Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings locker room clean-out day post 2: free agents-to-be want to stay, coach and GM not so sure

Updated at 10:04 PM: Despite the fact that the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers on Friday afternoon, we received good news in terms of the franchise's future in the form of Pavel Datsyuk informing the Wings' beat writers and everyone else that he plans on remaining with the Red Wings past the expiry of his current contract in the summer of 2014, and that, as he told Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji, he plans on remaining a Wing for "years to come":

"I hope we agree and I sign more after my year," Datsyuk said after the Wings cleaned out their lockers Friday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. "I would love to stay."

Datsyuk enjoyed playing in Russia's KHL during the lockout, which fueled speculation that he would return there after his contract expires after next season.

"It's fun to be home, but one home to another home, it's when you play too much here, it's nice to come back home," Datsyuk said.

Datsyuk, who turns 35 this July, considers Detroit his other home. But Datsyuk did say down the road he would like to play in Russia again.

"This is my goal but you never know how it goes," Datsyuk said. "I would love to finish back in front of my friends, fans in Russia. I hope I be in good shape."

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, the Free Press's Helene St. James and MLive's Ansar Khan all confirmed, with Khan noting that Datsyuk still believes in his team's future...

General manager Ken Holland said he plans to talk to Datsyuk's agent, Gary Greenstin, in the next few weeks. Datsyuk can't sign a new contract until July 5.

Asked how long he'd like to remain in the NHL, Datsyuk said, “My time is too long, you never know. Hockey now is so competitive, so aggressive game. You never know. But I'm looking forward.''

He was encouraged by the team's playoff run and growth of many young players. He believes the future is bright.

“My optimism is always on the top,'' Datsyuk said. “This is how we can play. We played together. I like it. We don't have too many Nick Lidstrom, (Steve) Yzerman or (Sergei) Fedorov, but we play together and it's a good year for us. I'm looking forward to keeping same team, kind of, and doing the same next year.''

He still would like to play in Russia one day.

“This is my goal, but you never know how this go,'' Datsyuk said. “I would love to finish (in Russia), give back to my friends and fans in Russia. I hope so I'll be in good shape (then).''

And the Free Press's St. James noted that Datsyuk may be turning 35 in July, but he's still a superstar--I think that both many Wings fans and most of Datsyuk's teammates would agree that Datsyuk seems to be on a track to Igor Larionov-like, play-into-his-40's longevity--and as such, we should assume that negotiations won't be easy...

But Datsyuk's loyalty to both his family and the Red Wings seem to have reached something of a truce:

All through the season, there had been a good deal of chatter that Datsyuk, 34, would retire from the NHL and return to play in the KHL. He spent the last fall's lockout with CSKA Moscow, and when he came back to Detroit in January, he spoke glowingly of how much fun he had had playing before friends and being close to his nearly 11-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who returned to Russia when Datsyuk and his wife divorced a few years back.

Nyet, said Datsyuk.

"It was fun to be home," Datsyuk said, "but it was one home to another home. I hope we agree, and I sign a new deal."

The Wings will do their part to get it done: Even a middle-aged (in hockey parlance) Datsyuk is better than 90% of the players in the league. General manager Ken Holland said he plans to reach out soon to Datsyuk's agent, Gary Greenstin, though no extension can be finalized until after July 5, because CBA rules dictate a potential unrestricted free agent can't be re-signed until the final year of his deal.

Holland said it was "very important" to re-sign Datsyuk but noted that "he's got options, too. I'm going to make a call to his agent. I'd like to have a conversation. We know he's on the team next year. Negotiations are tough, because the player is trying to find out what's fair for him, and the team is trying to find out, competitively, what makes sense.

"Just because somebody says they want to stay doesn't mean you're going to have a contract done in a month."

Datsyuk didn't want to put a number on how many more years he'd play, but even if it's only two additional years — through 2015-16 — that'd be huge for the Wings.

And about the whole, "Eastern Conference play would beat him up" stuff? I still believe that the Chief's source wasn't blowing smoke, but his concerns have apparently been answered by the organization, because here's what he had to say to St. James...

Datsyuk isn't worried about the Wings moving to the Eastern Conference, which has a reputation for being more physical. "It's same game," he said.

And here's what he said to the rest of us:

In terms of immediate moves, the Wings assigned Danny DeKeyser to the Grand Rapids Griffins, hoping that Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist can help the Griffins rally from their 2-1 deficit in the AHL's Western Conference Final against Oklahoma City with Games 4 and 5 taking place tonight and tomorrow in OKC (the Wings happened to post a link to Griffinshockey's morning skate photo gallery, and Nyquist and Andersson spoke to the Griffins' YouTube channel as well).  The Wings hope that DeKeyser will be able to step into the lineup sometime next week, assuming that the Griffins stick around.

The Wings also made a somewhat surprising managerial move given assistant GM Jim Nill's departure for Dallas, as noted by MLive's Khan:

Put bluntly, the Red Wings' management team has always acted as that--a team with certain people having the final say in department x or category y.

Ryan Martin has always been much, much more than the team's resident CBA expert and capologist. He's in the "war room" at the trade deadline, he's at the draft table and he's helping the team through free agency, and he scouts players and prospects at the pro and amateur levels, too--to the point that he's the only front office person I can confirm to you has spent the vast majority of every summer development camp at the development camp while Nill and Holland came and went.

McDonnell's work as the director of amateur scouting means that he's already been coordinating the regional scouts' reports and having a strong say in which players the Wings should be targeting at the draft, so it's not exactly a huge leap for him to have the final say instead of Nill making the calls.

