Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

A wee bit of off-day Red Wings trade talk

As we and the Red Wings still stew over last night’s 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames and the media continues to discuss Jimmy Howard’s beef with goalie-running and/or Niklas Kronwall’s non-suspension for a hit with still drew the ire of both Ryan Kesler and Canucks GM Mike Gillis, who insisted that Kesler had to do nothing less than try to fight Kronwall in retaliation…

Two comments regarding the Wings’ possible deficiencies popped up, starting with a ramble/reminisce from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun about the Canucks’ “puck luck” and Detroit’s subsequent loss in Calgary...

I mentioned this on air at TSN here in Canada on Thursday night, but Terry Gregson, the NHL’s director of officiating, told me that Alexander Edler’s goal Wednesday night against Detroit, upon further review, should not have counted. Gregson’s feeling is that Wings goalie Jimmy Howard did not have a chance to make a save after Jannik Hansen crashed into him.

Gregson discussed it with the on-ice officials from that game. In the end, Gregson (and I agree with him) said it should have been no penalty, no goal—just a faceoff. That’s little solace to the Wings, of course, since it doesn’t change the 4-2 score from that night. Even worse, Detroit followed that up with a 3-2 loss at Calgary last night with backup Ty Conklin in net. Conklin barely has played this season, and I don’t think head coach Mike Babcock has a whole lot of confidence in him. My suspicion is that GM Ken Holland might look at who’s out there closer to the Feb. 27 trade deadline to see if there’s an upgrade available.

And MLive’s Ansar Khan tends not to delve into discussion of potential roster changes, but he added an intriguing comment given the Wings’ $5-plus million of remaining cap space and their lack of size up front:

Scoring winger at top of list, most likely. But what (roster player, prospect, draft pick) will they give up?

Ken Holland tends not to make those kinds of trades, and I still believe that he’s going to act very conservatively at the trade deadline, first waiting to see how Ty Conklin shakes out and then determining whether the Wings have enough scoring depth and/or tenacity on defense, and, after Jan Mursak, Chris Conner and Patrick Eaves return, whether the Wings’ speed among their “bottom six” forwards allows their forecheckers to compensate for their lack of size in, say, a rematch in triplicate with the big-bodied forwards of the San Jose Sharks, but he’s not going to sit on his cap space for the sake of doing so if there are players available in February who can help the team.

I’m not a fan of rumor-mongering, but for discussion’s sake as opposed to dreaming up trades in which the Wings fleece their partners or adding the umpteenth, “I swear, that dude who charges money for people to read his rumors says the Wings want Alex Semin!” quip to the mix, I’m genuinely curious as to what elements you feel the Wings are lacking, and what kinds of players (as opposed to specific identities) you feel the Wings could or should add, even taking the presences of Joey MacDonald, Brendan Smith, Mike Commodore, Mursak, Conner, Eaves and Fabian Brunnstrom “waiting in the wings” into account?

And if you feel that the Wings should part with more than a draft pick to add the kind of player you’re looking for, which players would you deem expendable?

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Comments

SK77's avatar

At this point, who cares who the backup goalie is? If Jimmy ain’t starting and healthy throughout the playoffs then it’s pretty much a moot point, right?

Posted by SK77 on 12/23/11 at 05:05 PM ET

scottytooshotty's avatar

I might be smoking crack, but Doan is a UFA at then end of the season. I’ m guessing the Devils would want to much in return for a Parise rental.

Posted by scottytooshotty on 12/23/11 at 05:11 PM ET

scottytooshotty's avatar

“At this point, who cares who the backup goalie is? If Jimmy ain’t starting and healthy throughout the playoffs then it’s pretty much a moot point, right?

Posted by some kid on 12/23/11 at 03:05 PM ET


Theres the nightmare scenario of Jimmy getting injured. The Wings would not get out of the first round with Conks.

Posted by scottytooshotty on 12/23/11 at 05:15 PM ET

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I agree that Conklin has looked terrible, and also that if Howie gets hurt, we’re a bit screwed, but I somewhat wonder about Vokoun in Washington on his one year deal. If Washington doesn’t get themselves in playoff position, do you think he asks out?

