The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/06/14 at 10:39 AM ET
Updated 5x at 12:59 PM: Amongst this morning and the past 24 hours' worth of Red Wings-related news stories (sometimes one needs a break, and I feel a little better after having taken Thursday off):
1. Regarding the Islanders' acqusition of Dan Boyle, I don't believe that we're looking at any sort of long-term relationship here, so the Free Press's Helene St. James' analysis of Boyle's "fit" (as posted by Paul) is still relevant, but Islanders GM Garth Snow has a bad habit of convincing players to sign with his mediocre team, so I looked around to find out whether Boyle would consider doing so.
According to Newsday's Arthur Staple, we shouldn't simply assume that Boyle will be testing the unrestricted free agent waters on July 1st:
"We don't know what the future brings with Dan but we wanted to get that exclusive negotiating window with him," Islanders general manager Garth Snow told Newsday. "He's a defenseman we think can help our team."
George Bazos, Boyle's agent, said he and Boyle had brief conversations with Snow and Boyle would be educating himself on the Islanders in the coming days.
"Dan wants to talk to some people who know the Islanders organization," Bazos said. "He made it pretty clear to me he's open to any and all options."
Bazos said Boyle is seeking a two-year deal. One of Boyle's first calls is likely to Evgeni Nabokov, his former Sharks teammate who has been an Islander the past three seasons. Nabokov is still in talks with the Isles about a return as backup to Halak, who signed a four-year, $18 million deal on May 22.
Snow said this second deal to acquire negotiating rights in the past few weeks is not an indication that the GM believes his team cannot compete on the open market for talented players.
"We had the assets to get this exclusive window," he said. "I don't really think that deeply about what it means for July 1 or anything like that."
The New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis reports that Snow's talking like Boyle WILL be signed:
Boyle, who turns 38 on July 12, is coming off a six-year, $40 million deal that carried an annual salary-cap hit of $6.67 million. His agent, George Bazos, told The Post that he was only looking for a two-year deal, “although we feel that Dan has four years left,” Bazos said.
Although there were no financial numbers discussed, it is believed Boyle’s market value lay somewhere between $4-6 million per year.
“Dan is certainly open to exploring all of his options,” Bazos said.
If a deal can’t be struck before the June 27 draft, odds are Islanders general manager Garth Snow will try to trade his rights and recoup his draft pick, but Snow seemed hopeful.
“Dan certainly will help our power play,” Snow told The Post, “and he brings that leadership quality as well.”
“I had a conversation with Garth, and Dan had a conversation with Garth,” Bazos said. “We wanted Garth to get a feel for Dan and Dan to get a feel for Garth, and I told [Snow] that when he has an offer ready, I’ll be listening.”
2. Regarding the news that Alex Edler may be off the market, the Vancouver Province's Ben Kuzma added a blog post's worth of comments to his article stating that Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden wants to treat Edler as a reclamation project instead of a trade write-off:
1. SOLIDARITY OR SMOKE?: No sooner had Trevor Linden given the embattled Alex Edler a vote of confidence — meaning the Canucks president of hockey operations and general manager Jim Benning won’t approach the defenceman to waive his no-trade clause — than some wondered whether it was a smokescreen. Linden is new to his position but understands the old and proven protocol to never under-value any asset, to always accentuate the positive. The vultures are always circling and if the Detroit Red Wings or Florida Panthers or whoever think they can pluck Edler out of Vancouver for less than suitors were offering up at the last draft — namely the Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks — then you have to know the phone is still ringing at Rogers Arena. And, of course, you have to listen if someone offers up a package that’s going to help the Canucks now and in the future. That’s called diligence.
When he's at his best, Alex Edler can make an opponent's helmet fly through the air at the same time that he's lecturing his teammates on the bench. Can he be that guy again?
But hang on. I got the distinct impression from Linden that he wasn’t playing a mind game. Edler bottomed out physically and mentally this season and wilted under the tough love of a new coaching regime. He got suspended and hurt and simply lost his way. You have to think a new coach and a new system will at least get Edler’s confidence back and lead to some sort of consistency. He’s 28, not 38. And if defencemen are supposed to hit their prime at 30, then you can understand the reluctance to part with a player who had 11 goals and 49 points in 2011-12. Those seven goals and 22 points this season and that minus-39? Linden must think it’s an anomaly because he said this much:
“There isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t have its hand up for the opportunity to have an Alex Edler. It’s not in our consideration. We want to work with Alex and we have to get his game back and I know he’s committed to doing that. Part of our job is to recapture the Alex Edler that we all know he can be. He has the skill set that every team wants and we just have to get him back where he should be.”
