The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/15/12 at 01:58 PM ET
Updated 6x at 4:09 PM: As we’ve descended into the land of spurious rumors, Red Wings GM Ken Holland hasn’t exactly been puffing out his chest and making grand promises about free agent signings to be, having only really offered some understated remarks about the team’s future on NHL Live recently.
As NHL.com looks forward to the Winter Classic while looking back at the dueling Brian Burke-Holland presser, bombast simply isn’t Holland’s style:
“I think there are a lot of things that add up to it being an incredible game and an incredible two weeks,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland said. “The history of hockey here, the rivalry between the [Maple] Leafs and the Red Wings, the alumni game, the historical players the Leafs have had, the historical players the Red Wings have had, the passion of the Red Wing fans, the passion of the Leafs fans. There’s going to be lots of Leafs fans, lots of Red Wings fans. Then, you talk about the University of Michigan. The stadium has been around for 85 or 90 years or something and is one of the great, historic venues in college football. It all adds up to a tremendous game.”
Yet Burke made sure he added a little more spice to the affair with a prediction—sneaky and subdued as it may have been—that his club would emerge victorious on Jan. 1
“Our guys are really excited about (the game),” he said during a roundtable with Holland and NHL Network’s Kathryn Tappen after the formal news conference. “I think it is like (NHL Players Association executive director) Donald Fehr said a few minutes ago: I think part of being a hockey player is you have to take postcards away from it where you remember vividly that day and who scored goals in that game. Usually, that’s the playoffs, but this is the only event that will provide that kind of memory for a player where he says, ‘Geez, it was special when we played in the Big House—and beat Detroit.’”
That cheeky one-liner got a good laugh out of the crowd, as well as Holland, who responded he wouldn’t be as bold in guaranteeing a victory. But that’s the thing with Burke: He believes in the product he is selling so wholeheartedly that he can’t help but be a pitchman. He believes the Winter Classic is good for the sport that he loves, and he believes the Maple Leafs, the first Canadian team to take part in the six editions of the Winter Classic, will help make this game the best one ever.
He says he was asked by the League when negotiations started for the Leafs possible involvement in this game if the Leafs could sell 40,000 of the 110,000 or so tickets that will be available.
“I need 48 hours,” he said. “Then they called back and said ‘what about 50,000 tickets?’ I said, ‘I need 72 hours.’”
Holland couldn’t be further from Burke on the emotional scale. While Burke wears his heart on his sleeve and is unafraid to make bold statements, Holland plays his cards closer to the vest and is more reserved in what he says.
Regarding one of the Wings’ biggest free agent targets, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo busted something of a myth by speaking to Ryan Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, about the “report” that Suter had supposedly restricted his list of destinations to Western Conference teams (not so), and Russo follows his Twitter updates with a blog entry this morning…
And it’s less than surprising that Russo offers a significant amount of speculation while “clarifying” Suter’s situation:
I gave Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, a call and he denied them, saying it’s “100 percent untrue” that Suter 1) has a list of teams he would and would not go to and 2) that he’s given any list to Preds GM David Poile. That doesn’t mean a deal with Nashville will get done prior to July 1, but Sheehy at least denies there’s any list(s).
I’ve gotten a ton of questions as to what I think will happen with Suter. My opinion is essentially the same as what I wrote I believed will happen with Zach Parise: I think both will become free agents.
That’s not to say that after July 1 Parise wouldn’t go back to New Jersey and Suter wouldn’t go back to Nashville, but players like Parise and Suter have this opportunity to become free agents in their prime only once in their careers. I think both are curious to see what else is out there in terms of interested teams and potential money. Like I said, you could always go back to your original teams, but very rarely does it get this close to free agency and a player just signs on the dotted line prior to July 1.
We’ve seen it here with Marian Gaborik, with especially Brian Rolston. Rolston loved Minnesota. But the Wild didn’t get a contract done with Rolston the previous fall, the sniper had a third consecutive 30-goal season and he decided he wanted to see what else was out there. He did, and was offered a four-year contract topping $5 million per with New Jersey.
