The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/22/12 at 12:56 AM ET
Red Wings fans, here’s a “pro tip”: familiarize yourself with Capgeek.com’s Red Wings salary cap chart. Under both the economic constraints of this CBA and the one which will hopefully be negotiated without any sort of lockout on the owners’ parts, the Wings will remain tied to the some of the decisions their management team has made going forward, and between the fact that the Wings will not tear themselves down to rebuild (would you pay to watch the Detroit Red Wings tank it for a year or three for the promise of something better half a decade from now? Me, neither) and the fact that the Wings believe in their prospects’ potential, it’s hard to believe that Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Mike Babcock, the team’s pro scouts and player mentors will sit down over the course of the next month and agree that the team needs to pawn off half a dozen players, tell Nick Lidstrom to retire (the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman told the Satellite Hotstove panel, at the 8:09 mark, that he believes Lidstrom may retire due to familial reasons as Holmstrom will retire and Lidstrom’s 2nd-oldest will go to Sweden to play hockey) and go wild in terms of making tons of trades and free agent signings.
The Red Wings’ GM seems to suggest that a combination of cautious decision-making, prospect promotions and perhaps a significant tweak or two might be all that’s in the offing for the Wings this summer in his first comments of the off-season, made to MLive’s Ansar Khan, but he is lock-step in his agreement with coach Babcock regarding his team’s relative depth:
“We definitely were not as deep as we have been in the past,’’ Holland said on Saturday. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get some of our depth back. We’ll explore the free-agent market, we’ll move in two or three kids, we’ll explore trades at the draft, like we always do. But at the end of the day, this (salary-cap) system is about methodically doing your work. Over the summer, we got to make some moves. But you can’t overhaul your team when you got (Pavel) Datsyuk, (Henrik) Zetterberg, (Niklas) Kronwall. We got pieces to build around.’‘
As Khan suggests, we pretty much know that Brad Stuart will leave to play closer to his San Jose-based family, Tomas Holmstrom may have been on his last legs, even the “experts” and people who are around the team on a very, very regular basis have no idea if Nicklas Lidstrom will return, and the fact that the team chose not to make any real public efforts to suggest that they’ll retain Jiri Hudler leaves his status up in the air as well, but even if Lidstrom leaves, that doesn’t mean that the team will go out and make massive forays into the free agent market, even if Ryan Suter or Zach Parise become available (and that’s not guaranteed):
“We’ve got some cap space, but there’s got to be somebody to sign,’’ Holland said. “Even if you get one or two players in unrestricted free agency, you need four lines. You can’t just make two signings in the summer and go on a long playoff run. This is a team sport. … We got some good pieces, but we’re not quite as deep.’‘
Holland likes his nucleus, which includes Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Danny Cleary up front and Kronwall on defense.
The Wings can’t really move Franzen, so they’re stuck with him. I do think that he’s still got room for improvement and I think that he’s going to be challenged to at least embrace a role as a better-skating sniper, but he’s not going anywhere.
Holland anticipates forward Gustav Nyquist and defenseman Brendan Smith, their two top prospects, being on the NHL roster at the start of next season. The third and fourth lines will get a boost with the return of injured players Darren Helm (lacerated tendons in forearm) and Patrick Eaves (concussion), both of whom Holland expects to be ready to go at the start of training camp.
We’ll pause here to provide injury updates from another Khan article, in which Holland says that Patrick Eaves (concussion) should be good to go come September…
“He feels pretty good,’’ Holland said. “He was doing some skating drills (this past week), starting to work out in the gym. We think he’ll be ready to roll in September at 100 percent.’‘
As should Darren Helm (torn tendons in his right arm), but we know that Danny Cleary’s going to need some significant surgery on his left knee, and Joey MacDonald’s status as Jimmy Howard’s would-be back-up for the 2012-2013 season really hinges upon how his back issues respond to treatment:
The backup goaltender didn’t play or practice after March 14, when he began experiencing back problems. Tests revealed a slightly bulging disc.
“We’ll assess where he is in the next couple of weeks,’’ Holland said. “We’re hoping rehab, injections and time off will be the answer.’‘
If that doesn’t do the trick, MacDonald might need surgery. He also had surgery to repair a bulging disc in 2006.
And if that’s the case, the Wings can’t necessarily afford to invest in MacDonald simply because his NHL-only contract next season would only cost the Wings $550,000.
As for the rest of the Wings’ issues, let’s head back to Khan’s main article for his assessment of his team’s baffling stumbles down the stretch, and its inability to reaffirm its identity as a high-scoring, puck-possession team in the playoffs against Nashville:
“I think our team played hard, the playoffs is a new season,’’ Holland said. “Sometimes you got to win 2-1. We kept giving up three. We felt if we could keep the special teams (battle) close, we had a chance because of our five-on-five play. I thought it was a series where we made more big mistakes than they did. They’re a team that could capitalize on mistakes and make you pay. Nashville has four lines. They have a chance to go on a long playoff run.’‘
Holland added, “If you look back on the series, the turning point was the two games at home. If you can’t win a home game, you’re not going to win a series.’‘
“There is no magic wand and Stanley Cup dust you can sprinkle over a team,’’ Holland said. “We have no financial advantage. It’s got to be about a plan—building, drafting, developing. It’s a process. I believe we can be a playoff team, and any playoff team has a chance.’‘
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.