The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/27/13 at 01:35 PM ET
Updated 6x at 4:08 PM: The news that the Tampa Bay Lightning are buying out Vincent Lecavalier sent shockwaves through the hockey world earlier this morning, and as Paul noted, MLive's Ansar Khan believes that the Wings should pursue him. The Free Press's Helene St. James agrees with Khan's assessment:
Lecavalier has a lot of assets. He's 6-feet-4 and 215 pounds. That alone would make him the biggest forward on the team. He's a center — and the Wings will need a second-line center, because Valtteri Filppula is not coming back. I expect Wings general manager Ken Holland to trade Filppula's rights any day now.
Lecavalier has 383 goals and 491 assists for 874 points in 1,037 NHL games. That's works out to a 0.84 point-per-game production average. That's pretty heady. He has 52 points in 63 career playoff games. The only stat that's glaringly ugly is his career plus-minus rating of minus-117. But in fairness, he's a plus-6 in playoff games.
Imagine Lecavalier in a winged-wheel uniform. First benefit: It would allow the Wings to play Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together, which is ideal. They ended up playing apart most of last season and the one before that because Filppula didn't get the job done as a second-line center. Based on last season's success of having Justin Abdelkader play with Datsyuk, keep Abdelkader on that line, because he serves the two well as a forechecker and puck retriever, just like Tomas Holmstrom used to do when he was younger.
So now a second line materializes: Lecavalier with Johan Franzen and winger to be named — maybe Gustav Nyquist, maybe Damien Brunner, providing he gets re-signed.
Everything always comes down to price, of course. Even though Lecavalier drew zero interest as a trade option, he'll draw plenty of interest as an unrestricted free agent. I don't see him going for much less than $5 million per season. But that's well within the Wings' price range — they'll gain the $3 million Filppula cost them, and I expect Mikael Samuelsson's $3 million to be gained via a compliance buyout. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo ($2.5 million) either will be traded or bought out.
Opportunities like this don't come along very often. When Anaheim re-signed Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry during the season, it wiped the two top forwards off this summer’s list of potential UFAs. Now there's Lecavalier. Hard to think he wouldn't be a great fit in Detroit.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun believes that Lecavalier will be pursued by Tampa Bay's soon-to-be division rival...
Just my own guessing out of the gate, not based on any sourcing ...
• The Detroit Red Wings need a No. 2 center as talks with Valtteri Filppula are headed nowhere. While Weiss could also be an option, Lecavalier would make a lot of sense.
• The Chicago Blackhawks? Cap space is at a premium and re-signing pending UFA Bryan Bickell is the priority. But man, would Lecavalier ever fit well there, especially since you know Michal Handzus isn’t the long-term answer at No. 2.
• What about Lecavalier’s former coach in Tampa, John Tortorella, who is in his first offseason as coach of the Vancouver Canucks?
• The Toronto Maple Leafs have been looking for a legitimate center with size for about a million years.
We will see a lot of teams linked to Lecavalier because, frankly, a lot of teams could use him.
TSN's Bob McKenzie believes that the Wings will pursue him, too...
But it should be noted that ESPN's Craig Custance's list of Lecavalier destinations includes Montreal, Chicago, Toronto, Washington and the New York Rangers, and not Detroit.
I don't know what to think about this one. Other teams may be able to offer Lecavalier more money, and the Wings obviously have other priorities in terms of re-signing Brunner, four RFA's in Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl, and they may or may not bring back Daniel Cleary, too, so we'll have to wait things out.
In the, "This came out of nowhere!" department, the Edmonton Journal's David Staples suggested that the Wings are NOT interested in defenseman Ryan Whitney, despite nonexistent reports to the contrary...
And Pro Hockey Talk's Joe Yerdon noted an...Intriguing...Free agency "odd" from Bovada:
As for playoff hero Bryan Bickell, Bovada sees a very curious destination for him.
