Pro/No :: Drew Miller

It’s Monday, so you know what that means — it’s Winging it in Motown‘s turn to host the newest Pro/No profile. Fresh off the heels of a Patrick Eaves vote (wait til you see the results of THAT one), it’s time to take a look at the other free agent grinder that just completed a second season in Detroit: Drew Miller.

As a reminder, every Monday and Thursday, WIIM and TPL will feature another free agent-to-be, and present the voting form. When all of the free agents have been covered, we’ll each have a big post dissecting the results and sharing the breakdowns of yes’s…no’s…and unsure’s.


Pro/No :: Patrick Eaves

Welcome to another round of the joint TPL-WIIM series of pro/no profiles, giving you all the details you need to make an educated opinion about each of the upcoming free agents. At the bottom of the entry, you’ll find a voting form — please feel free to leave additional thoughts in the comments either here or at Winging it in Motown!

Patrick Eaves, winger, #17
27-years-old (5/1/84)
6’0″ :: 192 lbs
6 NHL seasons (2 with Detroit)
From Calgary

Regular Season — 63 games, 13 goals, 7 assists, 14 penalty minutes, -2, just under 13 minutes a game.
Playoffs — 11 games, 3 goals, 1 assist, 6 penalty minutes, +1, 11 minutes a game.

After being traded from the Carolina to Boston, the Bruins waived Eaves with the intention of buying out the remaining years on his contract. This made him an unrestricted free agent, and the Red Wings snapped him up for the league minimum on August 4, 2009. He was re-signed last summer, after a strong first season in Detroit, and earned a modest raise to $750,000 for another one-year contract.

As of July 1st, he will be an unrestricted free agent.

Eaves was part of an early-season rotation of bottom six forwards who found themselves spending some time in the press box. In November, with Kris Draper on IR, Eaves and Drew Miller were flipped for one another for ten straight games (until Mike Modano’s injury).

With Modano out for several months, Eaves was able to get into the lineup for every game; and when Kris Draper was healthy enough to return to the roster — it was Eaves who found himself out of the rotation. Draper, Miller, and Hudler formed the new healthy scratch rotation, seemingly solidifying Eaves’ place on the game sheet.

There was a three-game absence with an elbow infection, and a ten game absence following a collision with Torrey Mitchell, but Patrick Eaves was not a healthy scratch after December 4th…until the final game of the regular season, when he sat out against Chicago. In the six games leading up to the finale, Draper and Miller had swapped out for another.

In the post-season, 8 forwards played in all 11 games. Patrick Eaves was one of them.

1) Slowly but surely, he’s solidified his spot in the active lineup, and has proven effective as a third or fourth line energy player.
2) He’s capable of scoring big goals — he’s a one-time 20-goal scorer in this League, and added 13 this season in what was very much a complimentary role.
3) In the past two seasons, he’s come very cheap — possibly due to the fact that the Bruins are still paying him more than a quarter-million dollars NOT to play for them.

1) It’s certainly possible he knows that his value has increased in his two seasons with Detroit and may seek out a bigger pay day (or a bigger role) on another team this off-season.
2) At the same time, it’s possible that he’s replaceable on the open market or from within.
3) With the Red Wings looking for some things to change after two lackluster second round exits, it’s roster spots like Eaves’ that may be commandeered by a more proficient scorer.

During locker room cleanout, Patrick Eaves sounded nothing if not confident that he’ll return to Detroit. He knows that he’ll be looking for another contract and said that “I’m sure it’ll get done” when asked if he was nervous about proceedings. Sounds to me like he’s a guy that knows he wants to be in Detroit, and won’t necessarily bicker about the terms if it means he can continue being a Red Wing.

Even with $253k supplementing his Red Wings paycheck, Eaves is probably due a raise from his $750k salary from a year ago. His contributions to the team do exceed that number, and with the rising cap, the Wings should be able to do a cool million for the grinder. It’s just a matter of whether or not they feel they have to.

