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The Malik Report

No first-rounder and customarily low picks won’t stop Red Wings from aiming high at the draft

Via the Red Wings’ Twitter account, I think you and I both need to bookmark NHL.com’s draft website and news page as NHL.com’s stories tend not to play nice with search engines (ironic, I know).

The Wings may not have a 1st round draft pick thanks to the Kyle Quincey deal, but the Wings still have six picks (starting with the 49th overall pick and continuing with the 20th pick in the 3rd through 7th rounds), and their amateur scouts have every intention of making hay despite their predictably limited and low-round resources.

The Wings’ amateur scouts and members of their front office attended this past week’s “NHL Scouting Combine” in Toronto, and Red Wings director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell told NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale that the team still believes it can make its quota of obtaining two solid NHL players from their six picks:

“We don’t have a first round pick this year, so we’re picking No. 49 [overall],” McDonnell told NHL.com. “You still want to check the kids out but for us, most of the kids that are here and are high-end guys that had injuries, we’re never going to get a shot at anyway. So there’s no one particular guy we’re looking at.”

Finding those hidden gems hasn’t been too much of a problem for the Red Wings in the past. After all, they discovered Tomas Holmstrom (257th overall in 1994), Pavel Datsyuk (171st ‘98), Henrik Zetterberg (210th in ‘99), Niklas Kronwall (29th in 2000), Jiri Hudler (58th in ‘02), Valtteri Filppula (95th in ‘02), Jonathan Ericsson (291st in ‘02), Johan Franzen (97th in ‘04) and Justin Abdelkader (42nd in ‘05) late in the draft. McDonnell feels the top-end talent in this year’s draft doesn’t match that of 2011.

“I think it’s a deep draft this year, but I don’t believe the top-end is the quite the same,” McDonnell said. “I couldn’t tell you who is going to go No. 1. It’s a tough call this year.”

Yadda yadda Yakupov, yadda yadda who knows who’ll go where for the first 10-15 picks, etc…

While McDonnell may be uncertain at how the top 10 might look, he was pretty emphatic when asked about this year’s talented crops of goaltenders.

“The goalie crops is probably the deepest that I’ve seen in quite a while,” he said. “Maybe the top end consists of [Andrei] Vasilevski, [Malcom] Subban and [Oscar] Dansk. Maybe [Joonas] Korpisalo is also in the mix, and then another group of 10 keepers is just a notch below them. It’s very deep.”

Given that the team’s goaltending depth is looking petty sparse as they may not re-sign Jordan Pearce, aren’t sure whether Thomas McCollum can be salvaged, can only boast one blue-chip prospect in Petr Mrazek, and have a possible goner in Joey MacDonald (whose wonky back and one-way, NHL-only contract may result in the Wings signing a free-agent NHL back-up, and perhaps a callable-uppable veteran mentor for Mrazek and the Griffins as well) and, um, no one else, it’s highly, highly likely that the Wings will draft a goalie or two.

When asked if the organization will have to load up on defenders following the retirement of veteran Nicklas Lidstrom, McDonnell smiled.

“We’re hoping to get Lidstrom in the second round and have him step right in in September I’m sure,” he said. “At least, that’s what Kenny [Holland] is hoping for.”

That line sounds particularly cheesy given that Holland and Jim Nill tend to suggest that their draft picks, if they’re lucky, will develop in five-to-eight years, but the Wings really do believe that, at least once in a while, they might get lucky and draft a player exempt from their long developmental rules. Their expectations cannot slip from that elite level.

This doesn’t necessarily belong here, but if you think that McDonnell is crazy, check out the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples’ attempts to twist subjective stats and hockey “moneyball” stuff into stating that David Bolland is a way, way, way better defensive player than some pedestrian dude named Pavel Datsyuk. The Edmonton Journal’s writers are generally astute, but my God, do they ever use statistics to convince their readers that up is down, black is white and that if you toss off enough sets of numbers, you can completely quantify a player’s “worth” by statistics alone.

And that’s unf***ingbelievably ridiculous.

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SYF's avatar

When asked if the organization will have to load up on defenders following the retirement of veteran Nicklas Lidstrom, McDonnell smiled.

“We’re hoping to get Lidstrom in the second round and have him step right in in September I’m sure,” he said. “At least, that’s what Kenny [Holland] is hoping for.”

LMAO.  These guys slay me.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 06/02/12 at 04:29 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Given that the team’s goaltending depth is looking petty sparse as they may not re-sign Jordan Pearce, aren’t sure whether Thomas McCollum can be salvaged

I agree with this 100%. While the Wings are reloading they might as well upgrade Goalie prospects.

