The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/13/11 at 09:15 AM ET
When the Red Wings announced the schedule and roster for the 2011 prospect tournament in Traverse City, Wings fans with internet service (I wasn’t among them), and I want to make sure I use this technical term correctly:“Googled the hell out of” the try-outs.
I can boast for once and say I hope they checked out my reports from the summer development camp TMR’s readers sent me to, because I can at least say that I’ve seen Zach Franko, Adam Estcolet, Evan Mosher and Artem Sergeev in person and can confirm that the two slightly-built centers, Quebec butterfly goaltender and slick Russian defenseman, respectively, can keep up and definitely displayed enough skill on the ice and determination off it to merit invites to the prospect tournament and chances to earn their way onto the main camp roster, if not earn contracts with the team.
Here’s what I had to say about the above-mentioned players, as well as draft picks turned try-outs Nick Oslund and Bryan Rufenach, on the last day of the summer camp:
Evan Mosher: Mosher does overcommit on occasion, and when he does, it’s trouble, because the goalie with a Hasek-tight glove and blocker plays a classic Quebec Butterfly style. He’s technically perfect at what he does, but there also isn’t anything about him that really stands out, which is why it was so bloody hard to get a read on him. All I can say is that he’s beatable in a somewhat predictable fashion, and he’s going to have to show more during the prospect tournament.
Artem Sergeev: A wild card in more ways than one because he’s so slick and so Russian at times and so very ordinary at others. His skills are clearly there and he’s mobile, very well-built and he’s smart but after a year playing with the Val-d’Or Foreurs, Igor Larionov’s client needs to learn more English and French, feel a little more comfortable doing his own thing and hopefully showing some grit during the prospect tournament.
Adam Estoclet: Hands and feet, hands and feet. Ever so slight at 170 pounds, maybe, and out of college options, he’s probably going to turn pro in the ECHL or AHL and hope to latch on with an NHL team…He’s certainly got the skill and skating to do it, but he’s just not very strong.
Zachery Franko: Franko is also all hands and feet, and is possibly the smallest of the Estcolet-[Travis] Novak crowd at maybe 165 pounds with his skates on, but he has a little more all-round ability in addition to being a speedy puck-mover and he’s going to back to the WHL to hopefully dominate for the Kelowna Rockets, where the Wings found Franko while watching Mitchell Callahan play. Smart kid, hard worker, understands that he’s got a hard road to go.
Bryan Rufenach: I’m not sure whether the Wings will sign him and hope that the “equation” finally comes together or whether he’s ran out of time. He’s also an undersized but more skilled defenseman than [Sebastien] Piche, with a really hard shot, good positioning and superb playmaking abilities, but he’s still not quite strong enough and not quite consistent enough for someone whose rights expire in the middle of August.
Nick Oslund: Like Rufenach, he’s just ran out of time. He scored two goals in the scrimmage and was [Landon] Ferraro’s faithful forechecking winger, and I’ve seen him evolve from this big hunk of meat into an all-round grinder with size and strength to spare and the hands to surprise his opponents and keep up on a scoring line when needed, but…His tools are there and the toolbox is yet unfinished, and his rights expire in August. I hope he gets to the prospect tournament and knocks people on their asses and turns some heads because he needs to do so to remain a part of the organization.
Then we come to the player the Wings chose to invite that I don’t know a thing about, goaltender Ramis Sadikov, as profiled by RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau on her Left Wing Lock blog (she’s got bios of every try-out up and of course has all the details for both the prospect tournament and the main camp available here):
Ramis Sadikov—A 6-foot-2, 230 pound goalie is a competitive netminder who uses a mix of styles. The Red Wings have had their eye on Sadikov since the 2010 NHL draft, but opted to select Petr Mrazek that year instead. Sadikov, who was rated 12th overall by the Central Scouting Bureau in 2010 (Mrazek was rated 25th that same year), ultimately went undrafted in both 2010 and 2011 but has since rebounded taking over the starter duties in Erie last season and finishing with a 2.88 goals against and a .912 save percentage.
