The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/18/13 at 12:42 PM ET
I've kind of sat on this story because Red Wings GM Ken Holland has made it abundantly clear that the NHL's general managers have gone into "summer vacation" mode, and that the problem won't resolve itself (surprise!) until training camp...
But the Red Wings are going to exceed the salary cap--and they can spend as much as 10% over the $64.3 million "upper limit" to retain the services of RFA's Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson--and are going to end up with sixteen or seventeen signed forwards (depending on what happens with clearing a spot off the 50-man roster and whether that yields bringing back Daniel Cleary) by the time training camp starts, and given that the team will need to both get into "cap compliance" and whittle their roster down to 23 men (likley 7 defensemen, 2 goalies and 14 forwards) by the last day of the exhibition season.
Based upon the Wings' trade history, given the team's desire to "stack the roster" as muchas possible going into an NHL season where injuries are inevitable, given the uncertainty regarding Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi's respective recoveries from back issues given the fact that the team ran into a frickin' wall when attempting to move its surplus of forwards around the draft, and given that Mikael Samuelsson's apparently still recovering from a pectoral muscle injury that very conveniently prevented him from being bought out...
I don't think that the, "Who are the Wings going to trade?" question yields a particularly complicated answer. If the Wings end up going into training camp with 16 forwards, I think that it's all but inevitable that the team will find a way to move Samuelsson, even if the team has to eat a million bucks of his $3 million contract (teams can now retain salary during trades to facilitate movement) to make it happen.
If Helm continues improving, I have no doubt that Cory Emmerton will be moved as he becomes redundant, and as his $533K cap hit makes a serviceable 4th-line center easy to move;
I would also imagine that one or both of Jordin Tootoo (2 years remaining at a cap hit of $1.9 million) and/or Patrick Eaves (1 year at $1.2 million; I love Eaves' play and I think he's a person of impeccable character, and he's fast, fast, fast, but Drew Miller's more consistent and a little more versatile), and as far as I'm concerned, that'll be that.
Given the Wings' trade history, and given the fact that Holland and, to some extent, Babcock have stated that they're comfortable with one more regular season's worth of finding out what Jakub Kindl, Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey and Brian Lashoff can do behind Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson--before taking the path of least cap resistance in addressing any shortcomings via a trade deadline acquisition--I don't expect the Wings to make any "major" moves, and as far as I'm concerned, expecting anything more than depth moves plain old sets up fans for disappointment.
That, and I don't believe the fan-led suggestions that, somehow, the team is dissatisfied with Tomas Tatar's admitted impatience in terms of having to spend two "extra" seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins before a) capturing the Jack A. Butterfield trophy as the AHL Playoffs' MVP and b) being told by the Wings that he's going to be on their roster this upcoming season.
The Wings like Tatar more than you'd think, and given both the high probability of Cleary's departure and the team's desire to replace Jiri Hudler's grit and jam down low with a better-skating and harder-competing player in Tatar, I fully believe that Tatar will begin and end the 2013-2014 season as a Red Wing.
But, "Who will the Wings really trade" talk persists, and the Edmonton Journal's Jonathan Willis pondered whether the Wings could be pursuaded to trade a Tatar or Justin Abdelkader to, oh, I don't know, let's say the Oilers (the Cult of Hockey is a wonderful blog and their writers are excellent, but the sheer numbers of, "Hey, so and so might be available, how could he fit in Edmonton?" articles make me grind my teeth)--and he oddly suggests that every forward not named Datsyuk, Zetterberg , Franzen, Helm, Alfredsson and Weiss are probably "on the market," which just isn't true:
Aging warhorses Mikael Samuelsson ($3.0 million cap hit) and Todd Bertuzzi ($2.1 million cap hit) have both struggled with injury, but are also both expected to be ready for training camp. Neither player would be likely to command much in trade, and the situation is complicated by Samuelsson’s no-trade clause and Bertuzzi’s partial no-trade clause.
The Wings don't expect to receive anything in return for Samuelsson other than cap relief, and I can tell you for a fact that Bertuzzi's influence upon the younger players in a leadership role while injured = big brownie points.
