With the World Cup of Hockey Tournament slated to be played in Toronto during the month of September, it is safe to say we have seen a flurry of activity and conversation surrounding the typical top tier international teams. Most of this news has included roster announcements and team expectations, but a change in World Cup Rosters, as a result of a red wings player backing out of the tournament, can be seen today as the largest red flag in the already questionable status of the Red Wings Roster.
You only need one guess to realize who all of this news is referring to: Niklas Kronwall. We learned today that Kronner is skipping his appearance with Team Sweden in the World Cup of Hockey tourney, in order to favor his knee for the upcoming season.
Now the rational part of my mind tells me not to worry about this news, nor the plethora of situations that can arise from this news. Sure It is in the best interest of Hockeytown that Kronner take these necessary precautions to protect the A on his jersey, and carry the torch one more year for the sake of our shallow blue line depth. However, I am apt to hit the oh shit button sooner than most. With the track record of players that have fallen victim to injury and lack of production, and with monstrous multiyear deals, accompanied by promises of continued success, the Red Wings Organization and Ken Holland continue to put our team in jeopardy of breaking our playoff streak. As much as i hate to admit it, we can add Kronwall to this list.
Resigned to a a seven-year, $33.25 million contract after a few great seasons and playoff runs in which he won a Cup in 2008. Niklas Kronwall seemed to be a safe bet in Franchising the then 30-year-old defenseman. The Long Term Contract kept Kronner Here, who was at the time still exhibiting explosive play, and great stats putting up 11 Goals, 26 Assists and a Plus Minus of 5 in 77 games in 2011/2011. This Consistency and Defensive Focus is what drove our continuing investment in Kronwall and we learned to expect and rely on our Alternate Captain, along with the “Kronwall’d” Chants Echoing off the blue steel of the Joe.
However it was just a season and half later that we seen the issue with Signing a 30 year old in the NHL to any Multiyear deal. When Kronwall was placed on the Injured List for the first time in his Contract for a nagging concussion. Kronwall returned to his fundamentals until this season in which Kronwall suffered a Knee Injury toward the end of the Season. To the average fan we took the news with a grain of salt, it was just a typical knee injury right? Well when you look at the stats up until this point, there was a steady downward trend in Kronner’s Stats even prior to Injury.
One of the saddest moments as a Wings fan was not the moment i found out we were leaving the Joe for Little Caesers Arena (Don’t even get me started on that topic), but instead when I seen Kronwall’s Knee Buckle in front on Tampa’s net during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Looking like a shell of his hard hitting, first defensive line moniker of play, Kronner agonized in pain while all hockey fans gasped in agony, and wings fans started pacing.
It was in this moment, I realized we are in some shit here. I instantly let everyone know that Kronwall’s career was over, so yeah I realized the dilemma both our team and Nik was facing. Knee Injuries, it doesn’t matter the sport, these injuries go one of two ways, either its repairable by surgery and you pray to god it doesn’t get injured again, or you are done for good. There is no in between. Faced by this fact Kronwall had to go for surgery to repair his Knee, just the second time in two months. This was news was very unsettling because arguably we do not, and have not had a plan B for Nik Kronwall. This simple alarming fact is due to the over signing of players inevitably by Ken Holland. The NHL is no longer an arena to facilitate decade danglers and blue line veterans. Situations like these ought to set our sights for further depth, and less commitment to rental players and franchise players and more on talent and monitored production as a whole.
When news on Kronner’s leg came back this summer, it sounded better than to be expected, however with the reports of Kronwall sitting out the world cup, along with deck stacked against his age, production, and injury severity. I see issues brewing with Defensive Depth once we get into the season.
Just as our largest problem this past season was lack of defensive consistency, We are actually worse off this season on the blue line with or without Kronwall than we have ever been. With Kyle Quincey being told to pursue UFA, and Jakub Kindl in Florida, we are looking really sparse in terms of tried and true defensive options.
The absolute biggest concern is the over compensation and signing of offensive options like Helm, Glendening, etc. Sure some of these guys can be buried in the Griffins but the principle is once again we have nothing to show for on defense.
Sure Ken Holland was able to move Datsyuk’s contract, but this went in vain as
We shelled out big bucks and overpaid for just about every player we signed this off season, with no cap wiggle room to spare.
After Ken Holland had spoken out about interest in a top two defenseman, he failed to cash this check putting us in a very trying position.
One refreshing take on this all, is the Brendan Smith option, which we seen pan out beautifully in the 2016 Playoffs when Kronner went down on Injury. But this will boil down to Blashill’s confidence in our young core. Only time will tell. We can hope that Kronwall will be back to snuff come regular season play, but if not we need to be looking into a plan B for our aging player core especially Niklas Kronwall’s Top Defensive Line Spot.