The Malik Report
from Helene St, James of the Detroit Free Press,
As the Detroit Red Wings' top farm team continues its playoff run, one prospect, in particular, is under scrutiny.
The Wings drafted Martin Frk in the second round in 2012. After a quiet pro debut -- understandable, considering Frk's linemates in juniors -- Frk erupted in 2015-16 with 27 goals and 44 points in 67 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins. He takes three playoff goals into the Griffins' second-round series against the Lake Erie Monsters, which starts Thursday in Cleveland.
Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin called Frk one of the Griffins' most improved players.
"Coming into his pro career, he wasn't used to the pro style, wasn't used to not playing with the puck," Martin told the Free Press today. Frk, a product of Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Halifax Mooseheads, spent his final junior season playing with Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, who were drafted first overall and third overall in 2013. The line dominated nightly....
What does that mean for the Wings? That's the intrigue. While Frk has a year left on his entry-level contract, he no longer is waiver-exempt, so the Wings have to figure out whether Frk is part of their future come next season.
more on Frk who is listed at 6' 00" 193 lbs...
From a Marketwired press release:
Cleary University today announced that Ken Holland, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings, and Adam Genei, owner of Mobsteel and Detroit Steel Wheel Company, will keynote the university's signature event, Vehicle to a Better Future, on May 19, 2016 at Cleary's Livingston campus from 5-9 pm. The event will raise funds for new teaching and learning tools that will foster innovation across campus. Kevin Clark, founder and CEO of Critter Control, who will serve as the university's commencement speaker on May 21, 2016 in celebration of Cleary's commencement weekend, will also be honored at the event. Tickets for Vehicle to a Better Future are available to the public for $75 per ticket or $500 for a table at Cleary.edu/Vehicle or by calling 800.686.1883.
Prior to addresses by Holland and Genei, and dining and mingling with the Cleary Class of 2016, attendees can enjoy a "Signature Stroll" across Cleary's Livingston campus. The car exhibit will feature Mobsteel's vintage Detroit street machine creations, unique showcase and custom vehicles from owners throughout the region and new vehicle displays from local partner dealerships.
You already know this, but the Windsor Star's Bob Duff hammers it, well, home. Pavel Datsyuk's probably heading back to Russia, and during the Red Wings' locker room clean-out day, Datsyuk's teammates and GM made it sound almost inevitable:
“That's a decision, you're not going to change his decision,” Detroit left-winger Justin Abdelkader said. “He has in his heart what he's going to do. All we can do is, obviously, thank him for what he's done for this organization for each player.”
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall was another Wing who seemed resigned to a future without Datsyuk.
“Yeah it kind of feels like he’s made up his mind but at the same time there’s a part of you that wants to keep the hope alive,” Kronwall said. “I say let’s keep hoping until we hear something.”
Datsyuk continues to insist that isn’t the case at all - that his mind is not 100 per cent made up as to his future plans.
“I don't want to make a fast decision,” Datsyuk said. “I need more time. I go to world championship, play there and of course during world championship, I'll be thinking about it more.”
Detroit general manager Ken Holland acknowledged that Datsyuk’s decision is the linchpin to his planning for the 2016-17 NHL season.
“I have to find out about Pavel Datsyuk,” Holland said. “That’s going to be priority number one.”
Hockeysverige.se's Ronnie Ronnqvist conducted a long interview with Gustav Nyquist, and here's a rough translation thereof:
Unhappy with his season in Detroit, now Gustav Nyquist wants to take revenge with a World Championship gold: "There was no doubt"
Late last year scoring fell sharply for Gustav Nyquist, who was not happy with the way the season unfolded with the Detroit Red Wings. He's now in place in Russia to take revenge by playing in the Tre Kronor for a World Championship gold.
"To come here and get the chance to win a World Championship gold in Moscow is very special," says the Swedish NHL player to Hockeysverige.se.
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. The World Championship begins on Friday in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, and whlie the games will a) mostly take place starting at 8:15 or 12:15 PM EDT and b) mostly won't be available to watch legally in the U.S., they do provide intriguing hockey viewing.
