Why the Tampa Bay Lightning playing for the Stanley Cup is good news for the Detroit Red Wings

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 21: General Manager Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings looks on from the draft table during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Since the 2016-17 NHL season no team has accumulated more wins than the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning have accumulated one President’s Trophy, two 100-plus point seasons and plenty of regular season records as well. For all the winning the Lightning have done one thing has eluded them, a Stanley Cup championship.

It is fair to say the Tampa Bay Lightning are due. Being a consistent NHL regular season winner has paved the way for the organization to face the Dallas Stars in this year Cup Finals.

So just how does the Lightning playing for the Stanley Cup bode well for the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings? Let’s start with the obvious. The same man who built the juggernaut Tampa Bay hockey team is the same man tasked with rebuilding the Red Wings. Steve Yzerman.

When Yzerman took over as Lightning general manager he took over a bad hockey team. Through shrewd traded and savvy  free agent signings, the Lightning became a regular season giant and a regular in the NHL playoffs.

Things are a bit different in Detroit. Yzerman is building a young core around Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha and Filip Hroneck. Yet, Yzerman has made some rather nice trades for the Red Wings, such as trading for Robby Fabbri from the St. Louis Blues.

Seeing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 20129-20 NHL Stanley Cup finals, should be a welcomed sight for the Red Wings organization and the Red Wings fans base. Yzerman stated over and over during his time as Red Wings general manger, it takes time to build a winning. Yet, that is what he does.

There are different expectations in Detroit. Yzerman himself acknowledged this by saying he understands the Detroit Red Wings play for championships. He is tasked with getting the organization back to that level of play. There is next to no doubt Yzerman will deliver.

Who will be on the 2020-21 Detroit Red Wings opening night roster

DETROIT, MI – MARCH 06: Filip Hronek #17 of the Detroit Red Wings talks with teammate Dylan Larkin #71 on a play stoppage during an NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Little Caesars Arena on March 6, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Chicago 2-1. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The rebuilding Detroit Red Wings look to take a step forward during the 2020-21 NHL season. Young prospects should get at the very least a nine game call up. Others may be on the opening night roster for the Red Wings. So who exactly will be on the roster. At this time that is unknown, based on the players now (free agency starts October 9, due to COVID-19) here is a guess.

The NHL is targeting December 1, 2020 as the season opener, the season would end July 5, 2021. The NHL is watching the NFL’s mold for allowing  limited capacity attendance to see if it is possible.

The Detroit Red Wings are on a mid-November target for training camp. The camp will be at Little Caesars Arena and not Traverse City. The Red Wings are hopeful for a 2021 return to  Traverse City for training camp.

The Red Wings have some glaring needs which general manager Steve Yzerman will need to address and fill during the free agent signing period. The Red Wings have the cap space to begin to improve the roster this off season, but not at the expense of prospect development.

So let’s look at who could be in the Winged Wheel opening night,

Goalie- Jonathan Bernier, He is currently the only goalie under contrat for Detroit. He will enter the 2020-21 season as the guy. His numbers last season were not bad. Bernier posted a .915 save percentage in 25 games.

There are good goalies that will hit the open market. This will be worth paying attention to for Red Wings fans.

The Detroit Red Wings first line, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi have excellent chemistry. While   Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina can help the second line with scoring. Valtteri Filppula should once again center the second line. Filppula is not the goal scorer he once was but is solid in passing the puck.

Luke Glendening, Darren Helm and Adam Erne Should be the Red Wings third line. It is a solid yet not spectacular third line. With Helm the really only scoring threat and Erne providing the physicality of the line.

The Detroit Red Wings was (to put it nicely) a hot mess last season. This season, Frans Nielsen, Evgeny Svechnikov, Dmytro Timashov, Justin Abdelkader, Michael Rasmussen, Christoffer Ehn, Givani Smith and Mathias Brome will battle it out in training camp in hopes players step up.

On the defensive front for the Red Wings, Danny DeKeyser, Patrik Nemeth and Filip Hronek are locks for the top four. I fully expect 19 year old defenseman Moritz Seider will be in the opening night lineup as well.

