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Red Wings mid-day news: on the glut of forwards, Filppula, ‘best’ games and Al’s octopus

Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news stories: MLive's Ansar Khan's penned a second "Ask Ansar" column, and after addressing questions regarding the futures of Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary, Khan discusses the Wings' roster glut up front:

Question: Are there any possible scenarios where the Red Wings can clear cap space by either waiving or buying out (Mikael) Samuelsson, (Todd) Bertuzzi and (Jordin) Tootoo? My understanding after reading the buyout/waiver rules is that the Wings are basically stuck with their salaries against the cap, even if they release them outright. Is this true? None of them have any trade value, so that option is out. Once they re-sign (restricted free agents Gustav) Nyquist and (Joakim) Andersson, they will need to cut two forwards, so (Cory) Emmerton and (Patrick) Eaves seem the most likely since they may have some trade value for draft picks.


Ansar Khan: The compliance buyout period ended on July 4. Players can be waived, but under the new CBA, if the player clears waivers and is assigned to the AHL, two-thirds of his salary counts against the cap. Teams don't need to be cap compliant or trim down to the 23-man roster until after the preseason.

I think Tootoo, with two years at $1.9 million per season remaining on his contract, is the player most likely to be dealt, followed by Eaves (one year left at $1.2 million). The problem with moving Emmerton is that it doesn't clear much cap space ($533,333) and would leave them needing a center if Darren Helm (back issues) isn't ready to start the season.

Question: If Darren Helm's back issues are behind him the Wings look solid at center (Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Helm, Andersson and Emmerton as a low-cost reserve). Do you think they will trim salary from the pool of wingers? I see a market for Eaves, but who would want Tootoo and who could afford Samuelsson’s hefty price tag? I believe (general manager Ken) Holland and (coach Mike) Babcock need to make room for (Tomas) Tatar and (Daniel) Cleary. What's your take on that?


Ansar: If Helm is healthy, Emmerton would be bumped from the lineup because Andersson would be their fourth-line center. But, they might prefer to keep Emmerton as a reserve because he's a center and has a low salary.

I agree that Samuelsson, because of his salary ($3 million), age (36) and injury-riddled season (not to mention his no-trade clause), can't be dealt, unless the Red Wings pick up a portion of his salary, and I don't see that happening.

I think there could be a market for Tootoo, but even though he was scratched in the playoffs, the Red Wings might miss his physical play and fighting ability. Tatar is on the team and I don't think they will trade him before giving him a good chance to show what he can bring. They would need to clear salary to bring back Cleary. I don't think that will happen, but as long as he's unsigned there's always a chance.


Question: Backtrack to the 2012 offseason. Wings coming off a lackluster five-game defeat to Nashville. What, if any, value did Holland see in Samuelsson? That contract is handicapping our efforts to sign our younger forwards. Why did they sign Samuelsson to a $3 million-a-year contract, and let Jiri Hudler (28 at the time), coming off a career year (25 goals), go for a million more? It makes absolutely zero sense to me!


Ansar: Nobody's contract is handicapping their efforts to sign their young forwards (Nyquist, Andersson), who will be signed before camp. They didn't think Hudler was worth more than about $3.2 million a year, certainly not $4 million. They held Samuelsson in higher regard than many fans because of his size, right-handed shot and scoring ability. They thought he could be their second-line right wing and man the right point on the power play. Obviously, it didn't work out because of injuries.

Khan continues at extended length...




And in a very different vein, Khan scouted the Wings' new division rival--and perhaps a rival, period, thanks to Daniel Alfredsson's decision to sign with the Wings--in the Ottawa Senators:

Senators' strengths: The reigning Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, Erik Karlsson, was limited to 17 games due to a torn Achilles tendon and their No. 1 goalie, Craig Anderson, missed five weeks with an ankle injury. Still, the Senators were second in the NHL in goals-against average and first in penalty killing. Stay-at-home defenseman Marc Methot had a strong season after being acquired from Columbus. It will be difficult for Anderson to match his league-leading GAA and save percentage, but Ottawa should still rank among the top defensive clubs. Karlsson is an offensive force on the blue line. The Senators are strong up the middle with Jason Spezza, Kyle Turis and Mika Zibanejad, and the acquisition of Bobby Ryan gives them a bona fide sniper on the wing.

