The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/08/14 at 08:21 AM ET
Updated 2x at 10:18 AM: Yesterday, Tyler Myers trade talk dominated Red Wings fans' discussions. I'm guessing that most of you will be more interested in MLive's Ansar Khan's "analysis" reaction to the Free Press's Helene St. James' Myers push than you will be interested in this morning's prospect news--with today's summer development camp ending in a scrimmage starting at 11 AM at Centre Ice Arena.
Khan suggests that Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green, who may or may not be available via the trade route, is the "best fit" in terms of addressing the Wings' needs for a right-shooting top-four defenseman:
[The Wings have] inquired about Buffalo's Tyler Myers, Edmonton's Jeff Petry and Toronto's Cody Franson – and others. But Green makes the most sense. The Capitals don't need him, and because he's entering the final year of his contract (at slightly more than $6 million), the cost of acquiring him shouldn't be as steep as it would be with the others.
Washington has eight defensemen on one-way contracts, one more than they need. Niskanen essentially replaces Green on the top power-play unit. The Capitals have just 12 forwards; they need one more and have only $1.1 million of cap space. Unloading Green would give them flexibility.
Injuries have hampered the 28-year-old Green in recent years – he's played more than 70 games only once since 2008-09. But he has a lot of offensive ability – he's a tremendous skater, moves the puck and can quarterback the power play.
The Red Wings need those skills and wouldn't be deterred by Green's defensive shortcomings.
What would the Red Wings be willing to part with to get Green? Teams looking to deal young defensemen have been asking for a top young forward or high-end prospect. If the Red Wings are reluctant to part with the likes of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Anthony Mantha (whom they consider untouchable) for someone like Myers, they're not going to relinquish that much for Green, who might amount to a one-year rental.
The Capitals don't need a defenseman, however. That could be a sticking point in talks with the Red Wings.
Detroit is desperate to make a move. Washington probably isn't in a rush to move Green. It can wait for the best offer this summer or move him early in the season.
I just don't know where exactly this "urgency" to make a move in early July comes from--there are still unrestricted free agents available, and the Capitals' cap issues don't have to be rectified until the "last day of training camp" (a.k.a. the day after the exhibition season ends in early October), but you'd think that the Wings need a defenseman right *#$%@& now given the way the beat writers are talking about trade-making.
Would Green be a solid fit? He's 28 going on 29 and is in the last year of a contract that has a $6.25 million cap hit. Given that the Wings have $9.25 million in cap space remaining, they'd definitely need to move some money in order to accommodate Green and re-sign Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser (who are restricted free agents) and possibly Daniel Alfredsson (who's an unrestricted free agent), and the Sports Forecaster describes the 6'1," 207-pound defenseman as follows:
Assets: Is a tremendous skater and a natural point producer from the back end. Often plays like a fourth forward on the ice, as he places constant pressure on opposing defenses. Packs an excellent wrister. Likes to initiate body contact. Can quarterback a power play with aplomb.
Flaws: Is mistake-prone in the defensive zone, which negates some of his overall effectiveness. Still needs to add a little more consistency and discipline to his game. Injuries have become a problem for him recently, so he isn't nearly as dynamic since then.
Career Potential: Excellent offensive defenseman, when healthy.
My problem with the concept of adding Green is simple: in addition to having missed significant time due to injuries in 3 of the past 4 seasons, the Capitals know that Green is an asset, and while they are indeed quite close to the salary cap's upper limit, the team has no restricted free agents to re-sign and no real reason to take someone who posted 38 points last year off a blueline which includes Green, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and now Matt Niskanen.
Just as importantly, new Capitals coach Barry Trotz has stated that he believes he can turn Green into a reclamation project, and Trotz's word seems to actually resonate with the Capitals' new GM, Brian MacLellan.
What would it cost to bring Green to Detroit? All I know is this: when St. James appeared on the radio in Toronto and Buffalo yesterday, their hosts brought up two players' names, and they weren't Tomas Jurco or Tomas Tatar: they were Gustav Nyquist and Anthony Mantha.
If a general manager is going to "help" the Wings fill their need for a top-four defenseman (Michael Del Zotto is still available on the market, yes, but he's kind of fallen off the map, too), that general manager is going to want to "help" the Wings divest themselves of the organization's best young players. Green is still viewed as something of a premium player here, and top-four defensemen who are inconsistent as can be and are injury-prone still fetch massive returns.
This article's Khan's "analysis" of the situation. It doesn't mean that the Red Wings are specificially saying, "Hey, we're going after Mike Green" or, "Hey, we're going after Mike Green over Tyler Myers."
It's July 8th, there are still free agents available for nothing but the price of their contract, teams can exceed the salary cap by 10% until October 5th, and this is not the time of year when, historically speaking, we see teams making trades out of deseperation.
