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The Malik Report

The Jiri Hudler issue, part 2: why he might choose to explore free agency and leave the Red Wings

Updated with Parise/Suter talk at 1:16 PM: The comment section went a little crazy after I posted an article in which the Free Press’s Helene St. James suggested that, despite the Wings’ need for a goal-scorer, they may not retain Jiri Hudler’s services, and MLive’s Ansar Khan provides a corollary to St. James’ argument:

Put simply, given the incredibly thin crop of goal-scorers available in this summer’s free agent class, Hudler will probably be able to earn much more than the Wings could slot him in for, and that’s why Khan believes that Hudler will leave the Wings to cash in

[D]espite making coaches happy by going to the net, Hudler remains one-dimensional. He’s not strong defensively, can’t kill penalties and doesn’t skate well.

The Red Wings would like to retain him, but probably at no more than around $3.3 million per season. They won’t pay Hudler more than Johan Franzen, whose cap hit is $3.95 million. They also aren’t going to give Hudler more than what they project paying Filppula on his next deal.

Filppula is coming off a breakout season with career highs in goals (23) and points (66), even though he struggled in the playoffs (no goals, two assists). He’s strong defensively, he kills penalties, he’s a fast skater and a more complete player than Hudler. Entering the final year of his contract at $3.5 million (with a $3 million cap hit), Filppula could make a case for being slotted ahead of Franzen on the pay scale. Regardless, he’s ahead of Hudler in the pecking order.

The Red Wings won’t fret if Hudler leaves. They could use the money to pursue somebody like Semin, Jones, PA Parenteau of the New York Islanders or Ryan Smyth, if he doesn’t return to Edmonton. That’s assuming Parise stays in New Jersey.

Plus, it would provide promising Gustav Nyquist with a greater opportunity to log more ice time and play on a top-two line. They also have Tomas Tatar, a grittier, better-skating version of Hudler, waiting in the wings.

After the Red Wings were eliminated by the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs, Hudler told M-Live, “Obviously, everybody knows how I feel about Detroit. I like it, the fans. I don’t know (about the future). We’ll see. It’s a great group. It’s a great hockey team.’‘

As Khan suggests, given that Hudler might be able to make $4 million or more on the open market, just as it’s hard to imagine the Wings retaining him, it’s hard to believe that Hudler’s agent, Petr Svoboda, has any intention of allowing his client to do anything less than cash in as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Update: Speaking of free agents looking for greener pastures, ESPN’s Craig Custance pondered whether Zach Parise or Ryan Suter might choose Minnesota over Detroit in his latest subscriber-only insider blog entry:

The influx of high-end talent will also be a selling point on July 1. Fletcher can’t say it, but expect the Wild to make a serious run at Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, armed with the salary cap flexibility created during the past year. Money won’t be an issue, but convincing these players that they can win in Minnesota will be.

Parise has Minnesota connections, which may help the cause with him, but why would Suter leave a perennial playoff team in Nashville to take a chance on the Wild? Why would he roll the dice with Minnesota when the Detroit Red Wings can offer salary and a track record of deep playoff success?

That will be the challenge this summer for [GM Chuck] Fletcher and the Wild.

“When you look at our team, we think there could be potentially a confluence of several positive factors for us going forward,” he said. “The infusion of the young players with an awful lot of cap flexibility. We feel certainly this summer and the years going forward, we have our best opportunity yet to dramatically improve our team.”

Also:

I found it interesting that Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison would talk so openly about his interest in joining the Vancouver Canucks, especially since he’s still in talks with the Panthers about a contract extension and won’t hit the market until July 1. When I spoke with Panthers GM Dale Tallon about it, he said not to read into the comments too much, and he remains confident a deal can be completed before July 1.

“I have no issue with what he said,” Tallon said. “He said he’d prefer to stay in Florida. We feel the same way about him. We have to make sure it’s right for both parties. We like his development and what he brought to the table playing with [Brian] Campbell. We’re looking forward to continuing the relationship.”

 

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Comments

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Primis's avatar

I’d like Hudler to stay, honestly.  I saw signs of real progress in his game and I think the Wings need him.  As infuriating as he is at times, there’s also times where he’s the only one that seems to have it clicking (even mentally).  Truthfully, I think the Wings would need to spend the offseason finding Jiri the right linemates and then not jerk him around the lineup.