Detroit Red Wings: 1/1
Florida Panthers: 3/1
Vancouver Canucks: 13/4
Chicago Blackhawks: 7/2
Speaking of Pro Hockey Talk, Yerdon also noted the following Tweet from Tampa Bay:
In confusing and/or speculatory news of a different kind, the Red Wings' summer development camp was supposed to take place from July 9-17 in Traverse City, but the Wings' press release both omitted several participants and stated that the team will be holding the camp from the 10th to the 15th.
The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindeau is the PR person, and she suggests that the camp will go a little longer (as the prospects are supposed to have an informal skate on July 9th)...
The schedule for the 2013 Detroit Red Wings Development camp at Centre I.C.E. Arena in Traverse City, MI has been finalized. The camp, which runs July 9th through July 16th, will feature many of the organization’s top prospects as well as the 2013 NHL draft class. With many of the organizations prospects having extended playoff runs, the camp will run on a compressed schedule. Additionally the first ticket sale for the Wings training camp will be held in the middle of development camp on July 13th. More details will be released as they become available and a final roster will be released following the 2013 NHL entry draft.
8:30 am – 11:00 am Team Lidstrom physicals
9:30 am – 11:00 am Team Yzerman physicals
12:00 pm – 12:50 pm Team Lidstrom practice (Admission Free)
1:00 pm – 1:50 pm Team Yzerman practice
8:00 am – 9:50 am Team Lidstrom Practice (Admission $5)
8:00 am – 9:45 am Team Yzerman off-ice workouts
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Team Lidstrom off-ice workouts
2:00 pm – 3:50 pm Team Yzerman practice
5:00 pm intra-squad scrimmage (Admission $5)
8:30 am Training Camp Ticket Sale (no on-ice activities)
8:00 am – 9:45 am Team Lidstrom off-ice workout (Admission $5)
8:00 am – 9:50 am Team Yzerman practice
2:00 pm – 3:50 Team Lidstrom practice
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Team Yzerman off-ice workout
8:30 am – 10:15 am Team Lidstrom practice (Admission $5)
8:30 am – 9:45 am Team Yzerman off-ice workout
10:30 am – 12:15 pm Team Yzerman practice
10:45 am – 12:00 pm Team Lidstrom off-ice practice
The players are supposed to scrimmage on the 15th or 16th, too, but that's changed...So the Wings' release may or may not be correct!
Lindeneau also offered some important Tweets regarding the make-up of this summer's roster:
For the record, here's the preliminary roster, per Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples. It omits several locks in players like--as Lindenau noted--Jared Coreau and Mike McKee:
Player Position 2012-13 Team Acquired
Darren Helm F Detroit (NHL) 2005 5th Rd. (132nd overall)
Luke Glendening F Grand Rapids (AHL) Signed as a free agent
Andreas Athanasiou F Barrie (OHL) 2012 4th Rd. (110th overall)
Rasmus Bodin F HV71 Jr. (SJEL) 2012 7th Rd. (200th overall)
Philippe Hudon F Victoriaville (QMJHL) 2011 5th Rd. (145th overall)
Martin Frk F Halifax (QMJHL) 2012 2nd Rd. (49th overall)
Calle Jarnkrok F Brynas IF (SEL) 2010 2nd Rd. (51st overall)
Marek Tvrdon F Vancouver (WHL) 2011 4th Rd. (115th overall)
Mikhail Plotnikov F Indiana (USHL) Camp Invite
Michael Babcock F Catholic Central (MHSAA) Camp Invite
Dean Chelios F Michigan State (CCHA) Camp Invite
Xavier Ouellet D Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL) 2011 2nd Rd. (48th overall)
Ryan Sproul D Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 2011 2nd Rd. (55th overall)
Mattias Backman D Linkoping HC (SEL) 2011 5th Rd. (146th overall)
James de Haas D Penticton (BCHL) 2012 6th Rd. (170th overall)
Nick Jensen D St. Cloud State (WCHA) 2009 5th Rd. (150th overall)
Ben Marshall D Minnesota (WCHA) 2010 7th Rd. (201st overall)
Alexei Marchenko D CSKA Moscow (KHL) 2011 7th Rd. (205th overall)
Richard Nedomlel D Swift Current (WHL) 2011 6th Rd. (175th overall)
Ildar Telyakov D HC VMF (VHL) Camp Invite
Jake Paterson G Saginaw (OHL) 2012 3rd Rd. (80th overall)
In terms of the Wings' draft plans (the draft takes place on Sunday, June 30th, at 2:30 PM, and all seven rounds will take place on that day), MLive's Khan spoke to Wings director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell, who will be calling the shots at the draft, about the team's take on who's available when the Wings draft 18th overall in the 1st round, 48th overall in the 2nd round and then 79th, 109th, 139th, 169th and 199th:
“We're excited,'' McDonnell said. “The draft is strong, in the first round and into the second round. There will be guys we like even in the seventh round. But the high-end part of the draft is good. At 18, we'll get a quality player.''
