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The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: on Miller, Ericsson, Axelsson, Mac and Claude and Ilari goes home

Updated: Ilari Filppula has re-signed with Jokerit Helsinki: Amongst the Red Wings’ unrestricted free agents-to-be, the best in terms of his willingness to be a “good solider” and fill whatever role the team asks him to, including sitting out games on occasion, has to be Drew Miller. The Free Press’s Helene St. James believes that Miller’s status as a “glue guy” who contributes whenever he plays merits re-signing, even with a bit of a roster glut in the making thanks to the likely re-signing of the indispensable penalty-killer that is Patrick Eaves and Jan Mursak’s graduation from the AHL:

Miller, 27, fits into the Wings’ plans for next year, though as always it comes down to price, and the Wings want to keep Patrick Eaves, another valuable role player. Jan Mursak, who impressed while called up from the minors this past season, is penned in as a regular in Detroit next season. There already are 10 forwards under contract, but the Wings are likely to move at least one as they seek to improve.

Miller’s the guy every team needs in the salary-cap era, a utility man who fits in on most lines. The Wings acquired him in November 2009, claiming him off waivers from Tampa Bay. A sixth-round pick of Anaheim’s in the 2003 NHL draft, Miller spent part of two seasons with the Ducks before playing 14 games for the Lightning in fall of ‘09.

After the Wings’ season ended, Miller, who’s from East Lansing and played three years at Michigan State, spoke of how he hopes to keep the moving boxes at bay.

“This was the first season I stayed in one place,” he said. “I’d been in the minors, up and down, up and down, and then picked up off waivers. This was my first year I didn’t stay in a hotel at all. It was nice not to have to move. Hopefully we can work something out. I’d definitely like to stay—I mean, it’s a great organization here. They have a lot of depth, but that’s what happens when you have a good team.”

Interesting that St. James suggested that the Wings may move one of their forwards in a trade. I understand that Valtteri Filppula has more trade value than Jiri Hudler at the moment, but if the Wings were to move Filppula, they’d lack a second-line center when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg play together, and I can’t see the Wings trying to fill one void by creating another. Filppula’s playoff performance probably earned him another season as well, so while the Wings said all the right things about Hudler bouncing back from a rough return to the NHL, it appears that Hudler’s the player they’re going to move.

That’s just a guess, however, though the relative shallowness of this summer’s free agent crop seems to suggest that a trade might provide a better return in terms of trying to add more size and speed on the wing.

The Wings probably won’t add a defenseman, however, unless Nicklas Lidstrom retires and/or Jonathan Ericsson chooses not to re-sign with the team, and I did a little bit of digging to confirm that yes, Ericsson did decline the $2 million contract MLive’s Ansar Khan reported that the Wings offered him, but at the same time, the Wings remain much higher on Ericsson than fans are, and, moreover, Ericsson really wants to stay in Detroit.

Ericsson’s father, Sven, spoke to Folkbladet about his son’s status, offering the classic “hockey dad’s” take on his son’s contractual prospects…

Sven Ericsson, Jonathan’s father, took the news [of Ericsson declining Detroit’s contract offer] with a grain of salt.

“Yes, I know that Jonathan had been given an offer, a first draft back in Feburary, and he and his agent weren’t too pleased with it.”

“His agent said he could get at least double as good a deal from another team, and they haven’t talked to the [Wings] since then. I don’t think it’ll be solved before the middle of the summer.”
The 27-year-old is playing on a team that teems with superstars. The salary cap in the NHL also plays a rule in contract negotiations.

Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg all have long-term and gold-lined contracts.

“It’d be different if he was a superstar, then he’d be more concerned with his surroundings, but that’s not how it works,” says Sven Ericsson.

“Hockey dads” and hockey players aren’t necessarily on the same page when it comes to negotiating contracts, however, and Ericsson himself told Norrkoping’s Tidningar’s Johnny Daagh that the situation’s dire by any stretch of the imagination:

“I don’t get it. I’ve received lots of SMS messages [text messages] from friends at home about this, but we haven’t even begun negotiations. I just had an exit interview with Ken Holland (the general manager) yesterday, and he said he’d contact my agent at the beginning of June. That’s all that’s happened,” says Jonathan Ericsson to NT-sport.

He’s played for five years in Detroit, and wants to stay on the Swedish team.

“It’s not a secret that I could earn a bigger salary on another team, but I want to remain here. I want to play on a great team that has a chance to win something,” he says.

So Big E may not be your favorite player, but he wants to make it work with the Wings, and they seem to want to keep him.