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 12/23/11 at 05:18 PM ET

HockeyFanOhio's avatar

Only my opinion, but you always need a serviceable back-up goalie.  The starter will need to rest and if he gets hurt you still need someone in the net you can win with.  Don’t think the Wings have that now. 

As to who would they give up?  I’d say Ericsson but he’d be too much of a cap hit.  Commodore?

Posted by HockeyFanOhio from Central Ohio on 12/23/11 at 05:35 PM ET

Chris #19's avatar

As said on Twitter, great stuff George ! I always appreciate your articles but I like them even more when the week is coming to an end and I can take some more time to read them. Plus(even if it’s maybe not visible to english-speaking people grin I’m pretty sure my english is progressing since I got on your blog !

Can’t say much about this game as I just watched the last 15 minutes of it (and it was around 5am for me).

Chris #19

Posted by Chris #19 from Lausanne, Switzerland on 12/23/11 at 06:03 PM ET

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As an oilers fan I dont like the idea, but Hemsky is going to be available at the deadline and I could see Holland fleecing tambellini for him.

Posted by jason from calgary on 12/23/11 at 06:50 PM ET

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I might be smoking crack, too, and I expect to be admonished for saying this, but Kovalchuk hasn’t worked out in New Jersey. The Wings need another premier forward—they can’t go halfway—if only just to keep Lidstrom happy and thinking of another season, and NJ might need to get rid of this contract. All that said, it is a horrific contract to assume but…...

Posted by manitobaredwingfan on 12/23/11 at 07:15 PM ET

cainer4wingsglory's avatar

I’ m guessing the Devils would want to much in return for a Parise rental.

The Wings don’t rent players, they resign them. When’s the last time they traded for an impact player at the deadline and didn’t resign them??

Parise would cost a ton; likely a top prospect, a roster player, and a couple draft picks. Something like Tartar, Hudler, and a 1st & 2nd round pick. I say keep B. Smith and Nyquist off limits.

Not many players have Parise’s combination of skill and grit and I think if you get a chance to trade for him you don’t think twice…..

Posted by cainer4wingsglory on 12/23/11 at 07:47 PM ET

Crow's avatar

The wings need a top 6 forward that’s either physical or a proven scorer.  Doan would be a perfect fit for a physical playoff run. Parise would be a great fit too, but his trade price would be higher.  A veteran back-up goaltender would be nice, but I also believe that our hopes to win a cup depends on Howard.

Posted by Crow on 12/23/11 at 08:03 PM ET

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They need some punch to the top 9. I like the 3 C’s of almost identical players. Crombeen, Clarkson, and Cluterbuck. I could also see them taking a stab at Selanne and on defence, a guy like jackman would fit nicely

Posted by mike from Edmonton on 12/23/11 at 08:05 PM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

I’d really like to see how we look with two changes.

Commodore in, Ericsson to the bench, for one.

And a trade for a goal scoring winger…preferably right handed. (Bobby Ryan, Jerome Iginla, along those lines).

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 12/23/11 at 08:16 PM ET

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At this point, who cares who the backup goalie is? If Jimmy ain’t starting and healthy throughout the playoffs then it’s pretty much a moot point, right?

Without a competent back up to shoulder some of the load, Jimmy’s going to be burnt out before the playoffs even start.

THAT is why we care about who the backup goalie is.

Posted by Garth on 12/23/11 at 08:37 PM ET

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I didn’t mind hearing the rumour of Tuomo Ruuttu.  Hemsky may be good as well, but may amount to more of the same (slick, undersized winger who doesn’t shoot enough) - unless they could trade Hudler and a prospect for him - as this would amount to Hudler for Hemsky in the starting 12 - which would be a big upgrade (provided Hesmky could stay healthy).  Before anything on D, think right handed checking centre.  Move Abby back to the wing.  And, of course a an NHL claibre backup would be fantastic.

