March 26, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (5) takes a shot in the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won 7-2 clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Down Memory Lane: A look at the 2006-07 Detroit Red Wings

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 second in a chronological study of Red Wing seasons past.

We continue with the 2006-2007 Red Wings 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.

2006 NHL Draft

Round 2 Pick 41 – Cory Emmerton

Round 2 Pick 47 – Shawn Matthias

Round 2 Pick 62 – Dick Axelsson

Round 3 Pick 92 – Daniel Larsson

Round 6 Pick 182 – Jan Mursak

Round 7 Pick 191 – Nick Oslund

Round 7 Pick 212 – Logan Pyett

 Hits: This draft didn’t reap the fruit of the 2005 selections. Emmerton was effective on the penalty kill, but didn’t have the staying power to remain with the club. He jettisoned between Grand Rapids and Detroit often, and wasn’t offered a contract after this season. He’s now in the KHL. Matthias, now with Vancouver, was a piece of the trade that fetched Todd Bertuzzi in the same season. Axelsson was always supposed to make up it as Wing, but just never panned out with the depth.

Mursak was along the lines of Emmerton, never showing enough to stay in Detroit. Along with Pyett, Mursak is in the KHL. Oslund went to the KHL after a season in Grand Rapids. Larsson played a couple of seasons in Grand Rapids, but is now in Sweden.

 In hindsight: This draft was pretty bare bones. The Wings traded their 29th overall pick to Phoenix and dropped to 41 to grab Emmerton. That was their confidence in the depth. The best players were taken in the top five with Jordan Staal (2), Jonathan Toews (3), and Phil Kessel (5) being those eye-popping names. Erik Johnson went first to St. Louis (bet they regret that now). As the draft progresses, it was more role players than superstars or “diamonds.” Kessel, by the way, would be dealt to Toronto for a king’s ransom and set the Bruins up for their current reign of terror.

Verdict: It’s a meh draft. Matthias’ biggest role in Detroit was securing Todd Bertuzzi and it would have been him that would have made it out of the bunch. The Red Wings could afford a draft like this with a glut of talent in Hockeytown for the next several seasons. They would make up for it in the drafts to come. Out of the seven picks, 5 were forwards, 1 defense, and 1 goalie.

Season by the Numbers

            2005-2006 Red Wings – 50-19-13 1st in Western Conference, 1st in Central Division

Playoffs: Defeated #8 Calgary in the Western Conference Quarterfinals 4-2

Defeated #5 San Jose in the Western Conference Semifinals 4-2

Lost to #2 Anaheim in the Western Conference Finals 4-2

Leading Goal Scorers (Top 5): Henrik Zetterberg 33, Tomas Holmstrom 30, Pavel Datsyuk 27, Dan Cleary 20, Robert Lang 19.

Welcome to Hockeytown (Additions that played more than 10 games)

Dominik Hasek: Third time’s a charm, apparently. Hasek signed with the Wings after spending the previous season with Ottawa. This wasn’t the same Dominator that arrived in 2001 or back in 2003, but he had a sparkling 2.05 GAA and a .913 save percentage.

Todd Bertuzzi: The first of two trips with the Redwings. Bertuzzi was dealt for two conditional picks (eventually a second round pick), and Matthias. Contributed in a handful of regular season games and  the playoff run after not playing for several months due to a severe back injury. Considered a risky trade at the time since there was no guarantee Bertuzzi would re-sign with Detroit. (He wouldn’t after the season).

Kyle Calder: Traded from the Chicago Blackhawks for Jason Williams in a three-way deal with Philadelphia. Posted 14 points in 19 games but sputtered in the playoffs before injury shut him down.

Danny Markov: Signed away from Nashville. Played his final season in the NHL with the Wings before going to the KHL.

Tomas Kopecky: Notched a goal in 22 regular season games. Spotty play in the playoffs.

 Thanks for the Memories:

 Steve Yzerman: The Captain retired after 23 seasons. Not more needs to be said about arguably the second greatest Red Wing of all time. (Gordie is Mr. Hockey for a reason). Left a hole in the hearts of many, but Nick Lidstrom more than stepped up.

Brendan Shanahan: Signed with the New York Rangers. Shanny wouldn’t produce in New York like he did in Detroit, and his departure allowed for the younger players to grow.

Jason Williams: Dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks for Kyle Calder. Didn’t come close to his production in 2005-2006 (21 goals, 58 points), and wouldn’t again.

Mark Mowers: Signed a deal with Boston. Meager contributions, and only played in the NHL two seasons more.

Manny Legace: After his unspectacular playoff performance, Legace took the Osgood route of dispatched Red Wing goalies and signed with St. Louis.

Joey McDonald: Claimed by Boston on waivers. Played in eight games and had a 3.46 GAA with Detroit.

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


            Derek Meech: 4 games

Season Recap

The biggest change was someone besides Steve Yzerman wearing the C. Nick Lidstrom wore it well, and the Wings didn’t miss a beat.  The Wings steamrolled through another regular season, burying the Western Conference under another 100 plus point season, and only missed out on another Presidents Trophy since Buffalo had more overall wins. There were stretches of dominance in months where the Wings only lost a handful of games. They bolstered their attack by picking up Kyle Calder and Todd Bertuzzi before the trade deadline. The “kids” stepped up as Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Jiri Hudler, and Valtteri Filppula made Wings fans forget that two familiar faces were no longer with the team.

The playoffs were another story. Wing fans were rightly nervous heading into the playoffs. The 2002 Championship was a distant memory and three early exits (2003 and 2006 especially jarring) had Wing fans impatient. Worse, with a salary cap and a finite timeline to win, it felt like the Red Wings only had so many chances to put it together. The 2007 playoffs were a roller coaster, one that would wreak havoc on blood pressure read outs across the state of Michigan. But they would go further and take an enormous step to hoisting the chalice again. The full playoff write-up will be the second part of the look at the 2006-2007 season.

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