The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/29/13 at 04:31 PM ET
Because weather issues forced the Dallas Stars to fly into Detroit today, they didn't hold a morning skate. As such, the Dallas News's Mike Heika and DallasStars.com's Mark Stepneski offered their game-day updates within the last hour, and the Wings' website has just wrapped up their game-day coverage. Those stories and videos are located in the post dedicated to the news stories originating from the Red Wings' morning skate ahead of tonight's rematch between a team that wrecked the Wings' home opener and a Wings team absent first-period goals and boasting an underperforming 2-for-26 power play (the game starts tonight at 7:30 PM, and will air on FSD Plus, FS SW Plus and WXYT AM).
This afternoon, we're going to talk about two pertient issues involving the Red Wings' personnel in the present and future tenses (mostly future) for a little bit. According to ESPN's Craig Custance (in his Insider-only blog), the NHL and NHLPA have decided that every team will now have some chance of winning a draft lottery now involving
30 teams instead of 5 [edit: make that 14 teams instead of 5, with every team that doesn't make the playoff cut earning a spot in the draft lottery], and landing the #1 overall pick over the course of the new CBA...
This year's draft in New Jersey will be the first under the new CBA. In the previous system, only the five worst teams had a chance at the No. 1 overall pick, with the remaining teams moving up a maximum of four spots if they won the lottery. That limitation is gone now.
According to an NHL source, the league and the NHLPA still haven't finalized exactly how the weighted lottery will look. According to the source, if the two sides don't agree to a change, the percentages will be the same as under the previous CBA with the difference being that any team can earn the No. 1 pick. Using those percentages, the team that finishes with the worst record has a 25 percent chance of picking first. The No. 14 team is 0.5 percent. If the season ended Tuesday morning the Capitals would have an 18.8 percent chance of picking first and the Flyers a 10.7 percent chance. Putting Seth Jones on the Flyers and MacKinnon on the Capitals could significantly shift the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.
That's particularly important given that this year's crop of prospects is supposed to be deep and possesses two franchise players in the making in Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon, and a draft lottery involving all 30 teams potentially moving up a couple of spots based upon something other than their finishing spot in the regular season or playoffs might yield more traded picks.
As far as the draft involves the Red Wings, Ken Holland, Jim Nill and the Wings' front office like to suggest that it will take anywhere from 5 to 7 years before the players they pick will be anywhere near NHL ready, and that time frame's particularly convenient for today as Hockey's Future's Adam Schnepp has penned a review of the Red Wings' 2008 draft class.
The Wings picked six players in 2008; we can suggest that Julien Cayer, Stephen Johnston and Jesper Samuelsson will probably never play for the Wings, but Max Nicastro is something of a reclamation project in progress, reinventing himself as a steady, physical defenseman after being drafted as a 6'2," 170-pound puck-mover--who wound up growing into a 6'3," 225-pound behemoth--and one of the other Wings prospect drafted in 2008 is definitely reaching Jakub Kindl-style "fish or cut bait" status...
Thomas McCollum, G, Guelph Storm (OHL) – 1st round, 30th overall
NHL Games Played: 1
Few prospects have been as enigmatic as McCollum. Once considered the future between the pipes for the Red Wings, McCollum found himself in the ECHL at the start of the 2011-12 season. Coming into the 2012-13 season it appeared that his career was at a crossroads; either he taps into the talent that got him drafted or he would find himself out of the Red Wings' long term plans.
McCollum has answered the bell. His current goals allowed average of 2.69 is the lowest of his AHL career, and the first time he has been able to break the goals allowed average threshold of three. Similarly, his current save percentage of .899 is the closest he has been in his four year AHL career to a save percentage over .900. While McCollum still is not the starter in Grand Rapids (that distinction goes to rising star Petr Mrazek), he has undoubtedly improved his game. Whether he has improved enough remains to be seen; his contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 season.
One thing that bodes well for McCollum from, at the very least, an experience standpoint is that he has been recalled by the Red Wings to serve as the back-up for Jimmy Howard while Jonas Gustavsson is out with a groin injury.
But the player the Wings drafted in the fourth round in 2008 is, without a doubt, a star in the making:
Gustav Nyquist, LW, Malmo Jr. (Sweden Jr.) – 4th round, 121st overall
NHL Games Played: 19
While Nyquist still qualifies as a prospect, he possesses the skill of an NHL player. The Red Wings brass have not been bashful in their declaration of Nyquist as a future top-six forward, but the log jam up front in Detroit has kept Nyquist temporarily in the AHL.
A spectacular three year career at the University of Maine was simply foreshadowing for what was to come for Nyquist, who finished as a top ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award during his sophomore and junior seasons. Nyquist left Maine after his junior season to begin his professional career with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.
Nyquist has made his mark on the AHL, posting 102 points in 106 career AHL games over three seasons. At the NHL level Nyquist's point production has been less prolific, but his skill is still visible. He now has one goal and six assists in 19 career NHL contests, but his combination of above-average defensive play, smooth skating, and great vision should make him a staple of the Red Wings in the very near future.
The Red Wings' front office wants to "see what it's got" up front for at least another month, so the team's chosen to allow Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and defensive stalwart-to-be Joakim Andersson continue to pile up experience, ice time and points in Grand Rapids, but we're heading back to Custance's article (again, ESPN Insider-only, sorry) for the final chapter of this little afternoon diversion for a reason:
I've been suggesting that the Wings have until February 5th or February 7th to prove that they can get through 9 or 10 games with at least a halfway decent record before the front office chooses to make some moves to accentuate their personnel.
It turns out that Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to Custance about both the draft to come and his attempts to "draft" the best tam possible.
Because the Wings are so banged-up (see: Darren Helm, back, out for at least another week; Mikael Samuelsson, groin, status unknown; Jonas Gustavsson, groin, likely back this weekend; Jan Mursak, shoulder, status unknown; Ian White, quadriceps issue, out for at least another week; and Carlo Colaiacovo, shoulder, out for at least two more weeks), Holland believes that attempting to make moves 10 games into a 48-game season isn't a good idea. Once the Wings are healthier, however, and once the team's gotten through the month of February, which includes 15 games played over the course of 28 nights, Holland believes that he'll know what his current personnel can accomplish, and what he needs to add to his team's roster:
"Twenty games," he said during a pregame chat Friday. "Once you get to 20 games, you'll have a read of what you've got, where we fit."
That gives Holland until the end of February to wait out injuries and slow starts to see where things stand. It's also 42 percent into this season compared with 30 percent during a regular season. For the Red Wings, and every other team fighting for playoff position this year, waiting until the end of February to address needs may be too late.
"Even if it is, if you're looking to do something, you can only do something if you have a partner," Holland said. "At the end of the day, it takes 20 games to figure out who you are and what you've got … you've got to set expectations realistically. In the meantime, we have to find ways to win games."
Ain't that the truth...and now we know. The Wings will start doing things like bringing Nyquist up and/or making moves around March 1st (if necessary).
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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.