For Red Wings fans, there are six reasons to watch the Worlds--Pavel Datsyuk and Alexey Marchenko playing for Russia, Dylan Larkin playing for the U.S., Teemu Pulkkinen playing for Finland, Tomas Jurco playing for Slovakia and Gustav Nyquist playing for Sweden.
Sportsnet's Luke Fox penned a list of 10 reasons to watch the World Championship, and one of them involves a possible "farewell":
9. Fare thee well, Magic Man: Pavel Datsyuk has one more season remaining on his contract with the Detroit Red Wings. He has said he'll wait until after he competes at the worlds before meeting with GM Ken Holland and making a final decision on his future. This will be the last chance to watch him play with the hope that he might give NHL fans a farewell tour in 2016-17.
[Edit/update: For what it's worth, Datsyuk wouldn't tell Sport-Express's Vladimir Domrachev, Sportbox or R-Sport anything about his future career path during the Russian national team's formal introduction in Moscow, stressing that he's focused on the World Championship. /end edit]
2. MLive's Ansar Khan penned a column about a much lower-key player who might not return in Drew Miller, who suffered a broken jaw in November and then suffered a knee injury in January:
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland regarding Dylan Larkin's future with the team, and at present, it involves #71 playing a center's role:
"I think we see him as a center, that’s what he’s been,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a recent phone interview with The Macomb Daily. “A center has way more responsibility than a winger so in order to kind of take some of that responsibility away from him (this year) and let him use some of his assets, his speed and his ability to transport the puck, we had (Henrik) Zetterberg, (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Riley) Sheahan down the middle.
“I’m not sure if Jeff Blashill is going to move him to the middle to start training camp,” Holland continued. “I know Blash sees him as a centerman.”
Larkin became the first rookie, and sixth overall, since Dale McCourt in 1979-80 to lead the team in goals. He also recorded the most goals (23) by a Wings rookie since Sergei Fedorov in 1990-91 (31) and the most points (45) by a first-year Wing since Nicklas Lidstrom in 1991-92 (60).
“He was a great story for us, great pick by our scouts,” Holland said. “He brings skills, but he’s very competitive and in the league you need competitive people. He’s ultra-competitive. He’s physical. When someone hits him he goes right back at them. He was physical in the Tampa (Bay) series.
“Really for a 19-year-old player to have that kind of an impact on a team that qualified for the playoffs makes for a very impressive rookie year and certainly we’re looking forward to things to come,” Holland added. “I really don’t know where he’s going with his career.”
As the Grand Rapids Griffins prepare to re-set themselves after a long layoff, facing the Lake Erie Monsters in the second round of the AHL playoffs starting on Thursday and Saturday in Cleveland, a renewed emphasis will be placed upon the Red Wings' top prospects, and the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa's focus for today involves a player who's hard to get a read upon.
Robbie Russo isn't the biggest or fastest defenseman in the Wings' system, but he's a player who seems to seamlessly get into the right place at the right time and make the right offensive play in the proper situation. Russo's superb sense of timing yielded a
3-year 2-year entry level contract with the Red Wings and a fine rookie pro season, as Krupa notes:
Russo, 23, was the second-leading scorer in the nation among defensemen for Notre Dame one season ago. As an American Hockey League rookie this season, the 6-foot, 190-pound right-handed shooter led Grand Rapids’ defensive corps with five goals and 34 assists in 65 games. His league-leading plus-minus rating of 47 tied for the highest in the minors in 23 seasons. And, he was named a second team All-Star and to the all-rookie team.
Scouts project him as second-pair defenseman with offensive impact.
His first regular season as a pro is a success. Playoff hockey, with Grand Rapids beginning the second round after sweeping Milwaukee, is another step. Training camp in September in Traverse City will be a yet another.
“I think it’s gone really well for him,” Griffins coach Todd Nelson said. “Anytime a first year player comes into this league there’s an adjustment period, and I thought Robbie adjusted very well and I saw more confidence in his game as the season went on.”
A full career with the Fighting Irish under coach Jeff Jackson provided longer preparation than many minor league players need. But the Wings believe Russo benefited.
