The Malik Report
The hardest part of free agency for fans, as far as this person with an anxiety disorder is concerned, is that we know that the decisions made over the course of minutes on July 1st can drastically alter the course of a team, but we have absolutely no control over them.
July 1st feels like a playoff game for anyone whose team wants to improve itself via the unrestricted free agent marektplace, but we don't get to prepare for it in the same way we get to put on our lucky shirts or sit in our favorite places or have our "lucky" things nearby before our teams perform on the ice.
In the middle of the summer, on Canada Day, hockey fans have to process twenty to thirty-five signings over the course of a couple of hours, and especially as the second-lockout CBA has unfolded as it has, find that their teams strike out in terms of tapping a thinner and thinner crop of less and less game-changing players as the years go by.
Two years ago, we were talking about the Wings bidding on a "franchise player" in Ryan Suter; now Wings fans can hope, at best, that the team will land an up-and-comer in Matt Niskanen, someone who's just been bought out in Christian Ehrhoff or a soon-to-be-38-year-old in Christian Ehrhoff, if not a back-up plan in a Tom Gilbert or Anton Stralman--and the odds are still stacked against the Wings landing any of 'em, because at least ten to twelve teams are pursuing each player.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"We got seven left-hand D. I love (to have a righty), but how do you get it?" Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said over the weekend at the NHL entry draft in Philadelphia. "It's great to have this fantasy; like (general manager) Kenny Holland would tell you, there's no tree. I've been all over him, but there's no tree to grab them off of, so we'll get what we get."
Babcock, who can't comment on specific players, said acquiring a defenseman is "absolutely 100 percent" the club's priority, as opposed to a forward....
The Red Wings are willing to offer Niskanen the maximum seven-year contract he likely will seek because he's only 27. But they might be reluctant to give him the money he's expected to command ($6 million or more per season).
There are other right-handers who interest the Red Wings, including Anton Stralman, who had a strong playoff run for the New York Rangers. But he's not the offensive-minded power-play quarterback Detroit would prefer.
Note: The title of this entry translated to, "One must do what one can do in order to improve his team," but nobody liked it.
I'm still attempting to recover from two days and 28 hours' worth of draft-related work, so I slept right through Paul's text message regarding the Sabres buying out Christian Ehrhoff to avoid cap recapture penalties way down the line (the Buffalo News's John Vogl reports that the news took Ehrhoff's camp by surprise; I'm not so sure that 38-year-old Ed Jovanovski getting bought out was such a surprise for the Windsor native).
Here's what I know: half the Gordie-Howe-damn-league is chasing 38-year-old Dan Boyle and 27-year-old Matt Niskanen, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo informed us that Niskanen got married in his home state of Minnesota on Saturday (the Wild are apparently going to sign everyone, or at least that's how their situation's being presented).
The Wings have apparently pushed very hard to wine and dine Boyle and Niskanen's respective representatives, but the odds are stacked against the Wings here--2 players, 12-15 teams interested--so I am perfectly happy to find that the soon-to-be-32-year-old Ehrhoff, who has eight 30+-point seasons to his credit, is available.
As far as I'm concerned, if the odds are 3-out-of-12 versus 2-out-of-12, any siutation which aids the Red Wings ability to employ their primary means of reinforcing their roste, a.k.a. free agency, the Wings' cause is good,
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press joined Channel 7's Sports Cave this morning and talked about the Wings' need on defense, she say Dan Boyle would be the best fit.
She also discussed Holland/Babcock and a few other topics.
from Chuck Pleiness of Red Wings Front,
In 2011 when Brian Rafalski told the Wings he was suddenly retiring it left a huge hole on their blue line.
One player they were looking at in free agency, but wouldn’t overpay for, was Christian Ehrhoff.
Well it appears Ehrhoff is back to being available.
TSN.ca’s Bob McKenzie reported Sunday morning that Ehrhoff is being bought out by the Sabres....
He’s the offensive defenseman the Wings are in need of but he shoots left.
added 1:19pm, from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Ehrhoff shoots left but has many of the qualities the Red Wings desire: He's a tremendous skater who moves the puck well and likes to join the rush. He can quarterback the power play. He can log a lot of minutes and play in all situations. And he has decent size (6-2, 196), though he's not particularly physical.
