Detroit Red Wings Weekly Review: Front Office & Vrana Signs

Octopus Thrower

It’s mid-August which is normally the quieter times of the offseason. The Detroit Red Wings, however, continue to patiently care of things. One was expected–re-signing Jakub Vrana to a three-year deal with a $5.25M AAV and the other not so much.

Assistant General Manager Ryan Martin took a job with the New York Rangers in the same role, overseeing the Rangers’ AHL affiliate Hartford. From Ted Kulfan’s Detroit News article:

With the Wings, Martin was primarily responsible for collective bargaining agreement administration and compliance, salary cap management, player contract research and analysis, and salary arbitration preparation.

Martin was also involved extensively in all facets of player contract negotiations, strategic planning and player evaluations at both the professional and amateur levels. Martin oversaw all aspects of hockey operations for the Griffins including player personnel decisions, player development, contract negotiations and player movement.

Being with the Red Wings for 14 seasons, it was stunning to see him leave the organization and some even opined that finding someone similar would be very challenging.

Simple answer: Yzerman will find the right person. Longer answer: It’s a great opportunity for Martin and all the best to him. But in his role, he didn’t preside over some of the best seasons in Detroit’s history when it comes to getting contract value.

The Griffins not withstanding, some of the worst contracts Detroit signed were done with former general manager Ken Holland and Martin at the helm. I’m not trying to be overly negative here, but just pointing out that if that fell under his jurisdiction as indicated, there are a chunk of contracts that didn’t move the needle and in many cases, saw the team weighed down by players on bloated deals.

On the other end of it, Martin did a nice job with Grand Rapids in terms of their consistency and strong play in the AHL. A Calder Cup Championship in 2017 that saw Tyler Bertuzzi voted the most valuable player in the playoffs was certainly a massive highlight–especially since Bertuzzi would become part of the core of the Red Wings.

All the best to Martin and much gratitude for his many years with the Red Wings.

Vrana’s Deal Could be Unbelievably Valuable

It could be an absolute boon over the next three seasons if Vrana continues the production that he started when he came to Detroit. Scoring eight goals in 11 games, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could hit the 30 goal mark that was expected of Mantha. With the team presumably healthier when Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi return, along with Pius Suter, Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina, and Robby Fabbri, there is a legitimate offensive threat this team hasn’t had in at least four seasons.

Vrana will see more ice time and could be a crucial piece on the power play. With the aforementioned Zadina, he could also unlock the offensive potential of the kid who famously said he would “fill the nets” of the teams that passed on him during the 2018 NHL Draft.

This is the first season in a while where Detroit will have a lot of exciting subplots to its season. Between seeing how Nick Leddy can bolster the blue line, to Alex Nedeljkovic manning the crease, to those already mentioned above, there’s a lot to watch.

Red Wings Roundup

I was lucky enough to be a guest (again) on the Hockey Writers Grind Line this week and it was an absolute blast.

Many thanks to them for asking me, which in turn gave me an idea about the final portion of the Red Wings’ Weekly Review.

There are so many great voices around the internet via writing and listening/video. There’s some well known, long tenured great ones, like Winging it in Motown, the Malik Report,  and the Winged Wheel Podcast. But there are also many others and the Wings community is better for all the great thoughts and writing that exists.

I’m very grateful for being able to write and extremely grateful to those who read what we write. The more voices and writing we have as a community, the stronger and better it is. The final section of these weekly installments will be a catchall for some great Red Wings content: So without further ado:

The Hockey Writers Grind Line also write in addition to their weekly show. Make sure to give them a read. Devin Little wrote this week about three Griffins who are ready to take the next step to the NHL.

On the listening side, give Unsung Octopi Podcast a download. They did an awesome bit with Nolan Bianchi of the Locked on Red Wings Podcast and one of the cool aspects was when they spotlighted Mrs. Hockey, Colleen Howe. She was an incredible woman, and her impact on hockey is undeniable. There’s actually a biography on her and Gordie, which they both kindly autographed for me once upon a time. Definitely worth a read. (It’s hard to find, but it’s here and also on Ebay).

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