Internal :: Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton may be able to make the jump, Tomas Tatar may still be a year or two away.
External :: Upcoming free agents in a similar income bracket with a similar skill set and of a similar age include Boyd Gordon, Marek Svatos, Tanner Glass, Sean Bergenheim, Tim Brent, and Tomas Kopecky (just kidding…sorta).

Thank you for your votes! They are now being tabulated and we’ll have a recap post later in the summer with all of the results!

Photo Credit: Dave Guralnick, Detroit News

Pro/No :: Joey MacDonald

It’s Monday, so you know what that means — it’s Winging it in Motown‘s turn to host the newest Pro/No profile. Fresh off the heels of a (remarkably tabulated) Chris Osgood vote, it’s time to take a look at the other free agent goaltender that spent some time in the Wings’ net this season: Joey MacDonald.

As a reminder, every Monday and Thursday, WIIM and TPL will feature another free agent-to-be, and present the voting form. When all of the free agents have been covered, we’ll each have a big post dissecting the results and sharing the breakdowns of yes’s…no’s…and unsure’s.


Pro/No :: Chris Osgood

Chris Osgood, goaltender, #30
38-years-old (11/26/72)
5’10” :: 175 lbs
17 NHL seasons (14 with Detroit)
From Peace River, Alberta

Regular Season — 11 games played, 5-3-2 record, 2.77 GAA, .903 sv%
Playoffs — Did Not Play

Chris Osgood was drafted by the Red Wings in 1991, in the third round. In the years that followed, he’s gotten into 744 regular season games and 129 post-season games, and — as one of the “good old boys,” — has been on several Cup-winning teams. Following a strong 2007-08 season, Osgood was signed to a three-year, $4.25M deal (with actual salaries declining each season). He carried with him a cap hit of $1,416,667.

As of July 1st, he will be an unrestricted free agent.

Ozzie has fallen on tough luck in the injury department most recently — but prior to that, he had lost his starting job to Jimmy Howard.

In 2007-08, Dominik Hasek was the Red Wings starter, but after a poor showing in the first two games of the playoffs, Chris Osgood stepped in and helped carry the Red Wings to their fourth Cup win in 12 years.

The following year, Osgood was named the starter — with newly acquired Ty Conklin signed to back him up — and struggled mightily all season. Conklin outplayed Osgood, but joined the St. Louis Blues in the off-season, opening up a roster spot for starter-in-waiting Jimmy Howard.

Howard has played very well in his short career, relegating Chris Osgood to a backup role. Osgood wasn’t too fond of that idea in 2009-10, but embraced his role as a mentor in 2010-11. He was playing pretty well, when his season ended thanks to a groin tear, followed by hernia surgery, in January. Following several attempts to get back on the ice and return to his backup role, Mike Babcock decide that Joey MacDonald was the more reliable backup for the post-season.

1) You don’t get 400 wins and three Stanley Cups by accident.
2) Assuming he’s healthy, you may not be able to find a better backup for the money (which is sure to decrease).
3) He’s a hell of a guy in the locker room and everyone loves him.

1) It’s been several years since he was consistently reliable for long stretches of time.
2) They may have been reasonable, but his attitude toward Mike Babcock — and his handcuffing of the Red Wings roster — are problematic.
3) By goaltending standards, he’s not terribly old, but he’s had a tough time with injuries lately. Made-of-glass laughing stock of the league Rick DiPietro played in twice as many games as Chris Osgood this past season.

It’s clear to anyone that pays attention that Chris Osgood wants to continue playing. The fire for the game is there, but he admits that there’s more to it than just “desire.” Clearly, the injuries and his rehabilitation, along with the prospect of spending more time with his young family, are going to influence his decision to seek an extension with the Red Wings. At locker clean-out, Osgood told Ted Kulfan that he “still wants to play — but it goes beyond that.” He is supposed to inform Ken Holland of his intentions in the coming weeks.