This will be McDonnell's 19th draft with the Red Wings, his first sitting at the head of the table, behind the microphone, making the final decision on each selection at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. He replaces former assistant general manager Jim Nill in that capacity. Nill was hired as GM of the Dallas Stars on April 29. The Red Wings, under Nill, shifted their drafting philosophy in recent years, targeting bigger players. McDonnell also puts a premium on size.
“It's just the way the game has evolved; it's a big man's game,'' McDonnell said. “I'm not saying there's no room for smaller guys, but if you can get a big, skilled guy, you go that route. We'll still take small guys if we have to, but we're looking to get bigger.''
The Red Wings' top picks in the past three drafts were decent-sized forwards – Martin Frk (2012), Tomas Jurco (2011) and Riley Sheahan (2010). They have used their first selection on a forward four years in a row, and McDonnell hopes to make it five.
That's because their system is stocked with promising defensemen, led by Ryan Sproul, the CHL defenseman of the year from Sault Ste. Marie, and Xavier Ouellet, a first-team All-Star in the Quebec League with Blainville-Boisbriand. They also have highly regarded Swede Mattias Backman, Russian Alexei Marchenko and American Nick Jensen.
“We'd really like to get a forward, unless there's a defenseman that's too good to pass up,'' he said. “If we feel there's two players (at different positions) that are even we'll lean toward the forward. … If we can add a little size up front, it would be beneficial.''
Khan continues and discusses several of the Wings' possible targets, states that the Wings won't use any of their first, second or third-round picks on a goaltender, and he concludes with the following:
Free agency opens on July 5. It's a relatively weak free-agent class because more teams are locking up their own players to long-term contracts. It further emphasizes the need to build through the draft.
“In the salary-cap era, it's everything,'' McDonnell said. “If you don't draft well and develop your players you don't have any hope. If you're going to be a good organization you better draft.''
In news regarding drafts past, two Red Wings made the Canadian Press's list of "draft bargains"...
3. Henrik Zetterberg, seventh round (No. 210) in 1999 to Red Wings
Detroit general manager Ken Holland was able to bridge the gap from the Red Wings’ late-1990s Cup teams to the group that won in 2008 with draft picks like Zetterberg. In 2002, Holland took Valtteri Filppula in the third round and Jonathan Ericsson in the ninth round, and he picked Darren Helm in the fifth round three years later. But Zetterberg was even more important to the retooling. Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe in 2008 and has 263 goals and 409 assists in 714 regular-season games, all with the Red Wings.
1. Pavel Datsyuk, sixth round (No. 171) in 1998 to Red Wings
Another Holland special, Datsyuk is regarded by some players as the best in a league that has Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. A rookie when the Red Wings won in 2001-02, Datsyuk was more than a point-a-game player on the 2008 Cup team. In 11 seasons, he has 255 goals, 512 assists, three Selke Trophies, four Lady Byng Trophies and three all-star appearances. He also just signed a three-year extension that could keep him in Detroit through 2016-17.
