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  • 23 Mar
    In a year that was considered a season of adjustment after the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, the Detroit Red Wings not only made the playoffs for the 22nd straight season, but they coughed up a three-games-to-one lead in their second-round series with the Chicago Blackhawks. Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Wings team that has a couple of elite talents leading the way. The trick now is finding the right mix of players to surround them and take advantage of the next few years before production inevitably declines. General Manager Ken Holland has a clear view of what he would like to do when building a team, telling MLive.com, "The teams, in my opinion, that want quick fixes, youre not building a foundation. Youve got to start at the draft table, and you can complement it with trades and free agency. If we dont have a strong foundation, free agents arent going to want to come here." "Were not that far away," Holland continued. "Were trying to get 5 percent better. Were not going to go 50 percent better. Weve got to get a little deeper, a little more scoring, a little more experience for some players who havent been there before." So long as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are playing at a very high level, Holland is right, the Wings arent that far away. Upgrades to the supporting cast could give Holland that desired five (maybe even 10!) percent improvement and Holland can look to the Red Wings foundation for those upgrades, whether that means prospects taking the next step in their development, or being used as trade chips. While trading prospects isnt typical of these Red Wings, there ought to be a sense of urgency here. There are only so many more great seasons left for Datsyuk and Zetterberg; it would be a shame not to provide the best possible supporting cast so that they have a chance to win it all again. The TSN.ca Rating is an efficiency rating based on per-game statistics including goals and assists -- weighted for strength (ie. power play, even, shorthanded) -- plus-minus, hits, blocked shots, giveaways, takeaways, penalty differential and faceoffs. (Stats are listed in this format: G-A-PTS, +/-, PIM, GP). Generally, a replacement-level player is around a 60, a top six forward and top four defenceman will be 70-plus, stars will be over 80 and MVP candidates could go over 90. Sidney Crosby finished at the top of the 2013 regular season ratings with a 93.65. Salary cap information all comes from the indispensable www.capgeek.com. GM/COACH Ken Holland/Mike Babcock Returning Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS +/- Cap Hit Pavel Datsyuk 79.96 47 15 34 49 +21 $6.7M Henrik Zetterberg 78.13 46 11 37 48 +2 $6.083M Johan Franzen 72.58 41 14 17 31 +13 $3.945M Justin Abdelkader 64.22 48 10 3 13 +6 $1.8M Todd Bertuzzi 61.63 7 2 1 3 +3 $2.075M Mikael Samuelsson 58.61 4 0 1 1 -3 $3.0M Drew Miller 58.53 44 4 4 8 -8 $1.35M Patrick Eaves 57.73 34 2 6 8 -1 $1.2M Jordin Tootoo 56.75 42 3 5 8 0 $1.9M Cory Emmerton 56.39 15 1 0 1 0 $533K Darren Helm 52.61 1 0 0 0 0 $2.125M Free Agent Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS +/- Class 12-13 Cap Hit Damien Brunner 69.54 44 12 14 26 -6 UFA $1.35M Dan Cleary 64.27 48 9 6 15 -6 UFA $2.8M Valtteri Filppula 62.67 41 9 8 17 -4 UFA $3.0M Gustav Nyquist 61.45 22 3 3 6 0 RFA $875K Joakim Andersson 58.89 38 3 5 8 +2 RFA $875K Red Wings Forwards Usage Chart from somekindofninja.com There might -- might -- be better all-around players than 34-year-old Pavel Datsyuk, but it has been a long time since anyone was as captivating with the puck on his stick. Datsyuks exceptional puckhandling skills allow him to make players in the worlds best league look foolish. Since 2005-2006, Datsyuk ranks sixth with 613 points in 570 games, and is far-and-away the plus-minus leader at plus-207. Retired Red Wings D Nicklas Lidstrom (plus-171) and Canucks C Henrik Sedin (plus-162) are the closest to challenging one of the games premier two-way players. While Datsyuk has shown no real signs of slowing down, its something to consider, especially since he just signed a contract extension that will keep him in Detroit for four more seasons. His 2.28 shots on goal per game in 2013 did represent his lowest since 2005-2006, but thats nitpicking for an amazing player. Part of the Red Wings success is attributable to how their best players, Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, approach the game. Theyve both scored plenty (Zetterberg is 11th in scoring since 2005-2006), but both play with the defensive conscience of checking forwards. That diligence makes them valuable even when they arent scoring, which isnt all that often. One quibble with Zetterberg is that hes become a very