The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/02/13 at 10:30 AM ET
Update: Here's an FYI regarding Bouwmeester from ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, via RedWingsFeed:
I'm still trying to get my bearings back after missing about 30 hours due to boogers, so here's a getting-my-feet-wet Red Wings news post.
The Wings' beat writers did update the injury statuses of several Red Wings players over the last 12-or-so hours, with the most important injured Wing's groin injury deemed to be a minor one, as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa noted on Monday afternoon:
The Red Wings will skate without Henrik Zetterberg against the Avalanche tonight, in addition to their group of long-injured players, Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm.
Zetterberg said that tests "showed something" on what is said to be a lower-body injury and presumed to be a groin.
The captain, who did not play Sunday against Chicago, is listed as day-to-day.
"I would say I feel a few percent better today than yesterday," Zetterberg said Monday. "So, that's improvement."
He said he believes he injured himself against the Sharks in the last game on the recent trip to the West Coast.
"Well, I think it's like an inflammation is what 'something' meant," General Manager Ken Holland said, of Zetterberg's injury. "It's nothing serious. I know coming to the rink, today, he was hoping to play. But we told him we don't want him to play."
This morning, the Detroit Free Press's George Sipple updates us on the status of Darren Helm, and the news ain't good...
Everyone is frustrated that Red Wings forward Darren Helm hasn't returned from a back injury.
"We thought he was going to be back 10 days ago," general manager Ken Holland said Monday.
"I think the doctors are frustrated," Holland said. "I think the training staff is frustrated. I think Helm is frustrated, the coach and manager are frustrated."
Holland said there's no time frame for when Helm might play.
It sounds like Kyle Quincey's a little overly optimistic regarding his timeline for returning to the lineup...
Defenseman Kyle Quincey (fractured cheek) said he hoped to return Thursday at Phoenix.
"Is that what he said?" coach Mike Babcock said. "It'll be a battle. I think (Danny) DeKeyser thinks he's playing Thursday, too, so that's good. I like having too many."
Quincey said he can't feel his teeth, so he's just eating soft foods. He's also adjusting to his new cage helmet. Quincey said the last time he wore a cage was when he was 15.
As for Todd Bertuzzi, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reports that Bertuzzi's on a slow but steady trajectory toward rejoining the Wings...Let's just say "before the playoffs begin":
Forward Todd Bertuzzi (back) continues to skate with the team.
“Hopefully everything stays the course and hopefully get back within a week or so,” Bertuzzi said. “But it’s tough to say when you’re going to do it. I just have to make sure that I’m ready. I don’t want to go in the lineup then come out of the lineup because of an issue because I rushed. So, I understand the season’s coming to a halt and it’s frustrating that I feel that I can go in there and hope the guys out, and the guys are battling and doing their best. They’ve done a good job, but it would be nice to get out there and help them out.
“I think the doctor just said it goes in sections,” Bertuzzi added. “The epidural works in the back first, works its way down the leg and back up the inside, so I think I’m probably at the last stage, hopefully. Hopefully it stays that way and I can be back sooner.”
In terms of trade talk, the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau duly noted that the Red Wings are in a particularly difficult spot because, in addition to Ken Holland's belief that the team should not engage in the rental business, the Wings are moving from the Western to Eastern Conferences next year, and that makes a team not only facing a salary cap that's going down from $70.2 to $64.3 million and significant decisions in terms of re-signing or not re-signing its unrestricted and restricted free agents (Jimmy Howard, Damien Brunner, Valtteri Filppula, Danny Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White will be UFA's, and, per Capgeek.com, Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Jakub Kindl will all be unrestricted free agents), the Wings may end up trading with possible division rivals, which is less than ideal:
A deal in the West might be easier to make but the playoff picture is murky at this stage of the season. Five teams (St. Louis, Dallas, Edmonton, Nashville and Phoenix) are just four points outside a playoff spot and may be making a playoff push instead of trading valuable assets. The two obvious targets are Calgary and Colorado who are seven and nine points out of the playoffs.
The Wings brass will assess the market heading into the deadline, but all signs are pointing to no major movement this year. Having injured players like Todd Bertuzzi, Kyle Quincey and Darren Helm return to the lineup would provide a needed boost, but won’t resolve the team deficiencies. Even if a trade materialized, there likely isn’t a deal that could provide the Wings with a complete solution and they would likely have to sacrifice some young talent like Tomas Tatar, Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist or high draft picks.
