The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/07/13 at 07:01 PM ET
This evening's crop of Red Wings-related news reflects this afternoon's crop thereof: we've got some Daniel Alfredsson Senators fall-out talk and some Wings roster discussion.
Let's start with the Alfredsson stuff this time. We know that Senators fans are more than a bit pissed off by the way the divorce went down, and the fact that it's incredibly evident that more than money was involved (never mind the "perception of worth" or "lowballing") in the souring of a relationship whose lines of communication seemed to fray, and that's completely understandable.
I'm not the kind of person that rubbernecks and gawks at car accidents (frankly, it's dangerous as much as anything else), and I don't want to come off as someone who's taking glee in another team's loss--I mean, imagine a Cup ring-less Nicklas Lidstrom saying, "I don't think the Wings can win a Cup, going to Chicago, seeya," and you start getting an indication of the level of "WTF???-ery" and sense of betrayal going on. That's not the kind of thing one wants to tread upon.
But the Senators press's reaction has been perhaps understandably tinged with teeth-gritting frustration and a similar sense of both betrayal, if not anger. The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan suggested that fans and the Senators have every right to be pissed off at Alfredsson's defection; Sportsnet's Ian Mendes hopes that the Senators "prove Alfie wrong"; the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch did a downright admirable job of offering a dispassionate dissection of the relationship unraveled (perhaps second only to Nicholas J. Cotsonika's post-mortem; and yes, we're going to ignore Sportsnet's Michael Grange's suggesting that Alfredsson Farved the Sens, as well as the pair of Puck Daddy articles about Alfredsson from Greg Wyshynski and Harrison Mooney, respectively, never mind Wyshynski's promise to excuse all Alfredsson "protest jerseys" from the "foul" category--I've got a Red Wings jersey that says, "Malik 59" on it, and that foul's informed me that it doesn't give a flying *#$%@& about jersey etiquette).
Garrioch let his emotions show in suggesting that Alfredsson spent his first day as a Red Wing golfing in Gothenburg, however, and this evening, the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren suggests that "on paper," at least, the Senators are "better off" without Alfredsson (see also: the, "Ottawa basically traded Alfredsson and Jakob Silfverberg for Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, so they're a better team than Detroit is" narrative that we're about to read for the next year or two years)...
And in Warren's case, witnessing Alfredsson's departure was very personally felt:
Some of us can remember when he first arrived, with little fanfare and limited English in the fall of 1995. As I drove him home from the airport one night during his first exhibition season, he carried a huge chip on his shoulder and his eyes burned with competitive desire after reading an article suggesting the sad-sack organization was nothing without Alexei Yashin, who was in the midst of one of his countless holdouts.
Alfredsson went on to win the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. Year after year after year he was the one constant as the Senators went way up the standings, back down to near rock bottom in 2010-11 and back up again in the past two seasons. Along the way, the franchise sidestepped several major financial landmines.
For all that, his decision to move on provides a cold, hard — and necessary — reminder that this whole big thing called the National Hockey League is a business.
Now, if we can ever get past thinking about what Alfredsson was for so long and instead think about what he is now on the ice — a highly competitive second- or third-line right-winger with outstanding leadership skills — it’s open to debate whether the Senators could actually be a step ahead of where they were when the 2013 playoffs ended.
For the first time since Dany Heatley — oops, sorry about dredging up another painful franchise memory — the Senators have a proven, consistent, not injury-prone, 30-goal winger to take passes from Jason Spezza. Spezza might, in fact, be the biggest beneficiary of all from Friday’s developments. Bobby Ryan has topped 30 goals in every full season he has played. He scores pretty goals and ugly goals. He’s only 26, and, since a player’s peak years often come in their late 20s, he may not yet have reached his potential. The Senators power play should be better.
Coach Paul MacLean will make the lineup calls, but there should be some excitement about the potential of a combination of Ryan, Spezza and Milan Michalek, if Michalek can stay out of the trainer’s room for an extended period.
