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Can teams effectively ‘try out’ potential draft picks?

I’ve never heard of this before and I’m wondering if anyone knows whether another team’s done this before. The Canadian Press reports that the Ottawa Senators, who own the sixth overall pick in the first round of the NHL’s Entry Draft, brought a trio of prospects to their practice facility to essentially give on-ice try-outs to players who don’t belong to any NHL team as of yet (nor have they, in most cases, skated since March):

Three of the headliners in the NHL Entry Draft class of 2011 worked out for the Senators on Monday, and for one, in particular, the stage was much appreciated.

“It fun to have this kind of attention, you don’t have it back home. I’ll try to enjoy it as much as possible. I hope I get used to this,” said Mika Zibanejad, the second-rated European skater according to Central Scouting.

Joining the budding Swedish star were centres Sean Couturier and Ryan Strome.

“It felt good. It’s been my first time (skating) since I’m done playing,” said Couturier, ranked sixth among North American skaters after scoring 36 goals and 60 assists with Drummondville of the QMJHL last season. “I’m happy to be out there and just enjoying the time with the Ottawa Senators.”

Continued with video on TSN, and the Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan reports that the Senators will wine, dine and give Senators practice jerseys to Gabriel Landeskog and Jonathan Huberdeau on Tuesday…

[Edit/update: I don’t mean for my tone to sound standoffish…I think the Senators are doing something incredibly clever, and I’m guessing that more teams will follow their lead next season.]

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Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom named a finalist for the Messier Leadership Award

Pretty cool news from NHL.com and RedWingsFeed on Twitter:

Before stepping on the ice for a virtual must-win Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was named as one of three finalists for the NHL Mark Messier Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone. Messier made the announcement, adding Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings to his short, esteemed list.

The award recognizes players who are “superior leaders” on the ice, with teammates and in their communities. Messier, who makes the final call on the three nominees, looks to team and League officials for suggested nominees plus a list compiled by fans voting on NHL.com during the regular season.

“Zdeno is the true leader of the Boston Bruins,” said Messier. “More importantly is his charity off the ice.”

Messier said he was impressed with Doan’s leadership, especially “if you look at the situation the last two years in Phoenix and the team made the playoffs both times.” The former Cup winner with Edmonton and the New York Rangers added that he has “been looking at Nick for a long time…he filled big shoes when Stevie Yzerman left [the Wings] and nobody talked about lack of leadership despite Stevie Y leaving.”

The winner be announced June 22 during the 2011 NHL Awards at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas that will be broadcast on Versus in U.S. and CBC in Canada[.]

Update: Here’s the press release regarding the finalists from the NHL:

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Red Wings ISP issues report: Babcock ‘selling’ MacLean? On realignment and other tidbits

No internet service and no TV make George something something…So my apologies for the delayed “overnight” report. We’ll kick off this little round-up of Red Wings-related news from the last 16 hours with an eyebrow-raiser from the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, who suggests that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s encouraging a scenario in which he’d have to replace both assistant coaches:

Saw Sportsnet’s Ian Mendes in Vancouver last Tuesday and asked him who he thought would get the coaching job in Ottawa. He said, “Paul MacLean.” Think Ian’s nailed this one. And, just like Mike Babcock helped sell Guy Boucher to Steve Yzerman, he’s selling MacLean to his old boss, Bryan Murray.

At this point, educated guesswork would point the Wings’ coaching search toward Bob Boughner (if he’s interested) and probably promotion from within, with video coach Keith McKittrick in the running for a job as he does quite a bit of on-ice work. I’m not sure if the Wings would consider promoting Jiri Fischer, Griffins coach Curt Fraser or Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek given how superbly they guide the Wings’ prospects toward the NHL.

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Red Wings overnight report: Paul MacLean may be heading to Ottawa

One generally should take comments regarding possible player personnel moves by the Ottawa Senators, as suggested by one Bruce Garrioch, with a wee bit of salt (a fifty-pound bag of rock salt is a good start), but both Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan believe that, despite Senators owner Eugene Melnyk’s desire to promote Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors coach Dave Cameron to Ottawa’s NHL job (Melnyk owns St. Mike’s), Bryan Murray will ultimately choose Red Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean as the Ottawa Senators’ next coach:

Even if Murray likes Cameron best, hiring him will look like he’s only following the owner’s orders. And if he doesn’t think Cameron is the best candidate — which is more likely the case — Murray says no to the guy who gave him a three-year extension a couple of months ago? He’ll do it, but it’s not a situation he should have been put in.

