Name: Niklas Kronwall
DOB: Jan. 12, 1981 (37 yrs. old)
Born: Stockholm, Sweden
Height/Weight: 6’0” / 194lbs
GP : 79
Soft eyes, hard nose, gives off that “noble swedish falcon” vibe.
We all know that Kronwall is in his twilight years, but next season should be it for him...unless he does the ol’ sign for one more season because Zetterberg is sticking around thing. On paper, other than staying healthy, Kronwall had another rough year. A lot of giveaways, too much time on the powerplay, inexplicable ice time during OT, and the cap hit is too damn high!
Kronwall hasn’t been good for a few years now, but giving him due credit, he held up through his early-mid 30s better than some other early-mid 30s Red Wings defenseman I know. That have bad contracts. Whose names nearly rhyme with “not again, embarrassin’”. But we aren’t curving the grade based on career performance, so what happened this year?
He was linemates with Mike Green about half the time, and benefited from it as Green is more aggressive on offense and also generally good at his job. Elder Statesman Limited Edition Kronwall is really only suited for a stay-at-home role (double meaning intended). When he wasn’t with Green, he was usually with Jensen, and honestly I forget Jensen exists most of the time which probably helped cast an invisibility spell on Kronwall.
The important thing to note is that Kronwall was not paired with Ericsson. Phew.
There’s always talk about veteran presence, teaching our kids The Red Wings Way™ blah blah blah but that mentoring aspect has been more focused on forwards, as our defense was almost entirely old guys all the time. However, at the end of the season Mighty Joe Hicketts got some time with the Wings and was placed on a line with Kronwall.
This was an excellent decision. I will die on this hill, as say what you will about Kronwall in his old age, he is one smart cookie and well respected by our young gun defensemen. Hicketts’ thing is being a cannonball, and Kronwall knows more about the wrong way to play bludger style than most. It’s a perfect fit.
An added benefit of Mentor Kronwall is that he is extremely composed off the ice, but still brutally honest about himself and his teammates. Self-awareness is something the Wings can lack *cough management cough* and how long can anyone last under Kronwall’s Disappointed Mom Look™ before they straighten up and fly right?
Did he meet expectations?
Last season, Kronwall was downright awful. Constantly whiffing on shots, missing passes, and often so far behind the guy he was chasing after that he wasn’t even on camera anymore. That lead to expectations being about as low as they could be this season, both in terms of performance and the general ability of his knees to exist.
In terms of health, he far exceeded expectations by playing 79 games and not looking like he belonged in a Sarah McLachlan commercial. In terms of playing ability? I’ll be damned if he didn’t exceed expectations there too.
As stated earlier, on paper it was another *fart noise* season. But this is the Red Wings, we’re all about the intangibles and The Eye Test. Did he look better because the rest of the defense was worse or because he actually was better? A bit of both. He made obvious flubs, and really why on earth is he still on the PP let alone OT when he is so slow, but the impending sense of doom when he stepped on the ice just wasn’t there this year. Again, maybe that’s Green’s influence, but Kronwall was moving as well as he has in years and was thus better positioned most of the time.
Overall, he did his job. Expectations were low and he would have been hard-pressed to play worse than last year, but his poor play wasn’t a game-changing factor like we so often saw last year. While all those one-goal games fall on him to some extent, the rest of the team was just as bad, and it’s hard to fault him individually when the whole team failed.
Final Grade: B-
Weighted against the rest of the class it’s probably more like a C-, but he deserves to be graded on his performance against the standard expectation for someone in his role. By that grading system, he held up pretty well.
What grade do you give Kronwall?
This poll is closed