Unspoken in all of this is the fact that Kris Draper's clearly become a huge part of the managerial team as Ken Holland's "special assistant," that Mark Howe and his pro scouts (including Kirk Maltby) assist the Wings in terms of NHL player personnel decisions, that director of player development Jiri Fischer, de-facto Griffins assistant coach and defenseman mentor Chris Chelios, goalie scout/mentor/coach Chris Osgood, goaltending coach Jim Bedard, Griffins strength and conditioning coach Aaron Downey, Wings strength and conditioning coach Pete Renzetti all weigh in on the state of the team's prospects and NHL players at regular intervals, as do Griffins coach Jeff Blashill and assistant coach Jim Paek...

And the Wings' coaching staff, including Mike Babcock, associate coach Tom Renney, assistant coach Bill Peters and video coordinator Keith McKittrick all do their fair share of scouting at the pro and amateur levels, too, so the Wings' front office is almost a hive of hockey knowledge.

Holland explained the theories behind his reasoning to the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Holland said he will not be bringing in anyone to replace assistant general manager Jim Nill, who left in April to take the GM job in Dallas. Nill ran the draft and the Grand Rapids Griffins, and those duties will now be split between Joe McDonnell and Ryan Martin. McDonnell, currently the director of amateur scouting, will run the draft, while Martin, who has been the “salary cap-ologist” since 2005, will run the Griffins. “For me to go outside, it’s not fair to the people that have done the work,” Holland said. “So I’m going to spread out the responsibility. I believe we’ve got a pretty good program going, and they’ve had a lot to do with it.”

 

 

Otherwise, there were a few Tweets that slipped through the cracks...

DeKeyser spoke to Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus about dealing with his injury heading to Grand Rapids and his summer plans...

"Any time you can get experience like this it’s going to help,” DeKeyser said. “It’s going to benefit me for sure, definitely long term… The couple games in the playoffs were some great experience for me, as well. Down the road, I’ll know what to expect; it won’t be a surprise for me.”

While it was undoubtedly a sad end for the Red Wings’ season, DeKeyser’s impending return made it even more frustrating. The former Compuware AAA standout said he would’ve returned to the Red Wings’ lineup had they made the Western Conference Finals, either in Game 3 or 4, most likely.

“It’s a bummer knowing I was that close to making a comeback, but that’s just how it goes sometimes,” DeKeyser said.

Watching the Chicago series, especially Game 7 inside the “Madhouse on Madison,” rather than being out on the ice was the most frustrating part for DeKeyser, as it would be for just about any injured player.

“I was up in the suite there and I don’t think I sat down for more than a few minutes,” DeKeyser said. “I had to stand up, I was pacing back-and-forth up there, especially at the start of overtime and end of the 3rd there… That was a tough game; it was a good series, though.”

...

Although he’ll have an apartment to clean out in Kalamazoo, DeKeyser said that’s actually where he would spend a lot of his time in preparing for his first grueling, 82-season grind next season.

“Some guys at Western there, some pro guys like myself go back,” DeKeyser said. “We have a good group that trains there. I’ll also be working with Pete Renzetti, the strength guy here. He’ll be up in Toronto so I might pay a couple visits to him up there.”

And without a doubt, those visits could be crucial in his development, as the big challenge for DeKeyser will be to add more mass to that 6-foot-3, 198-pound frame of his.

 

 

Those with uncertain futures, like UFA's-to-be Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary, Drew Miller and Damien Brunner pondered what might happen next while speaking with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

He admits it would be strange but wearing a new jersey is something Valtteri Filppula could be doing next season. The unrestricted free agent forward, nursing a severely sprained ankle suffered in Game 7, doesn't know what his future holds.

"I don't know, it's too early to say right now," said Filppula. "It's been the only team I've played with. There's nothing but positive things to say (about the organization), and it's a great place to be. We'll see what happens this summer. I haven't thought too much about it. Possibly it (leaving the Red Wings) could happen. It would be tough."

Daniel Cleary, another prospective unrestricted free agent, said he took an extra while longer than usual taking off his jersey after the Game 7 loss in Chicago, knowing it could be his final time.

"I took a minute, I don't want to get too emotional," Cleary said. "The relationship I have with Detroit is very special to me."

Forwards Damien Brunner and Drew Miller and defenseman Ian White are the Red Wings' other unrestricted free agent possibilities.

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff...

Centre Valtteri Filppula is an unrestricted free agent and isn’t likely to get the $4.5-5 million annual contract he’ll seek from Detroit. But wading into a thin free-agent pool, there’s likely a team out there that’s willing to ante up.

“We have to see what feels right for me,” Filppula said. “We’ll see.”

Likewise, winger Damien Brunner, an offensive bonanza in his first Detroit season, is also a UFA and not yet definite that Detroit is his future home.

“I can’t say anything bad about the Detroit Red Wings,” Brunner said. “I guess I have to think about it in the next couple of weeks and talk to my agent and (Detroit GM) Kenny (Holland), and then we’ll see what’s going on.”

Committed to assembling from within as he rebuilt his team this season, Holland knows he requires more blocks in place in order to make the next quantum leap up the hockey ladder.

“As we head into the off-season, we’ve got to figure out ways to get better,” Holland said. “We have to find a way to figure out a way to get a little bit better and a little bit different. Is it getting tougher, bigger, younger or quicker? Those are the decisions we have to make.”

