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Red Wings Friday practice post in progress: on health and the team’s roster crunch

Updated 3x at 12:57 PM: the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Mike Knuble "won't make the team": Fox Sports Detroit's streaming webpage will offer a live feed of the Red Wings' final practice before the truncated 2013 season begins on Saturday, with the Wings slated to hit the ice around 12 PM and skate for approximately an hour.

As we wait for practice to begin, here's a roundup of this morning's news stores, which focus upon the topic of the day in the intersection of the Wings' health concerns, including groin injuries nagging Jakub Kindl and Todd Bertuzzi, as well as a back injury that's bothering Darren Helm, with the roster crunch the Wings find themselves facing as they've got 27 players on the roster, but need to get down to 23 by this afternoon.

The fact that Patrick Eaves has been cleared to play, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, complicates the Wings' roster equation:

Patrick Eaves has been cleared to play.The versatile forward, who hasn't played in a regular season game since Nov. 26, 2011, will be on the season-opening roster, according to general manager Ken Holland.

Eaves took a puck to the side of the head on a slapshot by Nashville defenseman Roman Josi in 2011 and suffered a broken jaw and severe concussion, with the concussion symptoms remaining throughout 2012.

"First off, we're real pleased for Patrick Eaves," Holland said. "In the last little while Patty has been feeling and he's felt good this week (in training camp). We're happy for him, he's been through a lot. This strengthens our team, and it does create a logjam that we'll deal with."

...

With Eaves available, Holland said the Wings have placed forward Darren Helm (strained back) on short-term injured reserve.

The Wings have to get down to the 23-man roster limit by 3 p.m. (EST) this afternoon.

Holland said Helm will miss Saturday's opener in St. Louis and Monday's game in Columbus, and likely Tuesday's home opener against Dallas. The Wings are hopeful Helm will be ready for next Friday's home game against Minnesota.

The Wings will likely have to decide between Jan Mursak or Cory Emmerton, likely trading or waiving one of them, once Helm is healthy to play and if no other injuries crop up.

MLive's Ansar Khan also spoke to Holland about the team's roster situation...

Center Darren Helm (back) was placed short-term injured reserve, retroactive to the start of training camp last week, opening up a roster spot and enabling the club to delay making a more difficult roster decision. Helm can be activated at any time. Holland said the plan is for Helm to be ready for next Friday's game against Minnesota at Joe Louis Arena. If he feels better, he could return sooner, but the team must consider that he missed all of training camp.

Once Helm is able to play, if the Red Wings have no other injuries, they likely will be forced to choose between keeping forwards Jan Mursak or Cory Emmerton, having to trade or waive one of them.

“We're obviously a lot deeper up front,'' Holland said. "We're taking it a day at a time. We're hoping we get everyone healthy and we have a tough decision to make.''

There are bound to be more injuries due to the long layoff from the lockout, combined with a short training camp and compressed schedule. Defenseman Jakub Kindl won't play Saturday due to a groin issue.

“Kindl had tests; it showed he's got some trauma in there,'' Holland said. "He won't be available Saturday, maybe Monday.''

Forward Todd Bertuzzi, who felt tightness in his groin midway through Thursday night's practice, will be re-evaluated Friday.

Eaves will start the season on the 23-man roster, which must be finalized by 3 p.m. Friday.

“He's been a real good player for us, a good penalty killer,'' Holland said. "He's chipped in between 12 and 14 goals a year. He's played in the top six when we've needed him. He's got a good set of hands. The obvious question is, where's your game at? It'll get better the more he plays.''

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness is confirming the team's players' respective injury statuses, too:

The Wings’ roster is OK with a healthy Eaves after Darren Helm (back) was placed on short-term injured reserve. Helm is expected to be ready for next Friday’s home game against the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena.

Once Helm returns and if the Wings don’t have any other injuries, they’ll have to make a decision up front. And that decision will be to either waive or try and trade Jan Mursak or Cory Emmerton.

“We are deep up front,” Holland said. “We’ll have to make a decision up front.”

“It took a year for Patty to get back to normal,” Holland continued. “He’s been a real good player for us, a good penalty killer. He’s chipped in between 12 and 14 goals a year. He’s played in the top six when we’ve needed him. He’s got a good set of hands. The obvious question is, where’s your game at? It’ll get better the more he plays.”

