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The Malik Report

Morning news: On reserving judgment, Mantha and Saarijarvi’s OHL possibilities

Among this morning's Red Wings-related news stories:

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa issued very tepid praise for the Wings' free agency "gambles," suggesting that there's much for both management and the signed players to prove before a positive assessment can be issued:

Holland likely was around the office with coach Jeff Blashill and Mark Howe, the chief professional scout, fielding phone calls and watching the NHL tickers Wednesday. But, when all is said and done, it is always at least a wee bit like being at Mrs. Ilitch's casino and knowing a lot about blackjack.

Despite the bad plate appearance for the Wings on the selection of Weiss, Holland knows when to hold them and when to fold them.

Assuming good fortune, for once, with injuries, Green and Richards are significant upgrades. Healthy, they should provide a rookie NHL coach with more offensive punch and, perhaps more importantly, less time in the defensive zone than Babcock had to coach around for the past few seasons.

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The overnight report: On the Wings’ free agent signings, Fedorov’s #91 and prospect discussion

The Red Wings' prospects spoke with the media at Joe Louis Arena before boarding a bus for Traverse City, MI this to take part in this weekend's summer development camp, but the media availability had a split focus as both Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill discussed the ramifications of the Red Wings' free agency haul.

It's with the latter topic that we'll begin this entry, and Blashill was actually more outspoken about the "possibilities" that Brad Richards gives him as a strong second-line center, as the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted:

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Holland, Blashill on Larkin and Mantha

Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski attended this morning's press conference for the Red Wings' prospects, and in addition to posting half-a-dozen videos of prospects chatting with the media, he took note of Ken Holland's take on the futures of Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, per Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill...

"Coach Blashill’s got to say to me, I want him to play,” Holland said. “He’s not going to be a 13th or 14th forward. He’s going to be really important for our franchise moving forward. We want to make sure we do what’s right for him and for us.”

Blashill said he thought Larkin did a great job in his short stint in Grand Rapids during the playoffs, where he had five points in six playoff games. He compared his career path with Gus Nyquist’s, saying he grew as a player when he wasn’t with the Red Wings and made an immediate impact when he was called up.

“It’s a tiny sample size but he seemed to pass all those tests in terms of small sample sizes – World Championship, World Junior, his freshman year at Michigan,” Blashill said. “I think he’s going to be a really good player. We’ll see when.”

Mantha, who produced 15 goals and 18 assists in 62 games with the Griffins this past season, will struggle to make the Red Wings, Holland said. The Wings GM said he would have to take someone’s job, with 14 to 16 forwards competing for a spot.

And after addressing the Green and Richards signings, Holland and Blashill looked toward the upcoming summer development camp, which begins tomorrow:

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The Fedorov compromise

Take this from Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave, who believes that the Red Wings simply won't retire #91 due to the burnt bridges from Fedorov's offer-sheet signing in 1998 and his exit for Anaheim in 2003, for what you will:

There may be room for a reasonable compromise, however, while honoring one of the most memorable eras in Wings history -- and five fabulous players at once. Hang a banner with the names and numbers of all the Russian Five who were so instrumental in helping the Wings end their Stanley Cup drought.

Invite Scotty Bowman -- the man who assembled them and put them together as a unit nearly 20 years ago -- and have him help hoist the banner to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena. Three of those players, after all, are in the Hockey Hall of Fame: Slava Fetisov, No. 2; Igor Larionov, No. 8, and Fedorov. The others: the ever-popular Vladimir Konstantinov, No. 16, and Slava Kozlov, No. 13.

Three of those numbers remain in service: Brendan Smith wears No. 2; Justin Abdelkader wears No. 8; and Pavel Datsyuk wears No. 13. No one has worn No. 16 since Konstantinov took off his sweater on June 7, 1997, the night the Wings won the Cup. Six nights later, a limo crash ended his career.

Oct. 24 marks the 20th anniversary of the trade Bowman made with San Jose to bring Larionov to Detroit and complete the Russian Five unit. Hold a ceremony this fall honoring them, but keep all their numbers in service.

That way, Richards can wear No. 91 in Detroit, if it means that much to him. But we bet it doesn't.


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Wings Now Have More Options

from Paul Harris at NHL.com,

Holland said with everyone healthy, Richards will be Detroit's No. 2 center. But with the uncertainty about Pavel Datsyuk, who had surgery on ruptured tendons in his right ankle last Friday, Richards could open the season as the No. 1.

"Throughout his career, he's been productive as a top-couple-of-lines center," Blashill said. "... He's a great power-play guy who can run it from up top and who can pull up on the half boards."

Blashill is comfortable with Richards' age.

"He's slowed down, but I think he's got some great hockey left in him," he said. "He's been great in the playoffs, he just won a Cup and he has two."

Blashill said he talked to Green and Richards on Wednesday. He added that he already had an idea about what type of player and person Green is.

Blashill was the head coach of the Red Wings' American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, the past three seasons. One of his assistants in Grand Rapids was longtime NHL player Mike Knuble, who was Green's teammate in Washington and also played for Detroit during his career.

