The Malik Report
The Red Wings' prospects open their defense of the team's one and only title at the 8-team prospect tournament tonight against the St. Louis Blues, but before doing so, they'll hit the ice in Traverse City at 11:30 AM, taking part in a "morning skate."
The tournament's "gotten very big" in terms of media coverage; the Blues have a webpage set up to follow their prospects, and NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale has already authored an article setting up the tournament as a "hotbed for future stars."
This morning, NHL.com's Tal Pinchevsky discusses the possibility that Anthony Mantha might parlay a strong tournament showing into a spot on the Wings' roster, this time speaking with Wings special assistant to the general manager GM Kris Draper about Mantha's potential:
I've made it up to Traverse City in one piece ahead of the Red Wings' prospect tournament; for the Wings, the schedule kicks off on Friday with an 11:30 AM practice for new set of prospects and try-outs, and then the Wings' prospects will battle the St. Louis, and as usual...
I leave the damn house and things go willy-nilly. The NHLs announced preseason rule changes are intriguing; aside from further diminishing Todd Bertuzzi's chances of finding gainful employment, a bigger trapezoid should remedy some of those nasty hits defensemen face carrying the puck out of the "valley of death," I like the league's expansion of game misconduct penalties (are clipping, charging, elbowing, kneeing, interference, head-butting, and butt-ending sometimes worthy of game misconducts? Yep!) and the review process for goals has been kind-of-sort-of-expanded, which is never a bad thing (especially when "your team" has been on both sides of a puck going off the netting and eventually into the back of the net).
The Red Wings post this press release every year, and while it involves events that are "closed to the public," I'm impressed with the ever-growing scope of the Wings' pre-training camp "Community Tour":
RED WINGS DROP PUCK ON THE 2014-15 SEASON WITH SIXTH ANNUAL MI WINGS COMMUNITY TOUR PRESENTED BY ITC
… Tour Moves to Two Days (Sept. 16-17), Features Record 24 Players Set to Make Seven Stops En Route to Training Camp in Traverse City …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today announced the itinerary for the sixth annual MI Wings Community Tour, presented by ITC Holdings Corp., with a record 24 players set to partake in the two-day event on Sept. 16-17 leading up to Training Camp in Traverse City. Seven groups of Red Wings players are scheduled to visit two hospitals, a National Guard station, a fire department and an elementary school, along with stops to participate alongside the Motor City Blight Busters in Detroit and the Kids’ Food Basket Program in Grand Rapids. All seven stops on the tour are closed to the public.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
"I don't want expectations to be unrealistic for Anthony Mantha," Holland said. "He's a really good prospect, and we're going to give him every opportunity over the next month to show where he's at with his career. But it's tough to score in NHL.
"We've had other players who have left juniors with impressive resumes, and some make it quickly and some need two or three years," Holland said. "It's not only about talent, it's how mature is the player mentally. The NHL is a very demanding league. I'd rather err to be cautious. I don't want to do damage to anyone's confidence. We're going to do what's right for Anthony Mantha and the Detroit Red Wings."
Red Wings mid-day news: on the prospect tourney & Captain’s Practice quips from DeKeyser & Andersson
Updated 2x at 2:21 PM: At Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings' players are still engaging in Captain's Practices...
Some 230 miles to the northwest, however, as Paul noted, there's quite a bit of "star power" about to hit the ice in Traverse City. NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale penned an article discussing the caliber of competition at the Red Wings' prospect tournament, and the list of current and former participants is impressive:
In the tournament's history, 440 players who participated have skated in at least one NHL game, including six with the 2013-14 Red Wings: Tomas Jurco, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Teemu Pulkkinen, Riley Sheahan and Ryan Sproul.
"[The Traverse City tournament] always carries a lot of weight," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "The best players at that tournament usually make the NHL right away. Guys who are ready or close to it usually rise to the top and you can see it. It's a great tournament to evaluate players."
I've packed and gotten all my "stuff" together, and if it wasn't raining throughout the evening on Wednesday, I would've already had the Pacifica packed for today's trip to Traverse City to attend the Red Wings' prospect tournament and main training camp. I'm a little tired and quite terrified, but the former comes with the always busy days leading up to the trip and the latter is Ye Olde Anxiety Disorder for you.
