Posts tagged “Brent Sopel”

MacLeod reports from camp

Update (4:30 PM): Helene St. James has chimed in on the second scrimmage. To MacLeod’s comments on Grigorenko she adds that he “looked gassed on several shifts, and hardly touched the puck.” However, she points out that the Wings still see him as a work-in-progress and are waiting until the last of the exhibition games to make their assessment. So, he has some time to step it up.

In his post on the game, Ansar Khan also notes Igor’s lack of conditioning, but writes that he was still able to get in on a couple good scoring chances because of his good hockey sense. – Matt

Bruce MacLeod has some notes on the second scrimmage game posted on his blog. Two particularly interesting points: Igor Grigorenko wasn’t very noticeable, and Brent Sopel “looked very good,” apparently demonstrating his two-way ability well. Also, MacLeod says Pavel Datsyuk looked “brilliant” I like the sound of that!

On Sopel

Update (13. Sep, 12:22AM): Bruce MacLeod has posted a look at the situation and it’s a good read. He writes that the competition is between Sopel and Meech, not Lilja. At the onset, that’s exactly how it will be, but MacLeod admits that “[Sopel] could force Detroit‘s hand into trading or cutting one of its top six defensemen.” If it came down to it, I’d guess that player would be Lilja, which would give Meech the 7th spot. Or the team would just carry 8 defensemen, which isn’t fair to the experienced player (Lebda or Lilja) that gets to share the skybox with Meech. Plus, it would create problems with the forward corps.

What problems? Well, if Grigorenko has a strong enough camp to make the team, and if the Wings want to keep Matt Ellis (a heart-and-soul player in GR ready to be one in Detroit), they’d need to carry 14 forwards (those two, plus Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Filppula, Cleary, Samuelsson, Franzen, Maltby, Draper, Drake, Hudler, Kopecky). 14 forwards plus 2 goalies plus 8 defensemen equals 24 players, one man over the limit of 23.

So, as already looked at by IwoCPO, if both Sopel and Grigorenko turn out to be good enough to make the team, someone’s on their way out. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Maybe Sopel will be a flop and all they’ll have to worry about is what to do with Igor and Ellis. – Matt

Ansar Khan has a blog post up with a few Babcock quotes on various topics, but one of the most interesting is this one on Brent Sopel, one of the Wings’ free agent camp invitees:

“… I’ve known him since he was a kid, we have a real good feel for him and think he’s a top-four NHL defenseman. Now, just because we think it doesn’t mean anything, he’s got to relax and let his skill come to the forefront and show us what he brings (though the preseason).”

Sopel’s entry into the top four would upset the current projections of the group, which is generally considered to be Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, and Andreas Lilja. The first two are locks for the top pairing (or at least, the top four, in Rafalski’s case) and the team isn’t paying Kronwall $3 million to play in the third pairing, or, for that matter, to sit on the bench. And speaking of the third pairing, Chris Chelios and Brett Lebda play too well together to break that up. So, that leaves Andreas Lilja. If Sopel cracks the lineup, it seems to me that Lilja would be the odd man out.

That wouldn’t be a new situation for old Andreas, whose had an up-and-down career in Detroit, ranging from Nick Lidstrom’s defensive partner in 05-06, to seventh defenseman and odd-man out to Niklas Kronwall and Brett Lebda last year. He had a surprisingly good playoffs and still brings the most physical presence of any Red Wings defenseman (relatively speaking), but even in the Mike Babcock era, offensive defensemen win out in Detroit.

Obviously, Sopel is no lock for a contract with the Wings, but the possibility is intriguing.

I realize I’m a little late to chime in on this topic. Others have said their piece already and made some great points. See Abel to Yzerman, Gorilla Crouch, and yzerman is god.