The Malik Report
by Paul on 05/26/14 at 09:32 AM ET
Ansar Khan of Mlive answered some questions regarding the Wings' prospects...
Q. How likely is Anthony Mantha to see NHL games next season? What is Andreas Athanasiou's ceiling? Are we more likely to see more of Ryan Sproul or Alexei Marchenko as an NHL defenseman next year? Is Brian Lashoff destined to be a journeyman? Could Petr Mrazek replace Jimmy (Howard) as a starter in the near future? What do you think Calle Jarnkrok's ceiling will be after his solid half-season in Nashville?
A. The Mantha question comes up a lot, not surprisingly. I think he'll spend most or all of next season in Grand Rapids, getting accustomed to playing against professionals. How he fares there will determine when he is called up. I think he'll end up playing some games with the Red Wings.
Athanasiou is a promising prospect with a good combination of speed, skill and size. By many accounts, he has a high ceiling.
More of Sproul or Marchenko? It depends on who's playing better in Grand Rapids and what type of defenseman the Red Wings need when it's time for a recall. Marchenko was higher than Sproul in the pecking order before his season-ending ankle injury in late February. I think that's because he's further along defensively (General manager Ken Holland likened him to Brad Stuart). But I'm sure many fans would like to see what Sproul could do at the point on the second power-play unit with his booming right-handed shot.
Xavier Ouellet appears to be the next defenseman ready to make the jump from the AHL on a permanent basis. I expect that to happen next season....
Q. What are the chances that they only look within for their defensive needs and promote (Sproul) to the big club? Otherwise, I am afraid that they will spend excessive amounts of cap space on a free agent.
A. They'll look outside first, either free agency or a trade, for a right-handed shooting defenseman. Not sure of your definition of "excessive amounts of money," but I don't think they'll go there. I don't think they'll get into a bidding war for Matt Niskanen, who'll command the biggest contract among UFA defensemen. A lower-cost, shorter-term option like Dan Boyle is more realistic. Sproul, I believe, will spend another season in Grand Rapids.
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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.