Posts tagged “Mikael Samuelsson”

Two Reclamation Projects, One Re-Reclamation Project and One Totally New Guy

Real quick:

So, I caught the first deal on streaming TSN radio on the way to Coldwater and the second via Twitter while still on the road. The second set came via Twitter on the way home. One of them made the baby cry. Okay, she cried coincidental to our reaction to the news. I’ll let you guess which one.

I’m pleased with the Gustavsson signing, for sure. The Wings needed a backup that has the potential to do actual backup duties and Gustavasson can be that guy. He’s one of my two “reclamation projects” but I think he’ll follow the Wings’ typical storyline with that.

The Brunner signing is cool, but we already knew it was coming. Two way, so Babcock was overexcited when he talked about him being top six material, as was generally thought.

I was less pleased to find out the Wings are giving Mikael Samuelsson another chance. $3 million seems like a lot for him. He’s the re-reclamation project. Haven’t we already tried this?

Then came the Jordin Tootoo news. Not sure what’s going on there and how he fits. It feels redundant, given the makeup of the team today. I’ve never been a fan of his, but if he can match the Bertuzzi model, I’ll be less likely to feel sick whenever I see him out on the ice. He’s overpaid, though.

Petrella points out this means a lot of forwards, which could suggest a trade is in the works.

No actual news on the big two guys, Suter and Parise. The Wings went all in for them and it could pay off tomorrow as they get around to making a decision. We’ll see.

Qualified Good News on Leino and Hudler

According to Helene St. James, the Wings will have Leino signed to a two-year contract very soon, possibly today. That’s great news, if it pans out. The team needs Leino to stick around, obviously, and he needs the Wings to keep him since they probably offer his best chance at regular NHL ice time right now.

The Hudler news is a mix of good and bad: he’s apparently filing for arbitration this weekend. As George Malik points out, that means teams can no longer tender him offer sheets, which is  a definite good thing. The downside, of course, is that the arbitrator can award Hudler a salary higher than the Wings might like to pay.

They could trade his rights at that point if they wanted to, but as long as it’s not too high, they’d probably bite the bullet and keep him. It just could be the difference between signing a veteran forward or bringing up a not-quite-ready Abdelkader.

Also, most of us would consider this good news: it looks like Samuelsson’s priced himself out of returning.

All in all, this is comparatively great news after the pretty crappy events of the first day of free agency (even though I wasn’t a fan of keeping him, losing Hossa to Chicago wasn’t exactly a highlight of the off-season). The summer could have gone even further south had Hudler and Leino played the Wings tougher in negotiations, but it looks like things are headed to a good conclusion.

Meg and I will be on the road in Metro Detroit and away from the computer today, so if the Leino signing happens, I won’t be around to post on it.

2/17 Notes

… Helene St. James’ editors got a little overexcited, I think, in picking the headline for her Wings Corner piece today:

Hossa, Franzen likely to return next season

Too bad nothing in her reporting actually says that. Instead, she only outlines Ken Holland’s likely plan of attack going forward with the effort to keep the two players. It’s all very much in the air, with much dependent on not only their willingness to take less, but the team’s ability to trade some salary away at the deadline as well.

St. James suggests Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson, both free agents this summer, as possible trade items. That kind of talk has to be great for their morale.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, but if Hudler ends up on the block, it won’t exactly be a proud day in Wings history. The guy has worked his tail off (after a lazy start) for this franchise and has become quite the secret weapon. I’d hate to see him become a victim of the numbers, but it’s looking more and more like it’ll be that way. I’d rather the Wings keep him around through July 1 and then take a nice compensation package when someone hands him a substantial offer sheet.

If they can trade Sammy, I’m okay with that.

Back to Hossa and Franzen. I was a little surprised to read that negotiations with Franzen are the most advanced of the two. I was under the impression that Hossa was the focus. If he has been the focus and talks haven’t gotten that far, maybe he won’t be quite as easy to sign as we’ve allowed ourselves to think he’ll be. Still, it’s early in the process.