The Production Line’s Michael Petrella looked the guy up and found that he’s even bigger than Lindenau’s reference, the ever-esteemable HockeyDb.com, listed, and he’s got an edge to boot:
So who is this kid that will be joining 2010 Draft Pick Petr Mrazek and fellow tryout Evan Mosher in guarding the Wings net in Traverse City?
For starter’s, he’s huge. The OHL’s official site has him listed at 6’4″ — which would make him the third tallest Red Wing (behind Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Commodore) should he earn a contract. Not only that, he’s listed between 220 and 230 — which puts him in Commodore and Todd Bertuzzi territory.
He turned 21 in February of this past season — a season that saw his workload increase from 25 games played to 58. In both seasons with Erie, he’s led the netminders in games played.
In 2010-11, his stat line is fairly impressive. He went 36-17-2 on a rather average Otters team. His 36 wins were good enough for second in the OHL (one place above Mrazek). His .912 save percentage was enough to earn 4th place in the league (a category that Mrazek led) and a 2.88 goals against average placed him sixth (one slot below Mrazek). He led the league in minutes played, with 3,295.
Despite playing two years in North America — a caveat that can turn the Russian National Team off — he was a member of two World Junior development rosters, and eventually made Team Russia in 2010 (but he only played in one game). He was cut from the eventual Gold Medal-winning team in 2011.
Although he was eligible to be drafted in both 2010 and 2011, no NHL team has bitten. However, he was drafted in the 2009 CHL Import Draft — going 36th overall to Erie. He was also selected in the first round of the 2009 KHL Draft, and his rights are held by SKA St. Petersburg (he was taken three slots above our own Tomas Tatar).
Finally, we learn that homeboy’s not afraid to drop the mitts and throw hands, as you can see in this video (fast forward to 1:15 if you’re impatient):
So that’s great and all, but what does it mean, Dr. Stupid?
(Sorry, it’s August, I couldn’t resist)
Well as I’m not an expert on prospects, I’m kind of stumped myself. Eliteprospects.com not only lists Sadikov at 6’4” and 229 lbs, but also notes that he played in a game for the Russian World Junior Championship team in 2010, and when you look at his stats on the OHL’s website, well…
Season Team GP GA Mins Saves GAA SV% W L OTL SOL T SO
2011-12 Regular Season Erie Otters 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.000 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010-11 Regular Season Erie Otters 58 158 3295 1644 2.88 0.912 36 17 1 1 5 2
2009-10 Regular Season Erie Otters 25 89 1327 719 4.02 0.890 9 10 1 2 6 0
Total: 83 247 4622 2363 3.21 0.905 45 27 2 3 11 2
Season Team GP GA Mins Saves GAA SV% W L OTL SOL T SO
2011 Playoffs Erie Otters 7 30 428 285 4.20 0.905 3 3 1 0 1 0
2010 Playoffs Erie Otters 2 12 119 82 6.04 0.872 0 2 0 0 0 0
Total: 9 42 547 367 4.60 0.897 3 5 1 0 1 0
His goals-against average isn’t pretty, but a 36-17-1-1-and-5 record for the Erie Otters, who won a total of 40 games this past season, make up for that 2.88 goals-against average and the fact that even at 6’4,” by hockey player standards, 220-something pounds is pretty darn heavy.
So why wasn’t he drafted in 2010 or 2011? And why is he accepting a try-out from the Red Wings?
Well, the puzzle pieces start to come together when you take a gander at press clippings. First and foremost, the Erie Times-News’s Victor Fernandes notes that the Otters chose to acquire Tyson Teichmann, who played for the Wings during their summer camp, from the Belleville Bulls because GM Sherry Bassin doesn’t believe that Sadikov will return to the team as a 20-year-old over-ager…
With the future of potential overager Ramis Sadikov still uncertain, the acquisition of goaltender Tyson Teichmann from Belleville on Tuesday assures the club will have options in net for the 2011-12 OHL season.
