The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/03/12 at 04:14 PM ET
Updated w/ another Nicastro/Tvrdon story at 4:56 PM: While we’re pondering what exactly Mike Ilitch’s plane might be doing in Wisconsin, and maybe getting carried away and suggesting that, just as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo was able to find Zach Parise at the airport, maybe MIke Babcock was waiting for him (doubt it, but for f’s sake, we’re at the point where speculation is just stupid crazy)...
The Red Wings officially signed Max Nicastro and Marek Tvrdon to entry-level deals, and MLive’s Ansar Khan took note of both contracts and the playing destinations of the gents involved:
The Detroit Red Wings have signed a pair of prospects, defenseman Max Nicastro (two years) and left wing Marek Tvrdon (three years), to entry-level contracts.
The club selected Nicastro in the third round (91st) overall in 2008. The 22-year-old is a big, stay-at-home defenseman (6-foot-3, 215).
“He has good size, a big, strong guy, physical,’’ Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said recently. “He can shoot the puck. He’s a strong skater.’‘
Nicastro had 11 goals and 22 assists in 102 games over three seasons at Boston University. Authorities earlier this month dropped rape charges against Nicastro.
Tvrdon, whom the club selected in the fourth round in 2011 (115th overall), is a good-sized forward from Slovakia who had 31 goals, 74 points and 62 penalty minutes in 60 games for the Vancouver Giants (WHL) this past season.
Nicastro will begin his pro careers with the Grand Rapids Griffins this upcoming season. Tvrdon will return to Vancouver for his final year of juniors.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirmed the signings…
The Red Wings have signed a forward and a defenseman. Just not the ones everyone is anticipating.
The Wings signed former draft picks Max Nicastro and Marek Tvrdon to entry-level contracts.
Nicastro (6 foot 2, 210 pounds), a defenseman, was a 2008 third-round draft pick who had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 27 games at Boston University this past season. His season was cut short because of an alleged sexual assault charge that was later dropped because of lack of evidence.
Tvrdon, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound winger, had 31 goals and 43 assists for 74 points in 62 games with Vancouver in the Western League. Tvrdon had six points (three goals, three assists) in six playoff games. He was a 2011 fourth-round pick.
Both Nicastro and Tvrdon will be among the Wings prospects who will take part in the development camp in Traverse City beginning Saturday.
As for the free agent forward (Zach Parise) and defenseman (Ryan Suter) whose decisions everyone is waiting on, agents for both players have indicated no decision is imminent. Both players are sorting through numerous mega-year, mega-money contract offers.
And we can confirm that at least one new Wing was at the Joe today—and he was there for both business and pleasure. As DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose notes, Jonas “the Monster” Gustavsson is a Warrior goalie equipment endorsee, and that made coming to Detroit useful as their U.S. headquarters is located in Warren…
Goalie Jonas Gustavsson visited Joe Louis Arena in the morning before heading to suburban Warren where he toured the Warrior equipment facilities.
“Everyone has been so friendly and easy-going,” said Gustavsson, of his first impressions. “They’ve made me feel welcome and that really feels good because you never know what to expect.”
Gustavsson planned to return to Toronto Tuesday evening before heading home to Sweden later in the week. Though he spent the last three NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs, Gustavsson has a pretty good idea about what life will be like with at least some of his new teammates. As backup on Sweden’s national team in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Gustavsson played alongside some of the Wings’ top players, like Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen and Nicklas Lidstrom. While Gustavsson, who earned the moniker The Monster during his playings days in Sweden, hasn’t talked to any of the Wings since signing his new two-year contract on Sunday, he did receive one acknowledgement.
“Kronwall actually texted me and told me that he was psyched,” Gustavsson said. “But I’m really looked forward to meeting all of the players.”
Roose reveals that Gustavsson was a Wings fan growing up in Sweden…
“As a Swede you followed the Red Wings with all of their history and all of the Swedes who have been here,” he said. “Obviously, with Lidstrom, a player like that that has been here for many years, and he’s such a big figure back in Sweden, too, everyone back home wants to follow the career of a guy like that, and I was one of them.”
“I remember being a kid and watching the games against Colorado in the (conference) finals and it seemed like they were there every year against each other,” Gustavsson recalled. “I would sit up late in the morning to watch those games. The thing about Detroit, everyone knows that their culture is winning and that’s why I’m so happy to be here and be a part of that.”
And now he’s excited about taking part in the Winter Classic, against his former employer:
“It’s going to be unbelievable, first of all, just to be a part of a big thing like that and to play in front of a lot of people outdoors – I’ve never done that – so that’s going to be a great experience and a lot of fun,” he said. “To have a chance to play for the Red Wings against my former team, that’s going to be even more fun. I’m looking forward to that. It should be a great day.”
Red Wings TV’s Will Posthumus also spoke to Gustavsson…
Update: DetroitRedWings.com’s Roose spoke to Wings assistant GM Jim Nill about Max Nicastro and Marek Tvrdon. Starting with Nicastro…
“He’s a California kid who learned to skate by playing roller hockey,” Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “These kids can’t get to rinks, and that’s how the Mullen brothers, Joey and Brian, learned to skate, and that worked out well.”
Joe Mullen is a Hockey Hall of Famer, who grew up in New York City and later played 16 NHL seasons. His brother Brian enjoyed an 11-season career. Nicastro is projected to be a fifth or sixth defenseman at the NHL level, mainly because he’s a mobile, big body (6-foot-2, 210-pounds), who is learning to play with a bit of an edge. Nicastro, who was the Wings’ third-round draft pick in 2008, will play next season for the Red Wings’ minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids.
“Max has great size and he’s a very good skater,” Nill said. “He’s an average puck-mover, but he can skate and he can play physical.”
Tvrdon, a 19-year-old Slovakian, has spent the last two seasons in the Western Hockey League, where he scored 31 goals with 43 assists last year with the Giants. He was the Wings’ fourth-round pick in 2011. Another big body (6-foot-2, 212-pound) and excellent skater, Tvrdon will play one more season in Vancouver.
“He’s a big, strong, power forward-type of player with a real heavy body and good offensive skills,” Nill said. “He’s got to work on his quickness, but that’s coming. The real big thing is that he’s got a real big, heavy body.”
Both Nicastro and Tvrdon have the potential to reach the NHL, however, their futures will come down to commitment.
“It all depends on how they’re going to work to get here,” Nill 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.