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The Malik Report

Questioning Detroit’s Defense

Ansar Khan of Mlive answers some questions from the fans...

Q: One of the most disappointing things about our defense last season was that we were playing (Jonathan) Ericsson and (Kyle) Quincey over (Alexey) Marchenko and (Brendan) Smith. While I understand everyone's frustration about obtaining a top-three D-man proving to be too difficult through trade, I'm all right with our current defensive pairs so long as we put Ericsson-(Niklas) Kronwall on the bottom pairing, reducing their minutes. I know Marchenko will probably never be a top pairing D-man, but I truly believe that Smith has potential to be at least top three, especially after seeing his advanced stats compared to other D-men. Am I crazy thinking that we could be all right (and possibly even successful) with the current D-men we have right now?

A: You're not crazy for thinking that. But, defense remains a big concern and many things must fall into place. How will Kronwall's knee hold up? Can Ericsson rebound from a bad season? Will Smith step up in a contract year? Will they get more production from Mike Green? Can Danny DeKeyser and Marchenko take the next step? Is Xavier Ouellet ready for full-time duty? What do they have in Ryan Sproul?

They're essentially replacing Quincey -- one of their more consistent defensemen the past couple of seasons, someone who played with grit – with Ouellet (on the roster, not necessarily in the lineup). That, in itself, doesn't make the defense better. But, individually, they all have room to improve.

Kronwall's minutes must be trimmed. He should be rested on some back-to-back situations. He can't be matched up against top lines as much and should be shifted to the second power-play unit.

Even if some of these players improve to make the unit better, they still need that top-three defenseman at some point.

read on for more Q & A...

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Comments

lakeside mall's avatar

im not concerned with adding a top 3 as we arent going anywhere even if we had doughty ,
only thing that matters this season is maintaining the very important streak which N.O.B.O.D.Y.
else has . even great teams rarely win cups and lose in earlier rounds making for seasons that
add up to nothing for their fans long term . within a few seasons they fall back from the pace and lose their luster . meanwhile 25 year streak continuously has luster . so my focus is on trading a winger / wingers for a d prospect whom im believing has #1 potential . trading for a #1 potential prospect would cost the same as trading for an nhl proven #3 . and teams dont trade nhl experienced dmen theyve seen a few years that theyre in love with , they only trade guys they arent super high on . and if we trade a nyquist / tatar weve wingers around that can step right in and near replace their output . mantha being one and imo frk another not to mention pulu whom had bad shoulder hampering his holy slapper last season . we trade a nyquist we save frk from waivers getting him his shot . mantha stays in gr ready if frk falters . then december pulu comes back and we decide stuff then . nyquist +  to ducks for shea theodore

Posted by lakeside mall on 08/15/16 at 08:12 AM ET

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so my focus is on trading a winger / wingers for a d prospect whom im believing has #1 potential

Well get it done already, please!

Posted by Garth on 08/15/16 at 08:43 AM ET

Colin's avatar

Can Ericsson rebound from a bad season?

I won’t hold my breath.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 08/15/16 at 09:04 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Abandon all hope, ye who play defense here.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 08/15/16 at 09:22 AM ET

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Abandon all hope, because of those who play defense here.

That’s more in line with my feelings…

Posted by Garth on 08/15/16 at 10:06 AM ET

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Can Ericsson rebound from a bad season?

I think this type of thinking adds to the bigger issue. DRW management thinks E is a good dman who had a bad season. In my opinion E did not have a bad season, he is just a bad dman at this stage of his career and will not get magically better at the age of 32. In general that whole “improvement from within” philosophy is good when they talk about 20-22 year olds (like Larkin and AA), but guys like Abby, Helm, Glen, Kron, Z are not going to get better at this point of their careers, they can only stay on the same level or get worse. And that’s fine as long as KH understands that fact and based on the contracts he is giving to Helm, Abby and Glen, I am not sure he lives in reality. I do not even think DK can get better unless he is paired with a true #1 dman which we do not have. Tatar and Nyquist can get better (which would mean a return to 2014-15 numbers), but not many more players we have.

Posted by VPalmer on 08/15/16 at 11:37 AM ET

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Abby, Helm, Glen, Kron, Z are not going to get better at this point of their careers, they can only stay on the same level or get worse

They’re not necessarily going to get better, but they may get better production depending on health (Z, Kron) or the line they end up on (Abdelkader).

Posted by Garth on 08/15/16 at 12:24 PM ET

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Can Ericsson rebound from a bad season?

No, but I’m sure he can stand there and watch as other teams’ players pounce on that rebound and stuff it in the net.

Posted by Garth on 08/15/16 at 01:01 PM ET

lakeside mall's avatar

green - dekeyser
kronwall - marchenko
smith - ouellet
sproul
- - - - - - - -
russo
lashoff

ive confidence in ouellet in his own end , he doesnt panic with puck and plays smart positionally without it . not a very impressive d but it has mobility

maybe we could dump ericsson on benning who might like to add another swede

Posted by lakeside mall on 08/15/16 at 04:54 PM ET

SnarkinLarkin's avatar

@Lakesid mall - I like your line combos (based on our current roster), but the problem is - what do we do with Big E? If he were waived is there any chance (please? at least a slim chance?) of another team picking him up?

Posted by SnarkinLarkin on 08/15/16 at 05:47 PM ET

lakeside mall's avatar

ive not seen one fan or reporter think somebody would take ericssons contract for less than a huge asset going with him , the 4x4.25 contract makes him dead in the water unless you send a real good prospect or pick with him is the veiwpoint of everyone ive read

Posted by lakeside mall on 08/15/16 at 06:26 PM ET

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Maybe there is a slim chance of trading Big E’s contract for another bad contract but what would you accomplish. The only real option, imo, is to buy him out, unless he can magically be put on the LTIR.

With Big E and Kronwall taking up a lot of cap space and being played for what their cap space suggests they are worth is going to cause many of us heaps of frustration this coming season. Will Kenny have the intestinal fortitude to cut him loose if by the 20 game mark he is playing like he did last year? That would mean demoting him to GR, something I simply don’t see happening.

Posted by NewfieWing on 08/15/16 at 06:45 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

DRW management thinks E is a good dman who had a bad season.

Concerns me, too.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 08/15/16 at 07:01 PM ET

lakeside mall's avatar

newfie ive been thinking of a bad forward contract because it’d save losing sproul and allow us to trade forwards for a top level d prospect . many say hartnell a bad contract , dont think cbj want ericsson though im not sure . but if did and we had to add something we gain a year on hartnells shorter contract plus add a big rugged forward we need . then ott n miller can be put on waivers moving up and down to save losing frk whom i want to give a shot

Posted by lakeside mall on 08/15/16 at 07:22 PM ET

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being played for what their cap space suggests they are worth is going to cause many of us heaps of frustration this coming season.

Even if that’s the case, they shouldn’t be any higher than second-pairing, which would be better than last year.

Posted by Garth on 08/16/16 at 07:46 AM 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.