And NHL.com's named the Tampa Bay Lightning's GM their best #4 draft pick ever, as noted by Adam Kimelman:
The Detroit Red Wings had the fourth pick at the 1983 NHL Draft and targeted local prospect Pat LaFontaine. But when LaFontaine was taken by the New York Islanders with the third pick, the Red Wings had to settle for their second choice.
That player was a talented but smallish center who worked out OK. Detroit might not have gotten the player it wanted, but by the time Steve Yzerman retired 23 years later, the Red Wings wouldn't have changed a thing about how that day went.
NHL.com's Dream Draft panel has named Yzerman as the best No. 4 first-round pick.
Yzerman had 42 goals and 91 points in 56 games with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League in his draft year, and carried that scoring touch into the NHL as a rookie in 1983-84. He had 39 goals, a team-best 87 points, and became the first 18-year-old to play in an NHL All-Star Game since the format was adopted in 1969. He finished second to Buffalo Sabres goaltender Tom Barrasso in voting for the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie.
Yzerman was named Red Wings' captain at the start of the 1986-87 season; at 21, he was the youngest to hold the role in team history. He responded with his first 90-point season, and the following season he totaled 50 goals and 102 points and helped the team win its first division title since 1965.
They won it again the next season when Yzerman finished third in the League with career-bests of 65 goals and 155 points, each a single-season franchise mark. He also won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the League's best player as voted by the players, and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy. He had 62 goals and 127 points in 1989-90, but the Red Wings finished last in the division and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Yzerman continued to pile up offensive numbers in the regular season without much playoff success. That changed when Scotty Bowman arrived as Red Wings coach for the 1993-94 season. Bowman demanded more defensive accountability from Yzerman, and the result was better team play. His streak of six straight seasons of 40 goals and 100 points was snapped -- but a run of three straight seasons atop the Western Conference standings began.
Included was a trip to the 1995 Stanley Cup Final, the Red Wings' first appearance in the championship round since 1966. In 1997, the Red Wings went one step further, and Yzerman had 13 points in 20 playoff games -- including goals in each of the first three games of the Final against the Philadelphia Flyers -- to help Detroit win its first Cup in 42 years.
In the player appearance category, the Grand Rapids Griffins have some plans for the Calder Cup this afternoon, as noted by MLive...
The West Michigan Whitecaps will honor the Grand Rapids Griffins’ recent Calder Cup championship in a pre-game ceremony on Thursday, June 27.
Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill, East Grand Rapids native and Griffins forward Luke Glendening, and radio broadcaster Bob Kaser will be in attendance at the Whitecaps game, with the Calder Cup in tow. Blashill and Glendening will each throw out first pitches before the game and sign autographs for fans, who will also be able to get pictures taken with the Cup.
Thursday’s game against the Dayton Dragons begins at 7 p.m. (gates open at 6 p.m.).
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131, by visiting http://www.whitecapsbaseball.com or in, person at the Fifth Third Ballpark ticket office.
And WOOD TV8:
The West Michigan Whitecaps will honor the Grand Rapids Griffins' recent Calder Cup championship Thursday evening.
Head Coach Jeff Blashill, Griffins forward Luke Glendening, and radio broadcaster, Bob Kaser will bring the Calder Cup to the Whitecaps game to honor their win.
Blashill and Glendening will each throw out first pitches before the game and sign autographs for fans who will also be able to get pictures taken with the Cup.
And finally, if you find yourself in Yekaterinburg, Russia in mid-July...
Update #2: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's busy today, but he weighed in on Lecavalier...
And then he filed a report:
Lecavalier, 33, will receive a staggering $32.67 million in the compliance buyout, giving Tampa Bay much more financial flexibility (Lecavalier had a $7.727 million cap hit through 2019-20).
Steve Yzerman, the Lightning's general manager and former Red Wings great, said it was a difficult decision for the organization.
