Pro/No Recap: The Forwards

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A while back, during the last round of "will he or won't he" talk about Mike Modano retiring, I decided to pose the question on Twitter to Red Wings fans whether they would even want him back if he decided to return. The response among the Tweeps was very good, but nothing compared to the email I got from good friend of WIIM Mike Petrella from The Production Line. While I was content to ask and forget, Petrella had much grander ideas.  He asked me if we wanted to join forces again to pose the pro/no question in a much more involved way and to record the responses to gauge the feelings of Red Wings nation on the potential return of the Red Wings' free agents.

Nearly 4,100 votes later, we had our answers. 

Of course, the Wings' situation has changed slightly since we started the project. Since then, Rafalski has retired, Lidstrom has signed, and the Wings have indicated that the future of Salei, MacDonald, Osgood, and Draper are all uncertain.  However, we started this out looking for how you all felt about the possibility, not what you thought would actually happen. 

Naturally, when you get the TPL boys and the WIIM crew together, we can't do anything without a little friendly competition.  This time, we put our prognosticating skills to work trying to guess what percentage of the group would say yes to each player on whom we voted. At the end, we calculated which sides' prediction was closest to par and the closest overall group won.  Unfortunately, this one wasn't particularly close. I'm sad to disappoint our fans, but TPL had this one mathematically locked up before the last two players even went up for a vote.

We're going to go over the forwards below the jump for you while TPL tackles the D-men and goalies over at their site.  Follow us below for the results and make sure to head over to The Production Line when you're finished for the rest of the voting.

Once again, Petrella is on the ball with the Wings' cap situation as it stands.  Here's what he's got:

With one goaltender (Howard), four defensemen (Lidstrom, Kronwall, Stuart, Kindl), and twelve forwards (including Mursak and Emmerton -- for now), the Red Wings have $48,092,044 dedicated toward next season's $64M salary cap. By my count, they'll have just under$16M to play with on July 1st.

With that $16M, they'll have to find a backup goalie (Chris Osgood or otherwise), at least three defensemen (rumor has it Brendan Smith and his $875,000 cap hit are front-runners to fill one of those slots; and Doug Janik's one-way deal may help him become the 7th defenseman), and two or three forwards (likely Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller... and the wild card is Jaromir Jagr, who may be interested in joining the Wings).

 

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Mike Modano, center, #90
40-years-old (turning 41 in June)
6’3″ :: 210 lbs
21 NHL seasons (1 with Detroit)
From Westland, MI

PRO-MODANO :: 14.33%
NO-MODANO :: 79.93%
UNSURE :: 5.73%
Closest Guess :: WIIM predicted 12.5% positive votes

ANALYSIS

Fitting that we should lead off with the guy who started the ball rolling on this project.  When Modano was still waffling in the press between retiring and trying to give the NHL one more go, we got a much more decisive result from the readers in our voting.  Just shy of 600 votes came in and 474 of those were a resounding "NO" to the continuation of the Modano project. Modano's voting had the third-fewest number of "unsure" voters at a measly 5.73%  Only Eaves and Lidstrom had lower numbers for those on the fence.

From the comments on both sites, it felt like there were a number of reasons for "No" votes, ranging from a willingness to see him finally ride off into the sunset to a desire to see the Wings make room for the youngsters.  The few "Yes" votes were more or less united in the feeling that Modano didn't get a fair shake due to the freak injury that sidelined him for half the season and thought that he should be granted another chance to really prove how much hockey he has left in the tank. 

Not much news has come out since then on the Modano front.  He hasn't announced his intentions for next year one way or another and the Wings aren't discussing him while they're caught up in the Jagr talk and the plans to bring in Brian Rafalski's defensive replacement.  In this case, no news may be telling news, but we likely won't ultimately know what's going to happen with Mikey Mo until later in the offseason.

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Patrick Eaves, winger, #17
27-years-old (5/1/84)
6’0″ :: 192 lbs
6 NHL seasons (2 with Detroit)
From Calgary

PRO-EAVES :: 97.04%
NO-EAVES :: 0.81%
UNSURE :: 2.15%
Closest Guess :: TPL predicted 95% positive votes

ANALYSIS

Patty Eaves was already a burgeoning fan-favorite going into this season thanks to his work ethic, his tricky wrist shot, his hobo-like appearance, and his incredible (if not unorthodox) shootout style. This season, he cemented that even further by working his way out of a bottom-six rotation (all the way up to the top line for a short while) and for earning deserving Red Wings fans curly fries with a hat trick.

