Friday, July 17, 2009

Possible Line Combinations

I can’t help but think about what our line combinations are going to look like for the 2009-2010 season (to start with anyway). With 4 players leaving and one in a real sticky situation (I have to assume that Hudler won’t be back), Ken Holland is going to have to fill a couple of holes. This is how I see it shaking out as of now…

Line 3: LEINO-HELM-???

Starter: OSGOOD
Backup: HOWARD

Now, since I don’t want to see either Draper or Maltby on line 3, that leaves us looking for a 3rd and 4th line winger.

Our blip on the addition side of Free-Agency has been Kris Newbury, a left-handed center by trade, right-winger Jeremy Williams, and journeyman defenseman Doug Janik.

To be honest, I’m a little puzzled as to why we signed Janik, a 29 year old who has played on four teams in seven NHL seasons (Buffalo, Tampa, Dallas, Montreal), when we already have a lion’s share of defensemen with the likes Derek Meech and Jakub Kindl waiting in the wings. Unless Janik really brings it in training camp, I see him starting the season in Grand Rapids.

Other than Newbury and Williams (you can follow the link for their stories), my leading candidates for filling out the two remaining roster spots (should Hudler not return) are the following:

Justin Abdelkader: MSU graduate who stepped into the limelight scoring a pair of goals in the Stanley Cup Finals before being sidelined with an illness. He had 52 points in 76 games with the Griffins last year while racking up 102 PIM’s. Personally, I’d like to see him play one more year in Grand Rapids.

Francis Pare: If you haven’t been to many Griffins games, you probably don’t know who he is, but he had 48 Points (24 Goals) in 62 Regular season games with the Griffs last year. He is a rare right-handed shot, very similar to Darren Helm in stature. He could possibly be a sleeper for that 4th line wing if he impresses the staff at camp.

Mattias Ritola: He’s a Swede, so he’s got that going for him (which is nice). He also has an awesome name. I proclaim him to be “My Griffin”, but you could make a case for him aside from personal reasons. 42 points (15 goals) in 66 games with Grand Rapids last year who may turn out to be a better player with the big club than he is with the Griffs. Smooth skater and a great playmaker could possibly see a little more time in Detroit this year. Look for him to go up and down throughout the year.

Evan McGrath: 6’0, 190 lbs center whose point totals have climbed for three consecutive years with the Griffins. He finished the Regular Season fourth on the team with 47 points (17 Goals). Solid frame could see some time with veterans Maltby and Draper on the fourth line.

You know what puzzles me? Darren Haydar signed with the wings at this time last year. He was the leading scorer in the 2008 Calder Play-offs on the Chicago Wolves and his head coach (John Anderson) got the head coach job with the Atlanta Thrashers. Instead of staying within the Atlanta organization and be a sure call-up to the big club, he jumped ship and came to Detroit where he basically had zero chance of making the big club. After running away with the point total lead in Grand Rapids, having a real legitimate shot at making the big squad this year, he leaves and signs with Colorado. Um..what’s with this guy? Who cares? He’s a Dive now. Say ‘Hi’ to Quincy for me.

Of course, all of these guys could spend the ENTIRE year in Grand Rapids if Ken Holland gets Hudler signed and/or goes out and finds some cheap free-agents later this summer. You just never know when Holland is going to find the next Dan Cleary or Mikael Samuelsson…and that, my friends, is a very comforting thought.


  1. I really want Abdelkader to stay in GR this year, too. It would be good for him to have another year to develop.

    I have to keep telling myself that Ritola is a Swede--his name sounds SO Finnish to me.

    The Hubby STILL says he would like to see Helm and Filppula on the same line. With how fast each of them is, it could be quite interesting. Who knows--could be something Babcock might try. (You NEVER know what the man is thinking.)

  2. I think we should bring Ablekader up to the big leagues. For once we need to go with a young player. Not trying to diss anybody like draper, but he's not getting any younger. and bringing up Ablekader this year could help him confidence wise.

  3. I expect Abdelkader and Williams to both get their share of games on the fourth line, and I wouldn't be surprised if Babcock tests Meech's ability as a forward (where he's dabbled before) in that slot as well. So far, Holland remains optimistic about Hudler, which the latest statement from the KHL backs-up (i.e. they'll drop their offer if the Wings meet the arbitration). And there's a lot of summer left to poach a third-line winger for cheap (either the old guy the Wings revitalize or the young guy no one else seems to know about). Seems like we're in the same boat every year, certainly no reasons to panic.

  4. Unless he blows the coaching staff out of the water in training camp, I'd like to see Abdelkader start in Grand Rapids. Bring him up for a few injury fill-ins during the year, and if there is a place for him as the season goes on, work him into a full-time spot.

    I don't think he is very far away, though.

  5. I hope you saw that you got a shout out on the Official Website of the Detroit Red Wings, blog section. Just a headsup :)

  6. A nice ZETTERBERG-DATSYUK-HELM-ERICSSON-KRONWALL lineup would be an amazing thing to see. You've got a great powerhouse, a sweet skills guy, amazing speed, and two intense defensemen. now that is good wings hockey :)