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The Malik Report

Just your average day at TMR: removing sharp objects, padding corners due to DeKeyser Watch

I don't believe that the Red Wings were a "fit" for Jarome Iginla, and they never were.

Why?

First and foremost, Iginla's "list" of teams to which he'd accept a trade didn't include the Wings, and second, adding someone like Iginla would've totally messed up the Wings' cap situation with the team looking to:

A) Re-sign UFA's-to-be Jimmy Howard, Damien Brunner, maybe Valtteri Filppula and/or Danny Cleary and/or Drew Miller and/or Ian White;

B) Re-sign RFA's-to-be Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Jakub Kindl, all with the salary cap going down from $70.2 million to $64.3 million during the 2013-2014 season;

C) Make hard decisions as to how the team will accommodate the inevitable promotions of Nyquist, Andersson and Tatar to Detroit on a full-time basis, likely at the expense of two of Miller, Cleary and Filppula, if not a cap-compliance buy-out spent on Mikael Samuelsson and/or parting ways with one of Patrick Eaves or Cory Emmerton and/or encouraging Todd Bertuzzi to have back surgery to alleviate a roster crunch because;

D) The team will closely monitor the UFA and cap-compliance buy-out market (don't be surprised if the Wings either use their other cap-compliance buy-out or a regular buy-out to say goodbye to Carlo Colaiacovo) as its modus operandi involves adding players via free agency...

And there is no doubt whatsoever that even if the team adds a defenseman or forward at the trade deadline, the Wings are sucking it up in terms of embracing a forced youth movement and a "transitional/rebuilding year" for the sake of seeing what their "kids" can do before finally and meaningfully addressing the team's need for another top-pair defenseman and some sort of goal-scoring forward with size, with both Ken Holland and his "special assistant," Kris Draper, repeatedly stating their desire to fill the latter hole during radio and TV interviews.

Nevertheless, Red Wings nation is pretty pissed off at Holland and the Wings' braintrust today (again, please remember that assistant GM Jim Nill, de-facto assistant GM and capologist Ryan Martin, Mark Howe, Kirk Maltby and the pro scouts, Joe McDonnell, Hakan Andersson and the amateur scouts, prospect evaluators like director of player development Jiri Fischer, Chris Chelios and Chris Osgood, advisor-at-large Jimmy Devellano and the coaching staff all work as a team when determining whether to make trades, re-sign players or allow them to walk, or to promote prospects on full or part-time bases), and I'm guessing that some of you absolutely freaked out when you saw this Tweet from the CBC's Elliotte Friedman:

DeKeyser's been wined and dined by at least half of the league's 30 teams over the past three days, including the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, and to a lesser extent, the Wings.

Every team's made a pilgrimage to Newport Sports Management's offices in Mississauga, with teams speaking to DeKeyser and super-agent Don Meehan with the kind of deference and promises of playing time and superb treatment usually reserved for an elite unrestricted free agent with significant NHL experience, not a 23-year-old #3/4 defenseman in the Brad Stuart mold with 3 years of NCAA experience under his belt.

So it's good living for DeKeyser if you can get it, and if the money being equal means that you're going to get a rookie cap-max deal and promises of regular playing time at the NHL level right off the bat from every team that wants to buy you a $100 steak and probably bestow you with a several-thousand-dollar watch, cufflinks or other "gifts" that DeKeyser's never been able to accept as an NCAA athlete.

But he's going to make his decision sooner than later, and I've heard "Wings or Bolts" since he was swarmed by the press at the Red Wings' summer prospect camp two summers ago, not to be asked about his status as an elite prospect in the making, but instead, to be asked about Western Michigan University coach and DeKeyser-recruiter Jeff Blashill leaving the team to become the Wings' assistant coach.

According to the Sporting News's Craig Custance, DeKeyser will make his decision as to which NHL team he'll sign with today or on Friday:

Western Michigan University defenseman Danny DeKeyser is this year's best college unrestricted free agent and, after a week of entertaining offers and pitches from teams, should be closing in on a decision. According to a source close to DeKeyser, he wants to make his decision Thursday or "no later than early Friday."

He grew up a Red Wings fan and is close with the family of Jim Nill, Detroit's talented assistant general manager, so the Red Wings are considered the front-runner to land DeKeyser. According to Red Wings beat writer Ansar Khan, Ken Holland wasn't taking anything for granted and flew to Toronto to make a final pitch.