Based upon the Wings' tendencies, I'd suggest that the team is most likely to head to training camp as-is, that the team is most likely to allow training camp and the exhibition season to determine whether Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, Mattias Backman and/or Nick Jensen are ready to take Kindl and Brian Lashoff's jobs, and then the team might act, given that players will get hurt during training camp and the exhibition season, producing a need for defensemen, allowing the Wings to alleviate any sort of roster crunch...
And I'd also suggest that the most likely scenario has the Wings to utilize whatever blueline comes out of training camp and the exhibition season into the year, with a trade at the trade deadline (when unrestricted free agents-to-be really are "rentals") serving as the most probable means by which the Wings will act if they feel that the defensive corps is not adequate at that time.
Trade talk in July generates a significant amount of discussion, but it tends not to generate a significant amount of actual action.
In an incredibly different vein, I know that Jiri Fischer's taken over the Wings' summer development camp not only because the medai availabilities are super-short and activities are kept to an in-the-morning basis, but also because the bagels are gone. Centre Ice Arena used to have delicious, 500+-calorie bagels in big serving bowls at the players' breakfast table (I know because the rink staff would give me extra bagels from time to time). Now it's all whole-wheat or gluten-free bread, labeled and portioned out.
I also know that Fischer's taken over because those last-second deliveries of submarine sandwiches, pasta and sometimes pizza have been replaced with grocery-store runs for grapes.
The players take nutrition very seriously and the team takes it even more seriously, so DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's article about the Wings' visit to Northwestern Michigan College served notice as to the team's ever-increasing commitment to having its players fuel their bodies as best as they possibly can. This morning, the Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook chronicles more of the trip, which was organized under the watchful eye of team nutritionist Lisa McDowell:
Last year’s inaugural Red Wings culinary class taught players how to make six dishes. This year’s had seven, plus two healthy snacks.
Whereas last year’s session had an instructor for each group and showed them how to make all six dishes, this year’s had nine stations that the groups of five rotated around as Culinary Institute Front-of-the-House director Patty Huhta kept time with a stopwatch to keep the event on time.
As instructor Joel Papcun showed the players how to grill fish, he even demonstrated where to put them over the heat to get criss-crossing grill marks to make it even more presentable.
“You learn about nutrition, but you don’t really learn how to make the food,” said Wings first-round pick Dylan Larkin, who doesn’t turn 18 until later this month. “You know what’s good for you, but not how to make it. It was really cool to see how to make some of the things. I never even thought about how food looks can affect the taste, like with the salmon.”
Eight chef instructors at Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute and several others volunteered to run the nine-station rotation that demonstrated to the players how to make guacamole, grilled corn on the cob, salmon, steak fajitas, spanish rice, black bean salad and sauteed swiss chard, as well two no-bake snacks. Part of the ease in those basic dishes is that the recipes aren’t exact and the athletes can cater them to their own tastes.
“We want the guys to be able to do this without measuring, so it’s easy to eyeball,” said McDowell, who provided kale, Swiss chard and tomatoes from her own garden.
[T]he cooking class is a tool for many of these players, said [Jared] Coreau, who is still making some of the recipes that he learned at last year’s development camp.
“We made a chicken parmesan with not as much breading on it,” he said. “We made an avocado and Greek yogurt spread for salmon fillets, which is really good. Quinoa, which is really good, and I hadn’t eaten until then and now I eat it every week, probably twice a week.”
Coreau, a 6-foot-5 goalie, easily devours 5,000 to 6,000 calories each day.
On an average day, his breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal with walnuts; a four-egg omelet with spinach, tomatoes and an English muffin for extra carbohydrates. By mid-morning he snacks on carrots or a fruit cup before starting a workout. For lunch, it’s two apples with two cans of tuna fish and walnuts mixed together with some vinegar. Later in the day, he has chicken, oranges, almonds, and for dinner it just meat, a lot of different-colored vegetables, and maybe a sweet potato. Before bed it’s a protein snack like yogurt with lots of berries.
Coreau’s chloric intake is necessary for him to maintain his 200-pound playing weight, but it’s not always easy to eat so much.
“I’m eating maybe 6-7 times throughout the day throwing in a few little snacks,” Coreau said. “There are times every day where I don’t want to eat but I know if I don’t I might lose a few pounds where in the season it’s so important to maintain weight. Everyone things, ‘Well, you have to work out.’ That’s part of it but eating is a huge thing.”
Also in the "If you missed it" category, the Free Press's Kirkland Crawford pointed out that a certain coach's son took the lead when the team played a little curling on Sunday:
I'd been looking for a foreign-language report involving a Wings prospect---they eventually pop up--and today, Norran's Arvid Marklund provides just that via a conversation with Axel Holmstrom (what follows is roughly translated):
"Everyone calls me Little Homer"
Axel Holmstrom had no choice when he arrived at the Detroit Red Wings' development camp. The classic jersey with the number 96 was hung up in his place.
