The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/01/13 at 12:57 PM ET
Updated 4x with more Lecavalier talk at 3:14 PM: We can't have one without the other, as noted in the overnight report, so, while Red Wings GM Ken Holland told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that he was going to do what most GM's are doing this Canada day--going home and catching up on some sleep after four marathon days (starting with Thursday's Board of Governors meetings; KH and crew can place any of their cap compliance buy-out candidates on waivers as late as 5 PM on Thursday)--he has a to-do list, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes:
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland met with the agents for potential unrestricted free-agent forwards Damien Brunner, Valtteri Filppula and Daniel Cleary over the weekend, but progress on new deals was slow.
All three can become unrestricted free agents on July 5.
There was speculation leading into the weekend the Red Wings would trade Filppula’s rights, but that didn’t happen.
Holland will deal with the logjam of forwards this week. When restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson ultimately sign, the Red Wings will have 14 forwards — not counting the above three.
The Red Wings could alleviate the logjam with a buyout in the next few days, candidates being Jordin Tootoo or Mikael Samuelsson.
Thanks to a new quirk in the CBA, the Wings' UFA's and RFA's alike can speak to other teams between today and the 5th, and they aren't allowed to officially re-sign with Detroit until the 5th. Like you, I'm worried about the possibility of Brunner leaving, and was disappointed in Holland's intransigence regarding cutting ties with Filppula.
I guess it wasn't surprising, however, that the Wings decided to hold on to a UFA-to-be who told YLE.fi that staying with the Wings would be a no-brainer if there was no salary cap, but that in the short window that a professional athlete has to make money, one must admit that it's a motivating factor.
Regarding some Wings who may have played their last game for Detroit for other reasons, I for one am hoping that both Darren Helm, who will attend next week's summer development camp, and Todd Bertuzzi, whose nephew, Tyler, was drafted by the Wings last week, are both healthy, productive members of the Wings going forward...
And I thought that this exchange between the Free Press's Helene St. James and Bertuzzi--and yes, this is a repeat--was sweet and genuine:
Tyler and Todd Bertuzzi could be skating together come September’s training camp, as young draft picks usually overlap a few days into the main team’s scrimmages. "I'm hoping so," Bertuzzi said. "That'd be pretty cool — a big, old one and little, young one."
Bertuzzi is cognizant, though, that his name has come up in compliance buyout chatter. If that happens, it'd be this coming week. He's 38, and coming off a season that saw him sidelined from early February on by back and leg pain. He came back to play briefly in the playoffs, and said he's now training and skating.
He hasn't heard from general manager Ken Holland, but, "I'm not young, I understand everything, I understand it's a business," Bertuzzi said. "But if does happen, it would break my heart."
I never thought I'd say this about a man who was once despised in Detroit, but, "Me, too."
Regarding another, "May have played his last game in Detroit" Wing, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an ironic "By the Numbers" summation of Cleary's 2013 season. Three of the six numbers he offers explain why Cleary probably won't re-sign, as well as why the Wings are still talking to him:
48: For the first time in his career, he played in every game during the regular season, albeit a lockout-shortened campaign. He was one of four Wings to play in every game, joining Niklas Kronwall, Justin Abdelkader and Cory Emmerton.
He's been so banged-up over the course of his Red Wings career...
10:The number of points (four goals, six assists) that he produced in 14 postseason games for the Red Wings. Only Henrik Zetterberg (12) had more points in the playoffs.
25: The number of total hits he delivered during 14 playoff games, ranking second among the Red Wings' forwards in the category. He had six hits in Game 1 vs. Chicago.
If playoff Daniel Cleary showed up in even 60% of his regular season games, the Wings would re-sign him in a heartbeat, but he plays through so many chronic injuries to his knees and groin (degenerative ones in the case of his knees), and...guys like Tatar, Nyquist and Andersson have earned their shot.
It sucks to have to cut ties with a heart-and-soul foot-soldier like Cleary, but I think it's going to happen and that it's necessary, regrettably.
In news regarding a foot soldier of a different kind, as noted in two rumor posts on KK early this morning, the Wings are going to have to wait as Vincent Lecavalier picks through a list of something like 13 teams and pare that down to 3 or 4, and if we are to believe ESPN's Pierre LeBrun and TSN's Darren Dreger, Lecavalier is looking for up to $5 million per season over 5 seasons, at
34 make that 33 years of age, no less.
Sportsline's Adam Gretz pondered Lecavalier's terms, possible impact and the "fits" his suitors could provide him with:
The Tampa Bay Lightning decided to use one of their two cap compliance buyouts on Vincent Lecavalier this past week, starting a free-agent frenzy for the veteran forward who is now easily the best player available on the open market.