If Osgood should continue to play, he’ll likely need to take a pay cut from his $1.4M cap hit (and $1.1M actual salary from this season). Like we mentioned above, finding a reliable backup goaltender for under $1M in this League is tricky — and if he can drop into the lineup in the $800k range, Ken Holland might be inclined to give him another shot.

Internal :: Joey MacDonald played very well stepping into the backup role, but he’s not signed for next season, either.
External :: Backup goaltenders that are slated to be on the market as of July 1st include Jose Theodore, Brian Boucher, Johan Hedberg, Mike Smith, and — ironically — Ty Conklin.


Photo Credit: Dave Sandford, Getty Images

Rafalski to retire?

**UPDATE: 5:55pm***
The news has been confirmed by Darren Dreger and Craig Custance. Press conference scheduled for Wednesday. 

File this one under “unexpected.” Sportsnet reporter Nick Kypreos reports the following, via Twitter:

In a surprise if not shocking move sources tell Sportsnet the #RedWings will announce retirement of D Brian Rafalski as early as this week.

What’s more surprising #Redwings Rafalski walks away from 6M he was scheduled to earn next year. With the news look for Lidstrom to return.

Injuries the main reason #Redwings Rafalski shuts down a great career. He played throughout the play-offs without a ACL in his knee.

If this is, indeed, true, the Red Wings would have an additional $6M to play with as summer free agency rolls around. By my count, the Wings would have about $21M to play with, depending on what number the salary cap ends up being for 2011-12. I still don’t think that Ken Holland would make a run at RFA Shea Weber in Nashville… but I’m more than happy to continue pushing that dream…

But, perhaps more importantly, it’s time to say goodbye to a defensive stalwart and a warrior that clawed and fought his way into the National Hockey League and won some Cups. Raise a glass to Mr. Rafalski, if the news is confirmed by the team. Stay tuned to TPL for details, and perhaps an official word from the team…

Pro/No :: Jonathan Ericsson

Following Thursday’s post about Mike Modano, and the outpouring of votes from all over Red Wings Nation, we’re happy to announce the party continues with Jonathan Ericsson. For the full profile, and the voting form, head over to Winging it in Motown.

I’m sure anyone reading this knows where I stand on the matter… a few short months after dubbing him “Shitbox,” but JJ has all the information you’ll need to form an educated opinion.

As a reminder, every Monday and Thursday, WIIM and TPL will feature another free agent-to-be, and present the voting form. When all of the free agents have been covered, we’ll each have a big post dissecting the results and sharing the breakdowns of yes’s…no’s…and unsure’s.


Pro/No :: Mike Modano

In the coming weeks, we’re teaming with our friends at Winging it in Motown to break down each of the Red Wings’ impending free agents. At the end of each breakdown, you’ll have a chance to give your vote: are you Prodano… or Nodano? We’ll compile all of the data over 48 hours and report back about where the community sits on each of the potential departures.

But first, a little background information about the Red Wings’ salary cap situation heading into 2011-12. With 11 forwards (including Jan Mursak, but excluding Cory Emmerton), the Wings have committed just under $31.5M on the front end. With Jimmy Howard and four defenders, there’s just under $16M committed to the rear. That’s a total of $47.5M of the projected $62M salary cap.

The Red Wings will have about $14M to play with — and that’s to fill the holes on the forward units, sign (or promote) another three defenseman, and find a backup goaltender. If Nicklas Lidstrom returns, he’ll command the lion’s share of that pool, so big name free agents like Brad Richards are absolutely out. However, the Wings have proven time and time again that they can work magic without much cap space, and we should all have faith that GM Ken Holland and braintrust will deliver another stellar roster by the time camp rolls around.

