The Malik Report
Updated 2x at 12:26 PM: Two Things:
1. The Red Wings posted a "Behind the Scenes" video from last weekend's draft...
2. And, via RedWingsFeed, Nicklas Lidstrom gave an interview to 97.1 The Ticket this morning, and he supported Chris Osgood's Hall-of-Fame candidacy:
Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave and the rest of Fox Sports' editorial content staff have been cut from the Fox Sports team, which is a real damn shame given how passionately Gave, Dana Wakiji and Art Regner covered the Red Wings--and it's a damn shame that so many good journalists are getting cut loose this evening.
As such, I'm giving Gave's column about the Stephen Weiss buy-out, Brendan Smith's contract and the shape of the roster under Jeff Blashill an "Evening Line" status:
Holland still faces one more unwanted holdover headache from Babcock's tenure: What to do with Dan Cleary, to whom Babcock made promises about a position with the team this season? Yet again, Holland had some serious misgivings, considering how Cleary's play had tailed off. But at Babcock's urging, Holland signed Cleary to $1.5 million contract last July after he scored just four goals and eight points, with a minus-11 rating, in 52 games and missed the final 2 1/2 months with a knee injury.
As one Wings' official bluntly put it after Babcock bolted for a fat contract to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs: "Mike Babcock is gone, and we're still stuck with Weiss and Cleary."
Now one's gone and the other is unlikely to be a factor in the Detroit lineup under new coach Jeff Blashill. Buying out Weiss is a clear signal that Holland is more committed to the future than the past as he prepares to sign several younger players who will form the nucleus of the team for years to come.
Gave continues...I hope he, Wakiji, Regner and all the Fox Sports Detroit writers land on their feet.
If you ask me, and you didn't, I think the Red Wings' front office might be waffling a little bit.
Despite having purportedly bought out Stephen Weiss to ensure that the Wings can re-sign next summer's restricted and unrestricted free agents-to-be, and despite having committed to the youth movement, Ken Holland told MLive's Ansar Khan, who penned an article about free agency targets (as did the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan), that the Wings are still at least going to monitor the market, if not make a few bids here and there:
"A lot of what we're doing is going to be with the kids, but if there's something out there that makes us a better club, that's what we're looking at," Holland said. "You have to factor in the cap and all the players we have to sign (on their own team over the next couple of years). There's a small group of players that complement what we're trying to do, but there's 30 teams exploring the free-agent market."
The Red Wings could use a right-shooting defenseman with offensive skills, since they don't generate much offense from the back end. They will make a pitch for Green, who is at the head of the free-agent class. But they hesitate to get into a bidding war for him, especially if he's seeking five or six years in the $6 million-a-year range. There are concerns about his attention to detail defensively.
"I'd love to get a top-four defenseman," Holland said. "There's not many top-four defensemen around and probably a number of teams in the bidding."
"We would we like a right-shot defenseman, but if I can't have a right-shot defenseman we have (them) in Marchenko and Jensen," Holland said. "We've got good depth. Are we looking to upgrade? Whether it's on defense or forward, yeah, if the upgrade fits in."
"We probably have interest on the market in guys that are shorter term rather than longer term, depending who they are," Holland said. "Our young players are going to be our future and are going to work their way into the lineup and allow us to be competitive. If we don't do anything I'm satisfied heading into the season."
Khan and Holland continue, and I understand that the balance between "letting the kids play" and trying to build a contending team is an incredibly delicate one, but at a time like this, on the night before things get crazy and hundreds of millions are committed to players who generally don't work out--and especially given that this is the day the team bought out Stephen Weiss--I wish we were hearing a more consistent message.
Update: The Windsor Star's Bob Duff also spoke with Holland, and Duff believes Holland's going to bid for Mike Green:
Updated with more Weiss talk and some Smith talk at 7:38 PM:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
General manager Ken Holland said concerns about cap space next summer, more than anything prompted the move.
