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‘Two Things’: On Drew Miller’s pluses and minuses and a Q and A with Filip Larsson

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James offers a discussion of Drew Miller's pluses and minuses in her latest Wings player profile...

Looking back: Miller had a streak of 190 straight games going when a hit from Arizona’s Klas Dahlbeck during a game in early December left Miller woozy — and out for a month. During his second game back from that injury, Miller suffered a knee injury that required major surgery and left him gone for the season. The Wings missed him, especially on the penalty kill.

Looking ahead: Miller, 32, was re-signed for one season because the Wings like what they have in him — a hardworking, relatively inexpensive grinder who can help kill penalties. It’s something of a risk because it takes a long time to fully recover from major knee surgery, though the team has said Miller has made good progress and should be ready for training camp. At best, Miller grinds away on the fourth line and penalty kill. If the knee proves problematic, he can be placed on injured reserve and the Wings can gain the salary cap relief. Part of the reason for the re-signing was the desire for depth — and to stir better internal competition for minutes.

2. And Hooked on Hockey Magazine's Kevin Sporka presents a Q and A with Wings draft pick Filip Larsson:

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Wings’ ‘Street Hockey Summer Tour’ involves hockey lessons as well as play

The Red Wings' "Street Hockey Summer Tour" is winding its way through Michigan's lower peninsula, and the Free Press's Brandon Folsom reports that the tour will do more than give 7-to-9-year-old and 10-to-12-year-old kids the opportunity to play a little hockey in Meijer parking lots:

The Wings' staffers put the campers, who ranged from ages 7 to 12, through six stations. They taught them proper stick handling, puck control, how to pass and how to shoot various types of shots.

"It's more of teaching them the basics of hockey skills," Wings event marketing director Liz Rousseau said. "We wanted to keep it fairly simple and make sure all these ages had the opportunity to learn the basics. Depending on their skill level, we didn't want to make it too difficult, so we wanted to keep it more of your basic skill levels."

Meijer also hosted a wellness station where it handed out water and snacks to the children and taught them about nutrition.

Rousseau led a "dry-land training" station and showed the campers how to improve their speed and stamina with activities such as ladder drills.

"The kids get a chance to have some fun in the summer, learn some hockey skills, learn about what we do in our organization, meet the coaches and just have a good time," Rousseau added.

Folsom continues...

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Frans Nielsen Excited About Playing In Detroit

from Chris Lomon of NHLPA.com,

On July 1, the 10-season NHL veteran and unrestricted free agent signed a six-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings. In less than two months, Nielsen and his wife, Moa, will welcome their first child.

But there’s more.

In September, he’ll captain his native Denmark in qualifications for the 2018 Winter Olympics, and later that month, he’ll don the jersey of Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on, but I’m excited about it all,” said Nielsen.

That list would include joining one of the NHL’s Original Six teams.

“I’m looking forward to playing hockey in a new place,” he offered. “I can’t lie – it was a tough decision to leave New York. I have nothing bad to say about my time there. I will have those friends for life. But, this is the start of something new. In Europe, people would see playing with Detroit like a soccer player signing with Manchester United.”

In Nielsen, the Red Wings get one of hockey’s most versatile two-way performers, a forward often described as underrated.

It’s a role the centreman cherishes.

read on

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Red Wings TV posts a superb Twitter video chronicling the Wings’ offseason so far

The Red Wings have produced a Twitter-based video recapping the team's summer events thus far, inluding Pavel Datsyuk's decision to say goodbye, locker room clean-out day remarks, the NHL draft and the start of free agency. Some of this, especially Datsyuk's farewell, is still hard to watch:

Update: Via RedWingsFeed, here's the video in YouTube form:

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Questions For Khan

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Q: I don't understand what the Wings see in Pulkkinen (one-dimensional player) or (Tomas) Jurco (ineffective player). Can you shed some light?