… St. James offers a brief update on Franzen’s injury status: he skates on his own yesterday while his teammates had the day off. He may play tomorrow night against Nashville if he feels good in today’s skate.

Ansar Khan has a piece on one of the players that has made the ide of a trade for a low-price, cog-forward seem unecessary from a roster needs standpoint: Ville Leino. Nothing new here, really. I think we all agree he belongs in the NHL.

… An interesting note later in Khan’s piece may excite those of you looking for a change in net: Holland has considered calling up Jimmy Howard to give Chris Osgood a “mental break.” Holland is apparently torn between getting a look at Howard (and getting Osgood a break) and forcing Osgood to get back on track by playing him.

I think calling up Howard isn’t a bad idea. He’s been great the past couple months and deserves the same chance to impress that Helm and Leino have had. The team surely needs another look at him at the NHL level as his future needs to be decided over the next 8 months.

Osgood can handle a couple more games off.

And note the lack of any mention of Daniel Larsson. My guess is the team doesn’t see him as NHL material quite yet, despite his strong debut season in the AHL.

… Khan also provides an injury update for Brad Stuart (two weeks way), but doesn’t have one for Brett Lebda, who is still feeling the effects of a Cal Clutterbuck retribution hit.

… And, finally, Dave Dye points out the obvious: the Wings won’t be trading for a goalie at the deadline.

The shaking-out

Update (10:18 PM): Of course, as soon as I write that I’d like to see Mac take a two-way contract, the Windsor Star comes out with a report indicating he may not be willing to do so. Come on, Mac! I thought you loved GR. - Matt

Updated @ 10:00 PM - see end of post - Matt

The Lilja, Stuart, Conklin, and Hossa signings raise questions about the final makeup of the Wings’ roster. Here’s how I’m hoping it all shakes out:

To start, the Valtteri Filppula question. If anyone offers him $3+ million and he takes the offer, the Wings’ can’t stop him leaving. However, I like to think Fil would relish the thought of playing for the Cup again, particularly with a winger like Hossa. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t see a problem there as long as he’s willing to accept $2.5 million or less from Detroit.

On the way out should be Dallas Drake, who ought to retire in order to make way for others. All indications seem to be that he’s going to hang them up while he’s on top. It’d be great to have him back, but there’s not a lot of room.

I’d love to see the Wings convince Darren McCarty to take two-way contract. It would be a move aimed at bringing in a physical presence if needed for the playoffs and would go a long way in boosting the popularity of hockey here in West Michigan. Mac can still bring it and would be valuble to have available.

I’d prefer they keep Aaron Downey around the main squad, but if it’s he who goes to GR, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. By all accounts, the guy is so good in the lockerroom that I don’t hesitate to overstate his role in the Cup win when I talk about the guy. If nothing else, I think they should make Downey Director of Team Morale or something.

Assuming Fil re-signs, Drake retires, and the enforcers split as outlined above, the Wings would end up with 12 forwards with settled statuses: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Marian Hossa, Dan Cleary, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler and Aaron Downey/Darren McCarty (with this guy sitting out more often than not).

I’ve seen a lot of reports stating they want to carry 13 forwards, so there’s a spot up for grabs. Personally, I’d love to see Darren Helm take it over Tomas Kopecky. The kid certainly earned it during the playoffs and would make the fourth line killer once again. However, his ability to return to the AHL without having to clear waives could mean he’ll be headed back to GR, unfortunately.

Another option for this spot is Ville Leino. Apparently, they want to bring the Finn over this season and not to play for Grand Rapids. He would face the very difficult proposition of beating out a Babcock favorite (Helm) and a good, skilled grinder (Kopecky). I can’t see that happening.

I’ve seen some talk about Justin Abdelkader, but I can’t see him cracking the lineup. He should go to Grand Rapids and get acclimated to professional hockey before he makes the leap. He’s going to be really fun to watch in GR this year, if that’s where he ends up.

