The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/24/12 at 06:43 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings drafted six players during rounds 2-7 of the 2012 Draft on Saturday, and thanks to an incredibly industrious MSM and RedWingsCentral’s Matthew Wuest, my initial background entries about Martin Frk, Jake Paterson, Andreas Athanasiou, Mike McKee, James De Haas and Rasmus Bodin gave way to a central repository of stories that was updated 17 times over the course of 10 hours.
This morning, as you might imagine, there isn’t much to add. Aside from a report of a successful drive home from Kris Draper and Chris Osgood, the Free Press’s George Sipple provides an article centered Martin Frk that even the Czech press quoted (Frk’s stock apparently dropped over there, too):
Frk, 18, is from the Czech Republic but played the last two seasons with Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was sidelined early last season with a concussion.
“We’re excited about him,” said Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill. “He’s one of Czech’s top players. He had a tough year last year with injuries, but as an under-ager he was one of the top players at world juniors. Heavy body. Very competitive and he’s got some good skills.”
Frk was excited about coming to the Wings.
“I don’t know what to say,” Frk said. “Big day for me. Detroit’s a great team. I’m happy. They have great team, little bit older team, but I think it’s great team.”
Frk said he suffered a concussion when he was elbowed in the head during a preseason game attempting a spin-o-rama.Nill said the Wings weren’t too concerned.
“If you got two, three or four, now you’re concerned,” Nill said.
Jiri Fischer, the Wings’ director of player development, was familiar with Frk because he was also involved with the Czech Republic’s world junior team.
“He’s very high on him,” Nill said. “Jiri Fischer likes strong character, hard-working guys.”
I also found some photos of Frk and Paterson in Daylife’s Wings gallery, and if you can deal with watermarks, more from Getty Images’ commercial gallery, but if you’re not up for perusing that “draft hub” entry…
We’ll shift gears to discuss what may or may not have been a bit of disinformation from Wings coach Mike Babcock regarding the incredibly high likelihood that the Wings will sign EV Zug forward and 26-year-old sniper Damien Brunner on July 1st, as noted by Sipple:
“I know lots about him because I went to the world championships and watched him play,” Babcock said on Saturday during the NHL draft at the Consol Energy Center. “The thing for us is he’s high, high paced. Looks like he has tons of skill. Can he adjust and play in the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity. He’ll be a top-six forward to start with us and see where he goes.”
Babcock said he watched Brunner practice every day at the worlds.
“I stood in the hall and let him walk by me,” Babcock said. “Does that mean he’s any good? We think he is. Have I ever been wrong before? Many times.”
Babcock said he encouraged general manager Ken Holland to look at the righty-shooting forward, especially since many of the Wings’ top players—Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula, for instance—shoot left.
“This is a right-hand shot that plays fast,” Babcock said of Brunner. “The way you look at it is, you gotta make decisions and try to get better. We’ve been able to encourage the kid to join us. He could have gone anywhere he wanted. He chose to be a Red Wing.”
To start during training camp? Or the exhibition season? Or the regular season? That’s between Babcock and Babcock, for now, anyway.
And it’s from there that we move toward this morning’s most controversial topic, at least gauging by the 150-or-so comments made about Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s suggestion that the draft’s hosts, the Pittsburgh Penguins, are now the only logical choice as places of future employment for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the cream of the unrestricted free agent crop.
Let me ask you a question first, and a simple one at that:
Do you believe everything you read?
Do you believe that, when a member of the media makes a claim, a general manager, coach or player makes a statement, or perhaps something less than truthful is inferred, that you should simply accept what you’ve read as fact?
Because I don’t believe Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero or Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford’s insistence that they hadn’t spoken a word to each other about trading Jordan Staal, one of the jewels in the Penguins’ crown, to Carolina at 4 PM on Friday afternoon, and just happened to wrap their trade talks up in time for the Penguins to announce the trade reuniting Jordan and Eric to a packed PNC Center, right as the Penguins were making their first round pick in front of an internationally televised audience.
Bullshit. Bullshit on them and bullshit to the media that played the possibility of said trade up, slowly but surely building drama through hints and suggestions that Jordan was on the move, and that the Hurricanes were after him, for almost two weeks leading up to the draft, with the supposedly rumor-and-only-rumor-fueled frenzy building up to a crescendo on Friday afternoon, when Shero and Rutherford supposedly thought up the trade out of thin air.
Sometimes the media is indeed complicit in these posited possibilities and thought balloons, and as we reach the final week before free agency hits on July 1st, I wasn’t kidding you when I suggested that a healthy dose of skepticism would be necessary to not start climbing the walls in the hours leading up to 12 PM EDT on Canada Day, because I’m pretty f***ing sure—pardon the cursing, I’m going 20 hours without sleep and something like a 30-hour workload over the past two days—that whether we’re talking about general managers, front office personnel, coaches, fellow players or player agents, we’re gonna see a shitload of “thought balloons” fly over the next week, fueled by hot air in some cases and floated as attempts to slither around tampering rules and sell players on signing with one organization over the other.