I keep wondering if Wings will trade up at the Draft if there is someone they are really high on? There are some Goalie UFAs that might be interesting

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 06/02/12 at 05:14 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

These are just gut feelings and guesses, but…

I do know that the Wings like to have seven picks, but it would not surprise me if they tried to leverage a mid-rounder or two to at least get into the upper ten of the second round. This is the kind of year where you might find another Jurco with picks 31-40, and it is at least not out of the realm of possibility that they’ll try to grab a late first-rounder. I think they’re going to be aggressive in free agency and aggressive at the draft.

Goalie-wise, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drafted two goalies, wouldn’t be surprised at all. Like the free agent marketplace, it’s the one part of this summer’s crop of available players that is particularly deep.

Every indication also suggests that the team will look at a veteran back-up on the UFA market. We’re not talking about a Vokoun, who still wants to start, but when you look at the market, Scott Clemensen, Alex Auld, Curtis Sanford, Josh Harding, Martin Biron, Al Montoya, Marty Turco, Johan Hedberg and Jonas “the Monster” Gustavsson are all out there.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/02/12 at 05:46 PM ET


**sigh**  backup goalies ... tough to pick without knowing them personally and how they train/practice.

Jonas Gustavsson has had a number of “hey, he’s not bad” kinda moments playing for a very inconsistent Toronto team (doesn’t hurt that he’s swedish).

Marty Biron has always been underrated here in the west because he’s spent his whole career in the east and we just don’t get to see eastern teams enough (although thats changed the last few years thanx to versus/nbc sports network).

Brent Johnson’s numbers aren’t too shabby. If I remember correctly, he shut us out once while he was with St. Louis… and how cool would it be to see Sid Abel’s grandson wearing the winged wheel ??

If we stock up on Dmen come July 1, I don’t think it will matter much who we sign.  If everybody on our want list goes elsewhere, its going to be a long year ... even for Jimmy.

If I had to guess at who they’ll go after ... Biron or Hedberg make the most sense from an experience perspective.  Gustavsson is the youngest (and i believe the tallest) and has more of a chance to surprise the hell out of us.

Makes ya wanna be a GM don’t it ??  LOL

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 06/02/12 at 07:42 PM ET


George, thank you for everything. The work is fabulous, the video and other Nick tributes are touching, and we really appreciate it. Really. However, to quote you:

“• Let me know when you’re ready for the Traverse City Summer Camp fund to get going;

• And finally, I hate to drop all these damn personal notes, but I’m into sixty-something hours worked since Wednesday,... so I am about fifteen feet beyond the end of my rope right now. I’m gonna try my best to lay low this weekend and cross my fingers that not much happens in English, Swedish, Slovak or any other language until after the organizational meetings are over. I don’t mean to bitch and moan—I’m actually very proud of the work I’ve done, and I hope it helped you deal with Nick’s retirement, because we’re gonna be literally grieving it for a long time—but this has been a Nicklas Motherf***ing Lidstrom haul, and I need to start actually eating meals and get more than three or four hours of sleep every 24 hours.”

So George, since you said that early this morning, let me propose that we’ll start donating now AS LONG AS YOU GET SOME REST AND EAT (and believe me, the only reason I can empathize, not sympathize, is because I’m doing the same thing often. Do as I say, not as I do). Thank you, George, good night. smile

Posted by Bugsy on 06/02/12 at 09:06 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Biron is the guy that intrigues me the most because he’s such a consummate pro, but I don’t know if the Rangers will let him go. He’d be a fantastic back-up who’s very happy to be just that.

Otherwise, I like Clemensen. He’s real steady.

Aww, I have to actually take care of myself to get support? NO FUN!

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/02/12 at 09:49 PM ET


I’d like Biron, too. I was at least half-serious about the donation, by the way. George.

Posted by Bugsy on 06/02/12 at 10:10 PM ET


In all seriousness, why not start the donation fund now, anyway?

Posted by Bugsy on 06/02/12 at 10:11 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’ll get the code up in a day or two. I’ll have a month to raise some serious hotel money, so yeah, it’s time.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/02/12 at 10:21 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Thanks George!  There might be a lot of teams changing Goalies with Luongo traded?, Thomas going for a vacation, All Flyer goalies, All Toronto Goalies, Tampa, Snow/Wang Show NYI, etc.  If Luongo gets traded that may start a domino effect with other teams.  Deep draft year for Goalies, also.

Going to be lots of activity at the Draft Table, UFA deadline…  Some things may take a bit longer if Suter/Parise start a bidding war?