As previously noted, the ECHL referees officiating the 8-team tournament are told to expect hockey on par with mid-season AHL games, and as DetroitRedWings.com's Craig Peterson found, some of the Wings' key contributors, Anthony Mantha and Ryan Sproul, are more than ready to defend the team's first tournament title:
“Before the tournament last year, they told us that it’s even better than World Juniors,” Mantha said. “Last winter I went to World Juniors and I could say the same thing. I think everyone wants to show themselves so it’s high-paced games and everyone wants to impress.”
This seems a little "off." It's hockey book season, and I'd already known that Jordin Tootoo collaborated with Stephen Brunt for his forthcoming memoir, All the Way, Darren McCarty worked with USA Today's Kevin Allen on his memoir, My Last Fight: The True Story of a Hockey RockStar, and Wings pro scout Mark Howe worked with Jay Greenberg on his memoir, Gordie Howe's Son: A Hall of Fame Life Lived in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey--which Mark is signing at the Wings' prospect tournament this Saturday...
But the Free Press's Gene Myers reports that Mr. Hockey: My Story claims to be written by none other than Gordie Howe himself, and I can't find anything online to suggest that this book was written by anyone other than Howe. That seems a little strange given that Howe is battling steadily advancing dementia, and Myers thought it odd that Howe was listed as the only author as well, though he may have found a hint asto who helped Howe transcribe his tales in the book's "afterword"
Updated 2x at 8:08 PM: As Paul noted, the Free Press's Helene St. James reported that the Red Wings and Danny DeKeyser's camp are still having difficulty finding common ground on contract terms, yielding the possibility that DeKeyser may not head to Traverse City, and a little later this afternoon, MLive's Ansar Khan offered an update on the situation:
"We had a number of productive talks until a couple of weeks ago," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told M-Live. "It's gone quiet the last couple of weeks. It's gotten to a point where it's difficult because there aren't many comparables."
Holland added, "At this stage of the game, everybody is still hopeful and optimistic we can find a solution. Sometimes you need to take some time and have another go at it.
"It's important to get a deal done that's fair for the player and fair for the club. Hopefully it can get done before camp."
Khan, believes that DeKeyser's very limited NHL experience and the Wings' contract to Kyle Quincey muddy the waters--Khan also reveals that DeKeyser and Quincey are represented by Pat Morris--but Khan believes that a deal will get done, if only at the last minute (and I believe the same thing; DeKeyser will re-sign before camp, but it might be a day-the-Wings-depart deal).
Khan's second updat involves a St. James-reported story, this time about Daniel Alfredsson, and Khan reports that it sounds more and more like Alfredsson will end up going to training camp on a pro try-out due to lingering back pain:
Updated at 6:59 PM: via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Alfredsson “felt a little bit of a tweak,” last week, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press on Wednesday. Alfredsson has held off on re-signing with the Wings pending assessment of back pain that comes and goes. He’d been skating daily with the Wings for about a week until the reoccurrence of pain. A decision was made to stop skating until Alfredsson feels better.
This latest flare-up - coming after a long off-season tending to his back - doesn’t bode well for playing another season. Holland called the pain “nothing major” but Alfredsson, 41, has said he doesn’t want to play unless he feels he can be a contributor. He was tied for the team lead in scoring last season with 49 points in 68 games. The Wings are hoping to have him back, as he provided regular scoring and invaluable leadership.
“It’s possible he comes to camp without a contract,” Holland said. “We’ll see what happens over the next week.”
Update: Here's more from MLive's Ansar Khan...
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
A week before training camp is to begin, the Detroit Red Wings and defenseman Danny DeKeyser remain at contractual odds.
DeKeyser is a restricted free agent. Two months' worth of lobbying ideas back and forth between his camp and the Wings have so far yielded agreement on precisely one point: That the new contract won't only be for one year.
That, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press on Wednesday, was an idea DeKeyser's side declined to consider last month.
The financial chasm on a two-year deal remains significant enough that when asked if DeKeyser will be on the ice in Traverse City Sept. 19 for the first day of camp, Holland responded, "I've no idea. It takes two to make a deal."
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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.