The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/16/13 at 07:29 PM ET
Updated with Helm and Samuelsson talk at 7:52 PM: Amongst this afternoon and evening's Red Wings-related stories (I read Dmitry Chesnokov's interview with Pavel Datsyuk while waiting for an order of Lone Pine Restaurant onion rings in Grayling; the interview was excellent and the mom is making me save the onion rings for her):
The Wings made two things officially official on Tuesday. They announced what number Stephen Weiss has chosen to wear...
And that upset a certain Mike Modano...
To which the Wings responded:
RED WINGS AND DEFENSEMAN BRENDAN SMITH AGREE TO TERMS ON A TWO-YEAR DEAL
… Rookie Rearguard Skated in 34 Games This Season for Detroit …
Detroit, MI… Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland today announced that the club has agreed to terms with defenseman Brendan Smith on a two-year deal. In accordance with team policy, additional terms of the deal will not be disclosed.
Smith, 24, was selected by the Red Wings in the first round (27th overall) of the 2007 National Hockey League Entry Draft. The 6-1, 199-lb. blueliner recently completed his first full season in Detroit. He skated in 34 regular season games for the Red Wings in 2012-13, posting eight points (0G-8A-8P) and 36 PIM. Smith missed 11 games this year due to a shoulder injury and was a healthy scratch for three contests. In 48 career NHL games, he has posted 15 points (1G-14A-15P) and 49 PIM. Smith also appeared in all 14 postseason games for Detroit this season, collecting five points (2G-3A-5P) and 10 PIM.
Smith spent parts of the last three seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. In 152 career AHL contests, he registered 86 points (27G-59A-86P) and 263 PIM. Prior to joining the Griffins for the 2010-11 season, Smith spent three seasons at the University of Wisconsin (NCAA/WCHA) amassing 87 points (26G-61A-87P) in 95 collegiate appearances.
In accordance with the fact that the rest of the world is...Bemused...By club policy...It's a 2-year, $2.525 million contract, which yields a cap hit of $1.262 million per Capgeek and everybody else who Tweeted its numbers.
Given that Holland was more than willing to talk about both Brendan Smith and Mikael Samuelsson while speaking with MLive's Brnedan Savage, Ansar Khan, and then the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, the Free Press's George Sipple and the Windsor Star's Jim Parker, and given his tone when he talked to me about director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell's departure to Dallas, which resulted in the Wings hiring Tyler Wright to replace McDonnell...
NHL.com's Dan Rosen's "Over the Boards" column is downright fascinating, because he spoke with Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill about his poaching of McDonnell, which resulted in the following quip from Holland...
"On one hand you'd like to see people stay, but I understand relationships and friendships," Holland told NHL.com. "Joe McDonnell has a relationship and a friendship with Jimmy Nill that Joe and I don't have because we have different job descriptions. They did a lot of great work that's been left behind for us."
Who spoke to Rosen about filling the voids left by Nill and McDonnell, at least in the amateur scouting department:
Holland didn't have to look far to find McDonnell's replacement. Tyler Wright, formerly of the Columbus Blue Jackets, has a summer home on the same lake in Vernon, British Columbia as Holland.
"I've talked to him a lot through the years about hockey," Holland said of Wright. "I know he's got a tremendous work ethic."
That work ethic coupled with his experience and the fact that he was drafted in the first round of the 1991 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers was enough to convince Holland to hire Wright, who spent the past six years with the Columbus Blue Jackets; the first four as the team's development coach and the past two as the co-director of amateur scouting. Holland was not deterred that Wright came from an organization that has struggled to gain consistency through the years.
"I like to think I'm a better manager today then I was in 1997 [the year he started as GM] or in 2005, when I was eight years into the job," Holland said. "There is nothing like experience. That's how Joe McDonnell became Joe McDonnell. That's how Ken Holland became Ken Holland. That's how Jim Nill became Jim Nill. Somebody gave us an opportunity and we went with it. Tyler Wright is bringing qualities and experience to us that are going to be very valuable. I hope that being around us, we've got some things to provide that he can build on. We're in the people-development business. The more experience you get, the better you're going to be."
While Wright will be the new McDonnell, former NHL defenseman Jeff Finley will be the new [Mark] Leach. Finley has been with the Red Wings for three years and now will assume a larger role in the scouting department as Wright's right-hand man. They will report directly to Holland, who in the past had Nill as the guy in between the scouting department and him.
"Their job starting in 2014 is to draft some players that will one day put on a Red Wings jersey," Holland said. "I believe the model for success is the people that do all the work should be making the selections. That's what they're hired to do."
And then there's this:
Holland said the Red Wings are "capped out," meaning their roster is pretty much set. He still has to re-sign restricted free agents Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist, which will give Detroit 16 forwards under contract. He said he made contract offers to Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner prior to July 5, but they were turned down, and the Red Wings instead signed Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss.
Ahem. Quoting Khan from last night:
“We’re comfortable where we’re at right now,'' Holland said Monday, after signing defenseman Brendan Smith to a two-year, $2.52 million contract. “Before we do anything we’d have to move somebody. It's pretty quiet in the industry right now. Everybody probably is into a bit of a summer mode.''
