The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/12/13 at 08:24 AM ET
The Red Wings officially kick off training camp with three practices and a scrimmage today in Traverse City, and the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau's posted a link to the scrimmage's box score (it looks like all of the Wings' scrimmages and the Red vs. White game will be available on Pointstreak).
This morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James ponders several pertinent questions regarding the state of the Wings as training camp opens...
What are their strengths? A goaltender in Jimmy Howard who has emerged as one of the higher-end netminders in the NHL. He is coming off a great season and almost certainly will be buoyed by a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. A defense that helped the team finish fifth last season in goals against, despite losing Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, and which now will include Danny DeKeyser from the start. A forward group that stands at 16, which will translate into great competition for jobs, and which still is led by superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
What are their weaknesses? The power play hasn’t intimidated anyone for two seasons. And that has hurt them in some regular-season games and stung them hard in some playoff games. It’s not that they lack for talent — Datsyuk, Zetterberg, defenseman Niklas Kronwall — but too often they’re one-and-done: Take a shot, opponent gets first to the puck, it’s cleared, and there goes 20-25 seconds to get set up again. Success would come much more smoothly if these units become a regular danger to opponents. In goal, backup Jonas Gustavsson must prove right away he can handle the job after failing to do so last season.
Who is new? Daniel Alfredsson left Ottawa after 17 seasons because he saw the best chance to finally win a Stanley Cup in Detroit. Fellow Swedes on the team revere this guy, who is your typical humble hockey star. He’s a leader, and maybe he will help light a fire under Johan Franzen when needed. Alfredsson shoots right, which should help the power play. There’s also Stephen Weiss, brought in to center the second line. Weiss, who had spent his career entirely in Florida, has offensive talent that should blossom as he’s surrounded by skill.
Will the Wings make the playoffs for a 23rd straight season? Bank on it. And bank on that streak going on and on because the Wings’ AHL team, the Griffins, finished the 2013 season by hoisting the Calder Cup, and the Wings’ prospects began the 2013-14 season by beating out seven other teams in this month’s NHL Prospects Tournament. The Wings making the playoffs is almost up there with death and taxes.
And she discusses the status of one Gustav Nyquist:
The Wings open training camp today in Traverse City, and the early third line has Gustav Nyquist paired with Joakim Andersson, and veteran Todd Bertuzzi on the right side. Putting Nyquist with Andersson makes sense: The two have terrific chemistry, nurtured during their time together in the minors. They, along with former Wing Damien Brunner, made a formidable follow up to the lines centered by Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Nyquist, 24, is the only one of the 16 forwards currently on the roster who can be sent to the minors without waivers, but this is an unlikely scenario because Nyquist is way too skilled to be victimized by numbers. Not this season. He helped out with five points in 14 playoff games after seeing action in 22 regular-season games.
He comes to camp determined to start and stay in Detroit.
“I’m going to do my best, that’s what I’m planning to do to earn a spot,” Nyquist said. “I’ll have to make it even a harder decision for him, show him what I’ve got.”
The “him” is coach Mike Babcock, who was sold on Nyquist’s readiness two years ago. Nyquist is all finesse, capable of moves that baffle opponents, while Andersson brings the defensive element to the line. Bertuzzi is making a comeback after missing much of last season with a sore back, and if healthy will add a soft pair of hands, strong stride and a big body.
“It’s going to be a fun camp,” Nyquist said. “It’s going to be high-tempo out there, we’ve got a couple too many forwards, so I think we’re all excited.”
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of the fact that this September's routine is very...different...for Daniel Alfredsson...
“I’ve been around a long time,” Alfredsson said after taking his physical on Wednesday prior to the opening of training camp. “It’s still exciting, but it’s obviously a big change for me coming here.”
Alfredsson, 40, signed a one-year worth $3.5 million on the first day of free agency, leaving Ottawa where he had spent his entire 17-year career prior.
“It’s a situation where you got to prove yourself again,” Alfredsson said. “In Ottawa I knew where I was at all times pretty much. I feel like I’ve got to put my best foot forward again. I don’t think it’s that much different. If I had been in Ottawa it would have been the same thing, when you work, you put 100 percent effort into it, no matter where you are.”
Alfredsson had been the league’s longest serving captain until the move.
“It’s a great situation we’re up here for a week, no distractions, just hang out and get to know all the guys and get to know them on and off the ice,” said Alfredsson, who could also earn $2 million in bonuses this season. “Hockey locker rooms are pretty much the same everywhere you go in the world. I know a lot of the Swedish guys, I know a couple of the other guys from before. It’s different, but it’s not that different. It’s going to be exciting. This is a great hockey market, which is fantastic. They really care about the team, very supportive. It’s going to be fun to start.”
Alfredsson will be the eighth Swede in Detroit’s locker room joining Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson, Gustav Nyquist and Jonas Gustavsson.
