Archive for the ‘Detroit Red Wings’ Category

The three of us continue our mock draft from Part I (1-15).

16. Buffalo Vladislav Namestnikov, C (London, OHL)
His speed and forechecking will be 2 valuable assets to the Buffalo Sabres system.  Another plus is his ability to switch from center to wing, making him fit on any line with little to no effort.

17. Montreal Zack Phillips, C (St. John, QMJHL)
Centering the top line at St John’s and improving his linemates scoring outputs in addition to his own makes him a great option if still available at #17.

18. Chicago Tomas Jurco, RW (St. John, QMJHL)
What hands he has, a real whiz with the puck.  A Youtube star already.

19. Edmonton Oscar Klefbom, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Will be a great addition to Edmonton’s defense, he adds decent size (6’4″, 200lbs), and a nice shot to the blueline.

20. Phoenix Joel Armia, RW (Assat, SML)
An intriguing prospect that can appear quite high for many teams from the 10 pick onward. His combination of size and skill would complement Phoenix well.

21. Ottawa John Gibson, G (USA U-18)
Already 6’3, 205 at age 17, he covers up a lot of net.  Lead USA to gold at the U18s.

22. Anaheim Brandon Saad, LW (Saginaw, OHL)
The Ducks will love Saad’s ability on the ice, speed is his greatest asset. Has a nice balance of offensive/defensive ability.

23. Pittsburgh Nicklas Jensen, LW/RW (Oshawa, OHL)
A strong skater with good scoring ability at the RW will fit well for the Pens in due time under a Dan Byslma system. Add in his size and you also may have a future net front presence.

24. Detroit Jonas Brodin, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Brodin is a good skating, two-way defenseman.  Plays a smart game in his end, and will fit right in with Detroit.

25. Toronto Boone Jenner, C (Oshawa, OHL)
The Leafs are going to love this guy, a shot blocker, board battler, and he’s not too bad at scoring either. And more all around good players, is exactly what Toronto needs in their system.

26. Washington Mark Scheifele, C (Barrie, OHL)
His size and skill down the middle would fit the Capitals to a T. As they recently have had an abundance of big players who still have skill and speed.

27. Tampa Bay Jamieson Oleksiak, D (Northeastern, HE)
The 6’7, 245 monster may need some more time to develop, but could eventually be Tampa’s Twin Towers with Hedman.

28. San Jose Scott Mayfield, D (Youngstown, USHL)
Extremely sturdy on his feet, smart, great puck carrier, but never afraid to fight or deliver a big hit when it’s needed. Could be huge for the Sharks in the future.

29. Vancouver Jonathan Miller, C (USA U-18)
While the Canucks can use a pure scorer in their talent pool. This late in the first round they may have to accept a project of a good two-way player who didn’t quite put it all together this past season. A worthwhile risk.

30. Toronto Tyler Biggs, RW (USA U-18)
A big, physical forward that likes to use his size and isn’t afraid to work hard.  Definitely a Brian Burke player.

Cujo picks: 16,19,22,25,28
Joey picks: 17,20,23,26,29
RD picks: 18,21,24,27,30

With the Atlanta Thrashers’ inevitable move to Winnipeg, the NHL will undergo its’ first major realignment since 1998.  The Winnipeg team will likely play as a member of the Southeast Division during the 11-12 NHL season, before the league realigns in 2012.  The Thrashers, Jets, or whatever their name is, will move from the Eastern Conference to the West.  So a Western team will have to move East to balance out the conferences.

There are three logical possibilities to take Atlanta’s spot in the East.

Detroit has wanted to move East for a while now, citing travel and TV viewership.  But, with the Red Wings as a huge draw for Western Conference teams, a Detroit move seems unlikely.  Columbus would benefit by moving to the East.  They’ve struggled with attendance; it’s hard to grow a fanbase of a young franchise with a quarter of the team’s games starting after 9:00.  Out of the three, Nashville makes the most geographical sense.  Even in  the Central time zone, they’re the closest team to the other four currently in the Southeast.

One of those three will likely move into the East; but who will replace them in the Central?  There are a few possibilities. (more…)

Two American NHL veterans are hanging it up after long careers.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski is walking away from a contract that had one year and $6 million remaining. The 37 year old defenseman’s decision was helped by his current injuries. He reportedly played without an ACL in this year’s playoffs.

