Even though the Detroit Red Wings are still months away from their next game, there’s still plenty going on with the organization. The team still needs to sign a handful of restricted free agents and put together offseason development plans. And don’t forget about the Seattle expansion draft.
Let’s dive into the latest news and rumors surrounding the Red Wings.
Red Wings Keeping Prospects Busy
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic upending normal training regimens, Shawn Horcoff and the Red Wings are finding creative ways to help prospects develop over the summer. Detroit’s director of player development and assistant director of player personnel mentioned in an interview to Dana Wakiji that he, Dan Cleary, and Niklas Kronwall have weekly Zoom calls with prospects, keeping tabs on strength training, nutrition, and on-ice sessions. But it doesn’t stop there.
“…we’re in contact with their trainers, their skating coaches, their skills coaches, really anyone that they’re working with we’re in close contact with to help with the structure of their workouts, to just let them know what we see and what we’d like to see them work on this summer,” said Horcoff.
Phil Osaer, Detroit’s head of goaltending scouting and development, shared that Kaden Fulcher bought a puck-shooting machine since on-ice practice is hard to come by. Having trained with one before, I can share first-hand that goalies can get great reps in working with one of these puck launchers. In fact, most private goalie coaches have puck-shooting machines in their training facilities. The only difference is that Fulcher is taking reps in front of a barn, not on ice.
Fabbri’s Next Contract
While recapping Robby Fabbri’s 2019-20 season, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press suggested that the restricted free agent could be in line for a two-year contract:
“He’s a restricted free agent this summer, coming off a $900,000 one-year contract, and certainly has earned a raise. A two-year deal seems to make sense, since Fabbri would still be restricted when it expires, and it’d give Fabbri the opportunity to make a case for a long-term deal at that point.”Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
In 51 games with the Red Wings, Fabbri tallied 14 goals and 31 points. The offense is certainly there, but the forward could stand to improve on the defensive side of the puck. According to NaturalStatTrick, Fabbri’s on-ice play resulted in an expected goals-for percentage of 42.34 percent – just 0.03 percent better than Justin Abdelkader.
In my offseason blueprint, I suggested a two-year contract with a $2.75 million average annual value (AAV) would be a fair deal for Fabbri. Detroit has plenty of cap space to work with as they negotiate with the winger and their 11 other RFAs.
Related: Red Wings Need to Re-sign Fabbri
Red Wings to Protect DeKeyser?
As a rebuilding team, the 2021 Seattle Kraken expansion draft shouldn’t have a substantial impact on the Red Wings. They won’t lose a key contributor, unlike many other teams.
But until the expansion draft takes place, we can only speculate who the Red Wings will protect. One name that has come up on a couple occasions is Danny DeKeyser. Helene St. James included the blueliner on her latest protected list. The Athletic’s Max Bultman did the same, citing DeKeyser’s veteran presence on a team full of young defensemen as a plus (from ‘Updating the Red Wings’ Seattle expansion draft outlook, one year out’ – The Athletic – 6/23/20).
While a healthy DeKeyser can provide value for the Red Wings, I’d argue that protecting Gustav Lindstrom and Dennis Cholowski in addition to Filip Hronek would be a better strategy. DeKeyser’s $5 million cap hit and age—he’ll be 31 when the draft takes place—will likely scare off the Kraken.
“Given the lackluster options that Detroit will offer in their unprotected forward group, I think there’s a lot of room for regret if the team exposes a young defenseman that hasn’t been provided with a ton of tools to succeed at the NHL level,” Locked on Red Wings Podcast host Nolan Bianchi told The Hockey Writers. “The stagnant salary cap will in one way or another make available plenty of veteran options that can play on Detroit’s top pairing, so even if DeKeyser is taken by Seattle, I just don’t think there’s much risk in exposing a declining defenseman with recent injury history, comparatively.”
On the other hand, Lindstrom and Cholowski will be 22 and 23, respectively, and coming off their entry-level contracts. It’s true that neither have set the world on fire at the NHL level, but both Lindstrom and Cholowski offer more long-term upside than DeKeyser, who’s already on the wrong side of 30. They’ll get the chance to solidify their spot on the protected list during the 2020-21 season.
Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.