Also in the Swedish-language vein, Aftonbladet’s Bjorn Forsgren reported that restricted free agent Dick Axelsson, who will at least be tendered a qualifying offer so that the Wings can retain his rights, appears to want to remain in the Swedish Eliteserien, and as such, he visited Skelleftea AIK (the team Axelsson and Farjestads BK defeated in the Eliteserien final) and met with their coach and general manager.

Axelsson confirmed to both Norran.se’s Elin Ala and Expressen’s Henrik Sjoberg that he was wined and dined by Skelleftea, and he says that he’s both declined contracts from several teams (including Farjestad, and, according to Sjoberg, HV71) and that he plans on making a decision as to where he’ll play next season by “early next week.”

He’s being tight-lipped about the details of his talks with Skelleftea, however, which is very rare for Dick, and as Sjoberg notes, MoDo Ornskoldsvik has also made a bid for Axelsson’s services, so he’s a hot commodity.

MoDo hired Markus Naslund as their GM after having to battle just to stay in the league via relegation play, and they’re making a bid for Maple Leafs forward Fredrik Sjostrom as well, while Farjestads BK, ironically enough, has contacted Fabian Brunnstrom (per NWT.se’s Per Martensson).

In promotional news, part 1: Per the Detroit Free Press:

With no linesmen around, you can’t keep these guys apart.

Darren McCarty and Claude Lemieux — who signed autographs together last month in Mt. Clemens — are reuniting again for a meet-and-greet at a June 10 VIP dinner at Detroit’s Rub BBQ.

The poster for the event features an unholy melding of Red Wings and Avalanche logos. Ugh.

But it’s for a good cause, the Thin Blue Line of Michigan. Tickets are $75 at 313-964-0782 or rubbbqdetroit.com.

In promotional news, part 2: An entrepreneurship company called Indus Entrepreneurs will host a seminar in which former Wing Doug Brown will be the featured speaker:

The Detroit Chapter of TiE, welcomes former Detroit Red Wing Doug Brown to The Westin-Southfield on Monday, May 23, 2011. Brown will speak about what it means to be a great leader and how to create a winning team.

6 pm - Networking and Introductions
7 pm – Former Detroit Red Wing – Doug Brown
•  What does it mean to be a Great Leader?
•  Creating a “team” that can outplay all its competitors
•  Q & A
8 pm - Close Meeting

Brown is a former NHL right wing. After playing four seasons with Boston College, Brown played for the New Jersey Devils in 1986. In 1987 he won the New Jersey Devil Rookie of the Year Award and set the team record for most shorthanded goals. Brown joined the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 1993-1994 season. He then joined the Detroit Red Wings in 1995 and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998 before retiring in 2001.

Online registration before May 23, 2011 is $30 for non-members. TiE Detroit Members and students with valid identification are free. Complimentary appetizers will be served; cash bar.

TiE (The Global Network of Entrepreneurs) is a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurs internationally and is sponsored by top Venture Capital Firms and Fortune 500 corporations. The organization extends across 13 countries with 56 chapters, 2,400 experienced entrepreneurs and business executives as charter members, 12,000 aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals as members. TiE has grown to become the world’s largest nonprofit organization for entrepreneurs. Learn more about the TiE Detroit chapter at www.detroit.tie.org.

Also of Red Wings-related note: Detroit News sportswriter Gregg Krupa spoke to WBBL on Wednesday, and Krupa believes that the Red Wings need to find another goal-scoring forward this summer, and he believes that the Wings will have to make a trade to find one, though he’s not quite sure who they’d target. He does believe that the team will try to retain Ericsson, depending on his salary demands, and he believes that Chris Osgood will return as he’s still a capable player and Jimmy Howard’s mentor.

Overall, he thinks that the team will turn over 2-3 players—but he also makes a boo boo in suggesting that if the Wings trade Hudler, they might be on the hook for part of his salary, and that’s simply not true in the NHL. When you trade a player, his salary’s off your books, period.

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• Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman spoke to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson about his attempt to build a “grind line” in Tampa Bay…

Yzerman also learned one thing during his two decades in Detroit - the Red Wings always had good role players like Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Martin Lapointe and Darren McCarty. The Lightning has Moore, Bergenheim and Steve Downie - the best third line in the playoffs with 32 total points. Downie has 12 points, four behind St. Louis and Lecavalier for the playoff scoring lead, while Bergenheim’s eight goals is tops in the NHL. Moore has 10 points.

