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Tracing the Detroit Red Wings’ roster roots: How one draft pick in 1990 is still paying dividends


Thank this guy for Darren Helm

On June 16, 1990, the NHL converged upon BC Place Stadium in Vancouver for the NHL Entry Draft. The Red Wings’ Bryan Murray was in his first year as coach and GM and was tasked with improving a team that had posted a 28-38-14 the previous season and finished last in the Norris Division

Murray selected Keith Primeau with the third overall selection. The Red Wings had no second-round selection, so Murray’s next pick came in at the top of the third, when he selected Vyacheslav “Slava” Kozlov with the 45th overall pick.

Primeau would become an All-Star. The Kozlov selection would turn into the most productive draft pick in Red Wings history — although Murray had no way of knowing it at the time.

On Thursday Grantland put together a list of the longest MLB transaction trees for each team: What’s the longest back that we could trace a current player’s roster spot? It’s fascinating. Read it and learn how Fernando Rodney eventually yielded the Tigers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol.

In this same spirit (i.e. pirating their idea), I traced the origins of every player to have played one game for the Red Wings this season — except for Andrej Nestrasil because he’s in Carolina now so screw him, amirite?

Click any of the charts to get an enlarged version.









Some notes:

–Seventeen of the 25 players are Red Wings draft picks, including all of their top forwards. Only four of those have come in the first round (Kindl, Kronwall, Sheahan, Smith)

–Both of the second-round picks the Red Wings received when they traded their 2011 first-round pick to Ottawa have yielded players already in the NHL: Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet. Matt Puempel, the player the Senators took with the Red Wings pick, is yet to play in an NHL game.

– Detroit essentially flipped Sebastien Piche and Andrei Vasilevski for Kyle Quincey. Piche is playing Austria, but Vasilevski, 20, could still swing the trade in favor of Tampa Bay. He came into the season the top goalie prospect according to ESPN.

But back to that 1990 draft pick. Kozlov played 607 games and helped win two Stanley Cups for the Red Wings before he, along with a 2002 first-round pick, was traded to Buffalo for Dominik Hasek. (Buffalo later traded the first-round pick to the Blue Jackets who traded it to the Thrashers (R.I.P) who selected Jim Slater). Hasek played 79 games in that stint with the Red Wings (he later returned but that doesn’t count for our purposes) and led Detroit to the Stanley Cup in 2002. In 2004, after retiring and unretiring, Hasek left Detroit for Ottawa in free agency. The Red Wings were awarded a fifth-round pick in compensation. They used it on Darren Helm, who has played 310 games with Detroit and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2008.

When Helm was three years old, the Red Wings set in motion the series of events that would lead him to Detroit.

Since the Red Wings also sent a first-round pick to Buffalo, let’s halve Hasek and Helm’s production when looking at the impact of that 1990 third-round pick. It still yielded 1.5 solid players, 801.5 games played, a part in three Stanley Cups, and half of a Hall of Famer. The Red Wings might’ve had better draft picks, but there’s none that produced more.

And more than 24 years later, it’s still contributing.

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Jimmy Howard isn’t getting better, he’s just sucking less

Red Wings Twitter exploded after Jimmy Howard made the save above in Detroit’s 5-0 win over Columbus on Tuesday. Most of them said roughly the same thing: “I’ve been a Howard detractor, but he’s been really good this year.”

Howard’s goals against average is down to 1.97 from 2.66 and his save percentage has risen 14 points — from .910 to .924 — in comparison to last year. Want to bring analytics into it? Howard had 8.3 Goalie Point Shares for the Red Wings last season. That’s 8.9 percent of Detroit’s 93 points. This year Howard has already accounted for 2.5 Goalie Point Shares this season, or 10.9 percent of Detroit’s 23 points. In short: Howard is significantly better than he was last year, thus he’s contributing more to the team and thus the team is on pace to earn more points than they did last year.

This doesn’t look like the product of a small sample size or an easy schedule either. Howard is outperforming the “expected shooting percentage” a goalie should have against the Red Wings’ opponents thus far. If we take the overall shooting percentage of the teams Howard has faced and combine it with the number of shots that team had against Howard in that game, we can get an expected number of goals and saves. Howard’s expected save percentage is .909. He’s at .924 after makign seven more stops than the “average” NHL goalie should make in the 15 games he’s played.

Howard hasn’t taken his game to a new level. He’s just sucked less. Last year Howard had a quality start in 54 percent of his outings last year. This year that number is almost the same: 53.3 percent. But on the opposite end, Howard has just one really bad start (RBS) — lower than a .850 save percentage — in 15 starts this year. (It happened two games against Montreal). The 6.7 percent RBS percentage is less than half of what it was last year (14 percent).

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What facing a real-life Monstars football team taught us about the Detroit Lions


Jim Caldwell was calm. Matt Stafford was calm. Ndamukong Suh was short — but calm. They stood at the podium and in the hallway and spouted off about how they had to be better, how that Cardinals team was good, how the offense needed to score off those two interceptions.

Those could be their true emotions. But I imagine when they reconvene on Tuesday there will be a little fear.

Let’s get it out of the way: the officiating wasn’t good. Fox’s officiating analyst, Mike Pereira, came on TV and proclaimed the Ebron play at the end of the half was a certain first down only to have Jerome Boger come back and say the spot on the field “stands.” When Boger overturned Jeremy Ross’ punt return, Pereira said “you always account” for a player catching a ball and throwing it back into play. If you want to complain about the Fitzgerald spot at the end go ahead, although that was much closer. In real time, it looked like he got the first down — although not by as much as the officials gave him.

So yes, the refereeing was part of the issue. The days reverting back to a refs’ initial impression as he watched in real time needs to be changed. It’s time for the replay gimp. But the other part of the issue is much more serious: The Lions couldn’t move the ball.

