The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/23/13 at 01:38 PM ET
Updated 3x at 6:17 PM: As I annoy the Safelite folks in Livonia because they've finished my windshield ahead of schedule and I'm still doing work...
Following up this morning's news about Wings cuts and the Grand Rapids Griffins' training camp opening in GR, the Red Wings made a paper transaction that allows the team to temporarily reduce its roster size--though the player demoted will have to be recalled to serve the final game of his suspension...
TEEMU PULKKINEN ASSIGNED TO GRIFFINS
Detroit, MI... The Detroit Red Wings today assigned right wing Teemu Pulkkinen to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. A fourth-round pick (111th overall) of Detroit in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Pulkkinen begins his first professional season in North America after spending the last four seasons with Jokerit in Finland’s SM-Liiga. He joined the Griffins today as the team began their week-long training camp in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The move brings the Red Wings roster down to 29 players.
The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Jordin Tootoo won't have the luxury of playing in any more preseason games to stake his claim on a roster spot...
The Detroit Red Wings are using today as an off day, which, for some players, meant tests and others meant rest. Forward Jordin Tootoo, for example, is out through the exhibition season after sustaining a shoulder injury Thursday at Boston, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press.
Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson is dealing with a sore groin, and the team hopes to have a better handle on where he stands after getting results from an MRI exam.
That's good news? I think.
Forwards Darren Helm (groin, back) and Patrick Eaves (MCL, ankle) are also ailing.
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa and the Detroit Free Press's Perry A. Farrell reported that Helm skated in practice on Sunday...
Forward Daniel Alfredsson, who hasn't played in a week because of a tender groin, plans to practice Tuesday and, if all goes well, will play Wednesday night, when the Wings host the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Two exhibitions remain after that, with a home game Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs and a date Saturday against the Leafs in Toronto.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose looked at "The Week Ahead in Hockeytown" while reminding fans that Henrik Zetterberg and a coalition of Southeastern Michigan police and fire departments will be collecting smoke detectors at Wednesday and Friday's exhibition games:
The Red Wings have a dilemma that needs to be resolved by next Monday afternoon. General manager Ken Holland must find a way to trim three forwards from the roster just to be salary cap compliant. For a player like Gustav Nyquist this week is his last chance to convince the coaching staff that he should start the season in Detroit, not Grand Rapids.
“One week left until we get down to the final roster,” Nyquist said. “You want to put your best foot forward to make the team and earn as much ice time as possible. You have to be an every-dayer to play here and we all know that, so that’s what we’re going to try to do in the last week.”
Nyquist isn’t alone. The Swedish forward is battling veteran wingers Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo for a role on this team. However, Nyquist is the easiest player to move. He can be sent down to the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate without clearing waivers.
The Red Wings open the regular-season next Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena. It’s expected that the team will carry 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies on the roster. Holland and the Wings’ coaching staff will have a difficult time deciding who makes this year’s 23-man roster. The team took 17 pro-caliber forwards to training camp knowing that only 14 jobs would exist by the time the season started.
Nyquist has used training camp and the exhibition games to make his case to remain in Detroit.
“Camp is about showing the coaching staff what you have out there and how well you can play,” Nyquist said. “You can’t have one or two good games. You have to keep going and play all of the games; they’re still watching. I mean, this last week is going to be big for a lot of us forwards. We’re still three too many, so we’re all going to try to work as hard as possible and show them that you want to be on this team.”
However, injuries to several key players could create openings for others to break into the opening night roster. Darren Helm, (lower back, groin) remains out indefinitely, Patrick Eaves (MCL, ankle) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) are 2-4 weeks from returning to the lineup, and Jakub Kindl (hip flexor), Daniel Alfredsson (groin) and Tootoo (bruised shoulder) are day to day. Nyquist could make the team by default, but his focus remains on preparing for the season and getting in sync with his linemates during the last three preseason games.
“They’re still going to try different combos and watch how you do with the different guys that they put you out there with and in different situations. This is camp,” he said. “We know we have too many forwards and we’re all trying to take a spot. Everyone wants to play, obviously, so I think (the coaches) are going to try different combos this week to see who matches with who.”
So last three exhibition games--Wednesday against Pittsburgh (on FSD Plus), Friday against Toronto (I'm sure we'll find some illegal streams of Leafs TV) and Saturday at Toronto (on the CBC and the NHL Network U.S.)--will play a large part in determining "who stays and who goes" once Helm, Eaves and Gustavsson are healthy:
“I'd like everyone to be healthy and playing but that's not reality,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We're going to get as many guys going at a high enough level as we can.”
SEPT. 27: Prior to the puck drop of Friday’s home preseason finale, the Red Wings will recognize a few former greats from past eras of the long-running Detroit-Toronto rivalry. Expected to be on hand for the pre-game salute will be former Wings forwards Dino Ciccarelli, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby, as well as former Leafs forwards Darcy Tucker, Rick Vaive, Ron Ellis and Kevin Maguire. All seven former players will be participants in the upcoming Hockeytown Winter Festival featuring the Alumni Showdown.
In the prospect department, MLive's Ansar Khan's off-day article discusses the strong play of the diminuitive but supremely-skilled Adam Almquist, who registered 2 goals against Pittsburgh last Wednesday and an assist in yesterday's loss to Chicago. Call-up #1? You betcha:
“That's what I'm working for, try to get better every day and keep working and playing good,'' Almquist, 22, said. “Hopefully, I'll get a chance.''
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock likes what he's seen from Almquist, noting his tremendous hockey sense and high skill level. The primary knock against Almquist is his size.
“He's 5-11½ they tell me, and 170 pounds,'' Babcock said. “If he can work at it and get to 187 pounds, with his skill set he may be able to play (in the NHL).''
Hell, if he can get to 175, he'll be a whole lot better.
Almquist scored a pair of power-play goals in his NHL preseason debut last week in Pittsburgh. He remains on the Red Wings roster for now and likely will play in one or two more exhibition games before being sent back to Grand Rapids.
“It's my first camp, it's been fun,'' Almquist said. “It's a little bit new, everything. It's going good. I know there's so many good players here, you have to expect it's going to be intensity and good players making good plays all the time. You have to be prepared and make the best out of every day.''
Almquist was the Griffins' second-leading scorer among defensemen last season (10 goals, 21 assists), his first year in North America. The Red Wings took note of Almquist's skill level when he played in Sweden – his vision, his hands, his shot and his ability to quarterback the power play. His size precluded him from being drafted higher in 2009. The Red Wings selected him in the seventh round, 210th overall.
“I need to get stronger, get a little heavier and just keep working hard every day and try to get better at everything,'' Almquist said.
The Wings may end up signing Griffins defenseman Nathan Paetsch to a 2-way deal once they alleviate their 50-man-roster crunch, but there's no doubt that Almquist's speedy little legs and smart passes and shots made with that short stick have impressed the hell out of the Wings' brass.
And finally, the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau revealed why Willie Coetzee remains on the Wings' roster:
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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.