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The Malik Report

Red Wings mid-day news, ‘day off’ version: on Brunner, forward rankings, Alfredsson and Gustavsson

I'm supposed to be taking a full day off today, and I am exhausted after a pair of 90-to-100-hour work weeks, but the Pulkkinen issue has me pissed off and grumpy, so here's an abbreviated Red Wings morning report. I will be driving home tomorrow and will not cover the Bruins game in much detail, though I will watch it on FSD like the rest of you.

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted that the Wings have today off completely, but will practice at something like 9 or 9:30 AM before heading to Boston...

And this much is good:




The Red Wings haven't announced their second round of cuts, but Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Marc McNulty are not long for this Wings roster-spot-occupying world...

In prospect news of a different kind, from DRW Prospects on Twitter...

So Pope scored a goal in the West Kelowna Warriors' 5-3 win over the Vernon Vipers...




While I'm channeling my inner grump, I'm going to roll my eyes at this quip from NHL.com's Dan Rosen's "Over the Boards" column...

It's unclear if Damien Brunner couldn't get an NHL contract during the summer because he was asking for too much money -- "Don't believe everything you hear," his agent, Neil Sheehy, wrote to NHL.com in an e-mail -- and it doesn't matter anymore.

Brunner has a chance to earn a contract with the New Jersey Devils, who brought him in on a professional tryout Monday. While he has no promises of a contract for the 2013-14 season from Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, it stands to reason Brunner should be able to earn one because he's versatile enough to play either wing and rotate between a top-six and bottom-six role.

The Devils also could use the depth as insurance. Jaromir Jagr (41) already has been held out of practice because of general soreness. Ryane Clowe is coming off multiple concussions last season. Patrik Elias is 37 years old. Reid Boucher will push for a roster spot, but he's only 20 years old.

Brunner had 26 points in 44 games for the Detroit Red Wings last season. His production tailed off in the second half, when he had 10 points in his final 25 games after putting up 16 in his first 19 games, but he got back on track with nine points in 14 playoff games.

Okay, Neil, so was it $3 million PLUS a guaranteed top-six role for Brunner with Detroit?

The Red Wings don't give up on players with 20+ goal potential at 27 years of age for nothin.' Every, and I mean EVERY indication suggests that the Wings were willing to give Brunner $2-2.5 million on a short-term deal to prove himself and prove that he could earn a big raise, but that Sheehy was the one demanding $3-3.5 million on a longer-term deal, as well as possible top-six assurances, based upon one 48-game season and 12-game playoff run's worth of resume.

That's kind of ridiculous, and that's why Brunner's agent gambled and lost, and his client's a "PTO" at present.

Now I don't hold any ill will toward Damien, and I wish him all the best in New Jersey, except when he's playing Detroit, but I really wish that he'd had the gumption to say, "Okay, agent, this is a great theory and all, but maybe I'm in a good place and I should stay here?"




In other news from "out of town," ESPN's player-player-rankers named Jimmy Howard the NHL's 6th-best goalie, Niklas Kronwall the NHL's' 13th-best defenseman, and today, their player panel named Pavel Datsyuk the league's 4th-best forward and Henrik Zetterberg the 10th-best forward and Johan Franzen came in at #64.




If you missed it, Pro Hockey Talk's Ryan Dadoun reminds us that Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Nina Falcone spoke with Daniel Alfredsson after last night's 2-0 loss to Chicago, and Alfredsson sort of shrugged off playing in his first game as a Wing--and again, with no Zetterberg or Datsyuk in the lineup, Alfredsson and Weiss Ericsson wore the alternate captain's "A's":

"It's always fun when the season starts again, to be honest it doesn't feel that different," he said. "You dress for the team and you're playing a game, and the only jerseys you're really looking at is the other team's. It hasn't been like 'oh my God,' that kind of feeling for me so far ... it's been a fun time for me so far."

Alfredsson's not the only one excited about his new beginning in Detroit. Following the Blackhawks' 2-0 victory, his teammates had plenty of good things to say about the talent and leadership he's already providing both on and off the ice.

"(Alfredsson's) been in the League for 17 years now, and we’re very happy that he chose to go to Detroit," Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said. "He’s such a good player still and brings so much to the locker room. He also works very hard off the ice, so he’s another guy in this locker room that you can really look up to and learn a lot from. It will also be cool to tell your kids one day that you played with him.”

If there's one thing Alfredsson wants to bring to his new team, it's experience.

"I think (the Red Wings) have a really good veteran core here already and at the same time they have some really young guys coming up, and I think that's a really good mix to have," he said. "I think for me, I play a pretty solid two-way game ... I think I can really help because they don't really have right-handed defensemen, and I'm going to try to play the point here early on and see how it goes."




MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to another Swede who may be only a wee bit less important to the Wings' success in one Jonas Gustavsson, who looks much better in terms of his mobility with shorter and softer pads. Gustavsson NEEDS to rebound from an awful, injury-plagued season for Jimmy Howard to get some rest, especially--as Khan notes--because Howard may be heading to Sochi--and especially because the last damn thing the organ-i-zation wants to do is to have Petr Mrazek sitting on the bench in the NHL when he could be dominating games in the AHL because "Gus can't cut it":

“It's about performing as good as possible, and when I get the chance to play try to help the team, and when I'm not playing support the team because I feel like we have something good going and I'm happy to be a part of it,'' Gustavsson said. “No matter what part that is I'm going to try to make the most of it.''

