The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/13/14 at 06:11 PM ET
I finally crashed after a week-and-a-half's worth of prospect fun and then Cleary-re-signing-delight, and Paul did a fantastic job of filling us in regarding the Wings' assistant coaching search, a certain Anthony Mantha's confidence (he's not quite as borderline arrogant as Andreas Athanasiou is [and Andreas has backed it up, too], but Mantha knows he's good), Dylan Larkin's local TV sports show debut, and in KK Hockey, we found out, not-so-shockingly, that the Hockey News's Matt Larkin's"controverisal pick" in terms of teams missing the playoffs is probably going to be the "controversial pick" to miss the playoffs in most every other prognostication-inclined hockey yearbook.
Today, NHL.com's Dan Rosen examined the free agency moves made or not made by the Atlantic Division's teams, and he looked on the bright side of this whole going-with-the-known-quantity and/or signing-someone-not-based-upon-merit thing:
The Red Wings so far have struck out this offseason, even with approximately $9.5 million in cap space to use and an obvious need for a right-handed defenseman.
They tried to get Dan Boyle, Matt Niskanen, Stephane Robidas, Stralman and Christian Ehrhoff but each signed elsewhere. The best the Red Wings have done since the free-agent market opened is re-sign Quincey.
They still want to add players through a signing or a trade and Alfredsson will either return to Detroit or retire. But the Red Wings right now appear to be the same team they were last season, minus some veterans whose roles depleted toward the end.
That may not be a terrible thing considering the emergence of Gustav Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, Luke Glendenning and DeKeyser, plus the fact that they played half of last season without Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and still made the playoffs.
For whatever reason, WXYZ's "7 Sports Cave" chose to poke the bear...
He's been the talk of the sports world for the last few days, so you know we'd be talking about LeBron James in the 7 Sports Cave.
He was one of the main topics of conversation when Mike Stone from 97.1 The Ticket and Matt Dery from Detroit Sports 105.1 sat down with Brad Galli.
They'll also asked if the Tigers are the best team in baseball at the All-Star break and if the Red Wings made the right, but unpopular move in re-signing Dan Cleary.
Strangely enough, the "Fast 5 Minutes" does not address the issue, and it takes 8 minutes and 40 seconds' worth of viewing to find:
Who the hell knows about the bullshit that this is all Babcock's doing (it isn't) or that there's a verbal agreement that Cleary might return next season, too (???). Apparently the Wings have been terrible at drafting, too.
Let's just say that I tend not to trust the sports talk radio types when they insist they've got "inside information," mostly because they don't pay attention to the Red Wings 95% of the damn time.
In equally cheery news, the Free Press's Helene St. James looked at the Tampa Bay Lightning's off-season moves, and let's just say that they're going to be a real threat if they stay healthy:
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, whose Red Wings career earned him folklore status, made it clear he expects his Tampa team to contend for the Stanley Cup next season by upgrading the defense. He traded for Jason Garrison, and then he signed Anton Stralman. The Wings had interest in Stralman, who had 13 points last season (same as Kyle Quincey, incidentally), but balked once finding out Stralman wanted a five-year deal. Stralman got that and $22.5 million.
The Lightning next added hard-nosed forward Brenden Morrow, who Yzerman also picked for the 2010 Canadian Olympic hockey team. And before free agency even began, Yzerman locked up Ryan Callahan, the former Rangers captain Yzerman acquired in April after Martin St. Louis demanded to be traded.
St. Louis' departure made it possible to crown Steven Stamkos with the captain's C he richly deserved. Stamkos missed 45 games with a broken right tibia last season, and still managed to be a 20-goal scorer and 40-point producer in the 37 games he did play. Former Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula, meanwhile, enters his second season in the Sunshine state after delivering a dazzling 25 goals and 58 points in 75 games in 2013-14.
Last season dead-ended in a first-round sweep by Montreal as Tampa couldn't overcome losing goaltender Ben Bishop to injury. Yzerman addressed that issue by bringing in veteran Evgeni Nabokov as a back-up.
