Friday, April 15, 2005

Niklas Kronwall honored

The players of the American Hockey League and members of the media have awarded the Wings' Niklas Kronwall with the Eddie Shore Award, which is given to the best defenseman in the AHL. Kronwall has been a force for the Grand Rapids Griffins this year, leading the team with 50 points in 73 games (12G, 38A) and anchoring their defense with his smooth skating and hard-hitting style. He is not, as Jes Golbez points out, the next Nick Lidstrom but he will be a mainstay on the Wings' defense with Jiri Fischer in the future. If the Griffins do not make the AHL playoffs, Kronwall could possibly play for Sweden in the World Championships, if they have a spot for him. He certainly wouldn't hurt the team by his presence. Be sure to read Jes' take on this. I got a kick out of his grudging respect of the Wings' drafting prowess:
Say what you will about the Wing$ 'buying' players and buying success (Hull, Hasek, Shanahan, Lang, Chelios, Schneider, etc), Detroit would never have had such a long run of success without the amazing drafting and development record that they do.
I have to point out, though, that of those players listed, only Brett Hull and Dominik Hasek were "bought" (and Hasek was still technically acquired by a trade but I won't argue that one because it really was the Wings' money that brought him here). The others were traded for.
  • In 1996, Brendan Shanahan came to Detroit (with Brian Glynn) from Hartford in a trade for Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau and a first-round draft pick.
  • In 1999, the Wings traded Anders Ericksson and two first-round draft picks ('99 and 2001) for Chris Chelios.
  • In 2003, the Wings acquired Mathieu Schneider from LA for Sean Avery, Maxim Kuznetzov, their No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft and a No. 2 pick in 2004.
  • In 2004, the Wings traded the Caps Tomas Fleischmann, a first-round pick in 2004, and a fourth-round pick in 2006 for Robert Lang.
Obviously, the Wings came out ahead in those trades (especially the middle two and it's too soon to see about the Lang trade yet) but they were trades and not free agent acquisitions. Shanahan and Chelios even deferred money (along with Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom - two Wings draft picks) to make room for Brett Hull. The Wings' money is not the reason those guys are in Detroit. It might be different with Mathieu Schneider, who is a free agent now and is not all that likely to return (he has an inflated view of his worth as a near Norris Trophy finalist - an "honor" which came from playing with Nick Lidstrom more than anything else.). Lang will have two more years on his contract after this lockout and might just fit in enough to finish his career here. I think the Wings' reputation for a free agency free-spending team is a bit overblown. Sure they've done it in the past (Hull, Robitaille, Hatcher, Woolley - but who complains about him? -, etc.) but they are primarily built on drafting (So we agree, Jes) and trading, not by initially acquiring rent-a-players using their checkbook. UPDATE (23. Apr 05): From
"Eddie Shore Award winner Niklas Kronwall will play for Sweden at the 2005 World Championship, which begins April 30 in Austria. In his last appearance at the 2003 WC in Finland, Kronwall helped his country claim the silver medal."
Congratulations again, Nicklas!


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