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THN’s Campbell: No Datsyuk = Stamkos in Detroit? (?)

It's late on a Saturday night and I've taken some Tylenol Cold for my damn sinus infection, but this is not the way I thought Saturday night would turn. The Hockey News's Ken Campbell reacted to Elliotte Friedman's report that Pavel Datsyuk may return to Russia a year early with...a theory (via RedWingsFeed):

If Pavel Datsyuk were to go back home to play in the KHL next season and turn his back on the last year of his contract with the Detroit Red Wings, it would leave an enormous leadership and talent void on the roster. But it might not be the end of the world for them.

In fact, if things work out they way they potentially could, it could be a boon for the Red Wings. If Datsyuk were to let the Red Wings know of his intentions early enough, it would open up some valuable cap space and allow them to go after the biggest free agent in the pool, Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announced Saturday that Stamkos has a blood clot and faces a recovery period of one-to-three months, meaning there is a chance the pending unrestricted free agent has played his last game for the Lightning. It is expected, however, that Stamkos will make a full recovery.

Campbell continues, pointing out that if the Flyers can legally trade Chris Pronger's cap hit to the Coyotes, the Wings could get rid of Datsyuk's $7.5 million cap hit, and he adds this:

It’s imperative from the Red Wings perspective that Datsyuk informs them of his decision by July 1. If he stays and the Red Wings have him for another season, don’t be surprised if Red Wings GM Ken Holland extends him for one more season in 2017-18 at the same $7.5 million cap figure. The difference this time is that if Datsyuk decides not to come back, the Red Wings will not be on the hook for the cap hit because it’s only a one-year deal.

I don't buy the "Stamkos to Detroit' rumors, either, but stranger things have happened in this league.

For what it's worth, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan posted this email from Datsyuk's agent:

“Pavel is concentrating on helping his team to make the playoffs and winning another Stanley Cup for the Detroit Red Wings,” Milstein said in an e-mail when reached by The Detroit News. “Pavel also has one more year left on his NHL contract. We will sit down with Ken Holland at the conclusion of the season for our annual year-end meeting.”

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Prospect news: Griffins lose in Toronto; Walleye win in Cincy; Pearson 1+1 = 1st star

Of prospect-related note:

In playoff action, in the SHL, Christoffer Ehn played 6:50 in the Frolunda Indians' 1-0 win over Lulea, giving Frolunda a 1-0 lead in the SHL semifinal;

And in regular-season play:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins had a rough night in Toronto. The Griffins got 2 goals from Andy Miele, but they were out-gunned by the Marlies, losing 6-3. The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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Red Wings-Maple Leafs quick take: back to back blues, indeed

The Red Wings attempted to both keep their flickering playoff hopes alive and snap an 0-8-and-2 streak in back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday evening.

Detroit won a squeaker of squeakers on Saturday evening, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on goals by Richards, Green and Quincey, and the Wings won because Jimmy Howard was nothing less than stellar in stopping 32 of 34 shots--including 11 of 12 in the 3rd period--as Detroit was out-shot 26-14 over the final two periods.

It was terrifyingly close, but the Wings pulled off a season-saver.

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On Datsyuk rumors

This rumor has dogged Pavel Datsyuk every summer for a couple of years now, but it's a little disturbing that Elliotte Friedman claims that there's a legit source stating that Datsyuk may return to Russia for family reasons this summer, leaving Detroit with $7.5 million in cap hit and $10 $5.5 million in dead cap money on the Wings' cap figure due to Datsyuk's last deal being signed after he was 35.

It's hard to argue with Friedman and a "legitimate source," but it was also quite convenient that this was the Saturday Headlines headline when Datsyuk's Wings played the Leafs.

Those family reasons would be his daughter Elizabeth, and this has been the case for several years. This hit the net first:

I don't see Datsyuk walking away from his contract and $10 million in earnings if he's been over here this long, but one never knows, and that's why this is far too conveniently dropped for my liking.

added 9:39pm, videos below...

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Prospect catch-up news: QMJHL, WHL playoffs underway; Griffins, Walleye doing well

Of prospect-related note during a certain blogger's sinus infection:

In playoff action, in the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin and SKA St. Petersburg were swept out of the KHL semifinals by CSKA Moscow last Monday. Kadeikin didn't play in CSKA Moscow's 2-1 OT win over SKA;

In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo did not play in TPS Turku's playoff-ending 3-2 loss to Karpat Oulu on Tuesday. Karpat won the series in 6 games;

In the QMJHL, on Tuesday, Adam Marsh didn't play in the Saint John Sea Dogs' 7-1 win over Acadie-Bathurst, a game that gave Saint John a 3-0 series lead;

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Pre-game Blash

The Red Wings posted a 3-and-a-half-minute video of coach Jeff Blashill addressing the media before Saturday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs:

Update: From MLive's Brendan Savage:

This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings, who have won twice against their Original Six rival. It's the most important as far as Detroit is concerned.

