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Will Detroit Sink or Swim in Lockout Shortened Season?

With the NHL lockout over, NHL players that were playing overseas are flooding back to North America in anticipation of NHL training camp starting in a few days. That includes a few Detroit Red Wings players.

Henrik Zetterberg, Valterri Filppula, Pavel Datsyuk, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Damien Brunner, Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton were some of the Detroit players that played in Europe while the lockout was in progress, and almost all of them have returned to Detroit.

Datsyuk is staying in the KHL until he and his agent know when training camp is starting, and the status of Damien Brunner is unknown. He is currently playing for Zug in the Swiss league, but will likely end up in training camp in Detroit.

Too Many Forwards, What Does It Mean?

Something has got to give. The Detroit Red Wings made four signings today, two of which are forwards. This is a strange predicament the Red Wings are in. They have $17 million left in cap space and are still in on the Zach Parise sweepstakes.

Parise will likely make a decision by tomorrow, but with Jiri Hudler out of the picture, the Red Wings still need a top line winger, which might come in the form of Parise or Alex Semin (or possibly Hudler, although unlikely).

The Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson signings give Detroit 16 forwards under contract, not including Justin Abdelkader, who is an RFA, or Tomas Holmstrom, who is UFA.

In a league where you usually dress 12 forwards a game, 16 is too many. Factor in a spot for Abdelkader and a Parise type player, and that's 18 forward spots. What is Ken Holland going to do?

Swiss Star Damien Brunner to Sign With Detroit

The Detrot Red Wings dipped into the free agent market a little bit early, reportedly agreeing to terms with Swiss League scoring star Damien Brunner.

Brunner is a 26-year old, right handed forward played for Zug the past four years. He is very skilled and can score points, as evident in his Swiss League stats, where he has scored over a point per game in the past three seasons.

The Red Wings haven't officially signed him because it isn't July 1st yet, but the terms of the deal have been agreed on and reports suggest it is a one year, two-way contract. This is very low risk, high reward for the Red Wings. If Brunner shapes out to be Jiri Hudler's cheaper replacement; excellent. He's faster than Hudler and shoots right on a team full of lefties. If Brunner can't make the cut in the NHL, he can be sent to Grand Rapids without having to clear waivers.

Handful of Updates

In what is going to be the longest offseason in Detroit Red Wings recent history since 2006, there are still things happening that will affect the team going forward. More on Patrick Eaves' condition, the World Championship, Jakub Kindl and Dan Cleary's knee,

Gill Out, Black Aces Recalled

Hal Gill will be out of the Nashville Predators lineup for Game Four, still battling a lower body injury. The hulking 6 foot 7 Gill would give the Wings fits, blocking even MORE shots than they already have throughout the series.

The Red Wings have also toyed with moving Dan Cleary up to the top line, for what reason? I don't know. Cleary is a third line player at best. He doesn't score and isn't a setup man, so having him up on the top line while Gustav Nyquist rots with Cory Emmerton and Tomas Holmstrom makes no sense to me. Speaking of rookies, elevel Grand Rapids Griffins were called up to be Black Aces for the playoffs.

Griffins Update 01/17/12

The Grand Rapids Griffins played a two game road series in Abbotsford on Friday and Saturday, sweeping the Heat in both games by scores of 4-3 and 2-1 in overtime.

In game one, Tomas Tatar, Francis Pare, Brian Lashoff and Landon Ferraro scored for the Griffins and Joey MacDonald stopped 27 shots for the win.

Garnert Exelby scored in regulation and Lashoff won the game in overtime in the second game of the series. Thomas McCollum stopped 32 shots in the win.

The Griffins returned home to face the Houston Aeros a few nights later. Chris Conner and Ferraro lit the lamp but the Griffs ultimately fell 3-2 in a shootout. MacDonald was in net for the loss.

Grand Rapids lo...

Brunnstrom Signs, Cuts *UPDATED*

The Detroit Red Wings announced today that eight players have been reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins: forwards Joakim Andersson, Landon Ferraro, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Brent Raedeke; defensemen Travis Ehrhardt and Brian Lashoff; and goaltender Jordan Pearce.

In addition, assistant general manager Jim Nill said forward Chris Conner, defensemen Garnet Exelby and Doug Janik and goalie Joey MacDonald will go on waivers Monday. 

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Detroit's Cupboard Well Stocked for Future

If anyone is wondering how the Detroit Red Wings continue to have success, making the playoffs year after year and still being a contender, one of the most important things to think about is their prospects. It is the reason that they are the consistent team that they are. Some teams like to load up on free agents, make monster trades and rush their prospects in, but Detroit has the best system in the game and possibly sports.

Of course, because of their success, Detroit has the option of leaving players in junior or the minors for a longer time than most. When the time comes, there are always a couple holes to fill and they are never shoved into a huge role that would overwhelm the...