Along with Cameron and [Binghamton Senators coach Kurt] Kleinendorst, the list of candidates includes Paul MacLean, Kirk Muller, Craig MacTavish and Gerard Gallant.

The guess here, at this moment, is that it will be MacLean, the longtime assistant of Detroit’s Mike Babcock, Murray’s proudest hiring. No doubt Murray talked to Babcock about MacLean, who would have been highly recommended by his current boss.

I’m just guessing, too, but given that Murray was subtle as a brick as the Red Wings’ general manager in the early 90’s, remained the same when he hired Babcock and MacLean when Murray helmed the Mighty Ducks, and keeps Garrioch in business because he’s all too willing to surrender leverage by publicly stating that he’s talking trade turkey and/or wants to or doesn’t want to re-sign certain players…MacLean’s a pretty safe bet.


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LeBrun on realignment, Crosby, the Stars’ coaching search, ‘blue ribbon’ panels and Richards

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun spoke about several particularly notable topics during Saturday night’s Satellite Hotstove on Hockey Night in Canada (you can watch the clip, which will probably be followed by a column from the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis in the near future, here), including possible expansion of the blind-side hitting rule, the Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators’ coaching searches (LeBrun says that Bob Boughner interviewed with the Sens), the fact that at least some NHL types are considering dropping down to two conferences when the whole relocation/realignment talk comes up next year, and he also refutes a doofy report about Sidney Crosby’s status (he’s still on track to return), but this comment merits posting in the Malik Report:

We updated the Brad Richards’ situation on Thursday. Some further notes on the matter: While the whole world knows the New York Rangers will be in the mix for him, we’re told the Blueshirts also have interest in Florida’s Stephen Weiss should the money and terms to get Richards get out of hand. In other words, Weiss would be an appealing Plan B.

The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, are an intriguing team that has some interest in Richards, but only for a short-term and cap-friendly deal. The pitch from Detroit would be to come and win a Cup. Richards will certainly be fielding more lucrative offers in terms of term and money. Expect the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs, among other teams, to be in the mix.

Continued, and I know it’s “intriguing,” but given that the Wings look like a team that, as of this evening, anyway, may have to replace both Brian Rafalski and Jonathan Ericsson, I don’t see a logical fit with the Wings.

Edit/update: Via a conversation on Twitter, the obvious: the Red Wings are a team whose blueprint is all about building from the blueline out, using puck-moving defensemen as the foundation for their offensive machine. Signing Richards would create a hole in the roster to fill a gap that doesn’t exist, and it would fundamentally betray the Holland/Nill blueprint. I don’t see how it makes any sense. It’s an “intriguing story,” but that’s it.

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‘The other guys’ wait on their Red Wings futures

So we know, per the Free Press’s George Sipple, that as the Red Wings’ front office has returned from the scouting combine in Toronto, Ken Holland will get down to the business of negotiating contracts for the unrestricted free agents whose services he wishes to retain, and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan provides us with a late-Saturday-early-Sunday column analyzing the comments made by said free agents regarding their futures, painting the team’s grinders and support players in a sympathetic light.

While it appears to be a 50-50 proposition as to whether the Wings can afford to retain Jonathan Ericsson’s services, especially after the Blues’ silly-money re-signing of Roman Polak, Ericsson would prefer to return to the Wings...

“There are options,” said Ericsson, when the team split for the summer after losing in the playoffs to the San Jose Sharks. “But I really like it here.”

As do two all-but-slam-dunk re-signings in Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves…

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‘Lower-body injuries’ gone wild

Now when Ken Holland proposed that the NHL allow teams to disclose injuries as “upper and lower-body” ones, the intent was to protect players during the playoffs and allow teams to use their better judgment during the final few weeks of the regular season. It had nothing to do with teams telling reporters that somebody was suffering from a “lower-body” injury during training camp, nor to encourage teams to engage in obfuscation of the first order all year long. The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell believes that the policy should be revisited, and for once, I agree with him. I think it needs to be restricted to the playoffs and those last few weeks of the regular season, and then teams should have to at least be marginally honest when it comes to somebody having a sprained wrist when it’s actually his knee:

All the [Canucks’] secrecy led to the longstanding debate about whether the NHL should disclose injuries. [Canucks coach Alain] Vigneault maintained he would do whatever is allowed to protect his players and not give his opponent any kind of edge. The media certainly has an appetite for knowing who is hurt, who is healthy and how long players will be out, but does it make a difference to the fans?