On the defensive side, as I stated in the Hossa post, I think Kyle Quincey’s days as a Red Wing are over. There are a lot of fond memories of the kid from the 2007 playoffs floating around, but the fact is he’s not a very good skater and is not much on the offensive side. In other words, he’s not the prototypical Red Wings defenseman. He lacks the size to make up for those skill deficiencies in the way that Andreas Lilja does. He’s also got an apparent attitude problem. He’s got to be the odd man out in this situation. If they can’t swing a trade for picks or something, waive him.

As for Chris Chelios, as I wrote before, he’s going to have to decide for himself whether or not the very reduced role he’s facing will be acceptable. I’d love for him to come back because he brings so much to this team, but he’s certainly slowly being ushered out. I have a hard time seeing him doing anything but come back, though.

I know many fans can’t stand Lilja, but I’m a little more “eh” about the guy. He’s got an upside as a shot blocker and PKer. The guy is not here to carry the puck and make two-line passes. He’s not your typical Red Wing defenseman, but his size and physicality are meant to compensate. Obviously, his downside is that he has all-too-frequent and very visible gaffes. Still, I’m inclined to buy the argument of his few defenders that these mostly happen when he’s left out to dry by his more offensively-minded partners. If anything, he needs to improve his recovery skills. Anyway, unless he’s majorly beaten out in camp and the Wings look to trade him, Lilja’s one half of the third pairing, with Brett Lebda likely making up the other half.

I think Jonathan Ericsson is ready for an NHL job, but it won’t be this year unless he “pulls a Filppula” at training camp and forces his way onto the roster by being so good. The potential for him to be a hugely dominate AHL defenseman and the confidence that would arise from that makes sending him back to GR an attractive idea. I think he’s stronger mentally than Quincey in that it doesn’t seem likely he’ll have an off year as a result of coming down from the high of being a part of a long playoff run.

With Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, Stuart, Lebda, and Lilja under contract and assuming Chelios signs, the Wings would be up to seven defensemen with an apparent interest in carrying eight. Unless Ericsson tears it up in camp, that spot should go to Derek Meech. Meech is NHL-ready and is out of options. I’d hate to see him forced off the team, so I hope they make a point of keeping him around. He, like Ericsson, is the future of the Detroit blueline.

Now to goaltending. Chris Osgood is the starter at this point, there’s no question. He’s arguably playing the best hockey of his career, so it’s his job to lose. The job of back-up is a little more up in the air, though not too high. Jimmy Howard is going to have to be stellar in camp to pass Ty Conklin in the depth chart. Or Conklin will have to be awful.

Personally, I’d rather Conklin be the guy on the bench recording faceoffs while Jimmy gets actual ice time in Grand Rapids. Howard needs to have at least one strong year in the AHL before he’ll be ready for the NHL and if he can play the majority of the season with the Griffins, he should have the stability necessary to do that. Conklin is a great insurance policy, as his record this past season for Pittsburgh indicates.

So to me the 2008-2009 Wings roster would ideally look something like this:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Franzen-Filppula-Hossa
Cleary-Draper-Maltby
Samuelsson-Hudler-Helm ( or, more likely, Kopecky)
Downey

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Kronwall-Stuart
Lilja-Lebda
Chelios
Meech

Osgood
Conklin

GR:

Leino
McCarty

Ericsson

Howard

That’s my take on the situation. We’ll see how much of it happens!

One last question that obviously needs addressing at some point is who is going to replace Todd McLellan.

In any case, the Wings are poised to have another great season. Like last summer following the loss to the Ducks, I’m fully confident in their ability to go all the way. They appear to have all the tools in the right places once again.

Update (10:00 PM): I should add here that I think the chances of a Red Wings post-Cup hangover are slim. This team is too well-coached and too focused for that. They certainly aren’t counting their chickens before they’re hatched, you can bet on it.

So, my fellow fans, feel free to do some harmless counting of poultry while the team takes care of business like group of professionals they are. There’s no harm in our being excited about their chances. - Matt

I really can’t wait for hockey to start up again!