Skelleftea AIK's talented center, Axel Holmstrom, who will embark upon his men's team season in the SHL, is currently in camp with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings--a team that chose Axel Holmstrom in the rookie draft a couple of weeks ago.
When Axel arrived at camp last week, he received a surprise as the classic Red Wings jersey with the number 96, which belonged to Tom "Homer" Holmstrom for avery long time, hung in his spot in the locker room..
"I had no choice," says Axel, and he laughs. "And all of them here call me 'Little Homer' and it's just damn funny. Actually, it's probably just the playing style that separates us, ha ha."
During the day, the camp combines both intra-squad games, practice and activities off the ice.
"It's a dream to be here. Everything's felt good and it's nice to come here and see how things work."
And finally, in alumni news, Patrick Eaves spoke with Fox Sports Southwest's Steve Hunt about joining the Dallas Stars...
Eaves, 30, had of course spent the bulk of his nine-year NHL career in Detroit, which is why [im] Nill, a former assistant GM with the Red Wings before being hired as Dallas' new GM in May 2013, was quite familiar with him. And Eaves' relationship with Nill indeed played a role in him deciding to come to Big D.
"Yeah, absolutely it was a huge factor, from knowing Jim from my time with the Wings. He's got a real good thing going down there. I know they're a hard team to play against and yeah, they're making moves. They're going places and I want to be a part of it," Eaves said on Monday.
Eaves spent most of last season in the Motor City, playing 25 games for the Wings before he was traded to the Nashville Predators prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5, 2014. With the Preds, he appeared in five games before becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
He wanted a destination where he would have a chance to again play for a winner like he had in Detroit, so he took the one-year deal and signed with the Stars.
"Yeah, we'll see what happens. It'll start with a one-year deal and hopefully I can come in and yeah, have a good year and help the team make the playoffs and then go from there," Eaves said. "I'm looking to help out and have a good year myself and then we'll see what happens."
Update: Slapshotgoal from Winging it in Motown wrote an excellent article about the Wings' attempts to rebuild some continuity of character from their NHL and AHL to ECHL affiliates:
That connection between the AHL and NHL last year was fantastic, but the consistency and quality of coaching did not translate to the ECHL Toledo Walleye, who were a complete dumpster fire. Largely as a result of the failure of that team, the Walley have a new head coach this year in Derek Lalonde, and have cut affiliation ties with Chicago. The Walleye will now be a Red Wings only ECHL team, with a new head coach who is friends with Jeff Blashill and a coach who the Wings organization believes will do a much better job in helping our young prospects develop into successful players. Derek Lalonde most recently coached the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, and like Blashill, is a former assistant coach at Ferris State, so he already has experience in developing young player. Lalonde is one of the coaches here in development camp, is already working with the kids,learning more about how Blashill coaches, and what exactly the Wings expect from their players, as well as the coaches. This is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that the ECHL coach has ever been in attendance, much less participated. I'm impressed and very pleased to see this, because none of the Wings kids in Toledo last year were any good at all, and I know some of them could have been, and should have been, much better. Jared Coreau's rookie pro season? I've crumpled it up and thrown it away, it's meaningless to me because it's not at all indicative of the goalie he is and what he can do. Even Jiri Fischer mentioned the "quality" of the Walleye team when asked about Coreau's rough season. That entire team was garbage, and on a garbage team with poor coaching, how can you expect young players to grow and improve? I'm very pleased with the changes the Walleye have made so far, and I think it's going to make a big difference in player development at the ECHL level.
"I grew up watching the Wings and never thought I'd be here," he said. "But it's pretty cool. Everyone is supporting me, which is good. There's no pressure because everyone is rooting me on.".
Unlike some of the other campers who are preparing to begin their pro careers this season, Larkin hopes to take the college route to the NHL. He's headed to Michigan to play under former Red Wings center Red Berenson.Larkin, who turns 18 on July 30, grew up as a Michigan fan but that isn't the reason he decided to become a Wolverine.
"Just the coaching staff and the history there," he said. "Red Berenson, Billy Powers and especially Brian Wiseman. They're all so passionate about hockey and developing their players and moving them on to the next level. I could see that form Day 1."
Larkin describes himself as a two-way center who is hard to play against, moves the puck well up the ice well and makes plays.
Before embarking on a pro career, he hopes to increase his strength, be stronger on the puck down low against big defensemen and make the players around him better.
At the development camp, he's played alongside 2013 first-round pick Anthony Mantha -- perhaps the most highly touted Red Wings prospect ever -- and he sits next to the two-time 50-goal scorer in the dressing room.
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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.