The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/01/13 at 01:14 AM ET
I'm feeling absolutely miserable, and it seems to have little to nothing to do with the Wings' ugly 7-1 loss to Chicago, so I'm going to do something very rare: I'm going to direct you to Gregg Krupa's, "The sky is not falling, the Wings are just in flux" column, because I really do believe what Krupa suggests--that this team simply has suffered too many injuries and too much roster turnover to be particularly consistent or truly embrace that post-Lidstrom identity until April 27th at the earliest--I will remind you that the Wings play tonight against Colorado (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/NBCSN/97.1 FM), and will probably do so without the services of Henrik Zetterberg...
And before this polar bear crawls back under the covers to get warm, which is my surest, "George, you have a bad cold" sign, I'm going to throw something out that Paul sent to me: the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes that the Red Wings need to do something that goes against every, "We never 'sell' assets at the trade deadline, even if we are remotely playoff-bound" philosophy-believing bone in their management's bodies.
With the salary cap going down, with Jimmy Howard and Damien Brunner the only locks to return as unrestricted free agents because Danny Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White's jobs may be usurped by three players who are simply ready for full-time NHL employment next season in restricted free agent-to-be Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Brian Lashoff, and with Nyquist, already full-time-NHL'er's Joakim Andersson, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith coming off their entry level contracts...
And, realistically, little in the way of possibilities to meaningfully improve the team before a summer of cap-compliance buy-outs might finally give the team a no-cost method of improving their team by predating upon other teams' cap woes for once (as for the Wings' own pair of cap compliance buy-outs, the Wings will most likely buy out Carlo Colaiacovo and Mikael Samuelsson, swallow hard and accept Jonas Gustavsson as their back-up as Petr Mrazek's not quite NHL-ready, and will have to accept that Johan Franzen's size and strength are too cheaply already purchased in terms of his cap hit to cut ties with the frustratingly streaky forward--and one could argue that Darren Helm's eventual return to health and Todd Bertuzzi's possible return to health, combined with Nyquist and Tatar's emergence's, may mean more subtractions in the form of Cory Emmerton or Patrick Eaves)...
Matheson believes that the Wings have one trade chip that they might be able to use, and that's unrestricted free agent-to-be Valtteri Filppula.
It's pretty evident that either Filppula's not happy in Detroit or that he's simply not going to reach his potential here. While most Wings fans root for the players they like and against the players they don't (see: Ericsson and Franzen, Red Wings Nation's favorite scapegoats), I root for everybody, but somewhere during the Wings' Western U.S. swing, I'd just seen ten too many times when Filppula passed up an open lane to shoot or skate to the net to try and loop back and make a complicated pass, or too many times when Filppula roared up ice with that amazing skating speed and ever-so-predictably pulled up ten feet within the blueline to spin back and try to make a blind pass to a forward who usually wasn't just crossing the blueline...
And I kind of gave up on the concept that, after so many years, the 29-year-old would finally develop into that 50-to-60-point forward that the Wings have always hoped he'd become.
I don't know what's going on with Filppula, because his talent is clearly there and is heart is clearly there and is brain is clearly there, but they're never on the same page this season, and whether it's trying to play through a still-sore knee that's limiting his maneuverability, dealing with a healed shoulder sprain that might still be reducing his ability to win puck battles via upper-body strength...
It's just hard to imagine the Wings offering what Matheson and MLive's Ansar Khan reported was a $4.5-5 million asking price for a player who's skating into the boards and stripping himself of the puck lately.
So Matheson suggests that the Wings need to bite the bullet and part ways with #51 now instead of waiting until the draft to move Filppula's rights--even given the fears that Pavel Datsyuk may head home to be with his daughter in Yekaterinburg after next season:
Is it possible that the Detroit Red Wings would trade enigmatic unrestricted free-agent centre/winger Val Filppula at the deadline, knowing he wants north of $5 million in a new deal, something they are loathe to do?
Yes. They’re a playoff team and Filppula has teased Detroit for years. He’s an outstanding one-on-one talent, but he doesn’t bring it every night like Pavel Datsyuk, for example, does.
Filppula, who turned 29 last week, has had one excellent season when he garnered 66 points in 2011-12. To me, he’s the perfect example of a guy who should stay where the grass is greenest as a support player rather than being pegged as a go-to guy on another team.
The Chicago Blackhawks, looking for a No. 2 centre rental so Dave Bolland can be their No. 3 guy, have been monitoring this situation. But would Detroit trade him to a division rival and a possible playoff foe this year?
If I was GM Ken Holland, I’d move Filppula somewhere. Holland let Jiri Hudler go for nothing last summer. The Blackhawks, who won’t be in the same Central Division with Detroit next year as the Red Wings move east in the realigned NHL, do have lots of young talent in the pipeline.
I like Filppula as a player and I like him as a person. I want him to succeed here. I hope that the Red Wings can find a way to keep him.
But while I've come to terms with Franzen's ups and downs and I've accepted that Jonathan Ericsson's realistically a really solid #3/4 defenseman, and that, in all honesty, Niklas Kronwall rather desperately needs a true #2 defenseman to partner with if he's going to sacrifice his physical game to play 25-27 minutes a night, because his over-extension in terms of minutes is yielding defensive mistakes...
Watching Filppula flail at the puck, fail to win one-on-one battles and cough it up with the kind of glib naivete of the much-less-seasoned Damien Brunner has me worried that Filppula simply doesn't want to be here, and I'm just genuinely at a loss as to what the Wings should do with Filppula going forward.
I don't know who they'd move him for--the only blueline "fit" cap-wise in my opinion is the slow-footed Robyn Regehr, and I sure as hell wouldn't give Filppula to Chicago, period, but I have no clue as to what's eating Gilbert Grape in this instance, but it's incredibly painful to watch Filppula struggle so mightily.
And again, I don't root against Wings players, regardless of whether I like them or whether they dropped the Cup at Cheli's Chili and I heard the clang. I want each and every one of the Wings' players and prospects to succeed and to succeed right here in Detroit. It doesn't matter whether they're Henrik Zetterberg, Filppula, Franzen, Ericsson, Tom McCollum or whoever else. I root for "my" Wings players and prospects, even if they drive me nuts, and I hope against hope that they all make the Wings roster and stay here for the balances of their careers.
Sometimes it just doesn't work out that way.
And for the sake of at least writing something about the Wings-Hawks game on Monday, covering the Wings-Avs game and being available to help Paul out as we head toward the deadline on Tuesday and Wednesday, this sniffly and cold blogger needs to cuddle up under the covers and call it a night. I'm sorry for the inconvenience.
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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.