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The Malik Report

Red Wings mid-day news: World Championship participants and Wings roster predictions

The Red Wings will take their team picture and hold their final formal media availabilities at Joe Louis Arena today at noon, but ahead of the affair...

1. Aftonbladet's Tomas Ros and Erik Karlsson report that Gustav Nyquist is at least strongly considering playing for Sweden at the World Championships, per Team Sweden coach Par Marts.

2. Tomas Tatar's already told the Slovakian media that he'll represent his country in Minsk, Belarus starting on May 9th, and Tomas Jurco told Pravda.sk that he's a little disappointed that he's going to have to stick with the Grand Rapids Griffins instead of playing for the Slovakian team;

3. Regarding said Griffns, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that the Griffins expect Van Andel Arena to be full--or nearly so--as the Griffins attempt to sweep the Abbotsford Heat from the teams' best-of-three first-round series tomorrow night:

Griffins team officials said early Tuesday presale tickets for the 7 p.m. game have surpassed 5,400 at the 10,834-seat Van Andel Arena. That is the most since 7,144 for the IHL home opener in 2001 against the Cleveland Lumberjacks.

With a win, the Griffins would sweep the series. Games four and five would be at Van Andel on Friday and Saturday, as necessary.

It continues a pattern of strong attendance in Grand Rapids. During the regular season, the Griffins averaged 8,220 a game, second in the 30-team AHL behind Hershey (9.964) and the most for the franchise since 8,819 in 1999-2000, The Griffins had capacity crowds in four of their last six regular-season games.

The overall attendance figure also benefited from the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park on Dec. 30. The Griffins were credited with the home attendance of 20,397 for the outdoor game against Toronto.

The Griffins have had attendance increase four consecutive seasons and seven of the past eight.

4. Back in Metro Detroit, the Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with WDET 101.9 FM in a 4-minute interview this morning, and MLive's Ansar Khan made some intriguing predictions in a "Q and A." Among them:

Q. Will the Red Wings use the last of their two amnesty buyouts on Johan Franzen?

A. No. Goals are hard to come by and Franzen, when healthy, should score 25. That production would be impossible to replace for his $3.95 million salary-cap hit. They just have to accept that he’s incredibly streaky, disappearing for long stretches, and isn’t the playoff force he was from 2008-10, and take the bad with the good.

If the Red Wings wanted to get rid of them, it would be better to trade him, getting something in return and not pay him to go away. He has six years remaining at a total cost of $17.5 million in his back-diving contract. That should be palatable for some teams. But he’ll likely remain in Detroit for at least another season.

...

Q. Will Kyle Quincey be re-signed?

A. Probably not, though it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Quincey improved significantly the second half of the season and the Red Wings would like to re-sign him at the right price (probably less than his current $4 million). But free-agent defensemen are at a premium and Quincey likely would get a better offer on the market.

...

Q. Who will be their backup goaltender?

A. They would like to re-sign Jonas Gustavsson. He was a solid backup to Jimmy Howard, going 16-5-4, with a 2.63 goals-against average. The problem is he is too injury-prone. Other free-agent options include Brian Elliott (St. Louis), Jaroslav Halak (Washington) and Jonas Hiller (Anaheim), but they’ll be seeking starting jobs. Backup possibilities include Al Montoya (Winnipeg), Chad Johnson (Boston) and Carter Hutton (Nashville). It’s a deep pool of goalies, but some likely will re-sign with their teams.

The Red Wings plan to keep Petr Mrazek in Grand Rapids for another season, preferring he plays extensively in the AHL rather than sporadically in the NHL.

5. The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo also had this to say about the Wings' goaltending situation...

There will be some angst about whether Gustavsson will re-sign as a free agent, but the bigger issue is how willing the Red Wings are to let Petr Mrazek push Howard next season. He had a 55-save performance the other night in a playoff game for Grand Rapids, and did lead Griffins to the Calder Cup last season.

It wasn't like Mrazek was overmatched with the Red Wings. In brief stints the last couple seasons, covering 11 games, his save percentage is .926 and he's pitched a couple shutouts.

So he's only 22? So what?

The Red Wings open up the goalie spot in training camp next season. They forget the ridiculous notion of getting Mrazek "overly ripe." They should have learned their lesson on the Gustav Nyquist fiasco early this season.

And let the goalie play. Period.

6. And finally, the Free Press's sports staff reports that one and only one Red Wing made Sports Illustrated's list of best players by number from 00 to 99. Not surprisingly, Sergei Fedorov's that player:

NO. 91: SERGEI FEDOROV

Finally, a non-Lion. And though Fedorov might not be the most beloved Red Wing for various reasons, despite those three Stanley Cups, can you think of a better 91?

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Comments

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I believe if I was Kenny, I would let Jurco go and play for his country.  He is young and there may be a good possibility of him remaining with the parent club next year.  GR has a full roster and if say a Mantha becomes available, the healthy scratches list will be long. GR has a good team and have a good shot of retaining the cup without Jurco.

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 04/29/14 at 11:58 AM ET

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Commenting on goaltending, I like the situation of Howard being pushed.  Bring Mrasek to the parent club and let him push Jimmy for the #1 job.  Jimmy seems to have caught the injury bug this year from Gustavsson, . Gustavsson cannot be signed again, who wants a goalie that is only healthy for 20 games and plays 10 even though he outplayed Howard.  Mrasek will push the best out of Howard or push him off the team.  Evolution on the Wings.

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 04/29/14 at 12:04 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Mrazek should be backing Howard next season with an intention to give him at least 25 starts, more if Howard gets hurt. He’s already an NHL quality goaltender.

