The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/29/14 at 11:48 AM ET
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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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.