The Red Wings will sign restricted free agent forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson by September, at the latest, Holland said. That would give the club 25 players, two over the roster limit. If everyone is healthy by the start of the season, they would need to trade or waive a couple of players.
With a payroll of $66.2 million, the club already is over the salary-cap limit of $64.3 million, but has some flexibility in being able to apply Daniel Alfredsson's potential $2 million in bonuses to the 2014-15 cap, which is expected to rise.
This is why Holland has not signed Daniel Cleary, who is among about a half-dozen notable free agent forwards still available (the list includes Damien Brunner, Mikhail Grabovski, Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow and Mason Raymond).
“We’d like to do a move or two, but I’m not sure we can,'' Holland said. “If we can’t make a move I’m OK with our team and 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. But, unless we move somebody, we aren’t signing anybody.''
In other news...If you happen to find yourself at the Hockey Hall of Fame tomorrow, their Twitter account and Facebook page revealed the following:
Plus a Henrik Zetterberg game-used jersey card.
In the prospect department, part 1 (and I'm quoting parts of much longer articles here): The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau penned a profile of Andreas Athanasiou, who's brimming with confidence--to the point that he's on the "good side" of cocky (and he continues discussing his "pluses" at length):
Andreas Athanasiou believes he is NHL ready. The 18-year-old understands that the Red Wings take thier time with prospect development and he’s willing to wait for his opportunity.
“I know I have the ability to skate with the guys in the NHL,” Athanasiou said. “I have the quickness and speed and I know I can think the game pretty well. I think I am NHL ready, but obviously they take their time with players.
The 6-foot, 179 pound forward spent the past week in Traverse City, MI at the Red Wings development camp. Athanasiou, who started skating at 8 months old, was easily the best skater in camp making many of the drills look easy.
“The drills were challenging,” he said. “But when you grow up doing those things day in and day out it comes naturally. My skating is a god given talent, but I know I still have to work at it and I do everything I can every single day to improve it.”
With the playoff disappointment still fresh in his mind, Athanasiou joined the Griffins for part of their AHL playoff race. The experience helped him understand the difference between junior and professional hockey.
“I watched about two rounds in the playoffs,” Athanasiou said. “Watching how they prepare and play was a good thing to see. I skated with them everyday and it gave me confidence that I could keep up with them. I just need to keep working on getting bigger and stronger to help me play at that level.
In the prospect department, part 2: I wasnt particularly impressed with what Barclay Goodrow displayed at the camp, but MLive's Brendan Savage spoke with Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fisher regarding the Brampton Battalion captain and summer camp try-out:
Goodrow scored 38 goals and had 14 assists in 62 games for Brampton of the Ontatio Hockey League last season. In his last three seasons with Brampton, the 6-foot-2, 214-pound Goodrow averaged 29 goals and 47 points yet he was bypassed in all seven rounds of this year's NHL Draft. How come?
"I'm sure 30 teams had 30 different reasons why," said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer. "For some reason, guys don't get drafted. At the end of the day, guys' careers aren't over based on free agents who keep plugging along. Keep proving yourself every day. That's what Barclay is going to have to do. He's scored a lot of goals. We knew he can score. He's scoring here, too. He's in good shape. He needs to improve his skating. I think he knows that. He needs to improve his pace, moving around the rink. We're going to let him know what we expect. We're going to follow him. We're certainly looking at everybody here. Barclay is one of them. Everybody who is here, we're going to follow them."
When the Red Wings assess how things went at the Development Camp, Goodrow could be one of the players they invite back to Traverse City for the Prospects Tournament in September, when players will get a better opportunity to show their skills under actual game conditions. That's obviously what Goodrow is hoping for.
"I just try to do the best I can and if a team likes what they see then they'll take me," he said. "I'm just trying to use (not being drafted) as motivation to get better and have a good year next year, where ever that is. I was hoping to (get drafted) obviously but I wasn't expected too much in case it didn't happen. But once the draft was done, my focus was on this camp."
In the prospect department, part 3: Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish shared his impressions of several Wings-property forwards in the second part of his assessment thereof...
Andreas Athanasiou was the fastest player on the ice during the development camp and he knows how to use it to his advantage. He can beat players to the outside and puts his speed into his shot.
While the speed is good, he needs to learn how to play more controlled. When he is skating hard, he loses control of the puck and the defenseman can easily clear it or he loses his balance and crashes into the boards. Reminds me of Luis Mendoza from the Mighty Ducks.
The meathead of the group, Tyler Bertuzzi, really impressed me during the drills, but not so much during the scrimmage. As I have mentioned before Bertuzzi was awful and careless during the first half of the scrimmage and ended up hurting David Pope, the Wings 4th round pick.
During drills he was a bit stiff, but used his body well to shield the puck and separate opponents from the puck. He does have to work on his puck control a bit, but that will improve with time.
