The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/03/11 at 03:03 PM ET
Updated 2x at 2:47 PM: Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Rick Bouwness, um…the Red Wings’ only full-time rookie this past season received an obvious honor today:
Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl has been named the team’s 2010-11 Rookie of the Year by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association (DSBA). Kindl skated in 48 games for the Central Division champions this past season, registering four points (2G-2A) in addition to 44 hits and 36 blocked shots.
A native of Sumperk, Czech Republic, Kindl was originally selected by the Red Wings in the opening round (19th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman tallied 13 goals, 76 assists and 225 penalty minutes in 237 games with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins following a standout junior career with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers.
Kindl, 24, represented the Czech Republic at both the 2006 and 2007 IIHF World Junior Championships and was a member of Team PlanetUSA at the 2009 AHL All-Star Game. His first career goal at the NHL level was recorded on Jan. 20, 2011 during the second period of a 4-3 road victory over the St. Louis Blues (opposing goalie: Jaroslav Halak).
The DSBA Red Wings Rookie of the Year Award dates back to the 1948-49 NHL season. Previous recipients of the award include current Detroit players Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Ericsson.
Kindl did nearly steal the sixth defenseman’s spot from Ruslan Salei in late March, and I don’t mean to put the guy down—he’s a superb puck-mover who will play with the team as its #5/6 defenseman as he attempts to slowly but surely defelop into a non-physical version of Jiri Fischer—-but winning by default is winning by default.
The Free Press’s George Sipple notes that, at this point, it’s entirely possible that Kindl could take on a bigger role ahead of schedule…
Kindl could get regular minutes next season on the team’s third defensive pairing. The Wings have already lost defenseman Brian Rafalski to retirement and Nicklas Lidstrom is deciding whether to retire or return for another season. Two other defenseman, Salei and Johnathan Ericsson, will be unrestricted free agents on July 1.
Also of Red Wings-related note this afternoon: Let’s quash this one now: no, the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran, it’s not going to happen:
Could Brad Richards be a Toronto Maple Leaf sooner, rather than later?
A look through the list of impending unrestricted free agent centres with the attributes GM Brian Burke is looking for puts Richards at the very top. He’s only 31 and not just a proven winner, but a leader and a Conn Smyth Trophy winner. He’s big and he can score. In short, he’s everything the team has lacked in a No. 1 centre since Mats Sundin left the team in 2009.
And now, he’s available, sooner than anticipated. The Dallas Stars — a team without an owner — announced they would try to trade his rights before July 1 — essentially trying to get something for a player they risk losing for nothing once July 1 rolls around.
It’s believed the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and the Maple Leafs — all big-market, big-money teams with holes to fill — are all interested in the native of Prince Edward Island.
The concept of the Wings spending $8 million on a center makes no sense when the team has to accommodate Jimmy Howard’s raise, plans on re-signing Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, possibly Chris Osgood and Kris Draper, expects to brings up Jan Mursak on a full-time basis, and, in an ideal world, will welcome Nicklas Lidstrom back and keep Jonathan Ericsson.
The Wings need to spend their capped bucks on a #2/3 defenseman, if Mike Babcock is to be believed, a top-six forward (probably a winger), and if the Wings don’t bring Osgood back, a back-up goaltender. The Wings aren’t going to overspend up front when the team’s blueprint involves building from a puck-moving defense on out.
• A Red Wings “Roster Report” from the Sports Exchange popped on on 97.1 the Ticket’s website today, and its timing is officially appropriate:
BIGGEST NEEDS: They need to upgrade their defense, even if Nicklas Lidstrom returns. They could use a top-four, stay-at-home defenseman who has the ability to shut down opponents’ top offensive players, preferably someone with size and a physical edge. They also need to shore up their backup goaltending position — someone whom they can rely on to play 20 games and spell starter Jimmy Howard.
Square peg, round hole. Top-four, puck-mover. That’s what the Wings will shop for. If Ericsson departs, the Wings might look for someone with a little more bite, but given how much it costs to sign unrestricted free agent defensemen in early July, the Wings would probably find Ericsson’s replacement from the free agency bargain bin in late July or early August.
FREE AGENT FOCUS: The Wings are hoping to re-sign most of their free agents. Lidstrom is expected to return for his 20th season. The club also will try to retain grinding forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, though both might get better offers on the market. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has turned down an offer of $2 million per season, according to Booth Newspapers, but the club still is hoping to work out a deal. Longtime Wings Kris Draper and Chris Osgood could be headed for retirement.
• On the Wings’ Hockeytown Blog, Jake Duhaime takes note of Gary Bettman’s comments regarding possible realignment, the salary cap and the NHL’s TV deal;
• And all of eight hours into the “Help Send the Typing Monkey to Prospect Camp, Pretty Please campaign, we’re about a twelfth of the way there. Thanks to everybody who’s contributed to the cause!
Update #2: Yup, per Dobber Hockey’s Jeff Angus:
1. The surprise retirement of Brian Rafalski has significant fantasy ramifications. Detroit suddenly has a huge need for an offensively-inclined defenseman, and Rafalski’s $6 million cap hit is now off the books. They’ll be huge players in the free agent market, targeting the likes of Kevin Bieksa, James Wisniewski, and Christian Ehrhoff. The team is probably expecting Nicklas Kronwall to take a step forward offensively, as well.
2. The player to watch, regardless of who the Wings do or do not sign, is top prospect Brendan Smith. Smith cracked the top three on my top 10 keeper league defenseman prospects list a few months ago, and this news does nothing but increase his stock. He had a dominant college career at Wisconson and made a quick and smooth transition to the pro game in Grand Rapids. He’s big, gritty, skilled, and extremely confident in his abilities.
Detroit is notoriously patient with their prospects, but spending one season learning from Nick Lidstrom wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, would it?
11. Keep this name in mind – Calle Jarnkrok. Detroit’s best prospect has Henrik Zetterberg upside. He’s two years away, but should be able to jump right in to a scoring role in the NHL.
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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.