Arizona stops the run. They rank third in the league, allowing 78.6 yards per game. They don’t stop the pass.  The Cardinals rank 30th (274.2) pass yards allowed per game. Matt Stafford threw for 183 yards and interception. He had the same amount of yards against Arizona as Brandon Weeden did. But it wasn’t just the numbers. It was the way it happened.

Remember “The Big Green,” the soccer movie about the rag tag bunch of kids who come together with the help of a ringer and and beat the Knights for the championship? Remember the goalie? He had confidence issues, so he would picture the kids dressed as whatever their team nickname was. Instead of a pack of eight years old closing in on him it’d be ninjas and pirates and knights.

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Red Wings rumor roundup: Tyler Myers, Mike Green, Marc Methot, Tom Gilbert all linked to Detroit; Daniel Alfredsson deadline coming

Every Sunday I’ll bring you a recap of all the legitimate Red Wings-related transaction rumors from the previous week.

• TSN’s Darren Dreger (via Chris Nichols) say the Red Wings have been “the most persistent and consistent” team in their pursuit of Tyler Myers. The last Dreger heard the Sabres were asking for Dylan Larkin, another prospect and maybe Jakub Kindl.

Dreger also says the Red Wings are one of the teams interested in Senators defenseman Marc Mehot but Ottawa hasn’t had any serious negotations in three weeks. Things should be clearer a week from now though.

• According to TVA reporter Louis Jean and SportsNet, Daniel Alfredsson will either skate with the Red Wings in the next week or so or retire.

ESPN’s Rob Vollman took a look at Mike Green’s trade value and determined Detroit would be the best fit in terms of the Red Wings benefiting most from him and having the pieces to get him. Vollman suggest Darren Helm and a prospect for Green would be a fair deal.

SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman says Montreal could be interested in trading defenseman Tom Gilbert. He mentions the Red Wings were interested in Gilbert in the summer.

Mike Babcock said in a radio interview (via SportsNet) that he’s going to “do what’s best for me,” regarding his contract situation. He also said, “In the end I think we’re going to find a way to work things out.”

MLive’s Ansar Khan says Stephen Weiss could be ready to play for the Red Wings by Nov. 24 against Ottawa.

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What’s wrong with Jimmy Howard in shootouts? The answer is simple; fixing it is much harder


So the Red Wings suck in shootouts. Again.

Sunday’s loss to the Lightning made the Red Wings 0-3 in shootouts this season. Over the last year plus Detroit is 5-12 in the skills competition.

The Red Wings’ shooters’ struggles are nothing new. They’re 1-for-8 this year (12.5 percent) after converting at 21.6 percent last year. The league average is 33.3 percent. But this year Detroit has added another problem on top of that: Jimmy Howard has been dreadful.

Last year Howard stopped 69.2 percent of shootout attempts, slightly better than the league-average 66.4 percent. This year he’s stopping 28.6 percent of attempts (2-for-7). The small-sample-size caveats apply to an extreme degree here — we’re looking at three instances — but this is the shootout. All we have are small sample sizes.

Location hasn’t been the problem. Shooters are scoring everywhere. One of the two stops Howard has made came when Matt Carle missed the net. Get it on net and it’s been almost guaranteed to go in.

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Things might not bode well for the future, but for once it’s about the present for the Detroit Lions


It’s never easy. It’s never get the ball with minutes, grind out the clock and score with seconds to go.

No, it’s go three-and-out, set up a situation where the Dolphins need one first down to clinch the game and have the defense knock the ball away on third-and-five. It’s Miami covering the swing route, Matt Stafford scrambling to his left, flicking a sidearm pass to Theo Riddick and having the ball glide through the one hole Dolphins safety Reshad Jones allowed.

It’s all that with 29 seconds left.

“I don’t think anybody enjoys stress like that,” Calvin Johnson said.


“I just have a good time,” Stafford said after flashing a huge smile. 

They can’t keep doing this. Over the long run these some of these 50-50 games are going to go the other the way. But football is a sport that lives in the short term. Sixteen games in a season isn’t enough for all the confounding variables to cancel themselves like they almost do in a baseball season. It’s conceivable that the Lions can keep throwing their dice all season not crap out once. They’re already nine games in.

Jim Caldwell isn’t that good of a coach. He’s not that bad of a coach either. He’s just — a coach. Outside of his wispy mustache he’s about as generic as can be. I guess he deserves credit for making the team more disciplined (they still rank 21st in penalty yardage per game), but is there another aspect that Caldwell can point to and say he’s made a tangible difference?

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Red Wings rumor roundup: Daniel Alfredsson situation at standstill; What’s Red Wings’ timetable for acquiring a defenseman?

Every Sunday I’ll bring you a recap of all the legitimate Red Wings-related transaction and signing rumors from the previous week.


SportsNet’s Damien Cox says that at this point Daniel Alfredsson would only get a two-week tryout with the Red Wings, not a guaranteed contract. Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James that he hasn’t talked to Alfredsson since the season has started.

The Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger says it’s probably going to cost $3 million a year to have Mike Babcock as head coach.

Remember those offseason rumors about the Red Wings trading for Mike Green? MLive’s Ansar Khan says that possibility is probably dead. If the Capitals do trade Green, Khan says, it’ll probably be to a Western Conference team, not a Red Wings team they could be competing for a

In a chat, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun says the Red Wings are still interested in acquiring a right-handed defenseman and they want to do so before March.

Prospect Anthony Mantha is still weeks away from skating for the Grand Rapids Griffins says St. James. 

Regarding Tyler Myers, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch says teams are concerned about trading with the Sabres because, “it’s hard to tell if the club’s players would be any good with a team that has a chance.”


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