low-percentage finisher. Among forwards with at least 600 shots over the last four seasons, only Michael Frolik and Tyler Kennedy scored on less than Zetterbergs 7.6% of his shots, which is a shame because Zetterberg ranks seventh in shots per game over that time, which seems like too many missed opportunities. Johan Franzen has been very consistent over the last five seasons, a time during which he scored 115 goals in 292 games, which ranks 21st in goals per game (0.39). Hes signed through 2020, which is a long time, especially considering Mule is already 33-years-old but, in the here and now, hes a big-bodied forward with soft hands who complements Datsyuk well. Even in a shortened season, Justin Abdelkader scored a career-high 10 goals and all came in the final 25 games of the season. A hard-driving physical winger, Abdelkader took regular turns on Datsyuks wing late in the year and into the playoffs and showed some offensive promise. At the same time, theres no need to get carried away with projecting offensive greatness for Abdelkader as he only had three assists in 48 games and his 0.27 points per game was the same as the year before. Part of the reason that the Red Wings needed Abdelkader to play a more offensive role was that Todd Bertuzzi only played seven games due largely to back troubles. Even at 38-years-old, Bertuzzi can contribute in a secondary or depth role because of his combination of size and skill. Returning to Detroit didnt work out very well for Mikael Samuelsson, who missed massive chunks of time with groin, finger and pectoral injuries. The 36-year-old has been a pretty reliable two-way player, going back to the start of his first stint with the Wings in 2005-2006, but its not going to be easy to get back up to speed after missing most of a season in his mid-30s. Coming off a season in which he scored at a career-low rate (0.18 ppg), despite playing a career-high 13:49 per game, and had the worst puck possession stats of his career, Drew Miller landed a three-year contract from the Red Wings. Theres something to be said for familiarity and Miller had scored at least 10 goals for Detroit in three straight seasons prior to 2013, but its quite a vote of confidence considering the number of forward prospects pushing for playing time in Detroit. Patrick Eaves scored 25 goals, total, in his first two seasons with the Red Wings, but has two goals in 44 games over the last two seasons and is in a battle just to keep a spot in the lineup. A significant free agent addition for the Red Wings last summer, Jordin Tootoo is an odd fit in Detroit, as puck possession has never been a strength and he ended up playing 9:05 per game, his lowest since 2006-2007 and more than four minutes less than the previous season with Nashville. Tootoo had eight of the Red Wings total 14 fights on the season, so he adds that physical dimension, but thats a limited role considering Detroits investment. Cory Emmerton played 10:49 per game while dressing for every game last season, and hes an inexpensive option on the fourth line, but he needs better possession numbers if hes going to secure a regular role. A back injury kept Darren Helm out of all but one game last season and the speedy checking centre was sorely missed. Certainly the hope is that hell be re recoverd and ready to play next season but, if not, that would leave a significant hole in the Detroit lineup. With 122 points in 122 AHL games over two-plus seasons, Gustav Nyquist also has 13 points in 40 games with the Red Wings in his first two pro campaigns. Thats modest production in minimal ice time, but Nyquist is skilled enough to warrant a look in a scoring role. A responsible forward with good size, Joakim Andersson earned a regular turn with the Red Wings and even though his scoring numbers werent special, he had strong possession stats and earned more playing time as the season progressed. After scoring 16 points in his first 19 NHL games, Damien Brunner managed only 10 in the next 25 games, so it looked like his season was ending on a low, but then led the Wings with five goals in 14 playoff games. Like Wings veterans Valtteri Filppula and Daniel Cleary, Brunner is an unrestricted free agent, and surely the Wings are interested in retaining him, but it could get interesting if other teams come calling. If the Wings re-sign Brunner and add prospects like Nyquist and Tomas Tatar to the mix, and have a healthy Helm, then they dont have any glaring needs up front, though they could certainly upgrade on the spots that would be held by older wingers Bertuzzi and Samuelsson, though some financial creativity may be required if the Wings are going to go after any big-ticket free agent forwards. Returning Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS +/- Cap Hit Niklas Kronwall 71.97 48 5 24 29 -5 $4.75M