Unclip the Wings
I decided to take over Ken Holland’s duties for a while. I found that fixing the Wings isn’t that tough after all.They’re already set in goal with Joseph and Legace in Detroit, and Joey MacDonald, Logan Koopmans, Stephan Liv, Jimmy Howard, and Drew MacIntyre waiting in the minors/juniors/Europe/college. The future is definetly bright, since Liv was the best goalie in Sweden last year, and Howard nearly won the NCAA Championship as a sophmore. MacDonald’s play single-handedly sent Marc Lamothe to Russia. MacIntyre didn’t play much last year, but was good when needed. Koopmans had a great season in the WHL to rebound from injury, but who knows what the future will hold for him.
Defense isn’t as bad as some make it out to be, but there still need to be changes. First, I think they gave up too much to get Mathieu Schneider in the first place. Don’t make the same mistake again, let him go!! He is a very good defenseman, but playing with Lidstrom will make anyone look better than they really are. When they’ve already got alot of money committed to Lidstrom and Hatcher, Schneider is a luxury that they don’t really need. Nicklas Kronwall was playing extremely well before he broke his leg. He may be a little inexperienced, but let’s not forget that he went from Grand Rapids to the Wings starting lineup in his first season in North America. In a few more years he will more than replace Schneider anyway, why not expedite the process and save some money at the same time? Next, resign Chelios. Sure, he’s old, but he still does a hell of a job defensively. Pair him with Jamie Rivers, who did a great job defensively when they let him into the lineup this year. That leaves Fischer, Hatcher, and Woolley. Woolley has his moments, but he’s really not that good defensively. I say put Fischer and Hatcher together and see if Hatcher can get Fischer’s career back on track. Hatcher was the example the Wings used for what they wanted out of Fischer when they drafted him. Why not let Hatcher teach Fischer how its done? Plus, two guys that size on a pair should do a nice job of clogging up the defensive zone. Chelios and Woolley will doubtless be gone before too long, and the farm isn’t as good here as it is at other positions. Derek Meech, Danny Groulx, Kyle Quincey, Miroslav Blatak, and possibly Dmitri Bykov all have a shot at being regulars, but for the most part, it will take some time. Fortunately, Lidstrom, Hatcher, and Rivers have some time left. Therefore:
Offense gets a little more difficult. This is where I think the real problems are. As everyone realizes, they have too much skill and not enough grind. They need to clean up the mess at center first. Lang, Yzerman, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Draper, Mowers, and Williams are all natural centers. Obviously, someone is going to have to move. The obvious first choice is to put Zetterberg on the left side with Datsyuk since they work so well together. Williams isn’t really an everyday player, so that clears up a second spot. I think most people would say that Mowers is not an everyday guy either, but I disagree. When he played, he was extremely effective. He has decent speed, and spent some time on the penalty kill when Draper got hurt. Every once in a while he also shows some offensive flash too. I say put him in the lineup, but not as a center. That leaves four centers, Datsyuk, Draper, Lang, and Yzerman. Only three of those make the cut, though. My Detroit team does not include Robert Lang. He is a good player, but I really don’t think he fits with this team. First off, he’s already 33, and he’s only been a regular in the NHL for seven seasons. Second, the impression he gave me during the playoffs was that he can be awesome when he wants to, but he is a lazy player. Yzerman, bum knee and all, outdid him on faceoffs, work, and defense. I would trade him to the Kings for Sean Avery and Mike Cammaleri. This gives the team the irritator they need (McCarty is more of a peacekeeper) and a very good prospect. Avery then becomes the fourth line center.
With things set down the middle, I don’t really need to add anyone to the team, but I can stand to clean house a little. On the left side, I resign Shanahan to play on a line with Yzerman. There are only a handful of players who can do what he does (Roberts, Nash, Iginla), and none of them are going to come cheap. Zetterberg stays with Datsyuk and Maltby with Draper. Mowers takes the left side on the fourth line with Avery.
The right side, as always, is the least talented of the Wings forwards. The four I have picked are by no means bad players, but they’re certainly not Hall of Famers. I put Holmstrom on the first line just because it is where he seemed to fit best. I move Ray Whitney to right wing to play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. He’s proved in the past that he comes up big when he’s given the ice time, and with those two, we get to see how creative he can be. McCarty remains where he belongs on the Grind Line. It’d be hard to picture anyone else there. The last right wing spot goes to Mathieu Dandenault (thought I forgot him?). He was drafted as a right wing, and it’s time they let him play that position. Their defense is deep enough now that they don’t really need him there, and with Avery and Mowers, he might impress. Yzerman and Shanahan will be gone before too long, but Igor Grigorienko and Jiri Hudler could be in the lineup within a season or two, and Valterri Filppula and Nathan Robinson, and possibly Todd Jackson aren’t too far behind. Draft picks Evan McGrath and Trevor Haskins also have alot of upside. So…
I cut the salaries of Schneider, Hull, Thomas, and Lang, which adds up to nearly 15 million. There’s also the money they save from not having Hasek (about 3 mil) and Boyd Devereaux (1.6 mil). I do have to add Avery’s pay in, but that shouldn’t be a whole lot more than Devereaux’s, so I end up saving 18 million. In doing so, the talent level isn’t depleted so much that it will cause the team to spiral into oblivion. Maybe, just maybe, it gives them a better chance to win. Avery and Kronwall aren’t afraid to get mean, and Dandenault and Mowers are rarely seen giving less than 100%. Greatest team ever? NO! They might just get it done, though.