Based on the fears that launched this uncertain season, Detroit delivered a surprisingly solid performance, but Holland knows treading water won’t cut the mustard in this self-proclaimed Hockeytown. The process of developing the next wave of Red Wings’ success has begun, but there’s more work left to be done before Detroit can again place itself among the elite of the NHL.

And Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples, with Cleary raving about the team's future, and its fans...

“The fans support we had this year late in the season and in the playoffs was probably, maybe the loudest, most boisterous we’ve had since I’ve been here, personally,” Cleary said. “It was amazing, the treatment that we got, how they responded. I thought as a team, we really came together. We’ve got great leadership here on this club and we got a great injection of youth. It’s great to see with Andy, Ny, Bruns, Danny DeKeyser’s going to play in this league until he wants to quit. We had a great goalie, great pieces to build off. I think as a team we should be real excited for next season. Everyone should be excited. Work hard in the summer and get back to where everyone expects Detroit to be.”

Miller crossing his fingers about returning...

“I would like to stay,” the East Lansing native said. “I’ve got to talk to [coach Mike Babcock] and to Kenny Holland, figure out what their approach is to coming back. I don’t have much more to say other than I’d like to come back. But being in a position to have options is something that could possibly be looked at but my first choice would be to stay and come back.”

And both the team's captain and Pavel Datsyuk's favorite piano-lifter pondered where the Wings go from here:

“I think there’s mixed emotions,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said during locker room clean-out day at Joe Louis Arena. “We had a good run here in the playoffs and last two weeks of the regular season. It would be nice to still be playing, and we were really close to doing that. Being up 3-1 against Chicago, playing Game 7 overtime, we were right there, too, to play in the Conference Final. I’m proud of our guys for what we’ve done. A lot of young guys came up, played good. We went through a lot of injuries this year, guys came in and played well. Definitely looking forward to next year.”

...

Justin Abdelkader said the pain and frustration of the Wings’ Game 7 defeat will only serve as motivation for the young Red Wings to work harder over the offseason.

“I think it can definitely help with a group like us, a young group,” the Muskegon native said. “We’ve had so much turnover and then with injuries this year, it can only help with our experience and kind of give the guys some extra drive and passion going into the summer, and get ready for next season. Camp is moved up a week, and with us going into June here, it’ll be a quick summer. Guys will work hard, train hard, and get excited for getting back here in the fall.”

...

[No] matter what happens in the offseason, the playoff run gave the Wings confidence heading into next season. According to Abdelkader, they firmly believe they are Stanley Cup contenders, and they had a legitimate shot at winning it all this season.

“I thought we did,” Abdelkader said. “I thought we did this year. How we came together, how we played at the end of the year, I thought we were playing really good, playing as good as any team. I mean, we won a series against Anaheim, who had the third best record overall, and then took Chicago, who had the best record, into Game 7 and into overtime. I think right there it shows, we could beat one of the best teams and the best team during the year. I think we have a team that can compete for a Stanley Cup. You have to be healthy, a lot of things go into it, but I think we had a good mix of a group, a good mix of guys in here that could get it done.”

The Wings reiterated their points of emphasis to DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...

“We’ve heard a lot of talk that we’re not going to be even close to what we’ve been in previous years,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “I think everyone just wanted to prove that we were going to be a better team than anyone expected.”

The Red Wings still had a loaded lineup even with the retirement of Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom and the departure of defenseman Brad Stuart. But young unknowns – guys like Brian Lashoff, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Damien Brunner and Danny DeKeyser, who weren’t on the roster at the start of the 2011-12 season – stepped up and assumed control of roles that helped the team secured the 22nd straight playoff appearance.

“We still had a lot of good players here after Nick, Stuey and Homer all left,” Ericsson said. “They were very important guys, of course, but we have some young guys who took some very important steps. Guys were stepping up and took the opportunities pretty good and I think we got better as the year went on. We had a very good feeling at the end of the regular season and that carried us throughout the playoffs.”

...

“A lot of the young guys gained a lot of experience this year with all of the injuries that allowed them to come in and play,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “They stepped up for us and we needed them to be a successful team, and they all played extremely well for us.”

Unfortunately, a part of the annual locker room clean-out for players is saying their good-byes before heading home for the summer to teammates, especially those who may not be back next season.

“It’s part of the business and it’s part of the job and it is tough,” Howard said. “You get these connections, friendships throughout the year and then the following year they’re not around, so it’s kind of weird seeing them around the NHL on different teams. It’s one of those things where you just wish the best for everyone.”

And Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji (via RedWingsFeed):

"I think you look back last year standing here, Nick (Lidstrom) retiring, Homer (Tomas Holmstrom) retiring, losing Stuie (Brad Stuart), you didn't really know what to expect this year," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "So standing here now going in for next year, I think you're a lot more positive. We know we have a good group of guys here. Make some additions this summer and keep building on what we have. We know we're going to do good things."

While everyone expected the Wings to go through a painful transition period, they seem to be a bit ahead of schedule on their rebuilding efforts. The fact is that the Wings can't build the way the remaining four teams standing -- the Chicago Blackhawks, the Los Angeles Kings, the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins -- did, precisely because they've made the playoffs for 22 straight seasons and counting. Those other four teams have had top three draft picks, the ones who are expected to turn into stars.

"We haven't picked in the top 14 since 1993," Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "We don't have a guy coming through the system that I'm going to say to you is a superstar that we can plant in the middle of the locker room. We've got to grow them. We've grown (Pavel) Datsyuk, we've grown Zetterberg, we've grown (Niklas) Kronwall, we've grown (Jimmy) Howard, we've grown (Darren) Helm, (Justin) Abdelkader. We've got the Tomas Jurcos and Riley Sheahans and Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, they've got to come through the system just like Kronwall and Zetterberg and Datsyuk did. There are no quick fixes."

