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The Malik Report

Red Wings morning news: on Zetterberg’s ‘outlook,’ Swedish collaborations, Mantha and Kevin Porter

Several Red Wings-related stories hit the wires early this morning, so I'm up a little early to note them, as well as this (it looks like the weather's holding up for Danny DeKeyser's flight with the Blue Angels):

In terms of news stories, MLive's Ansar Khan examines Henrik Zetterberg's "outlook" for the 2014-15 season, and I certainly hope it's a healthy one. Zetterberg will turn 34 in October, and he's signed for 7 more seasons at a Capgeek-listed $6.08 million cap hit.

Despite having missed a significant chunk of the 2013-14 season due to back surgery, Zetterberg's 11 goals, 37 assists and 48 points registered over the course of 45 games played trailed co-scoring leaders Niklas Kronwall and Daniel Alfredsson by exactly one point, and Zetterberg led the Wings in plus-minus with a +19.

Assuming that he's healthy after his partial discectomy, Zetterberg should be able to put the vast majority of his chronic back issues behind him as the disc that was operated upon was his sorest spot, and Khan believes that Zetterberg has a superb season to build upon:

2013-14 in review: Led team in points per game (1.07) and plus-minus rating (plus-19). ... Missed a total of 37 regular season and three playoff games due to back issues. ... Underwent surgery on Feb. 21 to remove part of a herniated disc that was rubbing against a nerve. Missed the final 24 regular season games before returning in Game 4 of the playoff series vs. Boston. ... Led team in average shots per game (3.36), registering at least one shot in all but two games. ... Led team with 61 missed shots. ... Recorded 700th point on Nov. 24 at Buffalo. ... Had 14 multi-point games, including three three-point games. ... Led club's forwards in average ice time (20:33) and led all Red Wings in average power-play time (3:31). ... Won 53 percent of his faceoffs (259 of 489). ... Named Sweden's captain for the Olympics, in his fourth appearance in the Winter Games. But he was forced to withdraw after one game due to back pain.

I think it's pretty evident by now that those who've suggested Zetterberg's a better playmaker than scorer have been proved right, but his tendency to shoot, shoot and shoot some more helps generate secondary scoring chances and assists on teammates' goals.

Zetterberg's playoff performance was far more impressive than his 1-goal-and-1-assist stats suggest, too--he wasn't skating at 100%, but he and Pavel Datsyuk were the team's only truly dangerous forwards. The Bruins could stop everyone on the Wings but numbers 40 and 13.

2014-15 outlook: Despite playing with back pain until undergoing surgery, Zetterberg did what he always does -- he was the team's most productive player and the player matched up against the opposition's top scoring threats. Now that he's healthy, he should be even better, despite having a lot of wear and tear on his body. Entering his 12th NHL season, he remains a force at both ends of the ice, playing with a lot of heart and determination. Few are stronger on the puck. The third-year captain will continue to lead the team on and off the ice. He likely will start the season on a line with Pavel Datsyuk, but they usually are split up and reunited several times during the season. He could also play on a line with Gustav Nyquist, Johan Franzen or Daniel Alfredsson. Whoever plays with Zetterberg usually plays better.

I'm not particularly worried about the hard miles he's racked up because I've seen how religiously he works to stay limber after practices--it's absolutely stunning how well he takes care of himself and ensures that he's good to go...

And, regardless of the fact that, should he retire before the 2021-22 season, the Wings will be hit with "cap recapture" penalties, I get the feeling that he and Pavel Datsyuk both want to play in the Wings' new barn (which won't open until the 2017-18 season).



RedWingsFeed found a particularly interesting Swedish-language news article, and it involves a partnership that makes sense given the Wings director of European scouting's status as a member of the Frolunda Indians' board of directors:

According to GT.se's Henrik Leman, Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer is taking in the SHL's Frolunda Indians' practices this week, and Fischer is doing so because Frolunda wants to help itself and help the Red Wings by offering to develop some of the team's top prospects:

Plans: To work with NHL teams

Stockholm. Right now, Detroit Red Wings head of development Jiri Fischer's at the Frolunda Indians' practices.