If the choice is Hudler or Semin though…  ohmygod a million times Hudler, please.

However, if he wants a pay-day the Wings need to let him go.  Inconsistent 20 goal-scorers shouldn’t command $4m or $5m/yr and I’d bet someone out there would be willing to give him that.  And if he goes, the Wings need to move one of the youngsters into his spot honestly.

Posted by Primis on 05/24/12 at 11:46 AM ET

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Semi with Pavel could be magic.
Bye bye Happy.

Posted by Acim on 05/24/12 at 11:52 AM ET

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However, if he wants a pay-day the Wings need to let him go.

I agree, but I am a little surprised that the media thinks that’s the case.  Didn’t he just try that and realize that it was better in detroit?

Posted by jwad on 05/24/12 at 12:00 PM ET

Ducksworth's avatar

Let him walk, we need changes.

Posted by Ducksworth from Brownstown, MI on 05/24/12 at 12:25 PM ET

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scoring 25 goals one time in a contract year getting an entire season playing with very good players doesn’t earn one the designation ‘25 goal scorer’ as it is implied by George, above.

Doing something once doesn’t imply it should be expected as a common level of performance, and doing something with a whole year of Z and Fil (and very good offensive dmen behind him to boot) doesn’t imply it will be done in the future, either.

Even still, supposing for the moment that Hudler actually is a ‘25 goal scorer’, Hudler is so one-dimensional that paying him more than 2.5 to score those 25 goals is a mistake.

Semin is just a better but more expensive version of Hudler.

Detroit got beat this year because their bottom 6 is way worse than their bottom 6 has been when they were recently successful in the postseason.  Helm, Abdelkader and Cleary are substantially less effective than Draper, Maltby and Samuelsson were.  Stuart has been a barely average dman for two seasons now.  Toss in some inconsistent goaltending instead of Osgood’s routinely elite playoff performances and voila!

Plateau.

Signing Hudler or even someone just like Hudler is a mistake.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/24/12 at 12:31 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Hudler is a 20-goal-scorer on average, plus or minus a couple of goals here or there. I’m not implying anything.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/24/12 at 12:43 PM ET

Chris from NOHS's avatar

Wow, HockeyinHD. 

I agree that the bottom six wasn’t as good as it was in the past, but that’s because Helm wasn’t playing and Abby was way over his head playing on the third line.  You throw Helm and Eaves back in the mix and Detroit has the best bottom six outside of this new version of LA in the league. 

And while I love Ozzy, if he had played the exact same way this playoffs for the Wings as he did in ‘08, the Wings still would have lost.  Howard was not the problem here. 

Stuart has certainly had his ups and downs, but he’s a strong D man.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 05/24/12 at 12:46 PM ET

BrendonR's avatar

Helm, Abdelkader and Cleary are substantially less effective than Draper, Maltby and Samuelsson were.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/24/12 at 10:31 AM ET

I will certainly argue with you on Helmer with that one - to me he’s even more effective than the guys mentioned.  The reason our Bottom 6 was worse than years previous was because Helmer played all of like 2 seconds in the playoffs.  Pretty sure Babs cited that as a big reason as well.  Eaves, Helm and Miller are some of the best Bottom 6 guys in the League and none look out of place when slotted in briefly in the Top 6.  I personally have always felt Patty Eaves deserved a longer look on one of the top two lines.

Posted by BrendonR on 05/24/12 at 12:50 PM ET

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Didn’t he just try that and realize that it was better in detroit?

Well, to be fair, he tried the KHL and realized the NHL was better.

I would be concerned that his two best years have been contract years.  Is he going to end up being Alexander Mogilny, only stepping it up when he’s in line for a new deal?  We’ve already got Johan Franzen who, when he signed his lifetime deal, decided he doesn’t need to try.

Helm, Abdelkader and Cleary are substantially less effective than Draper, Maltby and Samuelsson were.

