The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/29/14 at 05:14 AM ET
Updated with first-comment news at 6:54 AM, so scroll down: I don't mean to overstate the point, but days one and two of the NHL Draft may be the sunniest of the year for Red Wings fans, and Tuesday might be the cloudiest and stormiest save the day that the Wings are eliminated from the playoffs short of a Stanley Cup.
We love talking about the future of the organization as it pertains to prospects, but in terms of free agency, more than a few fans wouldn't be satisfied even if the Red Wings bring in Matt Niskanen, Dan Boyle, Thomas Vanek, Jarome Iginla and Ryan Miller. These folks are often the same ones who are chanting for the Wings to trade all the veterans and play all the kids come November, too.
I get it. I miss the days when the Wings could just out-spend anyone and out-recruit anyone. I still believe that the Wings are recovering from having swung and missed on Ryan Suter (without a back-up plan) two summers ago, and I don't believe that Matt Niskanen or Dan Boyle are going to change that--in no small part because there are something like twelve teams swinging for those two guys, and they can't go everywhere.
There's still a better-than-not chance that the Wings won't land any of their free agency targets, and that Ken Holland will have to make good on his promise that "the kids" are his fall-back plan, but this morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Holland pitched a hard sell to both players...
Wings GM Ken Holland said he has “talked to lots of players’ camps.” That includes Boyle, whom the Wings would love to add on a two-year deal, in the $10-million/$11-million ballpark. Niskanen is the marquee unrestricted free agent defenseman, but at 27 and coming off a breakout year, some team likely will offer him seven years and money in the mid-$40 million.
Boyle has more miles on him — he is 38 next month — but he’d be an ideal bridge for the Wings while they wait for prospects such as Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, Mattias Backman and Alexey Marchenko to ripen. Boyle could help nurture Danny DeKeyser and Brendan Smith, both offensively gifted defensemen who’d benefit from having an experienced partner.
And she readily addresses the fact that people have been pining for Tyler Myers and Keith Yandle over the past two days:
The other way to add a defenseman — not necessarily one who shoots right — is trade. Arizona’s Keith Yandle is appealing, but the price would be a prize prospect and a high-end pick, at least. Buffalo wouldn’t give up 6-foot-8, 24-year-old Tyler Myers without a hefty cost, either.
“It all sounds easy,” Holland said. “There are 30 teams in the game. Ten years ago, there were eight or 10 teams in the game. Today’s there’s 30, because of the money game. Because of the cap. Our top priority is a d-man. For the most part, we’re happy with our forwards. We’re going to explore the market.”
St. James points out that the Wings have--per Capgeek--about $14.7 million in cap space remaining. That's enough to re-sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, to go after a defenseman and to hold open a wee bit of space to bring Daniel Alfredsson back if his, well, back, feels good in September (God forbid Daniel Cleary's retained) and to not be so tight up to the cap that the Wings have to play the Grand Rapids Shuttle with Tomas Jurco, but it's tight.
The fact that the cap's going to be at $69 million instead of $71.1 million had everything to do with Gary Bettman pitting the players against each other, and unless the Wings clear some space (I have no idea who could possibly want Jakub Kindl and his $2.4 million cap hit after his dreadful post-season, for example), it's more likely than not that the whole, "Well, maybe the Wings will go after Jarome Iginla or another top-six forward!" concept is out the window due to that $2.1 million not being available.
So have fun with NHL.com's list of the top UFA-to-be forwards, because you're probably not going to see them in Detroit, which is actually a good thing for Jurco, Mitch Callahan, Landon Ferraro and of course fan favorites Teemu Pulkkinen and Anthony Mantha.
Holland does point out that free agency ain't what it used to be--and he's right, at least unless you think that Thomas Vanek is his regular-season self as opposed to his playoff self:
“I don’t think anybody is looking at July 1 as there is a No. 1 center or a No. 1 defenseman available,” Holland said. “Maybe there is one or two that are front-line players, but lots of teams are after those. Most of the players are going to be support players.”
St. James continues, and duly notes that Mike Babcock's draft-floor comments involved his desire to bring in a right-shooting defenseman, but this suggestion isn't easy to fill:
Adding three isn’t going to happen, but over the coming week, the Wings will look to acquire one. It’s a need that must be filled if they’re again going to be a threat.
At the four-minute mark of the Wings' draft-floor video, St. James and MLive's Ansar Khan ask Babcock about the concept of bringing in a right-shot defenseman, and what he says after relating Scotty Bowman's reference to Babcock's Olympic team having 3 left-shooters and 3 right-shooters on the point is more telling than anything you or I could hope to hear: "We've got seven left-hand D, like, I love it, but how are you gonna get it? How do you get it? It's great to have this fantasy, I'm gonna...Like Kenny Holland would tell you, there's no tree, I've been all over him, but there's no tree to grab 'em off of, so we'll get what we get."
