Pros and Cons of Each Detroit Red Wing Fighting for a Roster Spot
Most of these decisions have to do with who stays and who goes. Players could be traded, waived or simply put on injured reserve.
With only a handful of Red Wings players having job security to start the season, here are the pros and cons of each Red Wing that must fight for a roster spot.
1. Mikael Samuelsson
Pros: The benefits of having Mikael Samuelsson on the Detroit Red Wings are more than meets the eye. Samuelsson is a veteran hockey player who was bitten with a bad case of the injury bug last season.
The 36-year-old Swede brings a terrific shot that saw him break out for a 30-goal season back in 2009-10 with the Vancouver Canucks.
Samuelsson is great to have in the lineup because he can play up and down the lineup from the first to fourth line. This is good for the Red Wings because they picked up two top-six forwards in the offseason in Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, so Samuelsson might have to drop to the third or fourth line.
Samuelsson also has a no-trade clause in his "35-plus" contract, meaning that the Red Wings can neither trade him without his permission nor buy him out for a reduced cap hit. At this point, it is better that he makes the roster and becomes a steady contributor than getting waived or otherwise.
Cons: The injuries he sustained last season ranged from a partially torn pectoral muscle to a non-displaced broken finger to a sore groin. Collectively, they limited him to just four regular-season games.
With those injuries preventing Samuelsson from ever really getting into a groove with Detroit, it is a small wonder, then, that there is so much discussion about his playing status this coming season.
Ideally, if he is making $3 million next season, Samuelsson should ultimately end up being worth the money, but at this point, there is no way to predict if that will be the case.
2. Todd Bertuzzi
Pros: Todd Bertuzzi filled Justin Abdelkader's current role very nicely before going down with a mysterious injury that shot pain through a nerve in his back and his right leg. Bertuzzi had consistently been a 40-point player before his injuries, but last season's lockout, in conjunction with his injuries, limited him to just seven regular-season games.
Should Bertuzzi make the roster, expect him to give Abdelkader a good run for his money as far as playing on the first line. He has excellent hands and pretty good on-ice vision, despite not being as fast as he was a decade ago.
Bertuzzi is also a big body that the other team has to account for, meaning he opens up space for Pavel Datsyuk in the offensive zone.
While players like Abdelkader struggled to put up points with Datsyuk, Bertuzzi's ability to put up points on the top line makes him an invaluable player to the Red Wings.
The 38-year-old is signed to a "35+" contract that includes a no-trade clause, per CapGeek, meaning that Detroit is better off trying to get him a roster spot so that they don't have to lose him on waivers.
Cons: Bertuzzi is getting old and has lost a couple steps. Despite his consistency over the past five seasons, many players struggle to stay effective in the twilight of their careers.
With exciting prospects coming up the pipeline, it is now more important than ever that Red Wings management keeps an eye on these prospects and not revert to the veteran-laden team of old.
Bertuzzi doesn't perform as well with the bottom-six forwards group and would have to embrace a checking role if he didn't make the top-six group of forwards.
3. Jordin Tootoo
Pros: Jordin Tootoo was brought in to be a tough guy for the Red Wings, and he's been just that, picking up eight fighting majors in 42 games last year.
Tootoo has the capabilities of hitting 30 points in a season—as he did with Nashville of all teams in 2011-12—if he gets to play more than his average ice time of 9:04 last season. Whether Detroit wants to give him that ice time—or a roster spot in general—remains to be seen.
Tootoo also has a very manageable cap hit of $1.9 million for the next two seasons, per CapGeek.
Cons: It doesn't appear that the Red Wings are going to be willing to give Tootoo the ice time that he had in Nashville that saw him put together a 30-point season.
This is unfortunate, as Tootoo had five goals and eight points in 42 games last season. His 9:04 of TOI was over four minutes less than he had in the previous season with Nashville.
Tootoo had become more of a role player for the Red Wings, but he went for the entire month of April without getting in a fight on the ice.