“It’s an honest competition,” said Sherry Bassin, Otters managing partner and general manager. Bassin traded veteran defenseman Brady Austin, 18, to add Teichmann, 18, and spark a two-man position battle that officially begins Aug. 29, the day players report to training camp at Tullio Arena.
During exit interviews in April, Bassin informed Festarini of the club’s need for another young yet seasoned goaltender. Festarini, 18, has a 4-8-0-0 record in 19 career games over the past two seasons. Teichmann enters his third season with a 17-40-0-4 mark in 72 games. Each enjoyed his first, albeit brief, playoff experience this past season.
“We feel good about the way we’re developing the team,” Bassin said. “We wanted to have a pretty good situation in goal”—with or without Sadikov.
Bassin expects Sadikov, 20, to earn an opportunity to play professionally, although Sadikov remains a free agent who wasn’t chosen in the NHL draft in June.
Sadikov set a franchise record with 36 wins and led the Otters to Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs this past season while playing through what Bassin confirmed was a torn groin muscle suffered in February.
Well that’s not good news, but why did a player who the Otters’ website talked up like nobody’s business before the 2010 Entry Draft become an unsigned free agent that the team’s not counting on to return after setting a franchise record?
Russian goaltender Ramis Sadikov came into the Ontario Hockey League as a virtual unknown in the 2009-10 season, though the Erie Otters netminder has attracted the attention of scouts after backing up for the majority of the season.
Sadikov is aiming to become the second Otters import goaltender in as many years to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft. Last year, Slovakia native Jaroslav Janus was selected in the sixth round by Tampa Bay, and could feature in the Lightning’s plans for next season after a terrific pro debut with Norfolk that was cut short by injury.
A native of Moscow, Sadikov was drafted by the Otters with the 36th pick in the 2009 CHL Import Draft. As is the case with most import selections, little was known about Sadikov except that he was also drafted in the Kontinental Hockey League’s junior draft just weeks earlier by SKA St. Petersburg.
What was known is that he possessed tremendous size and could fill the net. At 6-2 and 230 lbs., Sadikov uses his size to his advantage when playing goal.
Sadikov captured his first win in North America in a 5-4 shootout win against Owen Sound October 17, when Otters fans saw Sadikov in action for the first time. It also gave fans and scouts a glimpse at his competitive nature, as the 18-year-old chest bumped the glass after denying Marcus Carroll the opportunity to prolong the shootout.
That was just the first of many post-game celebrations. Even though he saw action in just 25 games this season, Sadikov participated in his own salute to the fans after any win at Tullio Arena, whether he played or not. Among the celebrations: the air guitar, waving Shooter’s flag, wearing a garishly large cowboy hat, or the fan favorite: the snow angel.
The eccentricity in Sadikov is also evident in his goaltending style. It’s hard to pinpoint what that style is, with a mix of Patrick Roy’s (his idol) butterfly, Martin Brodeur’s standup, and Dominik Hasek’s helter-skelter maneuvers. Fans saw more of the latter throughout the season as Sadikov chooses to throw his body around to make the desperate saves.
Making the jump to play in North America is a gamble for most Russian prospects, one that has so far paid dividends for Sadikov. He represented his country at the Subway Super Series and earned MVP honors for his team during his start, and he was also selected to the World Junior Championships squad to back up Anaheim prospect Igor Bobkov.
Although his 9-10-1 record and 4.02 goals-against-average seem like pedestrian stats, one could attribute that to getting adjusted to the North American style of play. After all, Janus was 13-29-2 with a 4.40 goals-against-average in his first year with the Otters, and he rebounded to what is shaping up to be a solid pro career.
Sadikov is ranked 12th by NHL Central Scouting amongst North American goaltenders, ahead of fellow imports Petr Mrazek (Ottawa) and Memorial Cup champion Philipp Grubauer (Windsor). While his style is raw, his size and competitiveness could be what compels an NHL organization to call his name this weekend in Los Angeles.
