ZADS: Grading the Red Wings

by Chris Zadorozny (@Zads07)

It was only a 48-game regular season, plus playoffs, but in this shortened season, we learned a lot from the young Red Wings squad.

Without a player from the 1990’s, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, and Jimmy Howard led the Red Wings in each respective position. With their new leaders, how did the players fare this season? Let’s take a look:


Justin Abdelkader

Who would’ve thought at the beginning of this season, that Justin Abdelkader would wind up playing on the first line with Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk? Nobody. In his sixth year in the league, the young “Abby” had a career year, scoring 10 goals and contributing three assists.

That may not look like much on paper in the statistical side of things, but if you look at Datsyuk’s and Zetterberg’s stats, his presence helped the Wings’ Euro Twins.

In the playoffs, he was suspended for a questionable hit, which had many up in arms. It didn’t matter though; he still had his presence felt despite the two-game suspension. In 12 games, he had two goals and an assist. Not the kind of production you want from a top-line player in the playoffs, but once again, contributed with his presence by playing with Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

Abby’s on the roster for the next three years, with a $1.8 million cap hit per year. Not bad for a top line forward eh?

Regular Season GP: 48 G: 10 A: 3 PTS: 13 PIM: 13
Playoffs: GP: 48 G: 2 A: 1 PTS: 3 PIM: 33

Grade: A


Joakim Andersson

The rookie jumped in with a splash. With the injuries early to many of the Wings, Andersson was called upon and performed incredibly. A rookie force on the fourth line, Andersson scored three in the regular season, and just one in the playoffs.

It’s great when you can count on the fourth line to score in the playoffs. The third round draft pick from 2007 could be a mainstay on the Red Wings roster for years to come. Andersson is a RFA this offseason after making $875,000 this past season. The Red Wings will probably try and lock him up for a few years.

Regular Season GP: 38 G: 3 A: 5 PTS: 8 PIM: 8

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 1 A: 4 PTS: 5 PIM: 10

Grade: A-


Todd Bertuzzi

It was a disappointing year for Big Bert. He only played in seven games during the regular season, and then another six in the playoffs. No goals in the playoffs, only two in the regular season and an assist.

His shortened season was shortened even more because of injuries, and it was a long road back. Even playing, he wasn’t completely healthy, and there’s no telling what will happen next year, if there is a next year. The Red Wings could choose to use one of the two amnesty clauses to buy him out, not having his salary ($2.075 million) count towards the cap.

Regular Season GP: 7 G: 2 A: 1 PTS: 3 PIM: 2

Playoffs: GP: 6 G: 0 A: 0 PTS: 0 PIM: 2

Grade: D


Damien Brunner

The Swiss rookie came into the league expecting to contribute in place of Jiri Hudler. He did come up big in the regular season, with 12 goals, good for third best on the roster. What came from this successful rookie campaign was a lot of line switching.

He started out on the first line, but because of the losses early, Babcock switched it up and he soon found himself between the second and third lines. It worked out for everyone involved and Brunner was still contributing, meshing with Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist in the playoffs. We could see Brunner around for a long time for the right price. His salary this year was $1.35 million, and it could be upgraded a bit.

Regular Season: GP: 44 G: 12 A: 14 PTS: 26 PIM: 12

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 5 A: 4 PTS: 9 PIM: 4

Grade: B+


Daniel Cleary

The once lost but now found Cleary has found a home here in Detroit. It’s going to be a question whether or not that continues in this offseason. Cleary only had nine goals in the regular season, but found his scoring touch in the playoffs.

Going from the second to third line late in the season, Cleary still found a way to contribute. He led the team in points in the playoffs and should return despite being a free agent. Cleary made $2.8 million this past season, and could make around the same this year if he’s willing.

Regular Season: GP: 48 G: 9 A: 6 PTS: 15 PIM: 40

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 4 A: 6 PTS: 10 PIM: 2

Grade: B+


Pavel Datsyuk

The Magic Man once again showed why he’s one of the best players in the league this season. Pasha scored 15 goals in just 47 games, contributing 34 assists. Remember the Abdelkader point above? Yea, he nearly topped his goal total from last year in half the games because of Abby.

Datsyuk only had three goals in the playoffs, which once again, is not what you want from your top line players at the time, but still helped lead his team in points with nine. He’s going to be a free agent next offseason ($6.7 million this year), but he will be back after tweeting out that he is looking forward to playing in Detroit for years to come.

