2017 2018 Red Wings Season Review
The 2017-2018 season for the Detroit Red Wings saw the team miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year and finally embrace the need for a full rebuild instead of a retool. Below we will go over team, player and executive grades for the season.
Team Grade: C
The Red Wings did not take a step forward, instead finishing in roughly the same spot they ended last season. The team was the oldest team in the NHL by average age, suggesting no reason to expect a better performance next season.
Justin Abdelkader: D
Abdelkader had his second down season in a row. He managed only 35 points (13G, 22A) in 75 games. He didn’t provide the team with the clutch scoring that earned him his current contract. Abdelkader is signed for a lot of money for a lot more years and his age suggests we shouldn’t expect much more next year from the power forward.
Andreas Athanasiou: D
Athanasiou missed the first 10 games holding out on a contract dispute, ultimately signed a low-ball deal to play and then played like the 1.3 million dollars he was paid. On a positive note, Athanasiou did make strides on being a more defensive player as the team had asked. An RFA this summer, his future value for the Wings is best served by trying to gain a high 2018 2nd round draft pick, or a 2019 first round pick.
Tyler Bertuzzi: A
Bertuzzi didn’t make the team out of camp solely based on player numbers and his waiver exempt status. Working his way from role player to top line grinder, Bertuzzi showed that the Wings were correct in taking him in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft when other teams felt he was a middle 3rd rounder. Bertuzzi played well enough this season to cause the Wings to debate the value of sending him back to Grand Rapids for their playoff run.
David Booth: B+
Booth was brought in to add depth and show the young players on the Wings what a professional hockey player is. A former 30 goal scorer relegated to playing the last two seasons in the KHL, Booth came to the rink with the same work ethic and attitude whether he was going into the game or sitting his 16th game in a row. He fulfilled his role well enough that the team awarded him by starting him in the season finale, which will likely be the final game of his career.
Jared Coreau: F
Coreau is a UFA and likely won’t even generate an AHL offer from Detroit. He’s a big, athletic, goalie but cannot see the puck or the play well enough to be even an NHL backup. Detroit has a number of prospect goalies under contract and a dire need to see if any will pan out to be an NHL starter seeing as Jimmy Howard is entering into the tail-end of his career.
Trevor Daley: B
Daley was the big free agent signing this off season for the Wings. He provided them, at times, with key scoring and a stabilizing presence on the back end. He finished with 16 points (9G, 7A) in 77 games, which are numbers that do not impress but his play in his own end did.
Danny DeKeyser: F
DeKeyser has a lot of term and money left on his contract and played like he doesn’t have a lot of career left in him. He managed only 12 points (6G, 6A) in 65 games. He was key in most late goals against, either with poor defensive play or by taking an ill-timed penalty. The Wings finished with the worst record in the NHL in one goal games, DeKeyser almost solely being responsible for that poor record. DeKeyser must have a bounce back season next year or he’ll be worth the 8 years of buyout penalty on his contract.
Jonathan Ericsson: A
Ericsson is the prototypical stay at home defenseman and he played a huge role defensively for the Wings his season. His steady play, especially on the penalty kill, was responsibly for Detroit staying in most games well into the third period. Ericsson isn’t expected to provide offense but put up more points than DeKeyser. He is under contract for two more seasons but could fetch a second or third round draft pick this summer in the Wings effort to get younger.
Martin Frk: F
Frk was brought up to prove he could be an NHL player and failed. He brought only a one-dimensional game, played mostly on the power play and was ineffective after the midway point of November after other teams figured out what his game was. As an RFA, he costs Detroit only $650 thousand to tender but would likely be relegated to Grand Rapids to make room for other forwards.
Luke Glendening: C+
Glendening isn’t on the team to produce offence, but did provide 19 points (11G, 8A) over 69 games. Missing some time due to injury, it’s likely the Wings would be well served to attempt to move Glendening (Probably to Toronto) to make room for younger players in the lineup next season.
Mike Green: B-
Green played well through the beginning of the season but stalled out around the Holidays and eventually got hurt just late enough to prevent the Wings from finding a buyer at the trade deadline. Green missed the final month of the season to have neck surgery and put up respectable enough numbers, 33 points (8G, 22A) in 66 games, to justify an attempt to resign him for another couple years in the 4.5 million dollar range this summer. Green is a UFA who is likely to play the market but also has a young family and enjoyed playing in Detroit.
Darren Helm: B-
Helm remained healthy for the first time in several seasons. He is a good penalty killer and at the end of the year proved he can still function in a top 9 forward roll. Helm has 3 more years at 3.85 million a season, which is neither a good or bad contract for Detroit. If he can keep up his numbers (31P, 13G, 18A) and games played (75) next season the Wings are best served to keep him, otherwise shop him for draft picks at next year’s deadline.