Jonathan Ericsson 65.82 45 3 10 13 +6 $3.25M Kyle Quincey 61.78 36 1 2 3 +7 $3.775M Carlo Colaiacovo 61.34 6 0 1 1 -4 $2.5M Brian Lashoff 61.23 31 1 4 5 -10 $725K Free Agent Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS +/- Class 12-13 Cap Hit Jakub Kindl 71.17 41 4 9 13 +15 RFA $883K Brendan Smith 65.91 34 0 8 8 +1 RFA $875K Ian White 64.78 25 2 2 4 +5 UFA $2.875M Red Wings Defence Usage Chart from somekindofninja.com Charged with more responsibility as Detroits number one defenceman in the wake of Nicklas Lidstroms retirement, Niklas Kronwall played a career-high 24:22 per game and 29 points in 48 games respresented the second-best scoring rate (0.60 ppg) of his career. He struggled offensively in the playoffs, with two points in 14 games, but even if the 32-year-old doesnt have elite offensive ability, hes a devastating hitter who can play hard minutes. Kronwalls partner, Jonathan Ericsson likewise saw a major increase in responsibility, playing a career-high 21:19 per game. He makes his share of mistakes, which can be a problem given the matchups he faces, but the 29-year-old has good size and moves well. Veteran Kyle Quincey has certainly had more productive seasons than the three points in 36 games he put up in 2013, and the 19:13 per game that he played was his lowest since his first time around the Motor City, but he had strong possession numbers in that reduced role. Its not like Carlo Colaiacovo to miss time with injuries. Er, okay its exactly like Colaiacovo to miss time with injuries (hes missed at least 15 games in every year of his career except one) and he only played six games during the regular season. Hes generally fared well by puck possession metrics thruoghout hsi career, so its reasonable to hope that hell be able to play a bigger role next season. Undrafted, Brian Lashoff worked his way up and into regular duty on the Detroit blueline in the middle portion of the season, only to be put back in the press box late in the year. He has a new contract that suits an extra defenceman and hell have to improve shot differentials if hes going to be anything more than that. Drafted 19th overall in 2005, Jakub Kindl took a long time before he had earned the trust of the coaching staff in Detroit, but last season was a breakthrough for him, playing a career-high 18:33 per game (nearly 20 minutes per game in April). Like Ericsson, Kindl has good size and speed, but more offensive upside. Considering his track record, which included 86 points in 152 AHL games, Brendan Smith was supposed to provide more offence for the Wings last season, but that started to come around later in the season and into the playoffs as he has 12 points in his last 29 games, including the postseason. Given the Wings lack of offensive defencemen, they could use that production to carry over and even improve next season. The Red Wings have enough bodies on the blueline, though they could really use another quality puck mover on the back end. Failing that, at least adding a right-handed shot might be worthwhile. Returning Goaltenders Player Rating GP W L OTL GAA SV% Cap Hit Jimmy Howard 80.00 42 21 13 7 2.13 .923 $5.292M Jonas Gustavsson 50.30 7 2 2 1 2.92 .879 $1.5M In four years as the Red Wings starting goalie, Jimmy Howard has a .918 save percentage, which ranks seventh among those with at least 150 games played in that span. He also has a .918 save percentage in 42 playoff games so he has an established level of above average play. The Wings had to lean heavily on Howard because backup Jonas Gustavsson didnt do much to inspire confidence in his first season wearing the Winged Wheel. Hes paid well for a backup, but Gustavsson has an .899 save percentage in 114 career games, so its getting a little late in the game for the 28-year-old to establish that hes even capable of being a solid second stringer. Top Prospects Player Pos. Team/League Stats Calle Jarnkrok C Brynas (SEL) 13-29-42, -2, 53 GP Tomas Tatar LW Grand Rapids (AHL) 23-26-49, +8, 61 GP Petr Mrazek G Grand Rapids (AHL) 23-16-2, 2.33 GAA, .916 SV% Riley Sheahan C Grand Rapids (AHL) 16-20-36, +5, 72 GP Xavier Ouellet D Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL) 10-31-41, +14, 50 GP Martin Frk RW Halifax (QMJHL) 35-49-84, +31, 56 GP Ryan Sproul D Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 20-46-66, even, 50 GP Mattias Backman D Linkoping (SEL) 2-24-26, +5, 52 GP Danny DeKeyser RW Western Michigan (CCHA) 2-13-15, -1, 35 GP Tomas Jurco RW Grand Rapids (AHL) 14-14-28, +6, 74 GP A second-round pick in 2010, 21-year-old Calle Jarnkrok has been starring in Sweden, scoring 81 points in 103 games over the past two seasons, and got into nine games with Grand Rapids late in the year, scoring three points. The Wings calling card is that they dont rush prospects, so Jarnkrok could be due to