It's the next step in an attempt to cooperate with the NHL.

The goal--bring better players to Frolunda, at a lower price.

Fischer's the director of player development for the legendary NHL team Red Wings. He's in Frolundaborg for parts of this week to see and learn in connection with Frolunda's practices.

"It was me who invited him," says coach Roger Ronnberg, and he continues: "We intend to do the same thing with Montreal."

The idea is that a good working relationship with NHL teams will increase their understanding of the excellent activities that the Frolunda Indians engage in.

The Swedish team will be a great option for NHL teams to place certain types of players: young, promising players for whom it's downright primitive to develop in a minor league environment.

"Skilled players who don't feel good to go up and down in the AHL can come to us instead," says Ronnberg, and he explains further: "Also, we can get these players at a much lower price than those who are 'on the market.'"

Many stars from the minor league AHL are hot on the European market.

Some of them cost more than they taste, are sometimes "tired," believe that the SHL is worse than it is, or just don't play well on European rinks.

Strong cooperation between Frolunda and teams like Detroit and Montreal will allow Frolunda to get the "right" players, such as those who are flying under the radar (as such, are lower-priced) but really fit in Sweden.

[In this plan] NHL clubs stand to benefit. [In this plan] Frolunda has something to gain.

The Wings have two players in the Frolunda system presently in Mattias Janmark, who played for AIK Stockholm last year, and Christoffer Ehn, who's developed within the Frolunda system.

Assigning a player to Frolunda--which is consistently among the SHL's best and biggest-spending teams--would definitely benefit both sides, especially if the Wings are dealing with a European player who might balk at playing in the AHL level. It's not something that the Wings would do on an every-year basis, but having that option would be incredibly useful.



Back over on this side of the pond, for whatever reason, this July 29th-posted article from the Hockey News didn't "hit the wires" until yesterday (THN has been plugging it on its Twitter and Facebook pages, but I don't remember seeing it before); it's still pertinent given that the player involved highlights the "biggest fish" on the Wings' prospect tournament roster.

The Hockey News's Michael Musalem penned an article in which Anthony Mantha and Wings GM Ken Holland discuss the possibility of Mantha making the Wings' roster...

The Val-d’Or alum heads into Wings camp this September with the goal of making the team outright, and according to a May interview with The Hockey News, GM Ken Holland wants to give Mantha every opportunity to do just that.

“We’re going to give him a real chance in camp,” Holland said. “We’d be pretty stupid if we just gave him two exhibition games and then sent him to Grand Rapids.”

Mantha, the paternal grandson of four-time Cup champ Andre Pronovost, doesn’t exactly embody the defensive game of his ancestor. But the soon-to-be 20-year-old hopes to change that.

“I worked a lot on my defensive zone,” Mantha said. “It’s the key to maybe playing in the NHL one day. I need to be strong offensively but also defensively.”

And while Mantha scored 57 goals in 57 games for the QMJHL's Val-d'Or Foreurs this past season, big #39 told Musalem that he understands what he needs to do in order to succeed at the pro level:

“I need to be great defensively, but if I play my game, they’re probably going to be pleased with it, because they drafted me to play that game,” he said.

Perhaps no one in the league was bitten harder than Detroit by the injury bug last year, and that paved the path for a number of young players to help the team make its 23rd straight playoff appearance. Mantha loved what he saw, and wants to be a part of the fun.

“The kids last year – Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, all those guys – they played great for the Wings, and I hope I can help them out in the near future and keep the success going. I just need to work hard.”

Mantha also witnessed Jurco and Sheahan parlay their prospect tournament showings into top-line spots on the Grand Rapids Griffins and early call-ups, so he knows that leading the Wings' prospects could significantly increase his chances of making the NHL roster at some point during this upcoming season.



