How to fix the Red Wings

The Red Wings suffered an early exit from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Question: Why have the Detroit Red Wings struggled in the postseason of late?

Answer: This team has too many commitments to sub-par players and refuses to make cuts to the roster where they are needed.

Despite making the playoffs yet again and getting 100 points yet again, the Red Wings need an overhaul, and fast. Detroit is a team that is about finesse without any bulk behind it, there are too many small players on this team who get flustered when the game gets physical. Hello folks, it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s going to be physical.

There will be blame on goaltender Jimmy Howard, but he is not paid to be Pekka Rinne or Jonathan Quick. He is paid to be good and at times really good, and he has done that. There is no team in front of him that will help him to win games. The team has gotten old around him and the talent has eroded to the point that the Red Wings are beatable – this isn’t 2008 or even 2009 anymore.

Todd Bertuzzi is the Red Wings only physical force, and his contract is looking increasingly poor. Yes, he gives Detroit the only big body on the roster, but his plus/minus is poor at best. Still, he should at least remain on the team until his contract expires.

The problem with the Red Wings is that they can’t play any style of hockey aside from straight up games – when Detroit plays straight up, they are the best team in the league. Only thing is, the other teams in the league know that and jam the Red Wings physically. When opponents play physical against Detroit (see the Nashville series) this team wilts.

There is too much of this “loyalty” thrown around with the Red Wings, there is an easy way to fix Detroit, but loyalty is making things too difficult to make it work. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericson all have long term deals that are cutting into the cap space of this team. Granted, Detroit still has a large cap space to work with this offseason, and it will only get bigger if they make simple, obvious decisions.

It’s time to cut the cord on Tomas Holmstrom, he is past his prime and serves only to plant himself in front of the net and tip pucks. This team can find someone else to do that for a lot cheaper and who still has speed. Holmstrom, when not frozen in front of the net, is the slowest player on the team and can’t produce anything of worth for this team. Detroit needs to give him a ceremony, shake his hand and let him walk. Done.

Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler are not worth their contracts to this Red Wings team. Filppula has consistently made poor decisions during the Nashville series and even if they have not led directly to goals, his mistakes have led directly to odd-man rushes and scoring chances. The same can be said for Hudler. Yes, he came back from the KHL and was improved from when he was last on the team, that’s not difficult to do when you were a butcher in your last go-round.

Filppula had a much better season in 2011-12, but looking at his entire career he is nothing special and as such does not need a spot on this roster when there are much better rookies with significantly smaller contracts chomping at the bit to break into the NHL. Hudler and Filppula need to get the axe this summer as well; good riddance.

Justin Abdelkader is a firecracker. He is small in stature but still believes himself to be a goon, that’s not a good idea to have. He struggles to maintain himself on the fourth line. Heck, it took Darren Helm having the tendons in his arm sliced for him to make it to the third line. And when he is placed on the face-off dot, he rarely comes away with the puck.

Abdelkader plays like a fourth line guy, there is nothing special about his play, at all. Sorry, but it’s true. He was a good story a few years ago when he jumped from Michigan State to the Red Wings and ended up raising the Cup. Good for him, send him packing. He is a negative for this team and Detroit can’t afford to have negatives on the roster.

To fill the void left by the players being cut Detroit needs to bring up the rookies that have been performing well every single time they come up to fill injury spaces on the big team. Gustav Nyquist and Corey Emmerton have shown that they are the real deal. Both of them have played very well in the playoffs and as such need to see an increased ice time next season.

Brendan Smith showed nothing but skill and promise when he was with the Red Wings this past season; he is a solid defenseman and not to mention he is cheap. Just like Nyquist and Emmerton, Smith brings new blood to the team along with increased energy and drive at a low cost to the checkbook.

With the large cap space Detroit will have in the off season they will need to go after big name players that can bring more new blood into the locker room and try to get things moving again. One of the biggest names on the market will be Shea Weber, but with him being a restricted free agent, unless Detroit greatly overpays for him Nashville will match any offer made and retain him.

That is how you fix this team; cut the dead weight, bring up the young talent and sign the most skilled players still available.

One reply on “How to fix the Red Wings

  • Mike

    Brendan Smith the real deal? This guy coughs the puck up/makes horrible passes in the playoffs and regular season! I wouldn’t send him back to Grand Rapids let alone keep him a Wing! Abdelkader and Filpula are better players than you give them credit for. They were the only ones throwing the body around on this team against Nashville. Filpula and Abs are the only ones besides Bert willing to throw the gloves down when needed. Glad Hudler is gone! Last thing we needed was a goalie and we signed one. It was like putting 22″ rims on a Chrysler Town and Country.

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