The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/05/13 at 11:59 AM ET
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...
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.
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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.