Okay, so he’s a bit overweight, he’s a bit wacky and the fact that the KHL’s biggest powerhouse, SKA St. Petersburg, owns his rights are all factors that are going to scare teams off, because SKA GM Alex Medvedev is the KHL’s president, and if an NHL or AHL team signs Sadikov, it’s entirely possible that the KHL will raise a stink and demand that a team violate the NHL’s CBA and pay them a few hundred thousand dollars for Sadikov’s rights.
What else could be the issue?
Well, this might be the issue: his agent is Mark Gandler, who represents Alexei Yashin and a host of players who were NHL prospects before Gandler demanded ridiculous salaries for his clients (see: Evgeni Artyukhin, Alex Semin [former client], Sean Bergenheim [former client], Patrik Elias [former client], Alexander Burmistov, Alexander Svitov, Stanislav Chistov, Karri Ramo) and sent them back to Russia. Gandler’s nearly a certifiable nut-job when it comes to insisting that every client is the “next big thing,” and Gandler rambled on to Fernandes before the draft in June:
Even though teams traditionally pick 17-year-old and 18-year-old players, agent Mark Gandler believes a team will select Sadikov in the later rounds Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
“There’s no guarantee either way. Things change during the draft,” said Gandler, of International Sports Advisors Co., Inc. in Franklin Lakes, N.J. “But I would say that he will be drafted.”
If Sadikov is selected, Gandler expects that club will sign him this offseason and place him in the AHL.
“Why else would they draft him at 20 years old?” Gandler said.
If Sadikov isn’t drafted, clubs nonetheless have expressed interest in him.
“There are quite a bit of teams that are inquiring,” Gandler said. “We’ll talk to the teams that want to sign him as a free agent. He’s ready for whatever comes his way,” Gandler said.
“Eventually the best decision will be made for Ramis,” Gandler said. “It could be that it is in Erie. We would not be unhappy to have him come back and play for Erie.”
“We would not be unhappy” is the kind of thing that Gandler says when his clients are on the best possible terms with their rights-holders. Rants about the unreasonable nature of GM’s, misuse and/or under-usage of players by their coaches and outlandish salary demands are what follow even when a restricted free agent’s a huge part of his club’s present and future.
The various hold-outs and nutsoness surrounding Alexei Yashin’s trade to the Islanders and move back to Russia alone should tell you why the Otters and Sherry Bassin, a very, very savvy GM, chose to import Teichmann, who sported a 11-26-0-2-5-and-1 record with Belleville and is very liberally listed by the OHL’s website at 150 pounds, to hedge his bets on the chances of Sadikov returning to the OHL.
Add in the Red Wings’ situation in the crease—with Joey MacDonald returning to the Griffins, Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce will both see time with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye—and you’ve got a helluva gamble on the Wings’ hands as a very heavy goalie with an eccentric personality (he’s no Kirill Kabonov, mind you), an agent who tends to expect the moon, stars and a few comets along the way when negotiating contracts, and nowhere to put the goalie except the OHL or farming him out to another ECHL team if he were to earn an NHL contract and his agent didn’t tell him to bolt for the KHL.
Although it bears mentioning that Tomas Jurco and the Saint John Sea Dogs will, according to the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, start training camp on Wednesday(!), foreign-language news is the gift that keeps on giving in early August.
I don’t plan on spending $35 to subscribe to Pressball.by because they posted an interview with Pavel Datsyuk, but Sovetsky Sport’s Oksana Bratuhina provides us with a juicy tidbit from said interview, and this is relatively decently translated:
Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk remembers the atmosphere of his team during his first year in the NHL, when together with his teammates, he won the Stanley Cup:
“I went to an unknown country to learn something new and interesting. I didn’t need a lot of time to look around and adapt because there was a remarkable atmosphere and team unity that’s inherent in Detroit. The star players carried themselves as simple guys in conversations and did a great job of helping me get accustomed to the team. Actually, it was really astonishing. I would be very happy if other young hockey players received the same treatment.
