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The Malik Report

Red Wings GM Ken Holland addresses his team’s summertime moves, outlook going forward

Red Wings GM Ken Holland finds himself amidst a pair of his grown-up children's weddings and charitable engagements this and next month, but he found the time to speak with the Vernon Morning Star's Kevin Mitchell regarding the state of the Wings with training camp slated to start all of 47 days from now.

Holland began by discussing the team's recruitment of Daniel Alfredsson...

“For the first time in his career, J.P. Barry said Alfredsson was having serious conversations about leaving Ottawa, and if he did leave, we were one of the teams he would consider going to so I asked if Daniel would be interested in going on a conference call with Mike Babcock and I, and we set it up for the next day. We talked for about 45 minutes.

“Obviously, we talked about the Detroit program, our goals, our expectations, and later that day, I got a call that he was seriously considering leaving and it was basically Boston or us. There’s a lot of excitement, especially amongst our Swedes. Daniel Alfredsson has a lot of respect in our game, a lot of respect with the Swedish players. He’s a 200-foot player. He plays offence, he plays defence, he competes. Obviously, we’re bringing in a captain, we’re bringing a leader into our locker room.”

He discussed the Wings' youth movement...

Holland said his core group pushed the youthful Wings and several kids had breakout years, including d-men Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Jonathan Ericsson. Forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson also made strides and Justin Abdekader and Damien Brunner were stellar. And goalie Jimmy Howard reached all-star status.

“As we go into next year, we need Darren Helm to get healthy. He’s a very important part of our team. We’ve added Stephen Weiss, we’ve added Daniel Alfredsson and we lost Valterri Filppula, who’s a really good two-way player. But we’re hoping with Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen, Weiss, Alfredsson and Abdelkader, we can have the makings of two lines that can score. Last year, we were probably counting on one line and if Zetterberg and Datsyuk didn’t do it, we didn’t have that consistent second line scoring. So hopefully, we can get more secondary scoring and with the development of our kids, we’re optimistic going into the 2013-2014 season.”

The Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, won the Calder Cup with the likes of Czech world junior goalie Petr Mrazek and young guns Landon Ferraro and Riley Sheahan. Holland doesn’t see any superstars on the way, but guys with the chance to be solid NHLers. Also in the mix are second-round 2011 draft Ryan Sproul of the Soo Greyhounds, Xavier Ouellet of Team Canada juniors and WCHA d-man of the year Nick Jensen.

And while I'll leave his chat about the Wings' scouting staff to you (and the Wings added Tyler Wright and Andrew Dickson, not Nixon, to the mix), Holland concluded his conversation with Mitchell via an intriguing quip and a quote:

The Wings will dress just one d-man in their 30s after a season where they finished fifth in goals against. Holland wants more of a transition game for additional offence. Smith, who posted 52 points in his last year of college at Wisconsin, will soon get the green light to produce points.

“We’re overhauling it now. I wish we had Nick Lidstrom back, but we had 20 incredible years with Nick Lidstrom and again, it’s somebody else’s time.”

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w2j2's avatar

Holy Cow!  It is the Vernon mafia!
Ken Holland, Tyler Wright, Jeff Finley, Marty Stein, & Chris Osgood are all Vernon residents. 
It pays to play golf with Ken Holland!

Posted by w2j2 on 07/28/13 at 08:20 PM ET

Bugsy's avatar

Holland wants more of a transition game for additional offence. Smith, who posted 52 points in his last year of college at Wisconsin, will soon get the green light to produce points

George, is that implying then that they knew Smith was better at offense than defense and purposely told him to focus on D? We had our concerns in the playoffs on his D, so maybe they’re hoping/expecting/seeing that he’s going to be good enough in his own zone this season that he can put more focus on offense?

Holland doesn’t see any superstars on the way, but guys with the chance to be solid NHLers.

Although I think you said there might be a potential star or 2, I guess this lines up with what you were saying: they’re building a good foundation from within, and the few signed free agent(s) every year hopefully are to put them at the next level, not rely on free agency..

Posted by Bugsy on 07/28/13 at 11:07 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Okanagan Valley region of British Columbia is a popular summertime destination for a boatload of NHL’ers and front office folks. Holland happens to be from Vernon, as is Marty Stein, but as far as I know, the rest spend their summers there.

It’s a big region population-wise by Canadian standards—almost 400,000 people between Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, etc.—and pretty vast geographically, all wrapped around the Okanagan Lake, and it’s warm in the summer and not-too-cold in the winter, and not all that far from Vancouver, either, so it’s a convenient place to set up shop.

As for Smith…I’m trying not to read too much into the article, but I do believe that the Wings watched Smith’s performance in the AHL and wanted him to keep it simpler at the NHL level. The team still seems to believe that he’s going to be a top-four defenseman, but he’s got to take care of his own end first.

I don’t have a good read on Holland’s take about a lack of superstars, other than to say that there’s certainly potential in the Jarnkroks, Jurcos, Sprouls and Mrazeks, but Holland is a classic expectation-diminisher. It’s safer for him and for us to assume that there may be a Zetterberg or Kronwall in there somewhere ,but that there are more likely solid mid-level players.

This conversation’s something of a summertime tradition, and it usually reads similarly.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/28/13 at 11:38 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.