Last week I looked at the top 5 players who should stay with the Detroit Red Wings for next season. Now I’m examining at the other end of the spectrum and have picked the top 5 players that the Red Wings need to move on without.
Who are the guys that underperformed and/or are overpaid? That was my basic principle in deciding which Red Wings should be packing their bags and exiting Hockeytown stage left.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
5. Mikael Samuelsson
This was a toss-up between Samuelsson and Kyle Quincey. Even though Quincey is the popular choice among fans not to get re-signed, we have to realize there are very few options to replace him unlike Samuelsson. The free agent pool of defensemen is rather weak (the only viable option I even remotely like is Matt Niskanen) and the talent pool the Wings have to pull from are still a year or two away from being NHL ready (Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, and Alexey Marchenko).
So, it does make a little sense for the Wings to keep Quincey (at least short term).
However it doesn’t make any sense to keep Samuelsson because the Wings are loaded with forward prospects that already came in and stole Samuelsson’s job. There is just no room for the 37-year-old Swede that only put up 3 points in 26 games this season.
4. Daniel Cleary
The stats say it all: 52 games, 4 goals, 4 assists. I’m still scratching my head as to why Ken Holland thought Cleary would be an upgrade over Gustav Nyquist. Holland should have cut ties and said his goodbyes when he had the chance. Perhaps Holland should have convinced him to take the 3-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers because it now looks like Cleary is going to be forced out of the league (as a player).
When Cleary signed the 1-year deal with the Wings back in September there were rumors that a verbal agreement was in place to assure Cleary he would be employed by the Red Wings beyond this season.
After Cleary’s abysmal season it’s now up in the air is to where he is going to go. If the verbal agreement holds true then the most logical solution is that Cleary ends up Red Wings’ front office somewhere.
3. David Legwand
The Red Wings gave up a lot to get Legward: Patrick Eaves, Calle Jarnkrok, and a 3rd round draft pick which turned into a 2nd round draft pick because the Wings made the playoffs. Looks like the Nashville Predators are laughing all the way to the bank as Legwand turned out to be a bust in Detroit and very likely an expensive rental player.
Legwand failed to add to the secondary scoring (4 goals in 26 games) the Red Wings were looking for when they acquired him moments before the trade deadline passed. He quickly found himself on the 4th line as the team started to get healthy. By the start of next season there will be no room for Legwand with Stephen Weiss returning and taking the 4th line center role.
2. Todd Bertuzzi
I think it might be time for Bert to finally hang up his skates. A decade removed from the Steve Moore incident, Bertuzzi can no longer contribute consistently at the NHL level. In other words, he is taking up space and ice time away from the young guns.
At 39 years old he is washed up. Bertuzzi has racked up just 19 points in the past 2 NHL seasons while only playing in 66 regular season games due to numerous stints on the disabled list.
The Wings have no reason to keep him with Andreas Athanasiou, Teemu Pulkkinen, Mitch Callahan, and even Anthony Mantha waiting patiently for their turn to induce the next wave of the youth movement in Detroit.
1. Johan Franzen
Ah, the irony; I couldn’t have transitioned to Johan Franzen and his ludicrous contract any better.
Franzen’s contract runs through the 2019-20 season after signing the 11-year deal back in April 2009. Here is what Ken Holland said on the deal back then, “We are thrilled that Johan will remain a member of the Detroit Red Wings. His production over the past year and a half, both regular season and playoffs, has been remarkable and we feel, at 29 years old, that he just now entering the prime of his career.”
Sorry, I’m going to need a moment to compose myself after I’m done laughing…
The Mule is a streaky goal scorer that doesn’t care to play defense at all. If he isn’t scoring then he is just another big body that is unable to keep up. The more the NHL and Red Wings adapt to a speed style type of game the more Franzen becomes useless.
It’s coming to a point where the Wings have to be looking to trade Franzen before it’s too late and nobody wants him (given we might have already passed that point). With all the prospects I mention above waiting their turn, Franzen is likely to be pushed out of a job in 2-3 seasons and still making millions at the Red Wings’ expense.
Obviously a trade now is the best option (preferable a package deal to upgrade defense so the Wings can get rid of Quincey) but I wouldn’t mind a buyout deal a few seasons down the road either. The time will come when the organization realizes Franzen’s best days are behind him (hopefully sooner rather than later) and the 2nd group of young guns are ready to take over.
When that happens, Franzen needs to go.
That completes the top 5 players the Red Wings can do better without in the 2014-15 season.
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