4/9 Injury Update

Update (3:55 PM): Bruce MacLeod has an expanded version of the Babcock quote on Samuelsson provided by Ted Kulfan (below). - Matt

Update (3:08 PM): More from Kulfan. He characterizes the final statuses of Stuart, Samuelsson, and Holmstrom as game-time decisions. - Matt

Update (2:48 PM): A correction: The lineup as provided below has one of the “three of Abdelkader, McCarty, and Downey” in it: Downey (though St. James says it’s McCarty). Sorry about that. It’s what I get for writing a post during class.

That said, I’d still like to see Abdelkader or Downey play over Samuelsson, unless #37 is absolutely ready to go. On that note, here’s a great quote from Babcock via Ted Kulfan:

“[Samuelsson] just told me if it was up to him he wants to play. But my kid wants to play for us tomorrow, too. He’s one of those guys that’ll skate again tomorrow and we’ll see how he reacts.”

- Matt

Helene St. James reports that Brad Stuart (broken finger), Tomas Holmstrom (groin), and Mikael Samuelsson (groin) are all “questionable” for Game 1. She tempers that claim with quotes from Babcock that indicate the team is just practicing its usual caution by not saying for sure.

Bruce MacLeod, on the other hand, reports that it “appears that defenseman Brad Stuart will be ready to play.” He says nothing specific about Holmstrom, but lists him on the probable top line. He says it’s possible Samuelsson “might be ready.”

Ansar Khan says the final decision on Homer, Stuart, and Sammy won’t be made until tomorrow.

Based on all three reports, it doesn’t look like Justin Abdelkader will be in the lineup after all. MacLeod lists him as a likely stratch and St. James says Abdelkader told her he doesn’t think he’ll play.

A projected lineup via MacLeod and Khan:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Filppula-Franzen-Cleary
Hudler-Draper-Samuelsson
Drake-Hartigan-Downey

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Kronwall-Stuart
Lilja-Chelios

Healthy scratches …
McCarty
Abdelkader
Helm
Lebda
Meech

Injuries …
Maltby (hamstring)
Kopecky (knee)

Not sure I’m a fan of that look. Unless Samuelsson is absolutely 100%, I’d much rather see someone more abrasive in that spot.

The Wings need to set a tone physically as well as offensively and defensively. Playing as much talent as possible is great, of course. But sitting all three both of Downey, Abdelkader and McCarty after Samuelsson’s had just one full practice (if that) since his injury? Not so much.

4/8 Notes

Update (2:34 PM): Helene St. James reports that Stuart told her he has “recovered enough that he can shoot and pass like he wants to.” That’s good news. - Matt

Update (1:12 PM): MacLeod has updated now that practice is over. The two most interesting bits of information:

First, Brad Stuart (broken finger) told MacLeod that he’s still looking at a Game 1 return, though he apparently still has trouble shooting the puck. As far as I’m concerned, as long as he can play a sound positional game and pass with authority, he should be in the lineup.

Second, Justin Abdelkader will skate on the wing of a definitely returning Kris Draper in the opener with Jiri Hudler. That’s quite a turnaround for the kid.

Also, Mikael Samuelsson skated and still think it’s possible he’ll return Thursday. I’m very skeptical about that. Kirk Maltby did not skate. - Matt

Update (11:42 AM): Bruce MacLeod reports from practice here.

Apparently, neither Kirk Maltby nor Mikael Samuelsson are on the ice. Sammy’s absence is a definite sign that he will not be back Thursday.

Also, neither Darren Helm nor Jonathan Ericsson have made an appearance. My guess it they have  been returned to Grand Rapids for the duration of the week as they prepare to finish their season on Saturday.

MacLeod also provides the practice lines:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Cleary-Flippula-Franzen
Hudler-Draper-Abdelkader
McCarty-Hartigan-Downey
Drake

Expect the Eurotwins to see a lot of time together when the Wings are at home and a lot of time apart when they are on the road. - Matt

I plan on adding to this post throughout the day, so check back. I’m short on time at the moment so I can only pass along a couple thing nows:

The Tennessean has the times for Games 3 and 4: 7:30 ET and 9:00 ET respectively. Game 3 presents a problem for me as I have a class until 8:40 that night and missing time is very much frowned upon. Hmm.

