The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/03/13 at 11:40 AM ET
Updated 9x at 7:30 PM: Amongst today's Red Wings-related stories:
The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau finally received the go-ahead to publish the New York Rangers' prospect tournament roster, rounding out the eight teams involved, including the Red Wings (and their try-outs), the Blues, Wild, Stars, Sabres, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. The prospect tournament starts on Thursday, September 5th and will end on Monday, September 10th (and Lindenau's posited a superb article highlighting prospects to watch at the tourney).
The Wings' main camp's on-ice portion begins on September 12th, there's an alumni game on the 14th (RedWingsCamps' Twitter account posted a picture of the spiffy one-off jerseys yesterday) and the camp includes two exhibition-game-day practices on the 16th (when the Wings play Chicago) and 17th (when the Wings play the Penguins).
A quartet of the Wings' prospects taking part in the tournament Tweeted travel updates this morning, continuing last night's narrative...
(That's Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Nick Moutrey)...
And the Saginaw Spirit noted that they'll have three representatives in Traverse City:
Spirit players Justin Kea (Buffalo), Eric Locke (Buffalo), Nick Moutrey (Columbus), Cody Payne (Dallas), and Jake Paterson (Detroit) will represent Saginaw at the event, which was a casualty of the NHL lockout a year ago. The tournament will run from September 5th to the 9th.
The Wings now have their prospects fly in to Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City instead of flying into Detroit and then busing up to the rink. It's going to be interesting to find out whether the Wings themselves bus up to TC next Tuesday as they will be taking Red Bird III to the pair of exhibition games on the 16th and 17th.
In the "for the record" department, Michigan Hockey's Shaved Ice column for today includes a photo gallery from Saturday's Whalers-Spitfires charity game, a wallpaper-sized picture of the Wings getting back to work last week and a note from Michael Caples regarding a slate of Bauer hockey's promotional appearances around town:
The hockey brand will be hosting their “Bauer Days” at two Perani’s Hockey World locations and two B&R Sports locations, where they will give players and fans a chance to meet the team behind the Bauer Hockey products.
“We’re excited to be coming to Michigan to celebrate the upcoming hockey season and spend time with our loyal hockey players in the area,” said Tory Mazzola, a Bauer Hockey spokesman. “These events will be fun with giveaways and prizes, and provide parents, players and coaches with a chance to talk to our experts about finding the right size or piece of equipment for their style of play. Michigan is such an incredible hockey market and the people here have such a passion for the game. We’re really looking forward to coming to the area and having some fun at our events.”
The Detroit Red Wings ‘Street Team’ will be joining the Bauer group, as well, to give away apparel, T-shirts, hats and more. Fans will have chances to win Red Wings gear all weekend.
The Bauer team will be at these locations between Sept. 6 and Sept. 8:
- Friday, Sept 6, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. – B&R Sports @ Troy Sports Center
- Saturday, Sept. 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Perani’s Hockey World Livonia
- Saturday, Sept. 7, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. – B&R Sports @ Taylor Sportsplex
- Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Perani’s Hockey World Sterling Heights
Bauer product experts will be on hand to help players find the best fit for their comfort and style of play, all part of the company’s “Fit for Every Player” campaign. Equipment experts will also talk about the latest technologies included in Bauer gear.
This stuff is kind-of-sort-of repetitious, but the following articles offer "new angles": MLive's Brendan Savage noted that Mikael Samuelsson, who the Free Press's Helene St. James profiled this past weekend, and Savage noted that Samuelsson understands that his spot on the roster--at least in terms of regular playing time--is not secure:
Samuelsson has to re-establish himself quickly if he wants ice time.
"I feel so," said Samuelsson, 36. "You look at our situation here and we have a lot of good forwards. I have to be good. I have to play the way I can right from the get go. No question about it, we're fighting for jobs. I'm here for a reason. Because I want it."
Samuelsson, who is entering his 13th NHL season, appeared in four regular-season games and five playoff contests last season because of a variety of ailments that included a groin strain, fractured finger and bruised pectoral muscle.
It was the latter that lingered into the offseason and prevented the Red Wings from exercising one of their compliance buyouts on Samuelsson had they determined he was a candidate for that option.
Now, Samuelsson is finally feeling good entering the final year of a two-year contract that will pay him $3 million this season.
"It's all behind me now," said Samuelsson, who is in his second stint with the Red Wings after signing as a free agent last summer. "I feel good about this year. It was a frustrating year (last season). I'm 100 percent. I feel good. I still believe in myself. I feel like I can play some good hockey. I did more and more all summer and I'll be doing everything for the next four weeks or so."
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff also spoke with Samuelsson...
His 2012-13 totals – one assist in four regular-season games and one goal and one assists in five playoff contests.
