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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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Wojnowski, Krupa expect the Wings to ‘wheel and deal’

The Detroit Newss Bob Wojnowski and Gregg Krupa offer two late-night takes on the Red Wings' free agent machinations, and they seem to come to the same conclusion. Wojnowski feels that the Wings' moves must precede a trade for a defenseman...

Theoretically, Holland could’ve sat on his salary-cap dough and waited for, well, what? He didn’t waste the money with Nielsen and Vanek, but he didn’t have many options, either.

This is a vital, pressure-packed offseason for Holland, and whether he’s onto Plan B or C or D isn’t completely the point. Many teams didn’t get a shot at their Plan A after 26-year-old prize Steven Stamkos returned to Tampa Bay, where Steve Yzerman is proving to be the savvy general manager we all expected.

Holland’s adjustment to the Stamkos miss has been more obligatory than inspired, and he’s still lacking the big move that stirs things up. Detroit absolutely must find a top-four defenseman, and it’ll likely have to come in a bold trade for someone like Anaheim’s Cam Fowler, 24. If that means surrendering young players such as Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or others, the Wings are due to take risks in trades.

Holland does have impediments, some of his own making with past poor signings, and some the inevitable fallout of losing longtime stars. Nashville was able to take the big leap by dealing Shea Weber for P.K. Subban, but Holland didn’t have an extra Weber laying around to trump it.

And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa feels that Holland's moves must, well, precede a trade for a defenseman:

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After delivering a mixed bag in free agency, Holland’s hardest work is yet to be done

The Red Wings' major moves today--the signing of Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Steve Ott, re-signings of Alexey Marchenko and Darren Helm--get a "C" grade from me, in no small part because of the comments Ken Holland and Nielsen made (a.k.a. the essay portion of the exam) after the moves were made.

I get that Nielsen was the Wings' "#1 choice" after Stamkos, which is a little suspect as the fleet-footed Dane happens to be 32 and signed until he's 38, so you and I were going to be stuck with the guy. That being said, every comment I've read about him from Islanders fans suggests that Nielsen's 20 goals and 51 points this past season belie a strong skating and an all-around game from a very consistent player. I do hope that the Wings were right on this one.

Vanek is simply a wild card. His point production has been in decline for some time, but he's been signed for a pretty reasonable salary at a 1-year term, and if the Wings can rekindle the competitive fires of the Vanek of old, they'll have a 20-goal-scoring sniper on their hands.

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Duff: ‘The joke is on Detroit Red Wings fans’

Via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff offers a take on the Wings' free agent haul that may be shared by many Wings fans:

A Dane and an Austrian skate into Hockeytown . . . So what’s the punchline? Actually, the joke is on Detroit Red Wings fans.

When the Wings exited meekly from the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third straight spring and won a solitary playoff game for the second time in three years, there was talk of change, rumblings of making moves to try and alter the chemistry and perhaps even the culture of the team’s roster.

When Pavel Datsyuk opted to head home to Russia, it opened up both a hole and a financial opportunity to implement those types of changes, to reshape the roster.

Instead when Friday, the first day of NHL unrestricted free agency concluded, what the Wings gave everyone was more of the same.

That’s not to say that Denmark’s Frans Nielsen and Austria’s Thomas Vanek are bad players.

“We’ve added some guys up front that are legitimate NHL forwards,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said, and you can’t argue that point.

Duff continues, suggesting that the Wings have neither remedied their blueline issues nor need for gritty forwards...

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Red Wings sign Lorito, Street, Pasquale for depth

From the Red Wings:

... Lorito Agrees to Two-Year Deal; Street and Pasquale Agree to One-Year Contracts …

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today agreed to terms on a two-year contract with free agent forward Matt Lorito and to a pair of one-year deals with forward Ben Street and goaltender Edward Pasquale.

Lorito, 25, led the Albany Devils with 54 points (18-36-54) and 36 assists in 71 games during his first full season in the American Hockey League. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound winger also posted a plus-16 rating and 26 penalty minutes with the Devils, while tacking on seven points (3-4-7) in 11 postseason games. After playing four years at Brown University, Lorito turned pro during the 2014-15 campaign and joined Albany, recording 12 points (3-9-12) in 11 games for the Devils.

Lorito served as team captain during his senior season at Brown and earned All-Ivy League honors three of his four years with the Bears. Also during his senior campaign, Lorito tied for the team lead in scoring with 23 points (11-12-23) and became the 24th member of the Brown 100-Point Club. In all, Lorito tallied 47 goals and 59 assists in 118 games at Brown University. Before playing collegiate hockey, the Oakville, Ontario, native played two seasons of junior hockey with the Villanova Knights of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, recording 160 points (60-100-160) in 91 games.

Street, 29, was limited to 15 games with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage in 2015-16, but racked up 21 points (7-14-21), a plus-16 rating and was named team captain. He also appeared in seven NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche last season. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound center has logged a total of 29 NHL games between the Avalanche and Calgary Flames, totaling two assists and eight penalty minutes. Street has recorded 237 points (98-139-237) in 293 games among four AHL clubs, posting career-highs during the 2013-14 season with the Abbotsford Heat in goals (28), assists (32) and points (60). Street started his pro career with the ECHL Wheeling Nailers where he recorded 51 points (24-27-51) in 38 games during the 2010-11 season.

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Virtual tours of Little Caesars Arena available

From WDIV's Nick Monacelli:

Detroit Red Wings fans: Here is your chance to get a virtual tour of the team's new Little Caesars Arena.

The arena is under construction right now, but these videos released by Olympia Entertainment show what different sections of the venue will look like.

If you have access to an Oculus Rift, now is a good time to use it. These videos will take you on a virtual tour of each area of the rink.

Each of the eight videos below will show you a different section of the arena including the West Club, East Club, Players Club, East Sideline Club, West Sideline Club, Gondola view and a nice view from center ice.

Olympia spokeswoman Molly Wurdack said the Red Wings are the first NHL franchise to offer such a virtual tour of an arena. The team also is one of the first to offer such in all of sports.

"We wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to bring to life this new space," said Wurdack.


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Walleye extend qualifying offers to 8, including Lerg, Spink twins

From the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe:

The Toledo Walleye extended qualifying offers to eight players today.

Each ECHL team was entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight qualified players by today's deadline.

The players on Toledo's list are goalie Jeff Lerg, forwards Kyle Bonis, Tyler Sikura, Tylor Spink, and Tyson Spink and defensemen Spencer Humphries, Jacob MacDonald, and Ralfs Freibergs.

Toledo retains the ECHL rights to those players if they don't sign with a team at the higher American Hockey League level.

However, players who had already signed a contract by June 30 did not need to receive a qualifying offer. Toledo's list most likely includes forward Shane Berschbach, the team's leading scorer last season, and several other players that were listed on the Walleye's season-ending roster.

Those signings will be announced at a later date.

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Red Wings sign Steve Ott

Updated 8x at 9:05 PM:

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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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