According to Helene St. James, Brad Stuart (broken finger) is no longer the lock for Game 1 he was expected to be. Ken Holland told her “It’s how he feels.”

Obviously, the sooner Stuart can make it back, the better, but whatever it takes to get him healthy.

… Kris Draper, on the other hand, is expected to be back from his groin injury.

… Mikael Samuelsson (groin) is unlikely to play in Game 1 because the team would prefer he go through a few practices first. If he can make it through the full practice today, I believe that would be the first time since he went down with the injury March 25th.

… If you read nothing else this morning, read this post by George Malik. The hockey media is really making itself look silly these past few days.

… Lastly, I’ll have a series preview up Wednesday evening or Thursday before 1:00. I have some school things I have to take care of before I can devote energy to that. Sorry.

4/5 Notes

Update (2:12 PM): Helene St. James notes that the playoff schedule given below is not yet official. It’s just what the team is anticipating.

Also, I’ve added a sidebar section with first round info and links. For some reason, it’s not showing up on the main page, but it’s there in the post pages. I hope to get that fixed, but because it’s tied to a conflict between the new version of WordPress and the k2 theme I use, I can’t do much aside from wait for a fix to be posted. - Matt

Update (2:06 PM): For those wondering why the Wings signed Abdelkader when they could have just called up a Griffin or two, here’s my thinking (posted as a comment over at Abel to Yzerman in response to IwoCPO calling it a panic signing):

I think it’s a matter of timing. Abdelkader decided just this past week that he was going to forgo his senior year at MSU. When he told the Wings, they had two routes they could take: 1) sign him by the Saturday deadline and have him available for the playoffs, or 2) let him hang out for a summer and sign him by the August deadline so that he could join the organization next season.

The benefits of Option 1 are obvious: you can bring in a highly-touted prospect who would be idle otherwise. He brings a fast, physical style as well as buckets of motivation to play for his home team. If nothing else, he can join the group of young guys the team will be calling up at the end of the Griffins’ season and give the Wings a heck of a practice squad.

So, they signed him to an amateur tryout in order to whet his appetite. He then signed the entry level contract and now has the chance to play hockey in real life this summer instead of on his Xbox.

Not a panic signing at all. Just a realization that an idle Justin Abdelkader is a waste of talent.

- Matt

Ansar Khan has an update from practice:

… Tomas Holmstrom (abdomen/groin) is definitely going to play tomorrow. He’ll skate on Henrik Zetterberg’s wing with Pavel Datsyuk.

… Kris Draper (groin) is out tomorrow, but claimed he’ll be back for Game 1. So, the 10-14 days claim from the FSN broadcast Thursday night was incorrect. Draper implied that he’d be playing through pain by telling Khan he would play tomorrow if it were the playoffs.

… Mikael Samuelsson (groin) was on the ice but not for long. No return date has been set yet.

… The team recalled Darren Helm from the Griffins, apparently to give Babcock more options.

… The practice lines:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Filppula-Franzen-Cleary
Drake-Hartigan-Downey
Hudler-Helm-McCarty

… Justin Abdelkader was the odd man out in practice, but Babcock told Khan he’d dress 13 forwards prior to the game and decide who sits after warmups.

… Brian Rafalski will be rested tomorrow, which means Derek Meech will be on the blueline.

… Lastly, Khan provides the first round schedule. Not times yet, but Game 2 will be an evening game, apparently:

Game 1 — Thursday in Detroit
Game 2 — Saturday in Detroit
Game 3 — April 14 in Nashville
Game 4 — April 16 in Nashville
x-Game 5 — April 18 in Detroit
x-Game 6 — April 20 in Nashville
x-Game 7 — April 22 in Detroit

x-if necessary