The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that the Griffins are down to the short strokes in terms of determining their next coach, and two of the three final candidates' names aren't surprising in the least:
Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde and former interim Edmonton Oilers coach Todd Nelson are on a final list of candidates to take over as coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Both are among "two or three" candidates that may be further contacted this week, Ryan Martin, Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager, said in a text Monday.
As for a timeline to replace Jeff Blashill, Martin was hopeful it would be completed and announced this week. Blashill was officially announced June 9 to coach the Red Wings after three seasons with the Griffins.
The Red Wings' front office, which is in charge of selecting the new coach for the AHL team, planned to interview six candidates. They began the interview process three weeks ago when it became apparent Blashill would succeed Mike Babcock in Detroit. Lalonde was interviewed during that period. Nelson, meanwhile, interviewed Thursday.
Other names linked to the position have been Griffins assistant coach Pat Ferschweiler, Erie Otters' Kris Knoblauch and former Boston Bruins coach and recent Vancouver Canucks assistant Mike Sullivan.
This still qualifies as a "report," but in addition to the very-reliable "Mr. Madhawk"/Johan Svensson of Kvalsposten, Aftonbladet and Expressen point us toward a report from Norran, the newspaper that covers Skelleftea AIK, in which Adam Savonen reports that Axel Holmstrom's signed an entry-level contract with the Wings:
Axel Holmstrom has signed with Detroit.
According to information provided to Norran's blog, he's signed with the NHL team. Holmstrom was a huge success during this year's SHL final and now everything should be signed according to a very reliable source.
Detroit scout Hakan Andersson previously made it clear that Detroit doesn't plan on bringing Holmstrom over [to North America] this upcoming season. The super talent, born in 1996, will probably play next season for AIK.l
Two NHL contracts have been signed [by Skelleftea players] today, and they might not be the last ones.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"We're probably in a better position to explore trades than we were at any point in time because of the depth of our organization," Holland said. "But I don't want anyone to think 'They're making trades' because the trades have got to make sense."
When the Red Wings' management and scouting staff gathers for their annual pro scouting meetings this week they'll discuss trade and free-agent possibilities while formulating an off-season plan.
The Red Wings could use a top-four defenseman, preferably an offensive type who shoots right. They need someone to fill the second-line center spot, either from within the organization or outside. They would like to add a decent-sized winger with scoring ability.
Free-agent possibilities include defensemen Mike Green (Washington) and Cody Franson (Nashville). Big, two-way center Carl Soderberg (Boston) and decent-sized winger Matt Beleskey (Anaheim), who emerged this season as a goal-scorer, are among the forwards scheduled to hit the market on July 1.
"July 1, 2015 is different than July 1, 2003; teams are locking up their best players," Holland said. "We've all spent 10 years in a cap world. Those players that are free on July 1, they're support players."
Of Red Wings-related note this evening/morning:
1. According to the usually-reputable "Mr. Madhawk" of Kvallsposten, the Red Wings will probably sign Axel Holmstrom to an entry-level contract before the June 15th deadline to sign players without incurring a several-hundred-thousand-dollar penalty to the IIHF kicks in, and Holmstrom will be then lent to his SHL team, Skelleftea AIK, for the following season;
2. MLive's Ansar Khan updated the Red Wings' assistant coaching search earlier this afternoon, and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirmed Khan's report regarding Tony Granato and Chris Chelios's respective statuses...
Given all the hubbub about Anthony Mantha and his either trade-worthy or non-trade-worthy status, MLive's Ansar Khan asked Ken Holland whether Sportsnet's Damien Cox's report of the Wings' willingness to move Mantha and/or the team's first-round draft pick in some sort of trade was accurate. Here's what Holland told Khan:
Damien Cox of Sportsnet.ca tweeted on Saturday "At deadline (Detroit) unwilling to move either first round pick or prospect Anthony Mantha. Now willing to deal either or both."
Holland said on Sunday, "I don't think 'willing' is the right word. We've got some people I would consider untouchable, both on the Detroit Red Wings and within the organization. In order to explore what's out there we got to be able to consider parting with some people. I'm not going to tell you where Mantha fits in with that until we explore the trade market."
Mantha's status is sure to be a major topic during the Red Wings' annual pro scouting meetings Tuesday through Thursday at Joe Louis Arena, as the front office and scouts gather to analyze players in the organization and possible acquisitions.
Khan puts Mantha's status bluntly--and accurately, in the case of Cox's belief that the Wings might be willing to give the Maple Leafs Mantha, Smith and Stephen Weiss for one Dion Phaneuf:
The Red Wings are patient with their top prospects. They certainly haven't given up on Mantha after three-quarters of a season in the AHL. But if the right deal were proposed – for a potentially elite defenseman or a top-six forward who could help immediately – they would consider it.
