Born: April 14, 1990
Birthplace: Holland, MI
Acquired: Signed as a free agent July 1, 2017
Contract Status: 1yr/$800,000 (AAV $750,000) remaining
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|Even Strength||Power Play||Short Handed|
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There is not really much to be said about the season expectations for Luke Witkowski because frankly we did not really have any. KT wrote in the season preview “Witkowski is an American League player and hopefully that’s where he’ll end up. If he comes up for a cup of coffee here and there, fights, maybe wake up the oligarchs that’ll be filling the lower bowl of the LCA, okay I guess. When he plays, he’ll be an instant fan favorite.” I guess maybe the only thing I would have added would have been when he inevitably got onto the ice for the Red Wings hopefully he would not do anything that would directly cost them the game or worse, cause another team to take a run at one of the Red Wings “star” players.
As feared, Luke made the Red Wings out of camp and essentially occupied the 13th forward/8th defenseman slot for the team. He found his way into 31 games recording 4 points, including his first NHL goal, while and 68 penalty minutes over a total of 213 minutes of ice time for the Red Wings.
What He Did vs. Expectations
On one hand, it is hard to judge a player who only 213 minutes of ice time over the course of a 82 game season. On the other it is easy to say he did not really even do anything to earn that much time on the ice. To be fair, Witkowski basically played the role that the Red Wings essentially brought him in to play, that of a veteran who could provide a physical presence (on the bench mostly) if deemed necessary. It is not really his fault that the Wings elected to keep him on (or even sign him in the first place) but I do wonder if maybe the franchise should have used that spot to cycle some of the young defensemen like Joe Hicketts and Filip Hronek up to see what they could do at the NHL sooner. Or maybe give a young forward like Dominic Turgeon or Turner Elson are look. Heck, they even could have rewarded a few guys like Ben Street, Eric Tangradi, or Mike Lorito who provided a solid veteran presence during the Calder Cup run last season for the Griffins with a little NHL time. Any one of those probably would have been a better use of the roster spot that keeping Luke Witkowski around the whole season.
Final Player Grade: INC
I wanted to give him an F, I really did. Nothing against the guy at all but I just could not understand what they saw in him to not only keep him on the roster but to give him a two-year deal in the first place. But the more I thought about it the more I decided I could not fault Luke for taking the deal he was presented, and it is not his fault management decided to keep him on the roster. In the end, 213 minutes over 31 games played is just not enough ice time to grade anyone on and frankly it would be hard to argue that he did not meet the expectations we fans had for him coming into the season…since we had none really.
What Grade Would You Give Luke Witkowski?
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