Just as former Minnesota North Stars GM Lou Nanne made a helluva stir when he took to the Minneapolis airwaves suggesting that none other than Wild owner Craig Leipold would not be outbid for Parise (who has a house in Minneapolis and went to the University of North Dakota) or Suter (who lives in Madison, WI in the off-season and has a wife from Minnesota), Cotsonika’s article was something of a canary in a coal mine.
This morning—and I’ll spare you quoting their bluster—the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi, the guy who tried to make a Keith Yandle trade happen by making it up, suggests that Pittsburgh will both sign Sidney Crosby to a contract extension on July 1st, and will utilize Pens GM Shero’s status as a former member of the Predators’ brass to ensure that Suter comes to Pittsburgh (despite the fact that David Poile has stated he’s going to let Suter test the market and then circle back to him on July 1st), and that, of course, Crosby’s status as a pal with Parise via Shattuck-St. Mary’s will allow the Penguisn to out-bid the Wild for Parise.
The Tribune-Review’s Dejean Kovacevic then gets on the train by suggesting that the Pens will find a way to make Paul Martin disappear, and while he’s not as bold as Rossi, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari suggests that the Penguins are positioning themselves to make a run at Parise and Suter.
That’s fine and all, but the New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein suggests that the Rangers have their hearts set on landing Suter, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns states that Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman will shed salary in order to go after Suter (whose family, it is presumed, are Blackhawks fans, and would have an easier commute to Chicago from Madison than they would to Minneapolis or Detroit), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo made sure to point out that Wild GM Cliff Fletcher tried to make a play for Jordan Staal, and will be equally aggressive in free agency, and we’re supposed to believe that the Los Angeles Kings and even the Hurricanes are planning on making heavy bids for Parise and Suter as well…
All assuming that Parise doesn’t re-sign with the maybe-financially-solvent-maybe-not-so-much Devils, or that Suter will in fact, as David Poile has hammered into the Predators press’s heads, simply look around and decide that there couldn’t be a better place to play than Nashville, which is the perfect city with the perfect team and perfect defensive partner in what we are supposed to believe could be a Hall of Fame-bound defensive pair in Suter and Shea Weber.
Feeling a little ill yet?
Like you’ve ridden a roller coaster, maybe?
Well it’s gonna be like this all week, and I can’t vouch for the veracity of any of the above-mentioned journalists’ suggestions, nor can I tell you that they’re simply making up a “good story” and hoping to cash in on the bandwidth and advertising revenue generated by the “buzz” they’re making with each flap of their fingers above their keyboards.
We don’t know what Parise, Suter, or any other of the Red Wings’ free agent targets really want to do, or what it will take to sway them to play with, as Cotsonika might suggest, a younger Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby over a supposedly “old and busted” Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, or whether sunny Minneapolis, cozy Nashville, “friendly” Philadelphia, vibrant Chicago or the bright lights of Los Angeles might be more attractive for free agents than Metro Detroit’s suburban sprawl, or whether we might in fact be talking about players who have their own agendas, their own desires and especially their own financial needs, perhaps angling to sign the contract that has the most front-loaded salary and the best guarantees of signing bonuses that could be paid out regardless of whether there is a lockout, or whether salaries are rolled back.
It’s up to them, not to us, and certainly not to the media, though those whose loyalties are toward the “good story” and the digital equivalent of selling papers in page views and comments left on their websites will most certainly happily toy with your emotions like a toddler given the opportunity to “gently play” with a nervous house cat.
F*** if I know what’s going to happen, or what might sway Parise, Suter, Semin, Wideman, whoever else is out there and whichever restricted free agents won’t receive qualifying offers over the course of the next week to sign with the Wings over anyone else.
I don’t know if the “program” is enough, of if the roster is too old, or whether players really believe that they have to live in the dilapidated, burned-down and bankrupt city where I was born or not.
All I know is that Ken Holland didn’t speak to the Associated Press’s Larry Lage about his plans in anything other than direct sentences, letting Lage do the idea-planting for him…
“We’re going to be active and very involved in free agency because we have cap space and holes we’d like to fill,” Holland said. “But to be successful, you have to draft and develop guys.”
While the [Wings’] draft picks will have time to develop, Detroit will need some free agents to attempt to make up for the departures of defencemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart along with the potential loss of 50-point forward Jiri Hudler in free agency. The Red Wings have about $20 million in cap space and might be willing to use most of that to sign New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan Suter if they aren’t re-signed by their teams and are available on the market July 1. Holland can’t talk about players he’s targeting, but knows the franchise will be in the spotlight when free agency begins.
