The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/05/13 at 08:05 PM ET
Very briefly given that I'm assuming most of you are watching the Bruins-Penguins game or still arguing about Franzen:
- If you want updates regarding tonight's Grand Rapids Griffins-Oklahoma City Barons game, both the Red Wings' Twitter account and the Griffins' Game Day account are providing updates, and if you are an old fogey like me, you can always hit "refresh" on the AHL's game summary. The 3rd period is underway and things look...worrisome;
- 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.
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.
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