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Red Wings evening gnus: on Brunner, Gustavsson and Franzen

Very briefly given that I'm assuming most of you are watching the Bruins-Penguins game or still arguing about Franzen:

 

  • Pro Hockey Talk's James O'Brien read the headline and went, "OooooOOOOoo"--understandably so--but  we already heard Damien Brunner offer a very European take on not knowing his place of employment in June (see: "Um...I think I'll be back? Uh...You guys know that training camps in Switzerland open in July, right?" And yes, it's going to take about $3 million to re-sign the unrestricted free agent-to-be), and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reiterated Brunner's remarks...

“It’s hard for me to say,” Brunner said when asked if he expected to return to Detroit. “We’ll see what’s coming. I’m excited about talking to them about my future.

“I can’t say anything bad about the Detroit Red Wings,” Brunner continued. “It’s a first-class organization. It was a big honor to wear that sweater. I’m looking forward to the next weeks. It’s going to be decision time, but I think it’ll be a good time as well.”

But Pleiness offered some new takes to the mix regarding Brunner's up-and-down season from both Brunner himself (regarding both the regular season and playoff intensity, as well as the Wings' treatment of their players...I can't quote the entire article)...

“I think I played 97 games total this season,” Brunner said. “I guessed at some point I would hit a wall. It wasn’t just because of the amount of games, but the travel was really tough for me to adjust to, especially the time difference. It was exciting and a lot of fun, I mean, my first NHL season and I get a chance to play with the Red Wings,” Brunner continued. “It was an honor to put that sweater on and I’m happy that it turned out the way it did.”

And the man who's going to re-sign Brunner:

“It’s a hard league to score goals in,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He scored a lot of goals early and then he went through a stretch where he didn’t score very much and then he seemed to get a second wind. I think he got five playoff goals in 14 games which is a lot of goals. Again, meet with the coaches. My initial reaction is we probably want to re-sign him but I’ve got to go through the process.”

Pleiness also offered a scoop on Jonas Gustavsson's future (he's got a year and $1.5 million remaining on his deal), who Pleiness notes had a very, very up-and-down seven-game stint with the Wings while battling groin injuries:

"He didn’t work out because he didn’t play,” Holland said. “I would say to you first off, over 82 games, there’s a little more opportunity to try things when you get into a 48-game schedule, and you’re trying to stay afloat. Sometimes we get into a position, we can do trial balloons, we can try things out. We were trying to eke out a win every night to stay afloat.”

The Wings rode Jimmy Howard all season.

“We got hit with so many injuries and had so many things going on, I’ve heard many managers talk, it was a different year,” Holland said. “It was fast. It was 48 games in 99 nights. With the last 15 games, if you’re the coach, you’re going to the same guys over and over again. We couldn’t afford to lose a game. It might have put us out. I think that has to factor into the evaluation and assessment of not only the team, but also of some individual players. It was a unique year. The longer the season, the more opportunities you have to try things. This was a sprint.”

That ight be Holland's most revealing comment to the press thus far. The Wings will most certainly have to re-set their evaluation process in terms of both "the good" and "the bad" of their players' performances because this season was unlike any other save the 1994-95 one, and even that one wasn't as jam-packed with games as this one was.

Speaking of which, Sportsnet's Jeff Simmons suggested that the Red Wings should use one of their cap-compliance buy-outs on a player that, at least in terms of his end-of-season lecture, Wings coach Mike Babcock suggested will be around for the 2013-2014 season...

While Simmons penned a column discussing the...Eastern Conference's...possible buy-outs? Eastern Conference Red Wings? Boy, that's going to take some getting used to (and I need to point you to the Wings' cap chart on Capgeek.com every damn time I write a blog entry these days):

Detroit Red Wings

Projected 2013-14 cap space: $11.9 million
Who we said in January: Johan Franzen
Who we’re saying now: Mikael Samuelsson ($3 million cap hit until 2013-14)

While Johan Franzen is aging (33 years old), we don’t think the Red Wings should consider getting rid of one of their more reliable and consistent forwards. Franzen is locked in until 2019-20, but we just can’t see a savvy manager like Ken Holland pulling the plug on the Mule. A much better option would be the rapidly declining Mikael Samuelsson, who barely factored in his return to Detroit this year. Really? Three million dollars for a 36-year-old Samuelsson? No, thank you.

So. Franzen. I don't know of a player who's yielded more violently divisive reactions during my entire tenure as a Wings fan. He reminds me of the way people used to argue about Keith Primeau and his potential.