In "business of hockey" and/or "numbers" news, The Hockey News's Ken Campbell also posited an article in which he questioned whether teams use advanced stats like the Fenwick and Corsi numbers, and whether doing so is a be-all-end-all barometer of success:
Those who run NHL teams, generally speaking, see value in them, but there’s still some skepticism. Most GMs are smart enough to know any tool that gives them more information is a good thing, but they’re all still feeling their way around this new phenomenon.
Lou Lamoriello of the New Jersey Devils is an interesting case. He just celebrated 27 years of running the Devils, but he’s also one of the game’s best thinkers and has an open mind about most things he thinks will improve the game. He’s an old-school GM with a new-school mentality. He said the Devils’ new ownership group, which also owns the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, has embraced analytics with its basketball experience and he’s completely on board with it. The Devils, he said, are working their way toward having an analytics department, but he wonders whether analytics will ever be as prominent in hockey as they are in baseball. He still doesn’t trust all the numbers he sees.
“Sometimes you can also get paralyzed with statistics in reading players,” Lamoriello said. “I saw something recently I thought was really interesting, but I probably would have lost my job if I had done a couple of things they said.”
Ken Holland is a lot like Lamoriello. He has run the Detroit Red Wings hockey department for a long time and with enormous success. He’s also an unconventional thinker and one of the more progressive voices in the game. He wants to embrace analytics, but like a lot of other hockey people, isn’t sure the numbers tell a complete story.
“We’ve been talking about it, but I wouldn’t say it’s a big factor in any of our decision making,” Holland said. “Let’s say you’re Pavel Datsyuk’s linemate. You move to another team and not playing with Pavel Datsyuk is going to have an effect on your lack of success. With baseball, it’s more black and white because the pitcher is on the mound and he’s going against the batter. But in hockey, you’ve got four teammates and five opponents who are going to have some impact on what’s going to happen.”
The Wings and their former assistant GM tend to make a good point here:
One of the problems with analytics is that the people doing them are taking their information from the event summaries provided by the NHL. Those summaries are done by human beings, all sorts of them, who might have a different interpretation of what just happened. Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said it occurs often. He said the league will sometimes send out video of a disputed goal and ask 10 GMs if it should have counted. Five will come back saying it should count, the other five saying it should be disallowed. A giveaway or takeaway in one arena might not be one in another. Robert Svehla used to lead the league in hits when he played for the Florida Panthers, largely because he could count on being credited with double digits in hits every time he played a home game.
The Red Wings do use advanced stats, but they prefer to take their own stats whenever possible. That's the reason back-up goalies are asked to chart faceoffs--they and the vast majority of the NHL's teams, both successful and unsuccessful ones, don't believe that even the most objective of stats are taken all that objectively by each rink's stats staff.
Regarding the NHLPA's summertime meetings in Pebble Beach this week (from the 14th to 17th), which will determine which of the NHL's proposed rule changes actually find their way into the rulebook, the New York Post's Larry Brooks reports that the PA's going to determine what to do with the NHL's "Make Whole" payments...
The NHLPA is about to formalize its policy relating to the $300 million in “make-whole” payments the union is owed — and will begin to receive in installments — under the CBA in the aftermath of Owners’ Lockout III.
Sources have indicated the PA will distribute the funds exclusively to players who were under contract for the 2012-13 season for which their pay was pro-rated at 58.54 percent of the face value of their respective salaries when the schedule was reduced to 48 games.
By the way, did you notice that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both structured their respective eight-year, $84 million extensions that kick in with 2015-16 — at $10.5 million cap hits per — so they are both due only $2 million in salary for 2020-21 (plus $5 million in signing bonuses), by far the lowest base of the contracts?
That is because 2020-21 is set to become the next lockout season.
In genuinely optimistic news, Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish posited an interview with Christoffer Ehn...
Christoffer Ehn thinks of himself as a playmaker because of his skating ability and hockey sense and t is refreshing to see a player who models himself as a playmaker not only able to battle for the puck on the boards, but willing to do that.
There are a few differences between the game Ehn is used to playing in Sweden and the one he had been thrust into in Traverse City.
Ehn said, “It’s a lot more little details, like being on the right side of the puck and closing down on angles to give your teammates some more time and space. So you have to be ready the whole time.”
And on Twitter...
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About The Malik Report
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.