As Khan suggests, having a training camp and pre-season benefits goalies in particular (as Jimmy Howard suggested, one needs to "get their eyes" focused), and that's the hope for Gustavsson...

“When I started my preseason work it was a lot about working all those small muscles to prevent from being injured,'' Gustavsson said. “Now coming in, you can't think about not getting injured, you just got to go 100 percent and try to become a better goalie every time you're on the ice. I feel like I've been doing everything I can in the off-season to give myself the chance to be healthy.''

That includes, for the first time, working with a personal trainer back home in Sweden. He also spent some time in Detroit in July working with Red Wings strength and conditioning coach Pete Renzetti.

“That was good for me to have a guy that pushes me on days when you're not so excited to go to the gym,'' Gustavsson said. “I just felt like I wanted to do something different than I'm used to.''

Coach Mike Babcock is counting on seeing a different Gustavsson.

“He better have had a good summer and he better grab hold of something,'' Babcock said. “I'm going to watch. He knows and I know you got to grab your own piece of the pie. If not, someone else eats it.''

Babcock's been very blunt about having little patience with Gustavsson, but again, I can really *#$%@& promise you that the team doesn't want Mrazek on the bench. The more Mrazek plays in the AHL, the team tends to reason, the better it is for his development, and

Gustavsson appeared in only seven games (2-2-0, 2.79 goals-against average), but his .879 save percentage was an eyesore.

“We were in a tough battle for a playoff spot and Jimmy was playing unreal all season,'' Gustavsson said. “You can't be too down, it's a team game. You got to play your part. Then you got to be the goalie that's tough to score on in practice and go 100 percent there because that's going to help you and your teammates.''

He's got to do that starting on October 2nd. If not before.



Shifting focus back to prospects in the literal goaltending pipeline, via RedWingsFeed, OHL Prospects' Brock Otten believes that Jake Paterson's going tonearn some hardware when the Saginaw Spirit's season comes to a close...

OHL Goaltender of the Year - Jake Paterson: You might have guessed this to be my selection after my glowing endorsement above. I think Saginaw will have a pretty solid year and Paterson is going to be the main reason for that. His stats have never been overwhelmingly impressive, but he gets the job done and is IMO the best goalie in the league right now. I think Franky Palazzese is the second best preseason option for this prediction. I feel like he's going to have a good year for the Wolves as he attempts to earn himself an NHL contract. Outside of that, I think you need to look at Anthony Stolarz and Alex Nedeljkovic as the other top contenders. A darkhorse could be Matt Mahalak in Kingston, if the Fronts really explode and he has a bounce back year.




And in the Twitter department...



I need to go back to bed. I have to pack tonight, I've got a 4-hour car trip which will crappily conclude with a Wal-Mart run and readjusting to pollution in the air ahead of me over the next 24 hours. That and I'm so burnt out that I hurt all over, my brain is mush and I'm getting zits in all sorts of weird places. 200 hours of work over 2 weeks will do that to you.



Update: Sounds like Athanasiou's headed down as well:


Update #2: It's not fantastic, but here's my first YouTube video. I really need to invest in a decent camera, but here're the guys working on east-west coverage:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink



“Okay, agent, this is a great theory and all, but maybe I’m in a good place and I should stay here?”

Amen to this.

In the playoffs Brunner was really starting to get chemistry with Nyquist, I was excited to see what they could put together for this season. Sad to see him go, but I’m guessing he’s kicking himself now for not taking what Detroit was offering initially.

Posted by ryst on 09/18/13 at 01:32 PM ET

calquake's avatar

That and I’m so burnt out that I hurt all over, my brain is mush and I’m getting zits in all sorts of weird places.

TMI George…TMI. cheese

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 09/18/13 at 04:14 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Now I don’t hold any ill will toward Damien, and I wish him all the best in New Jersey, except when he’s playing Detroit, but I really wish that he’d had the gumption to say, “Okay, agent, this is a great theory and all, but maybe I’m in a good place and I should stay here?”

That’s asking a lot.  He’s got to make the vast majority of his entire life’s income over the next ten years- if he’s lucky. It will probably be a shorter period of time.  The people whose job it is to look out for his best interests are telling him he can get 50% more than the team is offering him, and keep in mind, the team is looking out for their own best interests, not his.

Brunner’s agent screwed him over, but anyone saying he should’ve ignored his advice is being pretty ridiculous.  He did what he was told by people who are supposed to be in the business of helping him.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 09/18/13 at 07:10 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Point taken on Brunner. I just wish his agent wasn’t such a dick.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/18/13 at 07:40 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

I just wish his agent wasn’t such a dick.

Amen to that.  Between the Suter deal and the Brunner deal, it’s enough to make this paranoid wings fan think there’s an anti-Wings agenda.  I think it’s fairly clear the client’s best interests in a non-financial way aren’t atop Sheehy’s priority list.  That shouldn’t surprise us; an agent can’t really collect 10% of the Nyquist-Andersson chemistry.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 09/19/13 at 12:35 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.


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