Posted by scott_hutch from Otawa on 12/23/11 at 08:38 PM ET

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I’d like to see them go and get Teemu Selanne. I know he’s older but he’s still damn productive and wouldn’t cost an arm and a let (I think has a no trade though)

Posted by Moocat on 12/23/11 at 08:39 PM ET

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As for trades, the top of my expendable list is Bertuzzi, but at the same time he probably has as little trade value as anyone on the team.

I’ve liked the way he has played of late with Z and Filppula, but I would be happy to put Hudler out there if it scores us a better top six forward.  And at this point, the one untouchable prospect I can think of is Brendan Smith.

As for draft picks, trade away any of them.  May as well get something in return instead of making a pick, develop him for five years and then lose him on waivers because you’ve got an abundance of bottom six forwards already under contract.

If it ends up with us landing the likes of a Parise or Ryan then I’m quite open to a lot of possibilities.

I also, if he can stay healthy, wouldn’t be against picking up Hemsky.

Posted by Garth on 12/23/11 at 08:42 PM ET

Chet's avatar

they need to play conklin a bit more over the next stretch and see what they really have in him. if he can’t get the job done, they need to upgrade. howard cannot play 70+ games and expect to be in top form for the playoffs.

as to forwards, NJ is currently a playoff team/right on the bubble, so whether they’d move parise may depend on if they think they can make the playoffs, and it’d be another brad richards situation like last year. he’s clearly the most tantalizing player, but i think the price is higher than hudler, a prospect, and picks. i’d love to see him in detroit for the next five years.

other than parise, there are a lot of reasonable players on bad teams with awful contracts. nash, carter, kovalchuk…all poison, though carter’s is probably the best of the bunch since it’s lower, he’s only 26, and he’d feel like the wings saved his career by trading for him.

i also wouldn’t rule out a guy like ryan malone if TB is out of the playoffs, who could possibly help if healthy, though he’s 32 and his deal isn’t very attractive either as i look at it. still, he’s underachieving this year in TB, they don’t look like a playoff team, and that deal lasts awhile, so maybe they’d unload him cheaply.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 12/23/11 at 08:55 PM ET

11B4PF7 in MN's avatar

What is the point of waiting until the trade deadline for a backup goalie?  Now seems like a pretty good time to make a deal for one.  Howard could definitely use more rest than what he is getting. 

The trade that must happen is for a top six forward with size.  In the past I also chimed in with my desire to see the Wings go for Doan.  I stand by that request.  I really don’t care if we give up Hudler, Tatar, a pick and throw in some other chump that we will lose on waivers in a few years anyway.  If something like that, or similar went through, that would leave Clearly on the third line where he excels.

The trade I would love to see would be E52 for Matt Greene of the Kings.  If we are going to slot E52 in the number five slot, then we may as well put a big bruiser in that slot.

Posted by 11B4PF7 in MN on 12/23/11 at 09:28 PM ET

11B4PF7 in MN's avatar

Posted by Garth on 12/23/11 at 06:42 PM ET

yep, my bad. I pretty much copied your general theme.  That’s what I get for not reading all of the posts until after I made mine.

Posted by 11B4PF7 in MN on 12/23/11 at 09:34 PM ET

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This may prove to be the last year with the greatest defenseman of the era. This is NOT a time for Holland to be conservative. He needs to bet the farm now because as soon as Lids retires the chances of a cup plummet no matter what. This team needs grit, someone to make the thortons and keslers think twice about the datsyuk cheap shots. Doan would be ideal, but even somebody like Travis Moen would make a big difference

That said, if wings win cup this year, lids 100% retires and next years HBO 24/7 would be that much less interesting…

Posted by Pat on 12/23/11 at 09:34 PM ET

DocF's avatar

The problem with all the proposed and realistically possible pickups (restricting the discussion to forwards) is that not a single one of them makes my thighs quiver.  As a matter of fact, none of them even cause a mild twitch.  I watch Ruutu a lot since I live in NC.  He is a third line player on the Wings at best and not even as good as Emmerton overall.  He looks good because the Hurricanes are so bad.  Semin is a head case who causes dissension.  I doubt Doan would allow a trade, unless he wanted a realistic shot at the Cup.  He would be a good addition to the third line, 

I sincerely believe that all the teams that will be dumping bodies at the trade deadline are going to want too much from the Wings.  The deal you want is a veteran who is expendable (Bertuzzi, Hudler, Helm ?) and a draft choice.  What these teams are going to want is a first rate veteran, a prospect or two and a couple of high draft choices.  I do not envy Ken Holland.