“These guys didn’t play much together in the regular season, but they’ve been a really effective line in the playoffs,” Yzerman said. “The one thing they have in common is they compete hard. That’s significant. People who succeed in the playoffs do that. The guys I played with in Detroit were all extremely competitive, and the stronger you are at the bottom end of your roster, the better you are. With injuries, guys who play 10 minutes have to play 15. Or 15 turns into 20.”

• Via RedWingsFeed, congrats to Nick Barnowski for winning the Red Wings’ High School Journalist contest;

• As an FYI, Newsday’s Katie Strang reports that short-term Wing Evgeni Nabokov will report to the New York Islanders’ training camp;

• ClickonDetroit posted a 29-image gallery of the Joe being “cleaned up” after the Wings’ locker-room clean-out on Saturday, which is a bit of a bummer;

• And it’s time for me to provide some “buzzkill” regarding the personnel meanderings I’ve read of late.

I truly believe that Krupa’s got it down in terms of the number of personnel changes, plus or minus one—assuming that Nicklas Lidstrom returns, which is a pretty safe bet, the Wings aren’t going to make a significant revision to their roster.

Ken Holland and Mike Babcock’s end-of-the-season comments strongly indicated that the team believes that it’s time to tweak, not make gigantic, wholesale changes. This team believes that growth from within and a few tweaks are all that’s necessary, and they won’t let go of Ericsson, Miller, Eaves, or even Osgood, Draper and Salei without some serious thinking.

At this point, it appears that, should contract negotiations go decently, the Wings would prefer to keep Ericsson, keep Miller and Eaves, add Mursak to the roster and probably both keep Osgood on as their back-up and at least allow Kris Draper to fight for his job against Miller, Eaves, Mursak and Cory Emmerton during training camp, just as Kirk Maltby did last season.

Perhaps moreover, the team won’t be asking Nicklas Lidstrom to take a pay cut—Draper and Osgood may be asked to take haircuts to accommodate Miller and Eaves’ raises, but I don’t see the Wings asking someone who posted 62 points to take anything less than the $6 million that Brian Rafalski is making.

I don’t see the team being particularly active in the free agent market, either, as it’s so ridiculously thin this year that the Brooks Laichs of the world might be able to score a $3.5 million payday and Tomas Kaberle, crappy play in Boston included, could get $5-6 million as he, James Wisniewski (who’s in line for a similar salary given the lack of quality defensemen out there) and Andrei Markov are the only real marquee defensemen out there.

Yes, it’s probable that the Wings will find a #6/7 defenseman (and Doug Janik, at $512,500 and on a one-way NHL contract, is the cheapest option), and yes, it appears that, at least per the Wings’ beat writers, the team may be inclined to trade one of Filppula or Hudler, probably Hudler, to find someone who can provide a little more speed and a little more size on the forecheck…

We have to remember that a) the salary cap might not go up from $59.6 million this season; b) the team is relatively happy with players who we tend to believe that they should let go or “bury in the minors”; c) the Wings have to account for the fact that nobody is going to be willing to help them (I’ve seen ridiculous suggestions that, for example, the Wings should trade Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, Jiri Hudler/Valtteri Filppula/Tomas Tatar and a first-round draft pick to Atlanta for Zach Bogosian, and, regrettably, you can bet that that’s the kind of return Rick Dudley will suggest is commensurate for Bogosian’s services, and that’s a deal the Wings would never make) in terms of a trade or “hometown discount” free agent signing; d) and the bottom line is that the Wings are, as previously stated, neither willing to mortgage their future, their blue-chip prospects, a first-round draft pick or create a gaping hole in one roster spot to fill another. And no, their neither going to buy anyone out, nor will they do something rash like send a contributing player to Grand Rapids for the sake of clearing cap space to make a gigantic move.

The Wings move conservatively, they believe in continuity and growth from within and they believe that it’s most prudent that, should they not find a draft-day trade that is palatable, they should wait until late July or early August to shop from the unrestricted free agent bargain bin, looking for a reclamation project (see: Patrick Eaves) or an older player with something to prove (see: Ruslan Salei, Mike Modano, Todd Bertuzzi, Jason Williams, Chris Osgood) to find the most bang for their salary-capped buck.

In other words, if you look at the forwards or defensemen or goaltenders who are out there, the Marek Svatoses and Freddy Meyers out there are more likely signings than Brooks Laichs or Shea Webers, for example.

If you want to play GM, take a gander at Capgeek’s roster chart and play with the Cap Calculator a bit, dream to your heart’s content, but understand that, at most, the Wings would wave goodbye to Draper and Osgood, not re-sign Ericsson, and sign a top-nine forward (emphasis on top nine as opposed to top six), trade Filppula or Hudler for a top-nine forward, sign a #5/6 defenseman and a back-up goaltender, and stop there, and I really don’t see them doing that much.

