Red Wings Top 25 Under 25: Alexey Marchenko
Alexey Marchenko is and continues to be a steady presence on the Detroit Red Wings blueline. Marchenko has played in 80 games for the Red Wings in addition to six playoff appearances. He played his career high in games (66) this past season and the hope is that Jeff Blashill and the coaching staff will get Marchenko in most the games this coming season to continue his development. He averaged 16:50 in icetime during the 2015-16 season.
With the prices high to acquire defenseman via trade and the free agent market lacking major defensive help, developing from within is more important than ever for the Red Wings defense.
With Marchenko, you are not looking for a point producing defenseman, but someone that can be a lock down defender while making smart plays in his own zone.
In the summer of 2014 the Red Wings featured Marchenko in the Prospect report;
Expectations For Next Year
Just as in the video Marchenko is steady, not flashy. That expectation will continue. We should expect improvement in all areas of his game and expect he will be given more responsibility. This is important especially if you want to see the icetime or games played of Jonathan Ericsson, for example limited. It is also time someone else steps up on the blueline and starts to make it their defense.
Assistant general Ryan Martin described his game as "simple" in the Prospect Report. That is exactly what the Red Wings needs more of, defenseman that make the simple smart play while not trying to force something that is not there. We have seen those forced plays in the past and it leads to turnovers and goals against.
No one is looking for Marchenko to put up points, everyone just wants simple, smart, steady and reliable on the ice. Doing those things are even better than points by a defender because of the countless times defensive mistakes have cost the Red Wings over the past few seasons.
Finally, lets take a look from Hockey Reference at his NHL Possession Metrics:
With the emergence of Marchenko he could be one of the important puzzle pieces for fixing the defense. We hear it many times how the improvement has to come from within so with the right development Marchenko can be that within as he enters the prime of his career. One of the best options on defense, without giving up players, picks or prospects can simply be by having more faith in Marchenko and elevating him to a key everyday player on this team.
Marchenko signed an extension on two year $2.9 million deal with a cap hit for $1.45 million. It gives him time to hopefully get more responsibility to grow into a staple on the Red Wings blueline and gives the coaching staff and management a chance to see how well he can do with more responsibilities. It shows some faith that management believes he is on the right tract and give him the chance to get a nice payday with a solid two seasons ahead.
If it doesn't work out he can become a free agent. The risk is that you would hate to see Marchenko walk if he is progressing slowly over the next two seasons then progress fast in his late 20's. He could be prime for a three or four year extension with some signs of progress. Besides, if Marchenko does not continue to progress the Wings blueline will be in even more trouble then we think. There are lots of opportunity for him on this blueline its time for Marchenko to take the torch and run with it.