The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/14/11 at 02:30 PM ET
Updated 2x at 2:05 PM: The Red Wings are seriously interested in signing University of Maine forward Gustav Nyquist and having him “turn pro” with the Grand Rapids Griffins this month, presumably with the intent of eventually calling him up as a “Black Ace,” but Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill told the Portland Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi that the Wings do not want to pressure Nyquist into forfeiting his college eligibility for the sake of bringing him into the fold:
Jim Nill, the assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, said this morning during a phone interview that while he and the Red Wings would like for Nyquist to turn pro, it’s up to Nyquist to make that decision. Nill said he had not spoken with Nyquist’s family advisor, nor had he spoken with Maine Coach Tim Whitehead regarding the junior right wing.
“With respect to the program, I want to hear what they’ve heard regarding Gustav,” Nill said. “They deserve the right know what’s going on.”
As Lenzi notes, the Wings were willing to allow Nyquist to return to Maine after his sophomore season, in which he finished as a Hobey Baker Award finalist…
“It was really his decision and we’re happy he made that decision,” Nill said. “There were still some other things he had to work on. We wanted him to have one more really good year, and he’s done well in his three years at Maine.”
And while he believes that Nyquist has progressed to the point that he’s not going to stay in Grand Rapids for too long…
“If you’re four years away from having a chance to making the NHL, stay in college,” Nill said. “If you’re close, it’s time to move on.”
Nill told Lenzi that the Wings do believe that college players who progress at an advanced pace should graduate to the AHL, and the Wings have a history of signing prospects after their junior seasons for that reason (see: Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader, Brendan Smith):
“You get a position where you’re playing at those levels that you’ve done all you can do and you’re looking for the next challenge,” Nill said. “There’s the hockey challenge and the education challenge. When you’re a really good player in three years, there’s almost a time in your development to move on.”
In light of the Nyquist situation, RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau did a fantastic job of assessing the statuses of each of of the Wings’ college prospects who’ve been eliminated from the playoffs, duly noting that the Wings definitely want Riley Sheahan to play for Notre Dame for at least one more season as he has yet to realize his offensive potential (though that’s probably situational as his role isn’t slated toward offense):
[Forward] Julien Cayer (Clakson/ Junior) - The Wings are unlikely to sign the 6-foot-3, 193 pound forward this season and he will need a strong performance next year to have any chance of a contract with Detroit.
[Forward] Nick Oslund (St. Cloud State/ Senior) - The 6-foot-3, 210 pound forward has not done enough to earn a contract in his four years and it would be surprising if the Red Wings signed him.
[Defenseman] Nick Jensen (St. Cloud State/ Freshman) - Jensen had a strong rookie season in the NCAA, but the Wings are in no rush to sign him and he has three more years of eligibility left.
[Defenseman] Bryan Rufenach (Clarkson/ Senior) - The Wings like Rufenach’s offensive skills but are likely to pass on the 6-foot, 187 pound defender due to the limited number of contracts available.
[Defenseman] Max Nicastro (Boston University/ Sophomore) - Similar to the University of Maine’s situation, Boston University has an outside chance to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Red Wings are high on Nicastro, but they will leave him to continue his development with BU for his junior year.
And as we wait for the Wings’ beat writers to post their Monday practice updates, Chris Osgood’s status aside...
• The New York Times’ Christopher Botta discussed the Norris Trophy race today, saying this about Nicklas Lidstrom:
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit:The odds-on favorite to win the seventh Norris Trophy of his career, Lidstrom is tied with Anaheim’s Lubomir Visnovsky and Phoenix’s Keith Yandle for the league lead in scoring by defensemen (55 points). The Red Wings captain may not have his typically sterling plus/minus (he is minus-1), but the respect for his achievement this season at age 40 could put him over the top.
• WXYT’s “Theron” is kicking himself for leaving Friday night’s Wings-Oilers game early to “beat traffic,” as a good 1,000 Wings fans did, and he asks what the protocol is for leaving games early.
Most people suggest that if the Wings are facing a multi-goal deficit and the weather’s poor, it’s OK to leave with about 10 minutes left in the 3rd period, but as far as I’m concerned, if you’re paying a significant amount of money to sit in a seat for an entire game, you sit in that damn seat and cheer on your team, even if it’s losing by a wide margin;
• In the promotional department, Warrior Hockey is offering fans a chance to win a signed, game-used Nicklas Lidstrom stick. I will admit that I have entered the contest and hope that you do not win;
• The Red Wings are offering a the use of a suite on March 30th for fans who “like” DTE’s page and surrender your contact information to ye olde power company;
The Griffins are holding an open practice on Thursday;
• And, finally, I am terrified because Wings-hater extraordinaire Ryan Lambert has become funny at times in offering Wings-related comments in his weekly “What We Learned” column:
Detroit Red Wings: So the University of Maine got bounced from the Hockey East tournament by Merrimack on Saturday, leaving the Red Wings and draftee Gustav Nyquist with a decision to make. He led the nation in scoring as a sophomore and is pro-ready right this second. Because what the Red Wings really need is more ultra-skilled Scandinavian forwards.
Update 2:03 PM: No comment, per Steve Lepore:
This story is going to be Part 1 of my campaign this week to get NBC to choose Tampa Bay vs. Chicago as the April 3rd Game of the Week over Rangers-Flyers and Wild-Red Wings. I can’t honestly say I’ll have any further arguments on the case, but I think this could make a pretty strong point. However, it will likely be a better game than either of the other two, and the numbers for the two teams’ first game this season shows that there is a substantial interest in both outside of local markets.
VERSUS’ “bonus” telecast of the Wednesday night game between Chicago and Tampa Bay drew 285,000 viewers. The game did not air on VERSUS in Chicago, though it did in Tampa Bay. Comcast Sportsnet aired the game in the Windy City. This was the most-watched game of the season on VERSUS when either local market had been blacked out. The only prior bonus game even close to Wednesday night was the much-ballyhooed Montreal-Boston grudge match on February 9th, which scored 263,000 viewers.
The Wednesday night broadcast drew nearly as many viewers as the network’s two exclusive games that week, Washington-Tampa Bay (341,000 viewers) and Colorado-Minnesota (299,000). The episode of Hockey Central that aired after Blackhawks-Lightning had higher viewers (125,000) than the episode that aired after the games on Monday (111,000) or Tuesday (120,000). Tuesday night drew the most viewers of the week for NHL Overtime (45,000). The game out-drew 23 exclusive VERSUS games this season.
So, here you are NBC. 285,000 folks who were either Tampa fans, out-of-town fans or were just curious to check out the Blackhawks and Lightning watched. You can pick another potential snoozer between the Rangers and Flyers, another re-peat, somewhat dull pick in Wild-Red Wings, or you can take this. Give Steven Stamkos a national platform for the first time in his career, show a team outside of your typical 7 (Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Capitals, Bruins, Red Wings, Blackhawks) that really deserves the stage and a chance to get the same 0.8 final rating that the league seems to get whether they have an “established” match-up or not.
Update #2: Fox Sports Detroit has revealed its April in the D song contest finalists, who you can vote for between now and March 20th.
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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.