“It was a frustrating year,” Samuelsson said frankly after skating with some of his teammates at Joe Louis Arena. “It’s behind me now. I feel good about this year. I’m 100 per cent.”
Regardless, Samuelsson is aware that the Wings own an abundance of talent at forward and he’s been put into a position where he’ll be required to prove that he’s all the way back physically and can contribute positively to Detroit’s cause.
“I feel so,” Samuelsson admitted. “You look at our situation here and we have a lot of good forwards. I have to be good. I have to play the way I can right from the get go. No question about it, we’re fighting for jobs. I’m here for a reason, because I want it. I feel good. I still believe in myself. I feel like I can still play some good hockey.”
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reiterated Darren Helm's back-injury-recovery talking points:
“Like I said last year, I try not to think about (when I’ll be back),” Helm said Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. “When I get better, I get better. I’m not putting time lines on it. I’m not focused if I have a bad day or a good day. I’m just going straight forward.”
Helm was with nine other teammates and a handful of other NHLers and minor leaguers taking part in an informal skate prior to the start of training camp.
“I’m not putting a timeline on opening (the) season,” Helm said. “I’m just trying to get better. I did want to get back for last year, but with no real reason of why I had back pain, it made me push harder and harder to work through it. Now, things are going well, I want to keep it at this pace and when I’m ready, I’m ready.”
Helm wouldn’t use the word encouraged to describe how he feels where he’s at in his recovery process just yet.
“I haven’t thought about the word I would use,” Helm said. “I’ll be even happier when I’m playing in a game.”
Helm played just one game last season due to slightly torn disc in his back that never required surgery.
As I was compiling this, the Wings took to the ice for an informal skate at the Joe:
Zetterberg, Andersson and Weiss are new recruits...
Update: As an FYI, NHL.com's ranked Pavel Datsyuk as the 9th-best fantasy hockey center and Stephen Weiss the 35th-best center, and today, Henrik Zetterberg makes their best-left-wingers list in fourth place, with Johan Franzen listed as the 29th-best left-winger.
Update #2: Good stuff from Babcock:
Update #3: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness penned an article about Stephen Weiss...
Stephen Weiss may have already said the one thing that Red Wings fans are going to love to hearing, “I don’t want to be Valtteri Filppula’s replacement, I want to be Stephen Weiss and do what I do.”
Weiss skated for the first time with a number of his teammates Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena in preparation for training camp that opens up next week in Traverse City. “I don’t want to feel like I’m coming in here replacing anyone,” Weiss said. “I’m going to come in and do what I’ve done over my career and take care of my play on the ice. Hopefully that’s good enough.
“It’s going to be great,” Weiss said. “I want to learn as much as I can from those guys. They’ve all played in some big hockey games, won Stanley Cups before. I’ve been around for a while, but haven’t had too much of a taste for playoff hockey. I’m going to follow their lead, go out and do my thing and help out as much as I can. To play with players of that kind of caliber will be a nice change for me for sure.”
Oddly enough, Weiss is in Filppula’s only stale next to captain Henrik Zetterberg.
“Just walking in this morning, seeing the pictures and all the history here is something you don’t have in Florida so right away it hits you,” Weiss said. “Seeing that arena again was something special. I’ve only played here a few times in my career and I’ve enjoyed it, playing in this arena. It’s one of the older arenas in the league, it’s so awesome. To think in a month or so to be suiting up in regular season games will be something special.”
Mike Babcock thinks that Weiss is indeed Filppula's replacement:
“We basically flipped Weiss and Fil,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, who was on hand Tuesday to watch the informal skate. “Fil was a really good player, did everything right every day. With the exception of the one year, got 40 points, one year he got 60 playing on the wing with Zetterberg.
“We’re looking for a guy to generate more in the middle,” Babcock said. “So can Weiss generate 50 points playing in the middle on the second line, I’m going to watch and see. We think he’s going to be a way better player here. Over time the demand is high. We explained the situation to him very clearly. Told him if he wasn’t ultra-competitive he couldn’t come here. If he didn’t bring it every day he couldn’t come here because he was going to hate it if he didn’t. Dislike the coach and dislike playing here. It’s real straight forward. If you don’t do it right, you’re not happy here.”
Update #4: The Free Press's Helene St. James posited a practice entry as well:
Stephen Weiss described his arrival at Joe Louis Arena as a "deer in headlights" situation, that's how overwhelming it was. Weiss went through his first informal skate with the Detroit Red Wings today, joining fellow newcomer Daniel Alfredsson. Both were signed as unrestricted free agents in July, a bigger splash than many anticipated the Wings would make.
