The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/27/13 at 01:32 PM ET
Updated 4x at 3:02 PM: Pulkkinen and Jokerit Helsinki live to fight another day: Amongst today's Red Wings-related news stories:
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that Danny DeKeyser may be receiving the kind of "wining and dining" treatment usually reserved for NHL superstars and not 23-year-old #3/4 defenseman in the making, but DeKeyser needs to make a decision as to which one of the probably 20+ teams that have made presentations at Newport Sports Management provides the best option and opportunity for him, and he needs to do so ahead of next Wednesday's trade deadline. As such:
In news regarding actual Red Wings players, ESPN's Craig Custance reports that MLive's Ansar Khan's suggestions that Jimmy Howard's about to ink a 6-year contract extension at or around $5 million per season might be a little premature.
In his Insider-only blog, Custance discusses the respective statuses of six teams with big goaltending decisions to make, and he states that the Howard contract extensions have stalled, at least for the present moment (cue likely complications due to the DeKeyser sweepstakes and the April 3rd trade deadline):
Detroit Red Wings: Jimmy Howard is playing in the final season of his deal worth a very reasonable $2.25 million and is set to be a UFA after this season. I was told on Monday that there's "no update" in regard to a new deal for Howard, who has been a rock for the Red Wings in a tumultuous season. He's 14-8-4 this season, with a 2.37 goals-against average and 91.9 save percentage. Mike Babcock leans on Howard pretty heavily, and, when the Detroit defense was patchworked together earlier this season because of injuries, Howard kept the Red Wings in games. The challenge is finding the right price for a goalie who is 29 years old and playing in an organization careful not to overpay for goaltending.
Speaking of trade and re-signing chatter, Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika has just penned a trade deadline primer, and he duly notes that jam-packed standings thanks to both "parity" and a condensed 48-game schedule will probably yield much more chatter than action:
There is an unusual dynamic this year creating fewer sellers, higher prices and reluctant buyers.
The lockout shortened the season from 82 games to 48. It also pushed back the trade deadline from late February or early March to April 3.
Few teams are out of the race at this point, and more than half the league is on what you might define as the bubble. Sixteen teams are within five points of a playoff spot – plus or minus – seven in the East, nine in the West.
It’s a seller’s market – or should be. Less supply, more demand, right? Teams might be so desperate that they would inquire about Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss, a pending unrestricted free agent out with a wrist injury, to see if he might be ready for the playoffs.
But here’s the problem: The standings are actually stratified despite the parity in the league, with the top contenders separating from the pack. There are fewer games left than normal at this point, and there will be even fewer left a week from now.
Is it worth paying a high price to rent a pending unrestricted free agent when you might have him for only about a dozen regular-season games – or, in the case of Weiss, when you might have him for no regular-season games?
Even if you do make it, your new player might not have had enough time to integrate into the system and make the desired impact in the playoffs.
Two other factors: The draft is strong this year, so picks are worth even more than usual, and the salary cap will come down to $64.3 million next season. [Hurricanes GM Jim] Rutherford just signed winger Alex Semin to a five-year contract with a cap hit of $7 million. If you make a hockey trade, not just add an expiring contract, you could have a payroll problem.
Between the Wings' desire to see their youth movement and de-facto rebuilding year out and the fact that the team will re-sign UFA's-to-be Howard, Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner, the fact that restricted free agents-to-be Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl come off their entry-level deals this year...
And, as Capgeek.com's organization chart notes, the team's going to have to make some very difficult decisions regarding both UFA's-to-be Daniel Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White given that Nyquist, Andersson, Tomas Tatar and Brian Lashoff have all earned spots on next year's team (cue at least possible, if not probable cap compliance buy-outs aimed at Mikael Samuelsson and Carlo Colaiacovo, and no, the team won't buy out Johan Franzen)...
The Wings may feel that the cost of adding a player in terms of prospects, picks and having to take on salary with the cap going down just don't make good business sense. The Wings' management (remember, Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Ryan Martin, Kris Draper, the pro scouts working under Mark Howe [ex. Kirk Maltby], the amateur scouts working under Joe McDonell [like Hakan Andersson], the team's prospect mentors and the coaching staff make decisions as a group) has to think in four dimensions, considering what the team's cap situation might be 2 or 3 years down the road, which players may exit the lineup and which prospects may steal NHL jobs, so they're not just going to throw assets at another team to plug a hole this season at the expense of creating multiple roster holes or salary cap messes down the line.
Of note from the Wings: The team posted its in-rink game-opening video...
And, regarding Gordie Howe's 85th birthday on March 31st:
In the prospect department, as noted in the overnight report, Ben Marshall's University of Wisconsin Golden Gophers will tangle with Yale University at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena at 2 PM EDT on Friday, and Nick Jensen and Saint Cloud State University will battle the University of Notre Dame at the Huntington Center in Toledo, OH at 1:30 PM EDT on Saturday. With the NCAA regional playoffs visiting Grand Rapids and Toledo, MLive's Peter J. Wallner's offering a Grand Rapids Griffins-player-based trivia column, but I'm going to mention the first part of his article instead:
While the Grand Rapids Griffins are strapped with their longest road trip of the AHL season through April 10, the NCAA Division I ice hockey West Regional will be contested Friday and Saturday, March 29 and 30, in Van Andel Arena.