The 30-year-old would be easier to trade than other players because he doesn't have a no-trade clause. Detroit also doesn't need anything in return as far as roster players go, so letting a roster player go could end up being beneficial in the short term.
4. Darren Helm
Pros: At this point, there isn't really a doubt in regard to if Darren Helm is ready to play; he will both have a roster spot and see significant ice time on the third line and the penalty kill.
Helm was also winning more than 50 percent of his faceoffs over the past three years prior to missing all but one game last year due to a back injury, so he will help out in that department as well.
With Helm at the No. 3 center spot, that leaves it to Joakim Andersson and Cory Emmerton to battle it out for the fourth-line center spot.
Cons: While it would be great to have Helm in the lineup for opening night, the fact remains that if he isn't ready, he could be put on injured reserve.
This would free up a roster space for another player to use, meaning instead of having to clear two roster spots, general manager Ken Holland would only have to clear one roster spot.
Helm is better on the ice, but Red Wings management would likely prefer not to send down, trade or waive any of its players.
5. Drew Miller
Pros: With all of the injuries that the Red Wings have endured over the past four seasons, Drew Miller has played at least 66 games in every season since signing in Detroit.
Last season was no exception, as Miller played in 44 games.
The left wing grinder has a knack for frustrating the opposing team's power play, averaging 2:19 of penalty kill time per game last season.
The 29-year-old is not afraid to lay the body on opponents with 81 hits in 44 games last season, and Miller also had 41 blocked shots.
Miller has three years left on his contract, so it would be impractical to start him anywhere else except the on the Red Wings' NHL roster.
Cons: While CapGeek lists Miller coming at the relatively inexpensive price of $1.35 million, he does not provide much offensive ability, if any at all.
Miller struggled to find the score sheet last season with four goals and eight points. In essence, Miller had the same number of points as Jordin Tootoo despite averaging four minutes more of ice time.
When Detroit struggled out of the gate last season, it was because its third and fourth lines weren't producing offensively. Miller being on the Red Wings roster this season will likely not change that struggle.
6. Patrick Eaves
Pros: Patrick Eaves has been one of those Red Wings that has been hit with the injury bug over the past two seasons.
But if Eaves can get back on the ice for any prolonged period of time, the Red Wings could greatly use his penalty-killing prowess and grinder-like mentality that he possesses.
Eaves is a goal scorer. Although he hasn't put up big numbers recently, he did put up double-digit goal totals in 2009-10 and 2010-11 with Detroit.
Cons: Eaves sat out 14 games last season and played just 10 games in the previous season due to a concussion that he suffered in 2011 from a slap shot to the head.
He also struggled to find the back of the net last season, putting up just one goal in the first 32 games of the 2012-13 campaign.
For a player that wants to have a roster spot with the Red Wings this season, Eaves needs to start pulling his own weight or else risk being waived for a more talented prospect.
7. Gustav Nyquist
Pros: Gustav Nyquist is one of the future faces of the Detroit Red Wings. But as good as that future looks, Nyquist could help the team now if he makes the NHL roster this season.
Nyquist has the puck-possession skills and decision-making skills to be an elite playmaker in this league for many years to come.
Although he only had six points in 22 regular-season games, Nyquist has only played 58 NHL games between the regular season and the playoffs. The sky is the limit for him as he enters his third NHL season.
Cons: Nyquist is one of two players who are exempt from waivers.
Unfortunately, Nyquist only has one year (or two games') worth of eligibility left on that waiver exemption. This means that if the Red Wings want to use that exemption, they will have to send him down almost immediately.
Nyquist's not being on the roster would open up a spot for another player to stay and not necessitate Ken Holland's hand in a trade.
8. Tomas Tatar
Pros: Tomas Tatar is a goal scorer, through and through. In his time with the Red Wings, Tatar has put up four goals and three assists in 18 games.
But the kicker is that he didn't get called up for the playoffs last season, which was strange, considering he performed well for the most part during the regular season.