Regular Season: GP: 47 G: 15 A: 34 PTS: 49 PIM: 14

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 3 A: 6 PTS: 9 PIM: 4

Grade: A


Patrick Eaves

It’s quite remarkable to see a player come back from an injury, let alone a concussion. That’s exactly what Eaves did this year. The scrappy third/fourth line player found a way back. Despite only contributing three goals in both the regular season and playoffs, he provides some formidable penalty killing. He has one year left on his deal ($1.2 million), so he’ll be around for another year of penalty killing.

Regular Season: GP: 34 G: 2 A: 6 PTS: 8 PIM: 4

Playoffs: GP: 13 G: 1 A: 2 PTS: 3 PIM: 4

Grade: C+


Cory Emmerton

The young kid surprised many in the regular season, but practically disappeared in the playoffs. Emmerton was in his first full season as a member of the squad, and really helped propel the Red Wings fourth line in the regular season.

He had five goals in 48 games, but when you’re on the fourth line, it’s tough to score with less than 10-12 minutes of ice time per night on average. Emmerton has one more year left on his deal worth $533,333, so this will be an important contract year coming up for the young kid.

Regular Season: GP: 48 G: 5 A: 3 PTS: 8 PIM: 4

Playoffs: GP: 13 G: 0 A: 1 PTS: 1 PIM: 4

Grade: C-


Valterri Filppula

This sort of feels like Jiri Hudler all over again. The $3 million dollar player only put up nine goals in 41 games, which would end up being just 18 goals in 82 games. I don’t believe that’s acceptable for a player that fans were hoping to be a top liner for the Red Wings.

In his seventh full season in the Winged Wheel, Filppula was the second line center that just couldn’t produce when needed. He’s certainly going to want a lot more money this offseason and the Red Wings will certainly be looking elsewhere for help at a cheaper price.

Regular Season: GP: 41 G: 9 A: 8 PTS: 17 PIM: 6

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 2 A: 4 PTS: 6 PIM: 4 

Grade: D


Johan Franzen

The Mule is yet another player the Red Wings were hoping to get more out of. He’s with the Red Wings until 2020 with a $3.95 million contract hit each season. Though his hit is not that of a star player, a team with not many star players needs help from everyone.

Franzen did contribute 14 goals in 41 games, which would become 28 in 82 games. That would be around the total from the past two seasons in the Winged Wheel uniform. It still doesn’t match up to his 34 goals from 2008-09, but it’s still decent. His only downfall is his size. He doesn’t use his size that often, which affects how the Red Wings cycle in both the offensive and defensive zones.

Regular Season: GP: 41 G: 14 A: 17 PTS: 31 PIM: 41

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 4 A: 2 PTS: 6 PIM: 8

Grade: C+


Darren Helm

The Red Wings really missed Helm’s speed this year. He’s probably one of the fastest skaters in the league, and his penalty killing is tops on this team. I always compare him to a Kris Draper-type player.

His injured back kept him out of every game but just one throughout the regular season and playoffs. He’s supposed to be back for next year, in time for training camp, but you can never predict a recovery. He has three years left on his deal at $2.125 million per year.

Grade: Incomplete


Drew Miller

The other half of the Eaves-Miller penalty-killing unit was once again terrific in the playoffs. Miller put his body on the line for many of the penalty killing opportunities and did contribute a bit offensively in the regular season.

What is unfortunate though is that he’s a free agent, and there is a lot of competition for the third and fourth lines. Although he’s a very reasonable cap hit ($837,500), younger players could fill his role a little better. He may or may not be back.

Regular Season: GP: 44 G: 4 A: 4 PTS: 8 PIM: 2

Playoffs: GP: 6 G: 1 A: 1 PTS: 2 PIM: 2

Grade: C


Gustav Nyquist

The next coming of Datsyuk? “Gus” has some fancy hands and he uses them for some great dekes once in awhile. Nyquist was called up and played half the shortened season, quite remarkably at that.

He did provide a bit of scoring for the third and fourth lines when they were interchanged. He’s an RFA this offseason, and after making $875,000, the Red Wings are expected to bring him back.

Regular Season: GP: 22 G: 3 A: 3 PTS: 6 PIM: 6

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 2 A: 3 PTS: 5 PIM: 2

Grade: B+


Mikael Samuelsson

Samuelsson was supposed to help fill the scoring void left by Hudler. Brunner did that all by himself. The comeback of Sammy was like a magic act. He was here, but never played. Injured for pretty much all of the season, the signing was nothing but a failure for both sides.

