The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/20/13 at 06:54 PM ET
This evening's crop of Red Wings-related news isn't paricularly lush, but it is somebody's 35th birthday today...
The release of the NHL's 2013-2014 schedule and the announcement of its participation in the 2014 Olympics have yielded numerous roster-pegging-downs (and news that the U.S. Olympic team and possibly even the Canadian one won't skate at their "summer camps" due to insurance issues).
We know that the vast majority of the Wings' Swedes (Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson are "locks"; Jonathan Ericsson will probably get the nod because he's trusted by Par Marts; Gustav Nyquist was at least invited to the summer camp), Slovaks (Tomas Tatar will probably play for Slovakia and Tomas Jurco took part in their summer camp), the team's lone Czech (Jakub Kindl; it's possible but not probable that Petr Mrazek will reprise his "third goalie's" role) and Russian (Datsyuk) and at least one of their Americans (Jimmy Howard is highly likely to be in the mix for the starting goalie's job and Justin Abdelkader's a dark horse candidate as a 4th-liner), and their coach will be busy with Team Canada, too.
This evening, while USA Today's Kevin Allen doesn't feel like stirring the Team USA goaltending controversy drink, but PUCK DADDY's RYAN *#$%@& LAMBERT of all people suggests that Jimmy Howard's good to go...
Yes, I really have Jimmy Howard as the starting goaltender for the United States of America. Yes, I know what that means.
But here's my reasoning: If Jimmy Howard can put up stats like the ones he posted last season (you'll recall they could be categorized as "very good") behind a Detroit defense so patchwork MacGyver couldn't make something workable out of it. And then look what he did to almost get the Wings past the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs. The three games his deeply mediocre team won in that series were all down to him stopping 86 of 88, and then he almost stole Game 7 as well.
The obvious counterargument to this is screaming, "But Jonathan Quick though!!!!!" at me for 14 hours straight, and look man, I get it. Quick is probably one of the two or three best goaltenders on the planet. He's outrageously good. It's kind of crazy. I understand this. However, since this is being judged on the basis of last year alone, and Quick was actually sub-average for the regular season. I have little doubt that he will rebound, and I have little doubt that he won't usurp Howard again by the end of November. But right now, right this second, I don't know that he's the best-best option.
This is a 1a/1b situation. Relax.
I guess the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness wanted to remind Wings fans that we don't have to sit on the edge of our seats for the next couple of weeks as Wings GM Ken Holland told MLive's Ansar Khan that the Wings are more or less done making moves until training camp, re-signing Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist excluded, anyway, and Pleiness reiterated those points earlier this afternoon:
"We’re comfortable where we’re at right now,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “But if we do anything else we’d have to move somebody first. As you can see in the industry right now it’s pretty quiet,” Holland added. “Everybody is probably going into a bit of a summer mode.”
The Wings’ are about $2 million over this year’s salary cap of $64.3 million. Their cap number will rise once they re-sign restricted forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson sometime before training camp begins. Another problem will arise when Nyquist and Andersson are inked to new deals and that’s the roster size limit. Those two additions will put the Wings at 25 players on their roster, two over the league limit.
On the first day of free agency, the Wings signed Daniel Alfredsson (one year, $5.5 million) and Stephen Weiss (five years, $4.9 million).
Prior to free agency, they re-signed Drew Miller (three years, $1.35 million) and then reached a deal last week with one of their three restricted free agents, defenseman Brendan Smith (two years, $1.2625 million).
They do have a bit of flexibility with this year’s cap if they choose to apply Alfredsson’s potential $2 million in bonuses to next season since that cap number is expected to rise.
“We’d like to do a move or two, I’m not sure we can,” Holland said. “If we can’t make a move I’m OK with our team, 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.”
“I think we have a lot of pieces here,” Holland said. “I feel good about our nucleus. I feel good that Pavel Datsyuk re-upped for three more years. We have Pav around for four more years. We believe that we have a tremendous goaltender in Jimmy Howard, so with the addition of Alfie and Stephen, we think that we’re going to be a lot deeper up front going to Traverse City.”
Cap-wise, the Wings are in no trouble whatsoever as they can a) defer Alfredsson's bonuses and b) can exceed the cap by $6.4 million during the summer, but having 50 men on the roster prohibits them from inking any of the Griffins' veteran defensemen (see: Nathan Paetsch, Brennan Evans) to two-way deals to shore up the team's blueline in case of injuries, sign any stand-outs at the fall prospect tournament to entry-level deals or to sign anyone else, period, and at this point, it appears that there's no way in hell that the team's going to be able to jettison any of their surplus forwards until the exhibition season, so the team's hands really are tied.
Those of us who are grateful for Daniel Cleary's services, but don't believe that he should be brought back at the expense of Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist or Joakim Andersson's respective ice times don't think that the Wings' being "capped-out" in more ways than one is a bad thing, mind you, but that's just us...
And in the, "In case you didn't already know it" department, from the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner:
* Kids can learn the finer points of hockey from Stanley Cup and Calder Cup champions when the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Hockey Camp returns to Griff's IceHouse at Belknap Park from July 29-Aug. 2.
Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek and three pros from West Michigan -- the Griffins' Luke Glendening, Detroit's Justin Abdelkader and Philadelphia's Mike Knuble -- will be among the instructors helping to hone the hockey skills of nearly 100 kids ages 6-16. For more information and registration, visit http://griffinshockey.com/news/releases/?article_id=2447 call ,616-774-4585 ext. 3025, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quickie update: Via Pro Hockey Talk's Joe Yerdon, On the Forecheck's Dirk Hoag reports that the Wings' 2013-2014 schedule should include a decrease in travel from the team's last inter-conference-play season by about 7,500 miles.
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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.