Who's left in the bin?

Hey, have you heard the Red Wings are pretty tight against the cap?

Depending on a few factors like Andreas Lilja’s ability to start the season, the impending defenseman trade, and what route the Abdelkader Express takes, the Wings will have somewhere between $1.7 and $4.4M to play with. Ken Holland has said that he has no problem going over the salary cap (which, before the start of the season, you’re allowed to do – up to 10%) during training camp and let things work themselves out.

By my count, there are at least two forward slots available – and that’s if they want to carry only 12 on the big squad again, which isn’t ideal. For the sake of penny-pinching, let’s assume they need to fill those two spots with about $3M – meaning Abdelkader starts in Grand Rapids, as was the plan last month; and either Lebda or Meech is traded.

One of those slots is on the fourth line, flanking 2/3 of the Grind Line. One can reasonably assume that this player will have to come in pretty near the league minimum, and while I haven’t ruled out someone within the system jumps up and takes that spot, some of the names on the following list are guys that would be able to fill that role at that price.

The other slot is potentially a top-six situation, depending on how the lines are juggled. It’ll be very difficult to find a good, reliable top-six guy in the $1-2M range, but taking a lower salary to join the Red Wings wouldn’t exactly be a novel idea.

And everyone calling for Todd Bertuzzi and dosen’t remember as far back as 2007 should go away. Forever.

The list — in reverse order of their 08-09 cap hit:

1. Blair Betts – an unrestricted free agent that played on Broadway last season, who couldn’t be blamed for looking for a modest raise on his $615,000 cap hit from a year ago. He gets a lot of praise for his penalty killing (which the Wings drastically need to improve) and Pierre Maguire (the last time you’ll ever see me quote Pierre Maguire) called him the most underrated player in the league.

2. Marcel Goc – a former first round draft pick that never quite rounded into the form that the Sharks hoped for him, and GM Doug Wilson promised a swift round of roster changes after another disappointing playoff. Goc’s $775,000 salary might have been a tad unreasonable for a two-goal scorer, but it wouldn’t be the first reclamation project the Wings have taken on.

3. Brendan Shanahan – tell me welcoming Shanny back to Detroit isn’t a classic Red Wings move. Granted, he left on his own accord, when it became apparent that the Wings were looking toward youth and the powers were shifting. But, here’s a guy that made $800,000 last season, knows the system, and would be the best fourth liner in the history of the NHL. (RE-SIGNED WITH NEW JERSEY)

4. Dominic Moore – aside from the potential of being the only Harvard-educated Red Wing, the Motown brass might be wary of a guy that’s jumped around so much in his young career. After breaking into the league in 2003-04 with the Rangers, he’s seen time with the Penguins, Wild, Leafs, and Sabres. His expired contract was worth $900,000.

5. Dan Hinote – remember him? He may have missed the Avalanche/Red Wings rivalry during its peak, but Wings fans should have plenty of Ghosts of Hinote Past. The only player ever to be drafted out of West Point, the 32-year-old may be willing to take a haircut on his $1M salary from a year ago to join a former enemy. Maybe not, though…

6. Jeremy “it’s not so much me as it is” Roenick – I dare you to tell me you couldn’t see him in a Winged Wheel. He’s a bit of a — shall we say — “character” for the Red Wings liking, and he was relegated to spot duty in San Jose, but in the twilight of his wonderful career, I’m sure he’d be willing to take less than $1.1M for a very real chance to win his first Cup. (SET TO RETIRE)

7. Manny Malhotra – a top ten pick in ’98, he’s become a very steady 8-12 goal scorer. And while his pricetag of $1.2M might be a bit lofty for that statistic, he’s not that far off from a season on the first line with Rick Nash. Would he occupy that role in Detroit? Absolutely not, but he’s a perfectly capable hockey player with a lot of upside. (PITCHED TO WINGS, DID NOT BITE).

8. Mike Peca – here’s a guy whose career has been almost completely derailed due to injury (and contract hold-outs), but there’s no denying his defensive ability and his faceoff prowess. 35-years-old and cut loose by the Blue Jackets, it’s completely fair to assume he’ll be paid less than the $1.315M he made last season.

9. PJ Axelsson – one of the better free agents left on the market, his price tag is going the wrong way for the Red Wings. There are plenty of teams that could use a player of Axelsson’s calibre, and his experience on winning teams is an attractive prospect to many of those same teams. He made $1.85M in 08-09. (SIGNED TO PLAY IN SWEDEN)

10. Alex Tanguay – the best free agent available, according to Mirtle, has plenty of suitors right now, and judging by his $5.25M contract from a year ago, I’m willing to bet the Red Wings aren’t one of them. However, his skillset is a perfect match for the top-nine scorer void.

Camp!

