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The Malik Report

‘Three Things’: On prospects, Wings from A to Z and Glendening’s skating coach

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. ESPN's Cory Pronman ranked every NHL team by prospect "strength," and the Red Wings earned a high mark in his Insider-only entry:

7. Detroit Red Wings

Previous ranking: 16

Detroit's system stumbled a bit recently but had fantastic seasons from several key prospects, with many elevating their stocks exponentially. Dylan Larkin, Axel Holmstrom, Tyler Bertuzzi and Joe Hicketts are among those, though top prospect Anthony Mantha struggled and saw his stock dip. Larkin is currently a true elite prospect, and the Wings have a high level of quality depth too.

2. Puck Daddy asked Maria Camacho to share the Red Wings superlatives "From A to Z," and this made me smile:

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This Season’s Outlook For Jonathan Ericsson

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2015-16 outlook: Former coach Mike Babcock cited Ericsson's need to play with more intensity, saying he plays well in "bigger games" but not so much in others. Ericsson is coming off an inconsistent season. He needs to cut down on turnovers and manage the puck better, particularly when pressured. He's mobile for a big man but got caught flat-footed too often.

Coach Jeff Blashill indicated he'll pair Mike Green with Danny DeKeyser, likely ensuring that Ericsson remains on the top pairing with Niklas Kronwall, as they'll continue to be matched up against top lines. They'll probably also continue being the top pair on the penalty kill.

Ericsson said he did a better job last season of controlling a hip issue that made it difficult for him to walk on one of his legs in 2013-14. He said his hand will never be 100 percent, after undergoing surgery for torn ligaments in March 2014.

Key question: Should Ericsson continue being paired with Kronwall?

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A bit more from Sheahan regarding Blashill, and some foreign-language tidbits

As mentioned on Monday afternoon, Riley Sheahan addressed his new coach's pluses whlie speaking with reporters at the Red Wings' youth hockey camp, and Sheahan also spoke with WXYZ's Brad Galli regarding the team's take on the coaching change as a whole...

"There's a lot of fun and positivity coming to the rink, and I just think this change will help that, and makes us look forward to coming to the rink," he said.

Outsiders posed the thought about the Red Wings locker room needing a culture refresh or change. Sheahan said he "didn't think" Detroit needed a culture change, but likes what Blashill brings to the room.

"It's kind of where it all starts. Things have to be positive in the locker room and you gotta have confidence in the locker room. It's gotta be a good environment in the locker room. I think Blash' brings that. So, we're happy about it."

Sheahan admitted he thinks Blashill and Babcock's coaching systems are similar, and losing Babcock to Toronto is "tough to deal with because he's such a good coach."

And I was intrigued by Sheahan's take on his own performance during his sophomore season, as noted by MLive's Ansar Khan:

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Galli, Duff: Riley Sheahan talks up Blashill’s positives

The media took in the Red Wings' annual youth hockey camp at Joe Louis Arena today...

And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke with Sheahan regarding his new coach:

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Quickie catch-up

Of Red Wings-related note since I've been gone on vacation, very briefly, and on a source-by-source basis:

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A Saarijarvi sighting

From MLive's Aaron McMann:

The Flint Firebirds are still waiting on final word from all parties involved, but it's looking more and more like Detroit Red Wings prospect Vili Saarijarvi will skate with them this season.

Saarijarvi, property of the Red Wings and selected by the Firebirds in this year's Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, landed in Flint on Sunday ahead of scheduled meetings with Firebirds officials, the club touted on social media.

A photo of the 18-year-old defenseman with Firebirds general manager Terry Christensen, scout Keith Kurland and Dominic Hennig, the team's radio broadcaster and director of communications, was posted to Twitter and Facebook on Sunday night.

While it doesn't mean anything is official at this point, Saarijarvi, signed with a top junior team in his native Finland, has said publicly he wants to play in Flint.

He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Detroit on July 3 and the Red Wings' director of player development, Jiri Fischer, said discussions were leaning toward Saarijarvi playing in Flint.

But this is also where it gets muddy: the Red Wings, although their property, have said the decision is up to Saarijarvi. The Firebirds believe it's up to the Red Wings.

Continued...

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Profiling Pavel Datsyuk

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

(First in a series of player profiles prior to training camp Sept. 18-22.)

