The 2017-2018 season provided us with many new aspects about the Red Wings, among them were Little Caesars Arena, Trevor Daley, Martin Frk and Tyler Bertuzzi. While this season certainly didn’t provide the intensity and competition we as Red Wing fans are so used, it was a useful season for the organization. By all accounts, it forced Ken Holland to look in the mirror and accept that The Streak was over and it forced him to accept that it was time to open slots up for younger players. Frk and Bertuzzi were most impactful of the “first-timers” but there were several others that are certainly worth mentioning.
Witkowski was…frustrating (and also not truly a “kid”), not so much as a player (at least for me) because I don’t think we can fault the man for playing the game a certain way and as such, playing his game while on the ice. The frustration came from the fact that it just didn’t make sense, it was an odd fit and seemed doomed from the start. He only played in 31 games and the stat that stood out the most to me was his offensive zone start percentage (oZS%); which was 54%. He doesn’t really mean anything but when I pulled advanced metrics up for him, I was very surprised to see. Witkowski’s most memorable moment has to be the debacle that was the game against the Calgary Flames. It was a poor display all around and while there is time/place for fighting, it was often poorly timed and poorly placed.
Also…not truly a “kid” but I don’t let facts get in the way of a good story. Despite the fact that he took a roster slot from a younger player, it was hard not to root for Booth, even if it was only for a feel good story. He is just a likable guy plus there is the time he cheated death while piloting his own plane to tryout for the Anaheim Ducks. While I wish there was some great story above and beyond Booth making the team, there is not. He played in 28 games, scored 4 goals and had awful metrics all-around. It is unlikely he will be back next season.
He got his cup of coffee in the League this year and did well for himself. I do not mean that he did anything spectacular and while he will likely never be more than an every night 4C or the 13th forward, he got out there and looked like he belonged. In his final game before heading back to Grand Rapids, he received just under 8 minutes of ice time and won 3 of his 4 face-offs. He is still under contract for next before becoming an RFA. The logjam of similar forwards may keep Turgeon from ever getting regular ice time with Wings (though it is debatable whether he would get regular ice time anywhere else).
Speaking of guys that didn’t get much time because of a logjam of overpaid veterans, enter one, Geno Svechnikov. The best thing to say about Geno is that he should be more consistent ice time next year and get to play with some more talented line mates. In general, he wasn’t disappointing but he certainly bordered on it with 2 goals and 4 points in 14 games. Again, I’m personally willing to give him a pass since he averaged less than 9 minutes per game. I certainly hope he gets some run with Larkin or Zetterberg next year.
This is probably the guy that most of us wanted to see wearing the Winged Wheel and far more than he got. He and Turgeon basically shared the cup of coffee as Hicketts only played in 5 games himself. It was a mixed bag for him but like Turgeon, he seemed like he belonged and certainly deserves more ice time in the League. The problem is, the defenseman logjam is worse than the forwards considering all 7 defensemen (plus Witkowski) are back, Filip Hronek like deserves a chance and depending on the pick at 6, potentially that player as well. Hicketts will get a shot but unfortunately, barring some movement, it may not be a long one next season and that may mean it will not be with the Red Wings at all. Hicketts is on the last year of his contract, depending on the draft and other factors, who knows if he’s with the Wings after next season.
None of these five were impactful for the Red Wings this year but-given the opportunity-Hicketts and Svechnikov have a chance to do so next season; the other three are inconsequential for various reasons and likely won’t see much time with the Wings (if any at all-Booth). I for one am hoping to see some serious movement happening with the Red Wings roster before next season so we can see what Hicksy and Geno can do with an extended time in the League.