The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/04/11 at 03:50 PM ET
Updated big time at 9:21 PM: It appears that the Red Wings may in fact bring back Chris Osgood as Wings GM Ken Holland tells the Associated Press’s Larry Lage that the team’s top priority this week involves either signing or trading for a back-up to Jimmy Howard—or standing pat:
“The market for goalies is pretty picked over,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We’re comfortable with Chris Osgood if we have to do it.”
Osgood has won three Stanley Cups, two as a No. 1 goalie, and 401 games, mostly with Detroit. But he played in only 11 games last season, recovering from sports hernia surgery in January. Holland might re-sign Osgood, bring back Ty Conklin, who won a career-high 25 games for the Red Wings during the 2008-09 season, or trade for someone to spell Jimmy Howard.
“I have gotten calls from teams, looking to trade a goaltender,” Holland said. “I need to do something and I probably will this week.”
The Wings definitely have limited options on the free agent market in terms of finding a back-up—Conklin, Marty Turco, Ray Emery
and Curtis McElhinney
(whoops, McElhinney signed with Phoenix today) are the best available options out there—so a trade might make sense (and if the Wings choose to move Jiri Hudler, that opens up a spot on the roster for the team to get a little bigger and/or faster)...
Regardless of whether the Wings’ moves in goal, this week Wings will also discuss whether the team’s willing to bring Kris Draper back, and at this point, it seems unlikely that the Wings will do so as they’ve got 14 forwards on the roster already:
Holland also has a decision to make about 40-year-old Kris Draper, another veteran Red Wing, after retaining depth up front by re-signing Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller. Draper could be left with a tough decision, signing a two-way contract that might leave him playing for Grand Rapids in the AHL at times, retiring or trying to land with another NHL team.
Draper stated that he’s simply not interested in playing for another team, nor is he interested in playing for Grand Rapids.
Lage also offers an assessment of the Wings’ free agent moves thus far, and takes note of the fact that Holland doesn’t seem done tweaking the roster after two consecutive second-round defeats to San Jose:
They agreed to terms with defenceman Ian White on a US$5.75-million, two-year contract Saturday, a day after opening NHL free agency by adding defenceman Mike Commodore. Detroit kept defenceman Jonathan Ericsson along with Eaves and Miller off the market by re-signing them last week and got great news in June when Nicklas Lidstrom decided to play for another season just before winning his seventh Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman.
“We like our team, but we’re ready to make another move or two—whether it’s a signing or a trade—to make our team better this summer,” Holland said.
Update: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness offers a bit of news regarding the Wings’ search for a back-up…
“There’s nothing new to report,” Holland told The Macomb Daily on Monday. “Obviously that’s our top priority over the next few days.”
There was one goalie taken off the market Monday when Phoenix signed Curtis McElhinney. After the first day of free agency came and went, Tomas Vokoun remained available and seemed like a viable option. On Saturday, Vokoun, 34, decided to sign a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals for $1.5 million.
The list of remaining quality backups is headed by Ty Conklin, Ray Emery and Marty Turco. A source told The Macomb Daily on Saturday that the Wings have been talking with Conklin.
As well as Osgood’s status…
“Osgood is interested in playing,” Holland said earlier in the week. “In goal we explored three or four guys. They all signed elsewhere and they all went for opportunity. They went where they went because they think there is opportunity to be a No. 1 or be a No. 1 in a year or two.”
“We’ve got (Jimmy Howard) who’s in the prime of his career and we think he’s going to be a good goaltender in this league,” Holland said. “He was a better goaltender last season compared to the year before and he’s going to be better this year.”
Holland said he’ll talk to Osgood when he returns from a golf trip the team gave him for winning his 400th career game last season.
And he took note of a few comments made by Ian White when he joined the Wings on Saturday…
The Wings made White, who made just under $3 million last season with the Sharks, an offer on the first day of free agency and gave him a day to think about it. When Brian Rafalski retired White knew they would be seeking a player like him.
“Hopefully I’m a perfect fit for that spot,” White said. “It really fits my style of game. I’ve played against them for six years,” White continued. “It’s just a real special team to play against. It’s great to get an opportunity to play with those guys – the puck movement, the puck possession, so many talented players.’‘
And a few comments made by one Mike Babcock regarding one Jonathan Ericsson:
“We need him to take a bigger role on the team,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s been rewarded with a real good contract, which tells him how important he is.”
Ericsson is entering his fourth season in the league.
“We expect him to take the next step in his career,” Babcock said.
There is almost no market for goalies, but Ray Emery, Marty Turco, Ty Conklin and others are still out there. Tomas Vokoun, a proven starter, settled for a one-year, $1.5 million deal from the Washington Capitals.
And RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau weighed in on the Wings’ free agent signings:
When the NHL free agency period opened at noon on Friday, the Red Wings hoped they would be able to shore up their defense. When players like Jame Wisniewski and Christian Ehrhoff signed long-term big ticket contracts, Detroit was left looking for cheaper options. Ken Holland and company would find them in Mike Commodore and Ian White whose combined salary cap hit is less than $4 million.
With a weak defensive market this off season, the Wings did not want to commit long-term to a player out of necessity. Instead, Holland and company wisely patched the holes left by the retiring Brian Rafalski and the departing Ruslan Salei. The additions of White and Commodore won’t dominate headlines this offseason, but they do stabilize a defense that was in need of a makeover. Additionally the additions still leave the Red Wings with plenty of options once they secure a back-up goaltender and also give them flexibility to be active in 2012/2013 when the free agent market is likely to be stronger.
Commodore and White are welcome additions, one or both may just serve as stop gap measures until a more attractive defensive upgrade is available or until top prospect Brendan Smith is ready for a full-time NHL job. The Wings now have the flexibility to explore trade options without the previous sense of urgency. The much improved defensive depth will allow them to wait on the right option even if one doesn’t present itself until the NHL trade deadline.
And regarding said blueline, per the Macomb Daily’s Pleiness:
After James Wisniewski signed a six-year deal worth $5.5 million a season, the Canton native turned around and took a shot at the Wings.
Wisniewski told NHL Live, “For me, knowing Detroit’s history they don’t really pay the market value for a defenseman or any player. So I didn’t think that was going to be a fit for myself.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland said he didn’t see the quote and then added, “I take that as a real compliment. That’s a tremendous compliment. For us to accomplish what we we’ve accomplished and we don’t pay market value that’s a compliment.”
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