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Red Wings 2019-2020 Grades: The Other Guys

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The future, the past, and various odds and ends.

San Jose Sharks v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Today we take a look at our supporting cast. This group covers a broad range of expectations from “fill nets with pucks” to “don’t score on our own net” to “none” and have also spent significant time playing outside Detroit.

For the most part, I will only be considering time spent playing for the Red Wings and grading how well a player fulfilled expectations, with some weight dragging down players who had low expectations because they weren’t anything great last year.

Disclaimer: We aren’t all using the same method, so don’t equate my grades with the other player grade articles. Maybe don’t even equate my grades down the list, again expectation vs. reality and some had bigger skates to fill.

But don’t worry, the SARA* system is very fair.

*Seriously Analytical Rational Assessment

(Profile info/stats from CapFriendly)

In no particular order...

Forwards

Filip Zadina

DOB: Nov. 27, 1999 (20 yrs)
Born: Pardubice, CZE
Height/Weight: 6’0”/ 196 lbs
Position: LW/RW
Shoots: L
Contract: Signed 20/21

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 28GP, 8G, 7A
Griffins: 21GP, 9G, 7A

Expectations: Expectations were high for Zadina in 2018-2019 after the sheer audacity of...Ken Holland drafting him 6th overall. He had trouble adjusting and had a lot of trouble with his defense. This season, expectations took that disappointment and channeled it into even HIGHER expectations wanting to prove that he was the right choice.

Personally, I wanted him to take big steps in playing a 200ft game (ugh, cliche I know) and focus on building that foundation so he can bring the offensive razzle dazzle without getting burned for it when he turns the puck over (and to do that less often).

Reality: He met my expectations fer sure. There was a lot of improvement from last year and he was rewarded with more games in Detroit than in Grand Rapids. He wasn’t a superstar, but I didn’t expect him to be this year so I’m not disappointed one bit. He has plenty of room to grow, and expectations will be even higher next year, but I was glad to see the mistakes he was making were more growing pains than catastrophic blunders.

While I started writing this (Monday), Zadina scored two first period goals for HC Oceláři Třinec. That doesn’t impact this grade but it is a fact.

Grade: A-

I might be giving him a little extra credit out of pure spite for the “haters”.

Taro Hirose

DOB: June 30, 1996 (24 yrs)
Born: Calgary, AB
Height/Weight: 5’10” / 161 lbs
Position: LW
Shoots: L
Status: RFA

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 26GP, 2G, 5A
Griffins: GP: 35GP, 5G, 22A

Expectations: Hirose came out of nowhere toward the end of the 2018-2019 season and impressed in his 10 games with 1G and 6A. Fast forward to pre-season predictions where I declared this would be the Year of Hirose and burdened him with my high expectations.

Reality: I was wrong, and possibly a jinx. He wasn’t horrible, considering he went undrafted and most of us had never heard of him before joining the Wings for the home stretch, but was demoted at the end of November and wasn’t able to claw his way back to the full-time roster.

Grade: C-

Givani Smith

DOB: Feb. 27, 1998 (22 yrs)
Born: Thornhill, ON
Height/Weight: 6’2” / 210 lbs
Position: LW
Shoots: L
Status: Signed 20/21

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 21GP, 2G, 1A
Griffins: 37GP, 9G, 10A

Expectations: I figured his NHL debut was going to happen as a utility player, slotting in here and there depending on who got injured.

Reality: Givani impressed me with how he was able to fit right in with any combination of linemates at a GRIT guy and he played more games in Detroit than I thought he would. I’d argue he’s started a strong case to hold a spot on the bottom 6 as part of a rebuilt Red Wings team.

Don’t worry about those PIM with the Griffins, it’s fine...

Grade: B+

Evgeny Svechnikov

DOB: Oct. 31, 1996 (23 yrs)
Born: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, RUS
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 208 lbs
Position: LW
Shoots: L
Status: Signed 20/21

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 4GP, 0G, 0A
Griffins: 51GP, 11G, 14A

NOTE: Yes, he barely played for the Red Wings at all, and that’s part of the problem because the Svechnikov Experiment has always been optimistic. Too optimistic?

Expectations: This time, THIS TIME, it’s going to be the breakout season for Svechnikov. I both acknowledged there’s no point in calling him up if he’s going to play bottom-6 minutes, but also wanted him to elbow his way into the lineup for 10 games or more.

I think my real expectation was to be disappointed, but I’ll grade more on the dream of success than the fear of disappointment.

Reality: Well....it was not a breakout season for Svechnikov. I’m making him an exception to my goal of evaluating based on Red Wings performance because being stuck in the pipeline is always a complicated situation. Expectations are high and difficult to meet when you need to crack the top-6 but also have the danger of being leap-frogged by newer players.

Grade: D+

Maybe he deserves a higher grade given the monumental effort and more than a little luck it would take to secure a spot on the Wings roster, but this just gives him room to prove me wrong next year.

And it was mean of Blashill to deny the fun of the Svechnikov brothers facing off.

Jacob de la Rose

DOB: May 20, 1995 (25 yrs)
Born: Arvika, SWE
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 215 lbs
Position: C/LW
Shoots: L
Status: Traded to St. Louis Blues for Robby Fabbri.

Say it with me, “it was one-for-one”.

