The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/01/13 at 11:48 AM ET
Updated 2x at 3:47 PM: NHL.com's "30 in 30" series began today with a set of state-of-the-team articles about the Anaheim Ducks, and Pro Hockey Talk's kicking off a similar survey of the league's teams with "Detroit Red Wings Day on PHT." Ryan Dadoun begins a state-of-the-Wings articles by discussing the team's off-season moves...
Detroit tends to be conservative in the free agent market, but they did take a chance by signing forward Stephen Weiss to a five-year, $24.5 million contract despite the fact a wrist injury limited him to just 17 games last season.
The Wings also managed to surprise the hockey world by luring longtime Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to their side.
Forwards Damien Brunner, Danny Cleary, and Valtteri Filppula were all allowed to walk as unrestricted free agents, although the first two still haven’t found new homes yet.
Most importantly though, the Detroit Red Wings inked Pavel Datsyuk to a three-year, $22.5 million extension this summer, thus ending the rumors that he would head to Russia after his contract expired in 2013-14.
Oh and they also drafted Anthony Mantha in the first round. He’s just 18, so he has never known a time when his new organization has failed to make the playoffs. For that matter, he’s also almost as old as Alfredsson’s NHL career.
And Jason Brough offers a slate of players listed as "under the microscope":
Stephen Weiss. While it was the Daniel Alfredsson (more on him later) signing that got the most media attention, it was Weiss who got the largest financial commitment — $24.5 million over five years. The 30-year-old center comes to Detroit from the Florida Panthers, the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2001, with much to prove. Weiss played just 17 games in 2013, scoring only once with three assists. (A wrist injury that required surgery caused him to miss 26 games.) Ideally, his addition will allow coach Mike Babcock to play superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together, with Weiss holding down the No. 2 center spot.
Daniel Alfredsson: The former Ottawa captain will be 41 once the playoffs start, but there’s reason to believe he can still be a very effective player, even at his age. Alfredsson had 26 points in 47 games in 2013, and that was on an injury-ravaged Senators side with multiple offensive stars out of the lineup. Alfie led the Sens in postseason scoring, with 10 points in 10 games. For obvious reasons, fans in Ottawa will be watching him closely this season as well. When asked why he chose Detroit, he said the Wings gave him a better chance to win a Stanley Cup. “This is purely a situation to me where this is about me,” he said. “This is the decision I make for myself, not for anybody else. It’s all about trying to get the Stanley Cup.”
Danny DeKeyser: The 23-year-old college free agent has earned high praise since joining the Wings in March. He may not ever put up big offensive numbers, but his size, decision-making and ability to move the puck out of his end make his progression as an NHL defenseman vitally important. “He really has done a good job for us,” Babcock said in April. “We liked him all along when we were recruiting him. We had no idea that when he came to the National Hockey League he’d be able to do the things he’s done for us. Basically, it’s allowed us to move the puck better, to get back and get pucks. If you improve your D zone play, it improves your offense and makes you a much quicker team. Obviously, we had deep growth amongst the group we had already and we added him, it made us all that much better.”
Jonathan Ericsson: Mostly under the microscope because he’s in the last year of his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Only Niklas Kronwall averaged more ice time than Ericsson in 2013. The big 29-year-old led all Wings d-men in hits and shorthanded ice time. However, given the crop of young defensmen like DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff, and Brendan Smith that will be fighting for more and more minutes — and with Kronwall locked up long-term — it’s not totally clear how Ericsson fits into the Wings’ future plans.
Darren Helm: Mostly under the microscope because of the mysterious back injury he suffered through last season that limited him to just one game. The 26-year-old speedster sounded cautiously optimistic after skating recently at Red Wings development camp. “I’m encouraged, for sure,” he said. “I see this moving in the right direction, especially in the last few days.” Babcock is a huge fan of Helm, going so far as to call him “a top-four forward” on his team.
Detroit Red Wings
Points last season: 56
Key additions: Daniel Alfredsson, Stephen Weiss
Key losses: Valtteri Filppula, Carlo Colaiacovo, Damien Brunner (likely), Dan Cleary (possibly)
Trending: Up -- The Red Wings had to fight just to make the playoffs last season, but once they got in, they made the most of it. The mix of veteran stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg along with growing young players like Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Danny DeKeyser and Joakim Andersson helped Detroit exceed postseason expectations in upsetting the Ducks in the first round and pushing the Blackhawks in the second round. After striking out in free agency last summer, GM Ken Holland connected in a big way this year with the additions of Alfredsson and Weiss. Weiss can settle into a role as Detroit's No. 2 center, which he's perfectly suited for and is an upgrade over Filppula. Alfredsson gives the Red Wings the veteran star yearning for a Stanley Cup that Holland loves to have around. Moving a body to get Cleary signed would be the next smart move for Holland.
Can we go with "moving a body to get Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist re-signed" instead?
The Leafs have been trying to move D John-Michael Liles with no success. There has been speculation he may be bought out during the window in the new collective bargaining agreement that starts Friday and closes Monday.
I have no idea whether a certain Mikael Samuelsson could be bought out, but it's entirely possible that the Wings may use their second cap compliance buy-out to carve out some cap space this weekend.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Kelowna Daily Courier's Dave Cunning spoke with Wings 4th round pick David Pope, who played for the British Columbia Hockey League's West Kelowna Warriors this past season. It turns out that the lanky sniper's a Red Wings fan:
"I was extremely excited," Pope recounted. "Playing in the NHL has always been a dream of mine since I first started playing, and being drafted is a step towards that. Detroit's been my favourite team since I can remember, so to have them pick me was a bonus. I was extremely happy."
