Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Season preview - the rest of the defense

Jonathan Ericsson
Last three years
07/08 - Red Wings - 8 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pt, -3, 4 PIM
08/09 - Red Wings - 19 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 Pts, -1, 15 PIM
09/10 - Red Wings - 62 GP, 4 G, 9 A, 13 Pts, -14, 44 PIM

Last season
Last season was nightmareish for Ericsson. He got injured for a while after a bad hit by official scumbag Shane Doan, he played a lot with Meech and Lebda, something every defenseman should dread and of top of that he had a giant sophomore slump. He was out of position, made bad desicions, bought dekes, stressed with the puck, had a massive amount of giveaways and was a pretty bad defenseman for much of the season. Offensively he was a shadow of what he was as a rookie.

The upcoming season
This year is a huge year for E. It's a contract year and he is fighting for a good new deal and for defining the course his career is gonna take. He has to bounce back. He has to play safe and he has to live up to more of the potential we know he has. He is probably gonna play a lot with Ruslan Salei as a safe defenseman to play with, which is gonna help him. But he will also play with Kindl, and then he will need to be steadier.

What we need
We need Ericsson to calm down in his head. He needs to relax and let the game flow faster in his head. In this wa he'll see the play better, improve his positioning and stop throwing the puck away when he has more time. We need him to improve this. With Kindl, he is gonna have to be the safe defenseman. With Salei he can take bigger risks, but he's gonna have to be improved and better here too. We need him to show us that he can play safe defense and contribute offensively without taking too big risks.

What we will get
I think E is motivated and ready to show us what he's got. I don't expect him to be as good as in his rookie season, but much better and safer than last year. I think he'll do good beside Salei, but struggle a bit when set to play with Kindl

Prediction
70 GP, 7 G, 18 A, .36 PPG

Ruslan Salei
Last three years
07/08 - Panthers/Avs - 82 GP, 6 G, 24 A, 30 Pts, -4, 98 PIM
08/09 - Avalanche - 70 GP, 4 G, 17 A, 21 Pts, -4, 72 PIM
09/10 - Avalanche - 14 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 Pts, -1, 10 PIM

Last season
There's not much I can say about Salei's last seasons. According to Avs fans he looked good when they aquired him, but has become weaker since and last season he was mostly injured.

The upcoming season
Salei hopes to stay healthy this year and if he does his role will be as Ericsson's defense partner. He's gonna be a stay at home guy, who can be safe, cover E's ass, slam bodies and deliver some penalty kill time.

What we need
How much play Salei will get depends on how good Ericsson and Kindl does. If E and Kindl are both on fire, playing them together so both gets ice time and experience will be the right choice for the Wings. But if one of them struggle, look for Salei to get many games with the other. And seeing as I think neither Kindl nor Ericsson will be a 100 % safe, I think Salei will get quite a few games with both and play in most of the games this season. He will not be asked for much offense, but to be a physical and safe defenseman that can handle the other team's 3rd and 4th line, mentor the young guys and log ice time on the penalty kill.

What we will get
This depends on if he can stay healthy. If he can we'll get a solid, defensive, physical defenseman who can throw his body around a bit and play the PK. If he is injured he'll probably also be weaker in the time when he plays. He is a small gamble, but my gut feeling says it will work out.

Prediction
72 GP, 1 G, 14 A, .21 PPG

Doug Janik
Doug Janik did a decent job as a call up last year and will probably be asked to play a few games as a call up this year too. We pretty much know what we'll get from Janik. He is big, slow, positionally sound and can play decently on the PK. He's a good injury replacement and he will do what we need him to do, no more, no less and also be a strenght for the team in Grand Rapids.

Prediction
10 GP, 0 G, 3 A, .30 PPG

Brendan Smith
Smith comes off some stellar hockey seasons in college, but also had some off ice issues there. It's hard to know what to expect at camp. Hopefully he can blow everyone away and take a spot on the roster, but he is more likely to spend the year in Grand Rapids. I think he'll get a chance to play a few games as a call up and I expect him to do decently in those few games.

Prediction
10 GP, 2 G, 4 A, .66 PPG

Jakub Kindl
Last season
The treasured talent of the Wings organization did decently in his first couple of NHL games with the Wings last year. Decently, but no more or less. In Grand Rapids his progress seemed to have stopped a bit though and it seems like the Wings are a bit worried about him.

The upcoming season
This year he is out of options in Grand Rapids. He will be in Detroit and he will get the chance to compete for a regular roster spot. He hopes to prove himself as a safe, reliable defenseman and show off his offensive skill. Chances are though, that in competition with Ericsson and Salei, he will fall a bit short and spend more games in the press box. Still, the guy will get his chances.

What we need
If Ericsson and Kindl do as well as we hope we only need him to do decently when he gets his chances. But the better he plays, the better his future looks. And if he could manage about 40-50 games and play sound defense and contribute a little offensively in those games, it would be very good for the Wings.

What we will get
The step up to the NHL might energize Kindl and make his progress continue a little. But seeing as he is inexperienced on this level I think he will fall short of getting a regular spot and show some weaknesses defensively and in the positional play, but put up some decent offensive numbers.

Prediction
32 GP, 2 G, 9 A, .34 PPG

Derek Meech
Who knows, who cares, he is not staying in Detroit.

2 comments:

  1. This pretty much sums up the Derek Meech experience as well as anything else ever written about him:

    "Who knows, who cares, he is not staying in Detroit."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haha thanks Natalie. I did write a much longer piece on him last week, so I felt one sentence was enough.

    ReplyDelete