The Malik Report
from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,
Some of the teams we’ll be covering today are passing through this section on their way to bigger and better things, while others are tracking in the opposite direction. And a few are in what may well be the worst possible situation an NHL team can find itself in: stuck in no-man’s-land, not really good enough to contend but never quite bad enough to land the sort of high draft pick who could turn into a franchise player. Spend more than a season or two in that zone and it can take a franchise years to recover....
Outlook: The Red Wings are really old. Key contributors like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and Niklas Kronwall are all well into their thirties, and the team is still mulling the return of 41-year-old Daniel Alfredsson.
The Red Wings are also kind of young. Breakout star Gustav Nyquist leads a group of players that are just entering their prime, giving the Red Wings yet another generation of potential stars. That mix of young and old makes it hard to nail this team down — they could go in a few different directions.
Key number: 18.3 — Nyquist’s shooting percentage last year, which is Steven Stamkos territory. Nyquist certainly has the sort of talent that would lead you to expect him to put up a decent number in this category. But he was just a 6.1 percent shooter in 40 career games before last season, so it seems fair to assume we’ll see a drop this year.
Best case: The old guys stay healthy, the young guys take another step, the normally dependable Jimmy Howard rebounds from an off year, and the Wings return to quasi-contender status.
Worst case: Age and injuries wreak havoc once again, Howard struggles, and Babcock’s status becomes a running sideshow as the Wings finally miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years.
more on the Wings and other teams in the middle of the pack...
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock met Tuesday regarding an extension for Babcock, but a deal doesn't appear imminent.
In fact, it might not come to be before the Wings open Oct. 9, which is when Babcock has said he no longer wants to talk about his contract situation.
A caveat to that, though: It means that neither side wants to deal with it publicly, in the media.
added 1:54pm, Below, watch/listen to Doug MacLean on Babcock who was on Sportsnet radio this morning before the Holland announcement.
Scroll to the 6:20 mark of the vid unless you want to hear about the Leafs.
One note right at the bloody top because it's important: I have no idea whether the Red Wings are going to make cuts after tonight's game.
You would think that as the Griffins play exhibition games (against the Lake Erie Monsters) in Windsor on Friday and Indianapolis on Saturday, the Wings would make cuts; you would also think that the Wings' final two exhibition games in Toronto on Friday and Boston on Saturday will serve as "dress rehearsals," but Babcock been insistent about sticking with two groups to see if there are job-stealers among the A Team and B Team. We will have to wait and see what Babcock says today and tonight.
Update 2x at 11:42 AM: The Detroit Red Wings will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/ROOT/NHL Network U.S. and 97.1 FM) in the team's final home exhibition game and 5th of 8 exhibition games overall. The Free Press's Helene St. James has already posted the roster for tonight's game:
Updated with stories and well, art from SlapShotgoal...At 1:24 AM: The Red Wings play the Pittsburgh Penguins in their final home exhibition game on Wednesday night (7:30 PM, FSD/97.1 FM [edit: also ROOT and the NHL Network U.S. /end edit]), and according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Jason Mackey, we shouldn't expect to see Robert Bortuzzo, Evgeni Malkin or Olli Maata in tomorrow's game, but Sidney Crosby will play in the game after attending his grandmother's funeral in Nova Scotia.
The Penguins were in town a day early as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Minnesota Wild on Monday, and I know that Darren Dreger's report about Mike Babcock's contract negotiations received the most comments today (and yes, TSN's Dreger and ESPN's Pierre LeBrun addressed the report in the latest Insider Trading video)...
But there were some stories in the practice post in which Babcock made some telling remarks, and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted that Babcock issued significant praise in regards to Brendan Smith's performance during last night's 3-0 win over Toronto:
Wings fans tend to find the most details about the team's assistant coaches on the days that they're hired and the days that they leave the team for other coaching opportunities. For whatever reason, while the coaches are on the job, they're more or less verboten in terms of interviews, and given both the magnitude of the changes that the Wings underwent this summer (losing both "bench assistants" and the assistant coach working video) as well as the ever-increasing importance of said coaches...
I'm still updating the practice post--slow day for the beat writers, but the Penguins are apparently already in town ahead of tomorrow night's game (7:30 PM on FSD)--but my first day back after any illness (and this time it was the Training Camp Sinus Bug of Doom, and was it ever one of those, "The one time you don't Purell your hands after shaking hands with somebody, blammo! bugs) involves catching up with the Wings' prospects.
The Grand Rapids Griffins are actually holding training camp in Western Michigan, but their roster is very smalll because the Wings are going with two "teams" at least until tomorrow night's game, if not Friday's in Toronto.
In terms of prospect news, the biggest story obviously involved Joe Hicketts signing with the Wings a week ago Thursday, and the not-so-diminuitive blueliner spoke with the Victoria Times-Colonist's Cleeve Dheensaw about signing with the Wings:
When I tried to make a joke about analytics at training camp, I got an, "I'm sick of talking about it; you're done" from Mike Babcock, and given his most recent comments to the press, I'm guessing that he's going to cut off questions about his contract that way quite shortly. Thankfully TSN's Darren Dreger reports that there's a reason he and Ken Holland have been quiet on the contract front--because the gents apparently plan on negotiating closer to the time period between the end of the exhibition season (Saturday night) and the start of the regular season (Thursday, October 9th):
[Edit: More Dreger: sounds like this is gonna be a get 'er done situation:
Update: The Hockey News's Adam Proteau's addressed Babcock's supposed "lame duck" status:
Updated 13x at 5:17 PM: The Grand Rapids Griffins have actually "broke camp" with a roster of mostly AHL-contracted and ECHL-bound players, but the Red Wings won't split up the "A Team" and "B Team" exhibition game rosters until Thursday or Friday, so a pair of "teams" are still practicing at Joe Louis Arena.
MLive's Ansar Khan reports that the "A Team" includes two injured players who may play against the Boston Bruins tomorrow (7:30 PM on FSD) but excludes a third...
Gustav Nyquist (knee) on the ice as first group practices for Wings, those who didn't play last night.
Jonathan Ericsson not practicing for second day in row due to groin/hip flexor. Listed day to day. Helm skating again.
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness confirms:
Last week I was sitting in the "press area" at Centre Ice Arena, and a gentleman wearing camouflage from head to toe happened to be editing pictures next to me. I asked him about his pictures and he informed me that he was actually a fishing guide for the Wings' players, and we got to talking about their fishing preferences.
He said that some of the pictures we've seen of Pavel Datsyuk or Jordin Tootoo involved catch-and-release efforts, but the Europeans preferred to eat what they caught (i.e. no "trophy fish").
Today, the Midland Daily News's Jake Vanhouten offers a fish story regarding the Wings' training camp endeavors, which were slowed but apparently not fully doused by the rainy weather at the time:
During the Red Wings' 3-0 win over Toronto last night, Tomas Nosek got 5 and a game for this hit on Stuart Percy (which thankfully didn't result in an injury)...
And it instantly brought to mind this hit Teemu Pulkkinen made on Mike Kostka a year ago at this time--and Pulkkinen was suspended for the hit--making me wonder whether European players coming to the NHL assume that there's more space between the net and boards than there really is on an 85-foot-wider rink:
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.