I honestly think Helm is better than Draper or Maltby were, but the problem is that guys who were fourth liners are now third liners.  We essentially had two fourth lines this year and and no.  Guys like Bertuzzi, Cleary and Hudler should be third-liners, not first- or second-liners

Posted by Garth on 05/24/12 at 12:54 PM ET

NIVO's avatar

well if hudler walks, then lets get Gus in there. The man needs the ice time and I think he would do just fine. Personally I cant wait to see a healthy Helmer and Eaves again. I think you might see quite a few moves come from the draft and not necessarily from free agency. Which could in turn, make the free agency tighter. Hope tick tock has everything lined up, its gonna be a fight to secure the talent out there.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 05/24/12 at 01:05 PM ET

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Well, to be fair, he tried the KHL and realized the NHL was better.

But still, if he only cared about money, he never would have come back.

I would be concerned that his two best years have been contract years.

I’m not sure this is fair.  He was making consistent progress leading up to the end of his first contract. He was awarded a two year contract in arbitration.  He took a big step backwards coming back from the KHL, before getting back to the pace that was expected. 

Guys like Bertuzzi, Cleary and Hudler should be third-liners, not first- or second-liners

This I completely agree with.  and why i think they should try to sing him at a low cap hit.  Adding another 50+ point forward rather than replacing one for another one who is marginally better, but also not as familiar with the team.  But this also may be the biggest reason why the wings let him go, as cleary and bertuzzi are under contract so Hudler may be the odd man out.

Posted by jwad on 05/24/12 at 01:20 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

If it was up to me, I would not even offer Hudler a contract, maybe trade early negotiating rights at the draft.
He screwed the Wings when he ran off to the KHL.  The Wings had to choose between Samuelson and Hudler, they couldn’t afford both.  They chose Hudler and let Sammy go.  Hudler flees and that left a big hole in the Wings roster.  Screw him.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 05/24/12 at 01:55 PM ET

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hudler sucks. rather have semin even if he costs more. lots, lots more talent than hudler.

Posted by callmedrw from detroit on 05/24/12 at 02:14 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

he doesn’t score 40+ goals a season
Posted by bleep bloop on 05/23/12 at 03:51 PM ET

j

How many do?

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/24/12 at 02:18 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

“Guys like Bertuzzi, Cleary and Hudler should be third-liners, not first- or second-liners “

I agree they aren’t 2nd liners but can they all play 3rd line roles? Cleary maybe Bert and Huds no, IMO.

So if you can’t play top 6 or Bottom 6?

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 05/24/12 at 02:22 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Didn’t he just try that and realize that it was better in detroit?
Posted by jwad on 05/24/12 at 10:00 AM ET

Detroit was better than the KHL, only after he banked a $5M tax free season.  Detroit at $3M may not be better than another franchise at $4M, especially when he feels Detroit likely posturing a passive, stand-offish manner (clearly that’s only my guess).

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/24/12 at 02:24 PM ET

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I agree they aren’t 2nd liners but can they all play 3rd line roles?

I’m not necessarily saying I would like them to be the third line, just that they’re not top six.

I really wish the Wings didn’t re-sign Bert because he’s been the most effective playing with Datsyuk, but he absolutely should not be on the top line.  And we’ve got him for two more years.  Yay.

And Hudler’s numbers were lower this year than they were in his last contract year while he’s had an expanded role.  Seven fewer points while playing two more minutes per game.

If Cleary was ever healthy, I would love him on the third line with Helm and someone else, and I think that Abdelkader, Miller and Eaves would be a dynamite fourth line.

Posted by Garth on 05/24/12 at 02:35 PM ET

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So if you can’t play top 6 or Bottom 6?

I guess this depends on what role you want/are able to have,  your 3rd line to play.  We’rent Hudler and Fil playing on the third line in 08 and 09. 

If you want a 3rd line thats only a checking line, then your right, Hudler probably isnt that guy.  Or, you can try and add more scoring wingers, and have three lines that can contribute offense.

Posted by jwad on 05/24/12 at 02:36 PM ET

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Detroit was better than the KHL, only after he banked a $5M tax free season.

Exactly.  He didn’t even choose Detroit specifically.  He chose the NHL over the KHL, and because Detroit owned his rights, that’s where he’s playing. 