In terms of the week to come, ESPN's Scott Burnside posited this suggestion as to what the Wings' managerial workload entails...
Detroit Red Wings: We know the Red Wings would like to add a big piece to their blue line to help take the pressure off workhorse Niklas Kronwall, which is why free-agent defenseman Dan Boyle represents an interesting figure come July 1. The Red Wings made the playoffs for a 22nd straight year in spite of crippling injuries to top players. Young stars like Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar showed they are ready to provide the next generation of offense. But the Wings are also coming off a rare free-agent miss in Stephen Weiss, whom they signed to a whopper five-year deal worth $4.9 million annually only to see him score just twice before being lost for the season to injury. You know it's not good enough for the Wings to be merely a playoff team, and right now they're still a step or two behind the Boston Bruins, the team that erased them in the first round of the playoffs.
ALFIE'S FUTURE: Daniel Alfredsson, 41, continues to mull over his playing future.
"I think right now, Daniel -- not unlike a lot of veteran guys in his situation and his age -- just wants to take his time and make the right decision," his agent J.P. Barry of CAA said Saturday. "He wants to feel 100 percent before he makes any decision. I think he’s leaning towards playing, we all think that, but at the same time he needs that time in the summer to feel 100 percent."
If Alfredsson does return, it’s likely only for Detroit.
NISKANEN READY FOR MARKET: Matt Niskanen is almost surely gone from Pittsburgh, the cap-challenged Penguins unable to match what the UFA blueliner will fetch on the open market both in term and dollars.
Don’t be surprised to see Niskanen and his agent Neil Sheehy fetch north of $5 million a year and term around five or six years for the puck-mover.
$5 to $5.5 million would be fine, but he very well could earn $6 or $7 million, and this is where the whole wining-and-dining factor kicks in--and it's worth noting that the wining-and-dining period lasts until 11:59 PM EDT on June 30th.
Niskanen can decide where he wants to go based upon lifestyle decisions like where he might reside, taxes (Nashville Predators GM David Poile wants us all to know that Tennessee has no state income tax), what kind of role he might have been promised on a team (top-pair minutes?), the whole "hometown factor" (the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo has been reminding us that Niskanen is a Minnesota boy since February; this morning, Russo lets us all know that Niskanen got married in Virgnia, MN on Saturday), etc. etc., so the players really hold the cards here.
Which is scary.
Regarding the draft, day two's results were surprising, as RedWingsCentral noted:
The "big story" of the day involved the Wings trading up to grab Pierre Turgeon's son, Dominic. TSN's Bardown blog and Pro Hockey Talk noted that Turgeon was one of 10 either father-son combos, and NHL.com reports that the second day in fact involved TWENTY-ONE instances in which there was some sort of family connection (William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen's first-round statuses not included) between NHL alumnus and 2014 NHL draft pick.
Turgeon, who played for the WHL's Portland Winterhawks this past season, was born in Montreal but is an American citizen, but he told Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples that he was thrilled to have been drafted by the Wings:
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Turgeon said today. “Something that I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid, going into the NHL entry draft. It’s been unbelievable.”
The Red Wings traded up 13 spots to land Turgeon, giving their original third-round pick and their third-round pick in 2015 to Columbus.
“I knew [the Wings] were interested but at the time they didn’t have a pick around there so I wasn’t too sure,” Turgeon said. “But it feels really good.”
Turgeon also said that he knows first-round pick Dylan Larkin from both playing against him and playing with him at Team USA events. Larkin is the only Wings prospect Turgeon knows personally.
“I have been [to Detroit] a few times for hockey tournaments when I was younger,” Turgeon said. “I played against Belle Tire a lot because I was playing for the Colorado Thurnderbirds at the time, where I’m living currently.”
The Detroit Free Press posted photo galleries allowing you to "get to know" Dylan Larkin and Turgeon, and the Detroit News posted Larkin and Turgeon galleries, too; the Wings went with a pair of general draft galleries, but they also posted Turgeon the elder and Turgeon the younger (fun fact: I asked my mom to get me a pair of gloves for my birthday in 1993, and I included hockey cards of Turgeon, wearing Jofa 5000 gloves while playing in Long Island, and Jyrkki Lumme wearing Koho gloves; I got the Jofas and still have them) speaking with EJ Hradek...
And I found a
random red couch, I mean a YouTube video in which Candace Monhollan caught Turgeon's media availability:
Turgeon had to inevitably face the father-son comparisons in speaking with the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno...
"He was a highly offensive player in the NHL," said Turgeon Jr. "I feel like right now my game is very strong defensively. But I feel like as time goes on, my offensive game is going to really jump into new perspectives."
And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff...
“I guess we’re pretty different,” said the younger Turgeon, selected 63rd overall by the Detroit Red Wings from the WHL Portland Winter Hawks during Saturday’s portion of the NHL entry draft. “He was a highly offensive player in the NHL. I feel that right now my game is very strong defensively. But I feel as time goes on my offensive game is going to really jump. I’m going to be a two-way forward. I’m going to be a very strong defensive player, but I’m also going to be able to produce a lot of offence in my game.”
