Archive for July, 2012

On Breaking New Ground in Holland Criticism. Or Not.

I only just today got around to reading this Thursday post by Graham at Winging It In Motown.

I’ll give it this much: it comes at Ken Holland from a novel angle, at least. There’s a little flak fired off for inaction this summer, to be sure. But the main concentration of fan shell airbursts centers on suggesting that Holland should have found an opportunity to uncover and draft a player capable of replacing a once-in-League-history talent in Nick Lidstrom.

So, basically, he should have drafted Ryan Suter, Drew Doughty or some other similarly talented young defenseman that, you know, got drafted by teams closer to first in the draft order than the Wings. Or, apparently, a player who conveniently (miraculously) was ready to make the leap to top pairing minutes in the NHL the day Lidstrom hung them up.

Graham freely admits that doing this was hampered by the Wings constantly finishing high in the standings, so it’s unclear how exactly Holland was supposed to accomplish it. Maybe he should have magically traded up?

I don’t know. I’m not going to pretend this is the outcome I was hoping for (Suter being that). But every new post claiming this off-season is The One for Holland to just prove he’s the best in the business (usually accompanied by contradictory claims that the author already believes he is—just prove it again, okay, Kenny?) is really just another in a long line of calls for him to wave a wand that he does not have.

I more or less went over this yesterday. No amount of demanding Ken Holland prove himself is going to make this list any better. No amount of claiming Holland can’t coast along on past accomplishments makes the trade market light up. Now no matter how much second-guessing there is about the Wings’ draft strategy over the years, it doesn’t change the fact that other teams had first dibs on the top talent.

Was Brendan Smith not drafted with an eye to this day? But we’re to the point even Smith isn’t good enough.

I too would love to see “something that will knock our socks off”. But if we don’t get that, it does not itself demonstrate that Ken Holland has lost it.

On Missing Out On Everybody

Yesterday, Alexander Semin signed a one year, $7 million deal with Carolina, dealing the Wings yet another free agent loss. Except they never really wanted him, so that’s debatable. Can you lose a fight for a guy you didn’t want? I guess it’s a loss if you were a fan clinging to the thought of Alexander Semin coasting in Red and White.

Then last night, the story broke that Shane Doan has been priced out of the Wings’ market by Eastern Conference teams going all out. One team supposedly offered him four years and a cap hit of $7.5 million a season. This is, mind you, for a guy who has cracked 30 goals exactly twice and who made $4.55 million last year. The Wings were looking at something like 3 years, $5 million per.

Not a paycheck that would make Shane Doan the highest paid forward on a team with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk (Update: … who are well underpaid. But even if they were making whatever they’d earn if given a new contract today, $7.5 million for a player of Doan’s lesser calibre would be overpayment).

Yeah, you may say, the Wings have neither the met needs nor the lack of cap space to afford to be picky. I get that. There’s no denying that it is very frustrating to see desirable player after desirable player go elsewhere.

But let’s consider some of the history of this off-season.

You’ve got the Parise/Suter situation, where Parise was only ever considering New Jersey and Minnesota, and Suter was this close to signing with the Wings. If Suter doesn’t leave it all up Parise to push him over the edge to Minnesota, it’s probable he signs here, mitigating much of the anxiety now circulating Hockeytown’s citizenry. The Wings failed to land either guy, but not for lack of trying. Mike Ilitch doesn’t show up at a player’s front door every day.

Then we had the Weber situation. The Wings talked to the Predators about a trade as well as to his camp. Weber made it clear he wasn’t interested in Detroit. If he had been interested, they would have considered doing what the Flyers did. That would have meant an automatic match by Nashville, but the important thing to Ken Holland’s critics is that he appear to be going through the motions to their satisfaction.

On the trade front, there was Rick Nash. But the Wings had no way of trading with a Columbus team that flatly refused to deal with them.

Yesterday, they officially missed on Semin, a player who may have admittedly been an asset for this team, but one who stood a decent chance of becoming a big source of frustration. However overblown his poor reputation may or may not be, I can’t think he and Mike Babcock would have seen eye-to-eye. I wonder if the Wings maybe considered that?

As for Doan, at a reasonable price (read: not $7.5 million), he would be a strong addition. I hate the guy, but he would add something to this team. The Wings, however, don’t need to be getting tied into a guaranteed four-year cap hit of $7.5 million with an over-35 player. Not with Filppula and Howard up in one year, Datsyuk up in two years and a possible cap reduction coming.

It’s time to recognize that this isn’t about Ken Holland losing his touch or losing interest or losing sight of the situation or whatever. It’s about a League that is more competitive than ever, both on the ice and in the financial ledger. And this market sucks.

