The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/29/13 at 04:41 AM ET
There are times that you have to throw your hands up and admit that you don't know what the hell's going to happen next, and that's the truth regarding my take on the Wings' draft weekend machinations, in terms of both player selection and player movement.
The news that Jakub Kindl signed a 4-year contract extension that I would deem to be, "On the high end of 'fair'" on Friday evening gave a little more credence to Ken Holland's suggestion that the Wings will be moving bodies given the cap hit ($2.4 million) and the fact that the Wings still have to re-sign Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson (who are not coming off "second contracts" like Kindl), hope to retain Damien Brunner, and, as we have been told, are looking to add a second-line center.
How that's going to go down?
I'm not sure, though we've been told that Mikael Samuelsson will probably be bought out, that Cory Emmerton, Jordin Tootoo and Carlo Colaiacovo may be moved, and the Wings, like 15 other frickin' teams, are interested in plugging the second-line center's hole left by Valtteri Filppula's imminent departure with one Vincent Lecavalier (Holland's stated that he'll "make room" for the right player, especially on defense, which makes me wonder whether this Braydon Coburn talk has any interest to the Wings)
MLive's Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness added context to Kindl's contract extension on Friday evening...
The Detroit Red Wings locked up one of their most-improved players from the 2012-13 season, agreeing to terms with defenseman Jakub Kindl on a four-year contract worth $9.6 million.
Kindl, 26, was a restricted free agent. He played 41 games this season, picking up four goals and nine assists. His plus-15 rating was second on the team to Pavel Datsyuk's plus-21.
Kindl's future with the organization appeared on shaky ground earlier this season after he was a healthy scratch for a few games. But, he improved defensively and increased his competition level and soon earned a regular spot in the lineup.
Kindl also was solid in the playoffs, appearing in all 14 games, with one goal, four assists and a plus-4 rating.
In 147 career games, Kindl has seven goals, 23 assists and a plus-14 rating. He was the club's first-round pick in 2005 (19th overall).
With Pleiness adding some quotes-in-retrospect...
This past season, he found himself a healthy scratch behind rookie Brian Lashoff early on.
“He’s got to move the puck,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said at the time he reinstated Kindl back in the lineup over Lashoff. “He’s a skilled guy on the back. He’s got to shoot the puck. The big thing is he’s got to grab a piece of the action. That’s up to him. That’s what these opportunities are for. You’ve got to reach out and grab hold of something and then make it your own. If you don’t, you’re not in the lineup.”
Kindl’s game improved from that point.
“Whenever I get the chance I just have to show I can play,” Kindl said last season.
Kindl, who has seven goals, 23 assists and a plus-14 in 147 career games, has always had to battle for ice time.
Two years ago it was veteran Mike Commodore he was in competition with for a spot on the Wings’ third pairing. Three years ago, Kindl was unable to beat out Ruslan Salei in training camp and therefore found himself as the Wings’ seventh defenseman.
“It’s never been about skill level with him, it’s been about competition level,” Babcock said two years ago. “He needs to have the confidence to compete at the highest level. When he does he can move the puck and he knows how to play. We expect big things out of him.”
And both Khan and Pleiness spoke with Ken Holland about the team's plans in terms of player moves this weekend and next week, when we've been told that the Wings will decide whether to use one or both of their cap-compliance buy-outs.
We'll start with Pleiness this time, and he found Holland pointing out that--as everybody really knows--the inordinate amount of trade talk heading up to draft day (Sunday, 3 PM EDT, with all seven rounds taking place, airing on TSN in Canada and NBCSN from 3-9 in the U.S.) doesn't necessarily mean much unless one puts impetus behind it:
"I think there are always trade talks but more often than not they don’t lead to anything,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said earlier in the week. “There’s always a feeling out processes. This is the weekend that teams are motivated and we are motivated to make a move or two between now and unrestricted free agency that we think will make our team a little bit better. I think a lot of what’s going on with our team right now are kids,” Holland added. “You watched it during the season, you watched it in Grand Rapids, you watched it in the early 90s, you watched it in the early 2000s, if you’re going anywhere and building anything that’s going to have some sustainability to it it’s got to come through the draft.”