He's not the player who compiled 50 goals and 100 points a few seasons back or the player who was the focal point of a Stanley Cup winning team, but he's still an extremely gifted and productive player who's going to help the team that he lands on. He has averaged .83 points per game over the past five full seasons, which puts him in the top 40 among all NHL players.
He probably wasn't a great investment for Tampa Bay at more than $7 million per year anymore, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a great fit for somebody at $4 million or $5 million per year.
Even though he's not eligible to sign with a new team until Friday, he can speak with teams before then. And it seems that just about everybody wants him, is rumored to want him, should want him or has already met with him.
Here's his take on the Wings' "fit":
Detroit Red Wings: Now here's a team that might make some sense.
The Red Wings exceeded most expectations last season in what was somewhat of a rebuilding year and have some really nice young players starting to make an impact in the league. And as long as they have Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Jimmy Howard and Johan Franzen on the roster, they're going to be capable of putting together a run. They're probably going to lose Valtteri Filppula to free agency, and they're still loaded with salary-cap space that they could easily fit Lecavalier's contract demands into.
The Red Wings seem to have a way of squeezing every last drop of productive hockey out of veterans.
I don't call the Wings the Belle Tire of hockey for nothing. I've never seen a team get more miles out of players who were supposedly playing on bald tires, from Igor Larionov, Larry Murphy, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios and Mike Vernon to Fredrik Olausson, Doug Brown and Bob Rouse, and if Lecavalier wants $4 million a year instead of simply fattening his wallet (see: Dallas, Florida, Philly) and wants to play in a place where the rabid hockey fandom and Original Six mystique are balanced out by our open, spread-out-over-a-geographical-area-larger-than-Connecticut meetro area and Midwestern politeness, affording Lecavalier at least a semi-private life instead of living in the "fishbowls" of Montreal and Toronto, Detroit is an excellent fit...
But I can't help but think that he's going to chase money and/or decide that he has to prove that he's still "the guy."
Truth is, there is more interest in where Vinny Lecavlier is going to sign after Tampa bought him out. Half the league’s teams talked to Lecavalier as a No. 2 centre, which frankly astounded him, but if teams can sign him for between $4 million and $5 million, well off his $7.7 million cap hit in Tampa, they are all throwing their lines in the water. I think it’ll come down to Montreal, Detroit, Dallas and San Jose, but that’s just a wild guess.
In terms of the newest members of the Red Wings' family, in the social media department...
And building upon yesterday's crop of draft articles, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner raved about the jewel in the crown of a draft class that I would best describe as a little preoccupied with size and grit as opposed to skill (and he profiles each and every one of the Wings' 8 new prospects in his article):
Heading into Sunday's 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Detroit Red Wings were adamant that their top priority with their first-round pick would be a goal-scoring forward with size. Trading two spots down from 18th to 20th in the first round, it appears the Wings have their man in Anthony Mantha, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound left wing who led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 50 goals.
Considered to have a high hockey IQ, Mantha is a natural goal scorer and the grandson of former Red Wings forward Andre Pronovost.
Aaron Vickers of Future Consideration offered this assessment of Mantha:
"Mantha brings a great deal of size that he’s able to use effectively due to his impressive athleticism. Make no mistake about it, though, Mantha’s strength comes in his ability to find the back of the net. Few have the combination of accuracy and strength the way Mantha does, whose only major flaw comes with the consistency of his level of compete."
If anything, Mantha seems to exude confidence, telling the assembled press corps at the draft that he plans on making the Detroit roster next season.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland has always maintained that you never know what you really have in a player until you see him play in the “Men’s League,” as he likes to refer to the NHL. But you have to believe that the Wings were a bit stunned to have Mantha fall to the 20th pick.
Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples profiled Mantha, too:
Despite being the only 50-goal scorer in the QMJHL last season, there were still some doubts surrounding Anthony Mantha’s game when the Red Wings selected him 20th overall in the NHL Draft. Mantha, a forward from Longueuil, Quebec, is determined to prove his critics wrong, however.
“I’ll show the Red Wings that they picked the right guy,” Mantha said during his media interviews following his selection.
NHL Central Scouting rated Mantha the No. 10 North American-born skater in both their midterm and final projections. He recorded 50 goals and 39 assists in 67 QMJHL contests. The Red Wings traded their original No. 18 pick down for the No. 20 and No. 58 picks before selecting Mantha.
“It’s a great feeling,” Mantha said. “The pressure all comes down. Just living the moment right now, it’s great.”
Mantha confessed that he was a Canadiens fan growing up.
“I come from Montreal so I always followed Montreal more than Detroit, but it’s a great honor to be part of Detroit,” their latest first-round pick said.