...

"I felt like with the young guys that came in and stepped up, played important roles on our team and they were a big reason why we got into the playoffs and got to the second round and took Chicago to Game 7," Justin Abdelkader said. "Hopefully we can build off of that for next season and take that momentum and the experience of the Game 7s, which were big for us, and they’ll be helpful for us."

Also vital to the Wings' success were Danny DeKeyser, the defenseman from Western Michigan who signed as an undrafted free agent at the end of March.

"I was so impressed," Daniel Cleary said. "Playing and coming into the NHL as a defenseman is not easy and he came in and he played so well, his attitude and his confidence and he's such a great kid. He really gets it. He's going to be a great pro, he's going to be a great Red Wing. His ability to make plays and passes and his skating and his steadiness, he's only going to get better."

Brunner told Wakiji that he'd had a first-year blast, too:

"It was exciting and a lot of fun, I mean, my first NHL season and I get a chance to play with the Red Wings," Brunner said. "It was an honor to put that sweater on and I’m happy that it turned out the way it did."

Darren Helm also weighed in regarding his frustrating, back-injury-marred season in a conversation with the Free Press's Helene St. James:

“I don’t like to talk about it, because it gets me frustrated when I talk about it,” Helm said today as he joined his Red Wings teammates at Joe Louis Arena for one last time this season.

The “it” is the season-long back pain that limited Helm to one game, that derailed one comeback attempt after another. A handful of visits to various specialists all revealed no structural damage, nothing that would require surgery. Even coach Mike Babcock, who likes to say that “frustration is a waste of time,” sounded like he was frustrated when asked about Helm.

“He’s no closer today than he was in training camp this year,” Babcock said. “That’s not a good sign. The optimist in me says he’s a young man. The medical profession is pretty good. They’ve got to figure this out, and he’s got to get back and get going. We need him. But if you think Helmer is not trying - like, there’s no one more sick to his stomach than Helmer over not playing. But two years in a row, we didn’t have him at playoff time. And I live in the real world, and we need him at playoff time. But we don’t know what’s going on.”

Helm, 26, said not talking about his predicament helps mentally. “I don’t mention it, my parents aren’t allowed to talk to me about it, my girlfriend isn’t allowed to talk about it. When I’m not talking about it, I’m not upset about it. If I feel good, we talk about it. But the days we don’t talk about it, I’m optimistic because I feel good. I feel like I’m doing what I can to get healthy.”

Right now, that’s doing almost nothing, exercise-wise. “I’m happy with the progress I’m making and the treatment I’m doing,” Helm said. “Things are going well.”

Helm was lost one game into the 2012 playoffs when he suffered a deep gash to his right forearm, an injury that came after he’d been sidelined by other ailments down the stretch. All in all, he hasn’t had much fun since the start of 2012. “It’s been tough,” he said. “You want to play hockey. This last year of injuries has been really tough for me. I’m kind of curious if I even know how to play hockey anymore. It’s been a long time.”

 

 

From here on out, we're going to focus on the comments made by the coach and general manager. Mike Babcock made sure to tell Wakiji that he's not quite satisfied with his team's post-season results...

"We did a great job and I think we improved our roster drastically and I think we're in a much better spot than we were and yet we haven't been a final four team since '09, so we're a work in progress and trying to get better," Babcock said.

He spoke to NHL.com's Tal Pinchevsky regarding his impressions about the 2013 season and playoffs...

"I don't think we made mistakes from a lack of work ethic ever this year. I thought we competed. I thought this group was spectacular as far as that and energy. I enjoyed coaching this year as much as I ever enjoyed it. I had a great time," Babcock said Friday. "Obviously I was disappointed, but we're proud of what happened here. I also think we revitalized our fan base a little bit. We don't have to talk about the past; we can talk about the present. Sometimes when you've been so successful for so long, you get hung up on the people that went before you. It's about who's here now and we've got a good group."

More than anything, that group went from struggling to find its way early in an abbreviated season to coming within one overtime goal of advancing to the Western Conference Final. The balance that emerged on this team relied primarily on the leadership of returning veterans as well as the play of a strong rookie class that included Danny DeKeyser, Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner.

"Our leadership group, [Henrik] Zetterberg, [Niklas] Kronwall, [Pavel] Datsyuk -- those guys set the bar very high. I think that group helped their coaching staff and helped their teammates as much as any group I've ever been around," Babcock said. "Our upgrades this year were from within, not outside. Obviously signing Brunner and DeKeyser were big coups for us. They both became impactful guys for our team."

Not surprisingly, the end of the season was followed by disclosures that several players were coping with injuries. General manager Ken Holland revealed that Kronwall was banged up and that forward Daniel Cleary was suffering from a second-degree separated shoulder and a fractured finger. DeKeyser, who impressed Babcock with his play after being signed following the end of his college season at Western Michigan, missed the series with a hand injury but might have been able to return in the conference final.

....

The biggest adjustment for the Red Wings next season will be a move to the Eastern Conference. Babcock has already begun researching what he and his team can expect in the East next season.

"I talked to [former Detroit assistant and current Ottawa Senators coach] Paul MacLean, he says it's more physically demanding right from the get-go as far as fighting and physicality," Babcock said. "We'll be excited for short trips and good sleeps."

