The Detroit Red Wings currently sit tied for first place in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. If you had told any Red Wings fan this would be the case at the end of last season, I doubt you could find many that would believe this.
What planet could a team that finished fourth in the division last season, and barely made the playoffs, suddenly be tied for first heading into Christmas? It would be even more baffling to believe that all of this could be done without any actual major additions to the team. In fact, the club actually recently officially lost Daniel Alfredsson to retirement.
Much of the team’s success is tied to the overall health that has been granted upon them this season (KNOCK ON ANY WOOD YOU CAN FIND). There were so many man games lost to injury last year, it was not uncommon to see the Grand Rapids Griffins composing of the majority of the Red Wings lineup. Sure, this season there have been some minor injuries, but hey that is hockey. Johan Franzen is currently out “sick”, hopefully it is not actually the mumps. Pavel Datsyuk missed the first handful of games but has come back looking like one of the best, if not best, scorers in the league. And now Stephen Weiss has been placed on the IR.
Now before everyone starts moaning and groaning about how Weiss is made of porcelain so of course he is on the IR again, let’s take a second and realize he has been placed retroactively on the injured listed so this does not seem to be a major injury. In fact it may be one of the smarter moves by coach and management. By doing so, this means Weiss is not eligible to return until this Saturday, thus freeing up a roster spot for young defensemen Xavier Ouellet who was plucking his trade with Grand Rapids. He has already played 7 games up with the Wings this season and made a pretty good impression on fans and coach alike. He’s scored a goal, generated an assist, and managed a +3 rating thus far in the NHL this season. Babcock has praised the rookie, which is definitely not something to be taken for granted when it is coming from a task master like Babs. “He’s a good player. He’s smart, he’s competitive, he makes plays and he plays like a veteran player.” That kind of praise should give the young Frenchman some confidence that he will have staying power with the big club if he keeps up his positive play.
The knock on the Wings last season was obviously their weak defense. It was said they had nothing solid along the blueline besides Kronwall, and that at some point in the future Dekeyser would be a great player as well. The rest of the league’s fans dismissed any of the remaining players as placeholders until the Wings could make a trade or pick someone up in the offseason. Well all Wings fans know how the offseason went in terms off picking up a right handed defencenman. Not too great. That being said, the rumor that immediately sprung up was that the Wings would wait until the deadline and make the Sabres a generous offer for 2009 rookie of the year winner, Tyler Myers. Myers would be an ideal fit for the Wings, heck he would be a fit for just about any NHL team. He is billed at 6 feet 8 inches, and weighs in at 227 lbs. That is absolutely huge. Dare I say Chara-esque. Not only that, he is incredibly mobile, and *GASP*, a right handed shot.
Here is the problem: Buffalo’s asking price has reportedly been “leaked” recently, and it is downright hilariously high. They want last years number one pick in the University of Michigan’s Dylan Larkin, who has been playing incredibly well as a freshmen. He has stepped right in and made a difference on the offensive end of the ice for the Wolverines. Oh, that is not it, they want more. Either Tomas Jurco or Riley Sheahan, too. Oh yeah, and a first round draft pick. Buffalo essentially wants three first round draft picks and an early second for Tyler Myers.
Lets take a quick step back and analyze Myers for a quick second. Yes, he shoots right. Great, I am more than positive Babcock is foaming at the mouth to have him in a Wings sweater. In fact, I have torn my hair out plenty of times this season watch shoots streak wide of the goal that I know a right handed shot could bury. However, Tyler Myers has had one undeniably great season. That was 5 years ago. Tyler had 9 goals and 13 assists last year. Are we really willing to give up a boatload of prospects and a pick in one of the deepest drafts in NHL history for one single player who seems to have had a flukey year as a rookie?
I have to admit, Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey are both playing like competent defensemen this season. At times, Smitty has looked downright brilliant even though he still has the tendency to give up a bad turnover here and there. But, he is still a young kid and there is more room to grow and teach patience with the puck and decision making which Babcock and co. are assuredly doing. Smitty has 2 goals and 4 helpers this season. Quincey has got 1 goal and 5 helpers. Compare this to Tyler’s statline of 1 goal and 7 helpers.
Why give up so much for a player that is producing in the same way that our current guys are actually doing. Sure they may not look as pretty in their own end, and make a boneheaded decision every now and then but there is no reason to mortgage the future of a franchise for Myers who has not even proved himself to be worth such a risk. If this were a player the caliber of a Subban or a Doughty, sure take those players and I will even throw in Dan Cleary for you.
I am sorry but when we have the likes of Alexey Marchenko, Ryan Sproul, and Nick Jensen perculating in Grand Rapids to hold down the bullion in the next season or two, I scoff at the Sabres asking price. In fact, I would not give them more than that first rounder and maybe Kindl, who has looked a lot better this season for Myers. All of those Griffins I mentioned above, they all shoot right. Be patient Wings fans, we are heading in the right direction. Having patience does not hurt when we are in first place, does it?