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 16GP, 1G, 3A
Blues: 34GP, 1G, 4A

Expectations: He’s never been a big goal-scorer and we always seem to need more guys who can slot into center. Expectations were minimal.

Reality: IT WAS ONE-FOR-ONE. Ok, that isn’t an evaluation of his actual performance, and it really was more the Blues lack of faith in Robby Fabbri than Jacob de la Rose’s skills that facilitated the trade. Overall, he was meh which meets expectations, but low expectations also sets a low ceiling on the SARA Grading System (Serious Accurate Rational Analysis).

Grade: A+ trade for a D+ performance.

Sam Gagner

DOB: Aug. 10, 1989 (31 yrs)
Born: London, ON
Height/Weight: 5’11” / 200 lbs
Position: C/RW
Shoots: R(!)
Status: RFA

Season Stats:

Red Wings: GP6, 1G, 0A
Oilers: 36GP, 5G, 7A

Expectations: [shrugs]

Reality: Traded to the Red Wings as part of the AA trade.

Grade: Pass+ for being good on our powerplay and a very wholesome human being.

Dmytro Timashov

DOB: Oct. 1, 1996 (23 yrs)
Born: Kirovohrad, UA
Height/Weight: 5’10” / 192 lbs
Position: LW
Shoots: L
Status: RFA

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 5GP, 0G, 0A
Maple Leafs: 39GP, 4G, 5A

Expectations: I will not know who this is.

Reality: The Wings grabbed Timashov off waivers from Toronto on Feb. 24, 2020. What we didn’t know then was just how little of the season was left, but Mickey Redmond was still a fan. I wouldn’t hate keeping him around and seeing what he does, but we aren’t short on forwards either.

Grade: One socially distant high-five and free crazy bread.

Defense

Jonathan Ericsson

DOB: March 2, 1984 (36 yrs)
Born: Karlskrona, SWE
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 218 lbs
Position: D
Shoots: L
Status: UFA

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 18GP, 0G,0A
Griffins: 10GP, 0G, 2A

Expectations: Be the worst defenseman on the team.

Reality: And indeed he was the same old Jonathan Ericsson for Detroit. It was hard for me to stay mad at him when he was demoted to Grand Rapids because there were so many other things to be mad about. Out of sight, out of mind...

Grade: D- I argue that he was not as disappointing as Trevor Daley, because Daley actually had expectations above “be the worst”, hence the passing grade.

Gustav Lindström

DOB: Oct. 20, 1998 (21 yrs)
Born: Östervåla, Sweden
Height/Weight: 6’2” / 187 lbs
Position: D
Shoots: R(!!)
Status: Signed 20/21

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 16GP, 0G, 1A
Griffins: 45GP, 0G, 5A

Expectations: I didn’t have many expectations this season, more I had expectations that I would have expectations in the next 2-3 years. As a second round draft pick in and organization desperate for competent defense, he’s been worth keeping an eye on but was in the “maybe” pile of players who might get a call-up.

Reality: He had a good start, maybe it was because the rest of the defense is so bad he was a breath of fresh air by virtue of not being a pylon. Of course, keeping the Wings from getting scored on is no easy task. He fizzled out a bit as time went on, but still wasn’t blundering around as bad as many “veteran” players. He didn’t show signs of greatness, but there is plenty of time and room to grow.

Grade: B

Dylan McIlrath

DOB: Apr. 20, 1992 (28 yrs)
Born: Winnipeg, MB
Height/Weight: 6’5” / 231 lbs
Position: D
Shoots: R(!)
Status: Signed 20/21

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 16GP, 0G, 0A
Griffins: 44GP, 0G, 8A

Expectations: I think the ship has sailed for him to become a permanent fixture on the Red Wings, but he was a no risk signing and there was no reason to ship him off for no return when he can still be a Large Defenseman for the Griffins.

Reality: He didn’t do much for the Wings and was just kinda there when they needed a body on the ice. Expectations weren’t high but his presence was at times a hindrance more than a help.

Grade: C-

Joe Hicketts

DOB: May 4, 1996 (24 yrs)
Born: Kamloops, BC
Height/Weight: 5’8” / 180 lbs
Position: D
Shoots: L
Status: Signed 20/21

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 6GP, 0G, 2A
Griffins: 50GP, 2G, 25A

Expectations: I admit it, I have a soft spot for Joe Hicketts. He works hard even when and doesn’t care if people believe in him because he believes in himself. I WANT him to succeed, so I’ll say my expectations were higher than most people’s and I felt like this was his last chance to prove he belongs on the Wings.

Reality: Unfortunately, he didn’t get much time in Detroit and wasn’t able to put on a strong enough show to get a longer stay. The dream isn’t over, but time is running out.

Grade: Certificate of participation and a grape popsicle.

Brian Lashoff

DOB: July 16, 1990 (30 yrs)
Born: Albany, NY
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 210 lbs
Position: D
Shoots: L
Status: Signed 20/21

Season Stats:

Red Wings: 9GP, 0G, 1A
Griffins: 47GP, 3G, 5A

Expectations: Be able to travel from Grand Rapids to Detroit and back again.

Reality: Mission Accomplished.

Grade: One smiley face sticker for following directions.

BONUS

Stick taps to Cody “Who?” Goloubef, Calvin “Not Picard” Pickard and Eric “Blank Helmet” Comrie for showing up.