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Too Many Forwards

It is question and answer time for Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Q: Overall, I like what Ken Holland did on the opening day of free agency. Nielsen should be a solid second-line center, Vanek is a veteran scorer with motivation to find his game again and Ott should bring some toughness. The Darren Helm signing confuses me though. It seems like too many years and too much money for an oft-injured third-liner that never seems to score as much expected. The biggest issue is that the team is now overstocked with forwards, likely pushing (Andreas) Athanasiou and (Anthony) Mantha back to the AHL. How do you see the team's lineup looking with these new pieces? Is there a chance we could see the logjam of forwards fixed with a trade for a defenseman like Fowler?

A: They are positioned to make a trade for a defenseman. We'll see if it happens in the off-season or during the season.

Ideally, they would have liked to ink Helm for four years at around $3.3 million per season, but you overpay more often than not for a UFA. More than anything else, they value Helm's speed and felt it was important to retain him. Time will tell.

I think Mantha will start the season in Grand Rapids, unless he has a tremendous preseason and they either have a couple of injuries up front or trade a couple of forwards.

If they don't make a trade and are healthy going into the season, Athanasiou also is a candidate to start in GR because he's except from waivers. And I'm sure much the fan base would revolt if that happens.

Athanasiou and Mantha aren't going to be around as spare forwards, they need to be in the lineup every game if they're here.

more Q & A....

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Steve Ott’s proud to be a Red Wing

Steve Ott's signing struck more than a few Wings fans as surprising and a little confusing, but the 35-year-old's enthusiasm for wearing the winged wheel is impressive, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:

“I’ve always wanted to be a Detroit Red Wing,” Ott said. “I grew up admiring the teams and runs that they had with Steve Yzerman and the rest leading the way. It has always been a dream to wear the winged wheel and now that this has all come together this is the most exciting contract I have ever signed.”

Ott was one of three forwards the Wings signed on the first day of free agency.

“When you have that presence, it is a true dream as a hockey player, in your local market, to be able to have this opportunity,” Ott added. “I don’t know the other guys (Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek) well yet, but I’m sure they feel the same way every time they get the opportunity to put their local jersey on they grew up admiring and seeing those heroes and legends just makes it that much more important to never let that jersey down.”


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St. James: Wings made a safer bet in choosing Vanek over Radulov

The Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings made a pair of educated guesses on July 1st.

Montreal bet on Alexander Radulov for 1 year, $5.75 million and what seem like a boatload of promises about Radulov having matured from the brash young player that was a problem child in both the NHL and KHL into a more adult version of big, mean and goal-scoring ornery;

The Red Wings made a lower-risk bet on a player with a different sort of checkered past in Thomas Vanek, placing a 1-year, $2.6 million bet on the concept that an elite goal-scorer turned player oft-maligned for his lack of motivating fire and tendency to float, to the point that the Minnesota Wild bought him out this past June.

Montreal is betting on Radulov keeping his notorious fire in check; the Red Wings are betting on Vanek's understanding that his career is on the line, and finding the motivation that has been lacking in his game since his 27-goal, 68-point campaign two seasons ago.

The Free Press's Helene St. James believes that the Red Wings' made a safer bet, monetarily and production-wise, in choosing Vanek over Radulov:

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In theory, Mrazek and DeKeyser could earn substantial raises via salary arbitration

The Hockey News's Ken Campbell (via RedWingsFeed) listed 10 possible candidates to earn raises via salary arbitration, and two of them are Red Wings:

Petr Mrazek, G, Detroit ($737,500): In February, Mrazek had the best save percentage and goals-against average in the NHL. Even though he faded down the stretch and was not the Red Wings starting goalie in the playoffs, he finished the playoffs for them and is regarded as the Red Wings goalie of the future.


Dan DeKeyser, D, Detroit ($2.2 million): DeKeyser got off to a slow start, but his game and his numbers got better as the season went on. He led all Red Wings defensemen in blocked shots and shorthanded ice time and was behind only Niklas Kronwall in overall ice time among Red Wings. His possession numbers aren’t great, which might hurt his arbitration case.

It should be noted that Petr Mrazek told Hokej.cz's Vaclav Jachim that he's eying a 2 or 4-year contract, and Danny DeKeyser told MLive's Brendan Savage, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff and DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji that he doesn't expect any trouble coming to a contract agreement with the Wings...

It should also be noted that the Wings rarely if ever actually complete the arbitration process with a player who's filed, so tomorrow's deadline for player-elected arbitration cases and Wednesday's deadline for team-elected arbitration would yield nothing more than starting points for productive negotiations if history holds true regarding the team's belief that arbitration hearings should be avoided.