Updated with first-comment news at 6:54 AM, so scroll down: I don't mean to overstate the point, but days one and two of the NHL Draft may be the sunniest of the year for Red Wings fans, and Tuesday might be the cloudiest and stormiest save the day that the Wings are eliminated from the playoffs short of a Stanley Cup.
We love talking about the future of the organization as it pertains to prospects, but in terms of free agency, more than a few fans wouldn't be satisfied even if the Red Wings bring in Matt Niskanen, Dan Boyle, Thomas Vanek, Jarome Iginla and Ryan Miller. These folks are often the same ones who are chanting for the Wings to trade all the veterans and play all the kids come November, too.
I get it. I miss the days when the Wings could just out-spend anyone and out-recruit anyone. I still believe that the Wings are recovering from having swung and missed on Ryan Suter (without a back-up plan) two summers ago, and I don't believe that Matt Niskanen or Dan Boyle are going to change that--in no small part because there are something like twelve teams swinging for those two guys, and they can't go everywhere.
There's still a better-than-not chance that the Wings won't land any of their free agency targets, and that Ken Holland will have to make good on his promise that "the kids" are his fall-back plan, but this morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Holland pitched a hard sell to both players...
This has slid under the radar of late, and as so many Red Wings fans tell me that the Joe Kocur Foundation's annual charity softball game(s) every August are almost as much fun as training camp--because Kocur does a remarkable job of recruiting a cavalcade of former Wings, NHL alums and celebrities past and present to take part--you ought to know what's taking place on August 23 in Highland, MI. I hear it's absolutely wonderful, and pre-sale tickets cost all of ten bucks:
Generally I don't do the Paul-posted-it-and-I-post-it-too thing, but this issue has me particularly aggravated. As the New York Post's Larry Brooks reported, the NHL and NHLPA set the upper limit of the salary cap at $69 million on Friday, and I really do wonder whether Gary Bettman giggled while stating as much to the media.
The mid-season estimates suggested that the salary cap would rise from $64.3 million to $71.1 million for the 2014-2015 season, and while the Canadian dollar dipping below equivalency with the U.S. dollar complicated the situation, it certainly appears that many general managers and player agents--especially the ones who were allowing general managers to "wine and dine" their unrestricted free agent-to-be clients this past week--were assuming that the NHL's massive deal with Sportsnet would allow the cap to at least hit $70 million (the most optimistic estimates in May suggested a $72-73 million cap).
Updated 11x at 6:21 PM: The Red Wings' pair of days at the NHL draft are over.
The team picked Waterford, MI's Dylan Larkin on Friday, and then the Wings went forward-heavy in the third through seventh rounds, trading up to pick Portland Winterhawks forward Dominic Turgeon in the 3rd round, Frolunda Indians forward Christoffer Ehn in the 4th round (Hakan Andersson's on Frolunda's board of directors) a big college-bound (Colrado College) goalie in Chase Perry in the 5th round, massive stringbean and TPS Turku forward Julius Vahatalo in the 6th round (Wings scout Ari Vouri is TPS Turku's GM), and the Wings went with some wild cards in the 7th round in Skelleftea AIK's Axel Holmstrom and 20-year-old Atlant Mytishchi center Alexander Kadeykhin.
That's 6 forwards (5 centers and a left-wingerin Vahatalo), 1 goalie and no defensemen for the Wings, as well as 3 Americans, 2 Swedes, a Finn and a Russian.
The Wings' managerial and scouting staff have probably already made, "Come to our summer development camp in Traverse City" pitches to players who weren't drafted, and the Wings' prospects who attended the draft will head to the Philadelphia Phillies' game this evening.
The Red Wings' YouTube channel posted a cool video of Dylan Larkin's first moments as a Wing, and they posted a draft photo gallery, too...
Updated 4x at 2:11 PM: The Wings have a Holmstrom again. They drafted 6'0," 190-pound forward Axel Holmstrom from Skelleftea AIK's system 196th overall...
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.