I can't really speak too much for the feelings broken down by the fans on both sides of the issue because of the 3 out of 372 voters, nobody chimed in on either site with a reason they would say no to having Eaves back. Without the voice of dissent letting us know their reasons, I'm forced to assume they are disgruntled Hurricanes fans who found their way to our corner of the hockey blogosphere

Eaves is another case of a player whose situation has not changed much since the voting, but the news of the cap's increase and all other signs point to both the Wings' desire and ability to bring Eaves back to fill in his role.  Currently, Eaves is the only Red Wings player who has earned a roster spot who is a right-shot (Mursak is too, but he's going to be below Eaves on the depth chart at least up until training camp and likely longer).  Patrick has stated that he wants to remain in Detroit and that he loves both the stability he's found with the Wings and how much he enjoys being with hockey's best organization.  The voting on Eaves wasn't close and it downright shouldn't have been.

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Drew Miller, Forward #20
27 Years Old (February 17, 1984)
6'2", 178 lbs
5 Full NHL Seasons (200 career regular season games played) - Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Detroit.
Born in Dover NJ, raised in Michigan.

PRO-MILLER :: 75.69%
NO-MILLER :: 12.64%
UNSURE :: 11.66%
Closest Guess :: TPL predicted 70% positive votes

ANALYSIS

Among forwards, Drew Miller was perhaps the toughest case for Wings fans.  That shows pretty well in the 11.66% of 506 voters who picked "Unsure".  Only the Wings' enigmatic goaltending situation garnered more confusion among voters and neither Osgood nor MacDonald had "Unsure" tallies that were within 1% of their "No" results. 

Still, almost 76% of voters indicated they'd happily have Drew Miller back and it's really not hard to see why. Miller is a guy who is going to come for cheap and is going to give your team 100% of his effort every single night. This is especially important (and less common) for players who won't be on the ice for the team every night because the coach wants to rotate the bottom of the lineup for various reasons.  The no-voters and the unsure struggled with the concern that Miller has peaked as a player and would simply be taking up a roster space that the team could be using to groom a young future top-six forward on the bottom line at NHL-speed.

Like Eaves, all indications are that the Wings want to retain Miller and that Miller would love nothing more than to stay with Detroit. Knowing that it would make 3/4ths of Wings fans happy is enough to make me smile.

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Kris Draper, center, #33
40-years-old (5/24/71)
5’11 :: 185 lbs
17 NHL seasons (16 with Detroit)
From Toronto

PRO-DRAPER :: 65.70%
NO-DRAPER :: 25.89%
UNSURE :: 8.41%
Closest Guess :: TPL predicted 50% positive votes

ANALYSIS

Ok, maybe I was wrong about Miller being the toughest case for Wings fans as they voted on the free agent forwards.  Kris Draper 's vote was the closest of the group with 80 of 309 votes going against the long-time Wing and four-time Stanley Cup champion whose contract was bought by Detroit for a measly dollar.

Draper's case is a bit of an interesting mesh between Modano's situation and Drew Miller's.  Clearly, we have a player who was once a big part of his team, but there's worry that his skills have diminished to the point of making him a liability.  But, we also have a player who may simply be taking up a roster spot for a guy who should surpass him skill-wise at the NHL level very soon.  However, the biggest difference between Draper and Modano is the nostalgia factor.  It's hard to say no to a guy who has dedicated the majority of his NHL career to doing all the things necessary to make a club successful while staying mostly out of the spotlight.  The biggest difference from Miller is that Draper is an unquestioned leader in the Wings dressing room.  He brings more than a good attitude in himself, he helps instill it in all those around him.

Unfortunately for Draper, much like his good friend Maltby, it may finally be time for the game to have surpassed him, despite that he's clearly not ready for that to have happened.  The Freep's Helene St. James reported on the 16th that the roster crunch at the bottom is likely going to prevent the Wings from offering Draper a contract for the coming season.  While that news will partially edify 26% of Red Wings fans, it's likely to leave a big percent of those numbers of fans sad to see the end of such a great career.

 

Below is the final vote for each person we put up for a vote.  We felt it was necessary to show the difference in the Jonathan Ericsson voting, since his post went up the same day that Brian Rafalski announced his retirement and that very likely helped skew the process.  Remember, head on over to The Production Line for their look at the defense and goaltenders you all voted on.  Thanks to everybody for your participation in this awesome project!

PLAYER YES (%) NO (%) UNSURE (%)
Mike Modano, C 14.33 79.93 5.73
Jonathan Ericsson, D (total) 50.97 36.74 12.29
-Ericsson (before Rafalski announcement) 46.75 40.00 13.25
-Ericsson (after Rafalski announcement) 57.38 31.48 11.15
Chris Osgood, G 42.27 40.72 17.01
Joey MacDonald, G 45.42 36.68 17.90
Patrick Eaves, W 97.04 0.81 2.15
Drew Miller, W 75.69 12.64 11.66
Kris Draper, C 65.70 25.89 8.41
Ruslan Salei, D 10.70 78.82 10.50
Nicklas Lidstrom, D 98.07 1.65 0.28
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