“The blueprint was definitely learned that season. In addition to winning, there was always a drive to continue to work harder and aim only at the top. But then I was a rookie and wasn’t depended on that much, so for me it wasn’t important to earn personal victories. In the end we won, and, thank God, everything turned out well for us. However it didn’t mean that it was acceptable to stop. I’m still hungry to win.”
“How does Detroit manage to pick future stars in the late rounds of the draft? First, it’s the hard work of the scouts. Second, it’s the unique atmosphere which I already spoke about. From the top of the pyramid—the team’s ownership—and finishing with the simple rink workers. For the hockey player, all we have to do is leave everything on the ice and play. In Detroit, it’s all interconnected, and there are no small details left out.”
I’m no fan of translating Czech, however, so here is a very, very rough translation of Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer speaking to iDnes.cz’s Michael Beren:
I would have liked to see Jagr in Detroit, but I’ll cheer for him, says Fischer
This November, it will be five years since the hockey player Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench during a game and had to be revived. Due to heart problems, his career ended. Now he’s helping his former team look for talent in the NHL and is an assistant coach for the Czech under-20 national team.
On Thursday, he was watching Sparta Prague play a pre-season match in the European Trophy tournament against Sweden’s HV71.
“Adam Almqvist was playing there and was named the second star of the game. He was one of our draft picks three years ago. He played well in the game against Sparta. A few months ago we signed him to a contract, and we’re going to leave him in Europe for now and see how he develops,” Fischer explained while in Prague.
He talked about finding talented players, Jaromir Jagr and defibrillators in hockey rinks.
So, did you watch the players drafted by Detroit, or observe other hockey players?
“When I was at the game I looked at other players, naturally. But during the season, I mainly focus on our players. I see an average of 120 games per year, all over the world—from juniors to universities overseas to Sweden and Finland. My job is to monitor our players and help them improve and get to the NHL.”
Will you recommend players from the Czech Republic for the [Wings] to draft next year?
“If I see someone who interests me, maybe yes. But Vladimir Havluj is our Czech scout. He’s well-connected not only in the Czech Republic, but also throughout Central Europe. We have him and a Russian, Swedish and Finnish scout, so hopefully nobody escapes us.”
Are you just watching the European Trophy games, or are you watching other pre-season games?
“With the under-20 team in Chomutov, we’re going to play two pre-season games against Russia, which should be a good rehearsal. Last week I was in Strakonice, where we played 19-year-olds…Hockey never stops, even during the summer.”
When Jaromir Jagr chose to return to the NHL, he talked about Detroit. Did you try to persuade management, or were you involved, because you’re part of the team?
“Jarda’s one of the best players in history, so it didn’t need to be addressed. The management in Detroit knows him all too well. I was lucky that I was his teammate. But he chose to play for Philadelphia. It was a question of whom he was going to choose, rather than who wanted him the most. Of course I would have been very happy if he’d chosen Detroit, but it didn’t happen [that way].”
What do you think about his future in the NHL? Can he handle it there?
“We’ll see a year from now. He wants to play and that’s important for any success [to happen]. Some guys just come back because they didn’t do well in Russia. There are many different reasons why former stars are eager to return. I haven’t spoken to Jarda personally, but it looks like he wants to come back. And I don’t doubt it. He was one of the best players at this year’s World Championships, and he showed that his age isn’t an issue.”
But it’s far harder to play 82 games in the regular season and then battle for the Stanley Cup than to play in the Russian KHL. Don’t you think so?
“That’s true. But he played lots of games for the national team. He believes he can do it, and I’ll cheer for him.”
Two years ago, the Czech Republic pioneered the use of defibrillators in stadiums. Are you continuing to work in this regard?