Having a support of a dad who’d been down this road – Pierre was selected first overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1987 draft – made life a little easier for Dominic as the day dragged on and he waited to hear his name.
“He told me to just to stay calm and be yourself,” Dominic said. “You’ve got to enjoy the moment because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just enjoy the moment and soak it all in.”
Turgeon wasn’t much of a Wings fan growing up, but that’s understandable. His father never played for Detroit.
“I guess I was always a fan of my dad’s team,” Dominic said. “That was really big for me. He was always my idol. Wherever he was playing was always my favourite team at the time.”
But Turgeon made sure to name the proper name while speaking with MLive's Ansar Khan...
"I know they are an unbelievable organization," Turgeon said. "I couldn't be happier with where I went and I know they develop really well."
He added, "I've always liked watching Pavel Datsyuk. He's an unbelievable player and I love the way he plays the game. He's so smart."
Turgeon was born in Montreal and grew up in Colorado. He's been to Michigan a few times for youth tournaments and has played with and against the Red Wings' top pick this year, center Dylan Larkin.
"We don't know each other too well but we've spent enough time to have a good friendship," Turgeon said.
(I thought that was a weird question)
Khan notes that there were more than a few questions as to why the Wings sacrificed next year's 3rd-round pick this year and next year to Columbus to grab a defensively-minded center, at least based upon his statistics...
Turgeon had 10 goals and 31 points, along with a plus-18 rating, in 65 games for Portland. He added two goals and eight points in the playoffs, as the Winterhawks advanced to the WHL finals, losing to Edmonton.
"No power-play time; he played on a line with two 17-year-old kids (Alex Schoenborn and Keegan Iverson) who got drafted today. They were a third-line checking line on one of the best teams in the Western Hockey League," [[Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler] Wright said. "Little things, he loves to win face-offs. He's competitive. He's good on the penalty kill. As he matures and gets bigger and better with responsibility we think that the offense will come. Once that comes and he rounds out his game we think we're going to get a pretty polished player."
But the Wings insisted that Turgeon and Larkin give them a great one-two punch up the middle, as Wright and Hakan Andersson told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
“Well, some of them play the wing but we took a lot of forwards, guys who are interchangeable,” Wright said. “But Larkin and Turgeon are both centermen. Dominic Turgeon is a guy that we targeted really high. If we would have had our second (round pick) we would have taken him there. So it prompted us to make a move. He was a guy that we thought if we could get him in the second and he fell into the third we didn’t want to risk that chance by waiting a couple of more picks. We wanted him and he’s got good blood lines.”
After center Calle Jarnkrok was included as part of the deal to land David Legwand prior to the trade deadline it depleted Detroit’s depth chart up the middle.
The Wings’ top centers in the organization are Andreas Athanasiou, Mattias Janmark and Landon Ferraro, who is out of AHL options. They also added center Tomas Nosek, of the Czech Republic, who’ll compete for a job at training camp.
“We have a bunch of guys that if one pans out, we might have a centerman for (Anthony) Mantha one day,” said Hakan Andersson, the Wings’ long-time director of European scouting. “That’s what we’re hoping. We’ll see. Draft a bunch of guys and then hope.”
I need to make a note here: RedWingsCentral does the best job of digging up information about the Wings' draft picks in short order, and they're my go-to Wings prospect news source. If you haven't bookmarked their 2014 draft page, or you don't follow them on Twitter, you need to do so.
Wings chief scout Jeff Finley told RedWingsCentral that the Wings felt they snagged a second-rounder in Turgeon...
“We had him in our top 30 and we saw it as a chance to get in the third round a first-rounder,” said Red Wings chief amateur scout Jeff Finley. “It was a good opportunity to try and do what we could and move up to make sure we got him.”
“He was outstanding as a two-way center,” Finley said. “You can tell his dad has had an influence on his game. He’s very responsible, great on faceoffs, their No. 1 penalty-killer, blocks shots, always in the right position to support the puck in all three zones. In those parts of the game, he’s very mature for a young player. He understands and takes pride in those parts of the game.”
And the Wings are crossing their fingers that Turgeon will find offense slowly but surely:
“We think his game translates well to today’s NHL,” Finley said. “Whether or not he’ll be an offensive guy as a professional, that remains to be seen, but we like the rest of his game as far as upside and potentially as a third-line center down the road. We’re thrilled to get him.”
Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer made some intriguing comments about Turgeon to DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
“He hasn’t been in a top offensive role because of the depth of the team that they’ve had,” said Jiri Fischer, the Red Wings’ director of player development. “It was a junior dynasty that they built three years in a row. He was on a star-studded team and he had to work hard for everything that he got. So his offense came from out-playing someone 5-on-5. He wasn’t handed the key to the power play, and that’s exciting especially with a lot of (Portland) players leaving next year. He’s been guided very, very well, and our scouts, Jeff Finley and Tyler Wright, who have seen him the most, they love his smarts, his defensive play, which is always a sign of a huge maturity level for young kids.”
Turgeon becomes the fourth player in the Wings’ development system with family members who played in the NHL, joining Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi and Louis-Marc Aubry.
“I think it’s just coincidental,” Fischer said. “From Mantha to Bertuzzi to Aubry I think it just happens. Certainly in the last couple of drafts there have been a few kids that you can make an argument for. It’s been profiled quite a bit and it makes for good stories. It seems to be a media-attracting theme.”
CHRISTOFFER EHN, C/LW, 4th ROUND, No. 106: From the same Frolunda program in Sweden that Red Wings center Joakim Andersson played for, Ehn is a 6-foot-3 late bloomer, Fischer said.
Hakan Andersson, the Red Wings director of European scouting, is a board member for the Frolunda program and has seen plenty of Ehn’s development. The 18-year-old was brought up to the SuperElit team where he produced 11 points in 45 games last season.
“The coaches were thrilled with the potential,” Andersson said. “Good hockey sense, always looking around to make plays but has a lot of work to do. He’s lean. He’s a tall kid, needs to fill in. I got good hopes for him. He’s got some raw stuff you can’t really teach.”
The Free Press's Helene St. James also talked about Ehn while continuing with the, "All centers, coincidentally" theme:
In the fourth round, at 106th, the Wings drafted Swedish center Christoffer Ehn. “He’s got good hockey sense,” Swedish scout Hakan Andersson said. “I’ve got good hopes for him, because he’s got some of that stuff you can’t teach.”
The emphasis on centers, general manager Ken Holland said, “was not really by design, but it just fell that way. Not a bad thing, though.”
Wright said that, “the No. 1 thing we want to address is scoring. We need more goals.”
RedWingsCentral spoke with Andersson, who's on the Frolunda Indians' board of directors, about Ehn:
Andersson, the Red Wings’ director of European scouting, has seen a lot of the 6-foot-3, 181-pounder with Frolunda at Sweden’s J-20 SuperElit level, and made sure his club selected Ehn in the fourth round, 106th overall.
Andersson said although the numbers don’t show it yet, Ehn showed impressive creativity and playmaking ability at the J-20 level.
“I’m not making comparisons, but if I look at Joakim Andersson, he’s bigger, he’s certainly a better skater, and he’s got some ability to do a little bit with the puck, just like Joakim has when he’s playing his best hockey, like in the 2013 playoffs,” Andersson said.
The Wings then picked their only non-center, Minnesota-born goaltender Thomas Perry, who prefers to go by Chase, with the 136th pick, and Perry told the Colorado Springs Gazette's Joe Paisley that he found out about his status in a roundabout fashion:
There were more pressing issues on Colorado College freshman Chase Perry's mind before he became the latest member of the Detroit Red Wings organization.
He was readying for a cousin's wedding Saturday and not thinking about the NHL draft when he received a text from his uncle, Chad Perry.
"He said 'Dude you just got drafted by Detroit,'" said Perry, who was selected with the 136th overall pick in the fifth round.
The news was a relief for the Andover, Minn., native, who was pleased to join one of the Original Six franchises.
"It is an amazing feeling I have right now," he said. "They hadn't talked to me at all so I was a little surprised. But I am very pleased to be part of such a storied franchise that develops great players."
Perry's a big goaltender, and the Colorado College Tigers' website wants us to know it--as well as a strange fact about his soon-to-be coach:
Perry was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, 136th overall, on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The 6-foot-3 netminder became the 81st Tiger to be drafted since Bob Collyard and Dale Yutsyk were picked by the St. Louis Blues in 1969.
Perry, who posted a 1.83 goals-against average and .933 saves percentage in 10 playoff games for the North American Hockey League semifinalist Wenatchee Wild last season, became the first CC goaltender to be drafted since Richard Bachman was selected by the Dallas Stars in the fourth round of the 2006 draft as the 120th overall choice.
"I've never seen Chase play, but I've heard a lot of good things about him," Colorado College head coach Mike Haviland said. "He's got the perfect size and athleticism to be a successful goaltender."
Perry is obviously something of a fall-back plan. He's going to college and if he's "red-shirted" (that can be done in hockey, too, though it's rare), he may play for as long as five years at CC, so the Wings can let Petr Mrazek, Jake Paterson and Jared Coreau develop and know they've got someone they don't even have to worry about for at least four years.
The Wings certainly plan on letting Perry develop, as the Free Press's St. James, who posited a superb set of player capsules, noted:
G Thomas (Chase) Perry
Selected: Fifth round (136th overall).
Vitals: 6-2, 175.
