Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings mid-day news: On Griffins facing Game 7, Helm, the draft and UFA strategies

After a spirited discussion of Johan Franzen's worth or the lack thereof in the overnight report's comments section, here are a few more tidbits to chew upon as Michigan Hockey and the rest of us start fingernail-chewing (well, maybe you...I just clip mine) in anticipation of Game 7 between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Oklahoma City Barons tonight (7 PM EDT at Van Andel Arena), which will determine the Syracuse Crunch's opponent in the Calder Cup Final...

The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner took note of the comments the Griffins' players and coach made after the team dropped Game 6 last night:

Coach Jeff Blashill: “We need to make sure that we don’t give up any easy chances. They’re going to earn enough chances; we have to make sure we don’t give up easy ones. We have to get a lot of chances, too."

Captain and forward Jeff Hoggan: “It’s our job to forget about it. We can’t have negative energy. We’ll keep our heads up and focus on the task at hand.”

Forward Mitch Callahan:“I think we need to come out the same way. It’s just a matter of playing a 60-minute game. We have to play a full 60 minutes. That’s something we have to change, for sure.”

Center Riley Sheahan: “I mean, it’s a Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, so it should be pretty easy to get up for it. We just need to come with the same intensity, look back at a few things we did wrong and try to improve them and play a full 60 minutes.”
 

 

 

Heading back to the parent club, MLive's Brendan Savage re-examined the comments made by Red Wings forward Darren Helm during locker room clean-out day given that the Wings' medical staff and Helm are still pretty sure that #43 won't need surgery to correct his back ailments...Despite the fact that he hasn't recovered from them over the course of the past four months via rest alone:

"I don't talk about it," Helm said after cleaning out his locker last week. "It gets me frustrated when I talk about it because I don't know. My parents aren't allowed to talk to me about it, my girlfriend's not allowed to talk about it. We just kind of keep it quiet. If I feel good, we talk about it. I am frustrated.

"The day s we don't talk about it I'm optimistic because I do feel good. When I'm not talking about it I'm not upset about it. People just keep talking about it. I'm not going down in the dumps. That's when I start kind of second-guessing things and getting worried about what could happen, what might happen, what might not happen. If I just leave it alone and be happy with the progress I'm making and the treatment I'm doing, things are going well. I feel like I'm doing what I can to get healthy.''

...

Helm finally got some good news after the season ended, when he learned that he won't require offseason surgery and is expected back in training camp next fall. But to be ready for camp, he's going to need two things – be patient and rest.

"There are days I feel good," Helm said. "I'm getting better slowly. I just feel like I have to get better. I talked to a lot of people and they said is just takes time and you got to stay positive and hope it gets better.

"I've taken it slower. I talked to people who've had back issues. They also don't know what's going on. They just take time. I'm thinking this is going to be one of those. Before we had timelines on where I wanted to be healthy and get out there and play. Now I have a few months to work with and get healthy and ready for training camp.''

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock expressed the frustration about every Red Wings fan feels when discussing Helm's predicament:

"He's a young man, we need him," Babcock said. "Two years in a row we didn't have him at playoff time. We need him at playoff time. But we don't know what's going on. So here we are today, he's no closer today than he was at training camp this year. That's not a good sign. The optimist in me says he's a young man, they got to find (the cure). The medical profession is pretty good. We got to figure this out and he's got to get back and playing."

 

 

Looking forward, the more I read lists of "rankings" for the Entry Draft, I mean 2013 NHL Draft, which will take place in sunny Newark, New Jersey on June 30th (rounds 1-7 will take place on the same day and TSN and I believe NBCSN will air at least the 1st round, with rounds 2-7 shifting to the NHL Network and NHL.com in the U.S.), the more I get the feeling that it's the kind of "deep draft" where the Wings will trade their 18th overall draft pick to someone else and lean upon the tried and generally true, "Okay, if we drop down for a late 1st-rounder and a 2nd round pick, we'll probably snag 2 players that are decent instead of 1" philosophy which the Wings have employed repeatedly over the past half-a-dozen years.

The Production Line's Michael Petrella's much bigger on prospects than I am (I don't start reading up on them until after the Wings are eliminated from playoff contention), but his list of potential Wings targets--Everett Silvertips defenseman Mirco Mueller, Prince Albert Raiders defenseman Josh Morrissey, MoDo Ornskoldsvik defenseman Robert Hagg, Windsor Spitfires forward Kerby Rychel, London Knights forward Max Domi, Quebec Remparts forward Adam Erne and Rimouski Oceanic forward Frederik Gauthier are all names I've seen and heard of who seem like "fits" for Detroit...