The Red Wings are fighting for a playoff berth – they're two points behind Philadelphia and one back of Boston in the race for a postseason berth – while the Maple Leafs have nothing to gain since they've been eliminated from the race.

"We know Toronto is going to play good," Blashill said. "We know they're going to play extremely hard and they've got talented players although some are young and inexperienced, still very, very talented. We know they're going to play with great structure and they play real hard so it will be a great challenge for us tonight."

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Wings have the back-to-back blues

Among MLive's Brendan Savage's Red Wings notes is a discussion of the Wings' immense struggles in playing back-to-back games:

In their first 15 games after playing the previous night, the Red Wings have a record of 4-9-2, have been outscored 49-33 and outshot 498-439.

They've lost 10 straight games on the second night of back-to-backs. Their last victory in that situation was 4-3 in overtime Nov. 21 in St. Louis. Since then, the Red Wings have a 0-8-2 record in the second leg of back-to-back games.

One of those 10 losses was a 1-0 setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs – tonight's opponent at Air Canada Centre – March 13 in Detroit.

How tough is playing on back-to-back nights?

"I think it's more of a mental thing," said forward Luke Glendening. "It's what you do in college every weekend, it's what you do in the American League every weekend. Really it's no different than what we've done our whole careers. Now is not time to be making excuses for those games. You've got to show up on Friday. You've got to show up on Saturday. Whatever. You've just got to keep pushing through. You've got to take care of your body on the days when you're not playing and the days you are playing, even more so. It's just rest, getting your fluids in you and taking care of your body."

Savage continues...

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Wings, Griffins both in Toronto to battle Leafs, Marlies

Here are a pair of game-day preview videos, first from the Red Wings, who are in Toronto battling the Maple Leafs this evening...

And then from the Griffins, who are in Toronto battling the Marlies tonight:

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Red Wings-Maple Leafs game-day articles: the pressure is most certainly on the Wings

The Red Wings face a deceptively stiff task in beating the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/CBC/City TV/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM). Jimmy Howard will be battling Garret Sparks in the nets, and while most of Leaf Land was focused on Nazem Kadri's fine for diving, the Toronto Sun's Ian Shantz reports that the Leafs are aware of the importance of tonight's game for the visitors:

The first of a trio of remaining home games should feature enough built-in motivation: A chance to kick an Original Six rival that much closer to the edge of the cliff, while being guided by the man who spent a decade in Motown and won a Cup there.

Mike Babcock is sticking to his script, suggesting he is rooting for his old Wings team to reach the post-season, but the ultra-competitive coach must be at least somewhat fuelled by the idea of his young, American Hockey League-heavy Leafs outfit playing spoiler against wild-card-hovering teams Detroit and Philadelphia down the home stretch.

"The pride is immense," Babcock said following the morning skate when asked about the Wings' desire to keep the streak in tact. "We're not feeling much playoff pressure here right now."

Added forward Tobias Lindberg, who will make his Air Canada Centre debut: "We're playing a really good team who is chasing a playoff spot here, so it's going to be a different atmosphere."

The Leafs' website posted a game preview and comments from Fredrik Gauthier, Kadri, Tobias Lindberg and coach Babcock:

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Red Wings-Maple Leafs morning skate Tweets and articles: Game previews + optional skate

Updated 3x at 12:30 PM: Howard starts.

The Red Wings face what I think may in fact be their toughest task of the season thus far in beating the footloose and fancy-free Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/CBC/City/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM). Toronto has absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by ensuring that Mike Babcock's Mike Babcock-less Red Wings don't make the playoffs, and twisting the knife in the heart of the Wings' playoff hopes would certainly be savored by every Maple Leafs fan.

Toronto took to the ice first for their morning skate, as noted by TSN's Mark Masters...

Lines at Leafs skate


The Toronto Star's Mark Zwolinski...

Looks like sparks starts tonite in goal for leafs - soshnikov out for morning skate - has been out since March 19

And TorontoMapleLeafs.com's Paul Hendrick:

Garret Sparks confirmed as starter for tonight vs Detroit. #TMLTalk


ichalek season over because of a knee injury, Gauthier recalled. #TMLtalk

The Grand Rapids Griffins will be battling the Toronto Marlies this evening...

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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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