The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/15/13 at 12:57 PM ET
Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news stories:
The Wings didn't practice after completing a slate of 3 games in 4 nights with a win against Nashville, and it has yet to officially sign Jimmy Howard (the deal's "done in principle") or officially assign Brian Lashoff to Grand Rapids (though his name no longer appears on the team's active roster list), but those moves are coming.
As MLive's Ansar Khan notes, the Winsg' decision to assign Lashoff to Grand Rapids despite his strong play overall (he has dipped a bit of late) involves both the team's desire to give its veterans one last chance to assist and/or save their jobs (see: Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo, and to a lesser extent, Kyle Quincey) and the emergence of the recently-signed Danny DeKeyser as a defenseman who's simply playing too well to sit:
DeKeyser isn't the type of player who will be racking up points, however. He needs to play a safe, steady game, move the puck and kill penalties. He is averaging 17:30 in ice time.
“We like that he goes back and gets the puck and doesn't make a ton of mistakes,'' Babcock said. “We got nine D and he's finding a way to play. Good for him, but better for us. If you're a fan of the Red Wings, it looks like you may have a player there for a long time.''
The undrafted, late-blooming DeKeyser broke into the NHL with much fanfare. The Red Wings beat out many teams for his services, signing him to a two-year entry-level contract on March 29.
Teammates heard a lot about him, but didn't know what to expect right away. They like what they see so far from the 6-foot-3, 190-pound native of Macomb, Mich.
“He's a great skater, he's smart out there,'' goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “The one thing that has impressed a lot of us is he's not getting nervous and just coughing it up out there. He's under the bright lights of the NHL and he's holding his own.''
“I thought he was great the first game and he's just been improving every game,'' [Niklas] Kronwall said. “It's pretty impressive what he's been able to do, coming in from college and playing the way he does, using his size, making a really good first pass, strong in his own end, using his long reach.''
I'll let you read the rest of the article and DeKeyser's comments on your own, but Khan duly notes that DeKeyser theoretically picked the Wings because he was promised the chance to step into their lineup, but actually came to Detroit with no promises of doing more than being kept on the roster for the remainder of the 2013 season, and once he earned a spot in the lineup...
Well, last night, he and Jakub Kindl of all people were 6th and 4th in ice time (with Kindl's 19:12 and DeKeyser's 18:44 sandwiching Henrik Zetterberg and trailing only Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall), and it certainly appears that DeKeyser's going to meaningfully replace the player Kyle Quincey was brought in to succeed in Brad Stuart.
That's really what the Wings see DeKeyser becoming--a more mobile Brad Stuart--and that's the reason you don't see DeKeyser much when he's not contributing offensively. He simply makes the safe play on almost every occasion, and that's pretty remarkable for a 22-year-old who was playing college hockey a month ago.
Speaking of which, I restricted my opinion regarding Damien Cox's article about the Wings' struggles to the comments section, but I thought it he very conveniently cherry-picked facts as necessary, bolstering his, "Oh, look, the Leafs are better than the Wings!" take by ignoring the fact that Brendan Smith, Kindl, Lashoff, Nyquist, Andersson and Emmerton (and the signed Brunner and DeKeyser) have all contributed in their own ways, as have Ericsson, Abdelkader and Howard, so to suggest that the Wings are a team bereft of any decent young players and bereft of prospects is...Ill-informed.
In the "Just the Facts" category, from ESPN:
Red Wings 3, Predators 0
* Jimmy Howard (DET): 22 saves; 3rd shutout this season, 2 of them vs Predators
* Red Wings: Snap 3-game losing streak
* Red Wings: 8th place in West with 6 games remaining; made playoffs in each of last 21 seasons
* Predators: 6-game losing streak
And according to the CBC's Tim Wharnsby, the Wings have the 7th-most Twitter followers of any NHL team with 275,790.
In the "just the opinion" category, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson penned his weekly "Hockey World" columns, and I hate to say it, but he's spot-on here:
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg must be playing on fumes in Detroit on a team that can’t score more than two goals a game (with the odd empty-netter in there). Swiss first-year NHLer Damien Brunner, predictably after a hot start, has gone cold. Valtteri Filppula wants at least $5 million a year as a unrestricted free agent and has 14 points in 34 games. Good luck.
The Wings are, to some extent, too young, especially on defense, to sustain the kind of puck possession play that the team needs to employ to succeed, and "going young" in most instances involves sacrificing offense. In that sense, both Matheson and Cox have a point.