One of Mantha's likely Grand Rapids Griffins teammates was taking part in an alumni game last Friday...

Porter wasn't signed to make the NHL team out of training camp, but the 5'9," 191-pound winger was born in Detroit and raised in Northville, so the 28-year-old is looking forward to playing "close to home" regardless of whether he does so in Detroit or Grand Rapids, as he told Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples:

After six professional seasons, Porter will get the opportunity to play in his home state for an organization he grew up watching. While he said there’s a lot of factors that go into the decision of where to sign, the hometown allure certainly was a big one.

“I get to stay at home for training camp, which will be really cool,” Porter said. “I mean, we go to Traverse City for a while, but it’s just nice to stay at home.”


Of his six years with the Phoenix, Colorado and Buffalo organizations, the 2010-11 campaign with Colorado was his only full NHL season, where he tallied 14 goals and 25 points in 74 games, primarily in a bottom-six role. But at the AHL level, Porter has experienced some consistent success, having recorded 156 points in 196 career games. He most recently wrapped up the 2013-14 season with the Rochester Americans – New York-based AHL affiliate to the Sabres – as team captain, racking up 19 goals and 36 points in 50 games.

Prior to joining the professional ranks, Porter honed his skills with the Little Caesars, Honeybaked and Ice Dogs AAA programs as a youth. From there, he moved onto the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor. With the University of Michigan practically next door, he virtually stayed in the same area throughout his entire career up until leaving for the NHL.

That’s rather ironic, too, considering all he has known thus far in his professional career is bouncing around from city to city. But it appears Porter has found a new home within his home.

At least for now.

“A lot of guys are packing up their stuff and getting ready to leave, and I don’t have to, which is really nice.” Porter said.

Caples continues and discusses Porter's collegiate career...



One of Porter and Mantha's likely teammates is making a cross-continental trek from Vancouver to Grand Rapids today...



And finally, I'm "at goal," but I'm going to keep the tip jar out for a bit, but at this point, $5's, $10's and $20's are all I need to make sure I break even:

I've attended two of the past three Traverse City-based training camps/prospect tournaments and the past three summer development camps at your leisure. If you're willing to lend a hand, I would greatly, greatly appreciate it.

Any and every donation helps pay the way up there (I break even) and I'm strongly considering printing some t-shirts and/or ensuring that every entry has a "sponsored by/brought to you by" note (and as always, the coverage is based upon your suggestions and questions, so it's an interactive experience).


My "merchant ID" is my non-work email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, and I'm incredibly grateful for your readership and support. Thank you.


Update: NHL.com posited a list of its top 275 fantasy hockey players this morning, and NHL.com's Matt Cubeta broke down the "Top 50." Two Wings made the Top 50:

27.  Pavel Datsyuk, C/LW, 36 years old

Outlook: Still one of the best in reality, but Datsyuk's fantasy value is diminishing after 37-point season in just 45 games. Still has talent to post point-per-game numbers, but age and injury potential drop him in ranks.

29.  Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, 33 years old

Outlook: Despite missing 37 games last season, Zetterberg's production was still excellent (16 G, 48 pts, plus-19, 151 shots). If he and Datsyuk can remain in lineup, a top-25-caliber season is within reach.

Update #2: Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser made Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford's list of "key" un-signed restricted free agents:

Danny DeKeyser, Detroit

In terms of value to his team, DeKeyser is right up there with Johansen in Columbus — the 24-year-old rearguard averaged 21:38 TOI for the Wings last year (upped to over 23 minutes per night in the playoffs) and scored 23 points in 65 games. But I sort of buried him in this piece because his new deal in Detroit is fait accompli — DeKeyser said he wants to be in Detroit and has no worries about a deal getting done, and GM Ken Holland has re-iterated most of the same.

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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.


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