The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/25/14 at 07:00 AM ET
Today's Red Wings-related stories mostly involve four players who might go home with trophies, but only one who hopes to skate away with the one he wanted to win.
Gustav Nyquist's Swedes will battle Jakub Kindl's Czechs for the World Championship's Bronze Medal today at 9:30 AM EDT (on NBC Sports' Live Extra website and TSN2), but Nyquist told the Associated Foreign Press that he was disappointed with Sweden's 3-1 loss to Russia yesterday, not excited about playing for bronze:
"It's a very frustrating defeat," Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said.
At the Memorial Cup, Tyler Bertuzzi and his Guelph Storm will battle the Edmonton Oil Kings for the Memorial Cup at 4 PM EDT (on the NHL Network and Sportsnet). Anthony Mantha earned some consolation for his fantastic 2013-2014 season with the Val-d'Or Foreurs, winning the Canadian Hockey League's Player of the Year award, and the Val-d'Or Foreurs' Facebook page posted a picture of Mantha posing with a trophy half as tall as he is:
Mantha spoke with the Canadian Press about achieving an individual milestone...
Mantha had 81 goals in 81 games and added another 77 assists for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Foreurs.
“For sure I’m proud of that,” the towering winger said. “It’s a lot of goals, but the credit needs to come back to my teammates that helped me out through this year. I think it was just a great season. I put a lot of pressure on myself by leading the team on the ice, off the ice also.”
Mantha accepted the top-player award not long after the Foreurs were eliminated from the MasterCard Memorial Cup. The Foreurs fell 4-3 in triple overtime to the Edmonton Oil Kings in Friday’s semifinal. The game was the longest game in Memorial Cup history at 102 minutes 42 seconds of play. Mantha’s teammates had already departed for Val-d’Or on Saturday morning, but the right-winger remained in London to accept the player-of-the-year trophy.
“It does feel weird,” Mantha acknowledged. “Today, it’s an individual trophy that I won. For sure, I would have liked way better the trophy from (Sunday), but I mean I’ll take this one. It’s a trophy that my teammates helped me out to win this year and I need to give them the credit.”
Mantha, six foot five and 204 pounds, finished the Memorial Cup with a goal and three assists. His was the lone goal in a 1-0 win over the host Knights to open the tournament.
Mantha was drafted in the first round and 20th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 NHL entry draft. Foreurs coach Mario Durocher said during the Memorial Cup that Mantha returned from his first NHL training camp a changed player.
“Last year, I would say a lot of critics were on my consistency level,” Mantha said. “When I went to Detroit they tried to put that mentality in me and I think it did work for this year. I came back with that attitude and it was just a great thing for me.”
You can watch videos of Mantha discussing the honor with TVA Sports in French, and the Memorial Cup's website in English (which also posted an individual awards summary and a photo gallery from their awards gala).
According to L'Echo Abitibien, Mantha was the only Foreurs player who remained in London--the rest of the team flew back to Val-d'Or ahead of Monday's QMJHL championship parade.
Sportsnet's Gare Joyce noted that Mantha's 1-goal, 3-assist performance at the Memorial Cup revealed that both he and his teammates were plain old exhausted after a long season and a pair of seven-game playoff series...
To get to London both Edmonton and Val d’Or had to go seven games in their league finals and win on the road to boot. Said the NHL scout: “It really showed up with Mantha. He carried a real load for the team right through the playoffs. He was off his game … really lacked the jump that you saw other times.”
But Mantha's "upside" remains elite--think of a Joe Thornton-style gigantic-but-not-physical player, and substitute Thornton's passing skills for 20-35-goal potential--and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article about Mantha's performance and potential...
Last October, the Red Wings signed Mantha to a three-year entry level contract. He is expected to compete for an NHL roster spot in the Red Wing’ training camp in September.
“We’ll bring him to training camp, give him an opportunity in preseason to show what he’s got,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told MLive.com. “He’s got some special tools. He’s 6-5, he can skate. At times he paces himself. Part of this is the minutes he plays. Also, his talent level allows him to play that way.”
The Red Wings are impressed by Mantha’s speed and his ability to play physical.
“He can lay body checks, get in on the puck,” Holland said. “We got lots of younger players in the organization; we’re a relatively young team. We’re hoping to have a real competitive camp.”
Eleven rookies skated for the Red Wings during the 2013-14 season, including nine that made their NHL debuts. Detroit finished eighth in the Eastern Conference, qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 23rd straight season. However, the Red Wings were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in five games.
“We’re trying to transition from an older team to a younger team but you can’t get too young too quickly when you’re competing for the Stanley Cup,” Holland said. “We think we got a good nucleus; if we can add to it. I’m proud we made the playoffs, but our aspirations are higher than making the playoffs and winning one game.”
While MLive's Ansar Khan snagged quotes from Holland regarding both Mantha--who Holland duly noted was unable to play a more physical or hard-skating style due to the fact that Val-d'Or coach Mario Durocher believes in 60-to-90-second shifts for his superstars...