If he signed a deal for the exact some dollars, I wouldn’t be against him playing in Detroit, but that would take some loytalty and he hasn’t shown any loyalty to Detroit, so why should we expect it now.

Posted by Garth on 05/24/12 at 02:38 PM ET

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Posted by jwad on 05/24/12 at 12:36 PM ET

If Detroit can fine good wingers for Zetterberg it wouldn’t be terrible to have Hudler and Filppula on the third line with a Cleary or Bertuzzi or something.

Posted by Garth on 05/24/12 at 02:41 PM ET

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If Detroit can fine good wingers for Zetterberg it wouldn’t be terrible to have Hudler and Filppula on the third line with a Cleary or Bertuzzi or something.

Thats what im thinking.  If they can find a good winger, try to keep him around for cheap, cause it will be hard to get two good wingers, and they will get huds for less, and he is a known quantity.

But if you cant find a good winger, then what option do you have but to go with hudler.  I’m not convinced Nyquist is read to fill a top 6 role and contribute 40+ points just yet.  He will be, but not quite yet.

Posted by jwad on 05/24/12 at 02:55 PM ET

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I agree that the bottom six wasn’t as good as it was in the past, but that’s because Helm wasn’t playing and Abby was way over his head playing on the third line.  You throw Helm and Eaves back in the mix and Detroit has the best bottom six outside of this new version of LA in the league.

Regarding Helm vs. Draper.  Helm is a mediocre at best faceoff guy, and a mediocre at best man-on man defender.  His primary (and nearly sole) defensive utility is that his speed allows him to convert turnovers into immediate scoring chances on the other end.

That is a useful and important skill.

HOWEVER, Draper was a player who could match up defensively against the other teams top center or #2 center, even in the faceoff circle, and be effective against them both on the ice and on the dot.

At this point in his career, Helm’s substantially inferior to Draper’s contributions in both regards.

Whomever one wants to compare to Maltby (Eaves or Abby or Miller), Maltby was a superior defender in degrees varying from substantial to galactic.

Stuart’s been a significantly overrated dman in Detroit for 2 full seasons now, if not longer.  Decent, but hardly more.  An incredibly limited offensive player who can play physically, but whose general level of defense is far lower than most think it is.  It is far from coincidental that Detroit’s PK has suffered with him leading it.

And if Detroit had gotten Osgoodian postseason goaltending in either of the past two years they get at least a round farther, if not more.  Howard is far from the reason Detroit has fallen short, but he’s definitely been a reason.  One of the metrics I remember hearing lobbed at Osgood was that he was always outplayed by the other goaltender.

We’re now 3 playoff seasons into Howard’s tenure in Detroit and the guy has been a pretty pedestrian 13-15 with a 2.63 GAA and a .914.  For the playoffs those are extremely ‘meh’ numbers, and ones I’d hazard to guess that the significant majority of the oppositions goalies have substantially exceeded.

Not the reason, but a reason.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/24/12 at 03:14 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

HOWEVER, Draper was a player who could match up defensively against the other teams top center or #2 center, even in the faceoff circle, and be effective against them both on the ice and on the dot.

Helm isn’t utilized like that, but when he’s on the ice against skilled competition, he’s very good defensively. Draper was also able to match up defensively against other teams top center or #2 center by grabbing and obstructing him.  This is part of the reason many coaches have gone from traditional line-3-vs-line-1 matching like Bowman liked to do. 

and you’re completely wrong about his defensive talents. Helm is a mediocre-at-best ZONE defender, but he’s perhaps one of the better man defenders.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/24/12 at 04:04 PM ET

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As long as they keep filppula, i dont mind if huddler goes. bring on nyquist!!

Posted by haig from Leeds on 05/24/12 at 04:05 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

If it was up to me, I would not even offer Hudler a contract, maybe trade early negotiating rights at the draft.
He screwed the Wings when he ran off to the KHL.  The Wings had to choose between Samuelson and Hudler, they couldn’t afford both.  They chose Hudler and let Sammy go.  Hudler flees and that left a big hole in the Wings roster.  Screw him.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 05/24/12 at 11:55 AM ET

Right as rain, Gramps. Buh-bye, Happy. No Wings payday for you!

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!! In ’13

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 05/24/12 at 04:10 PM ET

TKShreve's avatar

A lot of good points made here.