"We didn't have cap issues for '15-16," Holland said. "We debated retaining him, given the (Pavel) Datsyuk injury. Over the last couple of days we talked about it. At the end of the day, because of 2016 and the people we got coming up (Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan, Peter Mrazek will need new contracts), people we want to keep, a year from now this (buyout) was going to be inevitable."
He added, "We're going to give younger players an opportunity to play. We got 14 forwards on board."
The move clears up cap space. The Red Wings are expected to make a pitch for offensive-minded defenseman Mike Green, the right-handed shooter they have been seeking. But they won't get into a bidding war for him. He could be seeking a five-year deal worth around $6 million a season.
"On defense, I'm kicking some tires," Holland said. "We got some cap space, certainly. We're positioned to do something if we so choose."
Update: Here's more from the Free Press's Helene St. James...
The hot rumor of the day has the Wings purusing Mike Green tomorrow, but Ken Holland doesn't sound like someone too enamored with free agents in an interview with the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
“If we don’t do anything I’m satisfied heading into the season,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview. “We probably have interest on the market of guys that are shorter term rather than longer term, depending who they are. Our young players are going to be our future and are going to work their way into the lineup and allow us to be competitive,” Holland added.
Holland shares quite a bit of team philosophy with Pleiness:
Updated 5x at 5:34 PM: Surprise surprise:
What do you do to keep busy? "I do watch some games at home with our Swedish scout Hakan Andersson and I'm helping out with my kids, my youngest son's hockey team now. I started out with my 14-year-old the last couple of years, but this fall I'm helping out with my 11-year-old. That's been a lot of fun. I also do some business on the side. I am involved with some real estate business in Sweden. But I really enjoy helping my son's team, especially the young kids. They love being at the rink. They love being on the ice. They love playing games. It's fun to see them develop. It's great being around the kids all the time now."
Do you feel that when you're around them you absolutely have their attention? I mean, you're Nicklas Lidstrom, they know who you are, right? "Maybe not my own kids (laughs). Sometimes what I say gets through to them, but sometimes I'm just like any other dad talking to the kids and they'll block me out. I'm not giving them a whole lot of advice all the time. I give them some pointers here and there. Not my kids, but the other kids are really in more awe than my sons. That's great. Those young kids ask a ton of questions all the time."
The Red Wings and Vili Saarijarvi are preparing for the Finnish prospect to turn pro with Karpat Oulu of the FInnish Liiga, but if he changes his mind, MLive's Aaron McMann reports that the Flint Firebirds would like to convince him to play in the U.S.:
Vili Saarijarvi, a 5-foot-10, 163-pound defenseman selected by the Red Wings in the third round of last weekend's NHL Draft, was picked ninth overall by Flint in Tuesday's Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.
Saarijarvi, of Rovaniemi, Finland, told the media over the weekend he has plans to play junior hockey in his native Finland next season, but the Firebirds are hoping to use their close locale to keep in Michigan following Red Wings development camp in Traverse City July 3-7.
"It's not up to us as to where the boy plays, it's up to the Red Wings," Flint general manager Terry Christensen said. "And I'm sure they'll make a decision as to where they want him and hope that he'll reap the benefit of playing in the Ontario Hockey League."
Christensen had a chance to watch Saarijarvi, 18, play in the U-18 World Hockey Championships in Switzerland in April, where he was named Most Valuable Defenseman and assistant captain for runner-up Finland, and considers him an offensive defenseman with good leadership skills.
"The one thing I really liked about him is that he played in all the tough situations for Finland," Christensen said. "This guy anchored their power play, and of course in a tournament like that you get so many opportunities against great teams. He was always one of the first guys to put others over the boards and quarterback their power play."
"We're hopeful that everything gets worked out and he'll be playing in Flint next year," Christensen said. "I did talk to Vili and we expressed to him how excited we were to have been able to draft him. He was very, very excited that we did draft him. He wants to be in Michigan. He wants to be as close as he possibly can to the Detroit situation."
Updated 5x at 4:54 PM:
Here's the Red Wings' press release:
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