The Red Wings confirmed the schedules for the Prospects Camp and a few dates for the Main Training Camp. For a full listing of events, check out the events page at Red Wings Central. In the meantime, here are a few Red Wings-related dates and such:

Sun, Sept. 6 :: 11:30am :: Detroit prospects practice
Sun, Sept. 6 :: 6:30pm :: DETROIT vs. ATLANTA
Mon, Sept. 7 :: 11:30am :: Detroit prospects practice
Mon, Sept. 7 :: 6:30pm :: DETROIT vs. CAROLINA
Tue, Sept. 8 :: 10:45am :: Detroit prospects practice
Wed, Sept. 9 :: 11:30am :: Detroit prospects practice
Wed, Sept. 9 :: 7:00pm :: DETROIT vs. NY RANGERS
Thu, Sept. 10 :: TBA :: team practices and championship games

Fri, Sept. 11 :: charity golf tournament & Dinner of Champions
Sat, Sept. 12 :: RED WINGS ALUMNI vs. MANAGEMENT
Sun, Sept. 13 :: TBA :: scrimmages
Mon, Sept. 14 :: 6:00pm :: GOLD MEDAL GAME
Tue, Sept. 15 :: 6:00pm :: RED & WHITE GAME

The Next Generation

Cue corny “Wind Beneath My Wings” reference…


The Red Wings have become semi-famous for unearthing hidden gems in the draft throughout the years (though their recent draft efficiency isn’t anything to write home about), and although they gained a reputation for trading away their future for immediate success, they have quite a stable of promising prospects to look forward to.

Now, I won’t pretend to know as much about each of the prospects as Kyle from Babcock’s Death Stare, the chaps at Red Wings Central or Hockey’s Future – all of whom do a wonderful job analyzing and breaking down the Griffins and beyond. But, we here at The Production Line watch the prospects very closely and keep up as much as possible throughout the season.

That said, don’t take this list as a ranking, per se, it’s more of a organizational timeline of when you may be seeing the following names in red and white.

NHL-Ready

1. Darren Helm (C) – all the makings of a folk hero.
2. Jonathan Ericsson (D) – Babcock’s been itching to have him in the lineup for a few seasons – and he will be, full time, in 09-10.
3. Justin Abdelkader (C/LW) – performed more than admirably in the playoffs – scoring two goals in the Final, but may find himself in Grand Rapids again.
4. Jimmy Howard (G) – now or never, eh, James?

Potential 2010-11 Red Wings
5. Jakub Kindl (D) – an NHL talent, but has a real plus/minus problem on the farm. Will serve as the top defensive call-up this season.
6. Dick Axelsson (W) – finally coming to North America to showcase supposed NHL talent.
7. Mattias Ritola (W) – fit in nicely in spot call-up work in ’08.
8. Johan Ryno (W) – coming BACK to North America, will have to impress to earn another shot from the Wings after coming oh-so-close in ’07.

2 or 3 Years Out
9. Daniel Larsson (G) – he’ll either flat out steal a job from Jimmy Howard or exhaust his waiver options, as is the Wings way.
10. Logan Pyett (D) – big defenseman getting used to the pro game.
11. Cory Emmerton (C) – takes on a leadership role in prospect activities, coming along but is definitely buried behind some veterans on the depth chart.
12. Sergei Kolosov (D) – if there’s some growth on the farm, there might be room for him when the current blueline goes to pasture.

4 or 5 Years Out
13. Thomas McCollum (G) – very clearly the goaltender of the future.
14. Brian Lashoff (D) – savvy free agent signing looked great at this year’s strength and development camp.
15. Jan Mursak (W) – high-end talent took a step backwards spending so much time in the Grand Rapids press box.
16. Tomas Tatar (W) – who knows what path he’ll take…
17. Sebastien Piche (D) – another savvy pick-up will have to get used to the tempo of the pro game.
18. Francis Pare (C) – QMJHL MVP isn’t big, but he knows the game.

Potentially Further Out, But Still Very Exciting…
19. Brendan Smith (D) – as close to a bluechip blueline prospect the Wings have had in some time.
20. Landon Ferraro (W) – it may be a process – or it may be painless – either way he’s the only forward the Wings have taken in the first round (or early second) in a generation.
21. Gustav Nyquist (W) – lots of college eligibility left, and some years of the AHL between now and Motown.
22. Joakim Andersson (W) – will stay in Sweden again this season and has a potentially very long – but possible – road to the NHL.
23. Brent Raedeke (W) – like Lashoff, a clever move to tie him up. Just a matter of how well the undrafted player develops and how many forwards he can jump past.
24. Stephen Johnston (C) – a guy who will excite the Joe, should he ever get there, the Wings have a decision to make regarding his future next summer.
25. Gleason Fournier (D) – will continue to play Junior, one to watch.
26. Max Nicastro (D) – jumping to college hockey next season, could be 6-7 years away from the NHL.
27. Andrej Nestrasil (W) – the Wings are very high on him, he’ll be playing in the QMJHL in 09-10.