Tweaks, not wholesale changes, and subtle moves, not huge hole-creating and future-mortgaging trades or signings are the Wings’ kinds of moves. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but in reality, the Wings do not make change for change’s sake, they do not believe in making significant roster revisions unless their hands are forced by free agency (see: Hossa, Samuelsson, Conklin and Hudler leave and Howard graduates from Grand Rapids and Williams, Bertuzzi, Eaves and Miller are signed), and they do not believe in saying goodbye to veterans unless, in doing so, they’d lose big parts of their future (like Kindl and Mursak). That’s the bottom line.

When Babcock says that the team doesn’t want to turn their backs on Ericsson, Hudler or players who are “vested in the company” like Osgood and Draper, that the team wants to get 1 or 2% better, as he told the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell, and that Holland says after the Wings’ Game 7 loss that a healthy Johan Franzen and not losing Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Cleary would have been enough for the team to be traveling to Vancouver, that tells you all you need to know about the team’s plans in terms of player personnel.

Update: Per Iltahleti and YLE, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ leading scorer, Ilari Filppula, has signed a 4-year contract with the team he left to try to make the NHL, Jokerit Helsinki of the SM-Liiga. Jokerit Helsinki’s official website confirms.

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thethirdcoast's avatar

“His agent said he could get at least double as good a deal from another team, and they haven’t talked to the [Wings] since then. I don’t think it’ll be solved before the middle of the summer.”

E52’s agent thinks $4 million is his salary floor in the open market?

I want some of what he’s smoking!

Posted by thethirdcoast from Rochester, NY on 05/19/11 at 09:34 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, I thought you said you were exhausted!  Wow - thanks for all these great posts.

Count me among those who don’t think big changes are necessary. Honestly, had the Mule, Cleary and Bert not been injured, there’s every reason to believe this Wings team could have gone all the way.

It all depends on what Nick decides, really.

So until that question is resolved, I am content to just wait.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 05/19/11 at 10:08 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Updated: Ilari Filppula has re-signed with Jokerit Helsinki

Good for him.  I hope he’s happy there.  After a year in which he led a mediocre (if not downright poor) Griffs squad in scoring, yet couldn’t even get a sniff of playing on the same team as his little brother, he deserves better.

And Hat Trick Dick should maybe think twice before he becomes a Judas to the whole of Karlstad.  You think Pens fanboys were pissed when Hossa came to Detroit?  If he goes to Skelleftea, it’ll be Hossa times one thousand.  Still, he can rot in Ornskoldvik for all I care—he and MoDo deserve each other.

One-time Dive or not, I’d take Svatos as our reclamation project/cheap scoring forward.  He’s not that far off where he once was, and if there’s any team who can resurrect his career, it’s the Wings.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/19/11 at 10:40 AM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

McCrimmon is gone.

Two words:  Ken Hitchcock.

Can you imagine Babcock and Hitchcock on one bench. There will be enough Cock for everyone.

Wait. What?

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 05/19/11 at 01:05 PM ET

calquake's avatar

One-time Dive or not, I’d take Svatos as our reclamation project/cheap scoring forward.  He’s not that far off where he once was, and if there’s any team who can resurrect his career, it’s the Wings.

I like the way you think Andrew.  However, will Svatos take what the Wings can offer?  I can’t believe it would be much more than 2 mil, assuming there is that much cap room.

Posted by calquake from Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst on 05/19/11 at 01:15 PM ET


he believes that Chris Osgood will return as he’s still a capable player

Really?  Has he seen something I haven’t?

Posted by Garth on 05/19/11 at 01:21 PM ET


Has anyone seen this?

Goodbye McCrimmon…


Posted by Garth on 05/19/11 at 01:23 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Well, McCrimmon may finally be gone, but I won’t celebrate until we see who he’s replaced with.  And of course, how that person performs.  To look at McCrimmon’s stats, you wouldn’t have thought he’d been capable of turning one of the best puck-possession defenses in the League into a goals-against mess, yet here we are…

And I don’t know what Svatos may ask, though George has been mooting his name as a possibillty.  After his recent career, I really can’t see him havng the balls to as for anything more than $2 million, as he doesn’t offer much more than promise at this point—he’s not a checker, he doesn’t kill penalties, and he can’t fight.  If we can offer him $1-1.25 million for one year and a chance to resurrect his offense, then see how it goes, I’d lke to think that he might come here.  Worst-case scenario, he can probably chip in Hudler-like numbers at a much lower cap hit.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/19/11 at 01:37 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

The Wings need right hand shots both up front and on the back end. This season Eaves and Rafalski were the lone right shots at their positions (not including call ups).