Without further ado, our first free agent up for pro/no debate:

Mike Modano, center, #90
40-years-old (turning 41 in June)
6’3″ :: 210 lbs
21 NHL seasons (1 with Detroit)
From Westland, MI

Regular Season — 40 games played, 4 goals, 11 assists, 8 penalty minutes, -4, 12:26 average time on ice.
Playoffs — 2 games played, 0 goals, 1 assist, 0 penalty minutes, +1, 10:13 average time on ice.

On August 5th, the Red Wings signed local hero Mike Modano to a one-year contract worth $1.25M in base salary with the opportunity to make an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses. Of those bonuses, he met two: 40 games played ($150,000) and round 1 playoff win ($125,000) making the total he earned in one season with the Red Wings $1,525,000.

As of July 1st, he will be an unrestricted free agent.

Prior to his wrist injury (which was sustained on November 26th), Modano had played in all twenty of the Wings’ games. He returned on February 26th, playing 20 of the team’s 21 remaining games, missing only April 3rd against Minnesota (the second half of a back-to-back) as a healthy scratch.

However, he seemed to lose his spot in the lineup for the post-season. He was a healthy scratch for 9 of the 11 games Detroit played — spelling an injured Johan Franzen for Game 4 against Phoenix, and again in Game 6 against San Jose.

With a full complement of players, Modano found himself in healthy scratch territory — rotating with Kris Draper for the final few games of the second round. If Franzen were healthy, it’s likely that neither Modano nor Draper would be in the lineup.

1) He’s a hometown boy, hailing from nearby Westland (or Livonia, depending on who’s telling the story).
2) Despite his age, he’s still damn fast and a wonderfully skilled skater and a legitimate threat.
3) He knows how to win — and become a valuable member of the team even if he’s not in the lineup each game.

1) Never really became accustomed to the Red Wings style of play, but was improving each game until his injury.
2) His fire may have been extinguished being a healthy scratch at the most important part of the season.
3) Considering his age, recent injury history, and offensive production, the Red Wings can likely replace him without having to pay $1M.

Before the playoffs even began, he sounded like he was leaning toward retiring no matter what the season’s outcome was. Following the second round exit, he says that he’s “75% sure” that he’s going to call it quits, adding that “there’s a high probability my playing days are over.” If this is, indeed, the end of his playing career, he’ll likely return to Dallas and become a member of the Stars front office.

If he does decide to play, he can’t expect to make more than he did this season — and would likely have to take a pay cut to continue playing in Detroit or anywhere else he’d consider. Given his history, however, it might be insulting to offer under a million. If he were to continue, I’d have to guess he’d sign somewhere around $1M – $1.25M

Internal :: Jan Murak and Cory Emmerton are potentially ready to play similar third/fourth line minutes next season.
External :: Upcoming free agents of Mike Modano’s ilk (meaning, age and salary range) are Mark Recchi (BOS), Doug Weight (NYI), and John Madden (MIN).


Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio, AP

Capology: Halfway to Free Agency

Oh, hello there. I hope you had a wonderful New Year celebration, and that the Winter Classic Fellatiofest coupled with Red Wings crapping the bed against two L’Eastern Conference clubs hasn’t soiled 2011 for you already. Quick aside: I was watching the Winter Classic with my father-in-law, who is a season ticket holder for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, but doesn’t catch a ton of hockey on television. Upon hearing the absolutely inane chatter of Doc Emrick, Darren Pang, Pierre Maguire, and Eddie Olczyk, he let out a “who are these clowns” exclamation…prompting me to almost come to the defense of Emrick. But why? Everyone tells you he’s a legend…but if you listen to him, it’s mostly nonsense and the word “DRIIIIIIIIVE.” He’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but I’m tempted to ask if it’s a Chris Osgood-like matter of being around forever.

Anyway… due to overwhelming reader outrage over our extended disappearance (read: one comment from @BizCassty), I thought I’d take a crack at getting back behind the wheel here.

