they tried to sign another stopgap.

Quincey is not a replacement for Lidstrom.  Hell, Holland has even admitted that they were going to try to replace him by committee.  Losing a #1, a #2 and a #3/4 in two years and not bringing in a single top four defenseman is not preparing.  If they were preparing for Lidstrom’s departure then they wouldn’t have panicked and signed Colaiacovo to that shit contract.

Posted by d ca on 04/01/13 at 02:51 PM ET

I don’t disagree with any one thing you said, but I think you missed my point, which was that Eaves is still under contract while Miller is a free agent.

If they both had a contract ending this summer then I could definitely see choosing Miller over Eaves (though I would personally pick Eaves because I think that Eaves’ offensive upside puts him above Miller), but the choice for me is easy.  Do you keep Eaves and let Miller go or do you try to find a trading partner for Eaves and then hope you can re-sign Miller to less than you had Eaves for?  For me there’s no question.  Keeping Eaves is the easy choice.

And again, like I said, Detroit has too many bottom six forwards, and it’s easier to say goodbye to Miller than it is to try and trade Abdelkader or Tootoo (although I would rather have Miller than either of those guys).

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 02:49 PM ET

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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.