Feel free to debate that among yourselves.

It was brought up that the National Football League, the most successful league in the world, has a policy of providing detailed injury reports by the Thursday before the game. That’s largely to appease the enormous gambling population that exist in the NFL, something that is virtually non-existent in hockey.

Actually, according to former NHL Players’ Association executive director Bob Goodenow, the story of how the NFL began disclosing injuries is an interesting one. He once told me that it all began in 1987 when the NFL players went on strike and the league responded by using replacement players. Knowing there would be little interest from a competitive standpoint, the league implored the powers that be in Las Vegas to run a betting line, thereby creating interest at least among those who put money down on games. Vegas complied, according to Goodenow, but in exchange the league had to begin disclosing injuries. If that is indeed the case, don’t expect hockey’s longstanding policy of secrecy to change anytime soon.

It’s not as if there’s big betting on hockey, legally, anyway, in the U.S., but Pro Line’s huge in Canada…

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Touching base with the Red Wings’ future; MacLean future to be decided shortly

The Detroit Red Wings tend to do their homework and then some before the NHL Entry Draft, and the Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple reports that the Wings ended up interviewing 28 potential prospects at the draft combine this past week in Toronto…

“The guys we’re interviewing are probably going mid- to late-round and they might go early- to mid-second round,” [Red Wings assistant GM Jim] Nill said.

Nill said none of the players interviewed took themselves out of consideration with their responses.

“Of the 28 we interviewed, they are among the best in the world,” Nill said. “These guys have all, the last five years of their life, gone all over the world and lived on their own since they were 14 or 15. It’s amazing how mature they are now.”

And Nill tells Sipple that while the Wings have yet to make any serious progress in terms of re-signing unrestricted free agents-to-be, Ken Holland’s working on the big club’s roster and Nill’s ready to work on tweaking the Grand Rapids Griffins’ personnel:

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Red Wings tidbits and prospect talk

Of Red Wings-related note this sticky Saturday afternoon:

The Red Wings attempted to trade Kyle Quincey’s rights before waiving him at the start of the 2008-2009 season, but were unable to complete a deal with the Dallas Stars once it was revealed that Quincey had a herniated disc in his back which would eventually require surgery. As we prepare to watch the second game of the Bruins-Canucks series, the CBC’s Cup Final blogger reveals that the Boston Bruins wanted to snag Quincey on waivers, but lost out to the LA Kings:

The Bruins traded [Andrew] Alberts to Philadelphia on Oct. 13, 2008, for Ned Lukacevic and a 2009 fourth-round pick. Part of the reason the Bruins traded Alberts was to open a roster spot. Kyle Quincey had been placed on waivers by Detroit a day earlier, and the Bruins were hoping to submit a claim. But Los Angeles nabbed Quincey off waivers.


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Red Wings overnight duality: A wonderful Gordie Howe story and worrisome labor talk

The Red Wings news seems to have reached an ebb with the Wings’ brass and amateur scouts occupied at the NHL’s draft combine in Toronto, but between the Stanley Cup Final cranking up with what might be the last Satellite Hotstove on Hockey Night in Canada and a Sunday’s worth of rumors and innuendo, things will crank up again as Ken Holland gets back to business working on contracts for the Wings’ free agents-to-be and tries to find out the status of Nicklas Lidstrom’s playing future ahead of the team’s organizational meetings in a little over a week from now.

In other words, welcome to the first intermission of the spring/summer. The last few days, Nicklas Lidstrom’s no-comment aside, have been relatively quiet, but it’s gonna get “interesting” real fast, and while there will be some lulls here and there, I don’t expect things to really “get quiet” until the middle of July, my hopes for a little excursion to prospect camp included…

So the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa delivers a really wonderful story about a family which chose to donate Gordie Howe’s 700th goal puck to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the “good news” portion of this entry:

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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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