Taking a cue from Jes Golbez, I’ll be posting a spreadsheet-turned-graphic update of the Red Wings players who are currently active in European or North American leagues on a weekly (or so) basis. This is something I should have been doing all along but honestly, I don’t have Excel on the family computer and only have it now because I finally got my iBook.
The names on this list are more or less players already on the main roster and a couple prospects of interest to Wings fans. Some players are listed as playing in Europe when in fact they have not done so yet. I have put them on the list anyway in case they do end up playing over there after all. I don’t think I missed anyone but if you think I should make an addition, let me know.
Here it is:
The three highest scorers on the list are, as you can see, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Jason Williams. All three are doing very well and Wings fans should be very happy about that, for sure.
Williams’ performance is particularly good to see, considering the relative disappointment he has been so far in Detroit. It seems the lockout has done him some good and hopefully that will translate over the NHL if he comes back when the lockout ends. He may just decide to hang around over there. I hope not but who knows?
Zetterberg has been scoring at a pace similar to Peter Forsberg, who is playing for Modo, all season. He is currently #6 in SEL scoring. It is good to see that Henrik is still one of the strongest players in the SEL, as he was before he came to Detroit. One day, he’ll hopefully play the same role in the NHL. That’s assuming he returns to the league after his contract expires on July 1. After that, he’ll be free to sign anywhere in the world and he may decide to stay with Timra IK.
Kronwall has been making waves in Grand Rapids this season and has become their version of Nick Lidstrom as a blueline anchor. The Wings think he is ready for a full-time NHL spot and he is just another player to look forward to. Maybe now that I’ll be going to school over in Grand Rapids this semester, I’ll be able to make it to a Griffins game or two.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the two biggest disappointments: Igor Grigorenko and Pavel Datsyuk. Both are slated to be the foundation of the next generation Wings team but they are faltering in so-called lesser leagues.
Grigorenko, still recovering from that near-fatal car accident, has an excuse, somewhat. Still, better things are expected of him and hopefully the move to Ufa from Tolyatti will get him going again as it seems to have done. I’m still looking forward to seeing him play and I know he has a great amount of determination to make it here to play for the Wings.
Datsyuk’s stats are not that alarming but I have him down as a disappointment because he should be doing better. The RSL is a very strong league but Pavel tore it up last year in the NHL and should be able to dominate on the larger ice surface and with less clutch-and-grab. You’d think he’d be on a point-per-game pace in a so-called lesser league. Maybe I’m just being too hard on the guy but my expectations are high!
Tomas Holmstrom has come off the torrid pace at which he was scoring earlier in the season. Still, his stats are, for a guy not known as a huge scorer, quite respectable. He is NHLPA.com’s current Player of the Weekend, by the way.
Jiri Fischer seems to be doing pretty well after returning from a shoulder injury sustained in the World Cup of Hockey. Everyone is looking for improvement from Jiri, who had a generally awful season last year. He was not the same player he was during the 2001-2002 season when he was paired with Chris Chelios. The knee injury he suffered in the 2002-2003 season had an obvious effect on his play last year. Hopefully the lockout will serve as a wake-up call for the man who is supposed to be the Wings’ future anchor on the defense.
I don’t know much about the Norwegian Hockey League but if it’s any good at all, Wings fans should be pretty excited about Anders Myrvold. His near-point-per-game pace is impressive, though his 94 penalty minutes in 27 games is not.
The number of Wings players overseas (or active in the AHL) is not large but I expect it to grow as the lockout progresses, especially now that the cancellation of the season is all but certain. Hopefully, they won’t get to like it too much over there and decide not to come back. That would be a big blow to the Wings and if it were to become an epidemic, to the League as well. I doubt either side in the current dispute would be too happy about that. The NHL can’t afford to lose it’s stars and neither can the NHLPA. Regardless, it could happen and it is yet another reason to commence negotiations as soon as possible. But I don’t expect the NHL or NHLPA to be that sensible.