Toronto wanted Mantha at the trade deadline as part of a proposed deal for defenseman Dion Phaneuf but the Red Wings refused. Talks might be revisited over the next couple of weeks, but it seems unlikely Detroit would include Mantha in a deal for a 30-year old who's seen better days.
I don't believe that the Wings would give the Leafs what they were asking for for Phaneuf simply because it's the off-season now.
The Free Press's Helene St. James is more willing to use Mantha's status as a rhretorical question:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"Tony Granato is the top priority because he's been on the staff," Holland said on Sunday. "He meets the resume that Jeff Blashill would like to add to the staff. Jeff Blashill would like someone who has a lot of coaching and playing experience in the NHL, someone who's been a head coach."
Granato declined his option for next season, a carryover from his contract as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is seeking a multi-year extension. Holland said they have had "good conversations."...
Holland said he would like to reveal the entire staff at the same time, not in piecemeal.
Holland said he'll talk this week with Chris Chelios, who's been an advisor to hockey operations since he retired in 2010 and might be seeking a full-time assistant coaching position. He has worked with Blashill the past couple of years, periodically going to Grand Rapids.
Chelios, however, lacks coaching experience and the Red Wings, with a first-year NHL head coach, might be seeking a more experienced staff.
"A lot of people have reached out to me, people who have been in the industry," Holland said. "I told everybody I'll see where things go early in the week with Tony Granato."
The Free Press's Helene St. James penned a column that I can only describe as...unique...in suggesting that the Wings will probably lean upon organizational depth to seek "improvement from within," but she does so after thoroughly exhausting the options the Wings have to sign free agents or make trades to alter the team's make-up:
Take [Johan] Franzen out of the lineup, and the Wings need size up front all the more. One free agent the Wings are expected to pursue is Windsor-native Matt Beleskey, a 27-year-old, 6-foot, 204-pound forward coming off a career-high 22-goal season with Anaheim. Even when he isn't scoring, Beleskey is still effective, and he would add size. The problem is 20 other teams will go after him, too, as he is one of the few attractive names available this summer. Another possibility is Joel Ward, who tops 6-1 and 220 pounds, shoots right and goes to the net.
On the back end, the Wings lack what the two teams in the Stanley Cup finals each have in Chicago's Duncan Keith and Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman: A superstar. There isn't one available via free agency. The Wings could look at someone such as Mike Green, who has put up good numbers with Washington, but he is going to want $6 million a year for five or six years, which is risky.
Sportsnet's Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman were in fine form during the final installment of Hockey Night in Canada Headlines on Saturday evening, discussing the following topics:
Friedman also stated that the Flames were being "very aggressive" in terms of working the phones, but wouldn't make any moves that prohibit them from re-signing Mark Giordano, Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan long-term, but might consider moving Jiri Hudler (if it's worth their while), that the Avalanche were entertaining offers--emphasis on entertaining offers--for Ryan O'Reilly, and that the lack of a GM in Toronto would mean that Brendan Shanahan, Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas would be making possible pre-or-during-draft trades as a managerial team.
As a representative of the Red Wings blogging community, I could see the Wings move their 1st round draft pick in some sort of trade, but I find the Mantha comments to be far too convenient given that Cox penned a Toronto Star column in which he wondered aloud whether the Red Wings would be "willing to give up futures" necessary to revisit and consummate the Dion Phaneuf trade (among other prospective Leaf trades) less than 24 hours ago.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The Wings could opt to buy out Weiss this summer, but the cost would be significant, term-wise, as buyouts are stretched out over twice the term left on the player's contract. In the case of Weiss, it would mean six years of dead money against the salary cap, at respective rates of approximately $1 million, $1 million, $2.5 million, and then three successive years of $1.67 million. Weiss would be paid $1.67 million each of those years.
A better option would be to give Weiss another season, under a new coach in Jeff Blashill. Put Weiss back at center, where he's clearly better suited. He put up good points in Florida on terrible teams; he knows something about being productive. If he disappoints again, then take the buyout route next summer, when the penalty would be reduced to a four-year span.
The Free Press's Helene St. James provides an update on the Grand Rapids Griffins' coaching search, reporting that Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin's met all six candidates in the running for the job:
Among the first to be interviewed was Derek Lalonde, who heads Detroit's ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye. He coached the Walleye to the conference finals this spring. Like Blashill, Lalonde is a former Ferris State assistant. He joined the Walleye last summer after three seasons as head coach and general manager of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers.
Todd Nelson, who has experience as an assistant with the Griffins, also has interviewed with Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin, who is in charge of the Griffins. Nelson, a former player, most recently was interim coach of the Edmonton Oilers. He was an assistant with the Griffins in 2002-03 before going to the Muskegon Fury, where he coached that team to two UHL titles. He was an assistant with the Chicago Wolves when they won the Calder Cup in 2008.
St. James continues and reports that the Wings will meet with Chris Chelios regarding a possible coaching position next week...
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