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A Griffins-Monsters preview from a Lake Erie/Columbus perspective

The Grand Rapids Griffins have posted video and text previews setting up tonight's second-round series against the Lake Erie Monsters (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/ESPN 96.1 FM), and today, the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline posted a definitive preview from the Monsters' perspective and the perspective of their parent team, the Columbus Blue Jackets:

In a 76-game regular-season schedule, the Lake Erie Monsters and Grand Rapids Griffins played each other 12 times, or nearly 16 percent of the American Hockey League schedule.

“We played two exhibition games before the season, too,” Monsters coach Jared Bednar said. “So, yeah, there are no secrets between us.”

The AHL affiliates of the Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings open a best-of-seven, second-round playoff series at 7 tonight in Quicken Loans Arena. If familiarity breeds contempt, this should be fun.

“We know them and they definitely know us,” said Dublin’s Trent Vogelhuber, one of the Monsters alternate captains. “We have had some real battles this season. We were talking about it earlier in the season (in the room), how playing this team in the playoffs would be a really good match-up for both of us. It’s a team we wanted to play, just because we think we match up well against them.”

The Monsters went 5-4-3 vs. Grand Rapids this season, with Lake Erie winning the first two games and last two games in the series. But it was close all the way. Aggregate score: 35-34, Grand Rapids.

“We’ve played all kinds of different games against these guys,” Bednar said. “We’ve had some really physical games against them, and then some games that turned out to be run-and-gun. By now we know how we want to play, how we feel we have to play against them to have success. I’m sure they’re feeling the same way.”

Portzline continues at significant length, discussing the large number of Blue Jackets NHL players returned to Lake Erie after Columbus' regular season ended, listing Lake Erie's lines and noting that both teams have endured a significant lay-off between series...

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Nyquist, Larkin give Russian-language interviews from the World Championship

This is going to be a little weird. Gustav Nyquist and Dylan Larkin gave English-language interviews to Russian websites on Thursday, and here are the rough translations thereof:

1. Nyquist spoke with R-Sport's Roman Solvyev regarding Pavel Datsyuk's possible NHL exit...

Russian forward Pavel Datsyuk from the NHL team "Detroit Red Wings" will be a great loss, says Swedish "Red Wings" forward Gustav Nyquist.

Pavel Datsyuk won an Olympic bronze in 2002 and a World Championship in 2012 as a member of the Russian national team, and he just spent his 14th season in the NHL. In April he announced that he's probably going to complete his performance overseas after the current season. The 37-year-old Russian's contract with Detroit will expire in 2017. Later, Datsyuk said that he'd determine his future after the home-ice World Championship.

Continue Reading »

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Morning news: On Brad Richards, a mock draft and a Gordie Howe pro-am press release

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. MLive's Brendan Savage took note of Brad Richards' locker room clean-out day remarks:

"Guys that I grew up and started my career with are retiring," said Richards, who turned 36 this week. "It's probably going to creep into my mind here in the next month a little bit too in what I want to do. I'm not there yet where I want to say I'm retiring. I need to get away and kind of see mentally how I feel and where I'm at.

"It's a young man's game now and it's hard to start a family and all that stuff and put in the time and effort it takes to stay in shape against some of these young guys. You do have to make sure you're 100 percent all in mentally. The offseasons so big at this age.

"That's going to go into a lot of decision-making."

Savage continues...

2. ESPN's Corey Pronman conducted a mock draft as part of an Insider-only blog entry, and he believes that the Red Wings will draft an American forward with the 16th overall pick:

Continue Reading »

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Wings need to get boldly informed before they make roster moves

So one leads to the other: the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan examined the NHL's free agent marketplace on Wednesday evening, and as of midnight, a corresponding column popped up in which the Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski suggests that [it's], "Time for Wings to make bold move," comparing and contrasting the respective off-season situations of the Red Wings and Pistons:

The word “rebuild” is considered a profanity around Mike Ilitch’s teams. A rebuild suggests a tear-down, and the Wings aren’t in position to do that with Little Caesars Arena opening in 2017. But the makeup of the roster — small players, no imposing defensemen — has to change.

It’s not a great free-agent market, and Holland hasn’t had much success there lately anyhow. Last year’s signings — Mike Green, Brad Richards — brought the Wings more of the same, experienced pieces but nothing resembling a centerpiece. Development of current players is a necessity, and Holland and Jeff Blashill have to decide if guys like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Justin Abdelkader can take the leap, or try someone else.

Continue Reading »

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‘Two seconds’ for Hicketts

From Kamloops This Week:

It would have been nice for Kamloops product Joe Hicketts to cap the WHL season with a pair of major awards, but it was not to be.

The 20-year-old Victoria Royals’ defenceman was runner-up for the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, given to the player of the year, and the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy, handed to the defenceman of the year.

Hicketts, who tallied eight goals and 61 points in 59 games, was second to Dryden Hunt of the Moose Jaw Warriors in the player of the year category.

Hunt, a 20-year-old forward, had 58 goals and 116 points in 72 games.

Russian import Ivan Provorov was named defenceman of the year.


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Kulfan examines the free agent class

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan examines this year's rop of unrestricted free agents-to-be via a photo gallery and feature article discussing those who might be of interest to the Red Wings. Kulfan believes that Steven Stamkos is the target of choice, should he choose to test the market:

Steven Stamkos, who scored 36 goals for the Lightning this season, becomes an unrestricted free agency July 1.