Mursak adds a second right shot up front, but what the Wings need up front is a right shot that can put the puck in the net. Does Mursak have that scoring touch? Eaves does not. Eaves and Miller (his opposite number left hand shot) seem to be anywhere from 10-20 goal scorers (15 more likely). They are great penalty killers and shot blockers, and bring a physical edge to whatever line they are on. Mursak has speed, but does he have that tenacity?

Logan Pyett is out of options on defense. He would be the second right hand shot should he make the team. He has potential, but will he make an immediate impact or is he a project? That’s why a number of us look at James Wisniewski and think “maybe we can sign him for about what he’s making right now for about 5 years because he’s just hitting his prime and plays all situations and would be a great fit with either Nick or Nik” (Stuart would play with the other, Rafalski would anchor the power play and third pair).

However, Holland is very good at finding solutions from within, and even with so few right hand shots the Wings might have gotten the job done again this season had they not been missing three top six forwards in game 7. That being the case, Holland is probably hoping Pyett can contribute next season on the third pair and second power play along with Kindl and possibly Ericsson (if he does not price himself out). So defense most likely gets bolstered from within with youth instead of free agents.

On offense, Hudler is an issue, but what return would he bring other than maybe cap space? Still, based on what I’ve seen, Filppula gets it in the playoffs, Hudler does not. Filppula is only now reaching the prime years of his career. Maybe he’s at best a third line center who can contribute to a scoring line when necessary. But maybe he’s ready to step up his game and show more in the season. Even if he is what we see right now, he plays all situations and steps up come playoff time. Who remembers what Claude Lemieux did in the regular season? But love him or hate him (of course here we hate him) he was a beast in the playoffs. Even in the cap world teams must hold on to players like that, and that means Filppula likely remains at his current salary for as long as he wants to play here and brings it come playoff time.

Still, the Wings need right hand shots up front, even if they are not elite (top 9 instead of 6). Marek Svatos is a right hand shot and has tons of talent. He is a reclamation project, but he might be at the right point in his development and maturity as a player to put in the work effort and make himself a top 6 forward again. That makes him a solid potential addition. One other potentially good fit that I’ve noticed is veteran center Jason Arnott. I’m not sure about his health, but if he can go he’d be a great fit on a one year deal. He’s huge, physical, and might mesh very well with Filppula on the third line.

Before I go further, let me elaborate on my thinking. First, assume the Wings want to keep the top two lines intact:

Franzen - Datsyuk - Holmstrom

Bertuzzi - Zetterberg - Cleary

Now, assume the Wings want to keep their primary checking line intact:

Miller - Helm - Eaves

That leaves the following players:


Modano is likely gone. Draper has a fight on his hands, but still has value. However, the Wings cannot afford to keep him over Miller or Eaves as both of the younger role players are now proven fits and heirs to the new Grind Line with Helm. Abdelkader plays center or wing depending on where Filppula is playing. Mursak has earned his chance and brings the right hand shot the Wings need.

So how do the Wings fill out the third line and final 1 or two forwards (assuming building from within on defense and sticking with 7)?

If the Wings can trade Hudler for a right hand reclamation like Svatos, great. If all they get is cap space and a second round pick or two, they have room to sign Svatos or someone like him (though I don’t think there are too many). For this discussion, let’s assume Hudler is traded but not for a roster player, and the Wings do sign Svatos. Now they have two thirds of the third line. They also still have Abdelkader and Mursak, bringing the forwards to 13. At that point, does Cory Emmerton make the team, or does Draper, or do the Wings look for something else, another right hand veteran, like Arnott?

I think the Wings can move on without Draper, and I think bringing in as many right hand shots as possible is what needs to be done. Above we see three complete lines that the Wings have used during the regular season and playoffs. Here is a potential third line:

Filppula - Arnott/Abdelkader - Svatos/Mursak

What intrigues me is that the Wings might have a logjam on the third line, the line that can provide consistent scoring and strong defensive play. Eliminating Hudler and going with just Filppula, Abdelkader, and Mursak provides speed, skill, defense, tenacity, and scoring potential. Svatos could push the line more towards scoring, and Arnott more towards physicality and tenacity along with scoring.

Other reasons I like Arnott inlcude his ability to play the point on the power play, his booming shot, and his potential as big center. He’d also be a good veteran in the room in place of Draper, though Draper would be the strength and conditioning coach, so he’d still be around, just not on the ice during games.

