Month: September 2017

Wheelhouse Mailbag – Preseason Roster Edition – 9/29/17

Welcome to the first mailbag I’ll be doing here. Enough people were on board with it, so I’ll make them a semi regular thing over the course of the season. For the Preseason, we unsurprisingly have questions mostly focusing on what the Red Wings are going to look like this year.

That’s a tough one. If we look at forwards guaranteed to make the roster this year, we have (Lines totally made up and irrelevant):

Tatar – Zetterberg – Nyquist

Mantha – Larkin – Nielsen

Helm – Abby – Glendening

? – Sheahan – ?

So that’s two spots that are in competition, not counting the fact that if AA can be signed he is getting a spot. For now, because unfortunately it looks like he will not be signed by opening day, let’s assume there are two spots. The four players competing for those spots look to be Witkowski, Frk, Parenteau, and Booth. Frk seems to have made a great impression so far and I think he starts the season up with the club.

Out of the three, I think Witkowski gets a spot before Parenteau and Booth, simply by virtue that he’s been signed to a contract and that he represents some “flexibility” in that he can play forward or defense. In terms of who I think would be the best, I don’t know. I don’t particularly like any of them as signings and none have impressed me in the preseason. I’d rather it go to one of the kids in Grand Rapids like Svechnikov or maybe even Rasmussen instead (please don’t rush him though).

Final Answer: If AA gets signed, neither Booth or Parenteau are getting signed. If he doesn’t get signed, it’s still unlikely but I think Booth would get signed first based on the preseason.

 

My boy Hicketts. I’ve loved Hicketts since I first starting watching clips of him with the Victoria Royals. A quarter of my views on this site are related to Hicketts in one way or another. Joe Hicketts is a good hockey player and has looked good in the preseason so far. If I were Blashill I’d be asking for him to start the season up over some of our weaker options.

Realistically though? There’s 7 guys ahead of him at minimum right now: Green, Daley, DDK, Ericsson, Ouellet, Kronwall, and Jensen. It’s debatable that Sproul is also ahead of him though as far as I know management still hasn’t decided if they actually like Sproul as a hockey player for the Detroit Red Wings. I think Hicketts goes back to Grand Rapids to continue to develop and is the first call up in case of enough injury, barring a bad slump or maybe Robbie Russo having a breakout year down there.

Thanks for your questions everyone. As always, you can hit us up on Twitter if you want to chat. We’ll catch you next time!

Martin Frk or Luke Witkowski? The Choice Should Be Clear

Martin Frk warming up last season with the Griffins – Photo credit by Diane Woodring

Last night the Red Wings opened up the new Little Caesar’s Arena (or The DoughJoe or Pizzarena or whatever clever nickname you so choose) with a thunderous 5-1 drumming of the Boston Bruins. A centerpoint of that victory was a powerplay that dare I say was actually looking competent at worst and frighteningly good at best. Martin Frk was a huge part of that PP, with 2 goals and an assist last night, and looked fantastic. Yet for a large portion of the evening I kept hearing discussion about Luke Witkowski of all people. Good ole Michigan boy Witkowski, he’s got offense and defense, can play forward or defense, and brings a big bowl of grits to the table.

Here’s the thing: there’s a non zero chance we’re going to see Luke Witkowski playing on the fourth line this year, and Martin Frk will either be in Grand Rapids or lost to waivers (again). After last night’s game, a lot of people are going to ask why if that happens.

First, I hope it doesn’t. I think Martin Frk is far more deserving of a shot that Luke Witkowski is. He looks like he can bring another weapon to a Wings PP that desperately needed it last year, while Witkowski brings…toughness, I guess? He tried to fight a couple people last night, it looked like. Witkowski has played 54 games in the NHL, while Frk has only seen a pair, so the edge in experience may be Witkowski’s, but in terms of numbers Frk has far more potential upside. He is a .55 PPG in the AHL, compared to Witkowski’s .18 PPG. Frk is also 4 years younger than Witkowski. Frk could be a productive middle 6 player for the Red Wings if he finds his stride. Witkowski does not look like more than a short term piece at best.

Some people might argue that Witkowski’s numbers aren’t a fair comparison because he played primarily defense and he is looking to slot in as a forward with the Red Wings now. Ignoring the fact that Witkowski is a defenseman by trade and only moved up due to copious amounts of injuries last year in Tampa, I will just say this: Justin Abdelkader. We already have an enormous contract locking up our gritty forward role. Abby is the type of player that Witkowski is being billed as, except I would argue Abby is clearly better, and there is no reason to slot two of them on your team.

Especially not when Martin Frk is throwing useful bombs like these:

Or putting in these:

If Witkowski gets the spot ahead of Frk, it’ll seem like we’re in for more of the same regarding roster decisions. A desire to supplant promising young players with the “gritty toughness” of veterans and 4th liners that are being slowly phased out of the game. A realization that the coaching staff of the Detroit Red Wings still can’t see the forest for the trees.

The Wings are looking like they’ll perform worse than last year. Martin Frk has never gotten a shot at playing for the Red Wings. There won’t be a better time to give it to him.

Please give it to him.