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Red Wings early overnight report: Zengerle unofficially signed; TV talk & development camp leftovers

Updated 2x at 8:43 AM:

It's not the possibly imminent and possibly not imminent re-signing of Tomas Tatar, but the University of Wisconsin's made official a signing I'd mentioned last Friday--the Griffins' signing of a speedy playmaking forward named Mark Zengerle--and I quote from the University of Wisconsin Badgers' press release:

Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) will be gainfully employed come this fall as Wisconsin hockey’s top assist man from the last four seasons has signed a one-year contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. Grand Rapids is the top minor-league affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.

It ends an illustrious collegiate career for Zengerle, whose 162 career points are the most at UW since head coach Mike Eaves took over the program in 2002. The point total also ranks 24th in Wisconsin history. His 125 assists are the seventh-most in program history.

The senior made the most of his final season in Madison, leading the Badgers and ranking second in the Big Ten with 44 points, while also leading the conference with 33 helpers. The regular season effort earned him first-team All-Big Ten accolades, but Zengerle’s performance in the Big Ten tournament is what will go down as the highlight of his season.

He opened the tournament by assisting on Michael Mersch’s (Park Ridge, Ill.) game-winning goal late in the second period to send UW past Penn State and into the inaugural Big Ten tournament championship against Ohio State. Against the Buckeyes, his two assists helped the Badgers rebound from a pair of two-goal deficits and force overtime, and his goal 7:48 into the extra period gave Wisconsin the tournament title and led to Zengerle being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

He departs Wisconsin leaving a major void to fill, as he had played in over 36 games in each of his four seasons with the team and accumulated more than 23 assists in each year. He had more than 30 assists in three seasons, becoming only the fifth Badger ever to accomplish the feat. He ended his Wisconsin career on a 10-game point streak.

Zengerle's 25 and he's 5'11" and 182 pounds, but the right-shooting forward's stats break down as follows (see: he's a playmaker and thensome), per USCHO:

Season  Team                          GP  G  A  TP  PIM  +/-      
2010-11  Univ. of Wisconsin  41   5  31 36    51    0                
2011-12  Univ. of Wisconsin  37  13  37 50   38    1                  
2012-13  Univ. of Wisconsin  36   9  23 32     8    11                 
2013-14  Univ. of Wisconsin  37  10  34 44   29 10

The Wings have already inked forwards Kevin Porter and Andy Miele to 2-way contracts, ditto for goaltender Tom McCollum, the Griffins brought back defenseman Brennan Evans on an AHL deal, Ferris State University forward Shane Berschbach signed an AHL deal, and now Zengerle gets the chance to prove that he's worth an NHL contract a year from now.

He's on Twitter at @Zengerle9, too.



Otherwise...If you missed it, WDIV's David Bartkowiak, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan and MLive's Brendan Savage all confirm that the Red Wings are going to be on NBC or NBCSN 15 times this upcoming season:

Wed Oct 15, 2014 Boston vs. Detroit at 8:00 PM ET on NBCSN <--"Rivalry Night" game

Wed Oct 29, 2014 Detroit @ Washington at 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN <--"Rivalry Night" game

Wed Nov 5, 2014 Detroit @ NY Rangers at 8:00 PM ET on NBCSN <--"Rivalry Night" game

Wed Nov 26, 2014  Philadelphia vs. Detroit at 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN <--"Rivalry Night" game

Wed Dec 10, 2014 Toronto vs. Detroit at 8:00 PM ET on NBCSN <--"Rivalry Night" game

Mon Dec 29, 2014 Detroit @ Boston at 7:00 PM ET on NBCSN

Sun Jan 18, 2015 Buffalo vs. Detroit at 8:00 PM ET on NBCSN

Thu Feb 5, 2015 Detroit @ Colorado at 9:00 PM ET on NBCSN

Wed Feb 11, 2015 Detroit @ Pittsburgh at 8:00 PM ET on NBCSN <--"Rivalry Night" game

Wed Feb 18, 2015 Detroit @ Chicago at 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN <--"Rivalry Night" game

Wed Mar 4, 2015 NY Rangers vs. Detroit at 8:00 PM ET on NBCSN <--"Rivalry Night" Game

Sunday March 8 2015 Detroit @ Boston at 7:30 PM ET on NBC or NBCSN <--This game might be on NBC and might be on NBCSN

Sun Mar 15, 2015 Detroit @ Pittsburgh at 7:30 PM ET on NBC or NBCSN <--Ditto

Sun Mar 22, 2015 St. Louis vs. Detroit at 12:30 PM ET on NBC

Thu Apr 2, 2015 Boston vs. Detroit at 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN

Regarding the rink project, again, the "papers" haven't talked about it very much, but the local news stations have stated--repeatedly--that the "District Detroit" should provide some sorely-needed real estate for people who want to live and work downtown. CBS Detroit's Edward Cardenas penned an article about said aspect, and there's a video accompanying the story if you're interested:

“It  definitely bridges the gap between downtown and midtown,” said Jessica Krug, Director of Banker Relations at In-House Realty.