The Wings are set between the pipes with Jimmy Howard as the starter and Jonas Gustavsson serving as his backup. On defense, six are signed for next season and two, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl who are both restricted free agents, will get deals done bringing the total to eight on the blue line heading to training camp.
Detroit would look at a possible upgrade on defense or it may trim one of its eight on the roster, but there is little depth on the blue line in Grand Rapids so that seems unlikely.
Forward is where things are bit more murky. The Wings currently have 12 players under contract and two others that are restricted free agents – Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist – will be signed sometime in the near future to bring the numbers up front to 14.
There are still three unrestricted free agents – Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner – that could find their way back on the roster, but those deals may not happen until the hours leading up to the start of free agency.
If the Wings are unable to sign Filppula they may try and trade his rights to a team so they could try exclusively to negotiate a deal with the center before he hits the open market.
Centers Stephen Weiss, Matt Cullen and Patrik Elias could also garner some interest from Detroit along with wingers Jarome Iginla, David Clarkson and Nathan Horton.
Khan spoke to Holland on Friday, and given the Wings' own roster issues (see: the Wings hope to re-sign Damien Brunner, and isn't sure what it will do regarding Daniel Cleary), Holland had to hedge his bets...
“This is the weekend that teams are motivated to make a move, and we're motivated to make a move or two between now and unrestricted free agency (which starts next Friday) that we think will make our team a little better,'' Holland said.
And Khan noted that this may be fish-or-cut-bait weekend for Brunner, Filppula and Cleary:
Holland will continue talking to the agents for all three players this weekend. He might opt to shop Filppula's negotiating rights if no progress is made.
If the team doesn't land Lecavalier?
The smaller, quicker Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers is an option. Matt Cullen, 36, of the Minnesota Wild and Patrik Elias, 37, of the New Jersey Devils are a pair of older alternatives. The Red Wings also are interested in right wing Jarome Iginla, the long-time Calgary Flame who was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins late in the season. Whether the interest is mutual is uncertain, since Detroit was not on his short list of teams he agreed to waive his no-trade clause for this past season (Pittsburgh, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago).
They don't appear to be interested in spending big money on the likes of David Clarkson (New Jersey) or Nathan Horton (Boston), should they hit the market.
And on defense?
They have eight defensemen and are pondering whether to keep Carlo Colaiacovo. If they don't trade him this weekend, they might use a compliance buyout on him before the July 4 deadline (5 p.m.). But, that would leave them thin on defense if they have an injury or two in training camp or early in the season. They might opt to keep Colaiacovo and waive somebody at the start of the season if they need to clear a roster spot.
Forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi are other buyout candidates. Players who are bought out must be waived first.
Khan also offers an update regarding a former first-round draft pick who the Wings may simply let walk out the door in Tom McCollum (see: Petr Mrazek and Jared Coreau will be in Grand Rapids next season, so, at best, McCollum would start for the Toledo Walleye, as would Jordan Pearce, who seems to be leaving as well [ditto for Francis Pare and possibly Brent Raedeke])...
The Red Wings will wait until Monday's deadline to decide whether to tender a qualifying offer to goaltender Tom McCollum, thereby retaining his rights.
But the Wings are attempting to retain the services of a prospect who blossomed with the Griffins, too:
Holland is talking with the agent for center Luke Glendening, hoping to sign him to an NHL contract. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound, right-handed shooting Glendening (Michigan) blossomed during the AHL playoffs for the Griffins, tying for third on the team with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists). He had eight goals and 18 assists in 51 regular-season games.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson may have posited the best reason why the Wings won't re-sign Filppula while listing Fil as a draft-day trade candidate--though it must be re-stated that Filppula's "worth" little more than a middle-round draft pick at this point:
Val Filppula. He’s UFA on July 5 and the Red Wings will trade his negotiating rights for a draft pick to somebody because they don’t want to give him $5 million a year. He’s got tons of talent but teases people with it.
In terms of Sunday's draft and the Wings' picks, it appears that the Wings are quite happy with the 18th pick in the 1st round (they will pick 48th and then 79th, 109th, 139th, 169th and 199th), and, somewhat surprisingly, Wings director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell suggested that the Wings will probably draft a forward as opposed to Ye Olde Beste Player Available while speaking with the Windsor Star's Bob Duff...