As Babcock and Ken Holland told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose, they're well aware of the fact that, minus Daniel Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Drew Miller, Damien Brunner, the obviously-departing Ian White and restricted free agents-to-be Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson, the team has a middling amount of cap space and something of a roster crunch if Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson return to health, given that Tomas Tatar's no longer waiver-exempt next season, and given that Brian Lashoff's got a one-way deal kicking in next season:

“We're way farther ahead just because of DeKeyser, Kindl, Smith, Lashoff, Nyquist, (Tomas) Tatar, Andersson, Brunner. That's significant,” Babcock said. “But the guys we got coming can't all play here. But you have assets, so you make the decisions based on what's best for you. Anyway you look it, and I'm not taking away anything from what we accomplished, but we squeaked into the playoffs. We don't want to squeak in, you want to be in.”

Now it’s Holland’s job to mold the roster for next season, which will take some creativity on his part because four young players – Lashoff, Tatar, Nyquist and Andersson – are out of options, meaning they must first clear waivers before the Wings can assign them to Grand Rapids in the future.

“Other than DeKeyser, they've all got to go through waivers,” Holland said. “Someone will claim them, which means that we either have to have him on this team or we have to make some moves. We've got some tough decisions to make and at the same time, obviously I don't think it's a big free agent market, if you look in comparison to other years, I think the free agent market every year is going to get a little thinner and a little thinner because teams are signing their best players. Nobody is letting those types of assets hit the market.”

Somewhat ironically, as Zetterberg told Roose, the fact that the Wings did make the playoffs and did push the Blackhawks to 7 games will mean fewer changes taking place this summer (see: probably adding a goal-scoring, net-front forward OR a top-three defenseman, and little else as the team rides out its youth movement):

“We're probably one game away from big changes if we wouldn't have won the last four games of the regular season, it would have been a lot different. It's a fine line here,” Zetterberg said. “But it's nice to see that we pulled together and played the way we did with the guys we have here. It's definitely something that we can build on and we have to make some changes, guys will unfortunately leave and we’ll add some new guys, but it feels better this year to stand here and look for the future than it did last year.”

Holland also told MLive's Ansar Khan that he will NOT be using one of the team's cap-compliance buy-outs (the team has 2 and they can use them this summer or next summer) on Johan Franzen thanks to his $3.95 million cap hit...

“Yeah, it's crazy (speculation) for me,'' Holland said. “I don't know where you find 30-goal scorers. There is no hockey store. He played 41 games, he had 14 goals. If you times it by two, that's 28 goals. How many players in the league score more than 25 goals?''

Franzen has been inconsistent for the past three seasons. He started slowly this season but finished strong, with 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in his final 13 games. He struggled in the playoffs, however, with four goals, two assists and a team-worst minus-7 rating in 14 games. Despite his inconsistency, Franzen has a reasonable salary-cap hit ($3.95 million). It would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace the offense he provides at that salary.

However:

Holland said the option is “at our disposal'' but that it was too soon to know if he will use it on another player.

The Red Wings will need to trim some forwards to make room on their 23-man roster for younger players Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Tomas Tatar, who started the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Buyout candidates include Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi, who were injured most of the season.

You can also anticipate that the Wings may end up trading one of Carlo Colaiacovo, Kyle Quincey, Jordin Tootoo, Jonas Gustavsson, Patrick Eaves or Cory Emmerton to alleviate the roster crunch at some point.

It is entirely possible, if not probable, that the Wings will allow the fact that they need to neither comply with a 23-man roster limit nor comply with the salary cap (they can exceed it by up to 10%) until the "last day of training camp"--which translates into the last day of the exhibition season--but at some point, the Wings will have to decide how they're going to accommodate Helm, Bertuzzi, Samuelsson, Tatar and Lashoff on a roster that needs to get down to 23 players, all while attempting to at least re-sign Brunner and Miller, if not Cleary and Filppula as well, AND adding a free agent forward if at all possible.

So that means that the team's going to have to make some hard roster decisions that involve more than buyouts and saying goodbye to a couple players.

 

 

In the multimedia department, the Detroit Free Press posted a 17-image photo gallery from clean-out day;

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted both a video interview with Darren Helm...

And she offered her take on the off-season to come (she thinks that Filppula and Cleary will exit, Jordin Tootoo may not return, and that the team will add a top-four defenseman but leave its goaltending alone):

WXYZ posted a few quips from Howard about Game 7...

"It's going to be one of those games you probably you look back on and you say you know 'what if' and everything like that," said Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. "[Especially with it] being a Game 7 and with it going to overtime. It was memorable."

"With what we lost last year in the offseason [there were] a lot of question marks [this season]," said Justin Abdelkader, a Wings forward. "But I felt like with the young guys that came in and stepped up, and played important roles on our team, were a big reason why we got into the playoffs."

And a 59-second video of the team's locker room clean-out, in which David Solano spoke with Howard, Abdelkader

The Red Wings' website did things the right way, thanking fans first and foremost...

And after posting clips of comments from DeKeyser...

And Cleary....

They posted the entirety of coach Babcock's nearly-ten-minute long end-of-season lecture, wish list and summary of the team's season and outlook going forward:

 

 

 

Finally, if it's any comfort, the Blackhawks told NHL.com's Brian Hedger that they're more than willing to admit that the Wings pushed them to their absolute limit. Well, some of them are. And the fact that they thought the Wings played dirty as hell is most certainly a compliment:

It's a question that's worth asking as the Chicago Blackhawks prepare for a tough, physical Western Conference Final against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

Did the Detroit Red Wings wake up the Presidents' Trophy winners in their Western semifinal series -- or did they wear out the Blackhawks by forcing Chicago to win three straight games to advance, including Game 7 in overtime?