Born: Feb. 8, 1996.
Last played for: Wenatchee (NAHL).
Overview: Posted a 2.34 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 35 games in 2013-14. Director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright said, “big guy, going to go to Colorado College next season. Goaltenders need to develop, and they need to get coached, but big kid, athletic kid.”
RedWingsCentral asked Wings scout David Kolb, the team's Minnesota-area scout, to tell the rest of Perry's story:
“We wanted to get a goalie at some point in this draft and at that point, he was the guy we liked,” said Red Wings scout David Kolb. “He was a good fit at that stage of the draft.”
Perry started the season splitting time with 20-year-old Swede Gustaf Johansson, but took over in the second half when Johansson was lost to injury. He finished with a 15-12-6 record in 35 starts for the expansion club, posting three shutouts, a 2.34 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.
Swedish goalie name play: Jonas Gustavsson, Johan Gustafsson, now a Gustaf Johansson. Sheesh!
But he took his game to another level in the post-season — knocking off the Minnesota Wilderness in the first round — posting three shutouts in 10 playoff starts along with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
“He had a very strong playoffs,” Kolb said. “Chase is a tremendous athlete. His athleticism, his battle, his ability to make second and third saves — that really stood out for me. Very competitive and obviously good size, which in today’s game is very important.”
The Wings went back to the I-know-that-guy well in snagging Julius Vahatalo with the 166th pick in the 6th round. Vahatalo is a massive forward who plays for Ari Vouri's team, TPS Turku in the Finnish Liiga, and in penning his draft capsules, MLive's Brendan Savage noted that Vahatalo is a bit of a moose--long-legged but lean:
Julius Vahatalo LW 19 6-5/191 TPS (Finland) 33 Gm, 18 G, 21 A, 6 PIM
Anderson says, ""He's a 6-foot-5, biggest of them all. He was injured quite a bit. Played for TPS in Finnish league, that's where Ari Vouri (Detroit's Finnish scout) lives. He knows him very well. He was injured and came back and played well for them. They put him up on the men's team, too. I saw him a couple of games. Very big, skates well. Very lean, also. Has 2-3 years hard work just to fill out to normal size for a 6-foot-5 guy but has ability. He was a real point-producing junior before he got injured, over a point per game. We're hoping if he comes back from that we might have a guy there."
RedWingsCentral spoke to Vouri about his find, a 19-year-old who'd been passed over in 2013:
“He’s been a bit of a secret,” said Red Wings scout Ari Vuori. “He’s been injured quite a bit for two years.”
His first time through the draft in 2013, Vahatalo had appeared in just 21 games at the Finnish under-18 and -20 levels and missed the final three months of the 2012-13 season after a skate cut his hand.
He came back this season with TPS at the under-20 level and quietly impressed Vuori with a strong first half, producing 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points in 33 games. That was enough to get him called up to TPS’s SM-Liiga squad, where he finished the season appearing in 18 games and scoring three goals in limited duty.
“He’s a big kid who has good hands, good creativity and he can score,” Vuori said. “It all sounds very good, but that’s the way it is. He’s skilled, he has good puck skills and his skating is good for his size — he has speed, he just needs to work on his quickness.”
According to Vouri and RedWingsCentral, Vahatalo will take part in the annual set of August exhibition games between the United States, Sweden and Vahatalo's Finns at Team USA's World Junior selection camp in Lake Placid, and he's expected to take a full-time role with TPS this upcoming season.
I had always wondered what TPS Turku stood for (see: the now-defunct Louisville TPS Hockey), and it stands for, "Turun Palloseura," which basically translates to "Athletic team in Turku."
The Red Wings had two 7-round picks, and their first pick of round 7, Axel Holmstrom, taken 196th overall, will officially be asked if he's ever seen Beverly Hills Cop by the blogger writing this entry.
Holmstrom's not quite as odd a duck as the guy he's not related to, Tomas, but he played in a fantastic team's system in Skelleftea AIK of the SHL--Sweden's back-to-back champions--and Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji reported that Axel has at least one thing in common with Tomas...
The Wings took another Swede with the first of their two seventh-round picks, Holmstrom.
"He's a centerman, a really hard worker," Andersson said. "He's a 6-foot guy but weighs 195 pounds, he's really committed to training and has good hockey sense. He played center for Sweden under-18 team. Played with (William) Nylander. They found some chemistry. He has some point-producing ability and really works hard. He has a chance to make the world junior team."
Holmstrom had 15 goals and 23 assists in 33 games with Skelleftea Jr.
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's draft capsules note that Axel and Tomas share a second characteristic:
AXEL HOLMSTROM, C
Round: 7 (196)
Height/weight: 6-0; Wt.: 196
Last season: Skelleftea in Sweden — 33 games, 15 goals, 23 assists
Scouting report: Good size and scouts like his hockey smarts. ... Not an elite skater yet, which likely caused him to fall in this draft. ... Has played well against good competition in Sweden.