The rest of the Red Wings defense needs upgrade. Otherwise it will be another tough season.

Can Detroit Lions fans trust the hype surrounding the team?

ALLEN PARK, MI – AUGUST 21: Detroit Lions WR (1) Jonathan Duhart and Detroit Lions S (35) Miles Killebrew pair off in drills during NFL football practice on August 21, 2019 at Detroit Lions Training Facilities in Allen Park, MI (Photo by Allan Dranberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Year in and year out the Detroit Lions are projected to improve, some years enough to make the playoffs. Most years the Lions season ends in disappointment. Heading into today’s season opener against the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions hype is at fever pitch. Should fans trust the hype?

Football Outsiders, have listed the 2020 Detroit Lions not just a team that will move out of the NFC North’s basement, but a team that will go from worst to first. In this seasons Detroit Lions hype train the bold predictions started last January when multiple analysts said the Lions would take a massive step forward this coming season.

Sure the Detroit Lions offense lead by quarterback Matthew Stafford is a dangerous group. Stafford, WR, Kenny Golladay, TE, T.J. Hockenson and others give the Lions the best offense in the NFC North division. So that is reason for hope and hype.

On the flip slide, the Detroit Lions defense last season was abysmal and that is being kind. Lions general manager Bob Quinn has rebuilt the defensive unit for 2020. Signing LB, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton and Reggie Rangland and some others give the defense at least signs of hope.

The question is did Bob Quinn improve the defense enough? Also the offensive line looks like a hot mess at this time. There has been no preseason games this year due to the pandemic. So it is hard to get a pulse on what the Lions have on the defense as a whole and offensive line.

With two games right out of the gate against NFC North teams the Bears week 1 and Green Bay Packers week 2, the Detroit Lions of 2020 can not afford a slow start.

Both general manager Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia were told by then Lions owner Martha Ford they needed to win or else at the conclusion of last season. Martha Ford turned the team over to her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp who now serves as Principal Owner and Chairman.

It remains to be seen if Hamp will make changes if needed at the end of the season after the win or else mandate came from the previous owner.

So here we are on the verge of another Detroit Lions season and the hype train, all aboard with caution.

 

The Detroit Tigers are two games out of a playoff spot, what it means

DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 17: A Detroit Tigers batting helmet sits in the dugout during Game Five of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park on October 17, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The rebuilding Detroit Tigers entered the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season with by- and- large low expectations from the media and fans. Yet, that same rebuilding Tigers ball club sits just two games out of the eighth and final playoff position. That is both good and bad news.

The good news is the Detroit Tigers young players and prospects they called up are keeping the team afloat in the playoff chase. Shedding a little light the Tigers rebuild may in fact be working. This coupled with the fact that the organization has not called up more or all top prospects lends it’s self to what looks  like a bright future in Motown.

The bad news. The Detroit Tigers will not have the top pick in the 2021 MLB draft. In fact the Tigers may not even have a top 10 draft pick. This is bad simply because the team is not done rebuilding. Even with a minor league system ranked anywhere from No. 6 to No.2 depending who you read.

One thought here is that as players now appear to be major league ready (Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Isaac Paredes) Detroit Tigers owner and president Christopher Ilitch has said he will spend money to put a winning team on the field. The organization could begin to look at big name free agents as many experts are say next season many Detroit top prospects will be added to the roster.

If the Detroit Tigers make the playoffs it is not the end of the world. It does however mean they may have to get creative how to improve the organization without the aid of a top five draft choice.

The same could be said if they do not make the playoffs. The Tigers record is better than all of the bottom feeders in MLB. The Tigers still would be looking at a non top 10 draft pick, they could eek out perhaps the No.9 pick in the draft.

The good news in all of this is Detroit’s young players and prospects are keeping the team in the playoff race.

The Detroit Lions have established the 2020 practice squad

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 22: A Detroit Lions helmets prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Having identified the 53 man roster Saturday, the Detroit Lions practice squad will  will look familiar to fans who follow the team closely. The 16 players who make up the practice squad have been in training camp with the Lions. Roughly three-quarters were with the Lions in some capacity last season.

