19 August 2009

Rubber Ducky, You're The One

Today, the Detroit Red Wings announced the return of Todd Bertuzzi, on a 1 year 1.5M deal. I don't really like Bertuzzi, mostly because I never thought he was that great, and his general worthlessness since his suspension for trying to kill Steve Moore. I'm more or less ambivalent about the move, purely from a "Hey, the Wings acquired Bertuzzi" standpoint, because he can probably do halfway decent with enough talent around him and its a pretty cheap one year deal. However, the real problem with this deal is the roster spot that a mostly worthless Bertuzzi would occupy, especially after the signings of Jason Williams and Patrick Eaves. Check this out:

1 - Datsyuk
2 - Zetterberg
3 - Franzen
4 - Filppula
5 - Cleary
6 - Holmstrom
7 - Draper
8 - Bertuzzi
9 - Williams
10 - Maltby
11 - Leino
12 - Helm
13 - Eaves
14 - Abdelkader

That's 14 forwards, with only 12 spots for a given game available. I don't know which are on 2 way contracts (anyone know a good resource for finding that out?), which will play a significant role in which guys get to be in that top 12.

One of the important things under a salary cap is to get good production from your youngsters, who are still on very team-friendly cap hits. This becomes even more important when your team is very much jammed up against the cap, as the Wings are. In fact, coming into this offseason, knowing that the Wings were quickly approaching a very unpleasant meeting with the realities of a salary cap, there were calls from some sides to go ahead and let some of the kids take over, to take advantage of their cap hits and finally give some of them a chance to crack a notoriously tough lineup.

I don't think there is any question that Leino plays on the big club this year. He has a very team friendly deal at an 800K cap hit, and is a very good bet to produce more than any other forward making under 2M this year.

The question rises more in terms of the roster spots for Helm and Abdelkader. Obviously, the Red Wings' brain trust has faith in Helm, considering the games he's played the last two years. However, Helm was only brought up for 16 games last season. I expect he'll play more than that this year, but as much as the coaching staff loves him, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if they bounced him back and forth between the AHL and NHL this year. The front office will want to try to get some results from Williams/Eaves/Bertuzzi, which isn't unreasonable, and I also think that Babcock will use a bus ticket to Grand Rapids as a way to punish mistakes and to let Helm know that as much as they like the kid, he can't ever let up. In fact, it might even be one of those things where they're even harder on him because they like him. That alone will probably get Helm a solid half a season this year, and additional subs because of injury will probably get him close to 60 games.

That leaves Justin Abdelkader. Given 4 games of NHL regular season duty across the last two seasons, Abdelkader hasn't had much chance to grab hold of a roster spot. However, in 10 playoff games this past year, he was good for 3 points, and play by play guys were calling his name (along with Helm's, oftentimes) pretty frequently. He seemed to be doing a good job of playing responsible across the entire ice surface, he got a few points, and he definitely got some attention. I've got to think that merits a chance to earn some NHL ice time, but for many of the same reasons as why I think Darren Helm will miss out on some games, I think Abdelkader will also miss out on some large stretches of time. I'm thinking Abdelkader is probably good for no more than a half season this year, tops.

So if I'm right on those guesses, Helm and Abdelkader are losing significant NHL time this year to Patrick Eaves and Todd Bertuzzi. I can't see any possible way that turns out to be a good move, especially in Bertuzzi's case. What offense has been lost to the departure of Hossa and Samuelsson will in large part be picked up by the promotion of Leino, acquisition of Jason Williams, and whoever fills out the roster (ideally, to me, Helm + Abby). It may not make up for all of it, but whatever isn't made up for can definitely be made up for on the defensive end. Giving Bert any of the ice time that has been earned by Helm and Abby, while Bert blames anyone else for the fact that he sucks, is an absolutely wrong move to make.


  1. That's why it's great that you guys have players like Cleary and Holmstrom, that can play anywhere from in the lineup. I can see the Wings trading Filppula, especially after giving Franzen the extension and having guys like Leino and Abdelkader who can step into the lineup right away.

  2. Trade Filppula? Surely you jest!

    The Wings have 2 very serious problems coming up in this and the 2 seasons following. First of all, and more obvious, is the cap issues. In that regard, they have a few less team-friendly contracts coming off the books in the next 2 years, and Fil himself has a pretty fair or even slightly team-friendly contract.

    Secondly, this team is getting old. Up front, Homer and Maltby are likely to retire after this season, Draper the year after, and Zetterberg/Datsyuk/Franzen/Cleary will all be 30-34 years old. Fil is the only one of the forwards currently signed for more than 2 years who will be under 30 2 years from now (He'll be 27). He is already an important part of this team, and that role figures to grow, as he's pretty much allowed to run the 2nd line for at least the next 2 years.

    Trading Fil would be a huge mistake, because it would be trading off one of the most skilled young players, unless the return was very very huge. It'd be better to let Fil play up and down the lineup, as he is a pretty good in both ends, and deal off Cleary or let Homer retire.

  3. 2 way contracts (anyone know a good resource for finding that out?

    Capgeek. They're in Orange.