The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/14/13 at 11:39 AM ET
Updated 4x at 1:44 PM: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose delivers good news on the Darren Helm front this afternoon...
And this dovetails nicely with MLive's Ansar Khan's check-in with Wings GM Ken Holland regarding Helm's health:
“I believe he's on the path to being healthy in October,'' Holland said. “Everything suggests he's good, but until he gets banging around with every day physical tests, I don't know.''
Helm, 26, played only one game in 2013 and experienced several setbacks after initially injuring his back while lifting weights a few days before training camp.
Holland said Helm was examined by four back specialists who all agreed there is no structural damage and that he will heal with time.
Helm reported progress while skating at the team's development camp in Traverse City in early July.
“He took baby steps in Traverse City, pushed it hard the last couple of days,'' Holland said. “He continues to train and feel good. We'll probably be careful the first couple of days in camp, then eventually we have to get him in a couple of preseason games and test him out. He's a physical player, he finishes checks, he goes to the hard areas.''
This is a little cringe-worthy, however...
Holland said he believes everyone else is healthy, including right wing Mikael Samuelsson, who re-injured his pectoral muscle in the playoffs and didn't play in the second round against Chicago.
“There was some debate on whether we should perform surgery; the decision was to let him heal,'' Holland said. “I'm told he feels good, no issues. (Todd) Bertuzzi finished the season healthy. They seem to be ready to come to camp.''
Roose and Khan also "scouted" a pair of the Red Wings' new Eastern Conference opponents, with Roose looking at the Philadelphia Flyers...
The Flyers signed center Vincent Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million deal with the hopes that the 33-year-old veteran center, who’s already played over 1,000 games, has enough left in the tank to contribute to the team’s attacking offensive system. Lecavalier had his weighty contract bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning, making the All-Star center an unrestricted free agent. However, health is a concern for Lecavalier, who hasn’t played a full season since 2009-10.
As bad as the 2013 season was, the Flyers, led by right winger Jakub Voracek, finished among the top 10 scoring teams in the league, and had the third-best power play percentage. Only Washington and Pittsburgh fared better with the man-advantage.
Voracek finished with 22 goals, which was tied for eighth in the league. Besides a seemingly potent offense, several Flyers under-performed, most notably young centers Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, who combined to score 12 goals. While Matt Read chipped in with 11 goals and 13 assists, it was a bummer of a sophomore season for the speedy two-way forward, who produced 47 points in 2011-12.
Injuries played a role with the Flyers who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Winger Scott Hartnell is one of the veterans that needs to bounce back from an injury-plagued season where he managed just 11 points while missing 16 games. Six Flyers’ defensemen finished the season on the injury list while forwards Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot, and center Scott Laughton also missed significant time with injuries.
Philadelphia re-signed center Claude Giroux and Couturier to contract extensions, while they bought out goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and winger Danny Briere, and traded for veteran defenseman Mark Streit.
The negatives for the Flyers are a questionable defense, along with the goaltending tandem of Ray Emery and Steve Mason. The 30-year-old Emery returns to Philadelphia after spending the last three seasons between Anaheim and Chicago.
The blueline is anchored by a pair of 30-something veterans in Streit and Kimmo Timonen, while the rest of the unit will be made up of big, physical, young defensemen with 6-5 Braydon Coburn, 6-2 Luke Schenn, 6-4 Nicklas Grossman, Erik Gustafsson and 6-2 Andrej Meszaros.
While Khan looked at the Washington Capitals:
Capitals' strengths: They have a strong offensive combination in three-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin and playmaking center Nicklas Backstrom, who has averaged a point a game in six seasons but scored only eight goals in 48 games in 2013. Mike Green has been one of the game's top offensive defensemen for several seasons. Together, they formed the most potent power play in the league last season. Troy Brouwer has been a consistent secondary scorer and is coming off a 19-goal season in 47 games. Players like Marcus Johansson and Eric Fehr have offensive upside. Goaltender Braden Holtby's first full NHL season was a success; he posted good numbers during the season and in the playoffs.
Capitals' weaknesses: They could be hard-pressed to replace the offense lost (49 points in 48 games) when Ribeiro bolted. Having a healthy Brooks Laich will help, after he was limited to nine games due to an injury. Their penalty killing was among the worst in the NHL.
Capitals outlook: This was a team that was well-positioned to win a Stanley Cup, posting three consecutive 100-point seasons from 2008-09 to 2010-11, but couldn't get past the second round of the playoffs. Their window of opportunity might have closed. They're relying on improvement from within after opting not to replace Ribeiro. With high-end talent like Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green, they should make the playoffs. But they'll need help to make a long run.
In the eyebrow-raising department, the Detroit Free Press's bracketed "best sports logo in Michigan" is down to the finals, and Ferris State University upset the Red Wings to advance and pit the Bulldogs against the Detroit Tigers;
In prospect news, via RedWingsFeed, the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau posted the Dallas Stars' prospect tournament roster, and she noted that 7% of the prospect tournament participants have played over 500 games, including Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, Jordin Tootoo and former Wing Daniel Cleary;
Via RedWingsFeed again, NHL.com's "30 in 30" series will examine the Red Wings on August 17th, but NHL.com's already posted Dan Rosen's take on the state of the Wings in video form:
In the Twitter department....
And again, I'm trying to raise funds for the trip to Traverse City, and the fundraising is going...Quite poorly. If there is any way that you could lend a financial hand, I would be extremely grateful (I'm about...Uh...1/16th of the way there?). Five-buck donations, $10 donations, whatever you can afford, it all helps me get to Traverse City.
I'm sticking with Paypal as folks are familiar with it, and the email address that you use as my "recipient" ID is my personal email address, firstname.lastname@example.org (regardless of whether you send email to that address or my Kukla's Korner email, email@example.com, they end up in the same place).
Thank you for your support and readership.
Update: The Red Wings website's changes look more subtle than not as far as I'm concerned...
And in the prospect department:
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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.