Red Wings get their final report cards…some would be grounded

By Dave Waddell - 

Nothing points to the future like when the Detroit Red Wings’ brass hold their amateur scouting meetings and attend the NHL combines in the last two weeks of May.

However, as they do mull over their future, the Wing’ management does so with an eye on the past.

After another playoff flop this spring, there are some significant question marks and obvious needs to be addressed.

FORWARDS

Henrik Zetterberg: It was a tale to two half seasons for the Swedish center. After a dreadful start, which he called the worst of his career, Zetterberg regained the best form he’s displayed since 2008.  Zetterberg finished the regular season with 22 goals and 69 points to lead the Wings.

GRADE: B

Pavel Datsyuk: The Wings’ season came off the rails when Datsyuk had to undergo knee surgery for minor repairs in late February. He finished with 19 goals and 67 points and remains the game’s best all-around forward.

GRADE: B-plus

Valtteri Filppula: He had a breakout season offensively after being shifted to left wing alongside Zetterberg. However, Filppula faded down the stretch offensively and was disappointing in the playoffs.

GRADE: B-minus

Johan Franzen: The man called Mule has become the lightning rod for the fans’ frustrations with his inconsistent performance last season.
He had a team-high 29 goals, but there’s always a sense there’s more there.

GRADE: C

Jiri Hudler: A bounce back year for Hudler with a career-high 25 goals should earn him a decent contract as he enters free agency. His demands will dictate his Wings’ future.

GRADE: B-minus

Todd Bertuzzi: A useful player with his shootout skills. Detroit needs his size in the line-up.

GRADE: C-plus

Dan Cleary: A season to forget for Cleary, largely due to injuries. The winger is an extremely versatile player and clubhouse leader and his physical ailments all season dinged Detroit badly.

GRADE: C-minus

Darren Helm: A somewhat mixed season for Helm until the second half. His absence was keenly felt after he injured his knee late in the year.

GRADE: C-minus

Drew Miller: Solid season for Miller, though the ending was quieter than he would’ve hoped. He upped his offensive contributions and remained effective on the PK.

GRADE: B-minus

Tomas Holmstrom: Time and a diminished role appear to have caught up with the master of net-front mayhem.

GRADE: C-minus

Justin Abdelkader: Appears to have settled into a bottom-six role. Wings hoped he’d offer a little more offensive punch, but led the team in hits.

GRADE: C

Cory Emmerton: The challenge for Emmerton is to carve out a role for himself on this team. He’s running out of time to do so.

GRADE: C

Gustav Nyquist: Clearly a talent, but in need of more physical strength. He’ll be in Detroit next season.

GRADE: Incomplete

Jan Mursak: A broken ankle wrecked his season. He had a great camp, but never got back on track when returned to play 25 games.

GRADE: D

Patrick Eaves: He played only 10 games due to injury and is being counted on for next season.

GRADE: Incomplete

DEFENSE

Niklas Kronwall: Best offensive numbers of his career, but his defensive game wasn’t as sharp. He finished minus-two.

GRADE: C

Nick Lidstrom: Another solid year for the ageless Swede. Produced 11 goals and was a plus-21 in 70 games.

GRADE: B-plus

Ian White: Detroit got good value for the money when they signed White to fill some of the hole left by Brian Rafalski’s retirement. He faded down the stretch a bit, but a useful player in the right role.

GRADE: B-minus

Kyle Quincey: Acquired at the trade deadline for a first-round, Quincey had mixed results settling in Detroit. He’ll provide some cover if Brad Stuart departs via free agency.

GRADE: C-minus

Brad Stuart: Brings a physical game and a good effort every night. He provides Detroit with an element of size and physical play that’s much needed.

GRADE: C-plus

Jakub Kindl: Started the season well, faded and ultimately lost his job in the starting line-up. Needs to show he’s willing to compete every night.

GRADE: C-minus

Jonathan Ericsson: Another polarizing figure amongst the fan base, but his value was proved when he broke his wrist late in the season. His presence was keenly missed, especially on the PK.

GRADE: C-plus

Brendan Smith: A potential star in the making with his multi-dimensional skill set. In his 14 games, he showed he was NHL ready.

GRADE: Incomplete

GOALIES

Jimmy Howard: Earned an invite to the All-Star Game and was on track for a spectacular season. Injuries messed up the final third of the campaign.

GRADE: B-plus

Ty Conklin: A dreadful season forced the Wings to bring in Joey MacDonald form Grand Rapids.

GRADE: F

Joey MacDonald: Filled in admirably for Howard when he was hurt to earn an NHL job. Question marks about next season have cropped up though because of a sore back.

GRADE: B-plus

Coaches

Coaching Staff: Struggled to sort out the special teams most of the year, but we were able to improve the team’s defensive stats.
Comments from some players about the need to rediscover the fun in the game should be warnings that there are some issues to sort out.

GRADE: C-minus

GENERAL MANAGER

Ken Holland: The Wings’ GM opted to keep his powder dry for free agency this summer after taking this season to assess what the organization’s youngsters offered.
His season starts now.

GRADE: C