Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

What do the Red Wings do when the veterans return?

As Paul noted, the Red Wings made one expected move on Sunday, assigning Mikael Samuelsson to the Grand Rapids Griffins, and they made one surprising move as coach Mike Babcock chose to scratch both Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary (edit: It turns out that Cleary will play with Henrik Zetterberg sidelined) today against Florida (5 PM EST, FSD Plus).

Going forward, especially given Ken Holland's statement to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness yesterday...

“I told Mike (Babcock) ‘dress the 12 forwards you think gives us the best chance to beat Florida,’” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “That means if one of the kids isn’t in the lineup he’ll be sent to Grand Rapids instead of Samuelsson. I don’t want the kids here if they’re not in the lineup.”

And Babcock's take on the statuses of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening yesterday...

"It’s great, I like the competition,” Babcock said. “The National Hockey League is about the best guys get to play and they get to play the most. These kids have come up and played hard and they’ve extended a challenge, so that’s a good thing.”

Neither Sheahan, Glendening nor Jurco will have to clear waivers in order to be sent back to Grand Rapids.

“They’re either in the top 12 or they’re in Grand Rapids,” Holland said.

Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton will have to clear waivers again if the Wings decide to send them back to the Griffins.

And then today's Babcock comments, per MLive's Ansar Khan...

“[Franzen] can really shoot the puck,” Babcock said. “Any time you come back from an injury, I don’t know how you’re going to respond. I mean, (Darren) Helmer’s an example of that. I don’t know what to expect from the Mule. We’re just going to play him and see how it goes.”

It will be the second game this season Cleary has been a healthy scratch. Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl also are scratched.

“I think these kids have given us some energy,” Babcock said. “What it does is it gives some of our veteran guys for example who are sitting out a chance to freshen up, which doesn’t kill anybody either. Those kids have brought us good energy.”

Babcock said center Joakim Andersson will return for Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia. The club will need to free a roster spot for him.

(Jimmy Howard may or may not return vs. Philadelphia on Tuesday or against Washington on Friday)

“We wanted him, but we weren’t allowed,” Babcock said.

(If you missed it, Pavel Datsyuk told Khan, Pleiness, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan and the Free Press's Helene St. James that he's shooting to return from his "lower-body injury" next weekend)

As well as Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji, via RedWingsFeed...

Babcock said Daniel Cleary would be a healthy scratch, along with Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl.

That means youngsters Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening remain in the lineup.

"Obviously, itâ€'s an important thing for us," Babcock said. "We need all hands on deck if we’re going to be successful.

"I think these kids have given us some energy. What it does is it gives some of our veteran guys for example who are sitting out a chance to freshen up, which doesn't kill anybody either."

What do the Wings do next?

The Windsdor Star's Bob Duff noted that St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had an intriguing take on the Wings' issues last week:

Babcock isn’t the only one around the league who has noticed. Earlier in the week, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wondered what the Wings would do as their lengthy injury list began to shorten and key players returned to health.

“He’s (Babcock) going to have some interesting problems because what started out as adversity for them, if you look at it, they’ve got young players who are really playing well right now, so when all these guys come back, it’s going to be interesting to see who they keep and who they let go back down to Grand Rapids,” Hitchcock said.

“I see some real bite in their team from some of the younger guys like (Tomas) Tatar and Glendening and Sheahan. These guys have got bite on the team now. It will be interesting because the younger guys are looking at this as a real opportunity. And you never know what happens.”

The Wings will be faced with another difficult decision come Tuesday, when centre Joakim Andersson is expected to return from a back injury.

“Andersson will be in next game,” Babcock said. “We wanted him (today), but we weren’t allowed.”

For the moment, Babcock has the luxury of message-sending:

With Franzen in, veteran right-winger Dan Cleary (minus-nine) joined right-winger Todd Bertuzzi (minus-16) and defenceman Jakub Kindl (minus-11) as healthy scratches, removing a combined minus-36 from the club’s lineup.

