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The Malik Report

St. James offers the ‘trade for a top-pair defenseman’ theory

The Red Wings just aren't going to "tank for a couple of years," as the Free Press's Drew Sharp suggested. Sharp's co-worker, Red Wings columnist Helene St. James, suggests that the Red Wings should instead pursue a top-pair or at least top-four offensive defenseman as part of a summer of meaningful change...

A realistic approach has the Wings finding a way to make a trade for a high-end defenseman. Teams do not surrender the truly elite, such as Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber. But it is imperative the Wings address the need on defense, as it is clear Niklas Kronwall is in decline because of a bad knee. Danny DeKeyser has emerged as a solid presence on the back end, and Mike Green is what the Wings brought him in to be, an offensive defenseman. Brendan Smith has a high compete level. Jonathan Ericsson disappoints for a veteran defenseman. Alexey Marchenko needs to work on his speed, but he plays a good, safe game. Xavier Ouellet is penned in to be on next season’s squad.

It always was going be painful after Nicklas Lidstrom retired, and attempts to ameliorate that so far have been unsuccessful. General manager Ken Holland pursued Weber when he was a restricted free agent in 2012, the same summer Lidstrom retired. Weber instead signed a heavily front-loaded offer sheet with Philadelphia that Nashville still matched. Two years ago, Holland pursued unrestricted free agent defenseman Matt Niskanen, offering slightly more money than Washington, Niskanen’s eventual team of choice.

The trade route may be more viable. The Calgary Flames need help in goal, and goaltender Jimmy Howard increased his trade value with a late-season surge and solid playoffs. Maybe a package deal could get the Wings Mark Giordano or Dougie Hamilton. St. Louis has available defenseman Kirk Shattenkirk, but the last asking price included Dylan Larkin, who is untouchable.

St. James continues, and for those of you from the Stockholm archipelago that have forgotten...

A very telling incident took place late in the season, when Blashill was told Zetterberg had commented he’d like to see what rookie Andreas Athanasiou could do with 18 minutes of playing time rather than half that. Blashill asked if Zetterberg had said he’d be willing to give up his minutes to make that happen. Zetterberg has put in many years of outstanding service, but he is no longer the player he was. He was left at end of the playoffs admitting he needed to do more.

Quick update: St. James also posted a set of final player grades in photo gallery form (via RedWingsFeed).

Update #2: MLive's Ansar Khan posted a list of "10 questions Detroit must face this offseason" as well.

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Prospect playoff news: Griffins take 2-0 lead over Milwaukee as Bertuzzi scores again

Of prospect-related playoff note: In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 2-1 on Saturday, taking a 2-games-to-none lead in the best-of-5 series. Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi scored goals and Tom McCollum stopped 28 of 29 shots, and the Griffins got a break as an Admirals goal was called off for a phantom goaltender interference call in the 2nd period.

Here's the AHL's game recap. I'll post the Griffins and Admirals website's recaps and highlight clips when they post:

Tyler Bertuzzi's third goal of the series stood up as the game-winner as Grand Rapids pushed Central Division champion Milwaukee to the brink with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.

The Griffins will bring a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series home with them for Game 3 on Tuesday.

Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha scored power-play goals for Grand Rapids, and Tom McCollum (2-0) stopped 31 of 32 shots as the Griffins won for the 21st time in their last 28 meetings with the Admirals.

Vladislav Kamenev scored the only goal for Milwaukee, a power-play tally with 8:28 to go in regulation.

Juuse Saros (0-2) made 22 saves for the Admirals, who have lost 12 of their last 13 playoff contests.

The Griffins' website also posted a clip of game 1 "through the eyes" of Tyler Bertuzzi:

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Early overnight report: Talking about Datsyuk, the World Championships and off-season issues

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness spoke with Ken Holland regarding Pavel Datsyuk, and there's no new news on said front:

“I have to find out about Pavel Datsyuk, that’s going to be priority number one,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview with The Macomb Daily on Saturday. “If he’s coming back then I know we have Pav and if he’s not coming back obviously I have to go through the process of his cap space.”

