The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/22/13 at 12:17 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings' "morning" skate ahead of tonight's match-up against the Anaheim Ducks (10 PM EDT, FSD/NHL Network U.S. and Canada/WXYT AM) will take place somewhere between 2:30 and 3 PM EDT, but there is a modicum of Red Wings-related news to tide us over until then (and I'm going to be taking the mom to the family's CPA to have her taxes done at 3, so Paul will be filling in for me--sorry!).
Via RedWingsFeed, the Grand Rapids Press's John Agar offers new news regarding Gustav Nyquist's first NHL goal puck, which was swiped from a storage unit and located by the Kent County Sheriff's department. Agar reports that it turns out that an "inside job" robbed Nyquist of his puck:
Sheriff’s detectives say former workers at Evergreen Storage in Comstock Park stole property from storage lockers and auctioned it off. The stolen property includes the puck from Detroit Red Wings’ Gustav Nyquist’s first NHL goal. The framed and signed puck has been recovered.
Kent County sheriff’s detectives say a “large amount” of property has been stolen from the facility at 4000 Alpine Avenue NW. Former workers on Oct. 3 sold the contents of numerous storage units in an unauthorized auction, police said.
Gustav’s puck was among items reported missing after the auction.
Detectives recovered the puck and other property.
Those with property at Evergreen Storage are advised to inspect their storage units. If anything is missing, police asked that victims compile a list, including a description and value for each item, and any receipts or letters from Evergreen Storage.
Police asked that the information be emailed to Detective Bill Marks, who is in charge of the investigation, to email@example.com, or contact the Sheriff’s Department at 632-6125.
In a different kind of prospect news talk, we've (as in you and me) spent this NHL season debating whether Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Petr Mrazek, Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff should receive playing time ahead of the Wings' veteran players, and by and large, the players themselves have determined their fates.
We've also talked about prospects (link goes to RedWingsCentral's list of the team's top prospects) that may receive call-ups or compete for jobs in the future, like the aforementioned Mrazek, defenseman Adam Almquist, super-Swede Calle Jarnkrok, Finnish sniper Teemu Pulkkinen and turning-pro-next-season prospects Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet, but Griffinshockey.com's Kyle Kujawa, writing an article for Michigan Hockey, duly notes that 22-year-old Grand Rapids Griffins center Louis-Marc Aubry's doing his best to join the ranks of the "next wave" of Griffins-playing prospects who may receive call-ups next season (see also: Mitchell Callahan, Riley Sheahan and Landon Ferraro):
"I won’t go in the NHL as a top-six player,” said Aubry. “I will go as a third-line or fourth-line player. I have to be strong defensively and pay attention to the details of the game.”
A third-round pick by Detroit in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Aubry hasn’t seen the fanfare of some of his AHL teammates, but he offers a combination of skills sought out by every NHL team. At 6-foot-4, he’s the tallest forward on the roster, and he provides a combination of speed, defensive awareness and physical play that make up the ideal shut-down, checking line forward at the next level.
“They want me to work a lot on my defensive play,” he said. “I need to get stronger around the ice and defensively and work on my faceoffs.”
Aubry already plays a large role on the team’s penalty killing units, but he knows that a more regular offensive contribution will help him earn more ice time. After enduring a 42-game goalless drought, he hopes that a recent lucky break will open the door for him to chip in goals more frequently.
During a March 9 home game against Lake Erie, Monsters netminder Calvin Pickard came far out of his goal to play a loose puck. With the middle of the ice occupied, he attempted to put the puck off the boards, but found no room around the big body of Aubry and ended up putting the puck right on his tape. Despite having only one goal on the season, Aubry wasted no time confidently getting the puck to the vacated net.
“I feel like I’m back on track,” said Aubry. “I was in a little bit of a slump, I couldn’t score for a while. I needed a bounce like that. I’ve had a lot of chances, so I just needed a break. I’ve never had a slump that long. You try to stay positive, but at the same time you feel a little bit of pressure."
I highly recommend that you read the balance of Kujawa's article, and reading about and seeing Aubry play confident, physical and sometimes downright "aggressive hockey" is incredibly impressive given that he was drafted as a big-but-shy-as-could-be prospect who barely spoke English but studiously took notes during Detroit's prospect camps.