Also, good on the Griffs for their attendance numbers. The AHL has such a goofy attendance differential between teams, and price per seat difference as well. Some teams play in arenas that hold 9k with $10 seats and others in arenas that seat 20k and $60 tickets. It’s a strange league.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 04/29/14 at 12:05 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Some teams play in arenas that hold 9k with $10 seats and others in arenas that seat 20k and $60 tickets. It’s a strange league.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 04/29/14 at 01:05 PM ET

IIRC Adirondack holds 5,000 or under capacity.  *looks*

Yes 4,806.

Compare to Giant Center (10,5000 in Hershey), Van Andel, etc…


It’s an even bigger discrepancy in the ECHL.  Fort Wayne’s Coliseum holds 13,000.  (for comparison’s sake, Winnipegs’ MTS Centre holds only 15,000).  Cincinnati plays in US Bank Arena that holds 14,453 (though they usually keep the upper deck closed).  And then, Elmira’s home ice (First Arena) holds a max capacity of only 3,784.

Minor pro hockey is a tough, tough business.

Posted by Primis on 04/29/14 at 12:19 PM ET

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That production would be impossible to replace for his $3.95 million salary-cap hit.

Gustav Nyquist 28 goals $950k cap hit
Tomas Tatar 19 goals $840k cap hit

Just saying.

Posted by Garth on 04/29/14 at 12:49 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

The Red Wings open up the goalie spot in training camp next season. They forget the ridiculous notion of getting Mrazek “overly ripe.” They should have learned their lesson on the Gustav Nyquist fiasco early this season.

And let the goalie play. Period.

That last sentence is a summary of the whole problem though.  If Mrazek plays in Detroit, he won’t get to play more than 35% of the games. 

I’m all for getting Gus to back up Howard one more year, then bringing Mrazek up in ‘15/16.  I’d hate to see Mrazek waste away on the bench next season by not getting many starts.  He isn’t going to push Howard out of the starting position in 2014/15 anyways.

Posted by TreKronor on 04/29/14 at 01:25 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Jimmy just finished the first year of a six year deal.  No matter what when Mrazek comes up he’s backing up jimmy.  That’s no excuse to not give him a chance that he is CLEARLY earned.  Might as well give him what’s his.. His piece of the cheese as Babs would say.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 04/29/14 at 01:53 PM ET

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GR has a good team and have a good shot of retaining the cup without Jurco.

If I’m Ken Holland or anyone in the organization, I would much rather have Jurco get playoff experience potentially ending in a championship instead of sending him over to play in the world championships.  He may be a little disappointed now, but when you compare the end result of possibly lifting the Calder Cup or skating off the ice with your head hanging low after the WC quarter finals, I think it’s an easy choice.

Posted by Garth on 04/29/14 at 02:26 PM ET

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Mrazek has nothing left to prove. Great OHL goalie, World Junior goaltender of the tournament in 2012, great rookie season in the AHL, AHL championship, even better second season in the AHL and maybe even another championship coming. And, okay, small sample, but he has looked great in the few NHL games he’s played, with excellent statistics.

I don’t get why people think he would be better served playing another year in the AHL. I’m almost certain he’s already a better goalie that Gustavsson. There’s a good chance he’s already better than any other backup that the Red Wings would realistically be targeting. Sixty games at a level he’s already dominated for 2 years isn’t going to help him improve more than 25 games at a higher level. He is not going to be “rotting on the bench” as an NHL backup if he’s an NHL-quality player. That’s really not how things work.

And contract-management-wise, he’s not a slide risk any more. He’s got two years left until he’s an RFA and the Red Wings have to decide what to do with him, whether he plays those years in the AHL or the NHL. If he looks ready now, why wouldn’t you want him in the NHL? You get an extra year of NHL play to evaluate his long-term potential, so you can make a more informed decision in 2016 about what his long-term role should be, and how much you should commit.

The only problem with promoting Mrazek is that it theoretically makes one of Jared Coreau (terrible in the ECHL last year) or Jake Paterson (no pro experience) your No. 3, or Tom McCollum if the Red Wings decide to sign him again after letting him go last year (he’s on an AHL-only contract and not Red Wing property). None of those options are appetizing, so the Wings are going to need to sign somebody, if only for system depth (hello again, Joey MacDonald?).

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 04/29/14 at 02:45 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Don’t forget sven he started last year in echl and made his NHL debut same year and despite losses he gave the team every chance to win.  And don’t let coreaus echl numbers fool you.  Crap coach with a crap run team in a no D league.  Ahl is much better litmus

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 04/29/14 at 04:21 PM ET

Jaromir Blogger's avatar

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 04/29/14 at 03:45 PM ET

I couldn’t agree more. He’s obviously ready for the NHL, and I think he’s ready to give Howard a legitimate run for starts and possibly even, as Babcock would say, his job. What more does the guy have to do? I honestly don’t see any point in bringing back Gustavsson (as well as he may have performed) or signing any other UFA. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that Gustavsson likely will be able to get a good two- or three-year deal with some other team - term which would be an enormous mistake for the Wings, given Mrazek.

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 04/30/14 at 01:46 AM ET

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Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 04/29/14 at 05:21 PM ET

Just a quick note on Coreau; I wouldn’t say his rookie season in the ECHL means he’s necessarily never going to be any good. Obviously he would need more time in a better league for us to get a better handle on what his potential really is.

My point is really only that I think right now having him as your organization’s No. 3, and therefore one injury away from being Detroit’s backup, is too big of a risk. Undrafted and looked shaky in his first pro season in a third-tier league does not fill me with confidence.

If the Red Wings promote Mrazek to the NHL team, I think they will need to bring in someone a little more proven to handle the load at the AHL level and provide spot duty in the NHL if it becomes necessary for brief stretches. Maybe that’s McCollum, if they think he’s turned a corner. Otherwise I would look to a guy like MacDonald or McKenna.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 04/30/14 at 07:25 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.