Senators' weaknesses: They had trouble scoring, not surprising considering Karlsson, Spezza and Milan Michalek missed a significant portion of the season with injuries. The power play was near the bottom of the league, but that's because Karlsson was out.

Senators outlook: It's like a new era in Ottawa, following the departure of franchise cornerstone Daniel Alfredsson, who signed with the Red Wings. But, the Senators should be just fine as long as their best forward (Spezza), defenseman (Karlsson) and goalie (Andersson) stay healthy. Paul MacLean, the former Red Wings assistant who won the 2013 Jack Adams Award as top coach, has done a good job of maximizing his talent. After squeezing into the playoffs the past two years, the Senators took the top-seeded Rangers to seven games in 2012 and upset the No. 2 seed Canadiens this year. Ottawa is a good bet to make the playoffs again.




In the "former player" category, via Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford, Valtteri Filppula and his friend and teammate Sami Salo spoke to the Tampa Bay Lightning's website's Missy Zielinski about the Olympics, Finland's Olympic orientation camp and adjusting to his new team--as well as his disappointing 2013 season with Detroit:

Filppula looked to be on the upswing as he had his best season to date in 2011-12 with the Detroit Red Wings by contributing 66 points (23 goals, 43 assists) in 81 games, but struggled with a minor injury in last year’s shortened season with Detroit, managing just 17 points (nine goals, eight assists).

“You always want to do better in every aspect of the game,” said Filppula. “Last year I couldn’t produce the points that I wanted to and I hope I can do better next year. That’s going to be a big focus.”

After spending his entire career with the Red Wings, Filppula was obtained by the Lightning as a free agent earlier in July. The ninth-year center will have the added pressure of getting acclimated with a team he’s never played for, but there is one exception – Salo. The two wore the same sweaters during Finland’s 2010 Olympic run.

“I talked to Salo after I signed,” said Filppula. “I played with another Fin for a little bit, but I haven’t really had a chance to play with a Fin for a longer period of time, so that will be exciting too.”

Salo will have plenty of time to work with Filppula and help him fit comfortably into the Lightning locker room and it could serve as an optimal chance to show the national team they’re a good fit in Finland.

“It always helps to have someone on the team that you know from before,” said Filppula. “He’s going to be a big help for me, especially in the beginning.”




Looking back at the 2013 season from a slightly different perspective, the Wings' website noted that NHL.com's Adam Kimelman picked two Wings games as the "best" of the season, including the following game:

May 2 -- Detroit Red Wings 5, Anaheim Ducks 4 (OT) | Highlights

After losing Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Anaheim Ducks, the Detroit Red Wings entered Game 2 desperate to bring the series back to Detroit with a split. They came out firing, with Justin Abdelkader wiring a shot past Jonas Hiller 48 seconds into the game. Damien Brunner added a goal a few minutes later, then Johan Franzen scored 1:04 into the second to make it 3-0 Red Wings. When Franzen scored a power-play goal 20 seconds into the third to make it 4-1, it looked like Detroit would get its wish of a tied series.

But things changed in a hurry, starting with Ryan Getzlaf's goal at 7:20 of the third. Seconds after a Ducks power play ended, Kyle Palmieri found room over Jimmy Howard's glove to make it a one-goal game. Bobby Ryan completed the comeback with 2:22 to go in regulation when he finished a give-and-go with Cam Fowler to tie the game.

The Red Wings were rocked, but the fight was far from over.

A slashing penalty on Sheldon Souray in the final minute of regulation allowed Detroit to start overtime with the man-advantage, and they took scored 1:21 in. Valtteri Filppula made a beautiful play with the puck deep in the Anaheim end, pulling it around a sliding Corey Perry then making a cross-slot pass to Gustav Nyquist, who buried the puck behind Hiller to even the series.

"It's a good life lesson for our crew and good for kids," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We have lots of kids on our team. They're not like veterans. They're just different."




From the Twitter world...

And I still can't believe he did this:


Update: For what it's worth, Yahoo Sports' Sam McCaig believes that Jimmy Howard is the...17th-best...Goalie in the NHL:

17. Jimmy Howard, Detroit: He didn’t get much credit when the Red Wings were stacked, but Howard’s value has become more and more visible as the stars – especially Nicklas Lidstrom – have left Detroit.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


cowboycoffee's avatar

wow, that Sam McCaig list is terrible.

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 07/26/13 at 02:45 PM ET

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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.