“Everybody looks at the Red Wings and expects big splashes,” he said. “We have a lot of pieces in place and I like our team, but we need to make two or three moves through free agency or trades.”
Detroit didn’t plan to have Stuart back on the blue line next season because he wanted to live closer to his family in California, leading to the Red Wings trading the potential free agent to San Jose earlier this month. The franchise was hoping Lidstrom would return for a 21st season until the day he officially announced his retirement last month. The four-time Stanley Cup champion, seven-time Norris Trophy winner and captain simply can’t be replaced. Suter, though, would go a long way toward bolstering the team’s depleted defence. The 26-year-old All-Star has spent his seven-season career with the Predators.
The 27-year-old Parise would provide a big boost up front, where Detroit might be without Hudler, who might want to see what he can get on the open market instead of settling for what the Red Wings are offering. Parise would give Detroit a third star forward to go along with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. He has been with the Devils during each of his seven seasons in the league, helping them reach the Stanley Cup finals with 15 points in 24 post-season games after scoring 31 goals during the regular season.
Detroit decided to keep 25-year-old forward Darren Helm with an $8.5 million, four-year contract in the hopes that he will develop from a role player to a standout. The Red Wings are also counting on younger players such as defenceman Brendan Smith and forward Gustav Nyquist to play key roles this season.
“There’s always talk about us being old, but we’re getting younger,” Holland said. “We’ve got a 27-year-old goalie in Jimmy Howard, entering his prime. Niklas Kronwall is 31 and the rest of our defencemen are in their 20s. And if we have a healthy Dan Cleary, I really like us up front with high-octane guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk. We may not have the star power we’ve had the last 10 years, but I don’t think the sky is falling for the Detroit Red Wings.”
Holland didn’t flinch when speaking to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, who used Holland’s quip as a counterpoint to play up New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello’s likely increasingly desperate attempts to retain the services of someone a week away from free agency in Parise:
The question now is not which teams will bid on Parise come July 1, but rather which teams won’t? The latter might be a shorter list. Detroit, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and several other clubs will chase this year’s No. 1 UFA forward. But don’t forget New Jersey. The Devils still have a shot at retaining their star captain.
“We’ll certainly do anything that can be done,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told ESPN.com Saturday. “It’s mutual on both sides. We have to find a way.”
Lamoriello chose not to trade away Parise’s rights this weekend, which is par for the course. He never deals away UFA rights. Nor did any team approach him asking about the rights.
“No, because they know better,” Lamoriello said, smiling.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, are expected to be major players July 1—for both Parise and Ryan Suter. Easier said than done, given the competition and interest. Either way, an interesting time for the Wings in the post-Nicklas Lidstrom world.
“We’re transitioning from a different group of Red Wings to a young group of Red Wings,” GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com Saturday. “That’s why we signed Darren Helm, we think he’s coming into his prime years. But as we get into July 1, we’re obviously going to explore the market just as we have every year. We’ve got more cap space, but I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.”
Holland didn’t change his tune when speaking to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan about the relative dearth of trades at the draft, either:
“Teams are positioning themselves with July 1 approaching,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “But it’s a process. There may have been a lot of talk but not a whole lot of trades.”
Staal was sent to Carolina for young forward Brandon Sutter, the No. 8 overall pick Friday, and a prospect in the Hurricanes organization. It would have been difficult for the Wings, who weren’t the mix for Staal, to match the Hurricanes’ offer, with the Wings having no first-round pick.
“You have to have a fit,” Holland said.
The Pittsburgh trade could impact the Wings on July 1, when they — and many other teams — likely go after Ryan Suter, the Nashville defenseman who is expected to be the biggest name among available defenseman.
The Penguins cleared out considerable cap space with the trading of Staal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (to Phoenix), and are expected to make a run at Suter or maybe Zach Parise, the New Jersey forward who could be the most sought after player if he pursues free agency. Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero drafted Suter when Shero was an assistant general manager in Nashville. The Penguins feel Suter’s talents would blend nicely onto a Penguins roster that is led by Hart Trophy-winning Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
The Wings, along with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, were rumored to be discussing the availability of Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, 25, an offensive defenseman who has is entering the prime of years of his career. But the asking price from the Coyotes was rumored to be understably large and Phoenix reportedly wasn’t serious in dealing Yandle.
“We have a lot of cap space (over $20 million) and we’re looking to be aggressive on July 1,” Holland said. “I talked with other teams and it doesn’t mean that somewhere down the line we can’t have further discussions. But right now, our main focus is on July 1.”
I’m not gonna deny for a second that, as a subjective Wings fan at heart, there’s a part of me that’s incredibly disappointed in Holland.
