Offseason Analysis: DETROIT RED WINGS


DETROIT RED WINGS: 2014-2015 By the Numbers

Overall Record: 43-25-14-100
Home Record: 22-10-9
Away Record: 21-15-5
Shootout Record: 4-10
Playoff Result: Eliminated by Tampa Bay in Eastern Conference Quarter-Final (series: 4-3 TBL)
Standings: Atlantic Division: 3, Eastern Conference: 6, League: 12
Goals For: 231 (NHL rank: 10)
Goals Against: 211 (NHL rank: 16)
Power Play Percentage: 23.8 percent (NHL rank: 2)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 80.9 percent (NHL rank: 17)
Leading Scorer: Henrik Zetterberg (17-49-66)

2015-2016 Outlook:

The Red Wings’ organization will enter the 2015-2016 season with very few lineup changes but with a totally different look. The team will be without head coach Mike Babcock for the first time in over a decade, as he signed an eight-year $50 million contract with the Maple Leafs. Former Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill will be the man standing behind the bench for the Wings this year. Though Detroit will start the season with several players on injured reserve, including star forward Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings have made the playoffs every season for the past 24 years and have a good shot to stretch the streak to 25.


Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports


Offseason Overview



  • F Joakim Andersson (1-year contract at $815,000)
  • F Axel Holmstrom (3-year ELC with AAV* of $717,500)
  • F Dylan Larkin (3-year ELC with AAV* of $925,000)
  • G Tom McCollum (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • F Andy Miele (1-year contract at $575,000)
  • F Landon Ferraro (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • D Vili Saarijarvi (3-year ELC with AAV* of $692,500)
  • F Gustav Nyquist (4-year deal with AAV* of $4.75 million)
  • F Mitch Callahan (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • D Nick Jensen (2-year deal with AAV* of $587,500)
  • F Louis-Marc Aubry (1-year contract at $575,000)
  • F Teemu Pulkkinen (1-year contract at $735,000)
  • F Tomas Jurco (2-year deal with AAV* of $900,000)
  • F Daniel Cleary (1-year contract at $950,000)
  • D Brendan Smith (2-year deal with AAV* of $2.75 million)
  • G Jared Coreau (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • D Robbie Russo (2-year ELC with AAV* of $680,000)
  • F Evgeny Svechnikov (3-year ELC with AAV* of $925,000)

Free Agents Signed:

  • D Mike Green (3-year deal with AAV* of $6 million)
  • F Brad Richards (1-year contract at $3 million)
  • F Eric Tangradi (1-year contract at $575,000)

  • F Nick Betz–PTO (later released)
  • F Mark Zengerle–PTO (later released)
  • F Jerome Verrier–PTO (later released)
  • F Joel Rechlicz–PTO (later released)
  • F Connor McGlynn–PTO (later released)
  • F Jeff Hoggan–PTO (later released)
  • F Evan Polei–PTO (later released)
  • F Kurt Etchegary–PTO (later released)
  • D Nathan Paetsch–PTO (later released)
  • D Jared Nightingale–PTO (later released)
  • D Justin Lemcke–PTO (later released)
  • D Ty Stanton–PTO (later released)
  • D Andrew Prochno–PTO (later released)
  • D Scott Czarnowczan–PTO (later released)
  • D Jarett Meyer–PTO (later released)
  • D Jalen Chatfield–PTO (later released)
  • G Matthew Mancina–PTO (later released)
  • G Connor Ingram–PTO (later released)
  • F Triston Grant–PTO (later released)

Draft Recap:

  • Round 1 (19) LW Evgeny Svechnikov
  • Round 3 (73) D Vili Saarijarvi
  • Round 4 (110) G Joren Van Pottelberghe
  • Round 5 (140) C Chase Pearson
  • Round 6 (170) D Patrick Holway
  • Round 7 (200) LW Adam Marsh

Notable Extensions:

Free Agents Lost:

  • D Merek Zidlicky–New York Islanders
  • G Jonas Gustavsson–Boston
  • F Erik Cole–UFA
  • C Kevin Porter–Pittsburgh
  • D Doug Janik–retired

Stephen Weiss
Cap hits:
$1,066,066 (Years 1,2), $2,566,666 (Year 3), $1,666,666 (Years 4,5,6)
(refer to GeneralFanager for more info)