A: It was easy to see the potential before last season. Pulkkinen was a prolific scorer in the AHL and his booming right-handed shot provided a different dimension. Jurco also flourished in Grand Rapids and brings a combination of skill and size, which he showed the second half of 2013-14.

Their stock dropped in 2015-16. Some would argue they weren't given a good chance or slotted on the right lines. But they didn't seize what opportunity they were given. I don't think either has a future with the organization. I could see them being traded or one being selected by Las Vegas in next summer's expansion draft.

Q: Do you know where Martin Frk fits in with the Red Wings? I know he had a very good year at Grand Rapids. Do not hear much talk about him like other prospects.

A: This will be an important camp and preseason for him because he's out of options. They have a glut of forwards, so he'll have his work cut out for him earning a roster spot. The only other alternatives are to trade him in a package for a defenseman or for a draft pick, or try to slip him through waivers. I think he would be claimed.

read on for more Q & A...

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Looking back at Andreas Athanasiou’s rookie season ‘By the Numbers’

DetrtoitRedWings.com's Bill Roose has examined the 2015-16 campaigns of Red Wings players "By the Numbers" every Monday morning, and today's subject is Andreas Athanasiou, who played in 37 games for the Wings during the 15-16 season:

As much as Dylan Larkin provided a positive impact in his rookie season, so too did Athanasiou, who did so in two separate call ups from the Wings’ minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids.

The 21-year-old scored nine goals on 53 shots on goal – that’s a 17 percent clip, which led the Red Wings.

“I just try to play my game,” Athanasiou said after scoring his first career goal last November. “I just try to do the best I can and help the team win, whether that’s drawing penalties or getting pucks on net and scoring. So it’s just trying to do my best every night.”

17 | Led the Red Wings and was third among league rookies in shooting percent, scoring nine goals on 53 shots. The last Wings’ rookie to have a higher shooting percent was Martin Lapointe, who scored eight goals on 45 shots in 1993-94. League rookies Anthony Duclair of Arizona (19%) and Andy Andreoff of Los Angeles (17.4%) found the back of the net more frequently in more games played than Athanasiou.

9 | The nine goals he scored were the most of any NHL rookies who played 40 or fewer games last season. It’s the most rookie goals scored in 40 or fewer games since San Jose’s Tomas Hertl potted 15 goals in 37 games during the 2013-14 season.

Roose continues...

Update: While we're talking about lists of stats, among the NHL Network's "40 Breakout Players":

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Discussing Mike Green’s pluses and minuses

The Free Press's Helene St. James continues her examination of the Red Wings' roster by discussing Mike Green's pluses and minuses:

Looking back: Green was signed last summer to answer the need for an offensive defenseman who shoots right-handed, an element missing since Brian Rafalski retired in 2011. Green produced, leading the defense in points, with five power-play goals and 20 power-play points (tying Pavel Datsyuk for second overall on the team). And Green was second on the team overall with two playoff points. Green was second among team defensemen with 106 hits. He played well with numerous partners, having especially good chemistry with Brendan Smith. The Green-Alexey Marchenko pairing also worked well, as Marchenko is a safe defender to have back, freeing Green to jump into the play.

Looking ahead: The Wings knew what they were getting in Green — a defenseman who likes to have the puck. The giveaways (40, second on the team behind Jonathan Ericsson’s 61) are part of the risk of having Green jump up into the play. Green will be 31 on Oct. 12, so he’s right in the prime of his career. It will be interesting to see if Green can be more productive under new defense coach Doug Houda and with new assistant coach John Torchetti running the power play.

St. James continues, and I believe that the Wings only got the "real Mike Green's" production toward the very end of the regular season, when he was posting at a 50-point clip, so I'm optimistic that Green will help reinvigorate the power play this season.

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A bit more about Axel Holmstrom’s recovery process

Friday's news that Axel Holmstrom will remain in Sweden for the upcoming season was met with mixed reactions from fans, but it's hard to remember sometimes that Holmstrom is all of 20 and under contract to the Red Wings. As Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive's Ansar Khan, the Wings signed off on Holmstrom's decision to rehab his torn ACL at home, and today, Martin spoke with the Windsor Star's Bob Duff regarding Holmstrom's recovery process:

“We were considering having him come over to play the prospect tournament prior to his playing in Sweden but I don’t think that’s a realistic goal to go from summer recovery of this type of injury to jumping into a prospect tournament at a high competitive level,” Martin said. “I don’t think that’s the best thing for him.”

“Probably somewhere in that Sept. 15 to early October range is what they’re shooting for now (as Holmstrom’s return to the ice). I think that (the Sept. 16-20 NHL prospects tournament) would be the four-month mark, that would be a bit aggressive and ambitious to expect him to be able to play games by then.”

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A familiar name surfaces in the trade rumor mill

The Hockey News's Jared Clinton has posted several articles discussing the Wings' cap and arbitration situations, and they were a little uncertain of the Wings' cap space due to the team's LTIR situation...

This one sort of "spitballs" trade scenarios by which the Vancouver Canucks could add a "proven scorer." I don't believe that there's any smoke to this scenario, but I'm going to note it:

One potential trade parter could be Detroit, where Red Wings GM Ken Holland has made it clear he’s got an excess of forwards and he’s willing to make a move.

Maybe nothing jumps off the page on the grit side of things, but as far as proven scorers, the Canucks could do a lot worse than adding Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar to their ranks. The only issue, though, would be what Vancouver would have to give up. Holland has made it clear that if he’s moving out NHL-ready talent, he’s going to want a defenseman that can man the Red Wings’ blueline in return.

There has been off-and-on rumblings about the possibility the Canucks could consider moving Alexander Edler at some point, but the 30-year-old rearguard makes $5 million per season and is a top-pairing defenseman in Vancouver. The money is a problem for the Red Wings, and losing Edler could be an issue for the Canucks.

That may make the deal a tough one to swing for either side, which might leave Benning looking elsewhere, like, say, the Columbus Blue Jackets and winger Scott Hartnell.

Clinton continues, and I would argue that this seems familiar simply because Edler's been linked to the Red Wings for such a very long period of time simply because the Wings wanted to draft him in 2004, and nothing has come to fruition as of yet. I don't see the Canucks trading Edler straight-up for Nyquist or Tatar, either, but that's my take.

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St. James discusses Dylan Larkin’s pluses

The Free Press's Helene St. James continues her off-season Wings profiles with a discussion of Dylan Larkin's pluses (no minuses):

Looking back: Larkin had so good an exhibition season he made the team at 19. He backed that up with a two-point debut and led the Wings with 23 goals. Fifteen goals came during the first half, with Larkin showing some signs of how hard it is to adjust to an 82-game NHL pace during the second half. He spent much of the season playing with Henrik Zetterberg, which suited both as Larkin benefitted from Zetterberg’s puck-management skills and Zetterberg benefitted from Larkin’s speed. After being unhappy with how he played in his first playoff game, Larkin responded by scoring in his second game — that’s the kind of player he is, intensely driven from within. Made his second appearance for the U.S. at the World Championship, producing nine points in 10 games.

Looking ahead: Larkin, who turns 20 on July 30, has said he wants to spend the summer focusing on how he can be better next season, especially regarding consistency. Again, an example of why he’s such a special player — no one pushes him as much as he pushes himself. With Pavel Datsyuk gone and Zetterberg slowing down, it would make sense to have Larkin at center (he mostly played wing last season) and fully utilize his incredible speed. With a year of NHL experience, Larkin can handle the extra responsibilities of that position. He figures to be the centerpiece for years to come as the Wings seek new leaders from within to take over for the aging generation, just as Datsyuk and Zetterberg when they were young players.

St. James continues...

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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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