Datsyuk was held without a point in the five games with Tampa Bay, but did lead the Wings with 18 shots on goal. It was just the second time in his 14 seasons that he was held without a point in the playoffs. The other time was in 2003 when Anaheim swept the Wings.

“I’ve read all the articles,” Holland said. “I’ve had conversations in the past with Pav, but I have to sit down with him here in the next … I don’t think we really need to know until the first of June. He’s probably got a good month to make a final decision.”

Datsyuk, who was drafted in the sixth round (171st overall) in 1998, had 16 goals and 33 assists in 66 games during the regular season.

“I think you know Pavel well enough to know that Pavel will do what Pavel wants to do,” Wing coach Jeff Blashill said. “I’ll sit down and talk with Pav at the end of the year and obviously he’ll meet with Kenny and we’ll see what he decides.”

2. In news regarding players still playing hockey, both the Free Press's Helene St. James and MLive's Ansar Khan have reported that Teemu Pulkkinen (Finland) and Dylan Larkin (USA) have committed to play in the World Championship, but Justin Abdelkader (dislocated finger) won't head to St. Petersburg and Moscow in early May.

According to Aftonbladet's Hampus Hagman and Tomas Ros, Niklas Kronwall's turned down an invitation to play for Sweden in the World Championships, stating that he has "trouble with his knees" that needs to be addressed. I don't think that anyone who watched Kronwall labor through the playoffs is surprised to hear that he's not at 100%.

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Dylan Larkin And Teemu Pulkkinen Going To the World Championship Tournament

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Another early playoff exit will result in several Detroit Red Wings playing in the World Championship in Russia.

Dylan Larkin (USA) and Teemu Pulkkinen (Finland) have committed to play in the event that runs from May 6-22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Pavel Datsyuk reportedly will play in it as well.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland expects other players to commit in the coming days. Justin Abdelkader (USA) is not expected to play due to a dislocated finger suffered late in the season.


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Two Feature Articles On Ted Lindsay

from Dave Stubbs of NHL.com,

Ted Lindsay has traveled untold miles through the game of hockey, and every rugged inch of the journey can be found in the relief map that is his face.

There is a magnificent, lived-in quality to this 90-year-old legend's mug. His face is one of craters and deep valleys and meandering scars: imagine the lunar surface painted as a man's face.

Lindsay is fiercely proud of every line that has been richly -- sometimes violently -- earned, each one a souvenir of his take-no-prisoners, 17-season NHL career.

And yet, softening his facial minefield, one stitched together by an estimated 700 sutures, is a bright, mischievous smile that punctuates a happiness, a sense of "If I had to do it all over again, I'd not change a thing - unless I could be a little meaner still."

We met at Joe Louis Arena Monday afternoon, Lindsay nattily dressed in jacket and tie, carrying three hockey sticks from the Detroit Red Wings dressing room and a red home jersey toted in a colorful "Happy Birthday" bag.


Plus, The World According To Ted Lindsay.

Below, watch a Legends of Hockey feature on Ted Lindsay.

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The ‘both free agent signings and trades’ theory

As noted last night, the, "Go lean and rebuild with prospects" theory is gaining some traction among the pundits discussing the Red Wings' offseason trajectory, but in many cases, the theory serves as the outcome of a belief that the Red Wings need to somehow add both a top-six forward and top-pair defenseman to truly improve the roster.

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa chose to propose the, "Go lean and rebuild with prospects" theory after pointing out that Red Wings GM Ken Holland's free agent moves subsequent to Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement simply haven't worked, and Krupa believes that the Wings need to add two top-pair defensemen and two top-six forwards to improve the roster.