For those who can’t stop thinking about hockey in the summer, here’s a fun topic: Who joins Spezza, Ryan, Michalek, Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur on the top two lines? Mika Zibanejed? Cory Conacher? Mark Stone? Shane Prince? Mike Hoffman? MacArthur is one of the few players who has switched sides in the Battle of Ontario, and it’s reasonable to think he can match Alfredsson’s expected offensive output next season: somewhere in the 20-goal, 45-point range. With Spezza back from his back and knee injuries, Turris will be restored to a more comfortable second-line centre spot.
He continues, and there's very little bitterness, just the honest fact that the Senators' captain is 40 and that Ryan and MacArthur aren't, along with some, "Can Jason Spezza and Chris Phillips fill the leadership void?" talk.
It's just hard to read, it's hard to not feel some sympathy for Sens fans, even though they're about to become a Red Wings division rival and a likely regular playoff opponent now that the NHL's returning to get-out-of-the-division 1st and 2nd round play....
And it's admittedly hard for me, because I've been a huge fan of Alfredsson's since his rookie season, too, and witnessing my favorite non-Red Wing come to Detroit is thrilling as thrilling can be, even though he's a complimentary player now, but it sure sucks to know that Senators fans are having such a tough time.
Regarding the Red Wings' roster machinations, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's take on what Damien Brunner should expect to receive as an unrestricted free agent on a picked-over marketplace bears repeating:
The Red Wings have essentially cut ties with forward Damien Brunner. Hitting the free-agent market Friday, Brunner is expected to find a team this week that will sign him for a multi-year contract worth close to $4 million annually.
That's a hell of an assertion. The other beat writers told us that the Wings balked at paying Brunner $3.5 million per season on a long-term deal based upon one shortened season's worth of hockey, but I have no doubt that Neil Sheehy's asking for that kind of money.
Whether he's gonna get his client his payday given that the market's picked over and given that more of the teams with cap space to spare have made their moves than not...That's another story.
Paul and I had a talk about whether the GM's are just taking a break, whether they're trying to talk agents down from moon-and-stars salary requests, or whether we may need to see some salary cap crunch-alleviating trades before the market picks up again, and we don't have a good answer for you.
All I know is that over the past couple of years, the free agent period's gone in fits and spurts after the first flourish, so I expect another set of multiple "dominoes" falling, yet another lull, another spate of signings, etc. until all the chairs have been filled and the "losers" are left without gainful employment in late July.
I fully believe that Brunner will have been snapped up by then, and I'm split as to whether Cleary will be waiting for the Wings to clear space or whether he'll be ready to embark upon the next stage of his career with another employer.
About the only thing I'm willing to boldy predict involves my suggestion that the Red Wings won't meaningfully address their need for another top-three defenseman until closer to the 2014 trade deadline than the middle of this month.
Otherwise, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness gave his two bucks regarding the Wings' roster crunch up front....
When Detroit came to terms with winger Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss on the first day of NHL free agency Friday, it pushed their number of forwards under contract to 14 for next season.
Those numbers didn’t include the two restricted free agents – Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson – who both will be signed sometime this summer to increase the Wings’ forward total to 16. There is also a chance Detroit could still re-sign Daniel Cleary which balloons the forward number to 17.
The roster limit is 23 players which leaves room for 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies.
If [Darren] Helm is unable to start the season the Wings could place him on long-term injured reserve and thus create a roster spot there. It would also allow his $1.75 in salary to not count against the salary cap.
The list of possible players to be trimmed from the roster via trade includes Mikael Samuelsson, Justin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves. Eaves’ game is comparable to Drew Miller, who just signed a three-year extension this summer, making him possibly expendable.
Cory Emmerton appears safe on the roster if Helm is unable to regain his pre-injury form to center the Wings’ third line.
If Detroit can’t trade players off its roster they could still trim them off when the regular buyout period in August begins, but two thirds of those salaries will count toward the salary cap.
Or players could be waived. If they’re unclaimed off waivers they would be assigned to Grand Rapids, but again, two thirds of the salary would count against the salary cap.
Erm, uh...More like if the Wings were to buy out, say, Samuelsson, they'd be charged half of his 2/3rds buy-out spread over two seasons (i.e. the Wings would be hit with a $1 million cap charge for 2 seasons as they'd owe Samuelsson $2 million to be paid upon his buy-out).