Jakub Kindl (groin) won’t play in the opener Saturday in St. Louis. Holland said. Kindl had tests and it showed he had some trauma there. He could be read Monday for the game in Columbus.

Todd Bertuzzi (groin) will be re-evaluated today.

In roster discussions of a different kind, the Free Press's Helene St. James has added an eyebrow-raiser to her story about the Wings' decision to pass on signing Wade Redden...

The Red Wings continue to search for help on defense, but it won't include Wade Redden. They could instead take a look at Toronto's Cody Franson.

There had been internal discussions about whether Redden, 35, would help bolster the blue line in the wake of losing Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and Brad Stuart via trade, but ultimately management decided against pursuing a guy who hasn't played in the NHL two years. Redden became an unrestricted free agent after clearing waivers and then going through a buyout with the New York Rangers.

Another possibility is Franson, who probably can be had for a third or fourth draft pick. Franson, 25, is 6-foot-5, shoots right-handed, and only makes $1.2 million and is in the last year of a deal that will leave him a restricted free agent this summer. He has 71 points in 198 games with the Leafs and Nashville Predators.

Franson can play special teams and is a good deal more physical than Jakub Kindl. Franson could give the Wings a little more comfort with their second and third pairings, giving them options as far as where to play Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey.

The Sports Forecaster describes the 6'5," 213-pound defenseman as follows:

ASSETS: Displays excellent offensive instincts. Has a laser shot from the point and is adept at running the power play. Moves the puck well. Has excellent size for the defense position.

FLAWS: Needs to continue working on his defensive-zone coverage and overall consistency. Can at times look sluggish as a skater. Must also use his massive frame more to his advantage.

CAREER POTENTIAL: Inconsistent offensive defenseman with size.

In the multimedia department, via RedWingsFeed, Pavel Datsyuk or an anonymous PR-friendly, English-speaking Wings teammate posted the following quip...

And the Red Wings' website has posted a clip of Henrik Zetterberg saying,, "Thanks for Sticking with Us"...

 

Earlier this morning, Zetterberg spoke to 97.1 the Ticket's Mike Stone about his change in status as the Wings' new captain and his desire to lead the Wings to playoff glory:

The Red Wings begin the 2013 NHL season Saturday night in St.Louis. It will be a new look team without the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, and Tomas Holmstrom among others. With Lidstrom retired, the captaincy has been turned over to Henrik Zetterberg, who joined The Stoney and Bill show Friday and told them being captain is a little different in the NHL than in Sweden, “It is definitely important over there, but it is much more of a bigger deal in North America.”

The Wings will have several new players including Damien Brunner. The Swiss forward played with Zetterberg in Switzerland during the lockout and does acknowledge he might have to get used to the smaller rinks in the NHL, “It’s definitely an adjustment for him like it was for me when I came over. It will take a while, but he is a good player. He is not a young, he is 26.”

The reduced schedule of 48 games means the Wings will not be playing any teams in the Eastern Conference. Zetterberg does not like that, but thinks it could happen in June, “If we played in the East we would not have to travel as much. We should be in the East, but I guess we will just have to wait until the Cup finals to play them.”

Zetterberg touched on the job of the captain and believed the only reason Mike Babcock watches “The Voice” is because his wife makes him.

 

 

And if you're interested, you can listen to WDFN's Matt Sheppard speak to St. Louis Blues forward Jamie Langenbrunner as well. The Wings are slated to begin their 2013 campaign in St. Louis at 8 PM tomorrow, and the game will air on Fox Sports Detroit--preceded by a one-hour season preview--and 97.1 FM:


Barring any earth-shattering personnel moves--and again, I'm scooting at 3:30 to go grocery shopping with the mom, so Paul will be helping in that departmetn--I'll try to keep as much gnus and gnotes in this post as possible. Prepare for updates!

Update #0.5: Via RWF again, if you're interested in this sort of thing, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples posted a screen capture of the full-page ad the NHL took out in at least one newspaper in each and every one of the NHL's 30 marketplaces...