some time in the AHL, but hell have a chance to be an impact player when he gets to the NHL. 22-year-old Tomas Tatar has toiled for four seasons in the American Hockey League, and was a huge part of Grand Rapids run to a Calder Cup title this spring, scoring 16 goals in 24 playoff games. He put up seven points in 18 games with the Red Wings, in the longest look hes received at the NHL level, and he really ought to have a role in the NHL. A fifth-round pick in 2010, Petr Mrazek has a .916 save percentage in 66 AHL games through his first two pro seasons and appears on track for an NHL career. In all likelihood, he could be better than Gustavsson now, but its possible that Mrazek will get another year to develop before moving up the ladder. Riley Sheahan is a solid two-way forward with good size who is probably not far from being NHL ready. An embarrassing DUI arrest gained him notoriety that he surely didnt want and obscured what was otherwise a good start to his pro career. A quality two-way defenceman with an improving offensive game, Xavier Ouellet was a second-round pick in 2011 and finished his fourth junior season with 16 points in 15 playoff games. He should be ready to begin his apprenticeship in Grand Rapids. Drafted in the second round last summer, Martin Frk is a shooter with great offensive instincts who had a tremendous season for the Memorial Cup champions. Well have to see how his scoring fares when hes not on a junior hockey powerhouse. A raw talent, 6-foot-4 defenceman Ryan Sproul has a bomb from the point, scoring 43 goals over his last two seasons in the OHL. Hell need time to round out the edges, but his talent gives him intriguing potential. Skinny blueliner Mattias Backman had a breakthrough season in the Swedish Elite League and the 20-year-old has poise with the puck. If he can get strong enough to deal with the North American game, the fifth-round pick could pay off nicely. In great demand as a free agent following his junior season at Western Michigan, Michigan native Danny DeKeyser chose the Red Wings and got into 11 games at the end of the season, plus two more in the playoffs, with Detroit before suffering a broken finger. Hes big, mobile and makes a good first pass, but doesnt offer a lot of offence. A second-round pick in 2011, Tomas Jurco is a spectacularly talented wildcard, who improved as his first pro season went along, scoring seven goals and 14 points in his last 22 games. If he puts it together, he could score at the next level. Its not like Jurco doesnt have competition. The Red Wings have a long list of additional prospects including Landon Ferraro, and risk-reward fowards Andreas Athanasiou, Teemu Pulkkinen and Marek Tvrdon as well as defencemen Adam Almquist and Nick Jensen. If the Wings want to sacrifice some prospects for immediate help, they have the organizational depth to do so. DRAFT 18th - Ryan Pulock, Rasmus Ristolainen, Anthony Mantha. FREE AGENCY According to www.capgeek.com, the Red Wings have approximately $56.0M committed to the 2013-2014 salary cap for 18 players. Check out my possible Red Wings lineup for next season on Cap Geek here. Needs: Two top six forwards, one top-pair defenceman. What I said the Red Wings needed last year: Two top nine forwards, top-pair defenceman, backup goaltender. They added: Damien Brunner, Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson, Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, Jonas Gustavsson. TRADE MARKET Kyle Quincey, Carlo Colaiacovo, prospects. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Seahawks Jerseys China . -- New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis is retiring after a 16-year career to become the goalie coach for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Cheap Seahawks Jerseys Authentic .com) - The Montreal Canadiens embark on their first road trip of the season as they head out west to battle the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. http://www.cheapseahawksjerseysauthentic.com/ . With Parker having a quiet game for once, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw provided the scoring as France won its first major basketball title by beating Lithuania 80-66 on Sunday. It was a victory that ended a decade of frustration for Parker and a talented French generation, which lost the final against Spain two years ago and took bronze in 2005. Seahawks Jerseys Authentic China . Newcastle dominated in the early stages but City weathered the storm and then raised its game in extra time. Negredo broke the deadlock from close range after a simple move in the 99th minute before Dzeko took the ball round goalkeeper Tim Krul to seal the victory in the 105th. Seattle Seahawks Jerseys China . Thats not a comment on the suspension that banished the Portland Winterhawks general manager