He only played in four games throughout the season and five in the playoffs, scoring just once. He does have one season left on his deal at $3 million. He has a no trade clause, but the Red Wings do have two amnesty clauses to use. Basically, the Red Wings can buyout any two players they want, pay them two-thirds of their contract and it won’t count towards the salary cap. If the Red Wings want to give other players an opportunity, expect Sammy to be bought out.

Regular Season: GP: 4 G: 0 A: 1 PTS: 1 PIM: 0

Playoffs: GP: 5 G: 1 A: 1 PTS: 2 PIM: 2

Grade: Incomplete/Failure


Tomas Tatar

The 22-year old only played half the season, and was sent down before the playoffs. He did make an impact though, playing on the third and fourth lines, scoring four goals and adding three assists. He’s still on his entry-level deal for one more year ($840,000), so he could be in the mix for a spot on the fourth line next year.

Regular Season: GP: 18 G: 4 A: 3 PTS: 7 PIM: 4

Playoffs: None

Grade: B


Jordin Tootoo

The once hated rival Predator became a Red Wing this past season. He really made his presence known in the first game with a fight. He doesn’t have the scoring touch that the Red Wings really need, but he does provide the scrappiness that they have lacked since the departure of Darren McCarty in his prime.

Once the playoffs hit, there wasn’t any need for him in the lineup. Luckily, moving towards the Eastern Conference next year, against the Bruins, Canadiens and Maple Leafs, a tough guy will be needed in the new rivalry games. His cap hit isn’t that bad either $1.9 million for the next two years.

Regular Season: GP: 42 G: 3 A: 5 PTS: 8 PIM: 78

Playoffs: Incomplete

Grade: B+


Henrik Zetterberg

The new leader of the Red Wings came in and filled the captaincy quite nicely this year. He had leadership on and off the ice and carried the Red Wings throughout the season. He led the team in the final stretch of the season to the playoffs, along with Games 6 and 7 against Anaheim.

Zetterberg is the definition of a leader that the Red Wings needed this past season, and for the seasons to come.

Regular Season: GP: 46 G: 11 A: 37 PTS: 48 PIM: 18

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 4 A: 8 PTS: 12 PIM: 8

Grade: A+



Carlo Colaiacovo

The former Maple Leaf and Blues player was supposed to give the Red Wings backend some much needed veteran support. Unfortunately, his history of injuries got into the way of playing this year.

He only played six games in the regular season and nine in the playoffs. He didn’t score and only had a point in the regular season and playoffs. Was $2.5 million for the next two years, per year, worth it? Colaiacovo could be another victim of the amnesty clause, although it’s unlikely has he provided a solid presence against the Ducks and Hawks after Danny DeKeyser went down with an injury.

Regular Season: GP: 6 G: 0 A: 1 PTS: 1 PIM: 2

Playoffs: GP: 9 G: 0 A: 1 PTS: 1 PIM: 2

Grade: D


Danny DeKeyser

This former Western Michigan Bronco, who’s younger than this reporter, surprised nearly everyone. He jumped up from college to the NHL and contributed in a huge way. He may have only had a point, but he did bring speed and puck movement to a lineup sorely needing it. Unfortunately, an injury to his finger cut his playoff run short, but is back and healthy competing for the Griffins in the Calder Cup Final.

He has this coming year on an entry level deal at $1.35 million. It’s expected the Red Wings will keep the hometown kid around a lot longer next offseason.

Regular Season: GP: 11 G: 0 A: 1 PTS: 1 PIM: 2

Playoffs: GP: 2 G: 0 A: 0 PTS: 0 PIM: 0

Grade: A


Jonathon Ericsson

He’s paired with Niklas Kronwall as the top two on the Red Wings defense. Since signing his $3.25 million dollar deal that will end after next season, he beat out his totals last year in the lockout-shortened season.

Despite his success this year, he still tends to rattle fans on the backend, with questionable plays. Still, he’s learning and growing and could get better after another year with Kronwall by his side.

Regular Season: GP: 45 G: 3 A: 10 PTS: 13 PIM: 29

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 0 A: 3 PTS: 3 PIM: 2

Grade: B


Jakub Kindl

This young, puck-moving defenseman really stepped it up this year. Kindl had some growing pains to go through last year and it finally paid off. He became a steady defenseman for the Red Wings this year. He did find the back of the net a few times, but of course, would definitely want more.