In the potential prospect department, the Wings have yet to come to an official agreement with NCAA-playing free agent goalie Jared Coreau, but the overnight report will point you toward a story from the North Wind's Corey Boyer, who received all-but-"I'm gonna sign with Detroit" confirmation from Coreau's coach at Northern Michigan University...
Coreau, who has one season of eligibility left in the NCAA, moved forward on the tentative agreement after receiving interest from six other teams, including the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and the San Jose Sharks.
NMU head coach Walt Kyle said he is proud of the direction Coreau has traveled over the years playing for the Wildcats.
“We are really happy for him,” Kyle said. “Here’s a guy that came here with the intention of developing the skills to become a pro and he was able to do that. I think he deserves a lot of credit for the work that he put in and the way that he improved. We are certainly very proud of him and really happy that he is getting this opportunity.”
Coreau said he was happy with the awards he received leading up to the decision to move to the Griffins.
“It was an honor to be recognized for both of those awards,” Coreau said. “It still doesn’t mean I am better than anyone else.”
On Monday, March 11, Griffins first-year head coach Jeff Blashill contacted Kyle following the Wildcats’ postseason loss against the University of Michigan in the first round of CCHA playoffs. Blashill was formerly the head coach of Western Michigan for the course of a year prior to becoming the head coach for the Red Wings’ affiliate.
Kyle said many athletes join the Wildcat hockey team with the aspirations to someday make it to professional hockey, but it is not an easy feat.
“We have a lot of guys that come in and signing a national league contract and moving out of collegiate play is their goal,” Kyle said. “Jared’s smart enough to know that just by signing a contract doesn’t mean you have made it yet. He will work extremely hard to maximize his talent and I would expect to see him someday in the National Hockey League.”
And Paul already posted this article, but we all know that the Wings are pursuing Western Michigan University defenseman Danny DeKeyser. It's worth pointing out that just because DeKeyser's eagerly sought-after doesn't mean that he's a superstar in the making--as CBS Sports' Chris Peters suggests, DeKeyser is a Brad Stuart-type defenseman in the making, and while some scouts believe that he's NHL-ready, his pursuit is more of a, "Top prospect you can sign for nothing more than the price of his contract = great deal" phenomenon as opposed to chasing after the "best player outside the NHL":
One of the most sought after players in all of hockey is a 23-year-old junior defenseman at Western Michigan . His name is Danny DeKeyser and just about every team in the NHL is going to try to sign him as an undrafted unrestricted free agent as soon as his college season officially ends. The Broncos were eliminated from their conference playoffs last weekend, but remain on the bubble for a bid to the national tournament. Should WMU miss out, DeKeyser can start fielding offers as early as Sunday.
He was one of the most sought after college free agents last season, with all 30 teams reportedly interested in signing him then, but he chose to stay in school for one more year. The move may have paid off as he's more developed and perhaps ready to contribute at the NHL level immediately.
One NHL scout thought DeKeyser could transition into an NHL team's lineup right away, whether that team is in the playoff hunt or not. At the risk of over-hyping DeKeyser, wherever he signs, it's highly likely he's in the NHL lineup perhaps even before the ink dries.
The 6-foot-3, 198-pound blueliner is a gifted two-way defender who excels in his own zone. He plays a simple, mature game, can play the body and makes a good first pass out of the zone. DeKeyser had two goals and 13 assists after two previous seasons of 17 points at the college level. He might have a little more offensive upside than his numbers suggest, but his defensive game is high end already.
DeKeyser wouldn't be any team's savior. After all, he has no NHL experience and there would be some amount of adjustment. He's a good player who has an NHL skill set and he would almost certainly help a team right now though. What makes him so intriguing is that every single team in the league has a chance to make a valuable acquisition without sparing any more than a maximum entry-level contract.