“The thing that makes him good and why he’s doing so well is he’s got great poise with the puck,” said Nelson, who was interim coach at Edmonton last year for half the season. “He’s able to find options on breakouts, so he keeps his end clean with that. One thing that’s getting noticed with his plus/minus in this league is plays very good positional hockey, where he never puts himself in a bad spot. He plays a simple game. He jumps up in the rush when needed, but he’s just playing solid hockey with us.”
Krupa continues, speaking with Russo, Nelson and Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer...
It wasn’t what Tomas Tatar was hoping to achieve.
The Red Wings’ forward had far higher expectations for this third NHL season, especially since he was coming off such a successful second full campaign in Detroit the previous year.
“Obviously could be better,” Tatar said last week. “My goals were way higher than they end up but it was different stuff this year than it was last year. It was different position for me, so I guess what the numbers are saying is the way it is now.”
Any other year 21 goals and 24 assists isn’t terrible production. But it was for Tatar, who produced career-highs for goals (29), assists (27) and points (56) in 2014-15.
Tatar said he felt pressure to increase his offensive role, knowing that he and Gustav Nyquist would be counted on to pick up some of the secondary scoring for aging stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
But it was difficult to reach those goals with less ice time.
“I don’t mind to be in that position. I felt (the) year before I was there,” said Tatar, who saw his average ice time drop from 16:13 minutes per game to 14:21.
Of disparate Red Wings and Griffins-related note this evening:
The Grand Rapids Griffins posted a "Best of April" video...
And Hockey's Future's Sean Shapiro discussed the Griffins-Lake Erie Monsters series in his AHL Western Conference Notebook:
Here's the Grand Rapids Griffins playoff scene-setting press release ahead of this week's series against the Lake Erie Monsters:
GRIFFINS BATTLE MONSTERS IN CENTRAL DIVISION FINALS
2016 Calder Cup Playoffs
Central Division Finals – Best of Seven
Game 1 Thu., May 5 GRIFFINS at Monsters 7 p.m.
Game 2 Sat., May 7 GRIFFINS at Monsters Noon
Game 3 Sun., May 8 Monsters at GRIFFINS 4 p.m.
Game 4 Tue., May 10 Monsters at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
*Game 5 Sat., May 14 GRIFFINS at Monsters 7 p.m.
*Game 6 Mon., May 16 Monsters at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
*Game 7 Tue., May 17 GRIFFINS at Monsters 7 p.m.
* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLLive.com
How We Got Here: Entering the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs as the fourth seed in the Central Division, Grand Rapids swept division champion Milwaukee in the division semifinals. The Griffins outscored the Admirals 9-3 and completed their first sweep in 13 years. Second-seeded Lake Erie also made quick work of third-seeded Rockford, outscoring the IceHogs 15-6 during a three-game sweep that saw the Monsters celebrate the franchise’s first-ever playoff series win. As the regular season wound down and with Milwaukee clinching the division, it appeared the Griffins and Monsters were on a collision course for a first-round playoff matchup as the teams jockeyed for second and third place in the division. However, a five-game losing streak to close the season by Grand Rapids coupled with a 6-1-1-0 stretch by Lake Erie and a 4-2 mark by Rockford saw Grand Rapids fall into the fourth spot and Lake Erie claim the second.
Setting the Stage: The Griffins qualified for the postseason for the 14th time in their 20-year history with a 44-30-1-1 record, claiming the fourth seed in the Central Division and finishing 12th overall in the AHL. Grand Rapids will face the second-seeded Lake Erie Monsters (43-22-6-5, 97 pts.) in the Central Division Finals, marking the first time the teams have squared off in the postseason. Grand Rapids won the season series against Lake Erie by way of a 7-4-0-1 record, including a 4-2 tally at Van Andel Arena. Lake Erie returned to the playoffs for the second time in the franchise’s nine-year history, with its lone appearance in 2011 resulting in a Game 7 loss to Manitoba in the North Division Semifinals. Grand Rapids is 8-2 in playoff series over the last four years, while Lake Erie is 1-1 in series over its nine years of existence.
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.