Andersson told RedWingsCentral that Holmstrom's fitness and "compete" levels make up for his shortcomings (I will let you read Andersson's recounting of the Wings' "swiping" of Holmstrom on your own)...
“He can do stuff with the puck but he also works very hard,” Andersson said. “He’s a very hard-working kid and he has good hockey sense. He’s very stocky, he’s very mature, but he just works so hard and he is so dedicated off the ice. Trains hard, works hard.”
Holmstrom’s skating is the biggest area of concern. He’s not particularly fast, and it could hold him back at higher levels.
“He’s not a bad skater, but his skating is something you can look at and say, you wish he was a little better skater,” Andersson said. “There’s room for improvement because he works so hard. But if you go around and ask (scouts), that’s probably what they’ll say (is his weakness).”
And I want to emphasize that this is not a bad thing:
Andersson expects Holmstrom to spend another season at the J-20 level but didn’t rule out him seeing time in the SHL. His strength and maturity make him an ideal call-up.
Skelleftea lost a boatload of players after winning their second championship, including Jimmie Ericsson (yes, Jonathan's brother), Joakim Lindstrom (LinDstrom), Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Oscar Moeller, so Holmstrom could end up in the SHL this upcoming season.
The Wings' final pick is perhaps the biggest wild card, and that's appropriate given that Alexander Kadeykhin was picked with the 201st pick, the "bonus pick" the Wings received when Brad Stuart signed with the San Jose Sharks.
We'll head back to Fox Sports Detroit's Wakiji for Andersson's description of the massive 6'4," 216-pound Russian:
The Wings' second seventh-round pick, Kadeykin, turns 21 in October.
"He's a 93-born playing in the KHL," Wright said. "A big-body guy who had a real good year. Nikolai (Vakourov), our Russian scout, really liked him and thought he'd be a great pick and a great steal for the seventh round. He was there for us so we took him."
Kadeykin had eight goals and 15 assists in 54 games with Mytischi and 14 goals and 29 assists in 26 games for Mytischi Jr.
"They were a poor team this year, didn't make the playoffs in the KHL, but as a 20-year old I think he was their first or second-line center and he was plus-17, which is good," Andersson said. "He's a big guy, too. 6-foot-4 and has some hands. Has a little work on the skating but his skating is good enough to play in the KHL as a 20-year old, so it's not all bad."
Kadeykin led Atlant in scoring, though Alexei Zhamnov's team was dreadful, and I might be so bold as to suggest that there are some Mattias Janmark comparisons here, at least in terms of the Wings' seemingly new-found tendency to pick at least one player who's gotten lost in the shuffle because he developed later than his peers.
“He’s playing one more year in Russia because he has a contract, but when it expires, he’s planning to come to North America to play in (the AHL with) Grand Rapids,” said Red Wings scout Nikolai Vakourov.
Kadeykin, selected with the extra seventh-rounder the Red Wings acquired through trading Brad Stuart to San Jose in 2012, seemed to come out of nowhere as a KHL rookie, notching eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 54 games. He did this while ranking just 12th among Mytischi forwards in ice time at just 12:34 per game.
But the Red Wings have had their eye on him for a few seasons.
“He was always in the picture for me,” Vakourov said. “He always had the potential. This season, he really improved. Skating was his issue but it’s getting better with experience. He’s always had the hands and hockey sense.”
We'll circle back to the beginning thanks to RWC, focusing on the team's first-round pick once more. Dylan Larkin is, in theory, a rich man's Darren Helm, and again, Tyler Wright told the press that the Wings would've dropped down into the second round if the Wings hadn't snagged him:
Scouts are loathe to compare prospects to current NHLers. But asked if Dylan Larken is like Darren Helm with more offensive upside, Jeff Finley didn’t hesitate.
“That’s a very fair comparison,” said the Red Wings’ chief amateur scout. “That style of play with the speed and the skating … and I think there’s more offense there.”
If it seems like the Wings basically drafted five second-or-third-line centers, a goalie and a heart-and-soul grinder in Holmstrom, you're right, but like the Perry, the Wings have four years to watch Larkin develop in their backyard:
Larkin is headed to the University of Michigan, where he will play for veteran head coach Red Berensen. How he develops and produces over the next two or three years will crystallize Larkin’s future as an NHLer.
“For sure, we have a third-line guy who is a great character guy and will wear a letter for you down the road, and you hope there’s enough offense that maybe he’s a second-line center in time,” Finley said. “He’s going to be a good NHL player for us. He’s the kind of guy you win with.”
I'd better get used to following the Michigan Daily again, eh? The Daily's Erin Lennon took note of the Wolverines taken in the draft, Larkin included...
[At] No. 15, Larkin became a member of the Detroit Red Wings, though he said he would honor his commitment to Michigan.