"I don't know," Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya said Friday, pausing to think about his answer following practice. "I would say 'woke us up.' At some point in that series we had to start playing more desperate to win games. That's kind of what happened. They forced us to do that."

...

"It was a tough series any way you look at it," said forward Patrick Sharp, who leads Chicago with seven goals in the playoffs. "They made it tough to play out there. We had to grind to get to the net. They did a good job of playing as a team, interfering, clutching, grabbing and making it a hard playoff series. So I don't know if 'wake up' is the right word, but we definitely needed to play our best to beat them."

Captain Pork Chop, the Western Conference's version of Sidney Crosby, soeone who smacked his stick on the ice in a tantrum when Stephen Walkom made that infamous call? Yeah, not so much:

"We're fine," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We're ready to take on another challenge. We know it's going to be just as physical, probably even more against L.A. Obviously it was a tough seven games against Detroit, but more than anything, we're fueled by the emotion and excitement of the Game 7 win. We're excited to get a good start [Saturday]."

They're also expecting more of the same from the Kings when trying to control the Blackhawks' impressive rush game, especially through the neutral zone.

"It's what we expect from every team," Toews said. "They're going to try to slow us down. We're a fast-paced team. They'll try to get in our way, interfere with us. Like I said earlier on in the previous series, [it's] something we can learn from and do, as well, within the rules of the game ... to get in guys' ways, make things a little more frustrating and tiring for the other team."

My most sincere hope is that the Kings throw him into so many fits and tantrums that his face freezes in a Grumpy Cat scowl.

As a puck possession hockey fan, I despise the way that the Kings play Darryl Sutter's rugby and/or football and/or wrestling-on-ice system to a tee, and I don't want to see the Kings repeat, but I'd rather see the Kings go to the Cup Final than the petulant Toews, and while I'm not exactly a Bruins fan, either, I'm not rooting for Sid the Gummy, either.

But as far as I'm concerned, the Wings were a stupid-ass make-up non-call on David Bolland boarding Gustav Nyquist away from playing into June, too, so I'm still a little bitter this evening.

 

Update: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness penned stories about Datsyuk...

“It’s not 100 percent, but I’m looking forward (to signing here),” Datsyuk said. “I would love to stay. I hope we agree and I sign new deal. This is my goal, but you never know how this goes,” Datsyuk continued. “I would love to finish (in Russia), give it back to my friends and fans in Russia. I hope I’ll be in good shape (then).”

Datsyuk will make $6.7 million in the final year of his contract. Wings general manager Ken Holland said he’ll talk with Gary Greenstin, Datsyuk’s agent, in the next few weeks, but a new deal can’t be signed until July 5.

“It’s very important, but obviously he’s got options too,” Holland said. “He’s got a year to go, we know he’s on the team next year. Negotiations are tough. Because the player’s trying to find out what’s fair for him and the team is trying to find out what competitively, what you think makes sense. So just because all of a sudden somebody says they want to stay doesn’t mean you’re going to have a contract done.”

Filppula...

When asked if he thought he’d be back with the team Filppula said, “I don’t know. It’s too early to say right now. I just have to wait a little longer till summer and see what happens.”

Friday could have been his last time in the locker room.

“I haven’t thought about that too much, but obviously it’s a possibly that could happen,” Filppula said. “It’d be tough. It’s been a really great place to be. I’ve been so happy here. We’ll see if we go … if that’s what’s going to happen.”

Wings GM Ken Holland said the Wings made Filppula an offer in August and September before talks broke down.

“I think during the season when you’re doing that, to be honest I wasn’t paying too much attention to it, I was just trying to focus on playing,” Filppula said. “Obviously when you negotiate you hope you get something done but that’s not always going to happen. That’s how it is.”

Filppula made $3 million last season and is believed to be asking for about a $2 million raise a year.

“I gotta go through the next month,” Holland said when asked specifically about Filppula. “He’s unrestricted and I gotta sit with the coaches, sit with the scouts.”

And the compliance buy-out issue:

Wings GM Ken Holland also said he would not use one of the club’s two amnesty buyouts on Franzen.

“Yeah, it’s crazy (speculation) for me,” Holland said. “I don’t know where you find 30-goal scorers. There is no hockey store. He played 41 games, he had 14 goals. If you times it by two, that’s 28 goals. How many players in the league score more than 25 goals?”

Franzen will make close to $4 million each of the next seven seasons before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Teams have two amnesty buyouts that can be used over the next two summers, where they can buyout a player for two-thirds of the remaining value of his contract. The move would not count against the salary cap.

“Obviously it’s at our disposal,” Holland said when asked if he’d use it on any players.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Primis's avatar

The Wings need Drew Miller.  They need him now more than ever, in fact.  I also think Eaves is still necessary and needed, and I’d like to keep him around even if he sits for half the games.  He has a shot, and he can skate.

Tootoo is and always was unnecessary.  I’d like to see Cola (I think he can be valuable on that 3rd pairing still) stay but won’t rage if he isn’t kept.  White was gone months ago basically.  Sammy and Bert need to be gone, they very fact they didn’t dress for the CHI series once the team got healthy enough that they weren’t forced to attests to that.

In a perfect world DET finds a way to rid themselves of Kyle Quincey and get something, anything, in return.  Lashoff is a better choice than him at this point.  Quincey is like the AHL call-up that never developed or grew up, so why not give someone with remaining upside a shot if it comes down to that choice?

