The Malik Report
Alexey Marchenko's been a rock-solid defenseman for the Red Wings since he was recalled to spell Kyle Quincey, but Quincey's returning to the lineup shortly, and the Free Press's Helene St. James wonders aloud what might happen to Marchenko, who can most easily be sent back to Grand Rapids, when Quincey returns:
Often, these situations resolve themselves by someone else getting injured. If not, then the easiest move is to send down Marchenko, 24, since he does not need to be exposed on waivers. Another possibility is Jakub Kindl being put on waivers - it's not ideal to risk losing a player for nothing, but Kindl can't seem to gain a foothold as a regular and prior attempts to trade him have been unsuccessful.
Asked about the situation, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press he's "got to make some moves." Pressed for whether he'd push to keep Marchenko with the Wings, coach Jeff Blashill smiled and said he's in the "day-to-day business."
At the same time, Blashill has made it clear how highly he thinks of Marchenko, playing him every game even as more experienced players have been available. There's a reason for that.
"I think he's done a good job through the course of the year of he doesn't give up many chances," Blashill said. "I look through our chances against for the first 40 games, and especially our grade-A chances against, he's probably got the least amount of grade-A chances against of any of the defensemen, so he does a good job with that. When he is playing his best hockey, he manages his game well. He can make good pop-out passes. He's smart defensively. He makes a lot of defensive plays."
St. James continues, speaking with Brendan Smith about Marchenko's play, and she posted a video of Marchenko, Smith and Blashill discussing the situation:
Updated 4x at 6:31 PM: The San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings square off tonight (10:30 PM EST on FSD/CSN California/97.1 FM), and the morning skate revealed that the Sharks will start Martin Jones opposite Petr Mrazek.
After the skate, the Sharks posted a video of coach Pete DeBoer's pre-game comments...
According to TheAHL.com, Xavier Ouellet and Jeff Hoggan will represent the Grand Rapids Griffins at the AHL All-Star Game on February 1st in Syracuse, NY. Congrats to both!
The Detroit Red Wings kick off the West Coast portion of their 6-game road trip against the San Jose Sharks this evening (10:30 PM EST on FSD/CSN California/97.1 FM).
The Sharks have split their past 4 games, and are coming off of a 4-1 loss to Winnipeg this past Saturday; the Red Wings are on a 2-game winning streak, with their most recent win coming against New Jersey, and Detroit will regain Drew Miller's services this evening.
Prior to the Sharks' morning skate, CSN California's Kevin Kurz penned a short game preview from San Jose's perspective:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. From MLive's Brendan Savage's notebook:
Basking in sunshine? Like any Eastern Conference team, the Red Wings look forward to heading west in the middle of the winter to get away from the cold weather. There's only one problem this year. "It was 58 (degrees) and raining," said captain Henrik Zetterberg. "At least it's not going to snow. It's warmer than here. But for us before, when we were in the Western Conference, those trips got tough for us. Now we just do it once. You almost look forward to it. I think it's good for us to get some time together and play some road hockey."
One-night home layover: Blashill originally wanted to fly directly from New Jersey to San Jose Monday but changed his mind after a gentle nudge from general manager Ken Holland. "Ken Holland said you might want to think about that again at the beginning of the year and we changed it and thankfully we changed it," Blashill said. "I thought it was great to be home yesterday. I'm sure the guys felt the same way. It's just a day to kind of get yourself refreshed, get lots of laundry done and get ready for a good road trip here."
2. And Sportsnet's Luke Fox suggests that the NHL picked the "wrong All-Star" from the Wings, while positing a set of power rankings:
The Detroit Red Wings begin the Western U.S. portion of their 6-game road trip against the San Jose Sharks this evening (10:30 PM EST on FSD/CSN California/97.1 FM).