We know that Franzen is signed for the next seven seasons and we know that Ken Holland and Mike Babcock are on the same page about retaining the frustratingly inconsistent power forward's services.

Regardless of how much or how vociferously you or I passionately debate, yell, scream, argue or otherwise make our opinions known as to how we would deal with the player now and in the future...

Though Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner believes that the Wings may buy Franzen out three seasons from now, when he will only be owed $7.5 million and not the $15 million he's owed over the next three years plus the $7.5 million he'll earn over the last 4 years of his deal (i.e. $22.5 million in tontal salary at that $3.945 million cap hit):

As much as Franzen frustrates Detroit and its fans with his goal-scoring binges, he did score seven goals in the Wings' final eight regular-season games, when they were fighting for their playoff lives. Franzen also notched four goals in the Wings' first nine playoff games, then didn’t score in their final five, which pretty much sums up Johan Franzen. 

Make no mistake, the Wings are irritated with the Franzen’s streaky ways and his prolonged disappearing acts on the ice. But he still scores just enough and his contract is too tough a pill for another team to swallow right now.

If the Wings were to buy out Franzen, according to capgeek.com, they would have to pay him $1,071,429 a year through the 2026-27 season. That's highly unlikely because he's still somewhat productive and a tradable asset in the future.

“Every contract we do isn’t going to be perfect,” said Jimmy Devellano, Red Wings senior vice president. “We have Franzen on a long-term contract. We’ve made a commitment to him, so he’s somebody we have to live with. But at least once in a while he scores a few goals. That he does do.”

Despite Detroit’s unhappiness with Franzen’s inconsistency, being European is a plus because the Wings have always been grateful that their Swedish players are all “low maintenance.”

Translation: They’re coachable. They don’t disrupt the locker room. And once they leave the rink, they stay out of trouble.

Once Franzen’s annual salary becomes low enough, the Wings will do what their fans have been screaming for --  they’ll move him. Until then, embrace the Franzen roller-coaster ride because it’s going nowhere.

I don't know about that. I still believe that the Wings value Franzen much more highly than we do because they're thinking four-dimensionally--adding in the element of time--and maybe even five-dimensionally, if we can wrap our heads around that concept, because the Wings also know that they have no immediate prospects in their pipeline who are of the power forward variety who will be able to step in over the next 3-5 seasons.

Riley Sheahan maxes out potential-wise as a slightly less "heavy" version of Joakim Andersson; the players closest to NHL-ready status with offensive potential are Landon Ferraro, Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco, and Jurco's the only one with offensive panache who's over six feet tall.

Marek Tvrdon is coming back from having a rib removed to deal with a blood clot, Martin Frk plays much much larger than his size but has yet to play pro hockey; Louis-Marc Aubry is a wild card and a half, and thus far, Trevor Parkes and Andrej Nestrasil have only been able to establish themselves as scorers at the ECHL level.

The Wings have an abundance of size in terms of their long-term defensive prospects, but not as much up front, so Franzen's value to and tenure with the team is also dependent upon the development or the lack thereof of the Wings' forward prospects.

And finally for the moment, via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press posted a "worst" of the Wings' 2013 season photo gallery.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

We have Franzen on a long-term contract. We’ve made a commitment to him, so he’s somebody we have to live with. But at least once in a while he scores a few goals. That he does do.”

Is that a wake up call or what?  Seriously.  And it’s not his goal scoring that pisses people off, it’s his floating, not using his size, not putting his teammates in a position to be successful on a consistent basis.  The fact we have to juggle lines TO GET HIM INTERESTED says volumes.  His goals are the one thing that make his contract manageable, but he’s not a number 1 sniper.  He’s the Swedish Semin.  At least we didn’t sign him for 7m.. that term though..

It’s also telling when Abby goes from 4th line center to playing with pav and after a transition period at that, went on pace for 18 goals.. 10 less than franzen’s last full year.  And they didn’t click for 12 games.  With that extra 12, Abby isn’t far off from Mule’s production but Mule has so much talent on Abby it’s stupid.  Doesn’t use it.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 06/05/13 at 08:16 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Yikes.  Nike, Mr. Andersson, and Sauce are a collective -5.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 06/05/13 at 08:20 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Also, try this, George.  It’s updated more often.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 06/05/13 at 08:22 PM ET

SYF's avatar

5-4 GR with less than a minute to go.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 06/05/13 at 08:27 PM ET

SYF's avatar

And your Griffins are the Western Conference Champs.

Onto the Syracuse Crunch.  Must be kee-ray-zay in GR right now.

Well done, Grifs!

