Who's the Detroit Red Wings' Odd Man out in Overcrowded Roster?

Isaac SmithAnalyst ISeptember 13, 2013

Who's the Detroit Red Wings' Odd Man out in Overcrowded Roster?

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    The Detroit Red Wings, already, were already two players over the 23-man roster limit. Now, with the signing of Dan Cleary, per Detroit's team page, the Red Wings will have to clear three roster spots by the time September is over.

    As there are no shortages of theories floating around on the internet as to which players will not make the final roster, one must be properly informed of each scenario before making a decision.

    Here are seven players that could end up being the odd man out in Detroit's overcrowded roster.

7. Todd Bertuzzi

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    Pros of Keeping Him

    Todd Bertuzzi is an extremely gifted forward with a great on-ice vision and a good work ethic when it counts. The 38-year-old has a cap hit of just $2.075 million this season, meaning that he comes for a lower price than other forwards of his caliber.

    On a Red Wings squad that seems to be bursting forth with youth, Bertuzzi offers the experience that could push the team over the top.

    That is, if he can stay healthy.

    Cons of Keeping Him

    Having played just seven regular season games and six playoff games last season, Bertuzzi opened the door for critics and detractors to do what they do best—second guess him.

    Does he have enough left in the tank to play another full season? He may play "a thousand times better" than he did last season, per Ansar Khan of MLive.com. But if he would not be playing in the top-six forward group, then is it worth it to stick Bertuzzi on the third or fourth line?

    Bertuzzi is far more effective when playing with players like Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg. Unfortunately for "Big Bert", according to Bill Roose of the Red Wings' team website, Mike Babcock likes what he sees with Justin Abdelkader on the top line in training camp so far.

6. Cory Emmerton

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    Pros of Keeping Him

    Cory Emmerton is in the final year of his second NHL contract. He will still be a restricted free agent after this season, but he only makes $533,333, per CapGeek.com.

    As the Red Wings are now around $2.38 million over the salary cap, keeping Emmerton on the NHL roster would make sense. The Red Wings wouldn't get as much cap relief if they sent him down.

    With Darren Helm's uncertain future, Emmerton had established himself as a fairly reliable fourth-line center last season.

    Although he won't put up respectable offensive numbers, Emmerton does the small things correctly and earns his ice time accordingly.

    Cons of Keeping Him

    The Red Wings have so many players that could fill Emmerton's role. Not necessarily fill the role of a fourth-line center, but more so fill the grinder-type role that Emmerton is in now.

    Emmerton averaged one point every six games last season, but he would finish with around 13-14 points if he keeps that average up this season. If the Red Wings' management wants to get some of their prospects in the NHL (finally), it would be a role player like Emmerton who would be lacking a roster spot come September's end.

5. Patrick Eaves

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    Pros of Keeping Him

    Patrick Eaves has been a serviceable player during his time for the Red Wings. Outside of the time he missed due to a blocked shot to the head in November 2011, Eaves has done virtually everything that he has been assigned to do in Detroit.

    Eaves is a great penalty killer and doesn't hesitate to lay the body on players with 40 hits in 34 games last season. He is one of the best forecheckers in Detroit.

    He is as disciplined a forward as the Red Wings have, taking only 20 penalty minutes in his last 107 games played.

    Cons of Keeping Him

    Eaves has struggled mightily to put up any kind of offense since his concussion in 2011. In 57 regular season and playoff games since then, Eaves has just 12 points.

    While Eaves won't be anything close to a point-per-game player, the fact that he is 29 and likely not going to get any better might lead Red Wings management to turn their eyes to a younger player.

4. Danny DeKeyser

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    Pros of Keeping Him

    DeKeyser is an extremely intelligent defenseman. He showcased his abilities in the last 11 games of the regular season and the first two games of the playoffs.

    Despite suffering a playoff-ending broken thumb, DeKeyser left enough of an imprint to get invited to a USA Olympic Hockey orientation camp last month. His ability to think the game at a high level means that he usually makes the right play and has the patience to wait for something to develop.

    Although an undrafted free agent, DeKeyser made the Red Wings' lineup last year on his solid talent and good decisions.

