The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/10/13 at 01:36 PM ET
In what ended up being a massive overnight report, I tried to do my best impersonation of a person who asks people to pay money to discuss free agent forecasts and rumors in handicapping my guesses as to what the Wings will do in the free agent marketplace.
It broke down as follows [cue speculation]: Brunner signs at the last minute, Miller's iffy, Cleary and Filppula leave [as does White], Samuelsson's bought out, Colaiacovo's traded, depending on whether Helm and Bertuzzi return, Eaves and Emmerton might find themselves shipped out of town after the exhibition season for the Tatar/Andersson/Nyquist line's sake, and the team won't sign a UFA defenseman and will instead swing hard at Bickell, Stalberg and Clarkson, if not Horton...and won't sign anybody if they don't get their targets [/end speculation].
Today, I'd highly suggest that you read the Production Line's Michael Petrella's take on both the shape of the Wings' roster to come and the fact that the team's venturing close to the 50-man roster limit, and as we're all playing with Capgeek.com's Wings roster chart and cap calculators these days, MLive's Brendan Savage raises a valid point in asking Wings fans to weigh in as to which of the Wings' players might be bought out via cap-compliance and-or plain, old-fashioned buyouts this summer:
The contracts that are bought out won't count toward the cap and players will receive a portion of their salaries based on age. Players under 26 will receive one-third of their contract and those over 26 will get two-thirds of their deal.
Under terms of the CBA, players who receive buyouts can't renegotiate with their current teams or return to the team that exercised the buyout for one season.
The buyouts can be used this summer and/or next summer.
General manager Ken Holland has already said the Red Wings won't use one of their buyouts on Johan Franzen and his $3.95 million salary but they do have other potential candidates who include Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo.
Bertuzzi has one year left on his contract at almost $2.1 million, Samuelsson has one year left at $3 million and Tootoo has two years left at $1.9 million per season.
The Red Wings could also use their buyouts on other players but those three are the most likely candidates.
If the Red Wings exercise their compliance buyouts, which player is the most likely to go?
This is just my gut feeling talking, but I get the feeling that the Wings will cut ties with Samuelsson and consider buying Bertuzzi out, but the team seemed to be really impressed by Bertuzzi's leadership in the locker room and mentorship of its rookies while he was sidelined, and again, the Wings don't have any big, physical players ready to step into the lineup, so he provides an element that the Wings don't have...And the same could be said for Tootoo, who kept a stiff upper lip despite playing in all of one playoff game.
My gut suggests that we're going to end up seeing Colaiacovo traded to make room for a seven-man defensive rotation of Kronwall, Ericsson, Kindl, DeKeyser, Quincey, Smith and Lashoff, and that it's Eaves and Emmerton who will feel the pinch of the Griffins 3 (Nyquist, Andersson and Tatar) taking up one full line and Bertuzzi, Helm and Tootoo taking up another (that would mean that the remaining six forward slots would be filled by Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Franzen, Zetterberg, Brunner and *possibly* Miller and/or a UFA signing)...
But that's me talking. I'm curious as to what you think the Wings' roster will look like going forward, and whether you believe that the team will look to add a forward or will decide to supplement Kronwall and Ericsson with another top-four defenseman, especially given that the Blackhawks' secret weapons against the Wings weren't Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw, but instead, a puck-moving pair of defensemen who disrupted the Wings' forecheck and sprung the Hawks' offense via superb passing in Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya.
In terms of Grand Rapids Griffins and Syracuse Crunch-related news not involving refereeing--and both teams bused their way to Grand Rapids today, so neither team will practice today (Games 3, 4 and 5 take place on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at Van Andel Arena)--the Syracuse Post-Standard's Lindsay Kramer notes that the Griffins have neutralized the Crunch's top line...
The Syracuse Crunch's top line of Richard Panik, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are being denied the opportunity to play their favorite game within a game - tic-tac-toe.
In the first two series of the AHL playoffs, against Portand and Springfield, the top trio had the puck on a string and put up pretty much whatever numbers they wanted.
There have been no artwork type plays, few odd-man rushes and what must seem to them like an extra Griffins jersey or two on the ice every time they jump over the boards.
Typically, Griffins coach Jeff Blashill has tossed his checking line of Luke Glendening, Jan Mursak and Jeff Hoggan and top defensive pairing of Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff against Syracuse's top line.
"Big thing with us to be able to shut down that line is the backchecking by our forwards. Those guys (from the Crunch) got a lot of speed, but our forwards have worked real, real hard getting back and taking the pucks away," said Grand Rapids defenseman Nathan Paetsch.
The three players had no points in Game 1. In Game 2, Johnson got a helper on a power play goal by Panik and Palat earned a secondary assist on a power play tally from Brett Connolly.
"I still see them getting some chances,'' Blashill said after his team's Game 2 win on Sunday. "They are a really good, good line. We think we have good players as well. There will continue to be an ebb and flow.''
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner notes that the Griffins feel that they have much to improve upon despite owning a 2-0 lead, with penalties serving as Griffins coach Jeff Blashill's biggest point of empahsis (and worry)...
“I’m probably most concerned with the number of penalties we’re taking,” Blashill said after Sunday’s game.
“To be honest with you, I’d say Syracuse is causing it,” he added. “I think we put ourselves in situations where, off of turnovers, they get rolling around in your offensive zone. We've got to do a better job of eliminating those turnovers so we don’t put ourselves back on our heels.”