Working within the cap and weighing the costs of moving prospects and draft picks isn’t new for the Red Wings, but the added barriers of moving to the East while currently playing in the West puts the team in a unique circumstance. The situation is temporary and will resolve with the planned realignment next season, but expect it to add an extra wrinkle in Detroit’s ability to make a significant deal by Wednesday’s deadline.
The Free Press posted a story in which high school journalist Matthew Hawkins interviewed Holland about the trade deadline, and Holland suggested that the teams in the West don't feel like lending each other a hand, either:
Ken Holland is part of a crowded field of general managers trying to be a buyer when there aren't enough sellers.
"In a 30-team league, realistically, we're talking to probably two teams in the West and we're talking to five or six teams from the East," the Red Wings general manager said. "There's not a lot of teams, so to fill a want or a need, it looks easy, but it's not."
The Red Wings, sixth in the Western Conference, sit seven points ahead of 13th-seeded Phoenix. In the Eastern Conference, six points separate the seventh through 14th-place teams. All contests in the 48-game season are being played within the conference. Because the East won't meet the West until the Stanley Cup Final, teams are even less willing to trade within their conference than in an 82 -game season.
"Nobody in the West wants to help anybody in the West," Holland said. "Other than a couple of teams that might feel they're out of the playoffs, everybody else is in the hunt. Nobody wants to help their competition, so you're rarely dealing with the West."
Holland still expects between 20 and 30 trades on deadline day "(but) for the most part it's going to be little trades. It's getting harder and harder to do trades because of the parity," Holland said.
The Red Wings can also get help if Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and Darren Helm to come back from injury and contribute, adding depth without losing any assets to a deadline deal. Holland is OK with getting a potential unrestricted free agent as long as the player can contribute immediately toward wins down the stretch.
"Our needs between now and Wednesday is a legitimate top nine forward, a legitimate top four defenseman, at a price that we feel comfortable with, whether it's a rental or whether it's a legitimate hockey trade," Holland said. "It's hard to do deals, but I'm going to work the phones and see what's available."
You can take the conversation Holland had with the Windsor Star's Bob Duff for what you will:
"It's definitely a tense time." No one knows this better than Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, the man with holding the hammer in any potential move the team might opt to make between now and Wednesday's 3 p.m. EST deadline.
"For me, the best way I can do my job is to take the emotion out of it," Holland said. "The fans just see them on TV or see them play. I know their wives. I know their families. I see a different side. When they play hard for you every day, you get attached to them, so you've got to take the emotion out, especially if they're young people and they go through your system."
Holland still recalls the first deal he did as GM, even if some of the details escape him.
"I remember the first trade I made as a manager, Jamie Pushor for a defenceman from Anaheim (Dmitri Mironov)," he said. "It was tough. I was the chief scout when we took him in the second round out of Lethbridge (WHL)," Holland recalled. "I'd go visit him after the game. I watched him grow through junior hockey into pro in the American Hockey League. You get to know him as a person and how bad they want to play for the Red Wings. I took him into a room to tell him and Jamie was devastated."
Holland held a similar conversation Sunday with defenceman Kent Huskins, informing him he was now a Philadelphia Flyer.
Even though he was only briefly a Wing, the move still reverberated through the room.
"Everybody's a brother in this room and all of a sudden you lose one of you brothers because they are looking for something different in the lineup to help us win," [Brendan] Smith said. It feels really weird, especially when it is your stall mate, or your linemate that you end up losing."
Again, Holland's stance is pretty tough in terms of what he's willing to do to help the team, as the Macomb Daily's Pleiness noted:
“I don’t think we need any more depth up front,” Holland said. “We’d like to get healthy up front. If we can do a legitimate trade to acquire a player that we think is a legitimate top nine or top six forward or a legitimate top four defenseman then we’re going to look. I don’t need any depth. There’s no use for me trading a fourth-round pick to bring in here someone to sit. We have lots of depth up front and we have lots of depth on defense so we don’t need depth.
“Is there a player that someone wants to trade that wants to be a top six or top nine forward, not really when everyone is trying to win,” Holland continued. “Today a couple of teams signed players that were going to be unrestricted free agents. I think between now and Wednesday lots of teams are going to sign some of their players. I’m working the phones and if there’s a legitimate top six or top nine forward or a legitimate top four D, behind that I don’t think we have (much interest).”
The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Wednesday. Holland will miss the Wings’ charter flight to Phoenix just in case a deal for what he’s looking for happens.
“I think we wake up Wednesday and because of history we’ll have 20-30 trades, but lots of deals will be made for depth,” Holland said. “I’ve had some conversations with some teams about the odd depth player and I really don’t have an interest. Again, because of the development of (Jakub) Kindl, (Brian) Lashoff, Brendan Smith, because of the signing of Dan DeKeyser on defense, we’ve got nine guys here and had to trade away Kent Huskins to make room.
