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LeBrun on realignment, Crosby, the Stars’ coaching search, ‘blue ribbon’ panels and Richards

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun spoke about several particularly notable topics during Saturday night’s Satellite Hotstove on Hockey Night in Canada (you can watch the clip, which will probably be followed by a column from the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis in the near future, here), including possible expansion of the blind-side hitting rule, the Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators’ coaching searches (LeBrun says that Bob Boughner interviewed with the Sens), the fact that at least some NHL types are considering dropping down to two conferences when the whole relocation/realignment talk comes up next year, and he also refutes a doofy report about Sidney Crosby’s status (he’s still on track to return), but this comment merits posting in the Malik Report:

We updated the Brad Richards’ situation on Thursday. Some further notes on the matter: While the whole world knows the New York Rangers will be in the mix for him, we’re told the Blueshirts also have interest in Florida’s Stephen Weiss should the money and terms to get Richards get out of hand. In other words, Weiss would be an appealing Plan B.

The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, are an intriguing team that has some interest in Richards, but only for a short-term and cap-friendly deal. The pitch from Detroit would be to come and win a Cup. Richards will certainly be fielding more lucrative offers in terms of term and money. Expect the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs, among other teams, to be in the mix.

Continued, and I know it’s “intriguing,” but given that the Wings look like a team that, as of this evening, anyway, may have to replace both Brian Rafalski and Jonathan Ericsson, I don’t see a logical fit with the Wings.

Edit/update: Via a conversation on Twitter, the obvious: the Red Wings are a team whose blueprint is all about building from the blueline out, using puck-moving defensemen as the foundation for their offensive machine. Signing Richards would create a hole in the roster to fill a gap that doesn’t exist, and it would fundamentally betray the Holland/Nill blueprint. I don’t see how it makes any sense. It’s an “intriguing story,” but that’s it.

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Comments

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Logic and filling a hole that didn’t exsist, didn’t stop the wings from signing Modano last year….

Posted by DMN on 06/05/11 at 01:38 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

True, but Modano wasn’t asking for $6 million or more.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/05/11 at 01:43 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I guess I should add an addendum to that: I do think that the Wings will go out and look for a top six or top nine forward as Babcock wants one, but they don’t have the money or inclination to spend their Rafalski replacement budget and possible Ericsson replacement budget on a high-priced, marquee forward who doesn’t quite fit in.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/05/11 at 01:45 AM ET

monkey's avatar

Edit/update: Via a conversation on Twitter, the obvious: the Red Wings are a team whose blueprint is all about building from the blueline out, using puck-moving defensemen as the foundation for their offensive machine. Signing Richards would create a hole in the roster to fill a gap that doesn’t exist, and it would fundamentally betray the Holland/Nill blueprint. I don’t see how it makes any sense. It’s an “intriguing story,” but that’s it.

That has been true since the days when Ken Holland and Jim Nill realized that Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, and Sergei Federov were not going to play forever and the Wings needed someone else to build their team around- Nicklas Lidstrom. 

Nicklas Lidstrom is not going to play forever (and there is no replacement), there aren’t that many Brian Rafalski’s out there,  and there is more than one way to build a team.  Look at Vancouver- they don’t even have a number one defensemen, and for that matter Boston doesn’t have a number one forward.

Yes, for a long time the Red Wings have built their team from the blueline out, but it hasn’t always been that way.  Don’t discount the possibility, in Lidstrom’s final years, that the Wings may shift to a forwards first approach.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/05/11 at 09:07 AM ET

monkey's avatar

Is Richards willing to sign at a discount for the chance at another ring?  That is the number one question.  The Red Wings would love to have Brad Richards on their team.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/05/11 at 09:11 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

If we believe the New York Post’s Larry Brooks (see the KK post), Richards wants a 5-year, $35 million deal.

And the Wings’ blueprint hasn’t changed in terms of their drafting, so why change something that’s still in progress?

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/05/11 at 09:30 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

While the whole world knows the New York Rangers will be in the mix for him, we’re told the Blueshirts also have interest in Florida’s Stephen Weiss should the money and terms to get Richards get out of hand. In other words, Weiss would be an appealing Plan B.

This should also make Stephen Weiss a few teams’ Plan A.  Not necessarily Detroit (although he might be able to fit very well in that top-six forward role while still giving the Wings plenty of room to fill up the blue line with whomever they want to give decent salaries to.)