Tatar likely used that call-up snub as personal motivation for the AHL playoffs last year. In 24 games, Tatar potted 16 goals and five assists—almost as many goals as his regular-season total of 23, which took him 49 games to achieve.
Tatar should make the roster on skill alone because he demonstrated that he has all of the tools to be a future top-six forward. He will, however, have to prove that he can exert the effort on a shift-by-shift basis to merit sticking around full time.
Per CapGeek, Tatar is not exempt from waivers, so the Red Wings will want to keep him on the NHL roster to avoid having him being claimed by another team.
Cons: As good as Tatar was in the AHL, his consistency in the NHL remains in doubt. Tatar was drafted in the second round of 2009 at 60th overall.
He will not take over games by himself and must find a way to contribute in the NHL on a consistent basis if he ever wants to see top-six minutes.
9. Joakim Andersson
Pros: Joakim Andersson showed last season that he is not afraid of the limelight. After the Darren Helm injury, Andersson started playing on the fourth line.
Andersson stepped up in the playoffs with a goal and four assists in 14 games.
He picked up eight points in 38 regular-season games but became a valuable resource on the penalty kill, averaging 1:19 of shorthanded time per contest.
If Darren Helm can make it back into the lineup, the Red Wings would likely love to have Andersson pick up that fourth-line center spot. Even though his faceoff percentage hovered in the 46-47 percent range, the young Swede showed he can play physically if needed as well as win the battles on the boards.
Cons: Andersson's offensive abilities were initially touted after he started the season with five points in nine games. He quickly cooled off, finishing the season on a 29-game goalless drought.
For Andersson to not only make the team but secure a starting role, a couple things need to happen. The coaching staff would likely need to see him pick up his physical game, and he will need to get better in the faceoff dot.
He should be considered a semi-lock to make the team, considering he is not exempt from waivers.
10. Cory Emmerton
Pros: Cory Emmerton is a serviceable two-way forward that has dedicated himself to blocking shots and making life miserable for opponents in his own zone.
While Emmerton will not rack up big numbers (or even mediocre numbers, for that matter), his commitment to the defensive game is to be admired.
Cons: While Emmerton is a valuable part of the fourth line, his position on the team roster could become expendable with the emergence of Joakim Andersson.
If Darren Helm can return to the No. 3 center role, Andersson could take over the fourth-line center position, leaving Emmerton out of a job.
11. Danny DeKeyser
Pros: Twenty-three-year-old Danny DeKeyser was invited to the USA Hockey Olympic orientation camp even though he has only played in 13 career NHL games.
That alone says how good DeKeyser was in his limited playing time with the Red Wings last season. The Michigan native performed well in his first taste of NHL action after being signed in March as an unrestricted free agent. He was smart in his own zone and didn't turn the puck over in key situations. The big reason he was so successful, though, is that DeKeyser didn't try and do more than he was capable of doing. He didn't force things and instead made the easy play.
Cons: As well as DeKeyser has played in his time with the Red Wings, the Detroit roster is still overfull. As one of two players who is exempt from waivers—Gustav Nyquist being the other—DeKeyser could make Ken Holland's decision a lot easier if DeKeyser didn't make the NHL roster come September 30.
12. Brian Lashoff
Pros: Brian Lashoff was able to step in for the Red Wings on the blue line when they needed help the most last season.
He turned into a fairly serviceable defenseman, playing 31 games in the regular season and notching five points and a minus-10 rating.
The 23-year-old defenseman is locked up for the next three seasons and will look to continue to block more shots than the 43 he had last season.
Cons: Lashoff got better toward the middle part of the season, but he tanked toward the end of the season, leading Mike Babcock to replace him after three games against Anaheim in the Wings' first-round playoff series.
His minus-10 rating stands out because it was one of the worst on the Red Wings. Although he can log significant time on the penalty kill, Lashoff had some bad passes that ended up in the Detroit net.
He is not exempt from waivers, but his absence would give both Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser some ice time.