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Custance talks Wings grades

ESPN's Craig Custance has penned an Insider-only entry which grades each and every one of the NHL's 30 teams at the All-Star break, and it's hard to disagree with his grade for the Red Wings:

Detroit Red Wings

The most impressive playoff streak in sports is in serious jeopardy. Injuries, disarray on defense and the regression of Petr Mrazek in goal have derailed playoff hopes in Detroit, which might be just fine for an organization that could use a shot at elite talent at the top of the draft. The fans in Detroit seem ready for a bit of a rebuild, and they might get their wish.

Grade: C-

I'd give the Wings a "D" despite the litany of injuries that's significantly damaged the team's roster continuity, mostly because this year's team isn't that much worse than last year's team, but has underachieved tremendously (some of that is on the players, some of it is on the coaching staff and some of it is on management).

Custance also issues a trade deadline prediction:

Trade deadline status: Sellers. GM Ken Holland will give his team a shot, but there are too many teams to pass before the deadline. Detroit likes Thomas Vanek and would consider re-signing him, but the price has to be perfect. The better move is a trade, and then circling back in the summer. Brendan Smith will have value on the market as a younger defenseman who can skate. There are few untouchables on this roster.

Custance continues, and I'm personally not keen on a "clearing the decks" trade deadline scenario (which I don't believe will happen given the management's belief that the team isn't "that far off"), but my hope is that if the Red Wings do move players, my hope is that they're moved with an eye toward giving younger players larger roles on the team going forward.

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A bit more about Frans Nielsen, All-Star

Ahead of this weekend's All-Star festivities (the NHL will announce its "active players" among the "NHL 100" tonight at 9:30 PM EST on NBCSN), the Free Press's Helene St. James posted an excellent proile of Wings All-Star Frans Nielsen. DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji also spoke with Nielsen about the All-Star experience...

"I'm really proud of representing this organization," Nielsen said. "I haven't looked at the list yet but I could imagine if you go down the list over the years, it's some pretty good players representing this team. I'm really honored to represent Detroit and hopefully going to go out there and have fun."

Nielsen's father, Frits, was with him as he found out he was heading to Los Angeles.

"He was probably more proud than I was," Nielsen said. "He was pumped. I think it's always like that. We're really proud about being in this league, but I don't think there is anyone more proud than our dads when we're on the trip. It's special for them and it's going to be special for him out there."

Wakiji continues at extended length, and the Wings posted a Twitter video profiling Nielsen as well:

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They Could Be Traded

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Here is a look at the Red Wings' potential trading chips:

Rentals (players who'll be unrestricted free agents on July 1)

Thomas Vanek: He's tied for the team lead in goals (12) and second in points (33) in just 37 games. He has a low cap hit ($2.6 million) and will be in demand before the deadline. The Red Wings should be able to get a second-round pick for the 33-year-old who bounced back big following a disappointing two-year stint in Minnesota.

Brendan Smith: The Red Wings aren't likely to re-sign him since he hasn't developed into that top-pair defenseman they hoped for when they selected him 27th overall in 2007. They might as well get something for him. He turns 28 on Feb. 8 and still has upside due to his skating ability and perhaps some untapped offensive potential. Defensemen are usually in demand at the deadline.

Steve Ott:...

Non-rentals (players with at least one more year remaining on their contract or players who will be restricted)

Gustav Nyquist: His production has declined -- from a combined 55 goals in 139 games from 2013-14 to 2014-15 to 24 goals in 131 games since. That decreases his trade value. He has a hefty cap hit ($4.75 million) for a player with just seven goals (he has 18 assists) and his actual salary increases to $5.25 million and $5.5 million in each of the next two seasons, when he has a full no-trade clause. If the Red Wings are going to trade him, they'll need to act before then. The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues have shown interest.

Tomas Tatar: A pending restricted free agent who probably will be seeking Nyquist-type money. If the Red Wings don't want to pay that much to a player whose production has declined since his 29-goal season in 2014-15...


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On Daniel Cleary’s role with the Griffins

Daniel Cleary has yet to suit up for the Grand Rapids Griffins this season, but the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that Cleary is serving as a sort of assistant coach during practices and a sounding board for his Griffins teammates after games:

"His role is practice with us every day and be a mentor for the young kids on and off the ice," Griffins coach Todd Nelson said. "They understand his situation. He's very valuable in the locker room. Being a professional hockey player is more than what you do on the ice. It's a way of life; how you conduct yourself off the ice, how you treat your body and people, in general, And Danny's been a great mentor in that."

With a bad groin and plagued by knee issues in recent years, Cleary views success differently now.