The Wings have two choices for a backup goalie.  Play Joey McDonald into shape and bring him up.  Trade for ..........................................................................................who?  The only available goalie that I would even give a quick look at is Turco and he is not as good as Ty Conklin at this time in his career.  Would Hasek come back as Howie’s backup? 

We can all shoulda, coulda, woulda this topic to death, but Ray Emery was an exciting thought.  He has turned out to be fairly good this year. 

Doc

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 12/24/11 at 12:01 AM ET

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There are a few considerations you have to make when even drawing up trades:

1st:  NMC/NTCs

Forwards ; Datsyuk, Bertuzzi, Homer and Cleary (But his is NOT in effect at 30 days to the trade deadline this year).  NOTE:  Franzen does not have an NMC/NTC, but with that contract, there is NO way the Wings are ever going to trade him, UNLESS he requests it.

D           ;  Lidstrom, Stuart and Ericsson (Modified NTC? WTH?)

2nd:  What players are going to be UFAs?

Homer, Bertuzzi, Hudler, Conner, Lidstrom, Stuart, and Commodore.

3rd:  What value do any of these have as a rental?

Excepting the Perfect Human, and Homer and Bert, the only players are Hudler and Stuart.  Stuart would waive his NTC to go to a West Coast team (IMO). 
I also think he would fetch some decent assets.  Hudler ain’t worth beans, (and therefore Uncle Mike should showcase him…but for god’s sake get him off the point on the PP!)

4th:  What is available on the market?  Possibly:  Parise, Weber or Suter, and then possibly others on teams selling at the deadline (Columbus, Anaheim, NY Isles, Carolina are FOUR sure Sellers). 
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But HERE WE GO…ARE YOU READY?
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If I were KH, I’d offer Stuart, Cleary, Hudler, Kindl and a pick or two, (I’d go as high as a #1) to the Ducks for Ryan and Selanne (OR a similar package to The Isles for Streit and Okposo).  Picks are valuable, but the Wings have a FULLY stocked farm club with two guys close to ready in Europe (Pulkinnen/Jarnkrok).  Plus Jensen in the NCAA, PLUS Smith PLUS DeKeyser.  I know that’s a bit much, but at least they took Hudler!  The Wings need to package their assets to get better pieces, they have a plethora of NHL ready talent.  They should probably trade Brunnstrom to somebody for a 5th-7th round pick.

Play Conklin five more games prior to the Deadline, and if he doesn’t improve, waive him and bring in JMac.  JMac isn’t a superstar, but he’s serviceable if there’s an injury. 

I doubt the Wings will be huge players in free agency this year, unless one of the big three (Parise, Weber or Suter)  are available.

Posted by BobaFett from Las Vegas on 12/24/11 at 12:18 AM ET

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Brunnstrom and Conklin for an exelent backup goalie there is no need to wait around and fall too far back from Chicago. We have enough depth and skilled players to handle the rest.

Posted by Ron S from Monroe , MI on 12/24/11 at 04:34 AM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

BobaFett - not trying to offend you, but do your research.

There is absolutely no way in hell Stuart or Kindl are going anywhere with Lidstrom’s pending retirement. I could see the point in us getting Bobby Ryan but Selanne? Why, so he can maybe help us win a cup then retire in the off season? For 4 players PLUS picks?! That’s a terrible trade offer.

And what makes you think the Wings WON’T be huge players in free agency this year? They will have more cap space to work than they have in the past decade and will definitely look to solidify their future D if Lidstrom hangs ‘em up.

Anyway…

I can’t see us breaking the bank at the deadline, unless it means bringing in a high profile player who will stick with us long term. We won’t look for rentals unless they are in the form of a back up goalie. Nabokov isn’t sticking around NYI, so I could see Garth moving him to get something (Hudler?) in return. I’ll reiterate my point about Vokoun possibly being available if the Caps aren’t looking to be contenders.