“Not so much, I work overseas. I spend most of the year there, I live in Detroit. I’m trying to promote a healthy lifestyle in addition to defibrillators, where people look after themselves and don’t take health lightly.”
Do you think the Czech stadiums improved themselves regarding defibrillators?
“It’s definitely a lot better than it used to be. A defibrillator’s just a tool, it’s important to know how to resuscitate someone and restart their heart. Then you have to use a defibrillator, which should be somewhere nearby and easy to access. Not closed somewhere in a warehouse so somebody doesn’t steal it. Moreover, what happened to me can easily happen in the stands. People don’t talk about that as much.”
You once said that since that unpleasant moment you celebrate a second birthday on November 21st. Do you ask your wife for a gift?
“The best gift is to realize that it’s always good to be in this world.”
Also in the developmental hockey department, but in a very different vein, the Sentinel and Enterprise’s Chad Garnder spoke to Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard as he’s holding a goaltending camp at the Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, MA this weekend, and Bedard had this to say about his philosophy as a goaltending instructor:
“What we try to instill right off the hop is the fact that the goaltender has to be best skater on the ice and have the best agility,” Bedard said Friday evening before the start of the two-day clinic that features more than 20 goalies ranging in ages from 8 to 16. “We try to instill proper skating techniques for a goalie, balance, how to use your edges, about how to stay in position and not get back on their heels—the little things that help them enjoy the game more.”
Bedard, who played in the NHL with the Washington Capitals and for 14 years in Finland, stresses learning proper technique but also having a blast while doing it.
“I’m not a drill sergeant. I want people to have fun with what we do,” said Bedard, who also conducts clinics in British Columbia, Buffalo, N.Y., Russia and Sweden. “We make light of a lot of different situations. We’re very encouraging and very positive. We’re here to motivate. We want the kids to leave here loving the game more.”
And while Bedard focuses on instilling near-perfect technique…
“Last week I was in British Columbia and spent a couple of days with (three-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit goalie who recently retired) Chris Osgood, and we were talking about the way the game has changed,” Bedard said. “He said, ‘It’s amazing when you think right now the best goaltender in the world is a smaller guy with really no style and his name is Tim Thomas.’ So he goes, ‘Everything old is new again.’ But it comes down to competing.”
Also of Red Wings-related note this morning:
• Things you don’t expect to read on a Wings blog, part 1: The Wings are partial sponsors of an effort to stage the world’s largest dodgeball game;
• Things you don’t expect to read on a Wings blog, part 2: The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson reports that Chris Chelios couldn’t attend Friday’s Kid Rock concert in Detroit as he and his pal Eddie Vedder were attending Dennis Rodman’s induction ceremony at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA (seriously);
• The Bangor Daily News reports that Jimmy Howard received a “Legislative Sentiment honoring his success in college and pro hockey” from the Maine legislature;
• And it’s time to pull out the Paypal button. I have to call the Howard Johnson in Traverse City and make a reservation for a two-week stay, and as I expect to have exhausted your generosity, if I don’t exhaust my savings account in the process I’ll be very happy. I can’t do this alone and if you can lend even a buck or two that’d be awesome, and if not, that’s okay, too.
Again, you’ll have to use my email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate…please and thank you and this makes me feel really uncomfortable, still.
Der, I forgot: Also: from the previous entry, awould wants to know about the pluses and minuses of subscribing to GameCenter Live instead of Center Ice. Can anybody who’s more familiar with the services than myself weigh in, especially in terms of when archived games become available to view?
Update: USA Today’s Kevin Allen’s already looking at 2012’s best free agents, and among them are two Wings who I don’t believe are going anywhere:
4. Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall: Since Nicklas Lidstrom will be retiring soon, it would be a fair presumption to expect that Detroit will get him re-signed. But for now, he remains on the list.
7. Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart: This is a very solid, physical defenseman, well-liked by coaches and teammates. Again, it seems likely Detroit would get him re-signed.
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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.