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Red Wings Rumors: Raphael Diaz Getting a Camp Invite?

From Nicola Berger, beat writer for Swiss team EV Zug (as originally dug by Malik)

To follow that, SwissHabs reports that two of the three teams who have offered Diaz a try-out are Dallas and Detroit.

Diaz’s NHL career spans the last three seasons. He’s played 145 games, missing time in 2012-13 with a concussion, and has 45 career points (6G 39A). His first 2.5 seasons were with Montreal before he was traded twice last year, first to Vancouver and then to New York. He only played in four games of the Rangers‘ run to the Cup Final, putting up 0 points in that span.

Usage-wise, the 5’11 197-pound 28 year old’s career tells of a player who has been unable to hold his own in tough competition/zone usage, but does decently in sheltered minutes. He’s generally considered a good-skating puck mover type who gets knocked around in his own zone too easily.

Heck, if he were flawless, he wouldn’t be looking for camp tryouts in September, right?

Here’s Malik’s take on the idea:

In my opinion, he’s a “proven commodity,” but the fact that he’s got NHL experience doesn’t necessarily make him a better long-term option than “the kids.” It would be a very characteristic move of the Wings to bring another veteran in for the hell of it, though…

That’s incredibly hard to argue with. Diaz has the benefit of having shown that he can put up points at a decent pace in the NHL (although 16 of his 45 career points are on the power play). However, he’ll be 29 in January. He’s pretty well past the time when you expect a defenseman to show any more real improvement in his game. Despite all this, the Wings are about “proven commodities.”

My take is that Diaz is essentially a right-shooting Jakub Kindl. He’s a bit smaller than Kindl, but neither of them are known for being physical, instead relying on skating and what is supposed to be better-than-average puck movement to help out his team while somebody else has to take the tougher net-front duties. If this is the case, then it’s perhaps not altogether bad, except I don’t think the Wings have a need to have both the right-shooting AND the left-shooting Jakub Kindl on their roster. That’s not a good third pair, it’s not a good mixed third pair, and since I don’t trust Jakub Kindl anywhere near the Red Wings‘ top four, it’s two players taking up what I feel should definitely be no more than one space on the roster (and perhaps more-preferably, should be taking up zero spaces on the Wings’ roster).

There’s nothing wrong with inviting Raphael Diaz to camp and it’s entirely possible, if he even decides to come to Detroit’s camp (which isn’t something I really know that I’d even call likely), that he could steal a job from a veteran while displacing a youngster. That’s just something I’d have to see to believe. I don’t see myself being happy with the team going into the season with both Diaz and Kindl on the roster though.

Update: I reached out to Andrew Berkshire from Habs Eyes on the Prize to get his scouting report on Diaz. He’s got some bigger praise for the blueliner:

Diaz has been mischaracterized as a soft, offense-only defenseman, when he’s really not anything of the sort. Diaz can move the puck well, and has the passing ability to quarterback a powerplay, but his shot isn’t very good. It’s hard but it’s wild and often gets blocked or goes off target. The biggest asset he brings to a team though, is his defensive ability. Diaz has a reputation for being soft because he rarely engages in battles along the boards, but that’s because he’s fairly nimble and is usually able to take the puck and get it out of danger.

While with the Canadiens last year, only P.K. Subban was more successful at clearing the zone with possession than Raphael Diaz, better even than Andrei Markov. Diaz is also not afraid to put his body on the line, as he blocks a tremendous amount of shots. Usually high shot blocking numbers are a bad sign defensively, but Diaz has kept his shot attempts against relatively low in his last couple seasons, mostly likely due to clearing the zone quickly, and having a good stick in the neutral zone.

He can’t play a ton of minutes without breaking down, but he’s the kind of player you would love to have on your third pairing, and wouldn’t mind as a 4th D in a pinch.

Update 2 (Monday, 10:40am) : Guess we can forget about it for now. It’s still just a tryout, so an actual NHL deal would trump such a thing, but there’s not much reason to expect that from Detroit either.

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