DeKeyser isn't Justin Schultz, but one trusted NHL amateur scout said he's almost ready to contribute at the NHL level. Toronto, Edmonton, Anaheim, Tampa Bay and many others are all considered in the mix.

"Schultz wows you more, but this kid -- if you're watching him offensively -- he gets the puck to the right people," the scout said. "We've been watching him for a couple years. He's a steady player. We're in there [to sign him] … He's smart; one of those players the more you see him, the more you like him."

I like the fact that the Free Press's Helene St. James suggested that the Wings believe that they're the favorites to land DeKeyser (although she's since removed that quip from her first DeKeyser article of the week), but I don't like the odds in terms of DeKeyser having 30 teams to choose from...

And while I do believe that the Wings will be much more aggressive heading toward the trade deadline if they don't land him, either way, I know that Red Wings nation is in freak-out mode given the Penguins' acquisitions of Brenden Morrow and Iginla, given the Wings' stand-pat approach during the season and still given the team's inability to land Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and/or any other elite unrestricted free agent last summer...

So I'm removing the pointy objects and padding any sharp corners in the comments section here at TMR, because I know that DeKeyser going anywhere but Detroit will yield even more wailing and gnashing of teeth from a fan base that seems to want to blame Ken Holland and Mike Babcock very specifically for everything from the Wings' power play issues to Damien Brunner's crooked nose--or nearly so.

Hell, this kind of quip from Hockey's Future, praising their 20th-ranked prospect out of their Top 50 list for spring, will probably make most of you cringe about the Kyle Quincey trade a year ago. This is the player the Tampa Bay Lightning picked with the draft pick the Wings sent to Tampa Bay:

20. Andrey Vasilevskiy, G – Tampa Bay Lightning
Height: 6-3 Weight: 204, Fall Ranking – 42

The first goaltender taken in the 2012 NHL Draft, Vasilevskiy is a Russian goaltender best known in North America for his impressive play in the 2012 and 2013 World Junior Championships. Vasilevskiy is extremely athletic and has a good glove hand, though he is also quite technically sound and moves laterally very well. He has spent the last four years developing primarily with Tolpar Ufa of the MHL and has been extremely good at that level. He even managed to play in eight KHL games for Salavat Yulaev Ufa and acquitted himself nicely.

With one more year remaining on his contract, Vasilevskiy is expected to spend the stretch of the 2013-14 season in the KHL, and then likely make his way to North America once his committment is completed.

The reality of the Wings' situation is that the management staff seems to have reconciled itself to enduring a transitional year before reloading this summer as of last July, when their pitch for Ryan Suter didn't pan out, and the team's injuries to veteran players/signings that were supposed to smooth the team's transition to a younger roster (see: Samuelsson, Colaiacovo, Gustavsson's groin, Bertuzzi and Darren Helm's backs, the injuries to White, Quincey, Ericsson, Filppula, Franzen, etc.) have yielded a serious-ass youth movement by default that the team's embracing ahead of the trade deadline.

I don't see any moves being made because the Wings believe that free agency's the easiest way for the team to add without subtracting. That may change if DeKeyser heads elsewhere, but it doesn't mean that DeKeyser signing elsewhere will yield some sort of magical push for Keith Yandle or Jay Bouwmeester at the expense of the team's future or future cap space.

So prepare for wailing, thrashing and gnashing of teeth, even if the Wings do land DeKeyser.

Update: For the record, I'm getting a little tired of being told that I explicitly support everything the Wings do. I'm trying to explain the Wings' rationale in terms of what's most likely to happen so that we can deal with it, and am not trying to absolve the Wings' players, coaches or management from blame.

As far as I'm concerned, the Wings never should have been content to let Matt Carle slip away to the Lightning while waiting for Suter to make his decision, and I would've told Parise to fish or cut bait. I also would have considered bolstering the top four prior to this year's deadline. But I'm not the GM and I don't believe in skewering the team every time they make a decision I disagree with.

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J.J. from Kansas's avatar

All the people whining now would be out the freaking door after one or two years just where Detroit missed the playoffs, much less were one of the two or three worst teams in the NHL.

Well if it would get them away from asshats like you, then who can blame them? I mean, if you’re the representative of a “true” Red Wings fan, then I don’t really blame anybody for not wanting to associate with that.

I mean, it’s bad enough you darken the doors of this blog, but then there’s the added embarrassment of even a tentative link, a tiny bit of shared interest and it kind of disgusts me.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/29/13 at 11:34 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.

 

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