More importantly, we saw the long-running Roberto Luongo circus and the drama that led to his eventual trade. Give Linden credit for getting in front of the story with Edler. He sounded sincere about retaining the Swede. There’s been enough confusion around here, some clarity is somewhat comforting.
3. Regarding the comments that Wings GM Ken Holland made about the teams' free agent plans at the close of this week's pro scouting meetings, which I know many of you have discussed at significant length, I guess I'd say three things:
A) It is GOOD to hear that he plans on sticking with "the kids" more than anything else given his shitty free agency track record at this point;
B) I have no problem with the concept of bringing Daniel Alfredsson back given that he was a significant point-producing "playing coach," so waiting on his decision-making process doesn't bother me, and I'm fine with bringing Gustavsson back. Petr Mrazek's a big boy, and given that Tom McCollum's probably going to move on to a team that will give him a better shot at making the NHL, the Wings' depth in goal after Howard is shallow--Mrazek, the turning-pro Jake Paterson and the re-learning-how-to-catch Jared Coreau...
So bringing Gustavsson back for one more year after a spectacular
campaign [edit: Let's try "first half of the 2013-2014 season, when Howard was struggling," because Gustavsson did fall off during the second half [/end edit] and post-season comments abaout wanting to remain part of the Big Red Machine makes sense from both an, "It's summer, and we have to overbuild the team for a rough winter like we always do" stantpoint, and it makes sense from a, "Well, if Petr wants to make the NHL, he needs to do what every other prospect has done--he's going to have to steal Gustavsson's job" standpoint.
Never mind the whole, "Yes, really, playing 50 games in the AHL is probably better for him than sitting for 50 in the NHL, even though he's right in suggesting that he has nothing left to prove in the AHL. Burr under your saddle, kiddo, prove 'em wrong, make the Wings trade Gustavsson because you've stolen his job, let's see you make it happen" equation.
Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner actually captured some of Holland's comments regarding his plans, and I have to applaud Captain Set The Expectations Super Low for doing his job so very well regarding fre agents-to-be...
"I don't think we'll re-sign Mikael Samuelsson," Holland said Wednesday. "Beyond that, I haven't really reached out to any of their agents yet. I told them (Detroit's other unrestricted free agents), we'd get through our meetings first. I have spent two days preparing for Philly (NHL Entry Draft) and July 1 (first day that UFA's can sign). I think a number of our free agents won't come back. Some of our free agents are guys that are going to sign elsewhere, too. You want to make sure you're letting people go because you're going to get better."
"I had two, three managers call with some interesting names," Holland said. "It appears to be an intriguing draft. Why tie our hands today? The depth of our organization and the development of kids allow me to move slow and see what transpires over the next month."
Even though the Wings are in no rush to tinker with their roster, it appears that backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson would be welcomed back if he agrees to a one-year contract, which seems likely since there's a glut of goalies on the market.
Signing Gustavsson to a one-year deal makes sense because the Wings have been adamant that goalie of the future, Petr Mrazek, needs one more year in Grand Rapids before he's ready for the NHL.
As for Detroit's other UFA's, Holland told them "if the term and number fit what we want to do, we're interested."
His unrestricted free agency plans...
"If I can find a D who wants to do a year or two," Holland pondered as his voice trailed off. But he quickly added, "We're moving slowly. I don't want to lock into something that in two years I'm trying to figure my way out of."
And while I can't quote all of Regner's article, the last point Holland made regarding Mike Babcock re-signing (I fully believe we're going to see Babcock behind Detroit's bench for years to come) was classic Ken:
"My sense is I would like to sign an extension with him ... but the bigger the player, the longer the negotiations go. That's just my experience from being a manager since 1997."
Glendening talked about his own rookie season, too....
5. In the prospect department, part 1: As Paul noted, Hockey's Future's Adam Schnepp wrote a fantastic end-of-season summary of the Wings prospects' progress, and I would suggest that you keep an eye on this pair of defensive prospects:
WHL: Mitch Wheaton's sound defensive play helped propel the Kelowna Rockets to the third round of the WHL playoffs. The Rockets defeated the Tri-City Americans and the Seattle Thunderbirds before falling to the Portland Winterhawks in five games. Wheaton had five assists in 14 playoff games, and if he can match his combination of intelligent defensive play with another offensive campaign similar to his 28-point regular season, then Wheaton will almost assuredly be signed to an entry-level deal by Detroit before his June 2015 deadline.
NCAA: Though Ben Marshall had a quiet NCAA Tournament statistically (one assist in four games), he still impressed with his continued defensive growth. It seemed that Marshall would take a big step forward prior to the 2013-14 season due to increased ice time, but his regular season performance was essentially on par with his other two collegiate seasons. Marshall has always been something of a forward/defenseman hybrid, and his senior season should go a long way towards determining Marshall's future with the Detroit organization.