One thing I wanted to address is size and playoff performance. We have a variety of players (and team for that matter) that excels in the regular season, but has problems adjusting to post season playing levels. While Hudler may pop 25 goals in the regular season, he is not as effective in the post season when other teams open the jar of grit. Happy is not tough on the puck (nor does he have the capability). If we pick up Parise, and I hope we do, we’ll have a lot of guys who are below average size. That’s all good in the regular season, but most often becomes a liability when trying to win in the playoffs vs. much better, bigger rosters.

Parise certainly plays larger than he is, which offsets his actual size. Same with Helm. No problem there. But without grit from Z, Mule, Big E (what an oxymoron), Cleary, Fil…..... etc. I think we just get bumped around too much and overpowered. I also will say that IMO Pavel was not the aggressive checker he normally is in the post season. I wanna say he was still injured or playing conservatively.

In conclusion, keeping Hudler only adds to the unbalanced size issue we have against other playoff teams. Again, he’ll give you 25+ during the season, but disappear when playoffs arrive.

Think size Kenny.

Posted by TKShreve from East Uptown on 05/24/12 at 04:17 PM ET

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Ha I love everyone just assuming Parise is going to leave NJ for Detroit.  He has said yes, its about the money, but its also about where he has the best chance to win.  Why would he think that is going to be the team that got bumped out Round 1 over the team that is one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals?

Posted by Wasabi from NJ on 05/24/12 at 04:39 PM ET

Primis's avatar

While Hudler may pop 25 goals in the regular season, he is not as effective in the post season when other teams open the jar of grit. Happy is not tough on the puck (nor does he have the capability).

Posted by TKShreve on 05/24/12 at 02:17 PM ET

I see what you’re saying, but do you remember the NAS series?

Jiri Hudler was 1 of 2 players on the team with more than one goal, and oddly enough was about the only guy on the team who hung around the opposing net (which is why he was effective).

Rather than him getting a can of Physical opened on him, he instead slunk into the forgotten spaces, got to the net, and caused problems on rebounds.  The Wings could have used a few more guys actually doing that to Rinne.

So don’t write his ability off so quickly.

Posted by Primis on 05/24/12 at 04:45 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Posted by Wasabi from NJ on 05/24/12 at 02:39 PM ET

How many years in a row has that “stanley cup finalist” made the playoffs?  1?

How many years before that “stanley cup finalist” loses its franchise goaltender? less than 1?

How many months has it been since that “stanley cup finalist” had to borrow money to meet its payroll obligations?  jeez…sure seems like 1 is the magic number today.

To think that NJ’s success is in any way sustainable is completely delusional.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 05/24/12 at 05:01 PM ET

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Ha I love everyone just assuming Parise is going to leave NJ for Detroit.

Do you love making things up?

Who is just assuming Parise is going to leave NJ for Detroit?

Posted by Garth on 05/24/12 at 05:04 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

I’ve been battling with this one for the last three or years, but I think it might be time to let Hudler and Fil both go, and use that cash to juggle some bigger, grittier talent into the lineup.  I’ve never been a fan of Fil in the top six; he just lacks… Something.  That extra inch between greatness and a shortfall.  As for Hudler, the KHL thing was enough to turn me off on him; though he did make some progress this year.  Maybe 2.5 is what he’s worth, not a dime more.

Re: Drapes vs. Helm, apples and oranges there.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 05/24/12 at 05:50 PM ET

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Helm isn’t utilized like that, but when he’s on the ice against skilled competition, he’s very good defensively. Draper was also able to match up defensively against other teams top center or #2 center by grabbing and obstructing him.  This is part of the reason many coaches have gone from traditional line-3-vs-line-1 matching like Bowman liked to do. 

and you’re completely wrong about his defensive talents. Helm is a mediocre-at-best ZONE defender, but he’s perhaps one of the better man defenders.