On the other end of the spectrum are Detroit’s up-and-comers. Tomas Tatar is in the final year of his entry level contract while both Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson are restricted free agents after finishing their first deals. All three split last season between the NHL and AHL, and all are ready for full-time NHL duty. Nyquist is the team’s top prospect, Tatar was the playoff MVP on the Calder Cup champions, and the 6’2” Andersson played 38 games for Detroit last season.
No. Just not.
The Red Wings other depth forwards are also worth considering. Jordin Tootoo, who has a $1.9 million cap hit for the next two seasons, averaged only nine minutes per game and the team is believed to be very interested in moving him. Justin Abdelkader has three seasons at $1.8 million left, but the 25-year old plays critical minutes and it would be a surprise if Detroit had any interest in moving him. Drew Miller just signed a three-year extension with the team. 24-year old Cory Emmerton has a cap hit below $550,000 next season and given the Red Wings’ cap situation they may prefer to keep a dirt-cheap fourth line/reserve type around. Patrick Eaves is versatile and has a modest cap hit ($1.2 million); he’s expendable enough to be moved but useful enough for other teams to be interested.
It would be a HUGE surprise if the Wings even frivolously entertained the concept of moving Abdelkader, Tootoo or Miller.
For teams interested in poaching, it makes sense that Samuelsson, Bertuzzi and Tootoo would all probably be available at virtually no cost, given their contract status. Eaves likely wouldn’t cost a ton, either.
The real question is whether a competing team could talk the Red Wings out of Abdelkader, Andersson, Nyquist or Tatar. All four are NHL-ready, and any of them would be valuable – and worth paying for. Nyquist and Tatar should be attractive to teams in need of skilled players on low-dollar deals; Abdelkader and Andersson are both big, young bottom-six forwards with a range of skills. Any of the four would be a welcome addition for many clubs; either Abdelkader or Andersson would be great fits in Edmonton.
Again, no. Andersson in particular became so invaluable as a two-way presence during the playoffs--he shut down opposing teams' forwards, he won faceoffs on a very consistent basis, and his surprising playmaking ability allowed Gustav Nyquist and now-former Wing Damien Brunner deke, dangle and dazzle while knowing that they had someone to bail them out defensively.
As for Abdelkader, when I spoke with Tomas Holmstrom about the player who will likely be his first NHL-level pupil if and when Holmstrom brings his consulting skills to the Wings' present roster, he laughed off the, "I think Pavel picked Abdelkader to replace you and started calling him 'Homer'" suggestions, but he was just delighted that someone took up his role, even if it was as a learning-on-the-fly situation. You don't move a player who learned how to score goals regularly by enthuasistically going to the front of the net and staying there, taking abuse and trying his best to screen opposing goalies.
If--and this is a BIG IF--the Wings still feel that their in-progress blueline needs bolstering in the form of a top-three defenseman during the course of the regular season leading up to the trade deadline, I could see the team moving a couple of mid-level prospects and a player from their NHL roster, but the general rule in terms of trading for defensemen is that a team will end up sending a defenseman the other way, so take that for what you will.
Long story long, I don't believe that the Wings "canbe enticed to move" or "be talked out of" sending Abdelkader, Tatar, Andersson, Nyquist or even Miller anywhere, period, especially given the Wings' desire to add a top-four defensman closer to the trade deadline--if the current configuration of "kids" doesn't perform up to expectations...
And again, those deals are more realistically NHL defenseman in return + prospect or two + draft pick-type moves, and they will depend upon actual games being played, players' performances and contract scuttlebutt regarding summer-of-2014 unrestricted free agents-to-be, so playing these kinds of, "Will the Wings move an IMPORTANT PLAYER?" rhetorical games in the middle of summer are wastes of time as far as I'm concerned.
In other news, regarding the Wings' summer development camp's participants, MLive's Brendan Savage penned a profile of someone who is just displaying the kind of form necessary to land a pro deal--after spending an entire season on the IR--in one Dean Chelios...
Chelios missed all of last season at MSU with a torn left labrum and although he has been skating for a couple of months, last Friday's Development Camp scrimmage marked the first time he had tested his shoulder under game conditions.
Chelios, the son of Red Wings' adviser to hockey operations and Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, couldn't be happier with the way things went.