Ranked No. 17 among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service, Larkin was projected to go within the top 20 for most of the year. But he — and seemingly every hockey fan in the state of Michigan — hoped he’d get to wear the same jersey as his longtime idol when Detroit went on the clock.
“The captain (Steve Yzerman) pretty much says it all,” he said. “He was a true professional.”
The Waterford, Michigan native and Ann Arbor-based U.S. National Team Development Program standout also became the first Big Ten player taken in the first round and the Wolverines’ highest draftee since defenseman Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets at No. 9 in 2012.
“It was pretty special,” Larkin said. “I was pretty nervous, but just to hear your name was pretty special.”
Larkin knew he would almost certainly fulfill his lifelong dream of playing a professional sport. Now, he will also get the chance to play for the team he grew up a fan of.
Hockey's Future's Tony Piscotta pointed out that the Belle Tire hockey program can be proud of the fact that Larkin was one of two first-round picks who'd played for one of the region's best minor midget powerhouses (Detroit Honeybaked, Compuware and Little Caesars are the other private-program teams that churn out NHL'ers on a regular basis; you might call Larkin's other alma mater, the U.S. National Team Development Program, a public entity)...
Dylan Larkin had 42 points in 27 games for Belle Tire in 2011-12 before suffering a season-ending injury. He chose to join the U.S. NTDP program the following season, skating with the program for the next two seasons while committing to the University of Michigan. The Detroit Red Wings kept Larkin local, choosing the big center 15th overall in the first round of the NHL Draft.
And I thought that it was absolutely fascinating that the consensus #2 pick for the 2015 draft, Jack Eichel, came to Philadelphia for both a dry run and to see his friends from the NTDP drafted. Eichel made sure to tell NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale that he was happiest for Larkin:
Eichel was taking in all the sights and sounds of the 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center this weekend in support of his teammates on the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team. He certainly had a lot to cheer about; 12 members of that USNTDP team were drafted.
"That's why I was here, to support those guys and see where they were taken because they worked so hard and they really deserve to be drafted," Eichel said. "I was happy to see Dylan Larkin go [No. 15] to the Detroit Red Wings. He's an unbelievable player and person. It was great spending two years with him. He's an unbelievable skater and he goes so hard in practice."
The Wings chronicled Larkin's "Draft Day Dream"...
And they spoke to his parents, too:
The Wings' decision to spend almost all their draft picks on second-to-third-line centers earned them a middling overall grade from ESPN's Insiders (subscriber-only article, but Paul pays $40 for a subscription, so I have to be allowed to give one thirtieth of it to you), Corey Pronman and Frank Provenzano...
Detroit Red Wings | GRADE: C+
2014 draft class
Round Overall Player Position PDR*
1 15 Dylan Larkin C 26
3 63 Dominic Turgeon C 132
4 106 Christoffer Ehn C NR
5 136 Chase Perry G NR
6 166 Julius Vahatalo LW NR
7 196 Axel Holmstrom C 101
7 201 Alexander Kadeykin C NR
*PDR: Corey Pronman's pre-draft ranking.
Top Pick: Dylan Larkin was one of the top power forwards available in this year's draft class and is an outstanding skater. He has a fine but not outstanding amount of skill but consistently gains the offensive zone due to his skating ability. He drives the net, muscles out opponents in battles and gets back on defense effectively. He kills penalties well, and he can be a short-handed scoring threat.
Day 2 picks: Turgeon is a player with average skill but fine size and protects well. ... Ehn has above-average possession skills, he's skilled and smart with a good work ethic. ... Holmstrom trended up as the season went along, including a great World U-18 tournament. He's a skilled center who thinks the game well. I ranked him a little low due to lack of notes, but know some scouts who feel he's a top 2-3 round prospect. ... Kadeykin generated buzz last season after his significant production in the MHL as a big forward and had a productive KHL season.
Summary: The Red Wings added Larkin as a nice complement to the high-skill players in their system. Larkin will provide the two-way play, speed and work ethic to the skill of Tomas Jurco, Anthony Mantha, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and others. Turgeon fits will along that mold as well. After that they drafted some talented players that I'm not as sold on, but do have tools.--Pronman
Organizational assessment: The Red Wings haven't had a particularly eventful draft weekend. Given the relatively thin pickings in the upcoming free agent class (along with their disappointing Stephen Weiss signing last offseason), this summer will probably see them being fairly low key as they try to retool on the fly. Grade: C--Provenzano
But I've learned two things about Tyler Wright's administration:
1. They don't care about draft rankings; they pick the players they believe are the best available based upon their own lists;
2. They don't care what other people think about their picks. If the team is happy, public perception can take a Tyler Bertuzzi.
Wright certainly suggested as much to MLive's Ansar Khan...
"We just thought we needed to get some more forwards," Tyler Wright, the club's director of amateur scouting, said. "No. 1 thing we want to start addressing is scoring. We want to be able to score more goals. We had a couple of defensemen we thought we were going to take that unfortunately got picked right before and we just reverted to the other guys."