And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner discussed the potential impact(s) the resumption of the NHL season wlll have upon the Grand Rapids Griffins--and this is something of a "teaser" as Wallner talks about Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Petr Mrazek, Riley Sheahan and Joakim Andersson as possible call-ups (and Nathan Paetsch fits into that category if the Wings sign him to a 2-way contract, too):

New coach Jeff Blashill, who arrived in June as the former Red Wings assistant with a vow the team would play aggressive and smart, has created a hard-working and cohesive group that shook off a slow start (2-4-1-1) to produce an eight-game winning streak and another stretch of seven of eight. Of course, Blashill also benefited from the input of the Red Wings brass, which camped out in Grand Rapids because, well, it was the best hockey going in the state with the ongoing NHL labor dispute.

“All these guys that are playing in the American Hockey League, they’ll be up and running when we do start. So advantage to them,” Babcock said after watching the Griffins first practice in October.

The second half of the season begins Saturday at Rockford. Can the Griffins continue to play like they did in the first? The answer depends, in part, on the needs of Detroit. Initially, that doesn’t look like much as only defensemen Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff were called up, and Lashoff isn’t a certainty.

Under those conditions, the Griffins remain relatively intact and will fare better than other teams in their division (Chicago, for example, initially had 12 players called to the parent Canucks; Rockford had seven summoned to the Blackhawks).

Realistically, however, more injuries are expected in the NHL because of the shortened training period, which means more calls to Grand Rapids. Who goes down in Detroit will in part determine how high Grand Rapids flies in the face of a three-year playoff drought.

...

The Griffins are home for three games next week after eight of nine on the road, plus participation in the Red Wings’ Red vs. White game. Then the team gets nearly a week off from games for the all-star break before the second half begins in earnest. The spotlight won’t be as bright but the results will be just as important.

Update #0.75: No surprise here, from MLive's Ansar Khan:

Update #0.8: No surprise here, either:

Update #0.9: From Khan:


Wings coach Mike Babcock appeared on 97.1 the Ticket's Stoney and Jamie Show yesterday, and SportsRadioInterviews.com's Eric Schmoldt partially transcripted his interview:

Mike Babcock joined WXYT in Detroit with Stoney and Bill to discuss Detroit Red Wings fans, if he’s worried about conditioning to start the lockout-delayed season, replacing Niklas Lidstrom, the pressure to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals and moving on after missing out on big-name free agents in the offseason.

On Red Wings’ season-ticket holders:

“We can’t thank our fans enough for sticking with us. What’s interesting to me is, they were giving me some numbers on season-ticket holders the other day, and it’s unbelievable how they stuck with us. So we really appreciate the great support. … It’s important we do a good job and have a good product and reach out to our fans.”

How concerned are you about conditioning given the late start and short training camp?:

“There’s no sense worrying about it. It is what it is. My big concern, if there is a concern, is I’m hoping we get real lucky with injuries. What I mean by that is, you’re going to get bumps and bruises, but if you get significant things — this year, a groin pull is going to be five games. When you’re playing 48 games in 98 nights, it’s jammed together and your time to recover isn’t very good. The guys that have played are going to be fine. The guys that have really trained hard and were professional about it and got after it are going to be fine. If you didn’t do that, though, it’s going to be obvious.”

How weird is it to be out there without Niklas Lidstrom and how hard will it be to replace him and another top defenseman?:

“I would say to you this: Obviously we knew both guys were leaving. … It’s not like we haven’t known this is coming. Rafalski, Stewart and Lidstrom were three of our big four. … We did what we could to react. We got in the free-agent market; we did everything we could. That didn’t work for us. So that means growth from within. … There’s opportunity. … There’s a piece out there for you to grab, and like any job, you’ve got to create work for yourself.”

Do you feel pressure to get this team back to the Finals?:

“I feel pressure all the time, but that’s pressure from me, to be honest with you. We haven’t been as good a team since ’09. There’s no question about it. I really felt like we had a great regular season in ’05-’06, after the lockout … but we didn’t have any playoff success. The following year, we had great playoff success. … Now, what are we going to do about that? We’re going to, every day, get after it and do the best we possibly can to improve our team.”

You talked about free agency and missing out on some guys like Suter and Parise. Looking back, could you guys have done anything differently?:

“No, I don’t think [so]. The bottom line is it was about going home. The guy’s wife was from [Minnesota]. … The reality is we really felt like we were in a good situation to make that happen. We think we did the right things. I don’t think it came down to money at all. I think it came down to you’ve got a young family and you want to live close to your mom. … Good luck to them and now we’ve got to move on and find other ways to get the job done.”

