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Red Wings 2019-2020 Grades: Bottom-Six Forwards

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It’s not good, folks.

Carolina Hurricanes v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

We've graded the top-six forwards, and now it’s time to take a look at the caboose. You know, the players who are there for the greasy goals. To get pucks in deep. To come out every night and give it — well, you know. We’re looking at the bottom-six forwards for the 2019-2020 Detroit Red Wings... And in an effort to continue my brand of suffer and defeat, I have elected to write about it.

Here’s how it works — I’ll name the player, list the basic stats, give my grade, then my explanation. I pay attention to numbers, but I don’t plan on diving deep into them because, well, the 2019-2020 Detroit Red Wings were *insert large toilet sounds.*

(Editors Note: There will be a future article with players who didn’t play a much, so if you are wondering why we haven’t covered Filip Zadina, that’s why)

(players are listed in no particular order)

Justin Abdelkader

Age: 33
Position: Winger
Salary: $4.25 million
Stats: 0-3—3 in 49 GP

2019-2020 Grade: F

Okay, so that part about players being listed in no particular order? That was a lie. I wanted to get this one out of the way quickly.

If you’re a Red Wings fan — you know the situation. If you’re not, you still probably also know the situation. Justin Abdelkader was given an albatross contract and has since been declining faster than my overall faith in humanity. If Steve Yzerman is smart, he’s planning next season without him on the roster.

Christoffer Ehn

Age: 24
Position: C/LW
Salary: $759k
Stats: 2-2—4 in 54 GP

2019-2020 Grade: C

I thought Ehn was perfectly fine in the role he was given as a grinder. If I based my assessment on that alone, he’d probably get a better grade. The problem with Ehn at this point is that I don’t know if he’s actually a good player or not. I feel like he has the ability to make big plays, but being buried on the NHL’s worst team’s bottom-six hasn’t helped. I wouldn’t mind him being with the team for the long haul as a grinder, but the offense has to improve.

Luke Glendening

Age: 31
Position: Center
Salary: $1.8 million
Stats: 6-3—9 in 60 GP

2019-2020 Grade: C

Here’s the thing with Luke Glendening... I think that when the team locked him up to a four-year deal worth $7.2 million, there was a lot of frustration. Now, sitting here in 2020, I can say that as one of those people who was frustrated, Glendening is paid fairly for what he does and provides to the team. He is not a so-called “analytics darling,” but he’ll play wherever you put him and give you a little offense here and there. He is literally the Don Kelly of hockey, but maybe not as good. Last year he put up 23 points (10-13—23) in 78 games. Not great, but that seems fine for a fourth-line player. The problem has always been with how the Red Wings use Luke Glendening.

He did his job and didn’t get paid a ton of money to do it. You’re okay in my book, pal.

Andreas Athanasiou

Age: 26
Position: C/LW
Salary: $3 million
Stats: 11-15—26 in 55 GP

2019-2020 Grade: Incomplete

He was traded to the Oilers and didn’t score a single point in the playoffs. When he came up on my list, I remembered an episode of “The Office” where Michael tells Angela “you were totally satisfactory this year.” That’s how I feel.

Frans Nielsen

Age: 36
Position: Center
Salary: $5.25 million
Stats: 4-5—9 in 60 GP

2019-2020 Grade: F

Frans Nielsen was signed onto this team with the expectation he could be a solid top-line guy. He was dreadful this season — and it’s not like he’s a bad player. We’ve seen what Nielsen can do in years past.. The team was real bad this season, but is he about to take a meteoric plunge? I’m not so confident going forward.

Adam Erne

Age: 25
Position: LW
Salary: $1.05 million
Stats: (2-3—5 in 56 GP)

2019-2020 Grade: D

I’ll be honest with y’all, this hockey man played 56 games for the Red Wings this season and I still have absolutely no idea who he is.

Steve Yzerman traded a 2020 4th round pick to the Lightning for this guy. I suppose that’s a fair-market value for a bottom-six player, but he really didn’t do anything for me this season. Not sure why Yzerman loves the guy so much... Can’t give him much more than this grade.

Brendan Perlini

Age: 24
Position: LW
Salary: $874k
Stats: 1-3—4 in 40 GP

2019-2020 Grade: F

Perlini was another one of Yzerman’s in-season trades as the team struggled to have depth up front. Yzerman shipped off Alec Regula (D) to Chicago in exchange for Perlini’s services. He failed to meet any expectation from any fan.

Perlini’s shown before that he can hang in the NHL and provide some offense, but he just doesn’t show it anymore. Again, I think this was a fair gamble for Yzerman to take with the team becoming flush with defensive prospects. His play reminded me of Abdelkader, just without the fuck-ugly price tag.


Some of you will no doubt think I am being too harsh, but I’m really grumpy lately so you’ll just have to deal with it. Thing is, the Red Wings were so tremendously godawful this season that it’s almost unfair to grade any of them. At the end of the day, here’s how I really feel: the Red Wings’ bottom-six is headed in the right direction. Less overpaid old slugs, more fair-priced youth. That’s tough because you have some horrid contracts, but I trust Yzerman will address that. If Detroit can shed Abdelkader, and get Frans Nielsen back on track — I don’t think that’s all too bad.