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 06/05/13 at 08:35 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

“Every contract we do isn’t going to be perfect,” said Jimmy Devellano, Red Wings senior vice president. “We have Franzen on a long-term contract. We’ve made a commitment to him, so he’s somebody we have to live with. But at least once in a while he scores a few goals. That he does do.”

Somebody needs to staple that quote to Mule’s headboard, the bathroom mirrow, next to his TV, in his locker etc.  Maybe that will piss him off enough to try.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 06/05/13 at 08:50 PM ET

Tony Perkis's avatar

I agree HTO.
I don’t have a problem with the points he puts up. At times, he looks genuinely disinterested in the game. Don’t get it. I said it before but I’d love to see the angry Franzen who drives guys like Crosby into the boards, hard. He’s a big guy, needs to play like one more often.

Posted by Tony Perkis from Drinking at Robert's Lounge with Billy Batts on 06/05/13 at 08:55 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

my first NHL season and I get a chance to play with the Red Wings

sounds like Brunner “gets it”

that’s a good sign.

hopefully he enjoys playing with his buds from GR, and we can keep the third line together next season.  as rookies they were brilliant, even in the playoffs.  that kind of chemistry is rare, and it’s something a team should hold onto when it’s sitting there in front of them.  and with more guys potentially coming up from GR in the next year or two, especially Tatar…we could have a couple seriously fantastic lines with speed, pizzazz, youth, and energy.

Brunner thinks he hit a wall after 97 games?  wait until he gets training camp, preseason, an 82 game season, and THEN the playoffs.  welcome to the big-time, kid.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/05/13 at 10:04 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Brunner thinks he hit a wall after 97 games?  wait until he gets training camp, preseason, an 82 game season, and THEN the playoffs.  welcome to the big-time, kid.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/05/13 at 11:04 PM ET

You’re right in that next season is only going to be longer and have more games—but next season he (and everyone else) should do better with the Eastern Conference travel, along with more time in between games when compared to this season.

Posted by SK77 on 06/06/13 at 01:09 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

It’s the old rule: it’s incredibly hard to get to the NHL and much, much harder to stay there. He’ll adjust.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/06/13 at 01:14 AM ET

42jeff's avatar

I’ll be heading back to the motherland next week.  Anybody have an extra Grif playoff ticket they need used?

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 06/06/13 at 10:01 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

I don’t know about that. I still believe that the Wings value Franzen much more highly than we do because they’re thinking four-dimensionally—adding in the element of time—and maybe even five-dimensionally, if we can wrap our heads around that concept, because the Wings also know that they have no immediate prospects in their pipeline who are of the power forward variety who will be able to step in over the next 3-5 seasons.

I agree with this whole-heartedly, George. It is clear the club values him. I think a common thread with the Wings is that we see them develop players to a level they maybe wouldn’t have attained with other, less patient, less organized clubs. We also see them take the “reclamation projects” off the “scrap heap” (I mean no disrespect here at all), like Cleary, Samuelsson, a Bertuzzi needing a second chance both from his past indiscretions and his injury troubles… and make those players into highly valuable contributors… TO THE RED WINGS. That’s the rub. These guys are made to be RED WINGS to a point where I think they inherently hold more value to Detroit than they do on the open market. I believe Franzen is in that boat. He was able to develop from decent skating checker with an underrated shot to above-average power forward with a feared shot under Babcock and co. I think he has more value to the Wings, and the Wings provide more value to him, than any other arrangement for either party.

Also, let’s not forget, that while Franzen can go aggravatingly missing on the scoresheet, he does always provide good skating with good size, and time-and-again responds to the Babcockian challenges of checking the Thornton’s and Getzlaf’s of the world.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/06/13 at 10:35 AM ET

Avatar

Any team in the league would glad to have Franzen at that cap hit.

Posted by zombietroy on 06/06/13 at 09:56 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Head over to Cagpeek and check out their cap recapture calculator to find out why it wouldn’t be super for teams to snag Franzen assuming that he retires before his contract expires. http://www.capgeek.com/recapture-calculator/

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/06/13 at 09:57 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

While Johan Franzen is aging (33 years old), we don’t think the Red Wings should consider getting rid of one of their more reliable and consistent forwards.

CONSISTANT?  WHAT???????  gulp

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michigan hometown of Abdelkader on 06/06/13 at 09:57 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

it’s not his goal scoring that pisses people off, it’s his floating, not using his size, not putting his teammates in a position to be successful on a consistent basis. The fact we have to juggle lines TO GET HIM INTERESTED says volumes.

  BINGO !!!

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michigan hometown of Abdelkader on 06/06/13 at 10:00 PM 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.