And it must be mentioned that the Wings have tended to lean more heavily upon QMJHL-drafted players of late, for what it's worth. Ditto for my gut feeling--that the Wings will end up drafting Plymouth Whalers forward Ryan Hartman.

In any case, being able to draft 18th overall and then 18th-plus-whatever compensatory picks are awarded in rounds 2-onward should help the Wings snag more "gems" before rounds are completely picked over, and I fully expect the Wings to leave Newark with a solid crop of prospects, even if they end up drafting seven players we thought that they wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, which is usually what happens on draft day.

Also looking forward, the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau duly noted that the Wings are all but certain to draft 3 or 4 NCAA-bound prospects as the team has shifted from drafting European prospects who remained the team's property for unlimited periods of time to NCAA prospects who remain the team's property until they turn pro with their rights-holders and/or the August after they graduate. In many instances, the NCAA-bound prospects the Wings draft also choose to remain with USHL or Junior A teams, allowing the Wings to watch them develop for 5 or 6 years before choosing whether to sign them:

Knowing that the European loophole was likely to close with a new collective bargaining agreement, Detroit signaled a change in philosophy by drafting future franchise netminder, Jimmy Howard in 2003. Prior to Howard, the Wings had drafted only two other college players in an eight year span dating back to 1995 (University of Maine’s Todd Jackson in 2000 and RPI’s Francois Senez in 2001) and neither saw any NHL action.  Things weren’t any better in the 1990′s as Detroit managed to unearth only four NHL players out of the college ranks including Ryan Bach, Mike Knuble, Dan McGillis, and John Jakopin. All four players spent the bulk of their NHL careers with other teams, with only Knuble seeing any time with the Wings (just 62 of his 1,068 NHL games).

After the Howard selection in 2003, the Wings began to focus on scouting the NCAA. In 2005 they selected Michigan State University forward Justin Abdelkader with the 42nd overall pick and he has 257 NHL games of experience already. Beginning with Abdelkader, Detroit has selected at least one college committed player in each of the last eight drafts and they have even jumped into the college free agent pool inking Brett Lebda (Notre Dame in 2004), Jordan Pearce (Notre Dame in 2009), Danny DeKeyser (Western Michigan in 2013) and Jared Coreau (Northern Michigan in 2013). In addition to Howard and Abdelkader, the Red Wings brass have found NHL talent in Brendan Smith (Wisconsin), Gustav Nyquist (Maine),  Danny Dekeyser and Riley Sheahan (Notre Dame). Additionally Nick Jensen (St. Cloud State), Max Nicastro (Boston), and  Jared Coreau have signed contracts with the Detroit and remain in the development system.

With the rule changes, the Wings are more inclined to look to the NCAA later in the draft, choosing to take players who have longer development periods. They did exactly that in 2012 selecting both Mike McKee (committed to Western Michigan) and James DeHaas (committed to Clarkson) in the fifth round knowing that both players had at least one more year of junior eligibility remaining and allowing additional development time.

Lindenau continues and offers a chart of the Wings' NCAA-drafted prospects.

 

 

Otherwise...The Detroit Free Press's Evil Drew Sharp did answer two Red Wings-related questions during his Freep.com chat...

Ben: If you were Ken Holland, would your larger priority be a top-4 defenseman or a power forward? Possibly related question: Is Fil worth $5+ million per, or is that money best spent on others?

Drew Sharp: Ben -- It would be a top four defenseman. I would have more confidence in the continued development of Nyquist and Andersson and the full recovery of Helm to take care of my forward issues. I'm not sure about Brendan Smith. I hope he uses his struggles as a challenge and not as a hindrance.

Maybe it's a Free Press thing, but Sharp and Helene St. James seem to be the only Wings beat writers who believe that the team will pursue a top-four defenseman. Just about everybody else seems to believe that the Wings will go after a goal-scoring forward who goes to the front of the net, stays there and bangs in rebounds.

I happen to believe that Mark Streit's supposed demands for a $5.5-6 million salary (and 4+ year deal as a 35-year-old) in an incredibly thin unrestricted free agent marketplace for defensemen (which I do not expect the cap compliance buy-out market to significantly bolster) add to what may be a, "F*** this, we'll get an Abdelkader II for $3-4 million and go with Kronwall, Ericsson, Kindl, DeKeyser, Quincey, Smith and Lashoff until the trade deadline" decision-making process by the Wings' ront office, but that's just me.