I don’t think there’s any doubt Suter loves Nashville—both the city and franchise. But at this point, I think he waits. It’s not like Nashville wouldn’t welcome him back with open arms on July 2 or 3.
As for trading his rights, it’ll be interesting. Nashville has done that before with Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell and Dan Hamhuis to Philadelphia and Dan Ellis to Montreal. In other words, all Eastern Conference teams. So 1) Would Poile trade Suter’s rights to the West; 2) Would Poile trade his rights at all if he wants to get him back after July 1.
Also, if you’re another team, how do you give up any assets for Suter’s rights unless you’re given permission to have a conversation with the guy first to see if he’s even interested in signing prior to July 1? I say that because my theory remains the same: If Suter’s waited this long, why wouldn’t he just wait until July 1 to sign with a team? So trading actual assets for a short window to negotiate with Suter/Parise could wind up being fruitless and thus a risk.
If the Red Wings don’t land Ryan Suter or Matt Carle on July 1st, they’ve got few other options, with Dennis Wideman and Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Garrison being the other “Plan B’s.” As MLive’s Ansar Khan notes this morning, Garrison is something of a wild card as the 27-year-old has no history of sustained excellence, but displayed fantastic form in posting 33 points in his fourth NHL season:
Strengths: He has a solid all-around game. He skates well and moves the puck. He has a booming point shot (nine of his 16 goals came on the power play). He has good size and plays well in his own zone.
Weaknesses: The biggest question mark is his lack of a track record. He’s played only two full seasons and has just 190 NHL games under his belt, only four in the playoffs. Was he a one-year wonder, or was 2011-12 a sign of things to come?
Notable: An undrafted player who spent three years at Minnesota-Duluth before signing as a free agent with Florida in 2008.
So he didn’t “turn pro” until 23, yielding a perhaps predictably slow learning curve.
Why he would interest the Red Wings: They need a top-four, puck-moving defenseman in the worst way. Ryan Suter is their primary target, but Garrison might be No. 2 on their wish list. They might try to get both.
How he could fit in with the Red Wings: He could be paired with Niklas Kronwall. He would log a lot of minutes, play on the top power-play unit and the penalty kill.
What it might take to get him: It’s hard to gauge what he might command since he basically came out of nowhere. But it’ll be several times his previous salary, like a long-term deal.
The Sports Forecaster describes the 6’2,” 218-lb defender’s game as follows:
ASSETS: Moves the puck efficiently out of danger. Brings a nice combination of size and speed to the rink. Works hard and is effective on the penalty kill. Plays a safe, mature and steady brand of defense. Also owns a big point shot.
FLAWS: He doesn’t shy away from the physical game, but he isn’t a highly aggressive player defensively—despite excellent size. He’s strong, but needs to continue adding some more power to his game. Has been somewhat injury-prone at lower levels.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Solid puck-moving defenseman.
For the record: there was at least some hope that Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green wouldn’t be handed a qualifying offer by his team after two injury-plagued seasons, but Pro Hockey Talk’s Ryan Dadoun reports that the Capitals qualified Green today.
Via RedWingsFeed, PHT’s Mike Halford also reports that a potential Wings target in Nashville forward Paul Gaustad may end up staying in Nashville, per the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper’s conversation with Gaustad’s agent
In quite literally virtual news, as noted yesterday, Wings exec Kris Draper now has a Twitter account at @kdraper33, so the Free Press’s Helene St. James asked Wings fans which other players and/or executives they’d love to see join the Twitter fray, with some predictable names receiving nominations from both fans and Wings players, like Cory Emmerton:
Emmerton and Commodore often trade good-natured barbs on Twitter, including, back when Commodore was still with the Wings this past season, posting pictures of one another sleeping on Red Bird II. Emmerton would like to see Danny Cleary join the party.
“I think he would be a good guy, but I think he would have so much to say, that’s probably why he doesn’t have it,” Emmerton said. “He’s always got something to say about something. He’d be a funny guy.”
Older teammates cite Tomas Holmstrom as someone they’d like to see join Twitter. “I would love to see his ‘Swenglish’ on there,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “He would get a lot of followers. We’ve tried to get him on there, but he’s not really comfortable, I guess.”