As far as Brunner's concerned, his agent, Neil Sheehy, may be lamenting his and Ken Holland's decision to wait until after the regular season to find out what Brunner's salary "comparables' consisted of, but I do believe that a Brunner who's not getting used to playing 80 games (he's already played 71 between his 31 with EV Zug and 38 with Detroit) and isn't adjusting to the NHL's travel or fitness demands will easily score 20-25 goals a year, and he's probably going to do so for half the actual salary of a Johan Franzen (sorry, folks, the Wings are kind of stuck with him)...
But Filppula? He may want to stay and the Wings may want to keep him, but somewhere, there's usually a team dumb enough to pay a player who's cracked 60 points once $4.5-5 million, and I don't think it'll be Detroit. Unless his contract demands drop down to the $4 million range, I think the Wings will "flip Fil's" rights at the 2013 draft.
Speaking of which, it's worth mentioning that Brunner and Zetterberg's linemate from Switzerland's available for a song:
The Oilers gave up a fourth-round draft pick to Florida to get faceoff and penalty-killing specialist centre Jerred Smithson at the trade deadline. Now Edmonton has to trade Linus Omark’s rights for a fourth-round pick, so they have one in the June draft. I’m in the minority — Jason Strudwick and myself — who think Omark can still be an NHL player. True, he was a hotdog in the shootouts and a tad over-confident in own ability, speaking his mind about sitting out. But he was tough on the puck in the corners for an 180-pound winger. If the same-sized Jiri Hudler can play in the NHL, so can Omark, who led the Swiss League in scoring. He’s not afraid, he’s just small.
Omark's an odd duck--he's a little Twitter-obsessed, which can be a distraction, especially as he likes chewing people out on occasion--and at just 5'10" and 180 pounds, he's anything but big, but 17 goals, 52 assists and 69 points over 42 Swiss NLA games played translate to 40-point potential (sorry, the Swiss NLA is like the QMJHL used to be, super-high-scoring), and the 26-year-old's fast...
But with Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist all having earned full-time spots on next year's roster, Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi highly likely and at least probable candidates to return next season, respectively, Calle Jarnkrok likely to push for an NHL spot and the Wings likely to swap out personnel,especially with the Wings highly likely to tap the cap compliance buy-out market to add a big forward and/or scorer (of Filppula, unrestricted free agents-to-be Drew Miller and Danny Cleary, buy-out candidate Mikael Samuelsson and 4th liners Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton, I'd guess that two might return)...
I don't know if there's room or need to take a flyer on an Omark when the Wings really do need to bring in some size and guaranteed scoring. With the cap going down from $70.2 million to $64.3 million this summer, I do fear that the Wings will once again decide that between their injured players, "the kids" and the stiff reduction in cap space, it won't "need" to add the top-pair defenseman and top-six scoring forward it so desperately needs until next year's trade deadline, if not a summer from this July (because the cap's likely to exceed $70 million for the 2014-2015 season), but I sure as hell hope that the Wings address their needs and get the ship sailing on a straighter playoff-bound course this summer.
Man, I wish the Detroit Police hadn't made this a misdemeanor offense yielding a $500 fine and a disorderly conduct charge...
Easy plug: Winging it in Motown's Josh Howard's better half, Jennifer Leigh, is a fantastic photographer who's taken tons of pictures of the Grand Rapids Griffins during their 2012-13 season, so check out her website...
I'm no fan of power rankings, but the first three lists have hit the wires. As noted last night, here's what TSN's Scott Cullen has to say about the Wings...
This Week16 Last Week 16 Detroit Red Wings 20-15-7
The Wings have two regulation wins in the last nine, but they're resilient enough to not give up their playoff spot quietly, with the 3-0 win over Nashville Sunday putting them back into eighth in the West.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun states the obvious...
14. Detroit 20-15-7 Last Week: 14 The Red Wings get three out of four points over the weekend and sit two points out of fifth, but also just two points out of the danger zone.
(They're building a highway there, you know )
17) Red Wings (20-15-7) ([last week] 15): With their 21-season playoff streak on the line, Detroit hopped back into eighth place in the West with a 3-0 win over Nashville on Sunday night.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna take advantage of this "off day" by doing what any blogger tries to do: recover from a lingering head cold by trying to catch up on sleep. I've been averaging about 5 hours a night since...The week before the trade deadline...And my body is very unhappy with me today.
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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.