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Mid-afternoon mishmash: on the ‘NJEC,’ Walleye’s A.J. Jenks and fantasy Zetterberg

Of Southeastern Michigan and Northwest Ohio hockey-related note this afternoon:

1. USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth is hosting the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp from July 30-August 6, and Vili Saarijarvi will be representing Team Finland at the camp. USA Hockey's website has more details regarding the event:

2. Today the Toledo Walleye announced that they've re-signed leading scorer A.J. Jenks:

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Krupa speaks with Petr Mrazek regarding his contract extension

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spoke with Petr Mrazek regarding his contract extension with the Red Wings in English:

“Yeah, really, really happy that it’s over and that I can be with the Red Wings for two more years,” said the presumed No. 1 goalie heading into next season, after he replaced Jimmy Howard in Game 3 of the five-game, first-round playoff elimination by the Lightning in April. "You know, it’s Hockeytown. The team is great, so I’m more than happy to be back.”

With the team straddling the salary cap, despite the relief provided by players on long-term injured reserve, with three new acquisitions in free agency and while looking at young members of the roster and prospects in Grand Rapids, things have gotten a little tight.

One example was the Wings filing for arbitration, when Mrazek’s salary request reportedly came in toward the top of what starting goalies make in the NHL.

No fun sitting around a room hearing from your nominal bosses that you should not be paid as much as you think – and here is why, specifically.

GM Ken Holland said the Wings were pleased about avoiding any such contretemps, with Mrazek or any other player. Mrazek liked the idea, too.

“It’s a business. I would say it has nothing to do with the personal stuff that you can hear in arbitration,” he said. “I don’t think Ken wanted to go, as well. But we made the deal before the arb started.”

Krupa continues, discussing Mrazek's role on the Czech World Cup team and getting Mrazek's take on his inconsistent 2015-16 campaign...

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‘Roughly Translated’: Jiri Fischer discusses Mrazek’s contract

Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer discussed Petr Mrazek's contract with iDnes.cz's Michael Beren and Robert Sara, and here's a rough translation thereof:

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Wings still dancing with the salary cap’s upper limit

The Hockey News's Jared Clinton discusses the Red Wings' cap issues:

Currently at $4.238 million over the cap, placing Franzen and Vitale on the LTIR the day before the season opens would free up $5.07 million in space. That would make the Red Wings compliant by more than $800,000. However, CapFriendly doesn’t take into account the additions of Andreas Athanasiou, who played 37 games last season and all five playoff games, and another defenseman, even from the AHL, who will likely be on the roster before the season begins.

Adding in Athanasiou and, say, Xavier Ouellet would mean adding another $1.34 million to the cap, putting Detroit back over the upper limit by more than $500,000. But there’s another Red Win who could be headed to LTIR: Teemu Pulkkinen.

Pulkkinen underwent off-season shoulder surgery and won’t be ready to start the season. If he and his $812,500 salary are also on LTIR, the Red Wings should be back under the cap. Sure, they’ll have minimal breathing room, but they’ll be cap compliant.

Making the pieces fit this off-season wasn’t going to be easy for Holland and he’s not exactly going to be able to go about managing the Red Wings’ salary cap in a traditional fashion this season. That said, he’s made it work.

The difficulty now will be improving his roster, if need be. Any deal Holland makes will have to either save the Red Wings money against the cap or be almost a perfect match, dollar for dollar. That’s not an easy task in today’s NHL, so Holland is going to need to get creative if he’s still seeking to add another defenseman.

Clinton continues

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Savage profiles Filip Larsson

MLive's Brendan Savage profiles Red Wings prospect Filip Larsson this morning:

Although his numbers weren't great, the Red Wings try to draft a goalie every year and they liked Larson's size – 6-foot-2, 180 pounds.

"I had a tough year," Larsson admitted. "I started as a second goalie in Djurgardens U-20 team. But I got a lot of chances. I think it went well at the end. But it was tough for my team in Djurgardens.

"I'm looking forward to the next year."

Larsson said he doesn't get to watch many NHL games in Sweden given the time difference but he tries to watch all the highlights the following morning.

His favorite player is Henik Lundqvist – "Swede goal with New York Rangers," he said – and he compares his game to that of the Washington Capitals Braden Holtby.

"I think we're kind of similar," he said.