Draper was renowned as one of the most vocal and gregarious Wings during his playing days, as was his usual line-mate Kirk Maltby, who is now a scout with the team. So will Maltby join the Twitter universe? Maybe.
“I might join just to get scoops, but not say anything,” Maltby said.
As for Osgood, he’s an avowed Luddite.
“No Twitter or Facebook, ever,” he said.
And finally, the Wings’ record of signing the players they’ve drafted has gotten better over the past few seasons, but NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman notes that one Wings draft class will always outshine every other:
Detroit Red Wings, 1989
The gold standard of drafts. Of the Wings’ 14 picks, eight played in the NHL, and four played at least 1,000 games. They found a pair of future Hall of Famers with back-to-back picks in the middle rounds—Nicklas Lidstrom in the third (No. 53) and Sergei Fedorov in the fourth (No. 74). Three players picked in this draft played major roles in helping the Wings win the 1997 Stanley Cup.
Highlights: Mike Sillinger, 1st round (No. 11); Bob Boughner, 2nd round (No. 32); Nicklas Lidstrom, 3rd round (No. 53); Sergei Fedorov, 4th round (No. 74); Dallas Drake, 6th round (No. 116); Vladimir Konstantinov, 11th round (No. 221).
Update: According to Sport-Express, Pavel Datsyuk will be holding a charity hockey game in his hometown of Yekaterinburg on June 29th or June 30th, and Datsyuk will apparently bring the World Championship trophy to Yekaterinberg on the 29th as well per 66.ru.
Update #2: Kind of obvious, from the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
News out of Ohio, courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch, has renewed focus on disgruntled superstar Rick Nash, who asked out this past season, only to have nothing happen before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
Now the off-season has begun for everyone, and there isn’t a bigger potential trade story out there than Nash. He just turned 27, he’s 6-feet-4 and 220 pounds, and he has strung together five straight 30-goal seasons—and seven in the past eight seasons—despite being surrounded by less-than-stellar talent. The Blue Jackets have only made one foray into the playoffs during Nash’s time, in 2009, when Nash managed a goal and two assists in the four games it took the Detroit Red Wings to sweep that first-round meeting.
Nash is a top-end talent, a prized package of size and skill. Could he help the Wings regain their footing after three straight playoff disappointments? Of course. But the price would be astronomical.
Anything is possible, but the Wings’ cost to acquire Nash would be steeper than almost anyone else’s, because the Blue Jackets would have to justify trading their franchise player (they picked him first overall in 2002) to a team within the Central Division. The Wings would have to give up two-way forward Valtteri Filppula, highly regarded defensive prospect Brendan Smith, plus a first-round draft pick—and even that alone wouldn’t get it done. This for a guy who has six years left on a contract with a $7.8-million cap hit (which would make him the highest-paid player in the Wings’ locker room).
Picturing a line of Pavel Datsyuk centering Nash and Johan Franzen is intriguing, but the Wings would have to go out and replace Filppula, who provides speed, is one of the team’s best passers, and had a breakthrough with 23 goals and 43 assists last season. And Smith is the sort of heads-y puck mover the Wings love to have on their back end, and they’re already dealing with a defense that has lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart.
The most likely destination for Nash is the New York Rangers, who, like everyone else, covet pending unrestricted free agent Zach Parise but who were told earlier this week that Parise doesn’t consider that a realistic move for him. The Rangers are still looking to get over the top after losing in the Eastern Conference finals to New Jersey, and need help up front, as it’s expected star Marian Gaborik will be sidelined five to six months following shoulder surgery.
The other likely destination is Vancouver, where the Canucks are looking to unload Roberto Luongo and figure out a way to make good on years of unfulfilled playoff promise. The San Jose Sharks will be looking to make a move, too, after losing in the first round despite making a big splash at last year’s draft by trading for defenseman Brent Burns.
Update #4: This was expected, per MLive’s Ansar Khan:
The Detroit Red Wings’ first selection in next weekend’s NHL entry draft will be the 49th overall pick, in the second round.