Stamkos, who is not playing in the postseason because of a blood clot, and the Lightning have apparently not come close to reaching an agreement. If he were to become a free agent, it would lead to a huge bidding war between his hometown Maple Leafs and the Sabres, Bruins, Canadiens, Canucks and Rangers, among others.

Like the Red Wings, assuming they can create some cap space. That would become more possible if they can trade Pavel Datsyuk’s cap space if he leaves for Russia, as expected. Datsyuk has one year left on his contract worth $7.5 million.

Stamkos, 26, is a rare player in his prime. But Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is expected to look over what is otherwise an uninspiring free-agent class.

“We’re going to explore free agency like we’ve done,” Holland said. “Those players that are out there on July 1, for the most part, are support players, secondary players, and they’re not players that carry franchises around.”

Kulfan continues, discussing both the free agent marketplace and the Red Wings' unrestricted free agents-to-be (Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Kyle Quincey, Brad Richards and Sweden-bound Joakim Andersson). The photo gallery is also worth your time as Kulfan goes through over 30 free agents-to-be.

What he doesn't discuss is the fact that the likely-to-be flat salary cap and the Wings' significant restricted free agents-to-be (Danny DeKeyser, Petr Mrazek, Alexey Marchenko and Riley Sheahan, among others) and Justin Abdelkader's $4.25 million contract extension will likely take up the vast majority of the Wings' available salary cap space this summer.

Unless the Wings really do move Datsyuk's salary cap space, it will probably take a meaningful trade (i.e. moving salary for salary added) for the Wings to meaningfully upgrade the roster.

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Jeff Blashill appears on WBBL’s ‘Huge Show’

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill spoke with WBBL's Bill "Huge" Simonson today, discussing the Red Wings' post-season reevaluation, the "Swedish Mafia" theory--which he shoots down with some fervor--the roles of Pulkkinen, Athanasiou and Mantha and much more over the course of 15 minutes' worth of discussion:

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A conversation with Chris Chelios

Chris Chelios engaged in a long conversation regarding his tenure as a player and evolution as an assistant coach while speaking with ESPN's Paul Grant, and here's part of the interview:

ESPN.com: How does that work when you, as a former player who went through that -- you open the door and you go out kind of thing -- work within the real structured system now as an assistant coach? How do you reconcile those two?

Chelios: I always said that if I was a coach, I'd let them have a bit of a leash, but I found myself in the World Juniors tightening that leash up because that's just the way things are. You want to be a good guy, you want to be a nice guy to the players, you want to be a players' coach, but at the same time you want to win, so it's hard, especially for me. I'm adjusting now and that's why I'm taking my time. If I do happen to take that next step to be a head coach, a full-time coach, I hope I'll be ready. Again, I feel bad sometimes after games not allowing the defensemen to be more creative -- but now I get it, always second-guessing coaches as a player, now I get it.

ESPN.com: How would Chris Chelios, the player, fare in today's system?s

Chelios: Well, I adjusted I think because I played so long and had been through different types of games. Mike Babcock, I don't think there's a more structured coach than him, and I struggled with him. I tried to do what he wanted me to do, I was one of those players, you talk about elite players, I had a vision, I could see the puck and plays developing before it happened, but once he had me doing straight lines, I was worthless. Then I knew the end was there.

Grant and Chelios continue...

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The Assistant Coach Hunt Is On For The Detroit Red Wings

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

The Detroit Red Wings expect to move fairly quickly in hiring an assistant coach, making a decision in the next couple of weeks, if not sooner, general manager Ken Holland said Wednesday.

"(Coach) Jeff Blashill and I have gone over a bunch of names. We've interviewed a couple of people," Holland said. "Jeff Blashill also has talked to a number of other people. Does it lead to an interview process? That's to be determined."

The Red Wings are replacing Tony Granato, who after two seasons with the organization took the head coaching job at Wisconsin, his alma mater.

Holland said they will hire an assistant with extensive NHL experience.

"We lost a guy with a lot of experience in Tony Granato," Holland said. "We want to replace him with someone with a lot of experience."

more inlcuding possible candidates....

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What About Martin Frk?

from Helene St, James of the Detroit Free Press,

As the Detroit Red Wings' top farm team continues its playoff run, one prospect, in particular, is under scrutiny.

The Wings drafted Martin Frk in the second round in 2012. After a quiet pro debut -- understandable, considering Frk's linemates in juniors -- Frk erupted in 2015-16 with 27 goals and 44 points in 67 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins. He takes three playoff goals into the Griffins' second-round series against the Lake Erie Monsters, which starts Thursday in Cleveland.

Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin called Frk one of the Griffins' most improved players.

"Coming into his pro career, he wasn't used to the pro style, wasn't used to not playing with the puck," Martin told the Free Press today. Frk, a product of Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Halifax Mooseheads, spent his final junior season playing with Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, who were drafted first overall and third overall in 2013. The line dominated nightly....

What does that mean for the Wings? That's the intrigue. While Frk has a year left on his entry-level contract, he no longer is waiver-exempt, so the Wings have to figure out whether Frk is part of their future come next season.

more on Frk who is listed at 6' 00" 193 lbs...

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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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