    There have been other Red Wings defensemen that have made bad plays because they didn't have the patience or became flustered. When DeKeyser played, it was a breath of fresh air to many because he would take his time and usually made the right play.

    Cons of Keeping Him

    DeKeyser is one of two Red Wings that are exempt from waivers. Because of this, it wouldn't be a stretch to see him in Grand Rapids just because it is easier to move him than another potential roster player.

    While he would greatly help the Detroit blue line, DeKeyser could do with just getting some big minutes in Grand Rapids and work on further developing his game at a post-collegiate level.

    He also is scheduled to make $1.35 million including bonuses this season, per CapGeek, meaning that Detroit could clear some cap space and work to become cap compliant in that way.

3. Gustav Nyquist

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    Pros of Keeping Him

    Gustav Nyquist showed last year that he can play at the NHL level. With six points in 22 regular season games and five points in 14 playoff games, Nyquist started to show that he can get and finish chances.

    The 24-year-old Swede is extremely good on the backcheck and was credited with 19 takeaways to only three giveaways last season.

    Many fans would argue that Nyquist has more than paid his dues with three seasons in college and three more in the AHL.

    Cons of Keeping Him

    While Nyquist has shown that he can score in the AHL, he has yet to cement that reputation in the NHL.

    As the other one of two Red Wings players that can be sent down without clearing waivers, Nyquist is invaluable to the Red Wings in that regard. If another player needs to be sent down, Nyquist could always be recalled at a later date.

2. Mikael Samuelsson

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    Pros of Keeping Him

    Last season was a disappointment for Samuelsson. From one freak injury to another, Samuelsson's four games played tied the lowest he had ever played in a season.

    That being said, Samuelsson will have a much better season this year if he can stay healthy. The Red Wings used him in 2008 and 2009 to advance to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals, and he knows how to shoot the puck.

    As a right-handed shot, something the Red Wings still place a premium on, Samuelsson would be an effective third-line player if he made the roster.

    Cons of Keeping Him

    To be blunt, when a player makes $3 million (pro-rated) in a season, big things are expected of him.

    Samuelsson's mystery injuries that kept coming up made him a liability rather than an asset. A $3 million liability is no good to any team.

    If Samuelsson is waived, he would save the Red Wings a substantial amount of money, and the open roster spot would allow either Nyquist or DeKeyser to remain with the team.

1. Darren Helm

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    Pros of Keeping Him

    Darren Helm is one of Mike Babcock's favorite players. Said favorite players usually get the benefit of the doubt as far as playing time is concerned. Per Chuck Pleiness of Macomb Daily, Babcock once called Helm "the best third-line center in the league."

    Helm is one of the best, if not the best, forecheckers on the Red Wings, and his physical bruising style of play often earns him ovations from Red Wings fans.

    Keeping him on the roster while injured would be impractical, but it would save the team from having to send another player through waivers if and when Helm is able to return.

    Cons of Keeping Him

    Unfortunately for Red Wings fans, players and management alike, "the best third-line center in the league" will be on the shelf for a while longer.

    Injured reserve seems like a logical place to put Helm, who suffered a minor groin injury prior to the start of training camp, per Bill Roose of the Red Wings team page.

    If Helm was ever possibly going to be playing on opening night, then keeping him off of IR and on the active roster would seem reasonable.

    But neither Helm nor anyone else involved with the Red Wings organization knows when he will be good to play in NHL games again. As such, putting him on IR would be the easiest move.


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    There are other players that weren't mentioned on this list such as Jordin Tootoo and Tomas Tatar.

    Both of these players must earn their roster spots, but it would be impractical to send either through waivers as neither player is exempt, and the Red Wings would be left bearing some of each player's contract costs.

    The easiest scenario for Detroit, barring any trades of course, is sending down Gustav Nyquist and Danny DeKeyser and putting Darren Helm on injured reserve.

    While this may seem backwards as far as logic goes with DeKeyser and Nyquist being potential starters, Detroit has been known to "over season" their prospects.

    This log jam may take a of couple weeks to sort out, but when the dust settles, Red Wings fans shouldn't have too much to complain about.

    All statistics via NHL.com or CapGeek.com.

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