"Satisfaction for me is watching future Red Wings get better," said Cleary, who is credited with Tyler Bertuzzi's development the past year. "I'm always talking to them about little things. Not like a dad or anything. But if I see something, I go and tell them. At the end of the day, it's always a good positive message to help them get better."

Even six-year Griffins veteran Mitch Callahan said he likes to watch and learn from Cleary.

"The great thing is he will tell you how it is," Callahan said. "If you did well, he will tell you. If you didn't, he will tell you. And I think that is invaluable for some of the younger players. And, for me, I still have goals to go to the next level, and he's always available to help me out with little tips here and there."

Wallner continues...

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St. James: Frans Nielsen’s All-Star experience will be a family affair

The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen plans on getting the most out of his weekend spent at the NHL's All-Star Game...

Nielsen’s consistent contributions caught the eye of the NHL selection committee, who on Jan. 10 announced he’d be the Wings’ representative at the 2017 All-Star Game, held Sunday at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Nielsen will be joined by his wife, son, father, father-in-law, and sister-in-law, all eager to celebrate what to Nielsen will be a very special event evoking boyhood memories.

“It's one of the things I used to really like watching growing up as a kid in Denmark,” Nielsen said. “So this is a really proud moment. I am really proud to represent the Detroit Red Wings, and excited for myself.”

In January of 2007, Nielsen became the first Danish citizen to play in the NHL when he debuted with the New York Islanders, who'd drafted him 87th overall in 2002. He joined them full-time in 2008-09, garnering recognition for his two-way play, penalty killing, and for his prowess in shootouts (he has two game-deciding shootout goals with the Wings, 19 in his career, and is at 51% overall in shootouts).

And Nielsen's very complimentary toward his Red Wings teammates for providing a sound experience thus far (game results excluded):

“It’s a great group. It takes some time to get used to something new when you have been in one place so long, but there is a lot of character with our guys here. It’s been good, a little different. Guys don’t really get too frustrated — they keep the same mindset in here, and that is a little different. Whether winning or losing, they don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Henrik is doing a great job keeping it the same, making sure it’s a good room here.”

St. James continues with an excellent profile...

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Mickey, Ozzie and Keating weigh in on the Wings’ loss to Toronto

Chris Osgood, Mickey Redmond and John Keating spent 6 minutes discussing the state of the Red Wings after yesterday's 4-0 loss to Toronto:

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Ken Holland appears on TSN 1050 Toronto

Red Wings GM Ken Holland appeared on TSN 1050's Naylor and Landsberg Show this morning, discussing the Red Wings' "rebuild on the fly," suggesting that the Red Wings are in fact going to rebuild via drafting and developing players, that the team will explore some trades around the expansion draft to help build the team during the offseason, and he weighed in on the Maple Leafs' success following a slightly different developmental model

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Afternoon news: Red Wings-Leafs tailings and radio interviews

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. MLive's Brendan Savage penned a late-breaking recap of last night's 4-0 loss to Toronto, noting that the Red Wings have yet to give up on their 2016-17 campaign:

Wednesday's 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs - their fourth straight setback - was the Red Wings' sixth game in 10 days and ninth in the last 16.

So everybody's proverbial battery can use some recharging before the Red Wings return to work Monday to prepare for the final 33 games of the season.

"I think, of course, it's nice to get a few days, kind of get away from everything and regroup and really think about something else," said defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "But in saying that, when things are going like this, you'd like to just stick with it and keep going to work."


The Red Wings return to action Tuesday against New Jersey at Joe Louis Arena. They'll play three of their first four after the All-Star break at home before facing a grueling three-game road stretch against Washington, Columbus and Minnesota  - the top three teams in the overall standings - beginning Feb. 9.

2. CBS Detroit's Will Burtchfield attempted to dissect the Wings' loss as if he was conducting a post-mortem...

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Brad Marchand fined $10,000 for ‘dangerous trip’

The NHL's Department of Player Safety just Tweeted this...

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At The Bottom Of The East

from George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press,

The Detroit Red Wings are bottom dwellers in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break. The Wings fell to 20-20-9 after being shut out for the seventh time this season in a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

They are 10-11-4 at home in the final season at Joe Louis Arena and are in a large tie for last place in the Eastern Conference

After their latest loss, several Wings stressed the need to remain positive -- something they have been saying all season.

“We gotta keep believing,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We’re a pretty good team when we play the right way. But we gotta do it for 60 minutes for every night. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it really comes down to it.

“Stick together and keep believing we can do this.”

Coach Jeff Blashill said he believes in the team.

“We’re going to come back Monday, we’re going to grind and we’re going to find a way to win a hockey game on Tuesday,” he said.


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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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