Coach Mike Babcock isn't allowed on the ice for these player-run practices, but he watched a group that included most of his regulars. Babcock already has Weiss penned in to be paired with Johan Franzen on the second line, allowing Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to play together on the top line. Whether Alfredsson ends up on the right side of Weiss or Datsyuk will be determined during training camp, which starts next week.
This early, it's more about orientation. Alfredsson, who spent the past 17 seasons with Ottawa, got into town last week, and he and his wife are working on getting their oldest three sons enrolled in schools. Their new house won't be ready until mid-month.
"It's an exciting time of year for everybody, and for me, this year, it's very interesting," Alfredsson said. "This is the third time I'm in this locker room. You come in, and it's different — I don't think it will really sink in until we play our first home game. But it feels great to be here."
Alfredsson and Weiss both spoke of how impressed they are by the Wings' history.
"They've won so many Stanley Cups," Weiss said. "I've been around awhile but haven't had too much of a taste of playoff hockey. I'm going to follow their lead and go out and do my thing and try to help out as much as I can."
Update #5: Pleiness took note of Babcock's comments:
Wings coach Mike Babcock gave an early look as to how the top two lines will look to begin training camp at least.
Babcock said he’ll have Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together, while Stephen Weiss will skate with Johan Franzen.
“That’s all I can tell you,” Babcock said. “I have no idea where (Justin Abdelkader) is playing. Might play with (Darren) Helm, might play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg, or with Weiss. (Daniel) Alfredsson with either Datsyuk or Weiss.”
Update #9: MLive's Ansar Khan offers more notes...
Babcock, on his centers: “My centers look today: (Pavel) Datsyuk, (Stephen) Weiss, (Cory) Emmerton, Helm and (Joakim) Andersson. Riley Sheahan would be the sixth. (Luke) Glendening is a center, too, but we'll play him on the wall.''
That list wasn't completely in order. After Datsyuk and Weiss, Helm will be the third-line center if he's healthy, followed by Andersson and Emmerton.
Sheahan and Glendening will start the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Babcock said of Glendening, “He's a good player. He's going to play here sometime. Our farm team really helped us last year. We feel we're in a good situation.''
If everyone is healthy, the Red Wings will have 25 players – two over the roster limit – and be about $637,000 over the salary cap.
“It'll sort itself out here pretty quick,'' Babcock said. “I think every player on this team is an NHL player. The trimming I have to do or Kenny (general manager Holland) has to do is going to be done by (the players), not by us. We're just going to watch each day."
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke with Alfredsson and Weiss...
Weiss and Alfredsson were joined at Tuesday’s practice by 15 new teammates: forwards Bertuzzi, Samuelsson, Justin Abdelkader, Joakim Andersson, Patrick Eaves, Cory Emmerton, Johan Franzen, Drew Miller, Henrik Zetterberg; defensemen Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall; and goalies Jonas Gustavsson and Jimmy Howard.
“To be honest this is one of the teams every player in the league would want to come and play for at some point in their career,” Weiss said. “Playing juniors here for three years, getting to come to some Wings games as a 16-year-old was pretty awesome, and watching some of the guys that are on the team here; just the tradition of winning here. I’ve had a chance to play with some guys that have played here before and just getting the feedback from them made it a pretty easy decision for me.”
Familiarity with the players and the team’s system and their commitment to excellence were also deciding factors for Alfredsson, who left behind a comfort zone, which he had established during a 17-season career in Ottawa.
“I’ve been in one spot for a long time,” said Alfredsson, who played in over 1,100 games with the Senators. “It’s exciting for me to come to a new organization, a new team, and try something else. I knew some of the guys from before, obviously, the Swedish guys, playing with them on national teams. I knew Patrick Eaves, Bertuzzi I would run into quite a few times. It’s amazing, a hockey locker room is pretty much the same anywhere in the world and you feel welcome right away, so that’s a good feeling for me.”
While Alfredsson and Weiss use the coming days and weeks to build bonds with their new teammates, coach Mike Babcock plans to use the time and the subsequence exhibition games to determine where the new players will best fit in the team’s plans.
Basically, Weiss will fill the role as No. 2 center created by the loss of Valtteri Filppula, who moved on to Tampa Bay during the offseason. It’s expected that Weiss will center a line with Franzen, while Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg are expected to begin the season together on the top line. Alfredsson will play right wing on one of the top two lines, and Abdelkader may fill a role on the first or second lines, or could play on the third line with a healthy Darren Helm.
“Weiss will play with Franzen. Zetterberg and Datsyuk together. That's all I can tell you,” Babcock said. “No idea where Abby is playing. Might play with Helm, might play with Datsyuk-Zetterberg or with Weiss.”
And the Detroit News's David Guralnick posited a 26-image photo gallery from today's practice.
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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.