Here's the interview:

 


And while Henrik Zetterberg did speak to WRIF's Drew and Mike, their interview is non-embeddable.

Update #1: More from Khan:

Update #2: Here's Helene St. James' take on the Wings' roster crunch:

The Detroit Red Wings are missing three players as they practice today for the last time before leaving for St. Louis.

Forward Todd Bertuzzi and defenseman Jakub Kindl are both out with groin injuries, and forward Darren Helm is sidelined at least three games with a sore back.

The Wings have to submit their 23-man roster by this afternoon. Helm is eligible to go on injured reserve, which frees up room for Patrick Eaves, who has been cleared to play after being out more than a year with a concussion.

The Wings plan to carry 14 forwards: Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Damien Brunner, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel Cleary, Bertuzzi, Jordin Tootoo, Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak and Eaves (Helm won't count on IR). Michigan alumnus Mike Knuble, who was on a tryout, won't make the team.

On defense, it's Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey, Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo and Kindl.

The goaltenders are Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson.

Well, I guess that's that for Knuble, at least unless he takes a 2-way deal.

 

Update #2.5: Red Bird III is scheduled to leave DTW at 2:44 PM to take the Wings to St. Louis.

 

Update #3: Sports Illustrated's Stu Hackel offers "questions" for each and every one of the NHL's 15 Western Conference teams, including this one for the Wings...

Detroit Red Wings – Their top forwards aren’t getting any younger and, other than Gustav Nyquist, their young prospects may not be capable of replacing them. Stopgaps like Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo were brought in, but there are expectations that GM Ken Holland will make some personnel moves to upgrade his club. Until then, the biggest question the Red Wings face is: how in the world will they get along without Nick Lidstrom? The elite defenseman/captain and everything he brought to this team cannot be easily replaced by one player. To compound the problem, the Wings also lost veteran blueliner Brad Stuart as a UFA. Brendan Smith may well become a bona fide top defenseman one day, but unless he rapidly accelerates his development, the Wings will have some questions on their blue line.

And, via RedWingsFeed, Yahoo Sports' Darryl Dobbs offers this "training camp battle":

Detroit Red Wings

The battle: Damien Brunner vs. history

The stakes: A first-line spot

The lowdown: After Jiri Dopita, Janne Pesonen, Fabien Brunnstrom and Ville Leino, we now have Damien Brunner, a late-blooming European superstar. The difference this time is that Brunner got to play on a line with the superstar of the team he is joining, before he joined them. Henrik Zetterberg and Brunner created magic in the Swiss League - a league in which Brunner led in scoring for the third straight year. In camp he is already seeing action with Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. If this works out, he'll be an instant star. But of the above four examples, only Leino turned into anything and it took him two years to do it. So history tells us that Brunner will need time, at the very least.

My call: He makes for a great dark horse - I picked him myself late in one of my drafts. It's a tough call, but I lean towards the side of success. I'm buying into the hype.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

Kindl had tests and it showed he had some trauma there.

I’d hate to have a traumatic groin.

The Red Wings continue to search for help on defense, but it won’t include Wade Redden. They could instead take a look at Toronto’s Cody Franson.

That’s a tough decision.  Do you want the guy who hasn’t playing in the NHL for a couple years or do you want the guy who’s been playing on the Leafs?

Posted by Garth on 01/18/13 at 01:05 PM ET

TheFreak's avatar

Maybe Yzerman will offer up a defensive player for Mursak or Emmerton since he seems to be one of the very view who will play with Holland.

Posted by TheFreak on 01/18/13 at 01:23 PM ET

Avatar

There’s no roster crunch. 

Emmerton is a dime a dozen mid to high AHL-level replacement player.  While losing ‘something’ for ‘nothing’ stinks, when the ‘something’ being considered is an averaged sized moderately unphysical guy with no special teams utility, little offensive ability and who is also a mediocre at best skater… enh.

If Eaves is healthy Emmerton’s gone.  Or Mursak.  IMO Mursak’s a guy with better ‘mystical upside’ since he is demonstrably faster and was at least able to crack 13 goals in a full AHL season so he has some degree of offense, but I wouldn’t shed a tear if Detroit lost either if it meant they could keep Eaves with just a chance he’d get back to his old self.

