Nov 7, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) skates with the puck against the Dallas Stars at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Down Memory Lane: A look at the 2005-2006 Detroit Red Wings Part 1

How did we get here? As fans, our perception of a franchise is heavily effected by what the present has given us. We look to the past and laud decisions (Brad Stuart trade comes to mind) and equally loathe them (Dan Cleary re-signing anyone?). But if you trace back to the first season following the lockout, can we see a pattern of failures (lack of quality free agents)? Successes (drafting)? Every cause has an effect, and this is the first in a chronological study of Redwing seasons past.

We will start with the 2005-2006 Redwings and work our way to the most recent season. The draft, free agents, and team performance will be analyzed. We’ll also look at how the season being discussed affected the course the Wings took. Finally, we’ll also delve a little into Corsi and other advanced stats as they became more prevalent (and available) as we go down memory lane.


 

2005 NHL Draft

The 2005 NHL Draft was one of the deepest in NHL history. The Detroit Red Wings, as a result of the lost season, were slotted to pick 19th in the first round. They were a cluster of teams with only one lottery ball due to previous success.

The selections are in bold:

Round 1 Pick 19 – Jakub Kindl*

Round 2 Pick 42 – Justin Abdelkader*

Round 3 Pick 80 – Christofer Lofberg

Round 4 Pick 103 – Mattias Ritola

Round 5 Pick 132 – Darren Helm*

Round 5 Pick 137 – Johan Ryno

Round 5 Pick 151 – Jeff May

Round 6 Pick 175 – Juho Mielonen

Round 7 Pick 214 – Bretton Stamler

*still with Wings

Hits: Kindl, Abdelkader, and Helm have all been contributors with the Wings. Abby’s first playoff game was against Anaheim in Game 5 of the 2009 Western Conference Semifinals. He netted a goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and followed up with another in Game 2. Helm scored his first NHL goal in the playoffs in 2008, and proved to be a difference maker with his speed, defense, and special teams prowess. Of course, Helm is also remembered for this goal against Chicago in Game 5 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals.

Kindl, on the other hand, has been a whipping boy for the fanbase. Some of this has to do with the expectations placed on him. He was the highest Redwings draft pick since Martin LaPointe in 1991 (he was 10th overall). Not since 2000 had the Wings drafted in the first round, and anyone chosen with the 19th pick in ’05 was going to have a lot of expectations. But some has to do with Kindl’s inconsistent play. After a stronger 2013 season, he slipped back this past season.

Ritola was with the team until being picked up by the Lighting on waivers. Wing fans held their breath, but it wasn’t as big of a loss as initially feared. Ritola now plays overseas.

In hindsight: The Wings (like 20 other teams) missed out on snagging Tuukka Rask with the 19th pick. Boston took him two slots later. In the 3rd round, LA took some guy named Jonathan Quick. Ben Bishop was taken in the third round as well. Imagine how any of these picks would have changed Howard’s time in Detroit.

Paul Stastny was taken by Colorado in the second round, while Keith Yandle and Niklas Hjalmarsson were picked in the fourth round. Mr Irrelevant was Patric Hornqvist.

Verdict: Babcock calls Helm the best third line center in the game and his absence in the linup throws the team off kilter. Abdelkader has been a sparkplug in the lineup. Kindl is well, Kindl. But the first draft of the new chapter of the NHL was a great haul, especially in the later rounds. Out of those nine picks, three still play for the Wings, and the other made the big club. At a 33% clip (with two of those picks being after the first round), that’s a successful draft.


 

2005-2006 Redwings – 58-16-8 1st in Western Conference, 1st in Central Division

Playoffs: Lost 4-2 to #8 Edmonton in the Western Conference Quarterfinals

Leading Goal Scorers (Top 5): Brendan Shanahan 40, Henrik Zetterberg 39, Tomas Holmstrom 29, Pavel Datsyuk 28, Mikael Sameulsson 23.

Welcome to Hockeytown

Mike Babcock – After coaching the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim within a game of a Stanley Cup Championship in 2003, Babcock brought his fire and renowned coaching skills to Hockeytown.

Mikael Samuelsson – His first stint in Hockeytown. Samuelsson was not a well known quantity and bounced around the league until signing with the Wings. He netted a personal high 23 goals for the season.

Dan Cleary – Once a high draft pick, Cleary came to Detroit on a training camp invite. He would end up defying the odds, and as we all know, driving the fan base crazy nearly a decade later. But more on that later.

Chris Osgood – No one knew what to think when he came for a second go around. Marred by injury, Manny Legace would usurp him as the starter. But this signing would be dividends later.

Andreas Lilja – Ask me about this after the Selanne turnover in the ’07 playoffs, and I’d have not so nice words. But he was key on the penalty kill.

Cory Cross – A deadline deal acquisition. Dealt for a fourth round pick. Not much here to see.

Johan Franzen – His first season up in Detroit. Earned his “Mule” nickname by nearly running Steve Yzerman over.

Thanks for the Memories

Dave Lewis – The longtime Wings assistant coach and head coach was broomed after poor postseason showings and well, Mike Babcock becoming available.

Darren McCarty: The man who became a legend on March 26th 1997 was bought out and signed a two year deal with Calgary.

Darien Hatcher – His underwhelming career with Detroit ended in a buyout. He signed a two year deal with Philadelphia.

Curtis Joseph – The goaltending soap opera ended when he agreed to a deal with Phoenix.

Mathieu Dandenault – Signed with Montreal much to the relief of many Wings faithful. Spent the next four seasons there.

Ray Whitney – After a disappointing season in Detroit, inked a deal with Carolina and won a Stanley Cup. Enjoyed some of his better statistical seasons there.

Brett Hull – Tried to catch on with Phoenix but ended up retiring.

Jamie Rivers – Dealt to Phoenix at the deadline. Fetched a seventh round pick.


 

I’ll be back: System players that made a brief appearance and would be back later.

Jimmy Howard: 4 games; 1-2-0; 2.99 GAA; .904 Save%

Tomas Kopecky 1 game – 0 points

Kyle Quincey 1 game – 0 points

Valtteri Filppula – 4 games; 1 point

Jiri Hudler – 4 games; 2 points (Hudler played 12 games in 2003-2004)

Next Edition: Three Defining Moments, Season recap, and how this season affected the future.

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