Jimmy Howard: B
Howard put together another solid NHL season. He did go through a rough patch at just the wrong point of the season, but all NHL goaltenders put together a couple weeks of bad hockey a season. Howard has proven he deserved his current contract, but he’s only got one year left. After next season, Howard is more likely to pursue a backup roll on a contending team, or possibly elect for a single season extension with Detroit.
Nick Jensen: C
Jensen is young in his career but not in age. He’ll turn 28 during training camp next fall which is the final year of his contract, after the season he is a UFA. Jensen proved he could be an NHL defenseman and has good chemistry with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha on breakouts. However, he often pinches from the blue line at the wrong time and causes a disproportional number of odd man rushes against.
Niklas Kronwall: A-
Kronwall was solid on defensive play and provided 27 points (4G, 23A) this season playing on only one leg. Kronwall is entering the final season of his contract and will likely retire following the year. He underwent experimental stem cell treatment in his knee last summer and that appeared to pay off, but the never fleet footed defenseman showed he lost another half-step this season. He has a modified no-trade clause, but both him and the Wings likely would want to see him finish his career as a lifetime Red Wing.
Dylan Larkin: B+
Larkin had a return to the form he showed in his rookie season, putting up 63 points (16G, 47A) and played every game of the season. He led the team in points, proved he could can play center at the NHL level and continued to be a strong two-way player. However, his tendency to exit the zone early often left him out of position when the Wings would turnover the puck at their own blue line. Larkin is an RFA this summer, likely to be given an 8-year deal in the 5-8 million dollar range.
Anthony Mantha: B-
Mantha finished the season with 48 points (24G, 24A) but failed to reach his expected marks of 30 goals and 50 points. He did lead the team in goals and dressed in 80 games, but he only really played about 50 of those games. Mantha is not a strong skater and is often just gliding around the ice waiting to be given the puck.
Frans Nielsen: B
Nielsen did not look like he enjoyed this season. He played 79 games and amassed 33 points (16G, 17A). He was not dynamic on offense, but his two-way play is the core of his game and his numbers are good considering he played mostly as the third line center on one of the worst teams in the league.
Gustav Nyquist: C
Nyquist continued to provide the Wings with clutch scoring but didn’t provide scoring outside of that. He played a very responsible defensive game and seemed to be re-energized following the trade of Thomas Tatar to Vegas. He finished with 40 points (21G, 19A). Nyquist has one season left at 4.75 million and a full no-trade clause. He likely will be dealt at the NHL draft in June or the trade deadline next season despite the no-trade. Otherwise he will be lost after next season for nothing in return.
Xavier Ouellet: D-
Ouellet was given every chance this season to prove he can be a top 6 defenseman and instead proved he will never be more than a 7th d-man. He is still young and has a season left on his contract, so he could potentially show he can stick around next year. His true value for Detroit is to sweeten the pot on a trade involving a forward to a contending team in search of defensive depth also.
Evgeny Svechnikov: I
Svechnikov didn’t play enough games to earn a grade. His play the second half of the year in Grand Rapids earned him an extended look with the Wings which he did not stand out during. He must put in a huge AHL playoff run and summer. Next year he will be a full time Wing. His play in 2018-2019 likely determines the fate of Ken Holland.
Luke Witkowski: B
Witkowski was brought in to provide grit and protect the younger players on the team. He more than did that job and quickly became a team favorite in the locker room. However, his 10-game suspension following a key game early in the year against Calgary both derailed his season and set the tone for the unaccountability that doomed the team for the rest of the season.
Henrik Zetterberg: A
Zetterberg continues to fight off Father Time. He finished this season with 56 points (11G, 45A) and again played all 82 games. His offensive numbers were down, but his work ethic and ability to make a key offensive or defensive play at just the right time to spark the team is invaluable. He has three years left on his contract, but likely next season will be his final. He took over 5th all time in franchise scoring but is too far back to catch fourth place and is only 40 points from 1000 in his career. After next year he is only paid 1 million a season and is already 5 years removed from back surgery designed to give him 4-5 more years.
Jeff Blashill: D
Blashill continued to show the problems we’ve become familiar with. His rush offense doesn’t suit the skill level of the team and often strands his defenseman. He often grinds players the wrong way with his vocal and high-profile benching of players and is probably responsible for the disappointing play of Athanasiou this season. For the second season in a row, he over challenged video reviews, almost in a protest, in a way that made it hard to watch games at times. Ken Holland’s two-year extension is best served with a new coach, although Holland has never fired a coach in his tenure and will likely allow Blashill to finish his contract next season and then not renew him in the same manner as he did with Dave Lewis.
Ken Holland: C
Holland finally embraced the rebuild, trading Thomas Tatar (two seasons too late), Petr Mrazek and, if not for injury, Mike Green (plus Erik Karlsson is more responsible for Green not getting traded than Holland). Holland has an NHL high number of draft picks in a draft with a deep first round. The 2019 draft is considered to be as deep as the 1990 and 2003 drafts. As the GM of the oldest team in the NHL, Holland is best served to dump several players (as mentioned above) in search of first and second round picks in 2018 and 2019.