You and I both know that this kind of stuff isn't going to continue happening on a long-term basis:

Holland and Babcock's respective modus operandi (plural) involves keeping those veterans in the lineup most of the time, and when Andersson comes back, there's no point in having Riley Sheahan or Luke Glendening sit out as a healthy scratch so that Andersson can play.

The same's true for the aforementioned youngsters and Jurco when Datsyuk returns, and going forward, it appears that it's Patrick Eaves who's become the team's 13th forward, and that Cory Emmerton will be waived once again.

In the Red Wings' world, it is much, much better for Sheahan, Glendening and Jurco to return to Grand Rapids and help the Griffins defend their Calder Cup title instead of sitting in the press box, and in the Red Wings' world, come playoff time, the Nuclear Deterrent (Bertuzzi) and the Good Guy in the Locker Room and on the Bench (Cleary) are playing.

Today's game against Florida is something of a thank-you note to the trio of youngsters, but next season will be telling, because it's become very clear that Sheahan (out of waiver options) and Glendening (still eligible to be sent down) are NHL-ready, and Jurco's pretty close. We may not see Bertuzzi, Cleary or Eaves re-signed as a result, and you can decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. I think it speaks to Babcock's old axiom that you have to steal another player's job to earn an NHL spot.

There's no doubt in my mind that Franzen, Andersson and Datsyuk at least are better options than Sheahan, Glendening or Jurco, so in my opinion, demoting those three is a no-brainer as it'll be better for their development.

I am very intrigued by the fact that Jakub Kindl seems to have fallen out of favor on a team that's carried six defenseman, however, and as Brian Lashoff's embraced the Glendening-like, "If you're gonna stick here, kid, you need to add an edge to your game" message received from the coaching staff, where does Kindl fit in when Lashoff can be so very dependable while hacking, whacking and legally punching opponents in the back?

Do the Wings keep Kindl going forward, or do they parlay him and perhaps some other assets (we haven't seen Landon Ferraro yet, and he has to clear waivers next year) into a defensive upgrade?

That's the question as far as I'm concerned, especially given the Holland and company and Babcock's tendency to not surrender free agents-to-be at the deadline--which means that Stephen Weiss will likely be the team's "acquisition" up front.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

In the Red Wings’ world, it is much, much better for Sheahan, Glendening and Jurco to return to Grand Rapids and help the Griffins defend their Calder Cup title instead of sitting in the press box, and in the Red Wings’ world, come playoff time, the Nuclear Deterrent (Bertuzzi) and the Good Guy in the Locker Room and on the Bench (Cleary) are playing.

George obviously believes Holland is a liar in this case.  While I think GMs generally aren’t aided by telling the truth, I’m not sure what benefit accrues to Detroit by Holland lying about what he says he told Babcock.

First, Detroit appears to still want to make the playoffs, which lends credence to the notion that Holland would tell Babcock (assuming Babcock would even need to be told this) to simply play the best 12.

Bertuzzi has been awful for a while, Cleary has been mediocre to poor lately, and Sammy hasn’t played.  Tatar, Glendening and Shehean have been decent.  Emmerton’s an obvious waiver candidate and they only need one more, I think.  Then we’re just talking about a three or four way competition between a bunch of kids and vets,

Healthy stuff.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/26/14 at 05:14 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The “12 best forwards” are based upon what Babcock wants, not what you or I want. And in all honesty, general managers and coaches lie to the press all the time.

The competition has been healthy, but *Babcock has stated* that he doesn’t plan on sitting the kids for a game or two if he wants the veterans to come back in for a game or two—he bluntly stated that he wants them back in Grand Rapids in that case.

And when the team does get healthier, it can’t keep Sheahan, Glendening and Jurco in the lineup while sitting Bertuzzi and Cleary. The 23-man roster doesn’t work that way.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/26/14 at 05:19 PM ET

Laran's avatar

I think if and when the playoffs hit, the right players will play as the 23 man roster is lifted.  It’ll be a juggling act till then.

Posted by Laran on 01/26/14 at 05:32 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

What happens in the playoffs will definitely be telling, especially given Babcock’s tendency to go with the vets. Time will tell regarding the Griffins’ run as well.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/26/14 at 05:49 PM ET

Avatar

The “12 best forwards” are based upon what Babcock wants, not what you or I want.