NFMF: Drew what's your take on Brunner wanting to return to wings? In post season talk he says it was great to wear the red wings sweater. Being a UFA do you think he wants to stay or sees opportunities elsewhere?

Drew Sharp: They'll bring him back. He can score goals. He led the Wings in playoff scoring. Brunner seemed to have gotten more comfortable as the season progressed.

That and as I keep harping upon, Detroit is a top-tier hockey market whose media corps and fans don't harangue or harass their hockey players, so Brunner was able to fit in without facing Boston's every-shift-you-take analysis or Toronto's, "Fans pay attention to what you ate for dinner last night" scrutiny.

 

 

And finally, via RedWingsFeed, The Score's Jo Innnes took note of the slew-foots which have taken place during the playoffs thus far, including what Pierre McGuire watched and deemed to be a "good non-call" when one Andrew Shaw kicked Valtteri Filppula's right leg out from under him in what NBC deemed to be, if I recall correctly, something stupid like, "Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula injures himself during collision" or something like that. Filppula will need 6-8 weeks to heal from the high ankle sprain he incurred, and by that time he's probably going to have a different NHL employer.

It's been a week since the Wings lost, and I'm still incredibly disappointed by their collapse and incredibly pissed off at the officiating. I don't care if that makes me a "whiner." It makes me a passionate Wings fan, too.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I really wish people would get over the “good non-call” bs.  there is NO SUCH THING as a good non-call.  a penalty is a penalty and should be called.  it seems usually when they say “good non-call” they mean “good not to call that penalty in order to make up for the last penalty they called that I don’t agree with.”

the level of subjectivity in NHL officiating is the problem.  and it’s a huge problem.  even the rules say, over and over, that many things are literally at the referee’s discretion.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/05/13 at 12:09 PM ET

BC's avatar

Good non-call = a Red Wing was fouled but did not die.

Sorry, I am biased as well.  But this year’s playoff officiating has stunk.

Posted by BC on 06/05/13 at 12:25 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

I love the NHL draft.  Even though I haven’t heard of 98% of the players that will be drafted, I still look foward to it and enjoy it.

As for the free agency…  Assuming that, without free agency, the Wings Top 4 defense will be as follows:

Kronwall-Ericsson
Kindl-DeKeyser

I am not exactly sure if there is an UFA defensement out there that will be a big enough upgrade over any of these players to justify handing out “top 4 D” type money.

Who are Evil Drew and St. James thinking the Wings should sign?  Ron Hainsey?  Mark Streit?  Ryan Whitney?  Rob Scuderi?  Jordan Leopold?  Toni Lydman?  Or are they just saying that without really looking at the current make-up of the Wings roster or the available UFA defensemen?

I don’t disagree with the concept.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the Wings add a Top 4 veteran presence that could really help stablize that was an at times very shaky defense corps.  That said, given the Wings current roster and the available UFA defensemen, barring some kind of trade, I am just not sure if I see a fit. 

This is especially true if the Wings lose Filppula.  If so, they really need to find a Top 6 forward to fill his role.  The Wings are likely to lose him and could lose Cleary too.  Even if they re-sign Cleary, I think his days as a “top 6” forward are past him.

The Wings have a glut of 3rd/4th line forwards - good ones - and they have the money to spend upgrading the 1st/2nd lines.  If I recall Babcock has said as much.  While signing such a player is incredibly much easier said than done, even in this thin crop of free agents, I think there are more viable options for the Wings at top 6 forward than at top 4 defense.

Posted by Ajax19 on 06/05/13 at 12:35 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

go with Kronwall, Ericsson, Kindl, DeKeyser, Quincey, Smith and Lashoff until the trade deadline” decision-making process by the Wings’ ront office, but that’s just me.

After the way the season ultimately went, and the way this group of young D came together down the final 20 regular season games, plus the playoffs, I’m actually okay with this. I’d much rather go hard after a guy like Nathan Horton than any of the top D options that will be on the market.

I still believe that for this team to be a Cup winner again, they will need a true #1 D. Kronwall is oh-so-close to being that after seeing his whole performance this year, especially the leadership he showed in the playoffs. The development of Ericsson since his return from injury last year, Kindl’s development this season, and even Quincey’s rebound after he came back from the jaw injury, are all really good signs for this team. With forwards like Pav, Z, (hopefully) Helm, Miller, Andersson, and Nyquist (and possibly Filppula), the ability of this team to play defense as a six-man unit (including Howard), should be very solid.