Rafalski played 833 NHL games with the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings. In his 11 years, he scored 79 goals and 515 points. He was a member of three Stanley Cup teams (’00 Devils, ’03 Devils, ’08 Red Wings). He’s also won an Olympic silver medal twice with USA, in 2002 and 2010. In 2010, he was named to the all-Olympic team, as well as best defenseman, after finishing the tournament first in defenseman scoring (8 points). Rafalski was a two time all-star, in 2004 and 2007.

One of the underrated defensemen of his generation, Rafalski’s sudden retirement leaves the Red Wings with $6 million to play with in the offseason. That number could grow if his blueline mate Nicklas Lidstrom also decides to hang up the skates.

Rafalski’s teammate on the 2002 US silver medal team, Doug Weight, is also expected to announce his retirement this week. Unlike Rafalski, Weight has made his way around the NHL, playing 1238 games with the Rangers, Oilers, Blues, Hurricanes, Ducks and Islanders. Weight tallied 278 goals and 1033 points in his 21 year career. In addition to his 2002 silver medal, he’s represented USA in the 1998 and 2006 Olympics. Also in 2006, Weight got his named etched onto the Stanley Cup as the Hurricanes beat the Oilers.

The four time all-star picked up his 1000th point with the Islanders, an assist on a Richard Park goal in a game on January 2, 2009 against the Coyotes. He became only the eighth American and 73rd NHLer to hit the 1000 point mark. His 1000th career game came with St. Louis against the Oilers on November 16, 2006.  Weight was the 25th American to reach the mark.

Hats off to great careers, guys. Here’s to happy retirement for the both of them!

After the Red Wings forced a game 7 last night against the San Jose Sharks, I asked myself a question. Who am I rooting for tomorrow night?

Do I root for Datsyuk and the Wings....

On one hand, the Red Wings are attempting to do something that the Flyers did last year; win a series after being down 0-3. I rooted against Chicago in the first round when they attempted the same thing. As selfish as it may seem, I feel like the Flyers’ accomplishment may be somewhat lessened if a team were to do it the very next year. Also, am I fully over 1997? I’ve come to the realization by now that Detroit smoked the Flyers in the Cup Finals because they were the better team. Tough to admit that, but they were. But that doesn’t make the pain go away.

Even though I respect the hell out of the Wings, they are contenders every single year. It’s not really their fault, they want to win and they build teams that win. Someone’s just got to beat them. But it’s kind of like the Yankees in baseball, you get tired of seeing the same teams win, or go deep into the playoffs each year. Detroit’s won more Cups in the past 15 years than some organizations have won in their entire history. Enough is eventually enough.

....or Pavelski and the Sharks?

On the other hand, San Jose is my personal nemesis. And it’s because I have some awesome Sharks fan friends. My personal rivalry with them goes back to the 08-09 year when San Jose swept a home and home with the Flyers. And I still haven’t heard the end of it, to this day. Aaaaaand there’s a photoshop of me with a Sharks jersey on floating somewhere around the internet. (I repeat, if you see this picture it is a PHOTOSHOP!!) The first time I saw a Flyers regulation/overtime loss in person, guess who they lost to? The Sharks, naturally.

Do I hate the Sharks? Nah. I know some people think I do, but I really don’t. Apologies to Sharks fans, but it’s kind of fun to watch them find new ways to blow series every year. And there’s video of the Sharks fan freaking out on his webcam prompting his dad to walk in and tell him he’s giving the internet “a 2×4 to beat you with.” Hilarious stuff. Although I did feel bad in 2008 when I stayed up late to watch the four overtime game while chatting with a bunch of Sharks fans.

I like players on both teams. I think Joe Pavelski is one of the underrated guys in the league, and he’s clutch. He’s among the leaders in playoff goals for this year, and scored some big ones. He’s almost like an anti-Shark. (And he’s an American, which is cool, too.) Pavel Datsyuk is one of the best all-around players in the game. He’s amazing to watch. On any given night, he can do something really special.

With all of that said, gun to my head, I’ll root for the Sharks. But all I’m hoping for tomorrow night is a good hockey game. Whoever wins deserves it; it’s been a hell of a series this far. I am just glad the drama was extended for one more night.

With six of the eight first round series going at least 6 games and four going 7, one would expect the NHL 2nd round to continue the drama.  Thus far, it has been quite the opposite.  Three series have gone 3-0, including the Lightning sweeping the Capitals last night.