“Yeah, it’s crazy (speculation) for me,’’ Holland said. “I don’t know where you find 30-goal scorers. There is no hockey store. He played 41 games, he had 14 goals. If you times it by two, that’s 28 goals. How many players in the league score more than 25 goals?’‘

Don’t waste your time, Ken.  Reliable 30 goal guys are in abundance for under $4m/yr, just ask everyone on these sites.  They can’t actually cite examples of guys like those available on the open market, but boy they exist!

Sometimes I wonder if Ken wonders how much of the Wings fanbase are incompetent morons when he gets asked questions like that.

Posted by Primis on 05/31/13 at 08:30 PM ET

Avatar

Sometimes I wonder if Ken wonders how much of the Wings fanbase are incompetent morons when he gets asked questions like that.

If I could get HD video of his reaction to someone asking why he was bothering with resigning Dats this offseason would go by a whole lot faster.

Can’t see how Sammy isn’t bought out unless we go the Pronger route with him.  Quincy got better, but still isn’t worth the cap hit he carries.

And if Cleary has another season in him for a discount, seeing him in the playoffs has me willing to see him back.

Posted by maltby18 on 05/31/13 at 09:11 PM ET

Avatar

The only issue with keeping all their players is they have 27 including Helm and all the free agents.

OK. Helm is injured and may never play again. I would take this as a starting point and be happy if anything else happens. I don’t expect to ever see him on the ice again. He’s had too many months of doing nothing and he gets worse. He’s not coming back. I’ll gladly eat those words. But as someone in the medical field with non-correctable back issues… It just amazes me that nobody can think of anything to do for him.

So. As a result, they need to get rid of 3 players.  White. Cola. Filppula. That’s a roster of 23 with Helm out. I think they need to make a spot for Tatar or trade him. There goes Cleary. If Helm comes back, there goes Miller. If Jarnkrok makes the team as well in the fall, I think it’s at the expense of Sammy. I would rather have Bert.

If they sign another forward, who attacks the net… Emmerton gets traded for a draft pick?Third round? Fourth? I have to believe he’s better than the fifth round pick which was used to get him. He’s a viable NHL’er. I would think there are a ton of crappy teams who would like to have a low cap speedy, apparently budding reliable center. 

IF there were another forward who was worth bringing up from the AHL, bye Bert. Thanks for the years.

On defense. They drop the above two and when Quincey’s contract is up, hopefully Sproul come up and is better than Quincey ever was. Maybe Oullet takes another year to come up and he replaces Lashoff. My only issue with getting rid of Lashoff is he’s decent for his cap hit. It’s not a bad idea to have a guy who may just not be as good who can ride the pine until someone needs a game off. After that? I like Kindl but if someone else is better than he is, See Ya Jakub, move in Backman. Or Almquist. Or Jensen. Or Marchenko.

Posted by teldar on 05/31/13 at 09:31 PM ET

Avatar

The 4mm/yr he’s referring to is the cap hit, meaning you’ll be paying Franzen until he’s 40yrs old or so, I can’t wait to see how effective he’ll be then.  We need Miller?  Really?  So who do w get rid of?  How many fourth lie depth guys do we need?  Same with Eaves both guys are taking up valuable roster spots.  This team needs to get bigger as well, especially now that we’re in te Eastern Conference.

Posted by bababooey on 05/31/13 at 09:51 PM ET

perfection's avatar

so does anyone know conclusively if you can use the two buyouts on injured players? Sammy seems like a no-brainer, especially with his salary. It’d be one thing if he was making under a mil or something, but he’s making almost as much as Franzen! Even if he’s healthy, he is sooooo not worth that anymore. I’d give Tatar his spot any day.

If Helm comes back (ever), I think it’s between him and Emmerton for 4th line center. Andersson has definitely solidified the third line with Nyquist (and hopefully Brunner… though I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else makes him a better offer than we are willing to and Tatar can slot in). After these playoffs, I’m really excited to see how this third line develops over a full season. I thought Andersson was just incredible the entire time he was up.

I would definitely not get rid of Kindl as he has finally turned a corner. Who knows what his upside is at this point? It’s like it finally clicked. He went from a healthy scratch, to pretty much indispensable in a matter of weeks. Did he get a girlfriend or something? Either way, good for us!

I think Miller is really serviceable, a great PKiller and dependable in big situations, but he’s also somewhat replaceable. It depends how the rest of our roster shakes out, but at his salary, I’d gladly take him back. But I’m totally on the fence about Cleary. I thought he was definitely someone who had played his final season on the Wings (if not in the NHL all together), but his playoff was a work of art. Inspired stuff, especially with how banged up he was. Now I wonder if it isn’t worth carrying him for the season so he can give us that veteran presence in the playoffs. There is definitely value to that, but at his age, you sure can’t waive a prospect or anything. I guess it depends on Brunner and Miller.

Filps seems like he’s definitely gone. Holland said he made him an offer in August and I feel like he probably is worth even less now than he was then. I’m actually someone who’d love to have him back despite not quite living up to expectations. He’s still a pretty rock solid two-way player with gusts of brilliance, but it would have to be at the right salary (basically his current salary) and it seems almost a given someone else will offer more. 

And while there won’t be much in the free agent pool, you do have to wonder what other buyouts there will be around the league. This is the one season there might be more players available at more of a bargain than they will be in the future. Either way, if Holland targets anyone new, there will definitely be some tough decisions.

