The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/31/13 at 05:01 AM ET
The Red Wings' prospect tournament starts next Thursday in Traverse City, preceding the main camp on September 12th, and even though the Wings' roster contains half the players that took part in the summer development camp, jamming eight teams' worth of rosters into one rink = as it turns out, the rental semitruck becomes the equipment room.
The Wings, being the "home team," get the nicest locker room, and they also get to park the equipment trunk closest to the rink door (and I s*** you not, the main player exit is accompanied by a sign stating, "NOT AN APPROVED MEANS OF EGRESS," which gives someone like me a constant case of the giggles during the tournament).
I guess I'm going to do this a little backwards, so we'll wander back to the Joe slowly. This is definitely the season for fantasy hockey leagues--NHL.com has entire sub-site set up for fantasy poolies, I know that many of you who run Yahoo leagues are getting things set up, pool guides are out (the surest sign of the certainty of last year's lockout was the complete absence of hockey pool publications) and people like Dobber Hockey's Jeff Angus are penning "expert" columns for Puck Daddy. Angus deemed one Wings forward to be a "sleeper" of the first order...
Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings – Nyquist may be the future of the Red Wings following in the footsteps of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, two players who he resembles in both playing style and demeanor. Detroit continues to unearth late round gems and develop them with patience and care at the AHL level. Nyquist will slip on draft day because his NHL production to date doesn’t match his upside or ability.
And in "real hockey player" estimations--and these fly around like nobody's business at this time of year--SI's Allan Muir deemed the second-best-rated player in EA's NHL 2014 game to be the third-most-irreplacable NHL'er going into the 13-14 season:
3. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings: Forget for a moment that he led last season’s club in both scoring and highlight reel appearances. What makes Datsyuk so valuable is his ability to take control of the puck in all three zones, whether it’s in the circle or with his relentless defensive pursuit. He plays in all situations against the best the opposition cares to throw out against him and he epitomizes Detroit’s organizational style in a way that his teammates can only hope to emulate.
At least, that’s what the numbers suggest. Overall, the Red Wings have won about 56 percent of their games over the past three seasons. Datsyuk has missed 39 games during that span . .. and the Wings won just 35 percent of them.
Closer to home...
You need to remember the name Andrei Vasilevski, if you haven't memorized it already. The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted the Salavat Yulaev Ufa goalie (fun fact: Salavat Yulaev was a hero of Pugachev's Rebellion) with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft, and you may remember that the Red Wings surrendered that pick to acquire one Kyle Quincey from the Colorado Avalanche (via the Lightning, who sent Steve Downie to Colorado for Quincey).
The 28-year-old Quincey's entering the final year of a contract with a $3.775 million cap hit (per Capgeek, and he'll be paid $4 million in real-world dollars), and the Red Wings need Quincey to step up his game and serve as a much more stable partner for the adventurous Brendan Smith to prove that he was worth a player who's turning out to be a pretty dang solid prospect.
The Free Press's Helene St. James profiles
Jonathan Ericsson II, minus the happy ending, I mean Quincey this morning:
Looking at numbers: Had one goal, two assists and a plus-seven rating in 36 regular-season games. Had two assists and was minus-three in 14 playoff games.
Looking back: When Quincey arrived in Detroit in February 2012, a week before the trade deadline, he went through a rough transition period. He was hampered by having to adjust to a new system and by joining a team missing half its stars. This past season was supposed to be a second chance. He was partnered most of the time with Brendan Smith; both are young, which exacerbated the growing pains.
Quincey had more good nights than subpar ones and, benefiting from not being out against top opposing stars, finished the season with a solid plus rating.
Looking ahead: Quincey is entering a contract year, which serves either as a distraction or motivation for a player. Quincey has his assets — he’s 6-feet-2, 200-odd pounds, and he has skills with the puck — but he needs to watch making risky plays, especially when he’s with Smith, who takes risks. too.
Quincey first played a game for the Wings in November 2005 — his only game that season — then played a half-dozen games each of the next two seasons, so it seems like he has been around a long time. But he’s only 28, an age when defensemen are just coming into their own. If Quincey keeps his game simple and steady, he should be fine.
Why Ken Holland likes to reacquire players, I do not know, and he's had a very mixed post-lockout record: Dominik Hasek, Chris Osgood, Jason Williams, Todd Bertuzzi, Darren McCarty, Mikael Samuelsson, Joey MacDonald and Ty Conklin represent one hell of a "mixed bag"...
And especially given the fact that the Red Wings both possess an abundance of blueline talent in the prospect pipeline and given that the fact that the Red Wings' biggest question mark going into this season is whether its blueline can hold up on its own, or whether the team's going to need to surrender some of its assets to find another top-pair defenseman to spell Niklas Kronwall and Ericsson, players like Quincey, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff have their share of proving to do.
Going the other way, figuratively speaking (while getting "closer to home"), the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness penned an article discussing Valtteri Filppula's final practice with the Wings on Thursday, and I can only say that his comments regarding parting with the Wings to play with the Lightning sounded odd to me:
“It’s bittersweet,” Filppula said after the practice. “I’m definitely excited about Tampa and a new team and a new place, but at the same time it was great here. I have a lot of great friends, so that way it’s really tough. I think it’s (kind of) weird to be at the rink,” Filppula added. “I skated here this week. That’s (weirder) than wearing the gear. I’m looking forward to getting some new gear.”
Filppula, who was an unrestricted free agent, received a five-year contract worth $25 million from former Wings and current Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.