“Because of the development of Joakim Andersson, who we really like,” Holland continued. “(Tomas) Tatar and (Gustav) Nyquist have gotten an opportunity. Because Patrick Eaves is healthy. Because we signed Damien Brunner, who can play in the NHL. You look and we don’t need any depth.”
What kind of forward might Holland target? I agree with MLive's Ansar Khan as he's suggesting that Jason Pominville, who's a right-shooting, 6'0," 185-lb and 30-year-old forward currently playing for the Buffalo Sabres, is the kind of player the Wings are looking for--though I have no idea how the Wings would accommodate his cap hit:
Contract: After this season, one year remaining at a salary-cap hit of $5.3 million.
Strengths: He's a consistent point producer who's a good playmaker and finisher. He's scored at least 20 goals in six consecutive seasons prior to this year, hitting the 30-goal mark twice during that stretch. He has topped the 60-point mark five times. He's also a responsible defensive player who leads his team in takeaways, and he and kills penalties. He's extremely durable, having missed only nine games in the past seven seasons. He is Buffalo's captain and a strong leader.
Weaknesses: He's not a big guy and might he showing signs of wear. After a strong start this season, he has just one point in his past seven games.
Why the Red Wings might be interested in him: They could use a top-six winger who can put the puck in the net. They don't know what they can expect from injured forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi; both are expected to return this season, but how effective can they be after missing so much time? Another right-handed shot on a team loaded with lefties would be a bonus. They don't want a rental if they have to part with a high pick or decent prospect, and Pominville has a year left on his deal.
What it might take to get him: Some combination of a high draft pick and a quality prospect.
The Sabres are in sell mode and on Monday reportedly asked Pominville to submit a list of eight teams to whom he does not want to be traded, as per his modified no-movement clause. Would Buffalo trade this franchise fixture to Detroit, since the clubs will be division rivals next season when the Red Wings move to the Eastern Conference?
Trade options for top-six forwards appear to be limited because few teams are out of the playoff picture. The Sabres clearly are listening to offers for Pominville, which doesn't necessarily mean they will trade him. If they do, is he the kind of scorer/playmaker the Red Wings need?
One of Pominville's teammates, 27-year-old winger Drew Stafford, might be a better and cheaper fit, but again, the Sabres become a divisional rival next season, so I'm not sure if they're interested in moving any of their players to Detroit.
Okay, in terms of prospect stuff that I missed:
On Sunday, in NCAA hockey, Nick Jensen didn't register a point but played strongly in Saint Cloud State University's 4-1 win over Notre Dame, earning Saint Cloud a berth in the Frozen Four. Saint Cloud State will play Quinnipiac on Thursday, April 4th in Pittsburgh, at 8 PM, and the game will air on ESPN2. Whoever wins that game will play against the winner of the Yale-University of Massachusetts-Lowell game.
On Sunday, in the OHL, Ryan Sproul didn't register a point as his junior career ended with a disappointing 4-3 loss to the Owen Sound Attack, which eliminated the Soo in six games;
On Monday, in the OHL, Alan Quine scored the game's first goal in the Belleville Bulls' 3-1 win over Mississauga, allowing Belleville to advance to the second round of the OHL playoffs after defeating Mississauga in six games;
And on Monday, in Sweden, Mattias Backman didn't play in Linkopings HC's 3-2 OT loss to Skelleftea AIK. Linkopings HC trails their Eliteserien semifinal 2 games to 1.
Tonight, the Grand Rapids Griffins will wrap up a 4-games-in-Texas swing and continue an extended road trip, as the Griffins website's weekly press release notes:
This Week’s Games
Tue., April 2 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 8:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., April 5 - GRIFFINS at Abbotsford Heat - 10 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., April 6 - GRIFFINS at Abbotsford Heat - 10 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Texas Triangle: The Griffins’ season-high seven-game road trip continues last week with three games in three nights against teams in the state of Texas. Grand Rapids controlled much of its first game of the week in San Antonio on Thursday, outshooting the home team 40-16. But Rampage netminder Brian Foster was nearly unbeatable, making 39 saves, and his team made their shots count as they skated to a 4-1 win. The Griffins came out strong the following night against Houston, as Jeff Hoggan scored just 29 seconds into the game. The Aeros took the lead with goals just 19 seconds apart by Chad Rau and Nick Petersen, but Hoggan’s second of the game evened the score at two before the midway point of the first period. The game remained tied until Chad Billins snuck in from the point to tally the game-winning goal with 2:01 remaining, giving the Griffins a 3-2 win. Saturday’s game at Texas was reminiscent of Thursday’s contest in San Antonio, as Stars netminder Jack Campbell allowed just one goal on 43 shots as Grand Rapids fell 3-1 to the Western Conference leaders.