Capgeek explains the "Wade Redden Rule" as follows--confirming Pleiness's math:
BURIED CONTRACTS (Wade Redden Rule)
Money paid to players outside of the NHL counts against the cap.
A one-way contract counts against the cap as follows: cap hit – [ minimum salary + $375,000 ]
Example: If Wade Redden plays in the minors in 2012-13, he counts as follows. $6.5M – [ $525,000 + $375,000 ] = $5.6M
A two-way contract counts as follows: minor-league salary – [ minimum salary + $375,000 ]
Example: Player A’s two-way contract pays $3M/$1M in 2012-13 and counts as follows in the minors. $1M – [ $525,000 + $375,000 ] = $100,000
So sending Samuelsson and his $3 million salary to the AHL would yield $3 million - [$525,000--the NHL's minimum salary + $375,000] or a $2 million cap hit.
Pleiness's full Monday column's hit the wires, and he's confirming the front office moves as well:
Former assistant general manager Jim Nill has raided his old team’s cupboard by hiring Wings’ director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell.
Nill, who was hired by Dallas’ general manager in April, also hired scout Mark Leach away from Detroit.
McDonnell has been a scout for the Wings for 18 years and was named the director of amateur scouting in 2003.
Holland hopes to add a few people to his scouting staff and have things in place by next week. He does plan to give scouts Jeff Finley and David Kolb more prominent roles.
And finally, for the moment, anyway, the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau has both the try-outs and full roster for the Red Wings' summer development camp listed--you won't see many Griffins as their Calder Cup run convinced the Wings to give 'em the summer off--and the Detroit News's Kulfan penned something of a teaser:
The Red Wings will hold their prospects development camp at Centre ICE Arena in Traverse City beginning Wednesday.
Draft picks from this year and the past couple summers, and some Grand Rapids Griffins, will participate, including 2013 first-round forward Anthony Mantha. The only 2013 draft pick not expected to attend is fifth-round defenseman Mitchell Wheaton, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser, a late-season college free-agent addition who impressed the Red Wings, is also expected to take part, as is veteran Darren Helm.
This will be a crucial test for Helm, who was limited to one game the entire season because of back problems.
The camp runs through next Monday. A highlight of the camp is a 5 p.m. scrimmage on Friday. There is no charge for admission on Wednesday, but the cost is $5 daily thereafter.
DeKeyser's being given the "Brendan Smith" role, i.e., he doesn't really need to attend, but if he was willing to show up and show the kids how it's done, the Wings would've been grateful to have him there, and he apparently took the team up on its offer.
Edit/update: Never mind, Sarah Lindenau says that DeKeyser's not attending, and if anybody knows, she does.
Lindenau posted the schedule as well:
8:30 am – 11:00 am Team Lidstrom physicals
9:30 am – 11:00 am Team Yzerman physicals
12:00 pm – 12:50 pm Team Lidstrom practice (Admission Free)
1:00 pm – 1:50 pm Team Yzerman practice
8:00 am – 9:50 am Team Lidstrom Practice (Admission $5)
8:00 am – 9:45 am Team Yzerman off-ice workouts
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Team Lidstrom off-ice workouts
2:00 pm – 3:50 pm Team Yzerman practice
5:00 pm intra-squad scrimmage (Admission $5)
8:30 am Training Camp Ticket Sale (no on-ice activities)
8:00 am – 9:45 am Team Lidstrom off-ice workout (Admission $5)
8:00 am – 9:50 am Team Yzerman practice
2:00 pm – 3:50 Team Lidstrom practice
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Team Yzerman off-ice workout
8:30 am – 10:15 am Team Lidstrom practice (Admission $5)
8:30 am – 9:45 am Team Yzerman off-ice workout
10:30 am – 12:15 pm Team Yzerman practice
10:45 am – 12:00 pm Team Lidstrom off-ice practice
I've got my dry cleaning at the dry cleaner's, I shopped for provisions today, and tomorrow, I have to make two appointments and get my oil changed--and I have written my SUPER LIST of things to pack. I'll be heading up on Tuesday.
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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.