Pavel Datsyuk

2015-16 outlook: Datsyuk will miss the start of the season following surgery on June 26 for ruptured tendons in his right ankle. The team originally stated he would be re-evaluated in late September and possibly ready for the season opener on Oct. 9, but Datsyuk, during a TV interview in Russia, said doctors told him the time frame is 4-5 months, which would idle him until at least late October. He was bothered by the issue late in the season but he and club hoped rest would do the trick – until he returned from a five-week vacation in Russia complaining of pain.

Datsyuk continues to be one of the most electrifying players in the league with his fast hands and assortment of stick-handling moves. He's one of a handful of NHL players capable of producing at a point-per-game clip and remains one of the top defensive forwards in the game. The main problem is keeping him healthy. He's endured a variety of injuries the past two seasons.

Datsyuk likely will spend most of his time centering a line with Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

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Predicting A Big Year For Justin Abdelkader

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Looking at money: Entering last season of four-year, $7.2 million contract, will make $2.25 million next season. Unrestricted free agent upon expiry.

Looking ahead: At the root, Abdelkader is a responsible two-way player, which is why last season is unlikely to be an aberration rather than a new standard. He's reinforced why former coach Mike Babcock saw potential in Abdelkader as a top-six forward by showing up and working hard every day. He's become comfortable in the locker room, too, where Abdelkader a quiet voice of character. At 6-2, 200-plus pounds, Abdelkader also adds welcome size to a team that runs on the small side.

It was a significant loss when Abdelkader broke a finger late in the season, which sidelined him two games into the playoffs and hindered his ability to handle the puck.

This will be a huge season for Abdelkader, because it's his first shot at unrestricted free agency, and he knows the Wings are going to want to re-sign him before he gets close to the open market next July. Teammate Gustav Nyquist, likewise a 20-goal scorer, just got a raise to $4.75 million annually.

Abdelkader is going to get in the $4.5-5 million range. To the Wings' advantage, Abdelkader is a home-grown product from Muskegon, and should be relatively easy to re-sign.

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The Next Championship Team In Detroit Will Be ...?

from Brian Manzullo of the Detroit Free Press,

It's been eight years now since a Detroit team's won a title (the Red Wings in 2008) and, before then, it was the 2004 Pistons. The 2012 Tigers reached the World Series, but were promptly swept in the Fall Classic.

Now, with the Tigers selling off and retooling for 2016, the Detroit sports landscape is murky, albeit still promising.

Here's our super-optimistic case for each team, then you can vote and chat about it with us on Facebook and Twitter (or in this story's comments):...

Detroit Red Wings: The 24-season playoff streak continues, and there are quite a few reasons to think the Wings could emerge very soon from their first- and second-round doldrums. First of all, Jeff Blashill's the coach now, and could be the fresh face this young team needs (many of the Wings' current players won a Calder Cup under Blashill in Grand Rapids of the AHL). Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still here. The defense is bolstered with Mike Green on board. Give this team one healthy year and see what it can do; remember, the Wings took the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals, to seven games last year.

read on for an overview on the Tigers, Lions and Pistons...

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It Started In Portland For Segei Fedorov

from Scott Sepich at OregonLive,

Hockey executive Jim Lites made his first and only visit to Portland on July 22, 1990. It was a short trip, but it would be one of the most unforgettable days of his life.

The executive vice president and chief operating officer of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings had come on official business, but it was far from a routine transaction. Though it wasn't a kidnapping, Lites planned to take human cargo with him back to Detroit in the Red Wings' private jet. In the process, he would poke a hole in the Iron Curtain from the Rose City.

Along with two colleagues, Lites engineered the defection of 20-year-old Russian hockey star Sergei Fedorov, who would leave the controlling Soviet Union national program to play for Detroit, the team that drafted him in 1989.

An exhibition game at Memorial Coliseum provided the backdrop. An airport hotel provided the opportunity. On a summer night 25 years ago, Portland became the unlikely site of an international incident, and the unlikely birthplace of Fedorov's Hall of Fame NHL career.

Even at 20, Fedorov was one of the top players in the powerhouse Soviet hockey program, which won the gold medal in six of seven Winter Olympics from 1964 to 1988. A center, he was a dynamic offensive talent, but also possessed strength, speed and stamina that would make him one of the top defensive forwards in the world.

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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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