Sunday, September 2, 2007

Igor Debut's This Season: Scouting Report

Ansar Kahn posted his scouting report on one of the more curious and highly touted future Red Wings in recent years, Igor Grigorenko. For those who do not know, Grigorenko was one of the Wings highest rated prospects before a near fatal car accident. After rehabbing in Russia and getting back to playing hockey at a competitive level, he is still highly ranked in the Wings system and is set to make his professional debut this year for the Red Wings. We've been hearing a lot about this kid for many years. The curiousity builds and about a month from know, we'll get to see Grigorenko in action. If he turns out to be what I expect, the Wings will have unearthed another diamond amid a plethora of coal.

Scouting Report: Igor Grigorenko
by Ansar Khan
Tuesday August 28, 2007, 3:50 PM

Igor Grigorenko may be anywhere from a top-six NHL forward to a player who won't be on the roster next year.Wings rookie forward Igor Grigorenko will be the most closely watched player in training camp and the preseason. A top prospect before his near-fatal car accident in May 2003, the team needs to find out what it has in Grigorenko. He could be a top-six NHL forward right off the bat, or he could be hopping a plane back to Russia in November.

The injuries from his accident (broken left femur and two fractures in his left tibia) have affected his skating ability, which was never a strong part of his game. But because he's a shifty skater who plays close to the net and will be skating on the smaller NHL ice surfaces, speed might not be that big an issue.

Grigorenko, 24, was the club's top pick in the 2001 entry draft (62nd overall). He was named the best forward at the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championships. He played on the same line as Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk at the 2003 World Championships. He has been described as a highly skilled player with tremendous hockey sense. He's built like a tank (5-10, 209), likes to drive to the net and shouldn't be deterred by physical play. He has good hands and knows where to go to score goals.

Grigorenko will see plenty of action in the preseason and, in all likelihood, early in the regular season. The Wings have the option of sending him to Grand Rapids at the start of the season, but he has a clause in his contract that enables him to return to Russia (where he can make around $1 million, as opposed to about $70,000 in the AHL) after Nov. 1 if he's not on the NHL roster. That probably won't be an issue, however. He should earn a place on the Wings' roster.

He's scheduled to arrive in Detroit on Sunday and participate in the Wings' prospects camp in Traverse City from Sept. 6-11, prior to the main camp.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

THN: 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings Team Report

Just got the summer edition of The Hockey News in the mail today. It has Zetterberg on the cover, a feature on Chris Chelios, and individual team reports. I can't find a link anywhere to the article on Chelios, and it's too long to type out unfortunately. Other than that article, I'll type out everything else, so forigve me if there are some typo's.

But, there are some interesting things in this issue that pertain to our Red Wings. And I think there is plenty to be excited about for the upcoming season. I know there has been a lot of debate about resigning Hasek, and questioning the Drake signing, but overall, I think there are a lot of positives and I think this year could be a very good year for the Wings; especially after reviewing the stats from last season. Despite a disappointing loss in the WCF, it was a pretty damn good year. So, for those who aren't subscribers or won't be picking up a copy, I'll provide ya with everything Red Wing related in this issue.

Four Red Wings made the annual THN Top 50 NHL Players list...another indication that this is still a good team.

Top 50 NHL Players:

3. Nick Lidstrom
The Clark Kent of the NHL, this consistent veteran quietly controls games, playing superbly at both ends and becoming Superman when the outcome is on the line. With five Norris Trophies in the past six seasons, Lidstom has cemented his place in the Hall of Fame. All that remains to be seen is if he can lead the Red Wings to another Stanley Cup.

25. Henrik Zetterberg
The quiet Swede is clearly a solid offensive performer, but the 26-year old must step it up if a Stanley Cup is in the Wings immediate future.

29. Domink Hasek
How he does it is irrelevant. The fact is, Hasek, 42, continues to perform at a high level, looking like he'll play forever.

26. Pavel Datsyuk
He answered his critics with a fine playoff performance after equaling his single-season high of 87 points.

2007-08 Detroit Red Wing Team Report

Cagey Vets Still Rockin'
Wings rediscovered playoff formula and that makes them a scary bunch with a lot of talent still in the tank

By Ansar Khan

In a season of transition, the Detroit Red Wings proved they were still amonth the NHL's elite by racking up 113 points, tying Buffalo for the highest total in the league. More importantly, they rediscovered the keys to success in the playoffs, which had eluded them since their last Stanley Cup title in 2002.

If not for injuries to two of their top three defensemen (Matthieu Schneider and Niklas Kronwall) and a couple of bad bounces in Game 5 of the WCF against Anaheim, the Wings believe they would have been facing the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup showdown with a legitimate chance to win it.

It was a bitter ending, but it didn't diminish their accomplishment. It might have been the first time in recent memory this team exceeded expectations. They topped the 108-point mark for the seventh straight season and advanced to the playoffs for the 16th straigh year, the longest currnet post-season streak in the four major sports.

They didn't feel the need to make many offseason changes. They lost Schneider, but replaced his with another puck-moving defenseman in Brian Rafalski and elected not to bring back a trio of veteran forwards--Todd Bertuzzi, Robert Lang and Kyle Calder--who didn't produce in the playoffs.

With 18 players back from last season, this team is still the class of the Central Division. Five time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, the dynamic forward duo of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and a 42-year-old goalie, Domink Hasek, who's still one of the best in the business, will ensure the Wings of being at or near the top of the Western Conference. And now they know what it takes to win in the playoffs.

