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Photo Credit: Nick Seguin

WN MONDAY MAILBAG: Jeff Blashill’s Rough Start

With five games under their belt, the Red Wings look… well, they don’t look like much at all. The team has an 0-3-2 record and is still looking for their first win of the season. There are many new faces on the bench, especially on the blueline, and the overall team has struggled. This brings up a lot of questions about what’s going on and what’s to come.

Michael Rasmussen has suddenly become a hot topic in Detroit since it was announced that he’ll be a healthy scratch against Montreal. In my opinion, there is nothing for Rasmussen in the WHL. Yes, he’s struggling right now (which is something I predicted before the season opener, by the way), but he’s a 19-year-old playing the very first games of his NHL career. To add to that, he’s playing with mediocre teammates. He will adjust. He just needs time, which is something Jeff Blashill isn’t giving him enough of.

Scoring a goal would go a long way in building some confidence and he can’t do that from the WHL. He should be a permanent NHL player from here on out.

This is nothing new for Blashill. When players start to get stale and complacent, he’ll turn on the blender to try and get them going. It also keeps the competition on their toes as it messes with their match-up strategy.

The issue with Blashill’s line blending is that when things start to work, he doesn’t give them enough time to see if they are actually sustainable long-term. There’s also the issue with players being able to build chemistry with their linemates. The biggest issue, though, is the lack of talent on this roster won’t allow Blashill to build the kind of effective lines that he wants. He’s just trying to find the most effective ones.

Abdelkader has had a pretty rough to start the season. It’s something that I discussed in my last piece on the Wings needing to get more out of their veteran players. That being said, don’t count on him seeing any time in the press box. This organization stresses the importance of its veteran players, it doesn’t sit them as a healthy scratch. Whether we like it or not, Abdelkader is a highly valued member of that roster and, in management and coaching’s eyes, played a big role on the ice and off of it. Don’t expect him to sit one out any time soon.

Blashill is going to be with us for the entire year. Time and time again, Ken Holland has defended Blashill as a head coach and stuck by him. Here’s the thing. Blashill hasn’t really been given a fair hand in the NHL. The talent pool that he’s working with is bottom-5 in the league and he’s been tasked with getting more out of his veteran players, developing his young players, and introducing four players to the NHL this year.

I get that Blashill can be frustrating sometimes with his redundant press scrums and constant line shuffling, but he doesn’t deserve the hate that he gets in Red Wings circles for the team’s performance. The team doesn’t hold him completely accountable for this either, so don’t expect him to be gone by Thanksgiving.

The Red Wings books are littered with NMCs, which makes roster moves very difficult. Gustav Nyquist and Nick Jensen are two assets that are probably the easiest to move, but it’s hard to imagine the Wings getting anything too good in return. I’m not even sure it’s worth moving Jensen. He’s a cheap, good bottom-pair defenseman. He is not flashy by any means, but he has a quiet confidence that I like. Nyquist will surely be at the top of every sports network’s list of trade deadline candidates in March 2019. Considering how crowded Detroit’s forward lines are looking, I’d hope the Wings move Nyquist by the deadline.

As for Jack Hughes, no, I don’t think we realistically get him with this year’s performance. Even if the Wings finish dead last, they only have a 1-in-5 chance of getting the first overall pick. I don’t love those odds, even if they are better than the other teams. In order to get Jack, the Wings will to get lucky.

Hughes is certainly the best player available in the 2019 draft. I’m not a huge prospect guy, but on the latest episode of the Winged Wheel Podcast, Brad Krysko mentioned that Hughes’ output is comparable to Auston Matthews, but his play style is more like Patrick Kane or Johnny Gaudreau.

If you have any follow-ups, please direct your questions to @BradKrysko!

I’m not sure if I expected different results than what we’re getting, but yes it’s been tough watching the start of this season. Despite playing some really good games, Detroit just hasn’t been able to pull out a ‘W’. I wouldn’t call it the “definition of insanity”, but ask again in February.

This was just a pretty logical comment that I wanted to highlight. Thanks for bringing us back down to Earth, Sam!