Grading the Detroit Red Wings' 2013 Offseason
The Detroit Red Wings' "offseason" is pretty much in the books with the regular season less than a week away. That being said, it is time to give final grades to the Red Wings offseason.
These grades are by no means final; some players could turn out playing better or worse than the grades that they receive in this slideshow.
Here are the final grades for the Detroit Red Wings' offseason.
NHL Draft Grade: A-
The story of the first two rounds for the Red Wings was picking up Anthony Mantha and Zach Nastasiuk. The Red Wings got the 10th- and 13th-ranked North American prospects, respectively, at pick No. 20 and pick No. 48, respectively.
Whether or not the Red Wings get any more quality players out of this draft should be icing on the cake for this organization.
During the NHL Draft, I published a slideshow on Bleacher Report grading each selection individually.
There was, however, no overall grade given for the entire draft.
In the slideshow, the average grade between the seven draft choices was a "B+," but that really didn't tell the story of the draft.
The final grade for the Red Wings as a team should be a bit higher than the average, given the surprising outcome of their first two picks.
NHL Free-Agency Grade: B
While the Detroit Red Wings got their men in free agency, the fact remains that the Red Wings players—in the preseason at least—are still far from where they want to be as a team.
The Red Wings picked up Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss in July and re-signed a couple of their own free agents, including Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Dan Cleary and Brendan Smith.
Detroit gets a boosted grade from having re-signed their restricted free agents. If this hadn't happened, the free-agency grade would be even lower.
Although Stephen Weiss was touted as a second line center that would replace Valtteri Filppula, Weiss has been unable to do that so far this preseason. Alfredsson has also been unable to contribute this preseason, sitting out a few games with a groin injury.
Head coach Mike Babcock stated after the Red Wings' recent 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins that the Red Wings don't look like they had any leadership, per Brendan Savage of MLive.com. Savage quoted Babcock as saying that the Red Wings "needed some guys on the top end of this group to lead the way and that never happened."
It is important to note that the Red Wings were without Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall, amongst others. When these players (i.e., the Red Wings No. 1 forward line) haven't played in the preseason, the Red Wings have been flat to say the least.
Although Weiss may end up yet doing a good job to replace Filppula, he will not give the Red Wings the breakout forward power that Filppula gave the Red Wings in his one 66-point season.
Maybe, but not yet.
Salary Cap Management: C+
The Red Wings need to move or cut three players from their roster by September 30. Not only that, but the Red Wings, per CapGeek, are $2,387,879 over the salary cap as of September 27.
This means that the players that are sent down, waived, traded or designated on injured reserve must also have the required cap space between them to move the Red Wings below the salary cap.
CapGeek also has Detroit at 17 forwards signed to NHL contracts. This is not only an obscene number of forwards, but it also opens up Detroit to losing quality players from their roster.
Although it is better to have too many choices than too few, the Red Wings will clearly be in trouble when players like Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves are able to come back from their respective injuries in late September.
Preseason Grade: B-
It is extremely difficult to give a justifiable grade to the Red Wings for their play in the preseason. This is because Red Wings have a bad case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The Red Wings have been getting good effort from their third line, including a few goals by Tomas Tatar. Gustav Nyquist has also impressed in the preseason.
The rest of the forwards are a different story.
When Pavel Datsyuk's line plays, things seem to go well. When Datsyuk's line doesn't play, the Red Wings have been nothing but in trouble.
The jury is still out on whether the Red Wings will ever get the Johan Franzen-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson line to work.
Mike Babcock expressed his displeasure with them early on, per Ansar Khan of MLive.com:
They did nothing...that's what gives you pause, you don't do anything and then things change. Now, they haven't got a chance to play together so that's an unfair assessment, but we need an assessment because we need production out of every group....to me it has all the ingredients of a line, but you have to become one.
At this point, it is difficult to say whether the line will generate consistent offense, but it could be the X-factor that makes or breaks this Wings season.
Offseason Overall Grade: B
For the bad grades that have represented the "Salary Cap Management" and "Preseason" slides, the Red Wings are still not at full strength as a team, being bitten hard by the injury bug in the preseason.
All that promise that was envisioned by Red Wings management and fans when they signed Alfredsson and Weiss has gone out of the window until the second line can play at full strength.
Second line aside, the Red Wings have been fairly solid, but at times, it has been lacking in effort. If they can bring a higher level of effort with a full, complete and (most importantly) healthy lineup, there is a lot for Red Wings fans to look forward to this season.
Red Wings management made the moves it needed to make this offseason in terms of getting players signed. Now there are a few more moves to be made before opening night in Buffalo.
Once these moves are made, it should be smooth(er) sailing for Detroit.
All statistics via CapGeek.com unless otherwise noted.
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