The only series that definitely won’t be a sweep is Vancouver vs. Nashville.  The Canucks hold a 2 games to one advantage heading into tonight’s matchup at Bridgestone Arena.  The second round potentially can end only nine days after it began, compared to the first round’s fifteen day schedule.

Common sense would lead one to believe that rested team has an advantage over a team who played more games in the first round.  In fact, no team who has played a first round game 7 has won the Stanley Cup since the 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins.  Unfortunately for Washington and Detroit, resting after their quick first round series hasn’t helped.

The three teams who are (or were) down 0-3, all got there differently.  Washington was outskated by Tampa.  The question mark for the Capitals, defense, loomed large in the series, and some of their big guns (Backstrom, Semin) were invisible.  The 4th straight early exit for Washington may spell the end of coach Bruce Boudreau.

The Flyers failed to show up in two games.  Obviously the goalie carousel has played a huge part, but effort has also been a main problem.  Philly has struggled with the problem for most of the second half.  Can the Flyers pull another miracle like they did last year against Boston?  Not with their current play.

Detroit hasn’t looked bad.  In fact, all three games have been one goal games, with two won by the Sharks in overtime.  A couple bounces the other way, and Detroit could be leading this series.  The Red Wings are still a scary playoff team though, and the Sharks would be best advised to put Detroit away as soon as they can.

However, the second round hasn’t been completely lacking drama, as six games have gone to overtime so far.

1995 was the last time four game 7s happened in the first round, and eerily, was the last year that three teams were swept in the second round.  Except in that year, the teams who played shorter series in the first round easily dispatched their opponents in the second.

Hopefully one of these teams can give their opponents a run for their money, or at the very least, we get an exciting final three series.

Here are our second round NHL picks.

(Sidenote: RD/Andy made an agreement to not pick the series’ our teams were involved in)

Leaderboard (1 pt for correct team, 1 bonus pt for team+games)
Realdeal 10 (7-0, 3 bonus points)
Andy 8 (7-0, 1 bonus point)
Joey 8 (6-1, 2 bonus points)
Stinger 8 (5-3, 3 bonus points)
Cujo 7 (6-2, 1 bonus point)
Bre 6 (6-1)
Nicole 6 (6-2)
Kingie 6 (5-2, 1 bonus point)
Swede 4 (4-3)
Merms 4 (4-4)
Gabbi 4 (3-4, 1 bonus point)

First Round Picks

As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for. At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings by Gabbi

While there are several worthy candidates for the Norris trophy, there’s no doughty about who this year’s recipient should be. All puns aside, the top defenseman in the National Hockey League this season is Drew Doughty of the LA Kings. For a young guy playing only his third season in the NHL he’s playing as though he’s been in the league for 20 years. (While looking at his numbers I saw NHL Seasons: 3 and said, “No. There’s no way!”) Coming of a sophomore campaign where he was nominated for the Norris, he had 40 points and helped anchor the defense of the young Kings team. With that, young Drew Doughty has earned this year’s Norris trophy.

Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim Ducks by Realdeal

Visnovsky has to be the Norris favorite after leading all NHL Defensemen in points (62), and finishing second in goals (18).  He’s played over 24 minutes per game for the Ducks, being a rock on their blueline when the team needed it the most.  His 116 blocked shots are ahead of the likes of other Norris candidates such as Weber, Letang and Chara.  His +18 is pretty respectable and his 5 Power Play goals and 31 Power Play points are part of the reason the Ducks finished second with the man advantage.

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators by Cujo

For the Norris trophy a man you should consider is Shea Weber. He might not have as many points as some, but he has been a real workhorse for the Nashville Predators. He is averaging 25:19 in ice time and 29 shifts per game. 2nd on the team in blocks and 1st in hits, he knows what it takes to get the job done on the ice.

Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes by Joey

I’m sorry say that again…Yandle is 24? Hard to believe that this year’s most consistent defenseman in all facets of the blueline game is young buck Keith Yandle of the Coyotes.  Handling top minutes and opposing teams’ best forwards night in and night out in lieu of Zybnek Michalek’s departure to Pittsburgh could easily have been a sign of tough times for Yandle this year. Except not only has he filled in admirably but he has only improved in stats and intangibles for the third consecutive season. Considering the typical development of an NHL ready defenseman, we may be looking at the next big thing on the blueline for a long long time. This is no flash in the pan; this is a Norris candidate for years to come. 