I’ll also say that the Commodore acquisition has been pointless (waive him) and if another team wants Ericsson and his contract, move him.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 12/24/11 at 04:57 AM ET

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I can absolutely see Holland making big(ish) deal at the deadline (or before).  If he doesn’t then honestly what was the point of not spending to the cap.

The only way I see Stuart being dealt is if Holland can’t reach a deal on an extension for him by the time the deadline comes up.

Also, any wish for a trade for Suter or Weber is a pipe dream.  Nashville is right behind us in the standings and even if they drop like a rock and miss the playoffs they’re not going to deal one of the best young defensemen in the league to Detroit.  Suter OR Weber.  If either of those guys ends up wearing the Winged Wheel next fall it will be through free agency (ie. Maybe we can get Suter, almost no way we get Weber).

I don’t know what his modified no trade entails but I would love to see Ericsson included in any deal and have Holland bring Brendan Smith up to rotate in with Commodore (would still love to see what Commie can do if given ANY kind of semi-irregular role with the team but Kindl’s playing well and Ericsson’s contract makes it nigh-impossible to sit him), and I could part with Hudler so long as it brings us an upgrade (ie. Ryan, Parise, etc but no Hemsky).

Play Conklin five more games prior to the Deadline, and if he doesn’t improve, waive him and bring in JMac.  JMac isn’t a superstar, but he’s serviceable if there’s an injury. 

The problem is that we need a capable back up NOW, so that Howard doesn’t get burned out playing 70+ games.  Getting someone at the deadline isn’t going to help because you’re not going to give your backup 15 starts in the last 20 games.

And I personally have nothing against JMac, but I don’t want a “serviceable” back up, I want a back up who can do what Conklin did a couple years ago for us (and what everyone was clearly hoping he could do this year).

Posted by Garth on 12/24/11 at 12:39 PM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

I don’t know what his modified no trade entails but I would love to see Ericsson included in any deal and have Holland bring Brendan Smith up to rotate in with Commodore (would still love to see what Commie can do if given ANY kind of semi-irregular role with the team but Kindl’s playing well and Ericsson’s contract makes it nigh-impossible to sit him)

Couldn’t agree more with this. I was one of few people never worried by the off-season changes, because they brought us what we needed on the back-end. White and Kindl have almost single-handedly transformed the team because of their ability to skate, go retrieve the puck more quickly and move it before opposing forecheckers have a chance to get in and create havoc. Ericsson’s “improved play” is a product of Kindl’s skating ability.

Ericsson was best in the ‘09 playoffs when he was too scared to pinch or try too hard to make plays. He was best when he got the puck and gave it up to someone else, simply used his size to block shots and play responsible defensively. But since he’s not doing that anymore, I’d much rather shuffle him out for someone who would (Commodore) because at this point the only thing the Big Error is bringing to the team is opposing odd-man rushes and power plays.

I think any addition we make should be for a right-handed shooting goal scorer (Ryan, Iginla, someone of that mold). The D looks good.

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 12/24/11 at 12:49 PM ET

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The D looks good.

Absolutely.

As much as I would be giddy to add Suter or Weber and have one of Kronwall, White, Stuart or Suter/Weber on our third pairing, our needs this year are a capable backup and a true top-six forward.

Posted by Garth on 12/24/11 at 01:35 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

I think the top six pairings or Franzen-Datsyuk and Filppula-Zetterberg are solid and only leave the question of whom to place on the other wing to solidify the lines. The Wings have players who slot in nicely, but what they don’t have is a more offensive pivot for the third line. I’d look to that and getting a backup goalie first. If there is a big move to be made I’m all for it, but I doubt that will happen.

