Detroit Red Wings weekly: End of season grades

I’m breaking out the red pen. It’s time to hand out the end of the season grades as I welcome back the “Report Card” segment one last time for my final Detroit Red Wings’ weekly of the season.

Note: The grades are not solely based off their stats but their ability to fulfill their role and stay healthy over the course of the season. The bolded grades are the final grades while the ones after in italics were their mid-term grades.

Forwards

Gustav Nyquist (A, B+), Pavel Datsyuk (A-, A-), Henrik Zetterberg (A-, A)

Detroit Red Wings

Datsyuk and Zetterberg combined for 85 points this season.

The Red Wings don’t make the playoffs if Nyquist doesn’t go on his goal scoring rampage from the end of January to the end of March. His 23 goals in 28 games earns him the only “A” among forwards and would have challenged for an A+ if he hadn’t struggled the last two months of the regular season and against the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg barely maintain their mid-term A’s by battling through injuries and giving the team everything they had left by the end of the season. That’s genuinely playing with heart and showing veteran leadership until the very end. Their resilience shouldn’t go unnoticed. Rest up and stay safe Pavel and Hank, Hockeytown is looking forward to seeing a healthy pair of “Euro Twins” on the ice together once again come next season.

Daniel Alfredsson (B+, A-), Tomas Tatar (B+, B), Justin Abdelkader (B, B), Drew Miller (B, C+), Riley Sheahan (B, Incomplete), Darren Helm (B, B), Luke Glendening (B-, Credit), Tomas Jurco (B-, Credit)

Nearly half the forwards fall into the B range. Even though Alfredsson lead the team in points with Kronwall, he had a shaky 2nd half of the season. At times he made a direct impact on the game but then he would disappear for a few games at a time. Combine that with a weak/injured showing against the Bruins and I reluctantly have to drop him to B+.

Tatar finished the year with 19 goals and 39 points. Good enough to bump him up to a B+, but if he wants to get in the A range next season he needs to work on puck control and cut down on the turnovers in the neutral zone.

Abdelkader, Miller, Sheahan, and Helm were solid and played solid in their roles. Abdelkader brought forth his physical presence but lacked the scoring touch in front of the net. Miller is an excellent penalty killer but is rather useless after that. Sheahan was pushed into the lineup a few years earlier than expected and did well, not great. Like most young players he needs to become more consistent. Helm had his share of injuries but when he was healthy he showed why speed can be a key difference maker in the NHL today. However, as he was another no-show in the playoffs when playing with speed was the Red Wings’ biggest advantage means that the highest I’m willing to rate Helm is a B.

The leaves Glendening and Jurco, the two guys I had the hardest time grading. Glendening epitomizes toughness and grit but needs to get better in the faceoff circle. While Jurco has shown flashes of offensive brilliance but struggles at times to get to the right scoring areas on the ice. One of the main reasons he was pulled for Todd Bertuzzi in the playoffs. In the end, I think a B- is fair.

One thing is certain; they both have plenty of room to grow.

David Legwand (C+, N/A), Joakim Andersson (C, C+), Johan Franzen (C-, B-)

Now we start getting to the forwards that had us Red Wings’ fans pulling our hair out and continually asking, why are they doing that?

Nashville Predators

Legwand: Trade deadline bust.

There is Legwand, the trade deadline acquisition that looked good at first but was quickly moved to the 4th line where he was left to rot. His stats since coming over to Detroit (including playoffs): 26 games, 4 goals, 7 assists, and -10 plus/minus.

Next is Andersson, the 25-year-old Swede that didn’t get the memo about the youth movement. His 17 points in 65 games played in the regular season nearly left him off the playoff roster. In fact, he is lucky he even got a little over 8 minutes ice time during game 3 against Boston.

Ever since Damien Brunner left and went to New Jersey last offseason Andersson has struggled to build chemistry with the other young guns. It looked like he was lost and without friends whenever he stepped out onto the ice. Is that fixable? I don’t know, but hopefully another year of experience will do him some good for next year.

Last is Franzen, the overpaid streaky goal scorer that completely fell apart at the end of the season. Just 1 goal in his final 18 games of the season- that’s really all I need to say about the Mule.

Todd Bertuzzi (D+, C), Patrick Eaves (D, Incomplete)

Eaves, who was traded to Nashville to obtain Legwand, is just here to keep Bertuzzi company. Although Bertuzzi was able to stay relatively healthy throughout the season he wasn’t bringing anything to the table. He finished with a team-worst plus/minus of -17.

Stephen Weiss (F, D+), Mikael Samuelsson (F, D+), Daniel Cleary (F, C-)

All three of them never found their game and/or role on the team this season. Therefore, I have no choice but to flunk them.

Defense

Niklas Kronwall (A, A)

Kronwall did it all this season. Co-led the team in points, led the team in ice time, and stood in for Zetterberg and captained the team down the stretch. The Red Wings are used to great defensemen and Kronwall is slowly but surely following in Nick Lidstrom’s footsteps.

Detroit Red Wings

Danny DeKeyser (B+, B+), Jonathan Ericsson (B, A-), Kyle Quincey (B, C+), Brendan Smith (B-, B-),

Not much to say about DeKeyser- he got his job done and had a successful rookie season. He is deserving of a new contract and I look forward to seeing him develop over the offseason.

Ericsson drops all the way to a B because of three lengthy injuries that caused him to miss 34 games. The Wings were unable to fill the void in his absence proving his worth, but the grades reflect the missed production. Which helps out Quincey as he is one of two Red Wings to play every game this season (the other being Drew Miller). Not only did Quincey show up to work every day but he improved by the end of the season. Don’t believe me? -14 plus/minus rating through his first 41 games and +9 plus/minus rating through the last 41 games.

Smith also started to improve a little bit after getting paired with Kronwall, but not enough to see his mid-term grade get raised. He continues to take way to many risks in the offensive end and tries to force the puck into tight areas instead of making the “easy” pass.

Brian Lashoff (C, B), Jakob Kindl (C-, B)

Both lacked confidence and struggled to play at a respectable level for a NHL defenseman.

Goalies

Jonas Gustavsson (B+, A-), Jimmy Howard (B+, B), Petr Mrazek (B+, Dropped)

detroit red wings

With another strong showing in the AHL playoffs, Mrazek could replace Gustavsson as Howard’s backup.

It’s not a good sign when all of your goalies have the same rating. Gustavsson cooled off after his hot start. Howard started to get hot by the end of the year but that gets overshadowed by an overall mediocre season. While Mrazek shined in the few opportunities given to him, he is still a work in progress.

Lastly, the final grade for Mike Babcock, the coaching staff, and the front office; I’ll give them an A-.

They got this injury-plagued team into the playoffs to keep the postseason streak alive, but I have to mark them down for the Gustav Nyquist salary cap incident at the start of the season. They knew from the 2013 playoffs that Nyquist could contribute right away but they decided to bring Cleary back.

Hindsight is 20-20, but really… Who in the organization thought Cleary over Nyquist was a good idea? That truly baffles me, but at least they corrected the error before it was too late.

Well, that’s it.

The grades are finalized and my Detroit Red Wings’ weeklies for the 2013-14 season are over.

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  • 547984

    Forward grades are had to argue with. Defense–Kronwall and DeKeyser I had no problems with, and I would rate Ericsson higher than Quincey. Goalies–Howard lacked that “elite” status we wanted to see from him, and both Gustavsson and Mrazek had their flashes of brilliance.

    I’d give Babcock an A for the line chemistry he was able to work out, but then again we kind of expect that from him every year.