"Mike Knuble had good things to say about [Green] as a person and a teammate," Blashill said.

It remains to be seen how Green and Richards will fit in with the Red Wings.

"I don't know the exact picture," Blashill said. "We won't know that until we get to camp. … But you'd rather have more options than not enough."


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Wings’ prospects get the new arena sales pitch

From DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji, via RedWingsFeed:

They came from all over the world yet there was a general consensus about what they saw – the Red Wings' new stadium looks fantastic.

The Wings' just-drafted players, prospects and invitees to their development camp got a private tour along with Jiri Fischer, director of player development, of the plans for the new stadium and District Detroit.

District Detroit is the vision of the Ilitch family for a state-of-the-art events center and surrounding areas that will comprise 50 blocks of the city, including Comerica Park, Ford Field and the Fox Theatre.

Wings general manager Ken Holland had mentioned that the experience at Montreal's Bell Centre, where the fans seem to be on top of the ice and the noise can be intimidating, so the Wings are looking to exceed that with what is expected to be the tightest bowl in the league.

As Ypsilanti, Michigan, native and Windsor Spitfires defenseman Jalen Chatfield said, "Who wouldn't want to play there?"


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ESPN’s LeBrun discusses the ways the Green and Richards signings went down

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun provides a breakdown of the "how's" behind the Wings' signings of Mike Green and Brad Richards:

Holland has been after Green a for a long time, approaching the Washington Capitals a summer ago when it appeared Green might be available after the Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik signings overloaded the Caps' blue line. Instead, Green stayed put until his deal ran out.

That’s when Holland jumped on him, though not at all costs. The Wings made it clear to Green's representatives at Newport Sports early on that they weren’t going to do a long-term deal, so forget a five-year contract.

The conversation then came down to doing three years or four, average annual value (AAV) a bit higher on three years. The Wings chose the shorter deal, even if the AAV was higher at $6 million.

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Nothing like a good (building) implosion!

The Hotel Park Avenue has to be taken out to make way for the Red Wings' arena, and the Detroit News's Louis Aguilar reports that it's going to go down in the most awesome way possible:

A historic empty building that will soon become history to make room for the new hockey arena will be imploded, according to two sources familiar with the plans.

Implosion means explosive materials will be strategically placed in the 13-story former Park Avenue hotel so that the structure collapses on itself, usually within a matter of seconds.

The building to be imploded is the 91-year-old former Park Avenue hotel, on the southwest corner of Park Avenue and Sproat Street in the Cass Corridor neighborhood just north of downtown.

The implosion is scheduled for 8 a.m. on July 11.

The Italian Renaissance-inspired structure is being imploded because it stands in the footprint of the $450 million new venue that will be home to the Detroit Red Wings. In its place, an underground loading dock would be built to ensure the multipurpose venue can accommodate major concerts and other events.


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A bit of a development camp teaser

Consider this article by the Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook as something of a teaser for the Wings' development camp, which begins tomorrow at Centre Ice Arena and will continue until next Wednesday:

"It's exciting to see some of our returning guys from last year, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha," said Anne Reeves, director of the Red Wings events in Traverse City. "Especially Dylan Larkin, and what an amazing season he's coming off of, to watch him become a leader of sorts for this group coming in."

The Red Wings will be holding an autograph session from 6-7 p.m. Sunday at the Cherry Festival Open Space.

The five-day event will include a cooking class, curling, nutritional and media presentations, meeting with the front office and coaches, as well as on-ice practice, drills and scrimmages.

Participants will have an off-ice session at Centre ICE on Thursday that is closed to the public before the camp officially starts Friday, lasting through July 7.

The camp also features two guest players from the Korean National Team — right wing Jin-Hui Ahn and defender Won-Jun Kim.

The Red Wings will also have all of their 2015 draft picks in attendance, something that isn't all that common. Svechnikov heads that class, followed by defender Vili Saarijarvi (third round), goaltender Joren Van Pottelberghe (fourth round), forward Chase Pearson (fifth round), defender Patrick Holway (sixth round) and forward Adam Marsh (seventh round).

Cook continues...

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Khan: Wings’ moves illustrate ‘commitment to winning now’

MLive's Ansar Khan penned a column discussing the Wings' free agency moves as a "commitment to winning now, while the Cup window is still open," and here are his takes on the Green and Richards signings:

Green, 29, was the key. He's been one of the league's premier offensive defensemen for a decade with the Washington Capitals. Other than Kronwall, the Red Wings don't generate much offense form the back end. Green also will boost an already strong power play (ranked second in the NHL last season).

Green has defensive deficiencies, but he'll be protected to some extent on the second pairing with Danny DeKeyser, who Babcock often referred to as "The Human Eraser" for his ability to clean up others' mistakes.

Richards might start the season as the No. 1 center, depending on Datsyuk's recovery. That's not ideal, but options are limited. He'll eventually settle into the second-line spot, where the Red Wings hope he'll mesh with either Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar.

New coach Jeff Blashill has options, and depth. The Red Wings have 15 forwards, including Johan Franzen, whose status is uncertain due to a concussion, and nine defensemen.

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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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