The two players I’d target that fit the needs first are Saku Koivu in Anaheim and Evgeni Nabokov in NYI. Koivu just turned 37. He reportedly is a few more days from returning from a groin injury. Assuming he’s healthy by the deadline I think he’d do nicely on the Wings third line as a veteran play maker. Nabokov is someone the Wings should go after right now, assuming NYI has made up their minds about the goalie situation. I have no faith in Conklin and never did this season, I’m sorry to say. I would have preferred Joey Mac keep the job as he performed well once he got comfortable last season. I know Conklin was supposed to be an upgrade, but he has not won much of anything and shares about half the losses for the team. Either he’s terrible or the team won’t play for him like they did for Joey. If NYI wants a goalie as part of the deal in case they need one, he can be thrown in.

Unfortunately, unless Doan wants to be traded I don’t think he’ll leave the organization. Looking around I notice Ryan Smith will be unrestricted after the season. He’s had a good rebound in Edmonton, but I cannot imagine Smith not moving somewhere for a shot at the Cup by the deadline. I think he’d be good here, and if possible I’d want to add him, Saku Koivu, and Nabokov.

The Wings have plenty of young legs and speed in the bottom six, but the team would be a lot better with a savvy third line, allowing Helm to pivot the fourth line. I could see Ryan Smith fitting in with Fil and Z. Mule and Pav work well with Homer, and he will probably move to that spot for the playoffs. Koivu might look nice between Cleary and Hudler or Bert. Of course, the Wings would likely have to move some players from the roster (or risk waivers), but I’d let play determine who will be expendable come the deadline.

One player who has surprised me is Drew Miller. Much like Cleary, Miller has found another level in his third season here. He might be close to ready to see top line complementary shifts. He has shown solid third line ability this season. I expected Eaves to improve more than Miller, but injury has limited his opportunities (and he did not look comfortable when given the chance to start the season). Miller also looks faster this year than last.

I think Hudler’s improved play brings a question of whether or not he should be moved at the deadline, perhaps for a larger veteran? Will the Wings re-sign Happy if he can continue to play well, or will his asking price be too high when measured against his shortcomings?

Two other potential UFA’s to consider are LA forwards Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner. I would think Stoll will stick in LA, but Penner may be available. He’s more of a 20-20 player than what he’s paid like, and he does not use his size properly, but if the price is cheap maybe Babcock could get him back to the 25-25-50 form he should be playing at. Penner just needs to work harder and throw his weight around a bit. Also, he used to shoot the puck all the time, and that creates rebounds. He is a potential top line complementary player, but he needs a good whack to get going again. He has been a disaster this season, but that may just be a fluke like the big season he had that earned his ridiculous contract. Just a thought.

Posted by Bradley97 on 12/26/11 at 04:35 PM ET

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Assuming he’s healthy by the deadline I think he’d do nicely on the Wings third line as a veteran play maker.

Question:  Why would you want Detroit to go after ANOTHER bottom-six forward?  Follow up: Why would you want to mess with the third line, which as been one of our best lines of late?

Our bottom six is not the problem, it’s our lack of a legitimate SIX top-six forwards.  I also think that, if Hudler’s not traded, he’d be best on the second line with Z and Fil.  To me, he’s played his best hockey since coming back from the KHL when he’s been on a line with Z and Fil.  I’d still prefer either he or Bertuzzi to be moved in order to look at a legit top-six forward and I think he probably has a little more trade value than Bertuzzi.

I’ll be really disappointed if Holland doesn’t make a pretty significant move, because as good as this team CAN play, they can also be pretty lazy and overall I don’t think team is better than the ones that lost in the second round the last two years, so there’s no reason to believe that can get past the second round this year.

Lastly, Nabakov hasn’t exactly set the Island on fire, so he wouldn’t be at the top of my list for backups either, but if he can be had for cheap and is willing to play a backup role (or hell, for all I care he can wish for a starter role, as long as he proves his worth on the ice).

Posted by Garth on 12/26/11 at 05:10 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Question:  Why would you want Detroit to go after ANOTHER bottom-six forward?  Follow up: Why would you want to mess with the third line, which as been one of our best lines of late?