"Vinny has been a significant reason for many of our past successes, including the 2004 Stanley Cup, and his contributions to the community are immeasurable," Yzerman said in a statement. "The Lightning organization is indebted to Vinny; we thank him for all he has done here and we wish him well as he moves forward. After much internal deliberation, we believe this will prove to be a pivotal move for us as we strive to achieve our long term goal of competing at the highest level, year-in, year-out. The economics and structure of the CBA are necessitating this decision and we at the Lightning are excited at the newly created opportunities this presents to us."
Lecavalier played in 39 games last season, scoring 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists).
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds Lecavalier has the size and offensive ability (12 consecutive 20 goal seasons before this last season) the Red Wings would covet — especially with the expected free agent loss of Valtteri Filppula.
But Lecavalier will have plenty of interested teams in the free agent market. Former Tampa Bay GM Jay Feaster would relish Lecavalier in Calgary, as would Vancouver and new coach John Tortorella, with whom Lecavalier won a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay in 2003.
Lecavalier's hometown Montreal Canadiens have also been long mentioned as a possible destination for the former Quebec junior hockey star.
As an FYI...
And the Detroit Free Press's bracketed "best Michigan sports nickname" contest continues:
And then there were four.
Magic was the only No. 1 seed that didn't make it to the semifinals, getting edged by Cinderella entrant Sweet Lou in a close Elite Eight matchup.
So Sweet Lou joins The Captain, Megatron and Mr. Hockey in the semis, which will end at 2 p.m. Friday.
Update #3: Take this for what you will:
Update #4: From the Free Press's George Sipple...
The Ontario Hockey League announced its regular-season schedule for 2013-2014 today, and part of that included the games times for the OHL’s outdoor doubleheader Dec. 29 at Comerica Park in Detroit. It’s part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival, connected to the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.
The Saginaw Spirit will face the Windsor Spitfires at 1:30 p.m. The Plymouth Whalers will face the London Knights, the defending Robertson Cup champions, at 5 p.m..
The OHL regular-season begins Sept. 19. The Spirit opens at Barrie at 7:30 p.m.
The Whalers will open the season at 7:30 Sept. 20 by visiting London. The Whalers’ home opener will be Sept. 21 against the Erie Otters.
The Whalers end the regular season by hosting the Windsor Spitfires on March 15.
And St. James updated her column with Lecavalier's comments:
Speaking during an afternoon conference call, Lecavalier said he's interested in Detroit. "If you just think about the Detroit Red Wings, it's actually a team I grew up idolizing. Them and Montreal were my favorite teams. Ironically, Steve Yzerman was my favorite hockey player."
Asked whether there'd be worse fates than being teammates with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, Lecavalier laughed. "Definitely, those guys, they're one of the best duos in the league. And I mean, Detroit, they've made the playoffs the last 20 years. They're a great team. They're a great organization.
"It'd definitely be a place that I think I would consider, for sure."
“It's actually a team I grew up idolizing,'' Lecavalier said during a conference call. “Them and Montreal were my favorite teams. Steve Yzerman (former Red Wings captain) was my favorite player.''
Yzerman also is the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He informed Lecavalier on Thursday morning that the club is buying him out of the final seven years of his contract.
Lecavalier, 33, will be free to sign with any team, except the Lightning, on July 5.
His hometown Canadiens certainly will get serious consideration. But, the Red Wings will, too. Detroit will be seeking a second-line center if, as expected, Valtteri Filppula leaves as a free agent.
Lecavalier talked about the appeal of playing on a team with stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
“They're probably one of the best duos in the league,'' Lecavalier said. “They made the playoffs the last (22) years. It's a great team, a great organization. It's definitely a place I would consider.''
He added, “I haven't made a list yet. I'm really open to anything.''
Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings have one pick in each round, starting with No. 18 in the first round. They had an influx of young forwards step up this season, including Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson, with a few others on the way.
Defensive depth could be an area of interest, but the Wings could settle for what they believe is the best player available, regardless of position.
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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.