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The Malik Report

Ken Holland reaffirms Red Wings’ free agent-retaining strategy, may offer MacDonald back-up job

MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms that Red Wings GM Ken Holland plans on getting down to the nitty-gritty of attempting to retain his unrestricted free agents over the next few days…

“We’ll have conversations with (some) free agents, see what they’re thinking,” Holland said.

[Patrick] Eaves and [Drew] Miller, both 27, are valuable third/fourth-line players, two of their top penalty-killing forwards. Eaves had 13 goals and 20 points in 63 games. Miller had 10 goals and 18 points in 67 games. Eaves made $750,000 this past season, Miller earned $650,000.

[Jonathan] Ericsson, 27, showed some improvement this season (three goals, 15 points, plus-8 rating in 74 games) but hasn’t progressed as quickly as many anticipated after a strong playoff showing in 2009. He earned $1.25 million this season and was offered a deal worth $2 million a year.

As the Free Press’s Helene St. James suggested, bringing Ericsson back is no sure thing, but Eaves and Miller seem likely to return...

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Red Wings overnight report: free agent talk, the Chairman’s speech, Shanahan muted and action Jimmy

This overnight report will be a little different than the usual, “I post stuff, start the discussion and step back” format because, well, because, so let’s start with a review of the biggest news posted during the evening (which you may have missed):

First and foremost, the Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that Red Wings GM Ken Holland is talking contract turkey with Jonathan Ericsson’s agent, which is good from the, “It would really (stink) if the Wings had to replace Ericsson, Lidstrom and Rafalski at the same time” standpoint, but is not so good if your nickname for Ericsson includes a four-letter word;

Second, and perhaps more intriguingly, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose at least dropped a strong hint that the Wings plan on retaining the services of both Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller. Those players’ deals won’t be too hard to hammer out, and any positive, “We’re gonna keep ‘em” news is good news.

After the jump, however, we’re going to talk about one Chairman Mao’s state-of-the-game speech, which involves the topic that’s been reduced to pulp over the last two weeks—the Wings’ chances of moving to the Eastern Conference for the 2012-2013 season:

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Big E on the move? Red Wings GM Ken Holland, Jonathan Ericsson’s agent play contract poker

We at least got a very strong sign, via DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, that the Red Wings are inclined to retain the services of Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, which shouldn’t be particularly difficult, but the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that, despite his desire to remain a member of the organization, retaining Jonathan Ericsson’s services will be a stickier wicket for Red Wings GM Ken Holland:

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland met with the agent for defenseman Jonathan Ericsson while attending the NHL combine in Toronto on Wednesday. Holland said talks with Craig Oster went well, describing them as “a step in a long process. We’ll talk again, but negotiating a contract takes time.”

The Wings are interested in signing Ericsson, 27, to a multiyear deal. He rejected a multiyear deal offered around Christmas, and might decide to keep talks on a backburner with the Wings until July 1. Unrestricted free-agent defensemen tend to get juicy offers (Toronto gave Brett Lebda two years and $2.9 million last summer), and Ericsson is seeking a raise from the $1.25 million he made this past season.

The Wings have Ericsson slotted as a third-pairing defenseman, so they’re not going to break the bank to keep him. The defense is a bit murky right now because Nicklas Lidstrom hasn’t announced whether he’ll return or retire and Brian Rafalski retired last week, but replacing Rafalski—and possibly Lidstrom—will be addressed via free agency.

Continued, and my best educated guess is that Lidstrom returns, but Ericsson’s probably a 50-50 proposition. If he leaves, obviously, the Wings will either swing Brendan Smith into the lineup and use Kindl as their #4 guy or they’ll simply pluck a free agent from the bargain bin, but I don’t see the Wings giving up on Ericsson’s size easily.

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Red Wings’ website drops a strong hint about Eaves, Miller’s returns

Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, it sounds like Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller won’t be heading anywhere:

General manager Ken Holland indicated last week that he would like to retain both role-playing forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller. Each player has spent the last two seasons with the Red Wings on one-year contracts, and both are eligible to be free agents on July 1. Eaves, who had 25 goals and 17 assists in the last two seasons, told DetroitRedWings.com this month that he would like to return for a third season with the Wings.

“I really like it here,” said Eaves, 27. “I’ve enjoyed playing with all of the guys here, so now comes the not-fun part.”

In the past, the Wings’ front office has likens Eaves to a Danny Cleary or Mikael Samuelsson, talented forwards who have played for a few different teams before finding a fit in Detroit’s system. Before players began to head home for the summer, Eaves, who made $750,000 last season, said the uncertainty of where he’ll play in the fall isn’t pleasant.

“I don’t like the business part,” said Eaves, who tied for third on the Wings with three goals in the playoffs. “In the end, it is a business, but that’s why I have an agent and he does all of that stuff. He’s great.”

Read: he’ll be back. Soon. Then Miller will follow, and Ericsson might not be far behind.