Also, a couple years back I started pining for an Eaves-Helm-Mursak forechecking line and I’m not ready to extinguish that torch yet.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/18/13 at 01:29 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

“We’re obviously a lot deeper up front,’’ Holland said.

Deeper than defense?  OK I’ll buy that.

Deeper with fourth line players than we need to be?  Yes, that’s what I mean.

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 01/18/13 at 01:37 PM ET

Soupsnake's avatar

Franson would be a nice pick up and would continue along the lines of adding TooToo. It wouldn’t hurt to get a little more grit and Kindl definitely isn’t the answer. Also getting Eaves back is huge, hopefully he wears a cage or something so he isn’t nervous about blocking shots and going hard into the corners like we are used to seeing him do.

Posted by Soupsnake from Canton, Mi on 01/18/13 at 01:41 PM ET

Avatar

Deeper with fourth line players than we need to be?  Yes, that’s what I mean.

This.

Posted by Garth on 01/18/13 at 01:42 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Do you want the guy who hasn’t playing in the NHL for a couple years or do you want the guy who’s been playing on the Leafs?

Even better… “or do you want the guy who was once a keystone piece in a trade for Brett Lebda?”

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/18/13 at 01:52 PM ET

henrymalredo's avatar

I’ll be honest, I can’t speak on Franson’s abilities, but it would make me nervous to have three former Leafs on the blueline.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 01/18/13 at 02:27 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

“I’ll be honest, I can’t speak on Franson’s abilities, but it would make me nervous to have two former Predators on the team.”

Revised for my opinion.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 01/18/13 at 02:35 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Ansar Khan @AnsarKhanMLive

Second PP unit has White and Colaiacovo at points and Filppula, Cleary and Samuelsson up front, in practice.

Well, looks like it going to all be up to that first PP unit…

 

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 01/18/13 at 02:50 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

And the Blues sign Redden. We’re about to see if Holland was smart…

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 01/18/13 at 02:57 PM ET

Avatar

And the Blues sign Redden. We’re about to see if Holland was smart…

No, we’re not.  There would’ve been zero risk to signing Redden.  Worst case scenario he gets waived and finishes the year in GR with his $800K contract counting against the cap and making the Wings only $9M under, best case scenario he ends up the newest Drake/Cleary/Eaves/Helm successful reclamation project.

Posted by Garth on 01/18/13 at 05:52 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’m wondering how much longer Ken Holland is going to let the Wings sit at the 50-contract limit. Seems if you have the maximum number of contracts you can have and your team still has a need, then you’ve just got too many people.

Granted, I doubt that’s what stood in the way of the team taking a shot at Redden, but watching them dump a guy Commodoriously would have tipped their hands about wanting to sign him, which would have put them in a weaker bargaining position.

Like I said, ultimately mostly meaningless in the overall scheme, but are there seriously guys in that list who are worth that much more than the garbage draft pick you could get for them to buy just a little bit of free agency/trade leeway?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/18/13 at 06:47 PM ET

perfection's avatar

There would’ve been zero risk to signing Redden. 

this is very not true. no salary/cap risk of course but huge risk in the sense that we are already over our roster limit. we already may have to waive Emmerton (if Mursak still has those wheels, he seems more likely to be grabbed by another team) to fit Eaves assuming nobody goes on longterm IR (or a revolving door of short term IR I guess). If we sign Redden, that means someone else has to go and it’s likely Kindl. Waiving a 25 year old defender that we drafted and developed and still feel has an upside in order to sign an extremely questionable 35 year old who’s played in the AHL the last two seasons seems like a monstrous risk to me. I know our D is shaky and I hope we can find a way to upgrade at some point, but essentially trading Redden for Kindl (and whatever future value he may have) just seems kind of dumb. Subban on the other hand…

And nobody is going to trade with the Wings knowing that the only reason we want to do it is that we have to get under the roster limit. They can simply wait one day and get the player for free since we will likely have no choice but to waive. Nobody seems to ever trade for players that everyone knows will be waived in the near future. Of course Kenny could perhaps come up with some kind of crazy blockbuster where some of these players would be thrown in the pot, but that unlikely scenario is maybe the most likely way someone actually trades for Emmerton or Kindl. 

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 01/18/13 at 07:15 PM ET

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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.