Happy New Year Red Wings fans. It’s time to put 2013 behind us and hope that injuries to Wings players are a thing of the past. It’s been an up and down season so far for Detroit, but maybe the New Year will provide an added boost in the second half of the season.
One thing is for sure though; the Red Wings defense is sorely lacking a veteran leader other than Niklas Kronwall. Jonathan Ericsson is currently the number two defenseman on the team, but he’s injured. Danny DeKeyser has the ability to become a top-four, if not the top defenseman on this team, but so far, he’s been injury prone.
Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff won’t be any better than top four material, and that’s pushing, especially for Lashoff. Smith and Quincey, well, let’s just say the Red Wings have had better.
So what will the Red Wings do leading up to the trade deadline? Thaey have to move players if they want to stay under the cap. So far, injuries have helped in that fashion this year.
As of Saturday, January 4, 2014, the Red Wings are 17th in the league in scoring, averaging 2.57 goals per game. They are 16th in the league in allowing goals per game, averaging 2.69 goals allowed. They are also in the top half of the league in shots, averaging just over 30 shots per game. The Wings are also holding opposing teams to just 28 shots per game, good for 21st in the league.
Now, that’s pretty good, but if you look at the plus/minus in the league, you may or may not be surprised at what comes up.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg is among the best. He ranks in the top 30, with a plus 15 (Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz has a plus 23.) He’s the only Red Wing in the top 80. Daniel Alfredsson comes in at 87 with a plus 8.
Among the bottom dwellers, Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov has a -25, the worst in the league. You don’t have to look far to see the first Red Wing. Defenseman Kyle Quincey has a -14, good for 20th worst in the league. Up next, forward Todd Bertuzzi with a -14, good for 27th worst. Then, defenseman Jakub Kindl with a -11, 48th worst in the league. Forward Joakim Andersson squeezes himself just outside the bottom 50, with a -10 as well, but ranked 51st worst.
Quincey has played 42 games thus far, not including the one against Dallas on Saturday night. With his -14 rating, he’s been on the ice for 3 goals, every single game this season. Now, I know the Wings haven’t given up 3 goals each game he’s been in, but it’s a stat that’s tough to stomach.
General Manager Ken Holland was desperate when the Wings traded for Quincey. They lost a lot of talent, and needed a quick fix. As it turns out, the trade was probably a present mistake, but indirectly a good one for the future (the Wings traded down to get Anthony Mantha) and as long as Holland can fix it now, or at least by the trade deadline, it won’t seem so bad.
Quincey has got to go, but who would replace him? Really, anyone at this point is an upgrade, but the Wings really need a solid, veteran defenseman on the back-end. Kronwall is in his 9th year in the NHL (all with the Wings), and he’ll be turning 33 on January 12.
He probably has a few more good years left in him before DeKeyser takes the helm (hopefully no longer injury-prone). Before that happens though, the Wings sorely need another veteran defenseman, and they have some options.
The best option on the table is Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey. The Hurricanes are trying to revamp their team as they look to battle for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and they just traded away defenseman Tim Gleason to the Toronto Maple Leafs for John-Michael Liles.
Hainsey is the only player to have played in all 39 games for Carolina so far this season. He doesn’t have the scoring touch (3 goals, 7 assists), but he racks up over 20 minutes of ice time each game on average. He’s in his 10th year in the league, and is the same age as Kronwall.
Another couple of options include Dallas’ Stephane Robidas, Vancouver’s Alex Edler, New York Rangers’ Michael Del Zotto or Dan Girardi, and Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien.
Any of the options above are do-able, it’s just a matter of making the deal. Carolina and New York are more apt to trade, as Del Zotto is on the block, but he’s a younger defenseman. Will Holland look to gamble on a young defenseman, or will he choose the veteran route and try for Hainsey or Edler?
Only time will tell, and maybe injuries.
To read the original post that appeared online on January 6, 2014, on Sports Radio Detroit, go to www.sportsradiodetroit.com