Krug made the comments following the first day of the [Live Downtown] games in Campus Martius Park. The games, along with charity efforts such as building emergency preparedness kits for the Red Cross, are an opportunity to introduce the changes to the region.

“It is really a great time for people who don’t live in the city, or aren’t familiar with the city, to come down and see what we are all doing down here,” she said. “There is a great vibe.”

Noel Pinchum works downtown at Quicken Loans and is excited about the proposed development – especially the diversity of options including housing.

“Now that I’m looking to possibly move, it makes it that much better,” said Pinchum, who currently lives in Farmington Hills. “We are not just a game day city. You can do anything down here.”

Having more options downtown is appealing to Dana Davis, who has lived downtown for five years and works at DTE Energy.

“I’ve really had a chance to see the whole energy change, and see the residences change, as well,”Davis said. “I’m really looking forward to some retail. I’ve always said if I could buy a pair of jeans downtown, I know the city is back.”

Shifting focus back to prospect news, Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski spoke with someone who looked like he was all of 17 in summer development camp try-out and defenseman River Rymsha...

The son and nephew of pro hockey players Andy and Steve Rymsha, respectively, River is focused on becoming the next member of the family to rise to the top levels of the game.

The Huntington Woods native will be attending Dartmouth College in the fall, but first he made a stop at the Detroit Red Wings’ annual development camp from July 4-8 in Traverse City.

“Growing up in Michigan, I’ve been going to Wings games since I was a little kid,” said the 17-year-old Rymsha. “You watch the Lidstroms and the Kronwalls, all of those guys, you learn from them, and to wear the same jersey as them, it’s quite an honor.”

Despite being one of the youngest players at the camp, Rymsha was upbeat about the way he performed while Red Wings GM Ken Holland and Assistant GM Ryan Martin, among others, were watching.

“I learned that I can compete with the best of the best,” Rymsha said. “I learned that you can go to another level even when you don’t think you can.”

And Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish spoke with someone who has a little higher ceiling in the Wings' first-round draft pick and incoming University of Michigan freshman Dylan Larkin (and this is apparently part 1 of a 3-part article):

The biggest surprise about Larkin is that he is not afraid to be a physical player in the corners or out in front of the net. Usually a player who needs to add more strength and weight is a bit wary about heading into a corner or getting in a battle in front of the net with a bigger player, but not Larkin.

Larkin talked about going to the net and said, “I like to score goals, so you gotta go to those areas to score goals. You see the NHL and even in the Playoffs this year most of the goals were from the point with guys in front, so that is how you score goals now.”

Dylan Larkin will have to work on his strength in order to battle efficiently with NHLers, but he was given a good base by the Detroit Red Wings training staff and will have two or three years to develop with the strength and conditioning staff at Michigan.

There are times when Larkin was thinking too much about the drill or what he was going to do with the puck and it allowed the defenseman to close down on him and make like harder on the young forward. More often than not Dylan was still able to make the play, but even in the NCAA there will not be enough time for him to think while playing.

As Fish states in the balance of his article, Larkin did indeed look 17--a little underpowered, a little less than a finished product--but that's why he's going the college route.

On Twitter...

And finally, Puck Daddy's Harrison Mooney's "Puck Headlines" included an article in which Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough spoke with CSN Chiago's Nina Falcone regarding the team's annual fan convention. Do you think that this would be a good idea for the Wings?

"I think one of the missions of the Blackhawks Convention is to humanize these guys," Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough said. "Again, make them have a common man's touch to professional sports. If there is any innocence left in professional sports — and I'm not sure that there is — I truly believe that it's in hockey.

"For the most part, these guys come up and they're not wildly heralded, they're not coming from some Big Ten program where everybody knows about them, or they're not coming from a school where you hear a lot about them. They go to the minor leagues."

At the start of the weekend, the players talked about how impressed they are by the turnout year after year; this year over 10,000 tickets sold out in less than a day.

They were excited to be all together again in Chicago, and to give their fans a special weekend to thank them for all of their support.

"I think [the players] were blown away with what they saw at the convention," McDonough said. "I think Blackhawks fans now feel they have something very special of their own."



Update: Detroit turns "313" today, and as such, the Free Press named its "All-Time Detroit Sports Teams." Among them:

The 1997 Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings ended Detroit’s 42-year wait for its eighth Stanley Cup. After a so-so regular season, the Wings stormed through the playoffs, beating St. Louis in six, Anaheim in four, Colorado in six and Philadelphia in four. Goalie Mike Vernon won the Conn Smythe. More key Wings: Captain Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan and Igor Larionov.


The 2002 Detroit Red Wings: The Hall of Fame team. Before the NHL instituted a salary cap, owner Mike Ilitch was able to spend as much as he wanted to bring players to Hockeytown. And what a crew he assembled, with seven current Hockey Hall of Famers (Chris Chelios, Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, Igor Larionov, Luc Robitaille, Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman) and likely three future ones: Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Datsyuk. You might never see another team like that, except for NHL All-Star Games.