Now that the calendar has turned over and we’re being jailsexed by January, the Red Wings (and, yes, other teams, too…but who cares) are allowed to negotiate extensions with players who signed one-year deals. Some are taking advantage of their one-season opportunity (Patrick Eaves), some will be injured for most of theirs (Mike Modano), and others probably regret having signed this past summer at all (Derek Meech).

To take things a step further, 21 players that are Red Wings property will be free agents come July 1st. A lot could happen between now and then, but it’s never too early to look ahead at what the future holds — particularly since we’re getting a look at Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar: two guys who have held their own and looked pretty good in their call-ups (calls-up?). By the way, does anyone think that Tatar sticks around longer than Mursak — or is Mursak going to get the Ritola treatment since he will have to clear waivers next season, while Tatar will not?

So I turn the question to you — what do you think the odds are of the following players returning next season?

Kris Draper :: with Maltby moving on, is this season his swan song as well?
Patrick Eaves :: will the Wings be able to afford him if he keeps up the pace?
Ilari Filppula :: will he pull a Leino and demand NHL time, or be satisfied in Grand Rapids again?
Jimmy Howard :: what kind of raise should he expect — and will he get?
Sergei Kolosov :: I’m sure the Wings hoped he’d be closer by now, but he’s always been a project.
Nicklas Lidstrom :: rejuvenating season — or one last hurrah?
Joey MacDonald :: with McCollum not coming along quickly, does he stick around for emergencies?
Derek Meech :: probably can’t wait until July 1st.
Drew Miller :: may not be satisfied playing every other game (when everyone’s healthy).
Mike Modano :: regardless of a Cup, is the team interested in keeping Mo?
Chris Osgood :: despite my thoughts, is there a better backup for so few dollars?
Ruslan Salei :: strong season, but is the 5/6 D slot an easy one to fill on the market?
Jamie Tardif :: Griffins captain, but way down the Wings call-up depth chart.

Dick Axelsson
:: according to Hat Trick Dick, the Wings want to re-sign him. Color me skeptical.
Cory Emmerton :: waiver-eligible next season. Big decision looming here.
Jonathan Ericsson :: Holland was hoping for an extension during the season…
Jan Mursak :: waiver-eligible next season, and looks good in the NHL. But so did Ritola. Thoughts?
Jordan Owens :: caught Babcock’s eye in training camp, but with guys like Mursak, Tatar, Filppula… is he worth hanging onto?
Francis Pare :: hasn’t really caught on in the AHL, even.
Jordan Pearce :: has long said he’d be a doctor if the NHL didn’t look like it was imminent. Good on him.
Logan Pyett :: also waiver-eligible, has he earned a shot on the Wings blueline? Probably not.

2011-12 Red Wings (already signed)
Zetterberg — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Filppula — Franzen
Cleary — Helm —  Hudler
_____ — Abdelkader — _____

Rafalski — _____
Kronwall — Stuart
_____ — _____


Eight slots on next year’s roster wide open… and $44.6M accounted for. If the cap doesn’t wiggle at all, that’s $15M to play with.


At Least OUR Derek Didn’t Sign for 6.6M

Mark Humphrey, AP

Well, the time has come to part ways with the press box’s main attraction. Yes, the man who transformed the Leino Lounge into his own, personal VIP area has very likely played his last game as a Red Wing. Not that we remember when that was anyway.

It’s kind of a sad story. Derek (or, as he’s known around the DOT, Derrick) Meech seems like a genuine good man, and was always willing to play forward when the Wings needed him to. In fact, he did damn near anything the Wings needed him to. But, alas, it was not to be in the long-run, and having been waived (and not claimed), it looks like he’ll spend the duration of his one-year contract in Grand Rapids, adding to an unbelievably talented Griffins club that will likely boast quality NHL-calibre players like Kirk Maltby and Mattias Ritola.

