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Sizing Up the Atlantic Competition: Detroit Red Wings

July 20, 2015, 6:19 PM ET [43 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Looking at next season with a sole focus on the Tampa Bay Lightning isn’t such a smart idea. NHL wins and losses add up not only because of a team’s composition, but also because of its competition. It’s easier to do well in a lightweight division than it is to do in a heavyweight division, for example. For that reason, Bolts fans should take note of what the other teams around the Atlantic Division have done this summer.

Like any great feat of engineering, this blog series started from the bottom up. I’ve already covered the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, and Ottawa Senators, so today’s blog will be on the Detroit Red Wings. When you’re already a really good team, the need for change isn’t particularly great. The Red Wings have been quiet, but here are few of their key moves:

Hiring Jeff Blashill --- A+
When Mike Babcock found 50,000,000 reasons to leave Detroit for Toronto, Jeff Blashill became ‘the guy’ behind the Red Wings bench. Hailed as “The Next Jon Cooper” by some in the media, Blashill has compiled an incredibly impressive resume. His success in the American Hockey League over the last few years is virtually unparalleled… and we’ve all seen how success at that level can lead to NHL success (See: Cooper, Jon).

As much as some people believe that the loss of Babcock will force the Red Wings into taking a step backwards, I think the opposite might be true. All of those young players who made Detroit so dangerous this past season? Well, Blashill was the guy who helped turn them into everyday professionals. He was the guy who took raw prospects and turned them into contributing National Hockey League threats. Each of those young players (and there are too many to name) knows Blashill, and each of those young players likely owes him a fair amount of credit for their success. We’ve seen what that kind of positive previous relationship can do for a team in Tampa, and I don’t expect much less in Detroit.

Blashill was always the guy, and the Red Wings might just be better off for it.

Signing Mike Green --- A
The Red Wings have been looking for a right-handed, offensive defenseman since before this blogger started writing here at HockeyBuzz. They snagged their man in Mike Green when they inked him to a three-year deal worth a total of $18-million.

Some don’t view Mike Green as a dependable top-four option anymore (go back and watch TSN’s coverage of July 1st for evidence of that), but it’s hard to argue with results:

Green is exactly what the Red Wings were looking for. He’ll make their already-dangerous power play even more lethal, and he’ll shore up a right side that was woefully thin prior to his arrival. The $6MM cap hit might seem a tad high, but the term length on the deal makes it more than palatable.

Signing Brad Richards --- A
Fresh off a Stanley Cup win in Chicago, Richards signed a one-year, $3-million deal with the Red Wings early in free agency. While his best days are definitely behind him, Richards is still a credible top-nine option up the middle for a contending team. After the Stephen Weiss debacle, Richards will hopefully provide the Red Wings with the dependable and consistent presence that has made him such a success over the last decade.

And, while he may not be the offensive threat he once was, Richards is still a possession driver. According to War-on-Ice, among Chicago forwards who suited up for at least 300 minutes of five-on-five action last season, only three had a better Corsi-for percentage that Richards. His ability to control the puck will undoubtedly fit in with a Red Wings team loves to play a puck possession game.

The Verdict:
If you’re a Red Wings fan and you aren’t happy with how your team has done so far this summer, your expectations are way too high. I think Detroit has had an supremely underrated offseason to this point, one that will certainly help to keep them in contention during 2015-16. This was a team that gave the Lightning absolute fits in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, and it’s possible that they got a whole lot better thanks to these key moves. Look out, Eastern Conference.


Thanks to Artyukhin76 for the blog idea. This series will continue until every team has been covered.

As always, thanks for reading.

Michael Stuart has been the Tampa Bay Lightning writer for HockeyBuzz since 2012. Visit his archive to read more or follow him on Twitter.
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