"I haven't played a competitive game since last spring," said Chelios, who turned 24 Sunday. "The game we played a couple of nights ago was the first time I had action and it felt really good. It was nice to play with that competition and competitiveness. We took (the shoulder rehabilitation) really slow because we knew I was going to medical red shirt. Everything healed up well and I've been cleared and good to go for three months now. I've been on the ice before skating with the guys but I haven't been doing anything hitting-wise."
Chelios was taking part in the Development Camp for the fourth time in five years. It was shortly after last year's camp that he hurt his shoulder in a freak accident, when one of his teammates lifted his stick off the ice in practice. That postponed Chelios' hope of having a big senior season after he scored eight goals in each of his previous two years while bagging a career-high 15 points as a junior.
"I had to watch my team play every single game last year," said the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Chelios. "It was weird. It was almost like I was a fan or something. I was totally excited (after being cleared to play). I've got the fire back and I'm totally ready to go."
Bertuzzi, an 18 year old who stands 6 feet tall and weighs in at 176 lbs, plays much bigger than his size. In the Red Wings annual prospect scrimmage, he was not afraid to go out and throw some hits and play his style of hockey. Despite taking a big hit from fellow prospect Martin Frk, there is much to be said for Bertuzzi’s tenacity to come out and play “his game” at his first Detroit Red Wings Prospect Camp.
When asked about this abrasive style, Bertuzzi said that he embraced it. Bertuzzi remarks, “That’s my game, grinding it out, hitting, playing tough. It’s working out for me. Now I just need to work on my skill side”
Is Bertuzzi all grit and no skill?
Absolutely not. Bertuzzi showed great skating potential and a good sense for keeping the puck on his stick during his on-ice workouts, and demonstrated more finesse around the net during drills than he is given credit for in many prospect reports.
Bertuzzi is quite speedy as well, and has noted that his skating is an area he would like to work on more going forward. In talking about his skating, he said, “Those first three strides are the most powerful, and I want to get that power into my legs and get in some good cardio getting ready for camp.”
Red Wings fans should be excited about the development of Tyler Bertuzzi. If he continues to work hard on his skating speed and focusing his energy into big, clean, responsible hits, Bertuzzi has the potential to play in a checking role and likely see time on the penalty kill. A comparison to a bigger hitting Drew Miller would not be unreasonable.
As I said, it turned out that despite being quite "wiry," Bertuzzi skated quite well and had both a really "underrated" shot and some solid playmaking skills. His problems involved first being preoccupied with looking for a fight and then being preoccupied with looking over his shoulder, and between cases of, "Holy crap I'm at an NHL team's development camp it's so overwhelming!" jitters and the fact that he came off as someone whose maturity is a huge work in progress, his skill was incredibly inconsistently applied.
He could very well become a meaner Miller, but he's got a ways to go.
And Ishpeng, MI's ABC 10's Jerry Taylor penned both a story about and posited a video regarding incoming Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender and Northern Michigan University alum Jared Coreau:
Coreau didn’t leave Traverse City without first talking about his now ‘glory days’ at NMU.
The 6’4” puck stopper credits his former coach for where he is today.
“In terms of stopping the puck, I developed up there (at NMU). The head coach, Walt Kyle, is big on turning (his players) from a boy to a man, so I think my maturity level coming in coming into this camp and this season has definitely grown since I started at NMU,” said Coreau.
When Coreau decided to leave Northern to pursue his NHL dream, Detroit was one of seven NHL teams interested in his services. After living in the Upper Peninsula the last three years, Coreau knows first hand that the entire state of Michigan is crazy about the Red Wings.
“Up in the U.P. it’s Wing nation,” said Coreau. “I got to see a lot of die hard Wildcat fans, but they are also die hard Red Wing fans, so its good to see,” added Coreau.
And finally, in the alumni department, per the Toledo Blade, a certain Red Wings executive took part in the "Fathead Celebrity Pro-Am" at the LPGA's Marathon Classic in Toledo:
Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios and Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola were part of the Fathead Celebrity Pro-Am on Wednesday.
Chelios, who recently earned entry into the NHL hall of fame, was paired with pro Paige MacKenzie.
Raiola, who has played for the Lions since 2001, and Chelios played with Fathead chief executive officer Pat McInnis.
Chelios, a veteran of 1,651 games, played for the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers, and the Red Wings. He was elected to the hall of fame on July 9 in his first year of eligibility.
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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.