I don’t know if that more turnover than what Holland has in mind, or if it’s just right. But with three lines fully intact, it all comes down to adding right hand shots and versatility. Arnott plays wing as well as center, and mans the point on the power play. He can also move up to the second line, or even the first to provide support for Datsyuk or Zetterberg. If Pav and Z play together, he completes the second line with Mule and Filppula. As for Svatos, if he can find his game, the guy is a potential top 6 as well, he has moves. He can be tenacious when he wants to be, and I thought like many others he had a strong career ahead based on his first playoff performance. However, like Cleary, maybe he just needs the right organization to help him find his game again?

I can live with tweaks, in fact I prefer them. But those tweaks need to be right hand shots because the Wings have more than enough left hand shots to go with if they don’t tweak at all.

Posted by Bradley97 on 05/19/11 at 01:40 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

That being said, replacing McCrimmon may end up the most significant move the front office makes this offseason.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/19/11 at 01:41 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Sorry that post was so long without warning. I accidentally submitted instead of previewed before I was fully finished with editing.

It will be interesting to see who the Wings bring in to run the defense next season. I don’t want to be hard on McCrimmon, but the PK turned around because Babcock picked Hitchcock’s brain in the Olympics and again in training camp. Of course, having the new crop of penalty killers helped, but the system was flawed. Now it’s closer to what it was when Draper and Maltby were the young penalty killers. The Wings need a coach who can keep it that way and get the defense back in order as well, especially with Lidstrom so close to retirement.

Posted by Bradley97 on 05/19/11 at 01:51 PM ET


sign a top-nine forward

Ahh, I remember a time when the Wings had top-six and bottom six talent and now we pretty much have to settle for top 4 or 5 at most…

Posted by Garth on 05/19/11 at 01:57 PM ET

All American in MN's avatar

I wonder why the Wings did not give Ilari Filppula a one or two game taste of the NHL this year.  I mean it’s not like there was not an opportunity for a call up or four.  George, did anyone in the organization ever release a statement on this?  That is, was it due to a lack of foot speed?

During the first round of the playoffs Babcock had Abdelkader centering the second line with Val Filppula centering the third line.  Abby seemed to be ok in that role, but he was not really finishing his scoring chances.  Is this the role the Wings want to see Abby in next year?  I would love to see Fils playing with Pav and Franzen on the first line.  Sorry Tomas, it might be third or fourth line duty along with first power play unit duty only this year.  There seems to be a lot of talk of who would center the second line if Pav and Z were on the first line and Fils was gone or injured; but if Abby was centering the second line in the playoffs, why not the regular season?

Posted by All American in MN on 05/19/11 at 02:09 PM ET

All American in MN's avatar

Bradley 97,
I like most of what you are saying.  Arnott could be that mythical ‘Dallas Drake’ player that the Wings have been looking for the last few years.  I like Brooks Laich more for many reasons, but due to the shallow free agent pool, he will probably get lots of cash.

Chris in hockey hell,
Well done.  ‘Nuff said.

Speaking of the potential unrestricted free agents this summer; one way spending might be conservative this summer is because this will be the last off season before the current CBA expires.  It will be interesting to see how that affects all things hockey this summer.

Yesterday there was a lot of talk about Kaberle and the Wings—thank you THN.com—we are all now “more-stupidest” because of this.  To me this seems like a Jason Williams nightmare part III.  I don’t care if the Wings could sign him for $2.5 per year (disclaimer: this dollar amount was an extreme exaggeration not to be taken seriously), this would be a mistake!!  Kaberle makes the Big Rig look like a Norris Trophy Candidate.

Posted by All American in MN on 05/19/11 at 02:27 PM ET


So defense most likely gets bolstered from within with youth instead of free agents.

Wait wait wait, Logan Pyett would be “bolstering” the defense just because he has a right handed shot?  That’s utterly ridiculous.

I can live with tweaks, in fact I prefer them.

Really?  Because that’s what they’ve done the last couple years already.  How about an actual MOVE to make the team BETTER rather than just a warm body to fill a roster spot?

Is this year’s team any better than last year’s?  Sure, the Wings were very close to winning Game 7 this year, but let’s also remember that they also, in Game 4, allowed the Sharks to come back from 3-0 to tie it up in the third and ultimately were almost swept.

Is that a team that needs nothing more than “tweaks”?