Organizational Changes:

  • Named Jeff Blashill head coach
  • Named Tony Granato, Chris Chelios and Pat Ferschweiler assistant coaches
  • Named Dave Noel-Bernier video coach
  • Named Mike Kadar strength and conditioning coach
  • Named Todd Nelson coach of Grand Rapids (AHL)
  • Named Bruce Ramsay and Ben Simon assistant coaches for Grand Rapids (AHL)

*AAV=Average Annual Value (cap hit)

Significant Moves

Here are the most significant moves the Red Wings have made this offseason, and how they will affect this upcoming season:

  1. Buying out Weiss/Signing Richards:
  2. weiss

    Stephen Weiss
    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    The Red Wings signed veteran center Stephen Weiss to a five-year contract in the summer of 2013; the signing was meant to bolster the offense as well as make up for some of the lost production with the departure of Valtteri Filppula, who signed with Tampa Bay that summer. Weiss’ 5-year contract carried a $4.9 million cap hit, compared to Filppula’s 5-year deal with a $5 million cap hit. Though Weiss had been a strong playmaker in his 11 seasons with Florida, scoring 145 goals and 249 assists for a total of 394 points in 654 career games as a Panther, he struggled with injury after injury in Detroit and was a major disappointment. Though he had a few stretches of good games last season, he was never able to put it together and return to his former productive self; Weiss scored only 29 points in 74 games with Detroit. With centers like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening, Dylan Larkin and others, Detroit decided to buy out the remaining three years on Weiss’ deal. The buyout will save the club approximately $3.8 million in each of the next two seasons, and then approximately $2.3 million in 2017-2018. This cap space will be especially significant considering players like Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan and Petr Mrazek are upcoming free agents.


    Brad Richards
    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    In response, the Red Wings went out this offseason and signed veteran two-time Stanley Cup Champion Brad Richards to a reasonable one-year $3 million contract. Richards signed a similar deal last year with Chicago after being bought out by the New York Rangers. Richards had a relatively productive season last year in Chicago as a middle-six center who saw some time on the power-play; he scored 37 points in 76 games in the regular season and added 14 points in 23 playoff games en route to winning his second Stanley Cup (he also won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004). Richards is a solid signing for Detroit, especially given how injury-prone Zetterberg and Datsyuk tend to be. He will most likely slide in as the second-line center between wingers Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist but may also play some third-line minutes, especially if Detroit decides to give rookie Dylan Larkin a shot in the top six.

  3. Bringing in Green:
  4. green

    Dennis Wierzbicki, USA TODAY Sports

    The Red Wings signed defenseman Mike Green to a three-year contract with an annual average value of $6 million. Though Green has missed a lot of time over the years because of injuries, he has been able to play in 70 and 72 games over the past two seasons, respectively. Detroit has been looking for a big-name defenseman for a while, so it is no surprise that the club went out and got the most high-profile defenseman available in free agency. Green will most likely play sheltered minutes as his defensive game isn’t nearly as strong as his offensive game, but Green’s lethal shot from the point and great playmaking ability will make Detroit’s already-strong power-play even better. Spanning 10 seasons with the Capitals, Green scored 113 goals and 247 assists for a total of 360 points in 575 career games.

    Possible Line Combinations

    There are several injuries in the Red Wings’ organization, including defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Jakub Kindl and forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm. Nineteen-year-old Dylan Larkin will make the roster at least for the start of the season; he could start the season on the top line while Datsyuk is injured. Here is one possibility of what the Red Wings’ lines could look like for the start of the 2015-2016 season:





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    Final Thoughts

    The Red Wings have been a talented and competitive organization for decades. With an impressive 24-year playoff streak and year after year of excellent drafting, the Red Wings are always capable of making a strong playoff run. With superstars like Datsyuk and Zetterberg, rising talents such as Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist and newly-acquired veterans in Brad Richards and Mike Green, the Red Wings are once again in an excellent position this season. Though Mike Babcock’s presence will be missed, Blashill and his staff have a great group of players and should be able to keep the playoff streak alive, especially in a weak Atlantic Division.

    Be sure to check out HFL’s offseason overviews of all 30 NHL teams.
    Featured image credit: Dave Reginek-NHLI-Getty Images