This game is both more consequential than it looks and very hard to "set up"; with the Florida Panthers streaking in the East, the 20-13-and-7 Wings sit 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 2 points behind Montreal and 3 points ahead of Boston and Ottawa;
The 18-17-and-2 San Jose Sharks sit in second-to-last place in the Pacific Division, but the Sharks haven't played since Saturday's 4-1 loss to Winnipeg, and the Sharks are also 3 points out of 2nd in the division as the Pacific is jam-packed.
San Jose's split its last 4 games (2-and-2) and is 4-4-and-2 over its past 10 games, and it's spent the 4-day break practicing and holding team meetings, attempting to hone their games for a pre-All-Star break push, as the Mercury News's Curtis Pashelka notes:
After missing 14 games with a broken jaw, Miller is ready to return.
"It’s been a little while since I’ve been back in the lineup so feeling ready to go and excited to get back with the boys and playing," Miller said. "You try to get back as fast as you can. Key on the things that are big in my game and be defensively sound and on the penalty kill and get out there and create some energy."
Blashill said Miller would play Thursday in San Jose.
Miller, who will wear a full cage mask to protect his surgically repaired jaw, should bolster the team's penalty kill, which has fallen to 20th, at 79.4 percent.
"I've said all year, Drew Miller's an elite penalty killer," Blashill said. "One of the things about the penalty kill is you have to have great killers and part of that is having guys able to make reads in situations. The penalty kill puts you in chaotic situations 'cause there's five of them and four of you and you've got to be able to make hockey reads. You can't draw every situation on the board and he can make great hockey reads, he's got a great defensive stick and he blocks tons of shots. He'll help our penalty kill. It doesn't mean that he'll execute every single time but he'll certainly help our penalty kill."
Update: From the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:
I don't believe that Steve Yzerman is going to trade Jonathan Drouin within the Northeast Division--if he trades Drouin at all--but the Free Press's Helene St. James suggests that the Red Wings should kick the tires to see whether they can pry Drouin from the Lightning:
[W]hat Drouin also is is 20 years old, the No. 3 overall selection in 2013 (the same draft that netted the Wings Anthony Mantha in the first round), highly skilled and signed through 2016-17 for a cap hit of less than $900,000, after which he is a restricted free agent.
That's what makes him so intriguing. Imagine Drouin and Dylan Larkin leading the Wings deep into the future, with a supporting cast of Evgeny Svechnikov and Mantha, among others.
It is the potential of Drouin's future that also is going to drive the cost, all the more so because Tampa Bay and Detroit both operate in the Atlantic Division. Intradivision trades are tough; when the Columbus Blue Jackets were shopping Rick Nash in 2012-13, the asking price for the Wings started with Valtteri Filppula and Justin Abdelkader and included a first-round draft pick.
That said, it'd still be worth the Wings' time to inquire. The Lightning are limited by having just $2 million in cap space. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times said on Twitter that the Lightning might be looking at defensemen, especially right-handed ones. The Wings could tempt with righty-shooting Alexey Marchenko and Ryan Sproul. Add forward Tomas Jurco to the package -- he has underachieved for the past season and a half, this season under a coach who knows him better than anyone. Maybe like Drouin, he'd be better off in a new place. Marchenko has a cap hit of less than $700,000, and Jurco is at $900,000. Sproul is in the minors. Financially, this would work for the Lightning.
Updated 4x at 3:13 PM: The Red Wings took part in an hour-long practice before flying to San Jose early this afternoon, and the main news that came from practice--other than Dylan Larkin's selection as an All-Star--involved the imminent return of Drew Miller and the possible returns of Kyle Quincey and Tomas Jurco.
As you might imagine, however, Larkin's status as a 19-year-old All-Star, and the Wings' 2nd rookie All-Star, with Steve Yzerman as his company, commanded most of the press's attention--and deservedly so.
The Red Wings hit the ice in Taylor to practice ahead of tomorrow's game against the San Jose Sharks, as noted by the Free Press's George Sipple...
Jimmy Howard first on the ice. #wings
MLive's Brendan Savage...
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