However, Mantha is familiar with the Original Six team out of Detroit. His grandfather, Andre Pronovost, captured four Stanley Cups during his NHL career, and skated for the Red Wings for parts of three seasons.
“It’s really an honor,” Mantha said of being drafted by one of his grandfather’s former teams. “Words really can’t come, but it’s just being there and showing them what I’m able to do. It’s just something that’s great for me.”
MLive's Ansar Khan provides profiles of several of the prospects picked after Mantha in his slate of draft "capsules"...
Second round (58th): Tyler Bertuzzi, left wing, 6-0, 178 (Guelph, OHL) – The Red Wings surprised many by taking the scrappy forward, the nephew of Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi, this high. He was projected to go lower.
“I think he's a bit of a rat,'' McDonnell said. “He’s an Andrew Shaw kind of guy, and he’s real hard to play against. He had some injuries early and mid-season and I don’t know if a lot of teams really paid attention to him later in the year, when he really took over. He’s just a real hard guy to play against and we really wanted him in the organization.''
Third round (79th): Mattias Janmark-Nylen, center, 6-1, 189 (AIK, Swedish Elite League) – He caught the eye of Red Wings' director of European scouting Hakan Andersson in 2011-12, when he set a Swedish junior scoring record with 61 points in 40 games before being promoted to the Elite League.
“I think he was their second-best scorer (for AIK), so he played really well,'' Andersson said. “He was rewarded by playing a couple of exhibition games on the Swedish national team, which is pretty good as a 20-year-old. Good skater, works hard, has ability with the puck, has some hands and hockey sense. Needs to beef up. He's a bit of a kid still. He doesn't have a detailed plan yet that he's going to be a pro. He just plays because he loves it. There's potential for sure.''
Seventh round (199th): Hampus Melen, right wing, 6-2, 165 (Tyngsryd, Swedish Juniors) – Andersson said Melen set a Swedish Junior B points record.
“Works hard and has very good hands and hockey sense, but needs to beef up a lot,'' Andersson said. “Good thing about that is I met him a couple of times in February and we talked about nutrition. He hired a personal trainer and the last two months he's gone from 147 to 160. The parents told his agent, 'Something has happened to Hampus.' It looks like he's on a mission. He's so much determined.''
The Red Wings selected the 6-foot-2, 187-pound left-winger in the fourth round (109th overall) from the West Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League junior A circuit, landing a prospect who is headed the NCAA route at Nebraska-Omaha starting in 2014-15.
Pope averaged close to a point per game last season with 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points in 42 games and the Red Wings list his shooting ability is his No. 1 asset.
“He’s got, in my opinion, an NHL shot and release,” said Red Wings scout Jeff Finley. “He’s got a great shot. Hopefully, he’ll be a scorer. He has the shot to be a scorer and he has the natural offensive instincts to be a scorer. He knows where to go, how to find space, and he’s creative.”
Finley said Pope plays an “up-and-down game” and is “good down low and along the walls.” But he also said Pope is extremely slender despite his height and that “a lot of times, he’d just get out-muscled.”
Defenseman Mitchell Wheaton, the second Kelowna Rockets-playing Mitchell the Wings have drafted (with the other being Mitchell Callahan)...
[If] you’re expecting the burly 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kelowna Rockets defenseman to be a punishing bruiser who drops the gloves at a moment’s notice, you’ve got the wrong guy.
“He’s a real intelligent defender,” said Red Wings scout Jeff Finley. “Thinks the game really well and moves the puck really well for a big guy. He’s physical, but I wouldn’t call him punishing.”
Wheaton, selected by the Red Wings in the fifth round, 139th overall, saw his draft year shortened by a shoulder injury. He appeared in 39 games as a WHL rookie, recording a goal, seven assists, one fighting major and a plus-20 rating on a strong team before suffering a shoulder injury on Jan. 24.
Although he briefly returned for the WHL playoffs despite requiring surgery — doctors “told him he couldn’t make it any worse,” Finley said — the injury limited his exposure to scouts.
As well as defenseman Marc McNulty, who's just as "big" as Wheaton, but not nearly as strong:
[T]he 6-foot-6, 185-pound Prince George Cougars blueliner lasted all the way to the sixth round, 159th overall, on Sunday, where the Red Wings were happy to find themselves selecting a rangy two-way prospect with plenty of upside.
McNulty had eight goals, seven assists and 70 penalty minutes in 52 games in his first full WHL season, at times flashing his immense potential but other times doing little to set himself apart.
“A lot of nights, he just didn’t play with the intensity he needed to play with all the time,” said Red Wings scout Jeff Finley.
But when McNulty did set himself apart, he looked like a future NHLer. Although still rail-thin at this early stage in his career, McNulty jumps out at you on the ice with the amount of ice he covers in his own zone.