"We'll bring him to training camp, give him an opportunity in preseason to show what he's got," Holland said. "He's got some special tools. He's 6-5, he can skate. At times he paces himself. Part of that is the minutes he plays. Also, his talent level allows him to play that way."
If Mantha can't play his way into the top six he'll likely start the season in the AHL because he's not a third- or fourth-line type of player.
"We got lots of younger players in the organization; we're hoping to have a real competitive camp," Holland said. "We're trying to transition from an older team to a younger team but you can't get too young too quickly when you're competing for the Stanley Cup. I'm proud we made the playoffs, but our aspirations are higher than making the playoffs and winning one game."
And Bertuzzi, who's scored 5 goals while playing on the 3rd line of an incredilby deep Guelph Storm team:
"He had a fabulous three games in the round robin," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "He has good hands, the ability to score. He's gritty, competitive, has an edginess. He goes to the hard areas."
Bertuzzi (6-1, 187) missed much of the season due to a concussion suffered in a fight on Dec. 8. He had nine goals, 34 points and 49 penalty minutes in 29 regular season games. He has 15 goals, 21 points and 32 penalty minutes in 21 combined postseason games (OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup).
(It was a neck injury, not a concussoin)
"His skating needs to improve; part of that comes from getting older and stronger, part of it comes from the gym," Holland said.
The Red Wings selected Bertuzzi with the 58th pick in the draft, higher than many analysts projected. It was an extra second-round pick the club received from the San Jose Sharks for trading down two spots in the first round.
"We're pretty excited our scouts made the decision to draft Tyler where we got him," Holland said.
The Free Press's Helene St. James took note of Mantha and Bertuzzi's progress, too:
Tyler Bertuzzi, nephew of Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, will lead the Guelph Storm against the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Memorial Cup final. The Storm hasn’t lost a game during the four-team tournament in London, Ontario, in no small part thanks to Bertuzzi, who leads all players at the event with five goals after three games and is tied for the overall scoring lead with five points.
The Wings drafted Bertuzzi with the 58th overall pick in 2013. He’ll be at his second training camp with the franchise in the fall and is expected to join the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Oil Kings, champions of the Western Hockey League, advanced to the title game after besting the Val-d’Or Foreurs in triple overtime on Friday. That means the end of his junior career for Anthony Mantha, the two-time 50-goal scorer the Wings picked up with the 20th overall selection last year.
Mantha, 19, entered Memorial Cup round-robin play having scored the winning goal in the Foreurs’ Game 7 of the QMJHL playoffs final and having scored 24 goals in 24 playoff games, but he scored only once during the Memorial Cup tournament. Overall, he had four points.
The Wings are going to give Mantha an opportunity to earn a job in Detroit next season, but he’ll need to have a strong exhibition season. Mantha and Bertuzzi will be at the Wings’ development camp in July in Traverse City.
NHL.com's Adam Kimelman's Memorial Cup final preview took note of Bertuzzi's edgy play, too:
Guelph last played Wednesday, when they beat the host London Knights 7-2 to finish round-robin play with a 3-0 record and an 18-7 goal differential.
Leading the way for the Storm is Tyler Bertuzzi, a 2013 second-round pick (No. 58) of the Detroit Red Wings, who leads all players with five goals. He's also been a successful agitator, which has helped focus the opposition's attention on him while opening space for his teammates.
"He's a rambunctious guy but he's got a lot of energy," Storm coach Scott Walker told Yahoo Sports. "His teammates get a lot of energy from him. There's lot of guys in the NHL that guys love to have on their team. The fans love them. The fans in the other barns hate him.
"The things [Bertuzzi] does on the ice are really good, but it's the other things that almost leaves the other guys more room to do them. If they're always focusing on him, it gives more room for Robby [Fabbri], [Kerby] Rychel, [Zack Mitchell], [Scott Kosmachuk], [Brock] McGinn and all our other great players."
Otherwise...The Foreurs' Facebook page posted a massive photo gallery chronicling' Val-d'Or's game against Edmonton...
I was surprised to see DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose acknowleding the following...
And I'm happy to post this Facebook event page regarding a charity hockey game taking place in Byron Center, MI on August 9th:
We are so excited to announce the first ever Skate Strong - Lylah Strong hockey benefit and dinner. We are looking for players and sponsors for the event. Player registration is $50 and includes a jersey, dinner and 2 drink tickets. PLEASE share this event with anyone who might be interested! Pre- sale dinner tickets are $20 per person and include dinner and 2 drink tickets. Tickets will cost $30 at the door. We will have music, dancing, a silent auction and lots more! Please help make this event a success! Let's show Lylah and the Gritter family how the hockey community supports them! FIGHT CURE SMA. LYLAH STRONG!
Quickie update: from Twitter:
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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.