The level of interest, which can be misleading in regards to a player's actual talent, is twofold. Yes, he is a good player, but the economics of acquiring a player like him is a big part of what's driving the majority NHL teams to try to sign him.If a team is looking like it's on the outside of the playoff picture, it can acquire a high-end prospect that can gain valuable NHL experience in the last month of the season. There's a little more risk involved if a playoff team is to acquire DeKeyser, but if it's one that needs defensive help immediately, he makes a lot of sense. Based on his performance in the last month of the season at the NHL level, the team will have a pretty good idea if he is ready enough to be part of the playoff roster.
One of the most common phrases in trade deadline reports is “defensemen are so hard to find” in terms of what's available as the deadline nears. In this current trade market, with so many teams feeling they're still in the hunt for the playoffs and seemingly all of them looking to add something of value at the deadline, a player at DeKeyser's price – essentially free -- is a rare occurrence.
In discussions of players whose services require compensation, Sportsnet's Mark Spector bursts some Wings fans' bubbles regarding the possibility of the team acquiring Keith Yandle from Phoenix. As Spector suggests, the Coyotes want a significant package in return, and the Wings probably won't bite as a result:
Now that Oliver Ekman-Larsson has his six-year, $33 million deal, is Phoenix Coyotes defenceman Keith Yandle available? The answer is, yes, but not in a fire sale.
The belief is that the Coyotes are at their league-imposed salary ceiling, but they’re not being forced to dump salary. They’d trade Yandle — not because of money — but because the Coyotes’ offence is so weak even coach Dave Tippett’s defensive style can’t support an offence that was recently shutout three games in a row.
So any Yandle deal would be like the Colorado-St. Louis deal of two years ago, when Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a second round choice (Ty Rattie) went to the Blues, while the Avalanche got Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a first-round pick. Salary coming and going would have to be nearly equal for Phoenix, and so would relative value of the players.
An easier acquisition from Phoenix would be Steve Sullivan — he’s been a bust there with just five goals, scoring in just three of 27 ‘Yotes games.
The Wings simply don't have a top-pair defenseman to send back to Phoenix in a trade, so there's no "equal value." I can't see the Wings parting with Brendan Smith AND another top prospect AND a top-six forward with a manageable contract for Yandle, and that's what the Coyotes would demand.
Amongst today's Red Wings player Tweets:
Kindl is definitely willing to let fans take a glimpse into his off-ice activities, and this Tweet from yesterday is plain old cute:
And finally, I tend not to plug the OHL's Plymouth Whalers, but they play in my backyard, and the Free Press's George Sipple duly noted that the Whalers are poised for yet another long playoff run:
The Plymouth Whalers ended the season as the hottest team in the Ontario Hockey League and hope to continue their impressive play in the postseason.
"We finished really strong," coach Mike Vellucci said. "We had a good run at the end. We finally got healthy and got some players back from the NHL and made the trade for (Vince) Trocheck, so that solidified our forwards."
Plymouth finished the regular season with an eight-game winning streak. It won 16 of its last 17 games and 10 of its last 11 on the road.
The Whalers -- who are 26-5-0-1 since Dec. 27, the best record of any team in the OHL in that stretch -- open the first round of the playoffs at 7:05 tonight when they host the Sarnia Sting. The Whalers went 4-1-0-1 against the Sting in the regular season.
The series features the top two scorers in the OHL. Trocheck, acquired from the Saginaw Spirit in early January, won the scoring title with 109 points in 63 games. He scored 24 goals and 26 assists for 50 points in 35 games with Saginaw and 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points in 28 games with the Whalers.
Charles Sarault of Sarnia led the OHL with 86 assists and was second in scoring with 108 points.
Trocheck is one of eight Whalers who scored at least 20 goals this season. Matt Mistele led the Whalers with 34 goals and Garrett Meurs added 32.
The Whalers enter the playoffs with a pair of hot goaltenders. Vellucci declined to say which goaltender he'll use to start Game 1. Alex Nedeljkovic's 2.28 goals-against average was best among OHL rookie goaltenders this season. Nedeljkovic finished the season 19-2-1-1 with two shutouts and a .923 save percentage in 26 games.
Matt Mahalak finished the season 22-11-4-3 with a 2.86 GAA and a .906 save percentage. He was named the Canadian Hockey League goaltender of the week after posting back-to-back shutouts in the final week of the season.
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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.