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Point-counterpoint regarding the Red Wings’ veteran and/or youth movement

Consider this to be the first entry of probably more than a couple in which I’ll incorporate reader commentary into the equation. The Detroit Free Press’s Jamie Samuelssen believes that the Red Wings might be best served by bringing Chris Osgood and Kris Draper back for one more season, possible ramifications in terms of losing Cory Emmerton to waivers included…

This will be an interesting summer for Osgood and Draper. Both have been supplanted in their traditional roles. Both still want to play. And both still want to play here. Draper pointed out after the season that the only downside to a long career in one city is that it makes moving on much more difficult. It’s one thing if you’re single and in your 20s. But when you have a family and you’re in your 40s, a one-year stint with the Phoenix Coyotes or Buffalo Sabres might not look as attractive. Translation: He’d stay in Detroit if the price was right. And the “right price” is anything the Wings are willing to give him.

Some fans think this is a negative. Some think the Wings have gotten too old and stale and hold on to their veterans too long. I disagree.

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NHLPA’s Beard-a-Thon raises $100K for Heart and Stroke Foundation

Plain old cool news from the NHLPA:

With just one round of the playoffs remaining, the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) are pleased to announce that the NHLPA Beard-a-thon has raised over $100,000 so far. The money raised goes towards the Foundation purchasing Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for local hockey arenas and communities across Canada.           

This year’s Stanley Cup Final is well represented with five participating NHL players growing playoff beards in support of this great cause. Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks is leading the way among all beard growers for total dollars raised with over $4,500 raised, while teammates Dan Hamhuis, Mason Raymond and Jeff Tambellini are also participating and have been receiving great support. Meanwhile, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins has raised over $2,900 and is third among all beard growers for dollars raised.

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Red Wings mid-day news: Shanahan’s shift, a 2/3rds realignment majority and other tidbits

As Paul already posted, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the NHL might shift its most innovative hockey mind, former Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan, into Colin Campbell’s office:

NHL senior vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell is stepping away from his role as head of NHL discipline. He had held the discipline role for the league since July of 1998. Campbell will remain a key component in Hockey Operations and as such will continue to oversee such events as future general managers meetings.

Sources tell TSN Brendan Shanahan will likely take over, but there could be somewhat of an overhaul of how supplemental discipline is handled.

Shanahan’s role has continually evolved with the league. He is currently working as the NHL’s point person in dealing with equipment changes in conjunction with Mathieu Schneider and the NHLPA and is the lead man in organizing the league’s Research and Development camps.

This news is mildly surprising but not a total shock given Shanahan’s apprenticeship as the league’s “VP of hockey and business development” under Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and the rest of the hockey operations department, and that’s where the move worries me—Shanahan’s spearheaded the R&D camp and is progressively working with Schneider to improve player safety, and shifting him to a disciplinary role might shuffle Shanahan off to the land of late-night lobbying and back-room deal-making.

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If Wayne Gretzky could return to hockey, he’d play like the Red Wings’ ‘Eurotwins’

According to Fox Sports Detroit, Wayne Gretzky offered an interesting answer to Fox Sports’ Dan Patrick when asked the following question:

Wayne Gretzky is a big fan of the Detroit Red Wings’ Euro Twins. In fact, if he could come back to the game as one of its current stars—Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin excluded—Gretzky says it would be as either Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk.

“The two guys I love, and you can pick the guy you want, but I love Zetterberg and I love Datsyuk,” Gretzky said in response to the “Second Coming” question posed by Dan Patrick on his TV/radio show (as seen on FOX Sports Detroit) Wednesday morning. “I think they play hard, they play properly, they’re unselfish, they’re winners, and they play the game with a great deal of work ethic. I don’t care how good you are as an athlete, I really admire the superstars, the talented guys who really work hard, and the guys who go every night and push themselves to another level.”

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Red Wings overnight report: personnel updates, Nick playing poker, Axelsson’s mentor and other stuff

Okey dokey, as Tuesday met the Red Wings’ average in terms of personnel news and a near regular-season level of talk (we might have a slow day here and there, but from here till after prospect camp in the middle of July—more on that later—things will remain pretty darn busy), let’s review the news of note:

• The Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James reported that Chris Osgood and Kris Draper’s futures with the team won’t be determined until Ken Holland and the rest of the Wings’ front office, coach Mike Babcock and the pro and amateur scouts meet on June 14th and 15th to hone their master plan for the entry draft and free agency. These meetings will probably also determine whether the Wings re-sign Jonathan Ericsson, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, and whether the team plans on trading a forward (Jiri Hudler?) to make cap space to add what Babcock wants in a top-six forward;

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Wings assistant Paul MacLean lands his first interview in attempt to find a head coach’s position

The Free Press’s Helene St. James reported that the Red Wings plan on both waiting until the team’s organizational meetings take place in the middiel of June to decide whether to bring Chris Osgood and Kris Draper back, and the team will also wait until after their remaining assistant coach, Paul MacLean, makes his circuit of NHL teams in an attempt to land a head coaching job before the team goes looking for Brad McCrimmon and possibly MacLean’s replacements…

And this morning, MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that MacLean’s going to speak to Bryan Murray about the Ottawa Senators’ coaching vacancy:

Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean has interviewed for the Ottawa Senators head coaching position, a league source said.

MacLean, whose contract expired at the end of the season, has been offered an extension by the Red Wings. He will first seek an NHL head coaching job.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray was the GM in Anaheim when he hired MacLean as an assistant coach in 2002 under head coach Mike Babcock.

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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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