The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/26/11 at 10:13 PM ET
Okay, we heard the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau argue that the Red Wings need not replace Brian Rafalski’s offensive contributions this afternoon, and while Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji believes that the Wings will probably go the free agency and/or trade route, she also offers the theory that the Wings could simply rely upon Brendan Smith coming up from Grand Rapids and contributing as a regular roster player. Chris Chelios, now the Wings’ mentor to its defensive prospects (Chelios suggested that Doug Janik, Smith and Brian Lashoff are in the call-up mix while praising Jonathan Ericsson on the Sean, Terp and Killer Show last Friday), offered this take on Smith’s progress made with the Griffins:
“At points of the season in the American League there was no one better on the ice,” Chelios said. “Him and Derek Meech were a step above everybody. But then you look at Brendan some games and he looks his age and plays his age. Detroit’s known for bringing guys along slowly to the Wings. Can he play in the NHL? I think he’s got all the tools and skills. It’s just a matter of now with this spot opening up with Rafi, depending on who they try and replace him with, he might get the opportunity now. It’s a big hole to fill. Eventually I think they’re looking at a guy like Brendan Smith. He’s a power play, penalty kill guy, a 25-minute-a-game guy. So maybe this might wake him up a little bit this summer, he’ll work a little harder.”
General manager Ken Holland said no roster spots will be awarded automatically.
“Is Jakub Kindl ready for a bigger role? Is Brendan Smith ready to play in the NHL?” Holland said after Rafalski’s news conference. “These are things we’re going to have to find out.”
Of course, the first thing the Wings have to find out is whether captain Nick Lidstrom will return for another season. Holland said Lidstrom told him he would make his decision before the NHL Entry Draft, which takes place June 24-25 in Minnesota.
Currently Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Kindl and veteran Doug Janik are the only defensemen under contract for next season.
The other important date is July 1, when teams can sign available free agents. Jonathan Ericsson, Ruslan Salei and Lidstrom are the Wings free agent defensemen.
It’s going to be an interesting offseason for the Wings.
What Wakiji said.
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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.