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The overnight report: free agent discontent, signee comments and DeKeyser’s ‘numbers’

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. Whether it's the Toronto Star's Damien Cox, the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons, the Buffalo News's Mike Harrington or the Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, pundits both near and far find the Red Wings' free agency moves to be "perplexing," and the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo was nothing less than in full growl while speaking on Fox 2's SportsWorks on Sunday night (fast forward to the 6-minute mark):

Caputo reiterated his talking points in a column for the Oakland Press:

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Who Do You Want If Available - Fowler, Shattenkirk Or Trouba?

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

There is a lot to like about Fowler. He's 24, tremendously mobile, with decent size (6-1, 207). He can quarterback the power play and kill penalties. He's reasonably priced with two years remaining at a $4 million cap hit (he'll be unrestricted when it expires) and would probably like to stick around long-term since he grew up in Farmington Hills.

The Red Wings have also coveted Shattenkirk, who is a right-handed shot, unlike Fowler.

Shattenkirk, however, can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. If you're going to move a valuable asset for Shattenkirk, you'd want to have him signed to an extension at the time of the deal. But Shattenkirk would have little motivation to sign, knowing he could headline the 2017 UFA class on defense.

Trouba, a Rochester native, but has been tossed around in trade rumors for some time. He's a big (6-3, 202), young (22) shutdown defender with a good right-handed shot and was taken ninth overall in 2012. That's not the kind of player a team usually trades.

But the Jets have three other highly paid defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Tyler Myers. They need help up front.


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Defensive Help Needed

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

That’s why there’s been talk with Anaheim about Cam Fowler, a 24-year-old elite skater who already has played more than 400 NHL games. Given how hot a commodity good defensemen are, it would probably take Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist, plus a high second-round pick.

One reason to move Tatar rather than Nyquist is that Tatar will be a restricted free agent in another season and will cost in the $4.5-million annual range to re-sign. St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk is better on the power play than Fowler, but Shattenkirk is unrestricted next summer and he’ll command in the $6-7 million range. Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba is 6-foot-3 and shoots right, which is why the Jets want to keep him....

Asked about the defense, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press in the aftermath of Friday’s start of free agency that he’d “let the dust settle, let people see what they got, and go from there.”


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Wings Looking Better

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

In a short span of time, the Detroit Red Wings changed optics from bleak to considerably better.

Spending power was created last weekend at the draft, and then used Friday to add four forwards who will create the internal competition vital for a successful team. The Wings do not look like a Stanley Cup contender as is, but they are in much better shape than in the immediate aftermath of Pavel Datsyuk’s announcement that he’s returning to Russia.

Frans Nielsen, signed Friday from the New York Islanders, fills a need at center. And a one-year gamble on Thomas Vanek, signed from the Minnesota Wild, could pay off with 20-25 goals, which over the course of a season should translate to three-to-five more victories.

Steve Ott, signed from St. Louis, ideally turns out to be Dallas Drake 2.0, the type of boundlessly enthusiastic veteran who keeps opponents honest, and who at the very least serves as an effective penalty killer and insurance for Drew Miller as he attempts a comeback from a rebuilt knee.


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‘Two Things’: Cotsonika on the Wings’ free agent moves and Khan on Nielsen

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika weighed in on the Red Wings' free agent haul in the larger context of what took place during the balance of July 1st:

In a perfect world the Detroit Red Wings would have signed center Steven Stamkos when the NHL free-agent market opened Friday, giving them a No. 1 center and marquee attraction as they move from Joe Louis Arena this season to a new rink in 2017-18.

They would have signed Milan Lucic or Kyle Okposo or Andrew Ladd or Troy Brouwer, giving them more size, scoring and veteran presence on the wing. They would have signed forward Matt Martin for more bite on their fourth line too, and they would have signed them all to salary-cap friendly contracts.

But this isn't a perfect world, and free agency particularly is imperfect. In the end, the Red Wings signed center Frans Nielsen instead of Stamkos, left wing Thomas Vanek instead of Lucic or Okposo or Ladd or Brouwer or Alexander Radulov for that matter, and center Steve Ott instead of Martin. They also re-signed forward Darren Helm.

Nielsen is an excellent fit for his smart, skilled style and all-around game, and though the term of his six-year contract worth a reported $31.5 million presents some risk, it's reasonable risk. Vanek and Ott are low-risk, low-cost moves. Each signed for one year: Vanek for a reported $2.6 million, Ott for a reported $800,000. Helm received a lot of term to keep him off the market: five years for a reported $19.25 million.

Cotsonika continues...

2. And MLive's Ansar Khan penned an article about Frans Nielsen:

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Video- Thomas Vanek’s Goals From Last Season

All 18 of them...


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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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