Kindl is an RFA this offseason, and after making $833,333 this past year, it’s very likely the Red Wings will bring Kindl back after his successful season.

Regular Season: GP: 41 G: 4 A: 9 PTS: 13 PIM: 28

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 1 A: 4 PTS: 5 PIM: 10

Grade: B+


Brian Lashoff

Injuries plagued the Red Wings early. Lashoff helped stop the bleeding after being called up from Grand Rapids. Unfortunately, he sprinted out of the gate, and then kind of fell behind late in the season.

Lashoff has a cap hit of $725,000 for the next three years, but don’t be surprised if he stays in Grand Rapids for the next three years. He didn’t play a shift after Game 5 against the Ducks in the first round.

Regular Season: GP: 31 G: 1 A: 4 PTS: 5 PIM: 15

Playoffs: GP: 3 G: 0 A: 0 PTS: 0 PIM: 0

Grade: C-


Niklas Kronwall

What can be said about a defenseman who is filling the skates of Nicklas Lidstrom? Two words; Leadership and Kronwalled. Kronwall really took the reigns of the defense with the retirement of Lidstrom and led like a leader should.

He led all defensemen in ice-time and found the back of the net. The only thing was the deflection goal that the Hawks got to eliminate the Red Wings. Kronwall’s locked up until 2019-2020, so expect to see his leadership on the backend for a very long time.

Regular Season: GP: 48 G: 5 A: 24 PTS: 29 PIM: 44

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 0 A: 2 PTS: 2 PIM: 4

Grade: A-


Kyle Quincey

The reacquired Red Wing was supposed to give the defense a veteran presence on the backend. That didn’t happen as Kyle Quincey was paired with Brendan Smith and too many rookie mistakes happened. Quincey didn’t prove to be the same defenseman the Red Wings drafted in 2003.

He’s still on the roster for another year at a high price, $3.375 million. He’s not their top defenseman, and won’t be with Kronwall, Ericsson, DeKeyser, and Kindl. Quincey could become trade bait if the Red Wings want to upgrade.

Regular Season: GP: 36 G: 1 A: 2 PTS: 3 PIM: 18

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 0 A: 2 PTS: 2 PIM: 1

Grade: C-


Brendan Smith

The next great defenseman for the Red Wings? Far from it. Smith was the Red Wings third most recent first round draft pick from 2007, and he didn’t show the seasoning he had in Grand Rapids. Of course, he is still 24-years old and is going through his first year in the NHL. Still, he made many rookie mistakes and took many head-shaking penalties.

Smith is an RFA this offseason after making $875,000. It’s expected the Red Wings are going to retain Smith’s services, despite his abysmal first year. If they don’t retain, it could shock many because of how highly they thought of Smith, although they could find a much better replacement than Smith.

Regular Season: GP: 34 G: 0 A: 8 PTS: 8 PIM: 36

Playoffs: GP: 14 G: 2 A: 3 PTS: 5 PIM: 10

Grade: D+


Ian White

White was a mainstay on the blueline in his first year last year. He was paired with Lidstrom and had his best year ever. The question was whether or not he would continue. That didn’t happen, and he became a healthy scratch halfway through the season. He saw no action in the playoffs and being a free agent, he will be gone this offseason.

Regular Season: GP: 25 G: 2 A: 2 PTS: 4 PIM: 4

Playoffs: Incomplete

Grade: C-



Jonas Gustavsson

“The Monster” was supposed to come in and give Jimmy Howard some rest from time-to-time. That didn’t happen and Gustavsson played terribly in his debut in the Winged Wheel.

He is around for another year with a cap hit of $1.5 million. Hopefully in a much longer season, he can relieve the load of Howard with 15-25 games.

Regular Season: GP: 7 W: 2 L: 2 OT: 1 SV%: .879 GAA: 2.92

Playoffs: Incomplete 

Grade: D


Jimmy Howard

The Red Wings have found their goaltender of the present. Jimmy Howard showed, in a shortened season, with a young team, that he is the answer in net. Playing in nearly every game in the regular season and the playoffs, Howard performed almost night in and night out.

He signed a contract extension late in the season, and then proved why he earned more money and more years. Howard will lead the Wings for a long time to come.

Regular Season: GP: 42 W: 21 L: 13 OT: 7 SV%: .923 GAA: 2.13

Playoffs: GP: 14 W: 7 L: 7 OT: 2 SV%: .924 GAA: 2.44

Grade: A

To read the original post that appeared on Sports Radio Detroit on June 11, 2013, go to


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