We just thought we would put together a short list of some questions and pick Kyle's brain about what to expect from the Red Wings this season, some logical predictions on how the team will fare, breakout players, etc. (with my own thoughts italicized below his answers).
1. What are your thoughts on how the Red Wings fared this past offseason? I recall seeing a lot of angst towards the management situation and Ken Holland during free agency?
Kyle: It was bad. The team made multiple attempts to sign UFA defensemen, and completely struck out. As a knee-jerk reaction, they went and gave Kyle Quincey, a defenseman who isn't AWFUL, but not good, a raise. They have a few good defensive prospects in the system, they could have improved by looking internally, but they chose to go the safe route.
The general consensus seemed to be that it was. Free agency day prices for defensemen got silly quickly, so it wasn't surprising to see them retain Kyle Quincey, a player where they knew what they were going to get.
2. Who would you peg as having a breakout year and making a bigger name for themselves around the league?
Kyle: Tomas Tatar, hands down. The kid is incredibly gifted in so many ways, and now has a shot at playing on the top-line with Pavel Datsyuk. He's trained hard, and is fit. He looks great in camp, and I imagine he will look great during the season.
I absolutely love Tomas Tatar. He is definitely one of my favorite non-Penguins to watch. I even had pipe-dream scenarios through my head this past summer of ways for the Penguins to try and acquire him.
3. What do you think will happen with Mike Babcock? Will he be back next year?
Kyle: I have no idea. Part of me thinks it depends on how they do this season.. If they have another first round exit, he's gone. He is adamant that this team will not "fall-off" so if they do, I think he'll go elsewhere. He's not exactly the kind of coach you want around for a rebuild.
I can definitely see that type of scenario playing out if it were to happen.
4. I know you are a huge Anthony Mantha fan. What kind of prospect pipeline do the Red Wings have in store? Can they replace Datsyuk and Zetterberg before they step away from the game?
Kyle: Well, he's injured with a fractured tibia.. He'll be out for 6-8 weeks. So now Mantha will have to start from the bottom of the AHL barrel and work his way up. Thankfully, his contract is slide eligible and can be opted to start next season. Detroit has created a solid pipeline of players like Ryan Sproul (OHL defenseman of the year), and Xavier Ouellet (QMJHL defenseman of the year.)
Defenseman of the year in two different leagues in nothing to scoff at, whatsoever. The Mantha ELC slide could end up being a blessing in disguise, depending on how this season goes.
5. Prediction time. Where in the Atlantic Division do the Red Wings finish? Does the playoff streak continue? If not, why?
Kyle: Hard to say, but since I am a biased ass-hat homer, I say we finish in the top three. I just can't see our injury misfortunes going like they did last season. This team at it's healthiest can command the Atlantic. Toronto is a mess, Montreal is flash-in-the-pan, and Boston can't even sign their good RFAs to new contracts because their GM isn't good. Also, Tyler Seguin trade. hahahaha what a bunch of idiots.
I would have to agree. I definitely have Detroit in the mix for one of the Top 3 spots with Boston, Montreal, and Tampa Bay. Laughing at Boston will never, ever get old. I love Kyle.
6. BONUS QUESTION - If you were on death row, what would your final meal request be?
Kyle: A big, fat, gigantic gyro smothered in tzatztiki sauce and a big glass of an ice-cold domestic.
What an elite answer. I can't even add anything to that.
It's always a great time doing Q&A with Kyle. He's been on the site before for the Eastern Conference Playoffs Roundtable and we had a lot of fun with it. Give Winging It In Motown a look, they're always pumping out great content.