"We tried to get bigger, we tried to get faster, and in the same breath we tried to stay with the philosophy with skill and hockey sense," Wright said. "Everyone says they're happy walking away from the draft, but we're excited with some of the players that we got, for sure."
And Wright addressed the fact that the Wings picked six left-shooting forwards, too:
"Up front it's not a real big deal whether you shoot right or left," Wright said. "If you have hockey sense you can adapt on either wing. I think it plays a role a little more on defense if you have a guy playing on his opposite side. It was talked about, but at the end of the day we weren't going to make a pick just because of the way the guy shoots."
The Wings' new prospects did weigh in on their new-found statuses on Twitter...
Save Axel Holmstrom, who was pissed off about his friend not being drafted:
Sebastien Aho, Holmstrom's teammate on Skelleftea's Junior-to-20-year-old team, is 5'9" and 176 pounds, but NHL.com had him ranked as the 9th-best European skater, and several mock drafts had Aho going in the second round. Even though the Wings have had an up-and-down experience with smallish defensemen, you can bet that the Wings were calling Aho after the draft, inviting him to Traverse City.
Otherwise...The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan reminded us that the Wings are looking for an assistant coach...
With Bill Peters having been named the new head coach in Carolina, there’s a “Help Wanted” sign for a Red Wings assistant coach. General manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock both said they are “kicking tires” and accumulating available names, but there have been no interviews.
Holland reiterated Jeff Blashill, who served as Babcock’s assistant three seasons ago before being named head coach at minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids, will remain with the Griffins.
Tom Renney will remain an associate coach on Babcock’s staff.
According to the Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa, the deadline for qualifying offers is 5 PM on Monday, so we will find out whether the Wings want to retain Mitch Callahan, Willie Coetzee, Cory Emmerton, Landon Ferraro, Gleason Fournier, Andrej Nestrasil, Max Nicastro or Trevor Parkes' rights, or whether the Wings are going to let some or all of them go.
If you look at SI's list of restricted free agents-to-be, you should know that the Wings don't have much to worry about in terms of RFA offer sheets (you've heard of PK Subban, Torey Krug, Reilly Smith, Ryan O'Reilly, Jeff Petry, Nino Niederreiter, Lars Eller, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Vladimir Sobotka, Richard Panik and Jake Gardiner, yes?)...
The Predators picked Vladislav Kamenev as a "bonus pick" thanks to the Wings' second-rounder surrendered in the David Legwand deal, though they dropped down from 46th to 51st in a deal with San Jose (technically speaking, San Jose picked Julius Bergman 46th;
The Blue Jackets picked unranked Latvian goaltender Elvis Merzlikins with the 76th pick, the one the Wings traded to pick Turgeon;
If you wish to learn about the activites taking place during Traverse City's National Cherry Festival, which coincides with the Wings' development camp, the Grand Traverse Insider's Karin Beery provides for your needs (fun fact number eighteen gabillion and five: cherries are not native to Michigan);
At 5 AM EDT, the Vernon Morning Star (no author listed) posted an interview with Wings part-time scout Marty Stein:
Vernon’s Marty Stein, who scouts for the Red Wings, was elated with Detroit’s pick at 15 – American Under 18 star Dylan Larkin.
“He’s a centre from Ann Arbor who played on the U.S.A. development team and is going to play at Michigan in the fall,” said Stein. “He was rated the best skater in the draft. A hard worker with skill who (coach Mike) Babcock will love.”
Stein stood by Colorado head coach Patrick Roy and was amazed at just how big a man the former Habs’ net detective is in person.
“I’m surprised Ozzie (former Wing goalie Chris Osgood, of Vernon) did as well as he did in his fight at centre ice,” chuckled Stein.
And I'm only going to ask for another day or two as I'm almost there:
Over the three years that the Wings have held development camps in Traverse City, I've asked for your help in raising the finances to cover my hotel and gas bills, and you've been amazingly and remarkably kind in affording me the opportunity to "work for you"; due to my present financial circumstances, I'm afraid that I have to ask for your assistance again.
If there's any way that you can lend a financial hand in my attempts to get up to Traverse City for the summer development camp and/or eventually to attend the prospect tournament and main camp in the fall, I would be incredibly grateful for any help.
I'm sticking with Paypal as it's the most direct route (though I will also do the whole, "Give me your address and I'll send you a check or a few bucks in the mail" thing, too), and you have to use my email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, as the recipient.
Here's the button:
I know this entry had some repetition, but man, I worked on it for five hours. I'm tired, and I'm gonna take today off, basically; Monday = shopping for the trip + mom's bridge fell out so dentist's office it is; Tuesday = UFA day, helping Paul; Wednesday = mom skin cancer check-up (every six months) and more UFA fun and packing; Thursday = driving my butt up to Traverse City.
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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.