Shortly after Kirk Maltby’s signing was announced, Ken Holland waived Derek Meech — an unrelated move, by the way — that opened him and his one-year, one-way, league-minimum contract up to anyone that needed depth at defense. But, being that teams are holding steady with their rosters and/or are waiting for their prospects to show something at training camp, no one plucked him off the wire. Holland said that he had been trying to trade the 26-year-old swingman, to no avail.

To be sure, Ken Holland will continue working the phones, offering Derek Meech to an NHL squad that could use a Red Wings castoff, which — for the record — is better pedigree than many teams’ actual blueliners can boast. If no other NHL club trades for Meech, he’ll very likely spend the whole season in the American Hockey League, thanks to his one-way contract. Since he’ll be making more than the AHL maximum of $105,000 (the nature of a one-way is that he’ll earn the same salary in the NHL or elsewhere), he’s subject to re-entry waivers, meaning that the Red Wings would be on the hook for half of his salary — both in paycheck form and cap hit form. That’s a risk that Ken Holland has said he will not take. It’s also the reason Kirk Maltby was talked into taking a two-way deal. While Maltby must also be waived on the way down, he will not be subject to re-entry waivers on the way back up, should an injury occur.

It’s been a strange summer for Meech. He was one of the Wings’ restricted free agents, and actually filed for arbitration before agreeing to a league-minimum deal. Which doesn’t add up. I had a feeling that Holland promised Meech that he’d find an NHL home for the defenseman — if it wasn’t in Detroit — but he had to take the league minimum to make a trade as easy as possible. But, there were no takers.

When news came down that he’d been waived, I thought for sure Holland had something up his sleeve. It’s an odd time to waive a player — since the team doesn’t need to be anywhere near the salary cap for another few weeks. Yes, there were too many bodies on the roster, but that doesn’t need to be settled right now, either. The timing was peculiar, and I even mentioned to Hollis that I bet Holland has lined up a taker — kind of a good faith “holding up his end of the bargain” now that the writing was on the wall — in Ruslan Salei’s handwriting.

There will be a lot of talk about Kyle Quincey in the coming weeks — since he was essentially given up on in favor of Derek Meech. I won’t get into specifics, since George Malik absolutely nailed it, but on the surface — it may look that way. Would we prefer to have Kyle Quincey than an already-waived, destined-for-Grand Rapids Derek Meech? Perhaps. But Derek Meech was far from useless and certainly had his role on the club for the last few years. Quincey likely would have had a larger role at this point, but what’s done is done. At the time of that decision, it was one or the other and Derek Meech was the better player — period.

But here we are. September 11th, 2010 (make sure you pay your respects today, by the way) and Derek Meech is without an NHL home. He’s been a good sport, a worthy soldier, and — yes, at times — a target of mockery. We wish him nothing but the best and hope that he’s back in the big leagues soon — wherever it may be.

Eaves makes twelve, $3.75M left in the account

Patrick Eaves has re-signed with the Red Wings for a bargain basement deal — yet again. The one-year deal is worth a reported $750,000, a raise on his league-minimum $500,000 deal from a season ago. He has been receiving buyout payments from the Boston Bruins, per the trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, which help supplement his regular paycheck. The Bruins, in turn, receive a credit this season as Eaves’ salary would have been below the buyout amount (or some such nonsense).

If you follow along, you’ll recall I was most concerned about Patrick Eaves coming back into the fold, for fear that he’d earned his way into a bigger paycheck than the Wings could likely afford.

Using the numbers from yesterday, the Wings now have $55,642,045 dedicated to salary (12 forwards, 6 defenseman, and 2 goaltenders) and an additional $50,000 due for bonuses, leaving the Red Wings with $3,757,955 to sign their remaining restricted free agents: Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, and Derek Meech.

I won’t get into the Modano and sixth D implications again, everyone’s covered how insanely easily those pieces will fit financially thanks to the deals these guys are taking.

Maybe Lilja comes back after all…