Grand Rapids hosts the next three games, as necessary. Game 3 is 7 p.m. Wednesday followed by Game 4 at 7 p.m. on Friday.
In Game 2, Syracuse had eight power-play opportunities and capitalized on two, both in the second period, to close deficits to one – at 3-2 by Richard Panik and at 4-3 on Brett Connolly’s goal. The penalties included seven minors and a double minor to Tomas Jurco, who inadvertently got a stick in the face of Tyler Johnson near the Griffins blueline 6:32 into the third period.
“I didn’t think our penalty-kill forecheck again was good enough, they gained in the (offensive) zone for me a little too easily,” Blashill said. “…But some of that goes to them.”
Syracuse, held to a postseason-low one goal in Game 1, led the league in scoring during the regular season (3.25) but its power play was 12th (17.4 percent). Coming into the finals, the Crunch averaged 4.7 goals and their power play was at 17.2 percent (11 of 64).
The Griffins penalty kill, 29th during the regular season at 80.3 percent improved to 86.5 percent (10 of 74) heading into the Syracuse series.
He doesn’t have any points yet, but Danny DeKeyser has been rock-solid on the Griffins’ blue line through the first two games of the Calder Cup Finals, and that’s impressive enough. The Clay Township native keeps getting tossed into the deep end without much swimming experience, and he keeps on impressing with his ability to quickly adapt. After making his NHL debut with the Red Wings in the midst of a playoff chase and well, wowing everybody seems like a good way of putting it, DeKeyser made his AHL debut this weekend – in the league finals, with plenty of rust to knock off. DeKeyser broke his hand on May 2 with the Red Wings, and made his Griffins debut on June 8. While he ended up being a -1 in Game 1 of the AHL Finals on Saturday, he played a big role in the Griffins limiting the Syracuse Crunch to only two goals on eight power-play opportunities in Game 2. The most important thing? The Griffins won ‘em both. Now, DeKeyser can catch his breath a bit, as the series shifts back to Grand Rapids, with Game 3 taking place Wednesday night. With a few AHL games under his belt, and hopefully his skating legs back, who knows what DeKeyser can accomplish in the upcoming games.
Looking forward, I'll put this bluntly: the reason I don't put much energy into getting familiar with draft picks involves the fact that the Red Wings almost never pick the player or players Wings fans assume that they're targeting, myself included.
The Wings have tended to drop out of the 1st round and into the 2nd round when they've had late-1st-round picks over the past couple of seasons, sometimes they don't have a 1st-rounder, and nobody had the Wings picking Riley Sheahan in 2010, Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet in 2011, or Martin Frk last season, and the list goes on and on from there.
The Red Wings have the 18th overall pick at their disposal when the draft takes place on June 30th in Newark, NJ (and all 7 rounds will take place on the same day), and looking at RedWingsCentral's Top 25 Wings prospect list, it becomes apparent that:
1. The Wings have a crapton of offensive defensemen, with a good blend of lefties and righties, puck-movers and physical players, and, mostly, tons of size;
2. With Jared Coreau signed, Petr Mrazek playing dominantly in the AHL and Jake Paterson a year away from being signed, the Wings are "fine" in the crease;
3. And Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan's late-season strides bolster what is otherwise a forward corps whose scorers (Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro) remain classically undersized, with project power forwards, instigators and the puzzle that is Louis-Marc Aubry in what is becoming a cupboard that's half-empty.
If the Wings were to take the best player suited to their needs instead of the best player available (and the Wings always go with the latter), they'd go with a big and/or mean forward.
In terms of mock drafts:
1. TSN's Craig Button has Regina Pats forward Morgan Klimchuk, who is 5'11," slated to go 18th;
2. The Hockey News ranks Everett Silvertips defenseman Mirco Muller going 18th;
3. NHL.com dropped a trio of mock drafts today, and:
A) Adam Kimelman believes that the Wings will draft Modo Ornskoldsvik defenseman Robert Hagg;
B) Mike G. Morreale has the Wings drafting Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Shea Theodore;
C) And Steven Hoffner has the Wings drafting Rimouski Oceanic center Frederick Gauthier.
4. The International Scouting Services' rankings have Gauthier ranked 18th;
5. And the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau splits up North American and European player rankings, so they've got Cape Breton forward William Carrier ranked 18th among North Americans and Linkopings HC defenseman Carl Dahlstrom ranked 18th among Europeans.
6. I've heard many Wings fans hope that London Knights forwards Max Domi and Bo Horat, Windsor Spitfires forward Kerby Rychel, Plymouth Whalers forward Ryan Hartman and Val-d'or Foreurs forward Anthony Mantha will be available, but most mock drafts have those players listed as being picked before Detroit has the chance to take 'em...
7. And if you're looking for a classic Wings-style "dark horse" pick, the Sports Forecaster suggests that 5'9," 165-pound Portland Winterhawks forward Nicolas Petan is the best "sleeper pick" available.
What do I think will happen during what is supposed to be the deepest, most sure-fire-NHL-player-studded draft since 2003?
My gut says that the Wings will trade down to draft in both the late 1st round and early portion of the 2nd round, as they have tended to do when we're told that the "can't-miss prospect" list ends 2 or 3 spots before Detroit actually picks players (and the consensus seems to suggest that the top 15 will be impact players).
But the Wings surprise us. For all we know, they might pick a goalie.
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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.