The Wings dominate games territorially with their puck-possesion style, enjoying a large disparity in shots and scoring chances. They also showed the ability to adapt to a more gritty, chip-and-chase game in the playoffs when opponents clogged the neutral zone. They have tremendously skilled players up front (Datsyuk & Zetterberg) and on the blueline (Lidstrom, Rafalksi, Kronwall), enabiling them to play an up-tempo style with quick puck movement.

They lacked offensive balance last season, getting the bulk of their production from the top line of Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom while the second line sturggled. They were unable to acquire a goal-scoring forward early in the free agency period but hoped to address the need prior to training camp or during the season. Their top-rated power play of 2005-06was amazingly mediocre last season (21st, 17.1 per cent). Age and toughness always seem to be issues, but they responded well to physical challenges from Calgary and San Jose in the playoffs and, despite having eight players who'll be 35 or older, thier greybeards are some of their best-conditioned athletes.

2007-08 Prediction
1st in Western Conference

The Way It Was: 2006-07 Season Recap Statistics
Record: 50-19-3
Points: 113
Conference: 1st
NHL Overall: 2nd
Offense: 3.07 GPG (10th)
Defense: 2.30 GAA (T-2nd)
Power Play: 17.1% (21st)
Penalty Killing: 84.6% (T-6th)
Ice Time: (D) Nick Lidstrom 27:29; (F) Henrik Zetterberg 20:50
1-Goal Games: 18-5-13
2-Goal Games: 12-6
3-Goal Games: 20-8
Longest Winning Streak: 9 games
Playoff Run: Lost in WCF to Anaheim

2007-08 Projected Depth Chart



Games Played Per Time Zone
Pacific Time Zone: 8
Mountain Time Zone: 8
Central Time Zone: 16
Eastern Time Zone: 50

The Shoot Out Report 2006-07
Team Record: 2-8
Shooters: 10 G, 39 shots, .256 success
Top Shooters:
1. Datsyuk 5G/10 shots; .500 success
2. Cleary 2G/4 shots; .500 success
3. Zetterberg 1G/4 shots;.250 success
Goalies: 20 saves, 37 shots; .541 save percentage

Offense Report
The Wings can expect 30-plus goals from each of Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Holmstrom. They're hoping Dan Cleary's strong playoff performance indicates his offensive resurrection wasn't a fluke. They're counting on a handful of younger players to step up their production. Gifted Valtteri Filppula, hoping to replace Lang as the second-line center, has speed and the ability to control the puck in traffic, but needs to develop a better finishing touch. Small but skilled Jiri Hudler produced 15 goals with limited ice time and can crack the 20-goal mark with more minutes.

Defense Report
With Lidstrom showing no signs of slowing down at 37, and Rafalski and Kronwall locked up to five-year deals, the Wings will have a skilled core of puck-moving defensemen for years. Keeping the injury-plagued Kronwall healthy is vital. He must take the next step and begin playing like the star many project him to be. Ageless wonder Chris Chelios excelled in the playoffs and Andreas Lilja, despite a disasterous turnover in Game 5 vs. Anaheim, was stellar. The unit, however, lacks a big, strong, physical presence and is less abrasive without Danny Markov, who remained unsigned.

Goalie Zone
Hasek was one of the best bargains in the league. His drive to win hasn't diminished and he avoided the groin injuries that hampered him the previous two seasons. For the first time in five years, the Wings had a goalie they believed in come playoff time. Even though he turns 43 in January, Hasek maintains quickness by keeping his weight down. The key, once again, is staying healthy. He won't be overworked (50-55 games) and won't play on consecutive nights.

Cap Crunch
Many key players are locked up long-term and they've done a good job of finding late-summer free agent bargains. Once again, they'll have cap space for a mid-season move and/or a trade deadline acquisition, which will take them right to the cap limit.

At least two rookies have a shot at making the team. After a near-fatal car accident in Russia four years ago, left winger Igor Grigorenko will make his long-awaited NHL debut. Derek Meech, their best defenseman in Grand Rapids, must earn a spot on the team because he can't clear waivers. Kyle Quincey acuitted himself well after being thrust into the lineup during the playoffs because of injuries.

Market Watch:
The Wings remain immensely popular in a competitive sports market, but the struggling Michigan economy, coupled with high playoff ticket prices, caused an 11-year streak of sellouts at JLA (452 games, regular seaon and playoff) to be snapped in Game 1 of the post-season last year. They hope advancing to the conference final will also bring back some fans who tired of seeing tremendous regular seasons go up in smoke with stunning playoff defeats.

The Wings are a model of continuity. Senior VP Jimmy Devellano, GM Ken Holland, assistant GM Jim NIll, consultant Scotty Bowman and much of the amatuer and pro scouting staffs have worked well together for anywhere from a dozen to 20 years. They share the same philosiphy in drafting, trading and signing players, with an emphasis on skill and puck possesion.

Future Watch-Top 10 NHL Prospects
1. Jakub Kindl, D
2. Jimmy Howard, G
3. Darren Helm, C
4. Brendan Smith, D
5. Cory Emmerton, C
6. Jan Mursak, LW
7. Joakim Andersson, C
8. Igor Grigorenko, LW
9. Kyle Quincey, D
10. Derek Meech, D

2007 No. 1 Draft Pick Report

Brendan Smith, D 18 years old
Selected: 27th Overall
2006-07: St. Michaels (Jr. A)
Scouting Report:
Finishing third in playoff scoring by defensemen with 20 points in 16 games, Smith has proven he has what it takes to be an offensive player. But questions abound about his defensive game, which has been sloppy and lazy at times. Smith scored half of his 36 points while on the powerplay.

Future Watch Team Grade: C+. Red Wings have picked in the first round just three times since 1998. Rather than bemoan the hardships, the scouting staff just digs deeper for burried gems.