I think a player of Horton’s mold and caliber is what can give the team the most marginal improvement of any single move. It would immediately upgrade the second scoring line (however you configure it). And while Cleary, despite a couple rough regular seasons, stepped it up huge in the playoffs, I have to think that he is only a good re-sign if he comes back quite cheap, and is fully utilized in a checking line role, with his versatility used as a backup if someone is injured or slumping on the power play in front of net, or on the PK.

If you can go:
Pav - Mule - Home Keys
Z - Horton - Tatar
Nyquist - Andersson - Brunner (because why not, they played so good in the playoffs)
Miller - Helm - Cleary
Eaves and Emmerton as extras
Use compliance buyouts to address two of Samuelsson, Bertuzzi, and Tootoo (my preference is to buy out Tootoo and Bertuzzi… Samuelsson, despite his injury troubles that prevented him from getting any traction this year, is a good defensive forward and provides more versatility than Bertuzzi)

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/05/13 at 12:37 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

And finally, via RedWingsFeed, The Score’s Jo Innnes took note of the slew-foots which have taken place during the playoffs thus far, including what Pierre McGuire watched and deemed to be a “good non-call” when one Andrew Shaw kicked Valtteri Filppula’s right leg out from under him in what NBC deemed to be, if I recall correctly, something stupid like, “Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula injures himself during collision” or something like that. Filppula will need 6-8 weeks to heal from the high ankle sprain he incurred, and by that time he’s probably going to have a different NHL employer.

I haven’t listened to those NBC tools in over a year. Life is much better since

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 06/05/13 at 12:41 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Posted by Ajax19 on 06/05/13 at 01:35 PM ET

This.

There are a lot more really good second-tier scoring forwards that are already headed to UFA than there are top four D. And there are likely even more of those types of forwards headed UFA via compliance buyouts. With Pav and Z, the Wings have top-end talent at the center position addressed. They need a second-tier scorer to play on one of their flanks (this is why Boston is so successful right now—Bergeron and Krejci give them two highly-talented centers that are consistent, and Horton, Marchand, and Lucic give them second-tier scorers to play on the wings).

For example, Danny Briere is likely to be a a compliance buyout. Now, I’m not advocating the Wings go after him… I certainly wouldn’t mind his skill level being on this club, but I’m not sure he really fits a need for them. I take him as the most obvious example because everyone has been talking about him likely being bought-out, and he’s still, even at 35 after a few injuries, an incredibly talent player that is capable of putting up very good offensive numbers.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/05/13 at 12:46 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by Ajax19 on 06/05/13 at 01:35 PM ET

I agree too. If all things are equal and the choice is to upgrade the F or the D, then do what is most efficient money-wise. There are more options at F that will cost less. Also, losing Filppula is very likely. Helm may never play again. There is a HOLE in the top 6. Top 4 D is just not up to snuff - but there are capable guys that can hopefully develop into the position or something close to it. If an opportunity presents itself to get that top 4 D, then take it, but don’t bet the farm on it.

Everyone is bashing Smith like he’s a huge bust or something. He’s played half a season at the NHL level. I’m ok giving him another year to acclimate. I know he’s been “over-seasoned” and all, but his career is just starting and the ceiling is high. I’m more pissed that he wasn’t given a chance to play with Lidstrom and get a real education.

I think I’m higher on the D than most other people - they developed nicely in the past month. Still a ways to go, but you can start to see things gel a bit more and that’s a good spot to be in heading into a full training camp.

Posted by awould on 06/05/13 at 01:13 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

If the d-core remains the same, and Smith does not make a significant improvement over the summer, it won’t matter who the Wings get at forward, they will have trouble scoring.

The Wings had trouble scoring this year because the d were unable to corral the puck and get it up to the forwards and out of the zone in a timely manner, causing them to spend entire shifts in there own zone.  And when they finally did grind it out of the zone, the forwards not only had to skate the puck 200ft, they had to do it at the end of a hard fought defensive shift.  So most of the time they would dump the puck, and go for a line change, which meant the new line going back into their own zone to get the puck again.

wash, rinse, repeat

The times they had success is when they would stand their opponent up in the neutral zone and cause a turnover, and either go for a quick transition goal, or get it deep and grind it out.

Wings have to focus on adding a solid puck mover to the back end, through trade if not through free agency.  Then if DeKeyser can keep going strong, and Smith can stop being a headcase and just play, the Wings will be fine until Sproul and the rest make it to the big leagues and hopefully dazzle us.