The NHL has released the draft order for all seven rounds. The Red Wings traded their first-round pick, which is 19th overall, to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 21 for defenseman Kyle Quincey.
The Red Wings have each of their picks in the second through the seventh rounds. They have picks No. 80 (third round), 110, 140, 170 and 200.
No. 49 is the lowest first selection Detroit has had since it took Johan Franzen with the 97th overall pick in 2004.
• Kris Draper happened to speak to The Fan 590’s Doug MacLean and Nick Kypreos, mostly about joining Twitter:
• As the Wings’ website notes, Gerard Gallant’s back in the NHL as an assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens;
• The Detroit News’s Eric Lacy noted that one of the participants in the Michigan 400 this weekend wants to trade stories with the event’s grand marshal:
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard will be a grand marshal for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. And he will have a noteworthy fan eager to meet him before the race.
Joey Logano, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota, was a hockey goalie until he was about 10 years old and said Friday he’ll likely share a couple war stories with Howard.
“You used the term ‘goaltender’ with me, and I let a lot of (goals) in,” Logano said, jokingly. “I’m a hockey fan, and I think any time you get any other different athletes come to our races, it’s cool. We do have a lot of stuff in common, (goaltenders) go through the same kind of stuff we go through (pressure-wise).”
Logano, from Middletown, Conn., has a father, Tom Logano, who owns the Extreme Ice Center ice rink in Indian Trail, N.C., a suburb of Charlotte.
Joey Logano, 22, signed by Joe Gibbs Racing when he was 15, is known to still play pickup games at the rink with friends. Logan ended a 104-race winless streak last week and made it clear his focus will be solely on MIS’s track, a newly repaved two-mile oval that likely will generate the fastest speeds and times on the circuit.
Update #5: Via Paul, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector offers these among two “Important off-season questions”:
Does the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart over a two-year period mean the Detroit Red Wings will take a drastic dip in the standings?
Losing Lidstrom will hurt; no question about it. Even though he is 42 and his offensive production tailed off considerably, he is still a great player and valuable influence on his young teammates. The good news is the Red Wings will have plenty of cap space to bid for a replacement. The popular choice, it would seem, is Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators who, though not in the class of Lidstrom, is a high-end performer. With Brendan Smith ready to take on a more significant role with the Red Wings, they should be as competitive as ever.
Will Zack Parise leave the New Jersey Devils?
Any time a player goes to unrestricted free agency, you have to think there is a very good chance they will leave for greener pastures. Parise is an interesting case, though. He is regarded as one of the best young players and leaders in the NHL and I am certain a number of teams will bid top bucks to get him. What sticks with me when I think about Parise is how confident Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is when he says Parise is going nowhere. I say Parise stays in Jersey.
Update #6: Via agent Ian Pulver, Hockey Canada named its roster for the Canada-Russia Challenge in August and their World Junior Championship development camp, and Wings prospect Xavier Ouellet made the cut;
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Friday it has signed forwards Adam Hall and JT Wyman, but the team sustained a disappointing loss when Swiss star Damien Brunner decided against joining the team.
Losing Brunner, 26, was a blow. The fleet-skating wing last season led Zug of the Swiss elite league with 24 goals, 60 points in 45 games. The reasons for his decision were unclear as both his agent and Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman declined comment.
• Don’t forget that next Friday marks the date of the Bob Probert memorial motorcycle ride;
• And all I can tell you about the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s take on the Wings’ draft picks might reflect the messenger’s philosophy:
The Red Wings will be during next weekend’s NHL entry draft.
Well, they’ll be busy on one day, anyway.
They might as well skip next Friday’s proceedings — Round 1 is Friday, while Rounds 2-7 are Saturday, June 23. The Wings traded their first-round pick to Tampa Bay in the three-way trade with Colorado in a deal that brought defenseman Kyle Quincey to the Wings near the trade deadline.
During Saturday’s portion the draft, the Wings pick 49th (Round 2), 80th (Round 3), 110th (Round 4), 140th (Round 5), 170th (Round 6), and 200th (Round 7).
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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.