I actually liked Tootoo. It sucks he’s apparently so worthless in the playoffs (is he in the east too?), but he definitely brought some energy and drew a ton of penalties all year. He’s a spark plug for sure. And Eaves, while he will probably improve the more he plays, also seems like he’s probably expendable. If it comes down to him or Miller, I personally would now take Miller. Before he missed a year, I would have definitely taken Eaves. Tough injury. Tough game.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/31/13 at 10:30 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

As gutsy as Cleary played in the playoffs, I don’t see how it’s even an option to keep him with all the forwards we’re going to have going into camp.  Would way rather have Miller and/or Eaves than Cleary.

Samuelsson needs to be bought out, but you can’t buy out injured players, so I’m not sure what can happen there.

I’m almost positive Bertuzzi will not be bought out, and as for Fil, that situation could go either way.  I’d like him gone, but I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll be back.

My question is what happens if Helm is healthy for that third line?  He’s always referred to as the 3rd line center, but do you really break up Nyquist/Andersson/Brunner?  I still see Helm as a great 4th line center just because he’s way better defensively than offensively, and with a 4th line say of Miller/Helm/Eaves, you have a line you’re never worried about being out there against the wrong match-up.  I just thing Helm on the 4th makes it so you can truly roll 4 lines and makes us a much better team.

This is kinda what I’m thinking…

Abdelkader/Datsyuk/UFA

Filppula or Tatar/Zetterberg/Franzen

Nyquist/Andersson/Brunner

Miller/Helm/Eaves

With Emmerton or Bertuzzi as the 13th forward.

If Filppula is gone and Tatar doesn’t impress you can always drop him to the 3rd line and bump Nyquist or Brunner up.  Same goes if there is no magical UFA guy to play on the top line.

 

 

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 05/31/13 at 10:35 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

Fantastic news from Datsyuk!
grin

Posted by w2j2 on 05/31/13 at 10:56 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

so does anyone know conclusively if you can use the two buyouts on injured players?

You can’t use a compliance buyout on a player who is on the injured reserve or LTIR. You can, however, buy out a player who is technically “injured” but isn’t on one of those lists. For instance, I’ve seen one report that Philly may use one of their buyouts on Pronger even though he’ll never play again.

“I can’t say anything bad about the Detroit Red Wings,” Brunner said. “I guess I have to think about it in the next couple of weeks and talk to my agent and (Detroit GM) Kenny (Holland), and then we’ll see what’s going on.”

That’s either a “negotiating posture” or Brunner is actually thinking about seriously testing the free agent market. That’s the first I’ve seen anything like that where he’s concerned.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/31/13 at 11:22 PM ET

Primis's avatar

That’s either a “negotiating posture” or Brunner is actually thinking about seriously testing the free agent market. That’s the first I’ve seen anything like that where he’s concerned.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/01/13 at 12:22 AM ET

I don’t read too much into that.  To me that reads more like a long, diplomatic “I don’t know” answer, not necessarily any kind of ploy or posturing.

Posted by Primis on 05/31/13 at 11:33 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Two things:

1. Brunner is particularly blunt. More blunt than we assume.

2. In European hockey, it’s not particularly rare for players to be courted by other teams *during* the latter months of the regular season and playoffs, and that news leaks out to the media and is sometimes admitted to by the players(!), because in many European leagues, professional hockey is more like a 12-month job.

In Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, etc., the championship’s awarded in March or early April after what are usually two or three rounds of playoff hockey, and by May, you’re expected to show up for the first of three months’ of formal dry-land training and public appearances. The KHL starts its preseason on August 2nd or 3rd, and other leagues’ preseasons start in mid-August, and between the intra-league games and various “tournaments,” those pre-seasons last for an entire month, but September 1st in Russia and mid-September in the rest of Europe, they’re playing hockey…

So being a free agent in June is downright strange and new territory for Brunner to be in. Another month to negotiate a contract, and no expectations to return to Metro Detroit for informal practices until late August? That’s, “The Gods Must Be Crazy” territory.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/01/13 at 01:37 AM ET

Avatar

Perfection, I’d agree about Kindl. I spent all year saying how good I thought he was. But what if another guy like Del Kaiser comes out of GR. If seems to me the Wings may have the first nhl ready defensive talent in the ahl they have ever had. CHL AND QMJHL defensemen of the year? Both signed to one nhl team? That’s some insane stuff. That includes this year’s possible first over all. At a minimum, theoretically the Wings have 2 of the best 4 defensemen in the best junior league in the world. And we’re talking like a40 or 50 team league. That’s a lot of defensemen. There’s a chance they are already better than a couple people the Wings have. Hopefully one of them is Quincey. And I’m not sure who you deal off after that.

Posted by teldar on 06/01/13 at 05:56 AM ET

Avatar

Question does the CBA still have the old standard buyouts as well? I don’t see Bert getting a buyout Detroit seems to like him as do the other players, but Sammy would be a really cheap standard buyout under what they used to be (and with a cap pop after next year rather easy to take). Given what Detroit has been willing to spend in the past the profit bump MI has gotten from the cap maybe Detroit would go for saving its compliance buyouts to add draft picks and carry some other team’s mistake - ala the supposed first new loop hole of the new CBA.

Posted by paul k on 06/01/13 at 09:32 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The new CBA has standard buy-outs. 1/3rd of the player’s salary cap hit spread over 2 years for every 1 year of contract term owed.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/01/13 at 01:19 PM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

I’m not sure on Babcock’s stand since his not playing Sammy and “That’s my decision.” statement, but it seems to me that Holland wants to keep him around.  Maybe give him another year to see what he can bring us since we saw nothing this year.

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 06/02/13 at 10:47 AM 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.