and coach from his Western Hockey League teams bench for most of the 2012-13 season.Paul McGinley is expecting next months Masters to be one of the most closely contested in recent history with so many players having a realistic chance at the first major of the year. Adam Scott has been in the best form of the worlds top 10 over the last month, following up his second-placed finish at Riviera with back-to-back victories in the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Florida.But two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, who pipped Scott at the Northern Trust Open, has also enjoyed an excellent start to the year while defending champion Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are expected to be in contention on Sunday afternoon at Augusta. Adam Scott has finished second, first and first in his last three starts Ideally, all the players want to be where Adam Scott is right now, McGinley told Sky Sports News HQ. Hes gone second-win-win in his last three starts, and thats where you want to be. But thats not always applicable and not everybody can have that kind of form.I think Jordan Spieth is there or thereabouts, but you could raise an argument for six or seven guys who are going into the Masters with a lot of form and a lot of history around there, and theres no reason why they cant win. Its going to be a very exciting Masters, and its very difficult to pick a winner.Spieth is widely regarded as the best putter in the world, while McIlroys change to a cross-handed grip for the first World Golf Championship event of the year at Doral resulted in an improved performance on the greens which will stand him in good stead for the Masters. Jordan Spieth emerged as one of the best putters in the world when he stormed to Masters glory last year McGinley added: Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and Spieths strength is definitely his putting. He started off like a train at Augusta last year, and Rory McIlroy was 11 or 12 shots behind before he had even started his second round.Jordan put such a huge distance between himself and the rest of the field and went on to win his first Masters. But the putting is the strongest part of his game. Hes not blessed with the kind of power that Bubba Watson or Rory McIlroy has, but wed all like to be able to putt as well as Jordan Spieth.The interesting thing about Rorys putting is hes always felt he is left-hand dominant with the putter. So he changed to a left-below-right putting grip at Doral and still felt his left hand would control the stroke. The way he putted in the second and third rounds at Doral were as good as hes ever putted. Rory McIlroy new putting technique served him well at Doral I think that will give him a lot of confidence and inspiration going into the Masters.dddddddddddd We know how good his long game is, and when he gets hot with the putter, hes pretty formidable.McIlroy is currently the favourite with Sky Bet as he bids to complete a career grand slam of majors, but McGinley added: Its so difficult to pick a winner, particularly when the difference between the top 10 players in the world is so small. Anybody can turn up, show a bit of form and win.We saw that when Charl Schwartzel won the Valspar Championship at the weekend. Hes won at Augusta in the past, so you cant discount the likes of him and Louis Oosthuizen, who won in Australia a couple of weeks ago. Louis lost out to Bubba in a play-off in 2012, and Bubba has won twice around there now. Bubba Watsons early-season form and stats bode well for another big week at Augusta Theres a lot of good form and trends in terms of Bubbas stats this year, so youve got to look closely at him. This is whats going to make the Masters to exciting, you can build a case for so many different players.The feature of Scotts remarkable recent form has been his outstanding putting after he was forced to revert to a traditional-length putter following the ban on anchored putting that was enforced at the start of the year. Scott is putting better than ever since reverting to a short putter Adam used the long putter for years because he basically had the yips with the short stick, McGinley said. He won the Masters using the long putter and then had a couple of average years, and then he was forced to go back to a traditional putter because of the ban on the anchored technique which came in on January 1.And over the last month, hes actually putted better than he ever has, but can he hold onto that form for another month? Thats the big question, because we know how hard it is to sustain that kind of form for any length of time. But certainly he has the form and the confidence at the moment, and obviously hes a past winner at Augusta. Also See: Schwartzel wins Valspar World-class Willett Opinion Rory must be patient ' ' '