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On sniffles and the Red Wings’ conundrum that is Valtteri Filppula

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.

Anyway, you can read the rest of Mathson's column and his other Hockey World columns here and here, but there's not much else that's Wings-related...

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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Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 04/01/13 at 12:20 PM ET

I didn’t say either way. I was arguing that Holland being good or bad at his job is irrelevant to how easy he has had to work. Players wanted to come to Detroit. That made Holland good.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 04/01/13 at 08:15 PM ET

d ca's avatar

That’s just a ridiculous statement. The concept you aren’t getting is limited resources (you can’t just make the #1 pick appear while competing for the Cup without mortgaging the future).

Preparing for Lidstrom’s or Datsyuk’s departure doesn’t mean you can go out and acquire the 2nd best d-man or center in the league to replace them. Hey Pittsburgh want to trade Crosby? Hey Ottawa want to trade Karlsson? Hello, why did I just get hung up on?

If someone told you they prepared to replace a top defenseman by:
—-Using 4x 1st round pick to draft defensemen.
—-Then using 2x 1st round picks to acquire another franchise d-man (Chelios).
—-Then using another 1st rounder to get Schneider (costing their ‘03 1st rounder).
—-Then using a 2nd rounder to get Stuart
—-Plus signing UFA Rafalski
—Trading for a depth defenseman when you were 99% sure you’d lose Stuart and Lidstrom
all while that player’s departure/retirement was an ongoing debate—I’d say they prepared and I’d think 99% of the non-crazies would agree with me on that one.

Examples of draft prospects that were off the board well before Detroit could even think of moving up to get them:
—Suter 7th overall in ‘03
—Phaneuf 9th ‘03
—Seabrook 14th in ‘03
—Weber 49th in ‘03 (Red Wings first pick 64th (*Howard a 2nd round not a 1st). But the Wings chance went with the trade for Schneider.)
—Smid 9th ‘04
—Schultz 27th in ‘04
—Green 29th in ‘04 (Wings draft slot traded for Lang so had a 2nd rounder to trade)
—Jack Johnson 3rd in ‘05
—Marc Staal 12th in ‘05
—Erik Johnson 1st in ‘06
—Thomas Hickey 4th in ‘07
—Drew Doughty 2nd in ‘08
—Zach Bogosian 3rd in ‘08
—Alex Pietrangelo 4th in ‘08
—Luke Schenn 5th overall in ‘08
—Tyler Myers 12th overall in ‘08
—Erik Karlsson 15th overall in ‘08
—Jake Gardiner 17th overall in ‘08
—Michael Del Zotto 20th overall in ‘08
—John Carlson 27th overall in ‘08
—Victor Hedman 2nd overall in ‘09
—Oliver Ekman-Larsson 5th overall in ‘09
—Leddy 16th overall in ‘09

do you get the point?

As far as your other point. Great you’d rather keep Eaves and his 11 min TOI/g and reduced results at 1.2M for 1 year rather than try to get something for him (hint: he has more trade value than Miller because he isn’t strictly a rental)
——While I’d rather trade Eaves and negotiate with Miller. Miller who like DeKeyser has family in the area and might sign for less or the same he gets elsewhere. Beyond the hometown discount: Miller based on his 14 min TOI/g and taking almost double the shots while scoring 4x as much comparing both over the last 32 games they played.

You’d be surprised how easy it is to trade a bottom six forward with playoff experience making 1.5M or less. At worst it’s called conditional pick(s).

Posted by d ca on 04/01/13 at 08:42 PM ET

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—-Then using 2x 1st round picks to acquire another franchise d-man (Chelios).

Oh my GOD, are you f*cking kidding me?  They prepared for Lidstrom’s departure by trading two first rounders for someone who is nine years older than Lidstrom?  A guy who retired two years before Lidstrom did?

And Schneider?  He was gone in 2007.  How was that helping to prepare foe Lidstrom’s retirement.

How did Rafalski help prepare for Lidstrom’s retirement?  Even if he didn’t retired in 2011, his contract would’ve been up last year, and with the wear and tear his body took there’s no way he was going to be replacing Lidstrom.

Maybe you think they got Konstantinov in order to help prepare for Lidstrom’s retirement too?

I’d say they prepared and I’d think 99% of the non-crazies would agree with me on that one.

Well I’m 100% sure you’re wrong.  If you could find .99% of the “non-crazies” who would admit that they think Detroit prepared for Lidstrom’s departure then I would suspect that you bribed them

do you get the point?

I understand they drafted defensemen.  What you don’t understand is that simply drafting defensemen isn’t the same as preparing for Lidstrom’s departure.

The extent of his preparation for Lidstrom’s departure was to way overpay to get back a guy he waived a few years ago and to go all out in an attempt to get the best UFA defenseman on the market.

If he was prepared he wouldn’t have panicked and signed shitty Colaiacovo.

Is that difficult to understand?  He didn’t even start to think about preparing for Lidstrom’s departure until Lidstrom was gone.

might sign for less or the same he gets elsewhere.

Or he might sign in Buffalo (or whereve his brother ends up).

Why are you acting like it’s some genius move to trade Eaves and try to re-sign Miller.

hint: he has more trade value than Miller because he isn’t strictly a rental

Hmm, weird, you don’t want him but everyone else must?  OK.

At worst it’s called conditional pick(s).

And the fact that you’d rather have a conditional draft pick than Patrick Eaves pretty much says it all.

Posted by Garth on 04/01/13 at 10:06 PM ET

d ca's avatar

Garth,

I see what the problem is. You are a newbie that doesn’t know the history of the Wings around that time of the trade. Particularly Lidstrom’s earlier years like say the Summer of 1998 and the subsequent years since.

Yes, the Wings traded for Chelios guarding against the possibility that Lidstrom was going to stop playing hockey in NA and go back to Sweden to raise his young kids before he signed an extension in Detroit. Read about it below:

It was the summer of 1998, and some who knew Nicklas Lidstrom most closely figured he might be heading back to Sweden. He was going to retire in his prime (or so, as we’d ultimately come to know, after a total of seven Norris Trophies, still not yet even in his prime).....he was seriously considering it. His teammates knew it. And it scared the heck out of them..

source: http://www.freep.com/article/20120603/SPORTS05/206030499/Jason-La-Canfora-Nicklas-Lidstrom-s-contract-talks-terrified-teammates

And it happened again in the summer of 1999 when the above contract expired too…

Red wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has given his agent, Don Meehan, permission to negotiate a new contract with Detroit, indicating that Lidstrom is leaning toward rejecting an offer from Vsters of the Swedish Elite League.

source2: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1016456/index.htm

so no I am not “f” ing kidding you. I know more about than you do and I am 100% correct that Chelios, Schneider, Rafalski, Stuart and the rest were to prepare against Lidstrom’s RETIREMENT FROM HOCKEY IN NORTH AMERICA WHICH STARTED BEING AN ISSUE IN THE SUMMER OF 1998.

Posted by d ca on 04/02/13 at 12:36 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.