I guess it depends on the tweaks…

Posted by Garth on 05/19/11 at 02:30 PM ET


There seems to be a lot of talk of who would center the second line if Pav and Z were on the first line and Fils was gone or injured

The thing is, they have two first-line centres and they have 3 (or 4, if you count Draper) third- or fourth-line centres but no real second line centres.  The ideal situation would be Datsyuk first, Zetterberg second and Filppula/Abdelkader/Helm on the third and fourth lines, but when Datsyuk and Zetterberg play together there isn’t a go-to second liner, and that can hurt.  Maybe Abdelkader should get a shot at 2nd and Filppula should play third.

It would be nice if we could get a rugged centre for Hudler, then maybe we could even have Filppula play second-line wing.

I still think that the biggest need we have is on defense.  It’s be nice to have someone in the organization who can move up next year when one or both of Lidstrom and Rafalski retire (assuming Lidstrom plays this coming year).

Posted by Garth on 05/19/11 at 02:39 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Very interesting news about McCrimmon.  As he doesn’t have another gig lined up, sounds like he was fired.  Guess it wasn’t just some of the fans who thought he messed up our defense…

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 05/19/11 at 02:56 PM ET


Sports Math: Addition by Subtraction.

The principle that a team improves simply by getting rid of one of its personnel regardless of whether it adds a replacement.

Hopefully, getting rid of McCrimmon will be addition by subtraction.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from La La Land on 05/19/11 at 03:22 PM ET


Maybe McCrimmon leaving is just making room for a future assistance coach like Nick Lidstrom..who knows more about a defense man’s duties than Lidstrom. Could McCrimmon be considering a move to Tampa Bat with Steve Y?

Posted by Barb Miller from Windsor on 05/19/11 at 05:25 PM ET

Crater's avatar

Could McCrimmon be considering a move to Tampa Bat with Steve Y?

Posted by Barb Miller from Windsor on 05/19/11 at 03:25 PM ET

Why in gods name would Stevie do that? Its not like he had McCrimmon for a coach. If anything he saw from an insider perspective why he wouldn’t want to hire the guy.

Posted by Crater from SoCal on 05/19/11 at 06:18 PM ET

All American in MN's avatar

I guess it depends on the tweaks…

Posted by Garth on 05/19/11 at 12:30 PM ET

I know that I referenced this earlier but, if Jason Williams is your tweak, you fail.  That also goes for bringing back Kopecky.

Additionally, I am sick of the Wings losing out on players that they have developed for years.  Players like Quincy, Leino, and Ritola.  I know that we kept Chelios in lieu of Quincy, Williams for Leino, and Draper for Ritola, but Cory Emmerton needs to be on the Wings roster next year or traded for something.  I have a feeling that if we lose Emmerton to a waiver claim, well, he just might be a player that pans out in a way that haunts the Wings.  Back in 06-07 when Holland acquired Big Bert from Florida, he refused to include Emmerton in that deal and instead parted with S. Matthias.  There must be a reason for this.

Maybe Abdelkader should get a shot at 2nd and Filppula should play third.

It would be nice if we could get a rugged centre for Hudler, then maybe we could even have Filppula play second-line wing.

If Filppula is the Wings third line center for next year, I feel that would be a misallocation of a $3million cap hit.  The third line center should to be Abby or Helm.  So if Fils cannot make it happen on the second line, put him on the wing like you said Garth, and package Hudler together with some other assets for a good second line center.

Posted by All American in MN on 05/19/11 at 06:36 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Jiri Hudler + Filpulla = $5.875mil/yr.
Brad Richards = $6.5mil/yr?

Wishful thinking, but just sayin’...

Posted by Hippy Dave from Somewhere West of Detroit on 05/19/11 at 07:08 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Posted by 11B3PF7 in MN on 05/19/11 at 04:36 PM ET

Leino was bust. There’s no getting around it, regardless of what he did or is doing in the (L)East. Ritola never brought intangibles that Drapes would still bring to the team.

You can wince at what happened to Quincy, but…sh!t happens.

Posted by mrfluffy from the phone, calling Detroit, telling them it's on 05/19/11 at 07:39 PM ET

CC Moor's avatar

Bradley 97,

Thanks for your in-depth commentary; perspicacity on display, as always!

I cannot disagree with anything you say, but I have a question on Hudler.  I have always liked him and feel that his 2008-09 stats were not a fluke; he had developed into an effective offensive player. Clearly he was not ready for the return to NHL combat and lost half a season; I also infer that playing under Babcock involved “mental stresses”, and not all players’ egos can handle him (e.g., Leino played with a brittle stick in Detroit a year ago but has been solid in Philly….53 points and +14 this year).  I thus think it possible Hudler never felt comfortable this year, and his only productive run was playing with Datsyuk.