And why, exactly, isn’t Helm used like that I wonder?  Because he isn’t equipped to succeed in that role.  Because he is worse on the dot and worse defensively, so if he were used against top line centers he’d get killed.  I think your point about the clutching and grabbing difference between line assignments then and now is largely ephemeral, mostly because overall goalscoring isn’t appreciably ahead of it’s pace around the clutch and grab era.  In 2002 the Central allowed 1062 goals.  In 2012 the Central allowed 1078 goals.  You may as well blame the absence of the red line for not using 3’s vs 1’s.  There’s an equal amount of correlation between those points of incidence, meaning none at all.

Again, Helm’s primary defensive ability is his speed in converting/creating turrnovers.  That’s very useful.  However, when he’s not creating those turnovers he struggles to play a competent defensive game, both in zone and on man.  Part of the reason he struggles positionally on defense is that he knows his primary defensive ability is taking turnovers and creating odd man scoring chances the other way, so he gambles and is far more aggressive defensively than he would be were he more concerned about playing sound positional defensive within a system.

Helm has been a primary PKer for Detroit for many years now, along with Stuart, and it’s not coincidental that Detroit’s PK has struggled.  Draper, Maltby and Chelios were A+ defensive players both at ES and on the PK.  Helm, Eaves/Miller and Stuart are nowhere near as strong in those roles, so slippage ensues.  Throw in the steady declines of Lidstrom and Z across the board over the past 4 years and bam.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/24/12 at 05:54 PM ET

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Drapes vs. Helm, apples and oranges there.

I don’t think you quite grasp what ‘apples and oranges’ means.

Helm and Draper’s roles are about as precisely identical as you can get.  It’s just that Draper was much better at it to date than Helm has been.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/24/12 at 05:56 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

One thing I wanted to address is size and playoff performance. We have a variety of players (and team for that matter) that excels in the regular season, but has problems adjusting to post season playing levels

I disagree. The problem is that we’re built for post-lockout “New NHL” rules and standards. Those same rules and standards we’ve seen regress more and more with each passing season.

Something has to change, but it should not have to be the Detroit blueprint.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 05/24/12 at 06:07 PM ET

TKShreve's avatar

I disagree. The problem is that we’re built for post-lockout “New NHL” rules and standards. Those same rules and standards we’ve seen regress more and more with each passing season.

Something has to change, but it should not have to be the Detroit blueprint.

I think a lot of people will agree that there are two levels of officiating when it comes to the NHL. Regular season and post season. The fact that the Wings do not anticipate this every year going into the playoffs is tough to swallow. And if, as you suggest, it has been changing each passing season, why shouldn’t the Wings consider changing their blueprint? Afterall, doesn’t Kenny pride himself on staying ahead of the curve?

The whole “we don’t take penalties” and “we don’t need to out-tough the opponent” should have been set aside years ago. Hudler consistently gets pushed out of the play in the post season. We need guys, or even one guy, who will take the puck to the net hard. The pull up - late man - pointman is fine, but not every. fuc*ing. time.

All I’m saying is we need to add feisty grit. Ian White was supposed to bring some of that, and he ended up filling a different role imo. Bert still has some. Helmer is pretty good. And Kader is only that. Once you look past those guys, there is nothing. And Hudler is the furthest thing from it. Which is why I say “Happy Trails!”

Posted by TKShreve from East Uptown on 05/24/12 at 06:50 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

And why, exactly, isn’t Helm used like that I wonder?  Because he isn’t equipped to succeed in that role.

Because nobody uses that strategy anymore. The best you see now are zone start specialists, but even they tend to change quickly after a d-zone start to get the 1-v-1 matchup going. The game changed to make 3s vs 1s a dead strategy. Nobody does it anymore and that’s not because there’s nobody in the league who’s as good as Kris Draper was at his very best.

In 2002 the Central allowed 1062 goals.  In 2012 the Central allowed 1078 goals.

The leaguewide difference in goalscoring from 2002 to now is more than 300, but I have no idea where you’re getting your numbers from. In 2001-02, the Central allowed 1067 goals. In 2011-12, they allowed 1048.  If you ignore that this year led many across the hockey world to declare that the dead puck era was on its way back and look at the 2010-11 season, the central allowed 1121.

That is an appreciable difference

If you’re denying the game and strategies have changed appreciably since 2002, then it’s a non-starter argument.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/24/12 at 07:30 PM ET

scotts0's avatar

Semi with Pavel could be magic.
Bye bye Happy.