He simply doesn’t speak in grandiose terms, he doesn’t offer vague promises which can be interpreted a thousand different ways, he doesn’t almost name names, and he hasn’t allowed Jimmy Devellano to find his way onto Roger Lajoie’s radio show on the Fan 590 in Toronto in the middle of the night—because Devellano would inevitably attempt to skirt around tampering rules the way Tomas Holmstrom’s attempted to skirt around goaltenders over the past fifteen years.
Hell, I’m not exactly thrilled that Mike Ilitch’s only words to the effect of what the Wings might be planning on doing to ensure that the standard of excellence to which the Wings held themselves during Nicklas Lidstrom’s tenure in Detroit would not slip were simply that the Wings would “be flying all over the country,” more or less implying that his private plane will be gassed up and ready to go anywhere the front office deems necessary to attempt to wine and dine a free agent, or simply show up with a plane full of suitcases of $100 bills.
The fact that Jimmy Howard suggested that the Wings’ “program” sells itself didn’t help my confidence, either.
All I know is that I’m a Wings fan who’s going through this with the rest of you, and that we’re coming into the last unrestricted free agent period of this CBA…
And that it’s an incredibly thin, top-heavy class of free agents out there, which means that the frenzied furor of kinda-sorta-truths, rumors, innuendo, thought balloons and plain old made-up angling for players’ fancies will reach a fever pitch this week, and that the best thing I can do for myself as someone who has an anxiety disorder to begin with and started to feel downright depressed (as if I need any help in that department) after reading Cotsonika’s article…
Is to not let myself get carried away by buying what the press tells me hook, line and sinker when the fates of the Parises and Suters of the world aren’t up to me and aren’t up to the press, either.
All I can do is wait, and while you’re more than welcome to say what you need to say to cope or receive some moral support during what will seem like an infinitely long wait for a week from tomorrow, because our comments section is open for a reason…
I don’t have the extra energy to put into that kind of stuff. Maybe that’s what separates you from me. I’m not a journalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m the kind of fan who has to keep writing and keep generating content and preparing to head to Traverse City to talk to the kids the Wings drafted on Sunday even if every unrestricted free agent on the market signs everywhere but Detroit.
That being said, between now and when the Wings are able to make definitive moves via signings or trades, I’m not going to f*** around with your emotions, and if I have to share my Klonopin, I will.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• I have no idea whether the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons’ list of Justin Schultz suitors is accurate:
[Maple Leafs GM Brian] Burke drafted defenceman Justin Schultz in Anaheim, tried to trade for him in Toronto, and will certainly make an offer on him when he becomes available after midnight Sunday. Schultz, the young free agent who has yet to play an NHL game, won’t be dealing with offers until Wednesday but the Leafs will be one of about 30 bidders in the process. Getting him is like getting an additional first-round pick who can play right away. The Rangers, Canucks, Oilers, Blackhawks and Red Wings appear to be the favourites at this point.
• The Mercury News’s David Pollak reports that the San Jose Sharks are finally acknowledging that they’ve signed Brad Stuart to a 3-year, $10.8 million contract;
• The Free Press posted a list of drafted players with Michigan ties;
• Lest I forget, Helene St. James will be holding a chat at 11 AM EDT on Monday (tomorrow);
• And you can take this “Stevie award” from the Free Press’s Steve Schrader as you wish:
The “Pick a Bench” award
To the Red Wings, who released their schedule the other day and will be opening the season against the Nashville Predators. Wow. How ironic is that? That’s Ryan Suter’s old team, right?
• And finally, based upon the hours I put into the draft-day post as opposed to the hours I put into this one at the end of a 20-hour day, here’s the button.
I’m trying to raise funds to help defer the cost of heading to Traverse City to attend the Wings’ summer prospect camp from July 7-14, and if you can lend a hand, it would be greatly appreciated.
You’ll have to use my personal email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, and if you want to aid the cause by some other manner or means, fire me an email at that address or at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.
Update: According to AnnArbor.com’s Pete Cunningham, Ann Arbor businesses are preparing for the Winter Classic, and you need to know about this part:
Hotels are treating the game—which will be played on a Tuesday—like they would treat a Michigan football weekend against a marquee opponent like Ohio State or Notre Dame.
Holiday Inn, 3600 Plymouth Road, will require a minimum two-day stay, which is not typical around the New Year’s holiday. It will increase rates as well.
“Rates will be elevated for supply and demand and that will be typical across the board,” said Holiday Inn general manager Joseph Sefcovic, who is also president of the Washtenaw County Hotel/Motel Association. “People are just applying the football game logic.”
Unlike football Saturdays, though, there won’t be a built-in student population or as large of a local contingent of fans. A different approach to parking will be necessary because of this, which is why a separate committee was formed by the MSAA solely to address transportation.
“This is in the infancy of the infancy stages,” [Main Street Area Association Executive Director Maura] Thomson said. “But we’re getting out ahead of this.”
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About The Malik Report
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.