South to North: Grand Rapids will remain in Texas this week for its fourth straight game against a South Division opponent when it visits Houston on Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. EDT. From there, the Griffins will head north to battle Abbotsford on back-to-back nights to wrap up their season-high seven game road trip. The team will square off with the Heat on Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m. EDT.
End in Sight: The calendar flipping from March to April is a welcome sight for the Griffins, as the team will finish a stretch of 10 of 11 games on the road (March 16-April 6) this week before playing four of their last six games at home. Following a 3-2 home victory over Chicago on March 13, the Griffins have not spent many nights in Grand Rapids with a stretch that includes three straight divisional games against Milwaukee and Peoria (March 16-19), a home-and-home set against Lake Erie (March 22-23), four straight games in Texas (March 28-April 2) and back-to-back games in Abbotsford (April 5-6). The Griffins will wrap up the regular season with a four-game homestand (April 10-21) and back-to-back road games against Lake Erie and Chicago (April 20-21).
Playoff Picture: With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Griffins still hold a seven-point lead on Milwaukee for the top spot in the Midwest Division, and they sit third in the Western Conference, trailing Toronto by two points. Below is a brief look at the Western Conference’s playoff picture, including regulation wins (ROW, the first playoff tiebreaker), a breakdown of the remaining schedule and each team’s magic number to finish above or below Grand Rapids:
Team Points Wins ROW Games Left Home Road Opponents' Winning % GR Magic # Over (Pts.) Magic # Over GR
82 38 33 9
4 5 0.533 --- ---
Milwaukee 75 34 31 10 4 6 0.566 14 26
Chicago 73 32 27 11 3 8 0.564 14 28
Rockford 71 34 29 9 3 6 0.549 8 30
Chicago 69 31 25 8 5 3 0.575 4 32
Remaining Western Conference Teams
Team Points Wins ROW Games Left Home Road Opponents' Winning % GR Magic # Over (Pts.) Magic # Over GR
Texas 89 39 34 9 4 5 0.535 26 12
Toronto 84 38 35 9 4 5 0.506 21 17
Charlotte 83 39 36 8 4 4 0.576 18 18
Rochester 78 37 30 9 4 5 0.522 15 23
Houston 76 33 28 10 7 3 0.539 15 25
Oklahoma City 74 32 28 11 6 5 0.550 15 27
San Antonio 65 29 26 10 7 3 0.583 4 36
Abbotsford 72 31 25 6 4 2 0.603 2 29
Lake Erie 68 29 23 7 4 3 0.558 n/a n/a
Hamilton 58 26 23 10 4 6 0.549 n/a n/a
Fantastic First-Years: Part of the Griffins’ success this season has been due to a strong rookie class that looks to be cementing itself in the franchise record books. Chad Billins is threatening to become the Griffins’ all-time leading scoring leader among rookie defensemen, with 34 points (8-26—34) in 67 games. Billins’ goal on Friday at Houston moved him past Kyle Quincey (7-26—33 in 2005-06) and into second place, trailing Clay Wilson (10-27—37 in 2005-06) by three points. Billins currently sits 12th among single-season rookie scorers and is tied for fifth in assists. A fellow AHL All-Star, Petr Mrazek is having one of the best-ever seasons for a Griffins’ rookie goaltender. His 2.37 goals against average and 0.915 save percentage rank third behind only Simon Lajeunesse (2.11 GAA and 0.916 save percentage in 2001-02) and Joey MacDonald (2.20 GAA and 0.916 save percentage), while his 21 wins place him second behind only Jimmy Howard (27 in 2005-06). Finally, Riley Sheahan currently ranks among the team’s all-time rookie scoring leaders, as his 37 points (16-19—35) tie him with Cory Emmerton for 11th all time. Two more points will move him into a four-way tie with Josh Langfeld (2001-02), Chris Bala (2001-02) and Clay Wilson (2005-06) for eighth place.
In Reach: The Griffins could reach a historic milestone this week, as they sit two wins shy of 700 in their 17-year history. Grand Rapids is 38-23-3-3 this season, improving its all-time mark to 698-503-27-38-87 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL).
Update: Via DRW Prospects on Twitter:
Penticton defeated West Kelowna 5-4 in OT...And the teams' second-round series will resume tonight.
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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.