He impresses me as having a lot of pride however, and I hate the thought of giving up on him next year.  Your point about the need for a right shot is valid, as is the need for a bigger body…..bigger is usually always better in the NHL now.  But my question is, is your reticence over him now due to your having given up on him, and you see him as an overpaid 40 point player; or do you see him as trade bait because you really want that right hand shot?

Hope all is well and thanks.


Posted by CC Moor from Washington DC on 05/20/11 at 03:27 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Does Mursak have that scoring touch?

Yes. Mursak’s a scoring winger who has 20-25 goal potential, though he’ll be used as a forechecker to start.

I think that right-handedness is not the be-all-end-all solution to the Wings’ struggles—let’s just say that Pyett isn’t exactly NHL ready—and I don’t know if the Wings can afford an Arnott given his performance with Washington, but there will be some moves.

And if you listened to Holland’s interview on WDFN, he acknowledged that the Wings believe that Emmerton would be claimed on waivers, and that Tatar and Smith may have earned a shot to make the roster, so things are going to get tricky to say the least for Draper.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/20/11 at 04:43 AM ET

Bradley97's avatar

CC Moor,

Thanks for the kind words as always.

My feelings towards Hulder are mixed, but my answer to your question is both. I really believe, especially after watching game 7, that the Wings need a few more right hand shots, specifically talented ones, but just having them spread out would be good. McCarty, Lapointe, Brown, Maltby, Kocur - they all had their moments in back-to-back cup wins. At that time every line had a mix of right and left hand shooters, and the Wings had at least two regular right hand shots on the back end (Murphy, Konstantinov, Rouse and Ward in ‘97, Murphy and Rouse in ‘98). They also had Yzerman at center, and Brown, McCarty, and Lapointe all learned to be proficient at taking face offs (McCarty did so between those and ‘02, if memory serves).

Hudler has the talent, and his size is not an issue. However, he seems to have lost his compatibility with Detroit. Someplace else he might be that 30 goal scorer, but I’m no at all certain he can be that here, so cap space is the larger value. That or trading him for a right hand shooter at around the same cap hit in a similar situation elsewhere. I cannot get Mickey out of my head on two particular scoring chances where a right hand shooter would have scored. And Kronwall had an amazing chance, but even with his skill to get the puck on his forehand he was not fast enough. A right defenseman in his place at that time very likely would have put the puck in the net.

So, when it comes the Hudler, I think he’s no longer compatible, and I think his spot would be better served with a right shooter.


I hope Mursak has the hands to match his speed. I liked what I saw of him, and in time he hopefully will find his NHL game and be at least as good as what you think he will be, if not better.

Like I mentioned above, I do believe the Wings need at least two true right defensemen, and I think they need a couple more right hand forwards. But that is not the be-all-end-all. The Wings got the job done in ‘08 with a similar roster. However, I cannot ignore how much those missing two or three right hand shooters could impact this team, especially on the blue line.

If Emmerton and Smith are ready, I expect the Wings to chose youth over veterans since they do have enough veterans right now. In fact, there have been a number of SC champions who brought in youth the season of and/or before the win. No sense losing good players to other teams if their time is now. However, if Pyett is not ready and the Wings lose him, or will lose him, then they need to go after someone who is, and Wiz is a good fit, if the money works. After bouncing around, I think he might be willing to come here for similar pay to Kronwall and Stuart for the chance to win every year.

As for Arnott, he’d solve problems up front, like not having a right center. He’s near the end of his career, and the Wings are closer to the cup than Washington if Lidstrom plays another season as we all hope he does.

Whatever moves the Wings make, be they simply promoting internally or looking externally, I do think they will be better next year. And this team is so close, so they’re just the right tweak, the right new player, rookie, veteran or reclamation project away from winning the whole dang thing.

Posted by Bradley97 on 05/20/11 at 08:16 PM ET

CC Moor's avatar

Bradley 97,

Thanks for your insights!  I’m sad for Hudler as there seems to be momentum in the air to jettison him.  I have not thought of him as a 30 Goal guy, but I do see him as a steady 20 G and 30 A guy the next 5-6 years…. he is 27 and has figured things out now.  And to the degree he underperformed this year, others did as well. 

On the other hand, Babcock singles out the guys he loves who work so hard: e.g., Helm, Abdelkader.  I cannot ever recall him signalling this about Hudler…or Fil.  He occasionally praised both, but just as often hinted at the need for more from both. 

It is a nice problem to have with the young talent on the way up….. but there are 4-5 legitimate winners of the West again next year, so it is never easy.

Posted by CC Moor from Washington DC on 05/21/11 at 05:43 AM ET

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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.