“We’d really like to get a forward, unless there’s a defenceman that’s too good to pass up,” Wings head scout Joe McDonnell said of the team’s likely plan when they make their first-round pick at No. 18 overall in Sunday’s draft at New Jersey’s Prudential Center. “When it comes to our pick, if we feel there’s two players that are even we’ll lean toward the forward. We have a lot of good, young defencemen – (Ryan) Sproul, (Xavier) Ouellett, (Brian) Lashoff, (Mattias) Backman. We think we have a number of good ones. If we can add a little size up front, it would be beneficial.”
Getting bigger up front is an ongoing process for the Wings and it will continue on draft day.
“It’s just the way the game has evolved,” McDonnell said. “It’s a big man’s game. I’m not saying there’s no room for smaller guys, but if you can get a big, skilled guy, you go that route. We’ll still take small guys if we have to, but we’re looking to get bigger. We have bigger guys coming up in (forwards Tomas) Jurco and (Riley) Sheahan.”
The Wings will go earlier on draft day than they have in many years. It’s the quickest they will be called to the podium in the first round since 1991, when they also selected a big forward, Martin Lapointe.
“We’re excited,” McDonnell said. “At 18, we know we’ll get someone we really like. The draft in general is strong, in the first round and even into the second round. It’s deep at the top end of the draft and then it peters out. There will be guys we like even in the seventh round, but the high-end part of the draft is good. At 18, we’ll get a quality player.”
And he reiterated his points of emphasis to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
“You look at the scrums on the ice, and they’re all big guys out there,” said Joe McDonnell, the Red Wings director of amateur scouting. “It’s the way the game is evolving. There’s room for the smaller guy. But players are getting bigger.”
McDonnell is replacing Jim Nill, who left to become general manager of the Dallas Stars. It was Nill who ran the Red Wings draft table for 20 years, and he was instrumental in the organization finding the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson, among others, deep in the draft.McDonnell will be running his first draft table Sunday, but don’t expect his philosophy to change much from Nill’s.
“We were thinking alike for the past 18 years; it was uncanny,” McDonnell said. “I wouldn’t expect any real change. The only change will be seeing Jim sitting at the Dallas table.”
“There’s depth in this draft,” McDonnell said. “After the top 10, from (picks) 10 to 40, it’s going to be beauty in the eyes of the beholder, guys with skill who can help teams into the second round.”
“If there’s a defenseman there that we like, you’re not going to pass him up because you never have enough defensemen,” McDonnell said. “But if there’s two players, different positions, we’ll look at the forward.”
There should be forwards with size and skill available. Anthony Mantha (6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Val-d’Or) was a 50-goal scorer in the Quebec League but needs to add brawn. Bo Horvat (6-foot, 206 pounds) is a gritty, in-your-face type who played in London (Ontario Hockey League).
If highly-rated defenseman such as Mirco Mueller (Everett, Western Hockey League) or Shea Theodore (Seattle, WHL) were available, the Red Wings would be interested.
“There will be good players to choose from,” McDonnell said.
Speaking of those "good players," three more mock drafts popped up on Friday, and, less-than-surprisingly, they have the Wings taking four different players.
ESPN's Grant Sonier's insider-only mock draft has the Wings picking Mueller...
18. Mirco Mueller
TEAM: Everett (WHL) HT: 6-3 WT: 184 POS: D
Pick analysis: A franchise known for drafting talent and never being afraid to dip into the European pool, this elite-skating D-man would add depth to a position the Wings always stockpile. Detroit's patience with players will work out just fine for the Swiss blueliner, who will need time to get physically stronger and learn the North American game. His transitional game and first pass are exceptional, and over time, he could surprise as a secondary point-producer with confidence that will come with physical strength.
SI's Allan Muir has the Wings picking a different defenseman...