Borderline…
28. Nick Oslund (W) – playing college hockey in a program not known for its pro alumni.
29. Travis Ehrhardt (D) – great depth signing, may find it difficult to jump the prospects above him.
30. Nick Jensen (D) – luckily, the Red Wings have five years to evaluate whether they’d like to sign him, and then another three or four to play him in the AHL, if they choose to.
31. Adam Almqvist (D) – playing in a second-tier league overseas, will hopefully begin to blossom now that he’s a draft pick. It’s happened to Wings picks before — and from lower tiers.
32. Jesper Samuelsson (W) – having trouble staying in the Swedish Elite League.

Long Shots
33. Jordan Pearce (G) – not to knock his skill, he’s just got a lot of guys to leapfrog to play goal for the Wings.
34. Mitchell Callahan (W) – might not want to sign a fighter when upon his deadline. Should be an interesting call in 2011.
35. Jamie Tardif (W) – most likely signed to guarantee his place on the Griffins.
36. Julien Cayer (W) – very raw prospect with three more years to impress.
37. Anton Axelsson (C) – supposedly not interested in coming to North America.
38. Bryan Rufenach (D) – needs a hell of a Junior year at Clarkson to open some eyes.
39. Nils Backstrom (D) – highly unlikely to be signed.
40. Gennady Stolyarov (C) – may be stuck in Russia his entire career, but there’s something there.

The NHL up Scuttles' butt

Who would have thought the League could make more of a mess of Jiri Hudler’s “situation” than Mike Brown?

After two or three left turns from all parties, the NHL has added it’s own little caveat – one that I bet Ken Holland was hoping would be let go. Let’s break the events down, as simply as possible:

June 28 — “Step 1: Prove You’re Better Than Dale Tallon at Handling Menial Administrative Duties”
Jiri Hudler, an impending restricted free agent, is sent a qualifying offer from Red Wings management. QOs need only include a 10% raise on the expiring salary to guarantee that the player’s rights remain property of the team. Jiri Hudler was certainly due a raise — and certainly more than 10% — on his $1.015M deal. The Red Wings knew they couldn’t afford MUCH of a raise, but certainly weren’t going to let him become an unrestricted free agent and lose him for nothing. Worst case scenario — he’s given an offer sheet by another team and the Wings would receive compensation in the form of draft picks.

July 1 — “EVERYBODY PANIC!”
The Red Wings seemingly assplode, losing Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky, and Ty Conklin in a matter of hours from the opening bell on Free Agent Day. Mikael Samuelsson would find his way to Vancouver (pray for GM Place’s glass) a few days later. With all of the departures up front, it seemed pretty reasonable to assume that Hudler would HAVE to get re-signed, right? …Right?

July 5 — “I got no more questions for ‘dis guy…”
Hudler and his agent Petr Svoboda (Why, yes, that Petr Svoboda) file for arbitration, meaning an intermediatary would decide Hudler’s salary based on similar players and after hearing statements from both parties. Ken Holland reminded the overreacting masses that he’s never actually gone to arbitration with any of his clients since his tenure began (the last Wing to do so was Ray Sheppard in 1995) and that he was very confident something would get done before the hearing (which is yet to be scheduled).

July 8 — “Say what now?”
News begins to leak that Jiri Hudler has signed a very lucritive deal with the Dynamo of the KHL (rumored to be for two years and as much as $10 million, tax free). Slowly but surely, the rumors are acknowledged and summarily confirmed by all parties involved – Ken Holland, Petr Svoboda, and even Jiri Hudler – who held a press conference with his new comrades.

Ken Holland has said that he’s going to go forward with the arbitration process because if Hudler ever decides to return to the NHL, he would be forced to honor whatever contract he is “awarded” during the arbitration process. Let’s pretend for a minute that Hudler goes to Russa, plays out of his mind for two seasons and decides its time to come back to North America. Even if teams were tripping over themselves to sign him, he’d be bound to the terms of the arbitrator’s contract (which is to be determined in the next few weeks). This could be a 1 or 2 year deal, anywhere from 2 to 4M per season. That COULD be a bargain in 2011.

Not only that, the Wings don’t really have a ton of cap space to play with this summer – and are being cautious of the supposed drop next summer. One could argue that Hudler’s defection overseas is the best thing that could have happened — the Wings would maintain his NHL rights without having to pay him. Sold.

