Eaves Waived; Ouellet, Tootoo To GR; Ericsson Returns Friday

Patrick Eaves

More cost-cutting today, as the Red Wings waived forward Patrick Eaves (3 games, no points, -2). Other NHL teams have until noon Friday to put in a claim for him, otherwise the Red Wings can send Eaves to the minors and free up $925,000 in salary cap relief.

The move was partly necessitated, financially, by D Jonathan Ericsson returning from long-term IR. Ericsson will play Friday at home against Washington.

The Wings also sent D Xavier Ouellet, the team’s yo-yo, back to Grand Rapids.

Eaves, like Jordin Tootoo before him, found himself squeezed out, both from a salary standpoint and a depth standpoint. Winger Daniel Cleary was a healthy scratch on Tuesday, but that is not likely to happen too often, further blocking Eaves from ice time. Tootoo was also sent to GR, freeing up $925K in salary cap relief.

“Patty Eaves is a good player and a real good person and does everything right,” coach Mike Babcock said today. “We haven’t given him an opportunity to play enough. He wants to be in the lineup every night, and he should be. He’s a good enough player.

“It’s disappointing we haven’t been able to make it work. We’re hopeful he’s going to get himself a good opportunity.”

Eaves told reporters that “I found out (about his waiving) from you guys. I knew I wasn’t playing, but I thought I was doing well when I was getting in.

“There’s a bunch of us here. Just the way it is. That’s the business.”

Eaves, 29, signed as a free agent with Detroit on August 4, 2009. In 175 regular season games with the Red Wings, Eaves scored 27 goals and registered 24 assists.

Thursday’s Thoughts: 11-14-13

Every Thursday I’ll give my $0.02 worth on the state of the team.

What the Red Wings are going through right now, and what they really have been going through all season, is similar to if the Tigers had Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting—only, and the rest of the lineup was being collared on a nightly basis.

Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk might be the team’s Dynamic Duo, but the rest of the Red Wings are playing like the terrified citizens of Gotham.

Secondary scoring? It’s a fantasy right now.

The no. 1 line of Z (10 goals) and Pavel (9), plus Todd Bertuzzi (5), have scored 24 of the Red Wings’ 47 goals this season—more than half. Daniel Alfredsson and Joakim Andersson (3 goals each) are the only two players on the roster with more than two goals scored.

That’s sad.

As postulated here the other day, Daniel Cleary (2 g, 1 a) was a healthy scratch against Winnipeg on Tuesday night. But it’s not just Cleary who isn’t getting it done—lines 2 thru 4 just aren’t putting the puck in the net, plain and simple.

So what to do?

Well, coach Mike Babcock could split Z and Pavs, but the coach is loathe to do that, because whenever he does, it means something is wrong. Of course, something is wrong. Why split up the two guys who, when playing together, are the only guys scoring?

Another option is to create a speedy, annoying line of Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Patrick Eaves and have them forecheck the crap out of the other team. Maybe you can create some turnovers and get some quality scoring chances.

But frankly, this is hockey and, like baseball, sometimes you just have to let slumps run their course.

Regardless, the Red Wings need goal scoring, and it speaks to what I had said during the off-season: that I would feel better if the team somehow acquired a sniper. They haven’t had one since Marian Hossa left in 2009.