“I’ve been very welcomed here, from staff to people around town and the players as well,” said Alfredsson, who had been skating informally in Detroit with teammates for the last two weeks. “It’s going to be fun to sort out who’s going to play with whom and for myself, where I fit in. It’s going to be fun.”
MLive's Ansar Khan answered some camp-and-season-pertinent questions, too:
Q. What are the plans, if any, to bolster our young D corps with an NHL-caliber top-two D-man? With this being a year of too many forwards and a year to push hard to get a Stanley Cup in (Daniel Alfredsson's) hands, it seems to make sense that we need a top-two D-man. What happens if Kronwall gets injured again? We will be stuck with Ericsson and Quincey as the top pairing? No thanks! Can we expect a trade for a top D-man before the trade deadline or hopefully sooner (preseason please)?
A. They were seeking a top-three defenseman in the off-season, even made a pitch for Vancouver's Alexander Edler, who wasn't traded. But nothing materialized.
It wasn't their highest priority because they like the top six they have. It is difficult to trade for a top-pair defenseman early in the season because they're so valuable. Plus, the Red Wings would need to dump salary to acquire anyone, and we've seen how difficult that can be.
But some players are sure to become available later in the season, and I expect the Red Wings to be in the market for a top-three defenseman before the March 5 trade deadline.
Quincey is an unrestricted free agent after this season and I have feeling he won't re-sign. That's another reason the Red Wings will look to acquire a defenseman. They could dangle a couple of forward prospects, since they have a surplus. They'll also need to create some cap room, which is easier to do later in the season because contracts are prorated.
Q. Are (general manager) Ken Holland and (coach) Mike Babcock happy with what they are getting out of (Johan) Franzen or will they start to think about looking for a trading partner if he can't find a consistent game? They probably won't be able to replace his production for that low of a cap hit but a top-two D-man should be attainable in a trade with him involved.
A. I don't think anyone in the front office is satisfied with what they're getting from Franzen. I'm sure they feel he is not meeting his potential and has more to give. He's been too inconsistent and disappears for long stretches.
But he still manages to find a way to score 27-to-30 goals (his 14 goals last season projected to 28 in a full season). He's big, has good hands and a tremendous wrist shot. Like you said, they realize they can't replace his production for his $3.95 million salary-cap hit.
Offense is a bigger concern than defense for this team. So I don't see them shopping Franzen for a defenseman.
Otherwise...I can't make this up, from the Prudential Texas Real Estate's web page...
Flower Mound home owners can’t yet imbibe at Rabbit Hole Brewing Company in Justin, but when the newest Metroplex brewery opens its doors, they will be in for quite a treat. In addition to outstanding craft beers, patrons will be able to sample a beer that was created by former Dallas Star, Mike Modano. Called Mike Modano’s 561, the German Kolsch was developed in conjunction with Matt Morriss and Tom Anderson. Found of the brewery, Laron Cheek, says he hopes to have it open for tours by the first week of December.
But, if you can score an invitation to the launch party at Oak Street Drafthouse in Denton on November 15th, you can get a sneak peek of the new brew. When asked about the name, Modano said, “I suggested it be called ’561′ after the record I’m most proud of, and I insisted it be a beer that I’m proud of as well.” Modano set the record for most career goals by an American NHL player. If you haven’t already guessed, he scored 561 times during his career.
Cheek, Morriss, Anderson and Modano first met back in 2010 when the brewers were contracted to craft a beer recipe for Crazy Water, a product that Modano is the spokesman for. At the time, Modano had scored just 503 goals, so the beer was aptly named. But their relationship grew, and when Cheek decided to open Rabbit Hole Brewing Company in Justin, Modano was one of the first people he contacted.
Cheek said, “We told him, ‘The No. 1 thing is we want you to like the beer,’” as they offered Modano a tour of the new Rabbit Hole facility. “He perked up and controlled the conversation from then on.”
In addition to the 561 beer, Rabbit Hole Brewery will also sell custom-designed hockey jerseys with Modano’s name and record on the back. Only a limited number of jerseys will be available, and they will be sold for $135. Additionally, Modano will autograph one jersey that will hang in the brewery’s taproom.
Rabbit Hole Brewery is in good hands with Morriss and Anderson at the helm. Collectively, they hold more than 100 awards for their home-brew, and in the last two years, they have won four blue ribbons at the Bluebonnet Brew-Off. This is the largest single-site competition, and it’s held annually in Irving. A second Rabbit Hole brew that will be debuted at the launch party is called Rapture and was born from a Bluebonnet entry.
Once complete, Rabbit Hole Brewery will be a 20-barrel brewhouse with three, 40-barrel fermenters, a small taproom, and an outdoor beer garden where Flower Mound home owners can sample craft brews with 200 of their closest friends. Cheek said, “I don’t want us to be popular just because of Mike. But if his face gets a hockey fan to try craft beer for the first time, that’s something unique.”
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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.