July 10 — “Hey, thanks a lot, Gary.”
The League takes it upon itself to file a grievance on behalf of the Red Wings, claiming that since the Red Wings properly filed their qualifying offer, Hudler is contractually obligated to the Red Wings next season…despite not having a contract for next season. I guess the point is that since the Wings have the “right to match” offers from NHL clubs, Jiri Hudler is still an asset that is property of Detroit.

The NHL is appealing to the IIHF to rule that Hudler’s KHL contract is invalid, as was done earlier in the week when Joel Kwiatkowski — a current KHLer — signed with the Thrashers.

So instead of all the good news that could have been squeezed out of the diminutive winger’s defection, the Red Wings are now hand-cuffed in limbo, which isn’t nearly as sexy as it sounds. Who knows when this thing gets resolved, but who can blame Holland & Co if they decide to play it safe (read: not make any more big league signings) until this whole thing goes away?

***UPDATE***

The arbitration hearing has been scheduled for July 30.

***UPDATE #2***

July 16 — “We…Are…Family…”
The president of the KHL has made his first public statement since the situation began. He – via translation – has said that the Kontinental League “will not register Hudler’s contract, pending the outcome of the NHL arbitration.” Apparently the NHL gained some goodwill by having the Thrashers rescind the aforementioned contract offer to Joel Kwiatkowski.

Who could have seen this coming, really?

“Great job with the Campbell deal. You’re fired.” “lolwhut?”

Rumor has it Dale Tallon is getting the axe.

NO! Not a cap genius like him…..

It would have been fun watching him run that team into the ground over the next few years.

I suppose enough dumbassery happened this summer to sustain us.

***UPDATE***

The story was breaking late last night via various tweets, and early in the morning, Kukla’s Korner made it as good as official (as did TSN). All of the reports seem to go back to this report from Comcast Sports Net in Chicago, written by Josh Mora:

Late Monday night sources told me the Blackhawks had fired Dale Tallon as GM and replaced him with Assistant GM Stan Bowman. With Rick Dudley already gone to Atlanta this off-season, it means that the Blackhawks have turned over virtually their entire front office since John McDonough came in as president, with Bowman the lone exception.

That’s a good point…it was easy to point at the Qualifying Offers blunder as a reason for dismissal, or the RIDICULOUS Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet contracts (…and Marian Hossa, potentially). Perhaps these were just reasons to put the final touches on a regime change.

As much as I would have enjoyed next summer as he struggled with the abacus and Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews, I HAVE to think a Bowman will work some magic.

Transactions

12/15 — Addition — Doug Janik called up
12/14 — Addition — Kris Newbury called up
12/7 — Demotion — Jakub Kindl sent to Grand Rapids
12/2 — Addition — Jakub Kindl called up


11/26 — Demotion — Daniel Larsson sent to Grand Rapids
11/12 — Addition — Daniel Larsson called up
11/11 — Addition — Drew Miller claimed off of waivers
11/04 — Demotion — Doug Janik sent to Grand Rapids
11/03 — Addition — Doug Janik called up

10/10 — Addition — Justin Abdelkader called up
10/08 — Demotion — Justin Abdelkader sent to Grand Rapids

10/07 — Addition — Brad May signed for 1 year, $500k



09/18 — Addition — Willie Coetzee signed for 3 years.
09/18 — Addition — Tomas Tatar signed for 3 years.


08/18 — Addition — Todd Bertuzzi signed for 1 year, $1.5M
08/06 — Addition — Jason Williams signed for 1 year, $1.5M

08/04 — Addition — Patrick Eaves signed for 1 year, $500k
08/01 — Arbitration — Jiri Hudler awarded 2 years, $5.75M

07/23 — Extension — Jakub Kindl signed for 3 years, $2.65M
07/22 — Extension — Ryan Oulahen signed for 1 year, $500k
07/22 — Extension — Evan McGrath signed for 1 year, $500k
07/08 — Delete — Jiri Hudler (signed with Dynamo Moscow, 2 yrs, $10M)

07/08 — Addition — Doug Janik signed for 1 year, $500k
07/07 — Addition — Travis Ehrhardt signed for 3 years, $1.6M
07/06 — Addition — Jeremy Williams signed for 1 year, $500k
07/06 — Addition — Kris Newbury signed for 1 year, $500k
07/06 — Extension — Ville Leino signed for 2 years, $1.55M
07/05 — Arbitration — Jiri Hudler filed for salary arbitration
07/03 — Delete — Darren Haydar (signed with COL, 1 year, $525k)
07/03 — Delete — Mikael Samuelsson (signed with VNC, 3 years, $7.5M)
07/01 — Delete — Ty Conklin (signed with STL, 2 years, $2.6M)
07/01 — Delete — Tomas Kopecky (signed with CHI, 2 years, $2.4M)
07/01 — Delete — Marian Hossa (signed with CHI, 12 years, $62.8M)