And in the prospect department, part 4: Slapshotg0al from Winging it in Motown wrapped up her development camp coverage with a discussion of the last day's worth of drills and practices, which, as she notes, wrapped up a very different kind of development camp:
- This is the third Development Camp the Wings have done, and I mentioned before that the format was quite a bit different this year than in the past. The more I think about it, the more I think the changes are for the better. The Red Wings development program is one of the best in the NHL, and their development program is a big part of the reason they're able to get so much out of their players despite not typically having very high draft picks. While watching the on ice instruction, I was struck by just how high the quality really is. Having former players who were highly successful in the NHL, not only has the advantage of great firsthand experience, but also commands respect of the young players and allows them to get a very accurate perspective on what it takes to be an NHL player. Who better to teach players how to develop net front skills than Tomas Holmstrom? How about having a Hall of Famer Chris Chelios teaching the next generations of defensemen? Jiri Fischer? That amazing man still has skills that wow me. Who's working with the goalies? Oh, nobody much... Just Jim Bedard and Chris Osgood. Detroit is doing a fantastic job of employing some of the best development coaches possible, and it's great that our players can learn from some of the best.
- Jeff Blashill led the development camp for the first time this year and was largely responsible for the format changes. In past years the two groups of players would be practicing on the ice at the same time, but in different rinks. This year they used a single rink and had the teams practice at different times. Because the coaching staff wasn't split between 2 groups, there were 8 coaches and 15 players on the ice at most times. Because there were so many coaches, there was a lot more communication between them and the players, and I got the impression that the players also got more constructive criticism and instruction.
If you wish to vote in the Free Press's umpteen billionth "bracket" challenge, this time determining Michigan's best sports venue, enjoy;
For what it's worth, The Score's Justin Bourne ranked the Wings as the 11th-best place to play hockey (out of all 30 NHL teams and their marketplaces);
I think this quip from Sportsnet's Luke Fox, who penned an article regarding the vacant captancies on four of the six Canadian teams, is a compliment:
Another four NHL captains — Bryce Salvador (Devils), Henrik Zetterberg (Red Wings), Claude Giroux (Flyers), Gabriel Landeskog (Avalanche) — have yet to hold the post for a full 82-game schedule. While the veteran Zetterberg is a natural for the role and led the Wings on a fantastic late-season run, Giroux and Salvador failed to captain good clubs back to the postseason, and Avalanche backup goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere proved to be a bolder dressing-room voice than Landeskog in 2013.
And finally, via the Red Wings' Twitter account, there was not a bad apple among the prospects I spoke or interacted with, and they Tweeted thank-yous and farewells on Tuesday:
(Having some serious work to do in the maturity department =/= bad apple. Bertuzzi's not a bad kid by any stretch of the imagination. Having serious work to do in the maturity department = being an 18-year-old)
Etchegary, a free agent try-out, didn't get to skate due to an undisclosed injury...The Wings like him. He WILL be back.
Ditto for Wheaton, who the Wings drafted...
In a slightly different vein...
And on the other side of the pond, Jakub Kindl talked about getting a hell of a "loaner" when he spoke with iDnes.cz's Michael Beren, but he's heading back to Metro Detroit to work out with Justin Abdelkader, Shawn Horcoff and the MSU alums in East Lansing, so I believe he gave the car dealership that loaned him a Mercedes-Benz SUV a "thank-you":
Oof, this entry took a long time. I'm home safe and sound, unpacked and exhausted. The last eight days have been a whirlwind and I'm happy to be home. Expect TMR to keep rolling along, albeit at a slower speed, for the next couple of days.
I’m optimistic that I’m heading on the right path,” Helm said after taking part in the Wings’ developmental camp that ended Monday. “I wasn’t too sure how it was going to go. It’s a good start to summer training. It’s very encouraging.”
“There was no physical contact, but other than that over the last two days (Wings athletic trainer) Piet Van Zant said he went full out on and off the ice[," Ken Holland said. "]He reported no issues. Next test is getting to camp in September and have physical contact.”
A slightly torn disc in his back limited Helm to playing in just one game last season.
“It’s a process,” Helm said. “I’m encouraged that’s for sure. I see this moving in the right direction, especially in the last few days. Guys were pushing me around a bit,” Helm added. “I did some battle drills, but I don’t think guys were going too hard on me. I think they understand what the situation is but it was nice to get pushed around and to push back.”
Just like with the addition of winger Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss on the first day of free agency, the Wings see getting a healthy Helm back is just like another acquisition.
“When you think about adding Steve and Alfie and Darren Helm to our team, from last year’s team, would be a tremendous, tremendous upgrade,” Holland said.
And Mikael Samuelsson:
“I believe he’s on the road to recovery,” Holland said. “He was feeling better every day. We expect him to be ready for the start of camp.”
Samuelsson seemed to suffer injury after injury last season, the last of which was an injured pectoral muscle that kept him out pretty much the entire playoffs.
“There was talk at the end of the year that he might need surgery,” Holland said. “The doctors looked at him and said he didn’t need surgery. He just needs time to heal.”
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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.