True, but beside the point.  Holland alleges he told Babcock to start the 12 best to beat Florida.  He also alleges he told Babcock that if the kids aren’t going to play they need to be in GR, obviously to be playing rather than sitting.

I realize that GMs and coaches lie, which is sort of what I meant when I said “While I think GMs generally aren’t aided by telling the truth” I’m also not sure it’s reasonable to assume they lie about everything.  It falls in the purview of the listener to determine how large of a grain of salt to apply to the words of a member of management from the coaching staff all the way up to the owner.

And when the team does get healthier, it can’t keep Sheahan, Glendening and Jurco in the lineup while sitting Bertuzzi and Cleary. The 23-man roster doesn’t work that way.

Based on what Holland has said, and based on what Babcock has said, I’m not sure how else you can interpret that as to imply that the 12 best guys will be up and the ones who aren’t in that group (plus, obviously a 13th forward) will be off the roster.  It remains to either believe them, or think they are lying to you in service of some alternative goal.  As I don’t see such an alternative goal, I struggle to apply a rationale for lying which makes sense.

Further, if Detroit wants to keep the kids up it’s not particularly complicated:

D, Z, Franzen, Helm, Abby, Miller, Nyquist.  Those 7 are up regardless.  That leaves 6 spots for:

Bert, Cleary, Eaves, Jurco, Glendening, Shehean, Tatar and Andersson.  8 guys, 6 spots.  Dump two.  I’d say two of Bert, Cleary and Eaves.  Me, I’d go Cleary Eaves, but any combination would be fine.  None of the three are big losses.

And let’s keep in mind this functions under the assumption the Wings will go 13 at forward.  They can go 14/7/2 and still hit their 23.  They’re carrying an extra goalie because of injury.  If Detroit goes 14 up front they only have to shave one of the 8 aforementioned forwards.  Easy-peasy.  So to rebut your specific statement, in fact Detroit could sit Bert and Cleary and keep all the kids up if they waive Eaves down, going with 14 forwards.

Further still, assuming the person sent down isn’t claimed Detroit has AHL options on most of the kids anyway, so there’s a ton of roster recall flexibility to be had if needed because one of the kids falls off or one of the vets goes nuts in the AHL.

What happens in the playoffs will definitely be telling, especially given Babcock’s tendency to go with the vets.

Right.  Like he did with Osgood over Howard, or White (among others) over Dekeyser, or Sammy (among others) over Nyquist.  There’s next to nothing to suggest Babcock goes with an inferior vet over a superior ‘kid’, while there is a substantially longer list of Babcock giving increased/superior roles to kids, over established vets, in fairly short order.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/26/14 at 07:02 PM ET

Avatar

Forgot about Alfredsson, so Detroit would have to move one guy down beyond Eaves.  Still, not a big deal.  Glendening or Jurco are the obvious guys there because with D and Z back Jurco’s offense is less of a need.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/26/14 at 07:22 PM ET

Chet's avatar

you make pretty good points, HiHD, but why do you insist on making them like such a snarky *#$%@&? i just don’t get it.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 01/26/14 at 11:23 PM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

^ Yeah, what he said, HockeyinHD. You do make good points from time to time, but they are marred by the fact that you are constantly an antagonizing, ridiculing, self-righteous know-it-all who can never seem to admit when you may be wrong, or that someone else makes a good point as well. I would hate to watch a game with you.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 01/27/14 at 01:54 AM ET

Avatar

It is very telling that Bert was scratched and Cleary was supposed to be scratched in favor of the young guys. I do believe their sentiment that they won’t sit young guys, they will send them to Grand Rapids. But once the team is healthy, they also will not play these young guys on the 4th line.
One of the reasons why these kids took such a huge step was because they got good playing minutes, not 3-5 minutes a game on the 4th line.
So once everyone is healthy, guys who can be sent down will be sent down and Bert/Cleary will be 4th liners.

Posted by George0211 on 01/27/14 at 08:39 AM ET

Add a Comment

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

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

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

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

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