There are still options out there, such as Bobby Ryan or Keith Yandle. Not the first choice of a lot of people (except maybe in the case of Ryan), but that’s the situation.

Followup: Wings & Weber Trade Talks, Maybe Not So Much

Chuck Pleiness reports that, while the Wings had conversations with Shea Weber’s agent, they were never in trade talks with the Predators. Pleiness has that from a source that’s contradicting the always-reliable Darren Dreger, so take it as you will.

If Pleiness’ source is telling the truth, though, it gets more depressing than that: Weber’s side apparently had no interest in getting to the negotiation stage with the Wings. So, it may be that it’s not so much the Flyers beat the Wings to the punch, but that they flat out beat them. By this story, the Wings were more open to an offer sheet than we’ve been lead to believe, if they were talking to Weber’s agent.

I guess Weber took the Parise route of not wanting to compete directly with his former team if he were to leave.

This makes coming so close to Suter, yet striking out, that much more painful. Ryan was at least interested in coming here. Ugh.

Flyers Offer Sheet Weber Out From Under The Wings’ Nose

Huge news broke around 1:00 AM last night: the Flyers got Shea Weber to sign a 14-year offer sheet worth upwards of $100 million. Just below that in the “huge news” category is that the Predators had been in trade talks with a group of teams that included the Red Wings. The Flyers just got tired of waiting, apparently.

Now the question is whether or not the Predators will match. They’ve always made it clear they would match any offer, but Josh Cooper points out even that certainty was limited by the up front money. Darren Dreger points out that it could be as much as $26 million in the first year. That could be a squeeze for the Predators and it may be telling that they haven’t matched it yet. They’ve got a week, but if matching is automatic, they’ve had plenty of time already.

But even if they do eventually match, this is exactly the kind of thing the Flyers should be doing: using the means available to them per the CBA to better their team. It may not pay off, but if it does, it may be the deal of the summer.

It’s something the Wings should have gone for, given the reality of Life After Lidstrom, if for no other reason. I’m curious what assets were discussed in the trade talks, but mostly I’m disappointed that this wasn’t seen as a usable strategy by a team desperately in need of a top pairing defenseman. The Predators may be even more inclined to match an offer from the Wings, but this is one of those cases where you leave no stone un-turned.

But what’s done is done. Now we get to enjoy the hilarity of the NHL’s CBA negotiation demands juxtaposed with one of the most powerful franchises from a Board of Governors standpoint offering Shea Weber the moon. I guess that sorta makes it worth it.

Two More Years of Quincey

Update (3:17 PM): Dreger has the specific payout schedule for the two years. He’ll make $4 million in year two. No word yet on if there’s an NTC/NMC. - Matt

That’s an odd cap hit of $3.775 million, which isn’t terrible in this market. And maybe better than they Wings would have gotten in arbitration because of, uh, this market.

Quincey has, to be blunt, been a big nothingburger for the Wings in his second stint. This is his chance to make up for that.

I just hope this isn’t settling on the Wings’ part. They still need to land another defenseman.

Wings Make Howson An Offer He Could Refuse

Ansar Khan’s got an excitable source that says the Wings made a “hell of an offer” to Columbus for Rick Nash. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), Jackets GM Scott Howson turned it down without so much as a counter offer.

The obvious conclusion is that Howson’s simply not interested in dealing with a fellow Central Division team. But because Khan’s source didn’t pass on the terms of the offer, we have to take his word for it that it was significant.

Whether “significant” in the Wings’ eyes is equivalent to the kinds of demands Howson has reportedly been making in trade talks is another question.

Taking the source’s word for it leads Ansar to speculate that it might have involved at least one of two guys: Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula. Unsurprising, as just about any Wings watcher would name those two, though for different reasons.

Franzen because he’s the first guy up front that comes to mind as one Wings fans could live without. And Filppula because he’s the probably the best forward on the team that’s not on virtually everybody’s untouchable list (because not every forward can be on that list).

Of the two, Fil’s likely the most realistically tradeable. But neither is likely to tempt a GM like Scott Howson (read: a bad, annoyed one) with an asset like Rick Nash on his trading block, even if packaged with some fluff from the Wings’ third and fourth lines. Nash has forced Columbus into trading him and Howson, a poor general manager in the best of times, is busy outdoing himself here (Nash isn’t doing him any favors with his List, either).

My guess is about the only offer that would cause Howson to give Ken Holland the time of day would involve one of the Wings’ franchise equivalents to Nash: Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk.

And that’s just not going to happen.