The players chosen for the practice squad were, offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel, quarterback David Blough, wide receiver Victor Bolden, safety Jalen Elliott,  defensive tackle Frank Herron, wide receiver Tom Kennedy, tight end Isaac Nauta, linebacker Anthony Pittman, safety Bobby Price, punter Arryn Siposs, defensive tackle Kevin Strong, cornerback Dee Virgin, guard Kenny Wiggins, running back Jonathan Williams, long snapper Steve Wirtel and defensive end Jonathan Wynn.

This year the NFL has expanded practice squads from 10 to 16 players. This is the first year that practice squads could include veterans. Which allowed the Detroit Lions to sign Kenny Wiggins (  offensive lineman  ) to the squad.

The NFL practice squads function differently. NFL teams can protect up to four players per-week that other teams are not allowed to sign. The 12 players who are not protected can be eligible to sign with another team’s active roster during the week.

One player the Detroit Lions cut Saturday but were hoping to bring back to the practice squad was running back Jason Huntley, who was claimed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The practice squad or taxi squad, is a group of players signed by a team but not part of their main roster. They can be used in practice as part of the scout team or a fill-in for an injured player.Because the NFL does not have a minor league these players serve as a minor league of sorts. They can be signed to the active roster if and as needed.

This is the group the Lions feel can help the roster most. So the 2020 Detroit Lions are ready for the season to start Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

A look at the Detroit Lions 53 man roster

GLENDALE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 08: A detailed view of a Detroit Lions helmet during the NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the Arizona Cardinals on September 8, 2019 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

At first glance the Detroit Lions roster is heavy at wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback. When the Lions entered Saturday’s cut down day, the roster stood at 79 players. Detroit head coach Matt Patricia said ” I hate it, it’s the worse,” when addressing the media about cut day. So let’s look at the newly constructed Detroit Lions roster.

Quarterbacks (2)-

Kept, Matthew Stafford, Chase Daniel

Gone- David Blough

Blough is gone at least for now. The quarterback had show improvement in training camp, enough to be a backup. Perhaps the Lions will look to sign him to the P.S. (practice squad) if he is not claimed by another team.

Running Back (5)

Kept- Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Jason Cabinda

Gone- Jonathan Williams, Wes Hills, Jason Huntley

The surprise in the running back group is fifth round draft pick Huntley was cut. Huntley had a very good camp. The running back looked like he had some real playmaking ability with the ball in his hands during camp practices.

Wide Receiver (6)

Kept- Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall, Quintez Cephus, Jamal Agnew

Gone- Chris Lacy, Tom Kennedy, Victor Bolden

No surprises here. The only question is how Patrica and his coaching staff rotate players.

Tight End (3)

Kept- T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Hunter Bryant

Gone- Isaac Nauta, Matt Sokol

Hunter Bryant beating out Isaac Nauta is an eye raiser, simply because Bryant was an undrafted rookie and has been sidelined with a sore hamstring the past two weeks.

Offensive line (8)

Kept- Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Joe Dahl, Jonah Jackson, Tyrell Crosby, Logan Stenberg, Matt Nelson

Gone-  Oday Aboushi, Kenny Wiggins, Beau Benzschawel, Dan Skipper (waived injured)

The Lions are going light on interior linemen. Kenny Wiggins was supposed to be the replacement for Graham Glasgow who signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent, the fact the Lions cut Wiggins was a bit of a surprise.

Defensive Line (7)

Kept-  Trey Flowers, Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, Julian Okwara, Da’Shawn Hand, Romeo Okwara, John Penisini

Gone- Kevin Strong, Frank Herron, Will Clarke, Olive Sagapolu, Albert Huggins, Kevin Wilkins

The only interesting thought with the defensive line unit is Da’ Shawn Hand has been dinged up at different times during his career. The Lions did not opt to keep and extra linemen for injury.

Linebackers (7)

Kept-  Jamie Collins Sr., Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, Jahlani Tavai, Reggie Ragland, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Elijah Lee

Gone- Anthony Pittman

No surprise Patrica went heavy at linebacker as they drive his defense.