Posted by Hootinani on 06/05/13 at 01:42 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I think I’m higher on the D than most other people - they developed nicely in the past month.

I would even consider this an understatement.  not only did the dmen themselves step it up and start playing well together, I think the team as a whole gelled as far as whole-team defense.  they seemed to have much better awareness of who would be where, which is essential for getting the puck out of the defensive zone.  a lot of the turnovers earlier in the season appeared to be those kind of “I thought someone was going to be there and passed the puck there without looking” turnovers.

I hate to say it, but DeKeyser is basically better than any trade deadline acquisition we could have made, and probably better than any off-season UFA we could pick up.  [insert Ken Holland meme here]

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/05/13 at 01:50 PM ET

Avatar

Stop the presses, did anyone see this story?  Classic

http://news.msn.com/pop-culture/penguins-fans-miffed-after-jetblue-pilot-asks-if-crying-baby-is-sidney-crosby

LOL

Posted by bababooey on 06/05/13 at 02:22 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I would even consider this an understatement.  not only did the dmen themselves step it up and start playing well together, I think the team as a whole gelled as far as whole-team defense.  they seemed to have much better awareness of who would be where, which is essential for getting the puck out of the defensive zone.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/05/13 at 02:50 PM ET

Depends on if Smith-Quincey continues to be a thing going forward.  If it is, there is no help or hoping…  Smith needs a steady d partner, and Kyle isn’t it.

Posted by Primis on 06/05/13 at 03:06 PM ET

Avatar

I am of the mindset that they should roll with the D they ended the season with.  I rather they spend their money on big forwards, you can address the D later of need be, besides that’s just extra time while guys like Ouellett, Sproul, Jensen,  Nedomlel ripen in Grand Rapids.

Posted by bababooey on 06/05/13 at 03:13 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Some are even threatening to boycott JetBlue airlines after one of their pilots on a flight from Pittsburgh to Boston jokingly asked whether a crying baby on board was Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

so in other words, the fans are crybabies, too.  big surprise.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/05/13 at 04:38 PM ET

Bugsy's avatar

Okay, George (or whoever), are there any defenseman worth TRADING for and/or wait for a buyout (the Custance article had one anonymous front office person guess at 15 buyouts) that might realistically be available? Free agency isn’t the only route. They can still get the power forward by free agency (although will it take $6 million per for Horton?).

Posted by Bugsy on 06/05/13 at 05:10 PM ET

Avatar

Everett Silvertips defenseman Mirco Mueller, Prince Albert Raiders defenseman Josh Morrissey, MoDo Ornskoldsvik defenseman Robert Hagg, Windsor Spitfires forward Kerby Rychel, London Knights forward Max Domi, Quebec Remparts forward Adam Erne and Rimouski Oceanic forward Frederik Gauthier are all names I’ve seen and heard of who seem like “fits” for Detroit…

Given the amount of quality defensemen in the Wings system, I’m not sure I understand why there are so many defensemen on this list. I’d also like to add Curtis Lazar (a right handed center in the WHL with lots of offensive upside) to this list. I’m really hoping they draft him.

Posted by From The Hockey Wastelands from Cleveland on 06/05/13 at 05:16 PM ET

Avatar

Agree, Wastelands.

Curtis Lazar or Robert Hagg.

Posted by Jesters Dead on 06/06/13 at 02:55 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Given the amount of quality defensemen in the Wings system, I’m not sure I understand why there are so many defensemen on this list. I’d also like to add Curtis Lazar (a right handed center in the WHL with lots of offensive upside) to this list. I’m really hoping they draft him.

Posted by From The Hockey Wastelands from Cleveland on 06/05/13 at 06:16 PM ET

1. You can never have too many quality D.
2. Who makes up this glut of quality D you speak of? Admittedly, they have a lot of D that are projecting by all scouting reports and legitimate NHL defensemen, but they don’t have anyone that is currently thought of as a #1. It will be hard for the Wings to find that guy in the draft if they continue to be a playoff team. They either have to hope someone like that hits the UFA or trade market in the next few years, or they have to hope that a guy like Smith develops a bit above the current reasonable expectations that they have for him.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/06/13 at 10:26 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I’m a little confused why everyone keeps talking about #1 defenseman while leaving DeKeyser out of the discussion.

when was the last time we saw a defenseman step on the ice and immediately be better than every other dman on the team?

Oct 2 1999 comes to mind.

so does April 5 2013.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/06/13 at 06:33 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

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.