The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/15/13 at 11:45 PM ET
The last day of the Red Wings' summer development camp yielded a press release finalizing the details of the Wings' prospect tournament, a marathon entry from me, and, mostly, Red Wings fans debating Brendan Smith's worth and role with the team after the Wings re-signed the restricted free agent, avoiding arbitration via a 2-year, $2.525 million deal.
As it turns out, Red Wings GM Ken Holland spelled out Smith's worth to the team and role going forward in significant detail while speaking with MLive's Ansar Khan...
“I thought he had a pretty good year,'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “With all young players it's a little bit of a roller coaster, trying to figure out the league and how to play defense in the NHL. On a team trying to compete for the playoffs, sometimes the mistakes are magnified. All in all he had a good year.''
Smith, 24, will earn $1.25 million next season and $1.275 million in 2014-15, for a salary-cap hit of $1.2625 million. He will be a restricted free agent once again when this deal expires in 2015.
Smith had no goals, eight assists and a plus-1 rating in 34 regular season games (he had one goal and six assists in 14 games in 2012-13). He struggled at times in his own zone during the playoffs, when he had two goals, three assists and a minus-3 rating in 14 games.
“In pro hockey, you have to play safe; young players need to learn that,'' Holland said. “He plays physical, plays with an edge, can fight. Sometimes when you compete, it backfires and the other team has a chance to score. We think he can develop into a top-four defenseman. He can be a minute-muncher. The coach has a lot of confidence in him.''
The Windsor Star's Jim Parker...
Detroit’s first-round pick in 2007, the six-foot-one, 198-pound Smith had eight assists in 34 games in his first full season with the Red Wings in 2012-13. Once considered a high-end offensive threat, Holland still believes Smith will get his chance to shine on offence in the future.
“He had no time on the power play,” Holland said. “Somewhere down the road, (Red Wings head coach) Mike Babcock will give him time on the power play. For now, Mike wants him to do more things on the defensive side of the puck.
“We’re trying to go with young people. He had an incredible run from the mid-90s. A lot of those players have retired. We’re trying to find players to keep us competitive.”
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, who offered good news on another front as well:
The Wings’ other two restricted free agents – Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson – remained unsigned.
“They’ll be done by camp,” Holland said.
The Detroit Free Press's George Sipple also confirmed the Smith signing, and, while speaking with Holland, he found that the Wings' GM echoed the statements made by one Darren Helm himself (in a conversation with MLive's Brendan Savage) regarding Helm's progress made over the course of his time spent at the summer development camp:
Veteran forward Darren Helm, who missed all but one game last season due to a back injury, made it through increased activity the final two days of the Wings prospect development camp in Traverse City, which concluded Monday.
“The news was as positive as we could want without having physical contact,” Holland said. “The past two or three days, he did a full on-ice workout and a full off-ice workout. Came back the next day, did it all over again.”
Holland said Helm didn’t report any back issues.
“He’s going to be around Detroit for the rest of this week with our training staff,” Holland said. “As long as we don’t get any negative reports from the summertime, the next big test is the middle of August when he hits the ice with his teammates and goes out there and practices every day.”
Going forward roster-wise, the Wings can exceed the cap to re-sign Nyquist and Andersson--and they'll probably do so given that Capgeek estimates that the Wings have about $1.044 million in cap space remaining--but they're going to have to clear both roster space to get under the 23-man roster limit and get back under the cap by the end of training camp.
I certainly raised an eyebrow when MLive's Ansar Khan revealed that Holland would, in Khan's words, "ideally" add to as well as subtract from the roster, but is okay standing pat for now...
“We’re comfortable where we’re at right now,'' Holland said Monday, after signing defenseman Brendan Smith to a two-year, $2.52 million contract. “Before we do anything we’d have to move somebody. It's pretty quiet in the industry right now. Everybody probably is into a bit of a summer mode.''
The Red Wings will sign restricted free agent forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson by September, at the latest, Holland said. That would give the club 25 players, two over the roster limit. If everyone is healthy by the start of the season, they would need to trade or waive a couple of players.
With a payroll of $66.2 million, the club already is over the salary-cap limit of $64.3 million, but has some flexibility in being able to apply Daniel Alfredsson's potential $2 million in bonuses to the 2014-15 cap, which is expected to rise.
The Wings can do that right away, so it's not an issue.
This is why Holland has not signed Daniel Cleary, who is among about a half-dozen notable free agent forwards still available (the list includes Damien Brunner, Mikhail Grabovski, Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow and Mason Raymond).