Posted by Acim on 05/24/12 at 09:52 AM ET

Did you watch the Worlds?  Semin with Pavel WAS magic.

Posted by scotts0 from New York on 05/24/12 at 07:52 PM ET

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Nobody does it anymore and that’s not because there’s nobody in the league who’s as good as Kris Draper was at his very best.

First off, I think teams employ defensive assignments a lot more than you seem to think they do.  They don’t do it as often as Detroit did back when they had Draper, no, but that’s because very very few teams have a) as good a pair of defensive forwards as Draper and Maltby in their primes and b) as solid a set of blue liners as Detroit had when Draper and Maltby were in their primes.  When Detroit could play Lidstrom/Chelios 25 minutes a night they could do stuff like throwing a strong defensive forward line up out against top units.

That is an appreciable difference

It’s just as appreciable a difference as an individual player scoring 20 goals one year and 21 the next year.  5%.

If you’re denying the game and strategies have changed appreciably since 2002, then it’s a non-starter argument.

That seems to be a rather excessive leap in assumption from my claim that one specific strategy hasn’t changed all that much, don’t you think?

Seriously, are you actually going to sit there and try and make the case that If Detroit had a Selke-caliber defensive forward in their bottom 6 as well as another top third defensive forward there they’d just send those guys out against the other teams bottom 6 rather than trying to split up opposition matchups by getting one of their top lines out against the other teams 3rd line?

If Detroit had an elite defensive center who won ~60% of his faceoffs but couldn’t score on an empty net that guy would be out there against the other teams top two lines with a couple solid defensive forwards a whole freaking bunch.  I know this because when the Wings had them, they were.  And they were because only an idiotic coach would run away from matchups where he can shutdown the other teams #1 or #2 scoring lines and then be able to get one of his scoring lines out there against the other teams bottom 6.

The problem is that Helm is neither a 60% faceoff guy (his career high is 51.8%) nor is he anywhere near an elite defensive forward, nor do the Wings have a second guy who is terribly comparable to Maltby.  That makes an attempt to implement a strategy that relies on the existence of those kinds of players rather counterintuitive, rather than establishing some kind of referendum on the strategy itself.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/24/12 at 11:23 PM ET

Avatar

Enh.  52.6%.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/24/12 at 11:27 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Seriously, are you actually going to sit there and try and make the case that If Detroit had a Selke-caliber defensive forward in their bottom 6 as well as another top third defensive forward there they’d just send those guys out against the other teams bottom 6 rather than trying to split up opposition matchups

When was the last time a Selke winner played in his team’s bottom six?

Besides, if “scoring 25 goals one time in a contract year getting an entire season playing with very good players doesn’t earn one the designation ‘25 goal scorer’” then winning the Selke trophy one time in a contract year getting an entire season playing with very good players doesn’t earn one the designation ‘Selke-caliber’.

Except that it does, because saying actually doing it doesn’t earn you the title of having done it is fuching silly.

Listen, we’re arguing off-track here. Darren Helm is not currently as good as Kris Draper was in his prime. But your argument was that we needed our bottom six to be as good this year as it was in… say 2007-08, when Draper was our third line center and the Wings won the cup.  Comparing the two during the regular season?  Draper played about one more shift per game than Helm and three fewer games played. Helm put up 9 more points than 2007-08 Draper and had a +5 rating to Draper’s -2. Both players faced third line-level competition in their respective seasons. Draper went a superb 58.6% in 944 faceoffs while Helm won a not-mediocre-but-above-average 51.9% of his 777 draws.  Both took more than half of their faceoffs in the offensive zone (because both teams didn’t have a forward who had less than 50% offensive zone starts thanks to the Wings’ puck-possession and skill).  Darren Helm had 12 penalty minutes in his 68 games this season while Draper sat for 68, a difference of 28 minor penalties (and all of their penalties in those respective years were minors). Helm also drew more than twice as many penalties (23 to 11).

Forgive me if I misunderstood your original point, but it seems like you were saying we need a 3rd line center who is as good as our 3rd line center was when we last won the cup.  That guy then was Kris Draper and Darren Helm is easily as good as Kris Draper was in 2007-08.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/25/12 at 12:34 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.