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Red Wings Season Preview: Kindl/Janik

Picking up where we left off on Wednesday, we'll talk about two defensive players today. Today's focus is on the guys likely to be the 7th and 8th men on the depth chart for the Red Wings heading into the 2010-2011 season. However, just because they're not in the top 6 doesn't mean that nobody is watching them--especially Kindl. It's kind of a mix similar to that of Jonathan Ericsson and Ruslan Salei as Jakub Kindl is young and relatively inexperienced (like Ericsson) and Doug Janik has been playing professionally since 2001. 

The development of these two players is a bit interesting as Kindl is apparently on the way up and ready to start his NHL career while Janik's NHL days are seemingly dwindling down as he has spent the majority of the past two seasons in the AHL. But, just because Janik's NHL playing time has diminished doesn't mean that he won't see any playing time this year.

Last year's benchmark: This is in terms of the guys that were the 7th-8th defensemen in the system. Given on what day of the calendar you're looking at and what guys were injured, Brett Lebda, Derek Meech or Doug Janik filled the 7th or 8th spot. They weren't a stellar group by any means and a lot will be expected out of the 7/8 guys in the 2010-2011 season as the Red Wings will likely opt to rest Salei or Ericsson at some point. 

In case you missed them, here are the previews so far:

Take the jump and dive into the discussion about Doug Janik and Jakub Kindl.

Jakub Kindl

#46 / Defenseman / Detroit Red Wings



Feb 10, 1987

2009-2010 AHL Stats










Jakub Kindl was drafted in the first round (19th overall) in 2005 by Detroit and spent 2006-2007 playing for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL before making the jump to Grand Rapids and the AHL during the following season. He has spent three full seasons in Grand Rapids, playing 75 games the first two seasons and 73 last season. Kindl would have hit 75 games played again last year but made his NHL debut on December 3, 2009 against the Edmonton Oilers. Kindl--or "Amazon" as you'll likely hear him be called by those in the Wings blogosphere--played three games in Detroit last year and didn't register a point. He's been highly touted as the next big-time defenseman for the Red Wings and he'll get the opportunity to strut his stuff this year, likely rotating with Ruslan Salei or Jonathan Ericsson on the 3rd pairing.

Strengths: (Note: I've only seen him play the three NHL games and a handful of AHL games so...) Kindl has a good set of skates underneath him and uses them well to position himself. He still lacks a bit of understanding as where to go on some plays (could be coaching differences) but is very capable in his ability to play the puck carrier. He's a good passer with a good ice awareness and will be a good asset to the team.

Weaknesses: Kindl's biggest weakness is just his lack of NHL experience. I think he'll adjust as the season progresses but it might be a big learning curve for him. He'll also be playing third line minutes with either Ruslan Salei or Jonathan Ericsson so that might affect how he develops as well. Kindl's got the potential, it might just take a "baptism by fire" to get him to that potential.

Expectations:  It's going to be a big adjustment for him to be playing against NHL level talent compared to the AHL talent. Luckily, he's got the best defenseman of the modern era, Nicklas Lidstrom, there to help him out along the way. This has been one of the reasons--along with running out of AHL eligible years--to bring Kindl into the fold. I think he will benefit greatly from practicing daily with the Red Wings defensive corps. He'll probably play somewhere between 30 and 45 games but could play more than that if he's able to adjust well. I'd expect about 2 goals and 12 assists from him in that amount of games played but he could surpass that. The biggest thing, however, will be for him to mature as a defensive defenseman, not an offensive one.

Doug Janik

#37 / Defenseman / Detroit Red Wings



Mar 26, 1980

2009-2010 AHL Stats










Janik was drafted in 2001 by the Buffalo Sabres and spent parts of two seasons there before moving on to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2006-2007. He came to Detroit via free agency in the summer of 2009 and spent most of the season in Grand Rapids. He signed a new two-year deal with Detroit that will likely see him playing as a reserve for the Wings or a top line guy for the Griffins. He'll likely spend a lot of time as a Griffin, teaching the younger players like Sergei Kolosov or Brendan Smith some of the tricks of the trade.

Strengths: Janik's biggest strength is probably his experience. He's played professionally since 2001 and he's played at both the NHL and AHL level so he is capable of making the transitions mentally. He's also willing to drop the gloves or make a hit to help out with the energy level of the team. He's a fairly conservative defenseman so he isn't hurt by any overaggressive play.

Weaknesses: He's not the most offensively talented player and pairing that with middle-of-the-road defensive ability has limited his growth in the NHL. I think he's primarily a reserve player at the NHL level at this point in his career. Going back to that fairly conservative style of play, I think that although good at sometimes it also causes mistakes on his end in other instances. 

Expectations: In all likelihood, Janik will be the 8th man into the mix defensively this season. He has veteran experience that could help out but expect him to fall behind Kindl in terms of being selected for games. I'd expect that, at the most, he gets 5 games played this season. A lot of his playing time will go to Kindl, even if Kindl isn't impressing all that much, because of Kindl's contract and the promises the front office has made to him about playing time. 

Alright, folks. Check back on Monday as JJ tackles the pairing of Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall.