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Wakiji: Drew Miller to return to Wings’ lineup Thursday

From DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji:

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:

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St. James: Wings should examine acquiring Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay

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.

St. James continues...

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Practice articles (mostly): A bit of understandable Larkin-mania

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.

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Practice Tweets: Drew Miller to return vs. Sharks; Larkin talked up as an All-Star

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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Dylan Larkin named to NHL’s All-Star Game roster

From the NHL:

NEW YORK (Jan. 6, 2016) – The National Hockey League announced today the full roster of players as well as the head coaches for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star celebration, which will be held Jan. 30-31 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Forty players were selected by the NHL, joining the four division captains elected by fans in the 2016 NHL All-Star Fan Vote: Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers (Atlantic), Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks (Central), Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (Metropolitan) and John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes (Pacific).

Below are the complete rosters for each division, comprised of six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders per team:

2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game Rosters

Atlantic Division
F Patrice Bergeron
F Jaromir Jagr (FLA)*
F Leo Komarov (TOR)
F Dylan Larkin (DET)

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Prospect news: Griffins lose in Winnipeg; Vahatalo scores for TPS

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins got a goal from Eric Tangradi, an assist from Martin Frk and a fight from Anthony Mantha, but the Griffins were unable to battle past the Manitoba Moose, losing 2-1 on Tuesday night. The Griffins' website filed a recap:

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The overnight report: Player grades, unfulfilled offensive potential & the adventures of Polo Horse

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan has filed a set of Wings player grades given that Thursday's game in San Jose will be the Wings' 41st of the 2015-16 season. Among them:

Justin Abdelkader – On pace to surpass last season’s career-high in goals (23) and taking on more of a leadership role now that a contract extension has been ironed out. Big piece of the future. GRADE: B.


Tomas Jurco – There was hope Jurco could thrive under a new coach and with more opportunities. But he’s been unable to gain a foothold in the lineup and doubts are beginning to develop whether his promise and potential will ever materialize. GRADE: D


Danny DeKeyser – Is developing into one of the premier shut-down defenseman in the league, capable of stopping opposing offensive stars. Will be a key piece of the Red Wings for a long time. GRADE: A-minus

Kulfan continues, and as usual, I'm willing to provide grades if there's an interest in them, but there will be no list-making for the sake of list-making.

2. The Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke with Riley Sheahan and two of his biggest supporters about #15's untapped offensive potential:

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Ken Holland addresses the Wings’ potential roster/cap crunch

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland regarding the roster and cap crunch that will take place when Kyle Quincey, Drew Miller, and eventually, Teemu Pulkkinen return from injuries, and you may take these comments for what you will:

“We have to make roster moves to activate Quincey and Miller,” he said. Asked if he must create space under the salary cap to bring back Quincey, Holland said, “We’re probably a little bit over when we activate Quincey and Pulkkinen. But, obviously, Pulkkinen will not be ready for a while.”

The addition of Quincey, however, would put eight defensemen on the roster, and Holland said the Wings are unlikely to do that.

“Well, let me say this: I don’t see any need to carry eight defensemen.”

If earlier years in the NHL, the situation might result in a midseason trade. But few trades in the NHL occur outside of a period around the NHL draft and the trade deadline, due to the salary cap and other consideration — including the tight standings making for few teams who know they are definitely out of the playoffs.

“Certainly, you’re always looking to upgrade your team,” Holland said. “Trades are hard in the world we live in. Beyond those times, for a variety of reasons, it’s hard to find a trading partner.”

Krupa continues...

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Wings at the WJC: Saarijarvi’s Finns win gold over Russia

Vili Saarijarvi registered an assist in Tuesday's Gold Medal game, and Saarijarvi's Finns prevailed over Evgeny Svechnikov's Russians, winning the Gold 4-3 in OT.

Saarijarvi finished the tournament with 4 assists in 7 games, with 11 shots on goal for Finland; Svechnikov didn't register a point for Russia (finishing at -3, with 13 shots on goal, over the course of 7 games played), but he played as a strong forechecking/playmaking forward.

Saarijarvi was dynamic at times, making up for his 5'8" stature with superb puck-movement, excellent passing, shooting and smart lateral moves to open up shooting and passing lanes.

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All about Triston Grant

Via Grand Rapids Griffins announcer Bob Kaser, and per the Winnipeg Free Press's Melissa Martin:

If hockey hadn't been there, Triston Grant says with a laugh, he'd probably be working at the hog plant in Neepawa right now, or getting his hands dirty somehow.

That's just the kind of guy he is, he adds. He comes from a blue-collar Manitoba family. He was always drawn to hard days of honest work.

In a way, maybe that's what brought the scrappy Grand Rapids Griffins forward to this point. Because although Grant's career plays out under the glare of arena lights, it's still hands-on work. The churning rosters of minor pro leagues are not always kind, but for 11 seasons he's found a way to stick around.

Or, you could say, he's survived. To do it, he's had to dish it out -- and take it -- a lot of hits and fights.

He spent Monday afternoon laid up in a Winnipeg hotel with an ice pack, soothing the aches from Sunday's game against the Manitoba Moose. He'll be back for Round 2 tonight.

"At the end of the day, I'm not making millions of dollars," Grant says. "At the same time, I'm making a living going to the rink and hanging out with some good people, and competing and playing hockey. That's pretty hard to complain about."

Continued, and many thanks to Courtney Fathers for the tip.

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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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