Defensive Backs (12)

Kept- Desmond Trufant, Jeff Okudah, Justin Coleman, Amani Oruwariye, Tracy Walker, Duron Harmon, Will Harris, Darryl Roberts, Tony McRae, Miles Killebrew, C.J. Moore, Mike Ford

Gone- Dee Virgin, Jalen Elliott, Bobby Price

Patrica again went heavy with defensive backs. Detroit Lions 2020 first round draft pick Jeff Okudah did not win a starting job in training camp. Detroit will go (at least for now) with Amani Oruwariye as a started when they face the Chicago Bears next Sunday.

Specialists (3)

Kept-  Matt Prater, Jack Fox, Don Muhlbach

Gone- Arryn Siposs, Steven Wirtel

In a very close competition Jack Fox won the Lions punting job. Fox had the stronger leg and showed to be more consistent in training camp.

The Detroit Lions expect tight end T.J. Hockenson to take “the next step,” year 2

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: Tight end T.J. Hockenson #88 of the Detroit Lions catches a pass prior to the NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

T. J. Hockenson is the Detroit Lions undisputed No. 1 tight end on the depth chart. During his rookie campaign Hockenson caught 32 balls for 367 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. A nice rookie season that ended with an ankle injury. Now the young tight end looks to improve heading into his sophomore season.

T. J. Hockenson was the Detroit Lions 2019 first round draft pick out of the University of Iowa. The biggest question Hockenson faces is weather he can be a threat in the Lions passing game week in and week out.

Before COVID-19 shut many things down, T. J. Hockenson was working with  Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. Who during his playing days had rookie numbers close to that of Hockenson. Gonzalez’s rookie numbers were 33 catches for 368 yards and two scores in 16 games.

During the offseason, Hockenson worked out and bulked up. That should help him in his all around game. Bulking up alone does not help a players game. That comes from talent. By all accounts Hockenson has the talent to join the short list of NFL’s best tight ends.

One area of concern is the aforementioned ankle injury sustained last season. Hockenson recently said he is still not 100%. The fact that as time has past and the Lions tight end still has persisting ankle issues is of note.

The Detroit Lions are banking on Hockenson taking the next step forward this season. What is unknown at this time is how much playing time he will have on a bulky ankle.

T. J. Hockenson has all the tools to be an elite tight end. If he can take the next step the Detroit Lions offense will be even more dangerous.

The Detroit Lions lockup two players to contract extensions

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 15: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a reception during the fourth quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Ford Field on September 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Los Angeles 10-13. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions made two investments. One is a done deal, the other could come as early as today. Yesterday the Lions signed left tackle Taylor Decker to a four year deal that is valued at $85 million with $37.5 million in guarantees. Now comes word wide receiver Kenny Golladay is close to signing an extension as well.

Taylor Decker, who was a first round draft pick for the Detroit Lions in 2016, has appeared in 55 games over four seasons with the Lions. Decker’s play has become more consistent since entering the NFL, has earned the pay raise. Decker is also a vocal leader for the Lions football team.

A third round draft pick out of Northern Illinois in 2017, Kenny Golladay plays like a first round draft pick. The gifted young receiver has been valuable as a big play weapon for the Lions offense,  Golladay led the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns, ranked third with 18.3 yards per reception and seventh with 1,190 receiving yards in 2019.

Kenny also was tied in league lead with five touchdown’s of a least 25 yards. In early August Golladay made it clear he wants to be in Detroit, “I want to be here, Really, I’m just going to let my agent, and (the) front office take care of that. I’m pretty sure something will get done.” Golladay told reporters.

The ink had barely dried on the Taylor Decker’s contract extension, now reports are Kenny Golladay is about to sign one. Perhaps a joint  announcement will be coming soon. Either way this is good news for the Detroit Lions.

To lockup two players that have proven worth and have both gotten better year in and year out this is the right move for Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn to take.

Both players and teammates will not have this hanging over them and the team when the season kicks off September 15 against the Chicago Bears. So the focus will be on games and game prep.