Our bottom six is not the problem, it’s our lack of a legitimate SIX top-six forwards.  I also think that, if Hudler’s not traded, he’d be best on the second line with Z and Fil.  To me, he’s played his best hockey since coming back from the KHL when he’s been on a line with Z and Fil.  I’d still prefer either he or Bertuzzi to be moved in order to look at a legit top-six forward and I think he probably has a little more trade value than Bertuzzi.

Posted by Garth on 12/26/11 at 03:10 PM ET

Thinking back to when the Wings won back-to-back in ‘97 and ‘98, they did it with three strong centers down middle who could all be a #1 or #2 pivot. That’s what I want Holland to do with the third line, bring in someone who could be a #2 pivot (not a bottom six forward, a second liner to upgrade the third line). Matching up players, If Datsyuk and Zetterberg replace Fedorov and Yzerman, and Franzen and Filppula (now a LW) replace Shanahan and Kozlov, who replaces Larionov? Yes, the third line is good, but I think it needs to be better. That would move Helm to a fourth line that would see regular ice time, create an even more dangerous third line to take pressure off the top lines, and make rolling four lines a constant.

I don’t agree with the philosophy of top six and bottom six, I believe in the way the roster was built in the late ‘90’s, three dangerous two-way centers flanked by a top six winger (except on the third line, those were third line wings) and a role player. That moves the extra third line talent to the fourth line, and that’s why the old Grind Line was so good.

The old glory lines were:

Shanahan-Larionov-Lapointe
Kozlov-Fedorov-Brown
Sandstrom/Gilchrist/Holmstrom-Yzerman-McCarty
Maltby-Draper-Kocur/Holmtrom (when Gilchrist was able to play Homer took Kocur’s spot)

Currently the Wings have found success with the following:

Franzen-Datsyuk-Bertuzzi
Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler
Miller-Helm-Cleary
Abdelkader-Emmerton-Holmstrom

Bring in a more talented center like Koivu and bump Helm into Emmerton’s spot. That’s an upgrade. Not happy with Bertuzzi or Hudler? That’s where Ryan Smith could fit in nicely, or perhaps Penner (though he is a risk and a headcase right now).

That’s what I’m thinking.

As for defense, I’d like to see Kindl play a bit in place of Ericsson. I know Big E is getting the big bucks, but I think it’s time to see how the defense looks without him for a game or two. I don’t know that he can be traded, but the question really is should he be traded since you can never have too many defensemen in the playoffs.

Posted by Bradley97 on 12/28/11 at 06:37 PM ET

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Yes, the third line is good, but I think it needs to be better.

Sure, it could be better, but I think the top six needs an upgrade more than the bottom six do, and upgrading the top six will make a bigger difference than upgrading the bottom six.

Not believing in top/bottom six is fine when you have the talent level of an 02, 08 or 09 Red Wings team, but when you don’t have that talent and don’t have the wherewithall to transform your team into that kind of talented team then you have to make reasonable upgrades wherever you can.

Posted by Garth on 12/29/11 at 01:44 AM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Not believing in top/bottom six is fine when you have the talent level of an 02, 08 or 09 Red Wings team, but when you don’t have that talent and don’t have the wherewithall to transform your team into that kind of talented team then you have to make reasonable upgrades wherever you can.

Posted by Garth on 12/28/11 at 11:44 PM ET

I disagree. As I pointed out above, I’m comparing the current roster to ‘97 and ‘98. ‘02 was three all-star forwards of the time deeper. ‘08 was about where the team is right now, with ‘09 having Hossa’s all-star talent added to the ‘08. I’d love to use some cap space on a top six, that goes without saying, but getting that additional center, like Saku Koivu, might be all that’s necessary.

I believe we have a gentleman’s disagreement regarding where the Wings should focus the trade effort. Whatever Holland pulls off, whether he goes with top six or another center who can run the second line but is pushed back to the third line, they have to win for one of us to gain the upper hand here. With all the cap space, Holland might bring in both a top six forward and a third line center with more offensive talent. That’s the option I like the most, though I cannot say who gets traded or bumped off the roster to make that happen just yet. There is still a lot of hockey to play and we need to see what Mursak can do with some ice time.

Posted by Bradley97 on 12/29/11 at 06:54 PM ET

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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.