Final Voting (more…)

As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for.  At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay Lightning by Cujo

When you award the Jack Adams, there is only one guy who truly deserves it, and that is Guy Boucher. The hottest free agent head coach coming into this year for good reason, in his 2 years of head coaching (1 season in QMJHL, and 1 in AHL) he went 106-27. He came in, and took essentially the same Tampa Bay Lightning team that was out of playoff contention last year (34-36-12) and has led them to the playoffs this year (46-25-11). He has played a huge part in making Tampa a dangerous team, and it should be interesting to watch them for years to come.

Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins by Realdeal

As a Flyers fan, the last thing I want to see a Penguin win is some hardware.  But, as a hockey fan, Dan Bylsma deserves the Jack Adams.  Of course, the Penguins had high expectations coming into the season. But the Pens losing their two top players around the same time mid-season, and still staying afloat in the Eastern Conference, almost winning the Atlantic Division, says a lot about Bylsma.  HBO’s 24/7 showed how Bylsma is one of the bright, young coaches in this league, and should get some recognition for it.

Jacques Lemaire, New Jersey Devils by Gabbi

Of the four coaches we have selected, the now former New Jersey Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire is the only one to have not clinched a playoff birth. If, then, his team is not in contention for Lord Stanley’s glory, why should he be considered for the Jack Adams? After leading the Devils to the top spot in the Atlantic Division, Lemaire called it quits, saying he wanted to retire from the team he coached to a Stanley Cup in 1995. The club then brought in John MacLean; the team’s all-time leading goal scorer to coach the club. MacLean then proceeded to lead the team to a 9-22-2 record. Upon his firing midseason, Lemaire took the reins back and was given the daunting task to turn the club around. That he did. In 48 games, his neutral zone style brought the New Jersey Devils 28 wins and only 17 losses. Though his club failed to make the playoffs, they were not eliminated until they had 3 games remaining in their season. And while he may not be the team’s coach anymore, the most deserving of these men for the award is Jacques Lemaire, former coach of the New Jersey Devils.

Alain Vigneault, Vancouver Canucks by Joey

Often times the Jack Adams award has an aura more like a lifetime achievement award for the NHL’s coaching brethren. It’s with that thought in mind Alain Vigneault should win the Jack Adams award. Yes he has won once before in 2007 and has a great team at his disposal, but he also leads a team that just gets better and better year after year. That shows that he isn’t there simply for the ride with elite talents like the Sedins and Luongo in your lineup, he is a driving force behind the Canucks success.

Final Voting


Here are our first round NHL picks.

(Sidenote: We made an agreement to not pick the series’ our teams were involved in)

Vancouver and Boston are favorite picks.  San Jose, Philly, and Detroit are pretty strong selections as well.  We had a tough time with both 4/5 matchups, slight favorites to Nashville, and split 50-50 in the East.  Washington-New York was also split, presumably because of Washington’s past playoff failures.

Tell us what you think, agree or disagree!

I’m never a big fan of assimilating two sports that only have scraps of things in common. But now that the dust of this years World Series has settled (Congrats to the Giants) Cliff Lee’s situation looks eerily similar to that of Marian Hossa a few seasons before. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding.

-They both started off on average teams.

Marian Hossa was drafted and played seven seasons for the Ottawa Senators.

Cliff Lee played for the Cleveland Indians for seven seasons after being drafted by the Montreal Expos.

(Wow, both played seven years for their teams and were drafted by Canadian franchises. This is weirder than I thought.)

-They were both involved in mid-season trades that brought them to a team that would ultimately lose the championship.

Marian Hossa was sent from the Atlanta Thrashers to the Pittsburgh Penguins in February of 2008. The Penguins would lose to the Detroit Red Wings that year.

Cliff Lee was traded in July from the Seattle Mariners to the Texas Rangers. Yesterday the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.

-Both players ended up on the team that had won the season previously and won diddly-squat.

That one was a bit verbose, but if you follow my train of thought, it makes sense. Marian Hossa lost to Detroit in 2008 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the summer of 2008, he signed as a UFA with the Red Wings, whom Pittsburgh defeated the following June.

Cliff Lee was part of a trade that sent him from Cleveland to Philadelphia, who was the reigning World Series Champion. They lost to the New York Yankees in November of 2009.

Now the big question is, where is Cliff Lee going to go? Is he going to break free from the Marian Hossa parallel and stay with Texas? Or is he going to continue on the same path and sign for big money elsewhere? (And if he does go for the latter, will he win a championship there?) The questions are everywhere, and of course I don’t have the answers. If I did, I’d be making almost as much money as these guys.