“We’d like to do a move or two, but I’m not sure we can,'' Holland said. “If we can’t make a move I’m OK with our team and we'll go to camp. If we can make a move and free up some money then certainly re-signing Dan Cleary is a possibility. But, unless we move somebody, we aren’t signing anybody.''
That concept makes me cringe given that Nyquist, Andersson and Tatar have all cemented spots on the 2013-2014 roster, and those words are doubly concerning given Khan's other revelation:
Right wing Mikael Samuelsson is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
“I believe he's on the road to recovery,'' Holland said. “There was talk at the end of the year he might need surgery (for a torn pectoral muscle). The doctors looked at him and said no surgery, just needs time to heal. He was feeling better every day. We expect him to be ready for the start of camp.''
Regarding the summer development camp, I did kind of sort of spend five hours on my final entry, and Griffinshockey.com's Kyle Kujawa penned a superb article about the incoming Grifins, and this is just part of a much longer article (including an, "Aww" moment from Alexei Marchenko) that's just fantastic in its scope and breadth:
Among the candidates for a full-time roster spot this fall are a trio of highly-touted 20-year-olds from the major junior ranks in Ryan Sproul, Richard Nedomlel and Xavier Ouellet.
“I thought I did a really good job this season,” said Ouellet of his year with the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. “I had the bad injury on my ankle, but it’s part of hockey and I was able to get back on the ice. I’m really proud of what I did.”
Born in Bayonne, France, where his father Robert played eight seasons professionally, Ouellet is a dual citizen and was selected to play for Canada at the World Junior Championships this season, a team that has to make tough roster decisions every year. For comparison, Sproul, a fellow first-year, was among the final cuts, and he went on to be named the OHL’s most outstanding defenseman and the CHL Defenseman of the Year.
Like Sproul, billed as an offensive defenseman with an elite shot, and Nedomlel, a 6-foot-5, 231-pound physical and mobile defenseman, Ouellet brings considerable hype into his first professional season. But he sees that competition is tough, and knows that being a high draft pick (48th overall in 2011) doesn’t guarantee him a roster spot next season.
“I need to keep getting stronger and work on my explosiveness,” Ouellet said.
If the Griffins are looking for a little more experience for next year’s group, they’ll have options there as well. Also in the mix are Alexey Marchenko, a 21-year-old defenseman who has played parts of four seasons professionally in the KHL, and Nick Jensen, a first-year pro who will be 23 before the start of next season.
“If I stayed in Russia, I’d be playing there for two more years and the Red Wings might not have given me a contract,” said Marchenko, who was always vocal about his intentions to play in North America after the Red Wings drafted him in 2011. “My dream is to play here with great players like Pavel Datsyuk. If you even have a little chance to be here, you have to try it. That’s my opinion, and that’s why I’m here.”
Kujawa continues and duly notes that Nick Jensen and Max Nicastro are also in the mix, and when you add in the re-signing of defensemen Brennan Evans and Nathan Paetsch, the Griffins have a full compliment of eight defensemen.
Otherwise, as this is an early overnight report, I found two more articles:
- According to AnnArbor.com's Kyle Austin, the University of Michigan's Board of Regents is all but guaranteed to allow beer and liquor to be solid during the Winter Classic when the Board votes on the measure this Thursday (they approved it last year at this time, but the lockout-induced Winter Classic cancellation means that they have to go through the process all over again);
- And Yahoo Sports' Sunaya Sapurji reports that, should Martin Frk wish to visit the Memorial Cup his Halifax Mooseheads won this past season, he'll have to visit the Mooseheads' front office as the team decided to not allow its players to take the fragile trophy home after seeing what happened when the Shawinigan Cataractes allowed its players to have their "day" with the Cup last summer. Bummer.
Regarding Tuesday's iternerary...Paul will be taking the reins as I get up at 9 and head back to South Lyon starting at 11--with a 40-minute stop scheduled for Grayling's Lone Pine in as the mom has a hankering for their onion rings, and no summer vacation this year = this is the only time I'll be up here until (hopefully) the prospect tournament and main camp this September--and then I'll continue on the 230-mile drive to South Lyon, hopefully arriving home before rush hour hits at 5.
Paul is well aware of the Tweet Dmitry Chesnokov posted yesterday evening, as noted by RedWingsFeed:
So we'll have that covered.
Otherwise, I'll check in on Tuesday evening, and I am hoping for a quiet rest of the week as these 16-to-18-hour work-days were both a privilege and a bit of a grind. I hope you were satisfied with the work I put in--because this trip was entirely reader-supported, and I remain humbly grateful for your support.
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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.