John Nash economics at work.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/05/11 at 12:51 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

While I’ve been stumping that fixing the D is priority one since right after (our) playoffs ended, lowering one’s GAA does NOT necessarily take a row of $6M men.  Anyone can play team D.  It’s positional thinking and the discipline and commitment to follow it.  it doesn’t take expensive talent to do that.

On the other hand, there are a limited number of highly skilled scoring threats, few players of the 750 in the NHL will ever be top 3 forwards.  Pay Richards for that skill.  See if he’ll fit in a salary scheme with Zetterberg and Datsyuk for an immediate chance at a Stanley Cup run.  If so, jump on it.

Then drill in the team discipline to lower scoring chances and the GAA.

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 06/05/11 at 03:14 PM ET

Avatar

Anyone can play team D.

Team D was a problem for a couple years and now that we’ve got regulars like Eaves, Miller and Helm it’s getting better, but ignore bettering the defense at the expense of a cap-swallowing UFA forward is insanity.

Sure, anyone can play team D, but defense starts on the back-end and you can have as many great defensive forwards as you want but without a top-flight d-corps it will mean nothing.

We won the Cup with a great d-corps and we’ve since sacificed some of the quality of the team D by bringing in d-men before they were ready and by filling holes with bargain basement UFAs.

Posted by Garth on 06/05/11 at 08:42 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Red Wings believe that the best way to play defense is to move the puck out of your own zone quickly and efficiently, push it into the opposing team’s end and grind the puck out down low, grinding on your opponent’s defensemen instead of letting yourself get ground down. The puck-moving part of the equation won’t change.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/05/11 at 09:01 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

That’s the beauty of it, you do NOT have to ignore bettering the D.

Solved.

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 06/05/11 at 09:02 PM ET

Avatar

That’s the beauty of it, you do NOT have to ignore bettering the D.

Except that getting Richards doesn’t make them a better puck-moving team.

It makes them worse, because you have to pay for puck-moving defensemen and if you sign Richards then you can’t pay for a puck-moving defenseman.

Won’t it be great when we have the #1 offense and the #30 defense instead of last year when we were #2 offense and #23 defense.

Thank God there’s no way that Holland chooses Richards over the defense.

Posted by Garth on 06/05/11 at 10:57 PM ET

CC Moor's avatar

George he wants $7 million per year, for sure….will he get it?  I doubt it, based on comparatives.  Still, he is six months younger than Franzen, but with 100 more goals. 

Would he take a haircut to come to Detroit to win and have security, say, six years at $5.5 million per year? 

True, RIchards gets criticized for his defense but look at how Bertuzzi has improved in Detroit.    I’m interested as I wonder how seriously this team can compete with CHI, VAN, SJ, and rising teams like LA in the West with the current group…..another 70 point guy would sure help.  And it would entice Ericsson to stay for less.

Maybe the way to put it is, where is the best Top 6 forward other than him?

Posted by CC Moor from Washington DC on 06/08/11 at 01:17 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Concussion included, yes. Glen Sather and Brian Burke are still nuts and Richards is the kind of marquee talent that general managers overpay for every summer.

The drop is pretty significant after Richards—if the Flyers don’t re-sign Leino, he’s available, but he’d never come back to Detroit—Tanguay’s going to stay with Calgary, and Recchi’s going to retire, so point-wise, you’re looking at Erik Cole, Jussi Jokinen, Brooks Laich, Radim Vrbata, even Tomas Kopecky, maybe the Wings might take a flyer on an old prospect in Tomas Fleischmann…

http://www.capgeek.com/ufa_finder.php?position_id=F&stats_type=ICE_TIME

The market’s very thin up front. Very very thin. Thus Richards being able to command an even crazier salary than usual.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/08/11 at 01:38 AM ET

CC Moor's avatar

George you may well be right then….Richards is too pricy as we know Detroit will not overpay.

I think Leino likes it in Philly and will stay there; I like Kopie and would love to see him back in Detroit, though if you do not get a marquee player, maybe you do not do anything but rely on the youth movement.

Posted by CC Moor from Washington DC on 06/09/11 at 03:27 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I get the feeling that we’re gonna see a reclamation project unless Holland tries to move Hudler. We might be talking about somebody far less exciting than Tomas Kopecky.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/09/11 at 04:33 AM ET

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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.