Since I can't bear to watch Little Brother and the Flyers win games, I needed a distraction. Thankfully, there was actually some news out of the Wings yesterday. One was a signing, one was a defection, and another was a potential signing.
Mattias Ritola signs 3 year deal with Red Wings - There are a couple of things about this signing. First, sayonara to Jason Williams. It’s a shame that my last memory of you in a Wing uniform will be you trying to shatter the glass with your slapshot in game 3 against the Sharks. But, when you consider that the only other thing I remember you doing this season was breaking your leg, maybe that’s a sign you just weren’t a good fit here. Oh well, good luck wherever you go. I like this signing, because this will inject some youth into the lineup. The cap hit is essentially nothing ($500K for the first year), so that’s not a big deal. The interesting part is that it is a two-way deal, but they will have to waive him if he gets sent down to Grand Rapids. My take? I think the Wings have decided that this year is Ritola’s make-or-break year. If at some point they feel he’s not good enough to hack it in the NHL and have to send him down, they are not going to worry about whether he’s claimed off waivers or not. This won’t be like the Kyle Quincey situation where they had too many d-men already on the roster to give him a spot: Ritola is going to get a chance to earn an everyday spot in the Wings’ lineup next year. Queue the calls of “Riiiittttoooollllaaaa” from the commercials.
Daniel Larsson signs with Swedish team - So, it appears that the Wings’ AHL goalie has signed a contract with a Swedish team (ironically, the team that just lost another one-time Wings’ prospect, Stephan Liv). There are 2 things I get from this defection. First, it’s always tough to lose a goaltending prospect, even if that goalie was not expected to ever become the #1 guy for the Wings at some point. Look at the Flyers this year: they’ve had every single goalie in North America play for them at some point, and they are 2 games away from going to the Finals. Larsson put up good numbers in Grand Rapids last season, and from what I’ve been reading, there was talk he was going to become the backup to Jimmy once Ozzie retires, which may be as soon as 2011-2012. So that’s a bummer. However, if he continued to play really well, then he could have earned the backup job in Detroit or been used as trade bait to secure some other asset for the Wings. The second part of this is that clearly Thomas McCollum has become the “next-in-line” guy for the Wings. He’s still young, and as we saw with Jimmy, the Wings are not going to rush Tommy (I’m imposing this nickname now) up to the NHL. It will be interesting to see what the Wings do with Tommy going forward, but maybe it’s time he got the full-time job in Grand Rapids to see if he can handle being the number 1 guy for the team.
Todd Bertuzzi and Wings start talking - I read this article and immediately thought of the Weezer song “Say It Ain’t So". However, after picking myself off the floor, I thought this may not be that bad a scenario. It will all depend on the money involved. If the Wings can get Bertuzzi for no more than $1.5-$1.75M per year on a 2 year deal, I would be ok with it. He can put up 10-15 goals, 40-50 points, and he was one of 3 Wings to actually play in every game. Plus, he can score in the shootout, which was a real bugaboo for the Wings this year (on an aside, can someone pull Zetterberg away from what he’s doing and tell him he might want to practice breakaways? When have you ever seen someone so talented suck so bad at shootouts?). There was a time late in the year and in the first round where he, Zetterberg and Filppula were the best line the Wings had. I can’t believe I am actually typing this, but maybe signing Bertuzzi is a….sm….art……move. Ok, I’m going to go vomit now.
Still no official word on Nicklas Lidstrom, but rumours are that he is going to make a decision by June 1st so that the Wings can proceed with their plans. Much like a Game 7, I am filled with anxiety and excitement waiting for him to announce that he is coming back for at least 1 more year. Please let that be the announcement. I can't take the thought of the Blackhawks and Flyers being in the Stanley Cup Final at the same time as Lidstrom retiring. I might have to lock myself in a dark room for a few weeks to ward off all of the demons in the world, because clearly there would be some dark spirits afoot if that all happened at the same time.