6. In the prospect department, part 2: Nightmare on Helm Street's Ari Zucker's causing something of a Twitter firestorm by suggesting that Teemu Pulkkinen is "overrated." Here's some of what's being said...
7. In the prospect department, part 3, also in the reader participation vein: MLive's Brendan Savage asked fans to weigh in as to whether Adam Almquist has a future with the Wings, and they answered as follows:
[If] he does indeed sign with the Red Wings again, MLive readers think Almquist should be the first one of the club's young defenders to get a shot in the NHL.
Of the almost 3,000 people who answered our poll question – which young defenseman should be called up first? – Almquist was an easy winner with 1,195 votes (40.6 percent).
He was followed by Xavier Ouellet (881), Ryan Sproul (394), Alexey Marchenko (393), Mattias Backman (59) and Nick Jensen (19).
"Makes complete sense to start Almquist in Dertoit," wrote reader akscott. "He's excelled at every level, and is out of options. He's earned the opportunity. If not him, you give up on a player w/o ever really giving him a shot. (makes no sense). If he plays ok and you still want to go with other options later, fine, you've let him show some value and can get at least some kind of return for him."
The Red Wings are likely to promote a young defenseman if unrestricted free agent Kyle Quincey moves on or if they deal Jakub Kindl, who struggled last season and could be used as trade bait.
8. Shifting gears in a big way, the Metro Times' Ryan Felton reports that a South Detroit does in fact exist, though I'm not sure that it counts because it's in South Dakota;
9. In the charitable news department:
10. In the non-charitable news department:
11. And finally, here's some Twitter humor from Grand Rapids Griffins assistant equipment manager Andrew "Steggy" Stegehuis:
The Wings' younger players and prospects are enjoying their summer vacations:
Update: ESPN's Corey Pronman engaged in a mock draft on Thursday--it's an Insider-only article--and here's what he said about the Wings and the team which precedes them:
14. Dallas Stars: David Pastrnak, RW, Sodertalje (SHL)
DOB: 5/25/96 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 168
During the Stars' regime change last year, they brought over Detroit's assistant GM Jim Nill, who oversaw the draft for the Red Wings as their chief scout. That regime is the type to emphasize puck skills and hockey sense. It's why I would project a highly skilled player like Pastrnak to Dallas, with options like Sonny Milano, Robby Fabbri and Jakub Vrana as potential picks, as well. Given the number of players that could be a fit, I can see Dallas moving down from this pick, too.
15. Detroit Red Wings: Sonny Milano, LW, USNTDP (USHL)
DOB: 5/12/96 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 185
Detroit has a history of trading down and trusting its area scouts to find value, so who knows if the Red Wings will stay at No. 15. But if they do, the dynamic Milano fits the bill for the kind of player they like. While they drafted a left wing in Anthony Mantha last year, Milano is much younger than Mantha, and the Wings aren't exactly known for bringing the kids up to Detroit quickly. Potential alternatives are the same as Dallas'.
Update #2: Griffins coach Jeff Blashill spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard this morning:
Update #3: If you missed it, Ron Wilson has joined the list of coaches interviewed for the Florida Panthers' gig, per the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov. Bill Peters and Tom Renney have already been interviewed for the job, as has Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Gerard Gallant.
Update #4: Here's a little more Boyle scuttlebutt from USA Today's Mike Brehm:
"(Islanders general manager) Garth (Snow) called me to tell me they had acquired Dan's rights and tell me how excited they were, and at some point down the road, after Dan gets a comfort level, they'd like to talk further," [Boyle's agent, Don Bazos] said.
The Islanders struggled last season after they couldn't re-sign defenseman Mark Streit and sent him to the Philadelphia Flyers. They had the 17th-ranked power play and 29th-ranked penalty kill. Boyle scored half of his points on the power play, though he didn't skate much on the penalty kill.
New York dropped from a playoff team to 26th overall and chose to hang on to its fifth overall pick in June after signing Halak. As a result, the Islanders will have to give up their first-round pick in the deeper 2015 draft to the Buffalo Sabres because of last fall's Thomas Vanek deal.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said last month that he wouldn't be offering Boyle a contract and Thursday's trade gives him something in return. Whether that move pans out for the Islanders remains to be seen.
"We'll definitely talk," Bazos said. "It's impossible to characterize which way the talks will go and what Dan will decide to do."
The Islanders would have a little more than three weeks to get a deal done before Boyle can hit the open market.
"(Pending free agents are) always excited to see what their options are, come July 1, but at the same time, it's exciting when a team steps up and trades for you as well," Bazos said.
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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.