Such moves would require the Wings to both land who they're fishing for in free agency and to make some trades, and while MLive's Ansar Khan doesn't believe that the Wings need to add four players, but he does believe that the Wings need to make some free agency splashes and make some trades in order to upgrade the team:

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The overnight report: As we wait locker room clean-out day, the ‘go lean’ theory persists

According to the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa, the Red Wings' players, coach and GM will make their final comments to the media during locker room clean-out day on Monday.

Until then, and I'm certain after that, the beat writers and national media types will weigh in with their views as to how the Red Wings must shape their roster going forward, the sports talk radio types will have their final say before moving on, and both the realists, passionate fans and conspiracy theorists will weigh in as well.

I doubt that what's said on Monday will change your or my opinion as to what needs to be done during the off-season, but perhaps it will give us some context for the eventual moves actually made by the team.

For the present moment, this is what we've got:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James "goes Capgeek" on us and lists the roster players' respective contract statuses;

2. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan posted a photo gallery in which he suggests whether players are "staying" or "going";

3. USA Today's Kevin Allen separated the roster into segments and discussed the Wings' forwards, defense, goaltending and Datsyuk's situation...

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Prospect playoff news: Griffins open playofs with win over Milwaukee; Walleye down 3-2 to Reading

Of prospect-related playoff note:

There will be "more to come" on this front, but for now, the AHL's recap will have to do: the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 3-1 thanks to 2 goals from Tyler Bertuzzi, two assists from Ryan Sproul, a goal and two assists from Martin Frk and 32 saves from Tom McCollum.

The Griffins' 5-game series with the Admirals continues on Saturday, and here's the AHL's recap:

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St. James: Athanasiou, Svechnikov to join Griffins for playoffs

From the Free Press's Helene St. James:

The Detroit Red Wings’ playoff loss means a gain for the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou, who had one playoff goal and nine regular-season goals, has been reassigned to the AHL farm team. He has been granted a few days off for personal reasons before he’ll join the Griffins in their first-round series against Milwaukee.

Forward Evgeny Svechnikov, the 19th overall pick from last year’s draft, is turning pro and also joining the Griffins.

“Our scouts like him,” Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press on Friday afternoon. “He’s a good prospect. We need him to show up in the NHL down the road. He’s big and strong and competes hard. We’re sending him to Grand Rapids for the experience.”

Svechnikov, who at 19 already is 6-feet-3 and tops 200 pounds, can play in the AHL playoffs, but his entry-level contract doesn’t kick in until next season.

Continued, and it isn't clear whether Svechnikov is turning pro for good or headed back to Cape Breton for another year....

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Ken Holland makes his first post-season comments

Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with the Associated Press's Larry Lage on Friday, addressing the Red Wings' very brief playoff showing and the Pavel Datsyuk situation...

“It was a very disappointing season,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said Friday night in a telephone interview. “We had higher hopes.”

Now, the Red Wings will have to hope Pavel Datsyuk changes his mind about retiring from the NHL or that they’re able to trade the last year of his $7.5 million salary to a team looking to inflate its salary cap to the league minimum without having to pay him.

If Datsyuk goes back to Russia and he counts against the Red Wings’ cap, Holland acknowledged it would put the franchisee in a tough spot.

“But I’ll deal with it,” Holland said. “That’s my job.”

Suggesting that Datsyuk's decision-making process won't be rushed:

“I don’t need to know what he’s going to do for a month,” Holland said. “With big decisions in life, sometimes people change their minds. Sometimes time changes your mind, and sometime it doesn’t.”

Holland was very blunt with Lage about the buck stopping with him...

“We’re all accountable for sputtering down the stretch for a second straight year,” Holland said. “I’m accountable and so are Blashill and the players. I don’t know how you would break up the percentages, but we didn’t get the job done as a team and we’ll spend time asking questions as an organization to find solutions and make changes.”

And Lage continues...

Holland continued with the Free Press's Helene St. James

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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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