The Free Press's Helene St. James completes her Atlantic Division survey with a glance at the Florida Panthers, who've improved significantly...

The Panthers have to entice players to come to Florida, the lure being more money than they’d get elsewhere. So far this summer, Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Shawn Thornton and Willie Mitchell have taken the bait to come play for a team that ranks among the lowest in the NHL in home attendance and that has made the playoffs once in the past 13 seasons.

The Panthers bought out defenseman Ed Jovanovski and saw Tom Gilbert depart to Montreal. They’ve also changed coaches, bringing in former Wings forward Gerard Gallant to help with the turnaround.

Bolland, last with Toronto, brings depth at center along with Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov, and Jokinen gives the Panthers another winger to use in the top-six mix along with Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Fleischmann. Training camp will determine where Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 overall pick from this summer’s draft, will fit.

The Panthers should be better defensively as they will have Roberto Luongo in goal. Luongo isn’t the elite netminder of a few years ago, but he is a definite upgrade over last season’s No. 1, Tim Thomas.

And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's latest "Red Wings Firsts"profile involves Xavier Ouellet:

The 20-year-old was called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins on Oct. 21 and made his NHL debut with Detroit during the team’s 1-0 shootout loss to San Jose. The defenseman skated in place of Jonathan Ericsson, whose fiancé delivered the couple’s first child, a daughter named Liv.

“I was really excited,” Ouellet said of making his debut. “I was happy to have my opportunity and I just wanted to get the best of it. It’s a loss so it’s kind of hard to say I feel good but I’m pretty proud of my game. There are a few things to still work on but it was really exciting and a great experience.”

The Bayonne, France, native returned to Grand Rapids the following day, and appeared in three more regular-season games throughout the season, making a lasting impression on his coaches and teammates during his short time wearing the Winged Wheel.

“I think he played very well, he made it easy on myself too,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “I think he’s got a lot of skill and he understands the NHL or the professional way to play. You have to get the puck in the top guy’s hands, we have some great forwards and he understood that. He made the easy, simple play and that’s how he stayed out of trouble and it actually ended up working out really well for our D pairing.”


In 23 shifts during his debut, Ouellet avoided committing any turnovers and spent his time on the bench soaking up knowledge from his fellow defensemen. Smith spent a lot of time after shifts talking to Ouellet to ease the transition between the Griffins and Red Wings systems, a gesture that the rookie greatly appreciated.

“They’re the best players in the world so I learned a lot, how to prepare and get ready on the ice talking and just learning how to play with a lot of structure,” Ouellet said. “These are things I learn every day here.”

Update #2: MLive's Brendan Savage emptied out his notebook via an interview with Andreas Athanasiou:

Athanasiou has blossomed into a major goal scorer since being taken by the Red Wings in the 2012 NHL draft and it's not a stretch to say he's flashier than Mantha given his stick-handling abilities, creativity with the puck and outstanding skating ability.

"He's unbelievably fast," said fellow Red Wings prospect Tyler Bertuzzi, who played against Athanasiou in OHL.

Like Mantha, Athanasiou is destined to begin his pro career full-time in Grand Rapids of the AHL this season.

But doesn't mean the highly confident forward won't have an NHL roster spot on his mind when training camp begins in September.

"I think that's everyone's expectation no matter how far or how close it is," said Athanasiou, who scored 49 goals for the OHL's Barrie Colts last season. "Everyone's expectation is to become a National Hockey League player. That's what I'm going to strive for.

"If I come up short, I'm going to be ready for wherever I go next year. I think I have the ability to play in the NHL. It's just a matter of how soon."

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The 2002 Detroit Red Wings

George; awhile back, I got into an argument with one of my Canadian friends from Windsor. The topic? The best teams of all-time. The qualifier was that you couldn’t pick two champions from the same dynasty, so some teams were omitted.

Our consensus, in no particular order, was the 2001-02 Wings (obviously the best), 1976-77 Canadians, 1983-84 Oilers, 1981-82 Islanders, and the 1971-72 Bruins.

Would your list be any different?

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 07/23/14 at 06:58 AM ET


Interesting info about Smith and Ouellet. Glad to see Smith taking that kind of leadership role and trying to teach. Although Smith has some things to learn, I’ve found teaching to be a great way to learn in my lifetime. I’ve long predicted Smith will turn out to be a really good defenseman. I expect this season or next season that he’ll have a breakout year.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 07/23/14 at 09:56 AM ET

tekjansen's avatar

I’d love for the Wings to hold a fan convention. The Tigers do their Winter Caravan, so it’s not like Olympia doesn’t realize the value it has.

You’d think that a team that sells itself as “Hockeytown” would be more involved with selling hockey. (Not to say the Wings are lacking in terms of public outreach, they certainly have plenty of community events for children and charity.)

Posted by tekjansen on 07/23/14 at 10:11 AM ET

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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.


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