18 Ryan Pulock D
TEAM: Brandon -- WHL BORN: Grandview, MB, CANADA AGE: 18 HT: 6-0WT: 211
Pulock was drafted as a center then converted to a defender by the Wheat Kings, which would explain his offensive instincts. And when you see his shot, you understand why the team moved him to the blueline. He might have the hardest slapper in the Dub, a screaming howitzer of a shot that once was clocked at 101 MPH. "He can really let it fly," said a scout. "He's good off the rush, too. He's straight-line quick and very confident with the puck. And while he has that great shot, he doesn't think 'shoot first.' He reads the play well and can make smart plays." Pulock could be a big boost to an NHL power play. While he was able to rely on his offense in the past, he worked hard to round out his defensive game. He's physical, but not a banger. He uses his big body to gain position and muscle opponents off the puck instead of destroying them. He has decent mobility, but needs to work on his cuts so he can react more effectively when forwards try to turn him inside out.
And Sportsnet's Sam Cosentino has the Wings picking a forward...
18. Detroit Red Wings Adam Erne, F (Quebec, QMJHL)
Considered by some teams to be a project, Erne possess off the charts skill. He can skate, shoot it a ton, and when pushed, can play a physical game. His interviews with teams were all over the map. He comes with a reputation of being a locker-room lawyer and concerns about his shape have been evident since day one. Detroit is no stranger to taking first round talents later in the draft (Martin Frk 49th overall in 2012, Andreas Athanasiou 110th overall 2012), but Erne won’t be around past the first round so Detroit will jump if he’s there.
The Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy essentially tossed off a, "Meh, after the first ten picks, it doesn't matter" mock draft, but he has the Wings picking a fourth player:
18. Frederik Gauthier, RW, Rimouski
I'll quote the Sports Forecaster's profile of the 6'5," 214-pound center:
Assets: Is a huge physical specimen and plays a very sound defensive game. Owns plenty of smarts and hockey sense and can be a quality shutdown center. Excels on face-offs.
Flaws: Has a lot of questions regarding his offensive upside at the highest level, so he is most likely going to settle into a third-line role in the NHL. Must also step up his physical play.
Career Potential: Shutdown center with some upside.
Otherwise...Craig Custance held a chat on ESPN.com on Friday, and he did address some Wings-related issues...
George (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) [via mobile]: Craig, enjoy your stuff! Three questions please: (1) Where does Lecavalier end up? (2) You're Ken Holland, What top 4 D-man do you bring in to upgrade? (3) Who represents East in Cup Final next year? Thanks!
Craig Custance: Hey George - Three questions in one? Is that allowed? Alright, let me tackle these: 1) He grew up a Montreal fan and has long rumored to go to the Canadiens. He has a connection with AGM Rick Dudley and they need to add size up front. Seems like a perfect fit. During his conference call, he mentioned his respect for the Red Wings as well. That's not a bad fit either. 2) I think the focus will be upgrading the forward corps. Defense looks pretty set in Detroit. 3) I want to see what happens in the off-season but it's hard to imagine the Penguins not being one of the two.
John (Detroit): This is the highest pick the Red Wings have had 1991, and they've traded 10 of their 22 first round picks in that time. Do you expect Holland to hold onto this pick in search of some scoring talent, or trade the pick?
Craig Custance: John - I'd be very surprised if Detroit traded their first-round pick. If you notice (Quincey deal aside), Holland has been hanging on to his first-rounders. They've been doing a stealth rebuild in Detroit and the young talent is on its way. I'd assume that continues in this draft.
Via RedWingsFeed, NHL.com's EJ Hradek could only pick one Red Wing among his five "Top Late Round Picks," so he picked Henrik Zetterberg...
The Detroit Free Press's George Sipple reports that Plymouth Whalers foward Ryan Hartman's first of 27 draft combine interviews was an interview with the Wings, though Hartman's a Blackhawks fan, and Sipple takes note of local players available in the draft (Michigan Hockey profiled seven local players as well)....
And the NHL and its websites are going through some summertime changes, with NHL.com listing the Wings as an Eastern Conference team in "Conference C" (Bettman is supposed to clarify the division names and Conference Final playoff formats this weekend), and Winging It in Motown found that the Wings' website is missing a conspicuous presence:
Interesting...And, for the record, the 2013-2014 season schedule won't come out until July 17th.
And finally, it's getting down to crunch time:
I would like to attend the Red Wings' summer development camp from July 9-16 in Traverse City, MI, but I am a blogger. My paycheck is not very big, and due to health crap, this is the only job I've got. As such, I do not have the funds to pay for gas to get me to Traverse City or 11 days of a hotel stay.
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About The Malik Report
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.