What ever happened to Daniel Larsson the 2006 drafted Goalie? Is he another crazy Dick?

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 06/02/12 at 10:33 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I don’t think that the Wings are going to be in on any trades—they’d believed that Howard would at least hold them till McCollum came along, and now it’s at least until Mrazek comes along, so they really need a) a back-up if they truly feel that MacDonald’s back can’t hack it and b) A mentor who can play in the AHL and be recalled when necessary…

But draft-day trades are like snowflakes. I have never, ever been able to predict what a certain day might turn out to be, regardless of the number of players available or whether the climate is theoretically favorable to trades.

Certainly, given that nobody seems to know where the order of the top 15-20 picks will line up, there’s a higher chance that we’ll see picks shuffle; certainly, after last year’s run on signing rights, it’s highly likely that at least two of this summer’s “premier” free agents will actually be signed by the teams that acquire their rights; and certainly, it would appear that, between the relative lack of “starters” on the goalie free agent marketplace (unless you think that Tomas Vokoun wasn’t the guy whose lazy blocker hand helped the Wings beat the Predators so easily), Luongo’s availability and the fact that Tim Thomas is a basket case, I would expect some sort of pre-free agency fireworks…

But there’s a new CBA coming, and there have been some draft years where you could acquire a top-six forward or a top-four defenseman for a fourth-round pick and a cheap loafer signed by Mike Milbury and nobody’s moved.

We’ll have to wait and see whether there are five minor trades and ten picks moved or the kinds of fireworks we’re expecting.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/02/12 at 10:45 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

I was shocked when I heard the $70M Cap scenario (maybe, guess, picked number out of hat) for 2013 from numerous decent sources from TSN. That also would mean the Cap Floor would go up putting some teams in Deep Financial Dodo with not enough Revenue to support the Floor and some teams (Wild)saying they can easily afford Suter and Parise.  With the CBA and 2 big Egos drawing lines in the sand, I just hope we get a full season whatever the Cap is!

Semin’s twitter account confirmed to me he is a Full Time Brain Fart at best but Wings might have no choice?  ONE YEAR Contracts only for this dude!!!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 06/02/12 at 11:17 PM ET


With our first round pick gone, and the assumption that it will cost holland another pick or two to obtain some negotiating rights, I don’t have a lot of expectations for the draft.  Honestly, if it takes giving up most of our picks this year to secure exclusive, early negotiating rights for two superstars then get it done.  The likelihood any of the picks we trade that would turn into a parise or suter are very, very small.  The only way Detroit red wing hockey as we know it can cOntinue is if we sign both if those guys.

I wonder if holland trades Tatar for a high draft pick similar to two years ago when Stl traded def David rundblad for ott’s 1st rounder.

Posted by 11B3PF7 in MN on 06/02/12 at 11:47 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I didn’t post it because it was a Hockeybuzz link, but Bill Meltzer knows his stuff, and he believes that teams that spend to the “temporary cap” won’t be penalized for doing so.

Semin is an odd duck, but he played very, very well with Datsyuk…

And the Wings always believe that they should snag 2 NHL players with their draft picks, even if they only have 2. That won’t change.

I dunno if Tatar would be in play…Simply because he’s got another year of AHL eligibility speed, grit and heart, and the place where the Wings are the most thin other than in goal in the “forwards with some sort of scoring pop that can step in right now” department. Jarnkrok and Pulkkinen are remarkable players, but they’re a ways out, Nyquist is gonna take some time to physically develop and guys who may have some “upside” down the line in Sheahan, Aubry, Andersson, Ferraro, Tvrdon and Jurco are gonna take time to find their stride.

We’ll see what happens, and I know that sounds campy as f***, but it’s just being honest. I sure as hell don’t know what’s gonna happen, either, I can only go by what Holland’s MO has been, and that involves:

1. Trying to move other picks, picks in subsequent years or the kinds of prospects we’d deem “marginal” instead of anywhere near blue-chip for draft picks—could we see Hudler’s rights move if, as expected, his agents won’t sign with the WIngs?

2. Mostly, this team is built by way of free agency, and the free agent moves are demonstrative. We’ve been repeatedly told that the Wings want, most of all, a top-six forward and a top-pair defenseman.

After that, I think we’re looking at “bonus” moves. Another top-four defenseman, a forward with grit/snarl/size for the fourth line and that back-up goalie are all *possible* but not guaranteed. I would not be surprised if there are simply two new additions…

And I would be very surprised if anyone is traded.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/03/12 at 12:12 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.