“He’s tall and super lanky, he’s got an incredibly long reach using a long stick, and what I like about him is, he already understands how to use his reach to his advantage,” Finley said. “He’s got a great wing-span, and he keeps guys to the outside, covering a lot of space.”
In the prospect multimedia department, Red Wings Prospects on Twitter found a slate of Janmark-Nylen highlights...
And if you want a wallpaper-sized image of Anthony Mantha posing with the Wings' scouts, GM and coach, enjoy (clicky on picture-y):
And finally, as I'm going to take the rest of the day very quietly, I'll leave you with...Something to think about?
Update: SI's Allan Muir dished the following draft grade to the EASTERN conference's Red Wings...
Detroit Red Wings: They picked up the Q’s only 50-goal scorer in Anthony Mantha (20). He needs to work on his consistency and battle levels, but you can’t teach hands like his. Zach Nastasiuk (48) was a fast riser heading into the draft. He’s one of those kids who does all the little things right. His grit and work ethic will make him a reliable bottom-six guy. Tyler Bertuzzi (58) is meaner than his uncle Todd. He’s as good an agitator as could be had in this draft. B
And if you missed it, ESPN's Grant Sonier offered this take on the Wings' haul:
Detroit Red Wings: B+
Anthony Mantha was the only 50-goal scorer in the draft and the Wings will bring this talented winger along slowly, as is their M.O. If everything comes together with his maturity and a willingness to play hard consistently, he could be a big-time goal scorer in Motown. I liked their second-round picks as well. Zach Nastasiuk from Owen Sound of the OHL adds size and work ethic and Tyler Bertuzzi was an honorable mention on my top 50. He is as gritty a player there was on the board and in time will do whatever it takes to make the Wings.
“I saw him a couple of times where he was dominant,” said Red Wings scout Jeff Finley. “He takes the puck wide and can beat defensemen, take it to the net … he has a knack for finding open ice and he has a good shot and release. I wouldn’t label him as just a scorer, either. He’s creative and he can see the ice and make plays. He’s a gifted all-around offensive player.”
TSN scout and former NHL general manager Craig Button went as far as to compare Mantha to Pittsburgh Penguins 40-goal-scorer James Neal and the Red Wings would be overjoyed if Mantha panned out that well.
There’s very little not to like about him in the offensive zone.
“I like the size, the skating — he’s got lots of speed and mobility for a big guy — he can shoot on the fly and his hockey sense is good,” said Red Wings scout Mario Marois. “He can play any style he wants offensively. He is very good down low, too. He has a good shot, he protects the puck well.”
But the knocks on Mantha come fast and furious from some scouts. One told The Hockey News under cover of anonymity that “he’s not the most eager kid. Some nights you wonder where the intensity is.” Piled on Red Line Report chief scout Kyle Woodlief via USA Today: “Does this guy even have a pulse? Plays with absolutely zero fire or passion.”
Pick 20 Anthony Mantha B+
The Red Wings did well to get a high-end goal scorer at No. 20, while also collecting a second-rounder from San Jose. Mantha scored 50 goals in the QMJHL last year and is 6-foot-4. I've heard some doubts about his overall upside and if the scoring will translate at the NHL level, but that type of production is worth taking a chance on, especially at this range.
Update #4: MLive's Ansar Khan profiles Lecavalier in his latest "Free Agent Focus" article:
Strengths: Big center with tremendous reach who can control the puck down low and has good vision. He can set up linemates and finish himself. Has good leadership ability. A star player who is willing to fight on occasion.
Weaknesses: His skills are in decline at age 33 and there are concerns about his pace. Can he play an up-tempo game and get up and down the ice? He has not been durable the past three seasons, missing 44 games with injuries.
Notable: He was the top overall pick by Tampa Bay in 1998 entry draft. … Won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004, but his team has appeared in the playoffs only three times in eight seasons since then.
Why he would interest the Red Wings: They will be seeking a second-line center to replace Valtteri Filppula, who is all but certain to leave as a free agent.
How he could fit in with the Red Wings: By anchoring the second line, he would enable Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to play together on the top unit. When those stars are split, Lecavalier would likely be teamed with Zetterberg. Lecavalier would be on the second power-play unit.
What it might take to get him: Some teams are told that he is seeking a five-year deal worth $5 million per season. That is a longer term and more money than the Red Wings would give. Many other clubs – including Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Dallas, San Jose and Calgary – have shown interest. He met with several, including the Red Wings, over the weekend at the NHL entry draft. He is expected to trim his list of preferred destinations in the next day or two and perhaps visit those clubs.
What is the maximum term and highest salary the Red Wings should offer Lecavalier, if they even get into the bidding? Is he the ideal second-line replacement for Filppula? Or do his declining production and lack of durability raise too many red flags?
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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.