Continued

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Panning the DeKeyser deal

TSN's Travis Yost argues that the Red Wings shouldn't have signed Danny DeKeyser to a 6-year, $30 million contract:

One of the key decisions every general manager has to make is knowing when it makes sense to play hardball with a pending free agent and when it’s time to lock a player in on a long-term deal.

The Detroit Red Wings decided the latter was the optimal route with defenceman Danny DeKeyser, avoiding  arbitration and securing the Western Michigan graduate to a six-year, $30-million deal this week.

I think they made the wrong choice.

Like many of my grievances with player valuations on the defensive side, I can’t reconcile the term or dollar amount of the contract with the DeKeyser we know – a defender who doesn’t belong on a first pairing and who has struggled to move the needle in any meaningful way since becoming a full-time player in the 2013-14 season.

Yost continues

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‘Roughly Translated’: Mrazek’s arbitration hearing ‘turned out beautifully’

Petr Mrazek spoke with iSport.cz's Miroslav Horak on Wednesday night, and here's a rough translationt thereof:

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Evening news: On Mrazek’s contract negotiations, criticism of Holland, drinking and softball

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spoke with Ken Holland regarding Petr Mrazek's contract negotiations...

A two-hour breakfast meeting with Mrazek’s agent in Toronto that began before a 9 a.m. arbitration hearing helped the Wings avoid what would have been their second arbitration in 21 years. The hearings, at which both sides assess the performance and comparative worth of the player while asserting their conflicting positions, sometimes cause fissures. Breakfast is nicer than potential irritation.

“Obviously, it’s good any time you can negotiate a settlement versus going through arbitration, where it’s never a great process in building relationships with your players,” GM Ken Holland said. “It’s not something that’s motivating for the player and motivating for the club.”

Holland said he texted Mrazek’s agent Don Meehan Monday night and the two agreed to meet at 8 a.m.

Mrazek, who was not available for comment, also was on hand. Two hours into the meal, the deal was done.

“The arbitration was supposed to start at nine, but we were engaged in back-and-forths,” Holland said. “We made an offer. We had more back-and-forths, and a little after 10 o’clock, we finally came to the solution.”

And the Wings' cap situation...

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‘Two things’: On the Wings’ cap situation and ‘ice at the Joe’

After the Red Wings signed Petr Mrazek to a 2-year contract extension, Wings fans were quite concerned about the team's status as over the salary cap, but Wings GM Ken Holland tells MLive's Brendan Savage that LTIR space will allow the team to get back below the salary cap's upper limit before the regular season begins:

Holland doesn't expect Johan Franzen and Joe Vitale to play this season because both are dealing with concussion issues. Franzen is slated to make $3.9 million and Vitale $1.16 million.

Teemu Pulkkinen – who re-signed for $812,500 – won't be ready to start the season after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery.

So when the Red Wings place all three on long-term injured reserve to start the season, they'll be close to reaching the salary cap.

"Certainly we have no expectations that Franzen and Vitale are playing hockey this year," Holland told MLive Wednesday. "I talked to Vitale after we traded (for) him. He's having on-going issues with concussion. He certainly not expecting to be in camp. I'm not expecting to see Johan Franzen on the ice.

"I think realistically, when it's all said and done, we're probably a little over the cap. What's a little? Probably a million dollars or just a little bit less over the cap if you don't count Vitale and Franzen."

Savage continues, and this is good news as well:

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Thomas Vanek among NHL’ers playing in Minnesota’s ‘Da Beauty League’

All of a sudden, this story is marginally Red Wings-related. From the Minnesota Daily's Jack White:

Team workouts have begun for collegiate hockey teams across the country, but many [University of Minnesota Golden] Gophers hockey players are finding offseason training from a different kind of practice.

Seven current Gophers players are lacing it up in Da Beauty League, which is composed of six teams with college, amateur and professional hockey players, this summer. The teams play two games a week, each on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, at Braemar Arena in Edina, Minn.

“You are playing against NHL guys who are obviously more talented than some NCAA guys,” said rising junior defenseman Steve Johnson. “You know the skill out there and the talent is definitely really good, so whenever you get to skate against these guys, it’s an opportunity you don’t really want to miss out on.”

Da Beauty League is a 4-on-4 hockey league with two 30-minute halves. The game is fast-paced and rarely features checking. Many players utilize the league to stay in shape during the offseason.

The league has six teams that feature seven current Gophers and 22 former Minnesota players, including Minnesota Wild players Mike Reilly and Jordan Schroeder and former Wild forward Thomas Vanek.

Continued

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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.

 

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