Getting to actually suit up for Detroit is far from a sure thing, and still likely to be a ways off--Pope still has his final season of BCHL eligibility to play with the Warriors, plus an NCAA scholarship to the University of Nebraska Omaha to make good on. His upcoming years of development will be telling, as Detroit has until 2018 to decide whether it wants to ink him to a contract or not.
The first step in proving he belongs in the franchise's fold took place in the Red Wings' five-day development camp in Traverse City, Mich., which ran July 10th to 15th.
"It was a really good experience," said Pope. "I was lined up against some pretty good players from their farm team and some other junior players. It was good to get on the ice with them and see where I'm at. To be honest, I felt like I fit right in as far as the skill level and handling the puck. Thinking the game at high speed is a strength of my game, and I've got pretty good hockey sense. The speed of the game at camp was faster and the guys were a lot bigger and stronger - that's something I noticed right away that I'm really going to have to work on to make that next step."
The development camp also afforded Pope and other attendees the opportunity to learn from Red Wings greats Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, and Tomas Holmstrom; as well as current roster player Darren Helm, who was at camp rehabbing a back injury from last season.
"We were doing a lot of screening and tipping drills with Holmstrom," Pope recalled. "He made a living off of doing that. I learned quite a bit just from 15 minutes of doing drills with them."
In the charitable news department, the Canton Observer reminds us that Ted Lindsay's "Hockeyfest" will take place at the Kroger in Canton, MI this weekend:
Customers attending Hockey Fest at Kroger’s Canton store on Saturday, Aug. 3, can meet hockey legend Ted Lindsay and other Detroit Red Wing alumni, and support autism research and local treatment programs.
Hockey Fest will feature the Hockey Hall of Fame Legends of Hockey exhibit as well as interactive games, including a mini hockey rink, foam puck shooting range and a fast shot radar cage.
Admission is free to Hockey Fest attendees and the event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Canton Kroger store parking lot. Ted Lindsay will be present between noon and 2 p.m. to meet fans and sign autographs. The Canton Kroger is located at 1905 Canton Center Road.
As part of the event, Kroger, The Ted Lindsay Foundation, Today’s 105.1 and WDIV/Local 4 ClickOnDetroit have gathered prizes that customers have a chance to win, including two pair of tickets for 2013-14 Detroit Red Wings regular season game tickets, restaurant gift cards, theater tickets and more.
Guests will have the opportunity to meet other former Detroit Red Wings players and can purchase a family meal deal, with all proceeds from food and raffle sales benefiting The Ted Lindsay Foundation.
“The Ted Lindsay Foundation has played a significant role in raising money to fund groundbreaking research in the quest to find a cure for autism,” said Jayne Homco, president of The Kroger Co. of Michigan. “We invite customers to join us for the fun and excitement of Hockey Fest while supporting the Foundation.”
Customers can help Kroger support the Ted Lindsay Foundation by making coin box donations as well as purchasing a $1 scan card located at Kroger registers now through August 31. All proceeds will benefit the Ted Lindsay Foundation.
“Autism has reached almost epidemic proportions in our country,” Lindsay said. “Because of the commitment of community partners like Kroger, we are able to reach large audiences to help spread awareness of autism and to fund research to discover more about its causes and treatment.”
If we are to believe what we read, the Detroit News's Terry Foster suggests that the Detroit sports scene will resurrect the old "Detroit is the City of Champions" theme...
In 1935, Detroit was rocked by the Great Depression. People were out of work. People begged for food on the streets. And the auto industry was in decline.
Fast forward 78 years, and the same things are happening, although not to the extent of the Great Depression.
Back then, sports saved Detroit. And it could happen again.
■ While the Tigers are facing the harsh reality they could be without Peralta for 50 games for his involvement with the Biogenesis drig investigation, general manager Dave Dombrowski pulled off a three-team trade that brought shortstop Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox. And this was a day after Dombrowski added reliever Jose Veras from the Astros.
■ The same day Dombrowski was working his magic, Pistons president Joe Dumars sealed up a sign-and-trade for Bucks guard Brandon Jennings. Dumars gave up Brandon Knight and bench players Khris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravtsov. It was a steal for Dumars.
■ The Lions are making news by, well, not making news. When was the last arrest? When was the last time coach Jim Schwartz stood at the podium and said he won’t tolerate any more silly behavior? The talk this year has been of the “team.” “This team is a playoff team, no question about it,” linebacker Stephen Tulloch said.
■ The Red Wings powered up for another Stanley Cup run after falling short last season (lost in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals to the eventual champion Blackhawks). General manager Ken Holland filled a need for a second-line center, signing Stephen Weiss. And even more impressive, snagged longtime Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.
In a similarly blustery department, MLive's Brendan Savage duly noted that Yahoo Sports' Sam McCaig believes that Jimmy Howard's the 17th-best goalie in the NHL, but Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski believes that Howard's the seventh-best starter;
What's "normal" depends on where you live and what you grew up learning to eat as "normal" food...
This qualifies as "super skinny" by my standards...
I think this is spiffy:
And DRW Prospects provides us with some player-location-related news:
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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.