Friday’s games have No. 4 Yale (18-12-3) against No. 1 Minnesota (26-8-5) at 2 p.m., followed at 5:30 p.m. by No. 2 North Dakota (21-12-7) against No. 3 Niagara (23-9-5).
The winners meet 4 p.m. Saturday.
However, the Griffins don’t have to be out of mind – and probably shouldn’t be considering they’re crushing the Midwest Division heading into Thursday’s game at San Antonio.
And RedWingsCentral's Matthew Wuest's "day job" involves covering the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads for Metro Halifax, so he's watched Martin Frk deke and dangle and score for the past three years. Here's his take on Frk in light of Frk's 8-point performance last Friday:
The 19-year-old right-winger had the game of his life on Friday as the QMJHL playoffs opened, recording an astonishing five goals and three assists in the Halifax Mooseheads’ 11-1 blowout of the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Say what you want about the QMJHL’s owner-friendly 16-of-18-teams-get-into-the-playoffs gimmick that left the nationally-top-ranked Mooseheads 73-point favorites coming into the series — an eight-point game hadn’t occurred in the QMJHL post-season since Daniel Briere did it in 1995-96 and it even matched Mario Lemieux’s single-game best. Pierre Rioux holds the all-time playoff recored of 10 set in 1982.
If Frk’s blowup wasn’t a sign that his 2011-12 concussion woes are completely behind him, his numbers since returning from the IIHF world junior championship are more convincing: in his past 31 games, Frk has 28 goals and 27 assists for 55 points.
A big part of that is playing with two top-five draft prospects, the electrifyingly fast Nathan MacKinnon and the slick-mitted Jonathan Drouin. Getting bumped up to the top line has no doubt energized Frk after a slow start on the team’s second line.
Although the Red Wings’ second-round pick (49th overall) last June does not carry the unit with MacKinnon and Drouin, his NHL-calibre shot and offensive instincts have made him a perfect complement to them.
Frk, who is expected to vie for a spot with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins next season, has to improve his skating in a big way to be an effective pro, let alone an NHL prospect, and will need to continue to mature with regard to playing a complete game and being disciplined — as he’s shown signs of doing with an active eight-game no-minor-penalty streak, a career-best.
Frk is in the first year of a three-year entry-level contract in which he is earning a $92,500 signing bonus in addition to $10,500 in junior pay from the Red Wings. His contract will slide to begin in 2013-14, keeping him under contract through 2016-2017.
Wuest's prospect report also discusses Calle Jarnkrok's stint with Grand Rapids, Adam Almquist's hat trick, Jake Paterson's attempts to stifle the superpower London Knights as Paterson's Saginaw Spirit are getting the crap kicked out of them and the playoff performances of Linkopings HC defenseman Mattias Backman (very good) and CSKA Moscow defenseman Alexei Marchenko (severely limited due to CSKA's decision to dress 8 defensemen).
And finally (for the moment, anyway), Teemu Pulkkinen's doing his part to aid Jokerit Helsinki attempt to stave off elimination at the hands of Lukko Rauma today:
Update: Hockey's Future's methodology in naming its Top 50 prospects baffles the mind. They ranked Gustav Nyquist 34th overall, and today, Brendan Smith sits behind players who aren't even playing in the NHL:
26. Brendan Smith, D – Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6-2 Weight: 198, Fall Ranking – 14
At age 24, Brendan Smith has finally cracked the Detroit Red Wings roster full-time. His playmaking abilities and shot are NHL-caliber, and he is not afraid to play physically despite being a rookie. His strong, mobile skating is also an asset. The issue with Smith is consistency and decision making. He tends to overthink at times which causes him to hesitate and give the puck away or force a more difficult pass than needed. He also disappears at times and does not always appear fully engaged. If he can put it all together, he has the tools needed to be a top-pairing defenseman for the Red Wings.
Update #2: Good news for Pulkkinen:
Here's USA Today's Kevin Allen's take on what the Wings should do at the trade deadline in his, "Buyer, seller or trader?" column:
Detroit Red Wings (buyer): Although it appears the team needs defensive help, the team has played well defensively for a while. They could use a proven scorer.
And the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle believes that the Wings can go 7-and-8 and still finish in sixth place in the West.
Update #3: From ESPN's weekly chat session held with its hockey writers:
Bill: Now that the Red Wings are getting healthy do you see them making any moves before the trade deadline?
Pierre LeBrun: Wings want a d-man big time
Craig Custance: Bill - Red Wings could use a boost on D, although they have a lot of bodies there. Interesting to see if they add Danny DeKeyser to the mix this week. Don't think Detroit is too eager to move another first-round pick though after trading for Quincey last year.
Pulkkinen scored the 1-0 and 4-2 goals, he assisted on the 2-0 goal and he took 8 shots in 15:52 of ice time.
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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.