“I’m really excited,” Filppula said. “I can’t wait to get there and get started and hopefully do well and do as much as I can to help the team. I’ve been (in Detroit) a long time and it’s always tough to leave that way, leaving a bunch of good friends behind,” Filppula continued. “That’s tough. But mostly really positive feeling and I’m happy to be moving on.”
Filppula couldn’t reach a deal to remain in Detroit.
“I don’t know if surprised is the right word,” Filppula said when asked if he was surprised he didn’t get a new deal with the Wings. “We were working on it for a long time, but it didn’t happen. Sometimes it goes like that. Pretty much it was 50-50, we’ll see what happens. You never know.”
Given that the Wings signed Stephen Weiss to a contract that will pay Weiss all of $500,000 less than Filppula will earn over his 5 years with the Lightning, I can only assume that the Wings weren't willing to pay a flat $5 million per season for five more years of Filppula's maddening inconsistency--and I have to assume that the Lightning promised Filppula the opportunity to step in and at least take a chunk of the bought-out Vincent Lecavalier's ice time and status as one of the go-to players on the team.
Filppula was so very even-keeled in interviews that he never gave anybody a really good "read" as to what was going on in his head, but I really do wonder whether he felt that his status as a point-per-every-other-game player (save that 66-point 2011-2012 season) had to do with a lack of ice time or perhaps a lack of placing him in the proper positions to succeed.
Me, I always felt that Filppula allowed himself to become preoccupied with his defensive responsibilities when he played as a center, and really only let himself do his offensive thing when he was on the wing. Maybe it really was a case of player's self-perception versus team's perception.
And while I don't want to linger too long upon it, the hockey world kind of went ape over Daniel Alfredsson's first official Wings-Tweeted picture of #11 wearing Wings gear on Friday--that got much more "play" than Jimmy Howard's mask or anything from the Wings' Thursday practice save Darren Helm's back's status as "still in progress."
Only Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner spoke with Alfredsson, and while I posted a good chunk of Regner's article on Friday, Alfredsson offered a Stephen Weiss-like take on the Wings' move to the East (which is one of the reasons that Weiss signed with Detroit)...
“They will adapt really well,” Alfredsson said. “They play that skating style, that puck possession style, that’s demanding and makes things happen. The travel is a lot easier, no time changes. Mentally over a season, that has an affect and that’s gone. That is a big plus, as well.”
He of course sounded excited about starting anew (and again, my gut says he's going to play here for more than one year)...
“In Ottawa, I was treated so well for so many years," Alfredsson said. "You grow accustomed to it that. I took it for granted. Now that I’ve changed teams, I’ve got to prove myself again. The Red Wings fans, I’m sure have heard of me and know of me, but I want to show my best sides. It’s exciting, a little bit nervous, obviously, but it’s given me a little more energy in the summer workouts than I’ve had the last few years.”
And the Red Wings' captain sure made it sound like his recruitment job was about as necessary as Wings coach Mike Babcock said his was in attempting to convince Alfredsson to leave Ottawa and come to Detroit:
“When Alfie called me up in the middle of the summer and asked how Detroit is, I was like, 'Why? Why is he wondering how Detroit is?'” Zetterberg said. “He explained that he might be a Red Wing next year.
"I was really surprised and really happy, and a few days later, it was signed and done.” Alfie is the last Swede in the league that I thought I would play with.”
Perhaps "at home" as opposed to "close to home"...
While not watching from afar...
If you happen to be in Metro Detroit and have few plans for today, don't forget that the Plymouth Whalers are playing their first preseason game against the Windsor Spitfires today, and that they're playing away from Compuware for a good cause's sake:
When the Plymouth Whalers open the 2013 pre-season schedule on Saturday, August 31 at 7 pm against Windsor at Eddie Edgar Ice Arena in Livonia, a heartfelt and inspiring back story will take center stage in a big way.
One hundred percent of the proceeds generated in the game benefit the Livonia Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Larry Nehasil Park in Livonia.
Eddie Edgar Arena is located at 33841 Lyndon in Livonia. Tickets for the game go on sale August 1 and run $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at Livonia Police Department (734-466-2470), Eddie Edgar Ice Arena (734-427-1280), Compuware Arena (734-453-8400), Livonia Chamber of Commerce (734-427-2122) and the Livonia Community Recreation Center (734-466-2900).
“We’re very excited here, not only with the (Livonia) police department, but the fire department and the entire city organization,” said Livonia Police Chief Curtis Caid. “We really appreciate the support of the Plymouth Whalers and their organization in bringing the game to Eddie Edgar Arena for our benefit. We’re truly honored that the Whalers and the Spitfires are willing to play a game here in Livonia and for this cause.”
The Larry Nehasil Park and the Livonia Fallen Heroes Memorial were created as a memorial to the service of late police officers Larry Nehasil, Ervin Johnston, James Kelley and Sidney Dethloff and fireman Gary Kreski. Ground breaking for the project happened on July 17, with the anticipated completion some time during the summer of 2014.
As you know, the time of my departure may be nigh--I've sent the dry cleaning in and I went supplies-shopping on Friday--but I'm still raising funds for the Traverse City trip because two weeks of hotel, gas, food, etc. = $$$ (I must admit that I'm going to be going back to the notebook when I can't sit down with my laptop as I cannot afford a tablet at this time). If you can lend a hand in the, "Food and gas, but not hopefully at the same time" department, I would greatly appreciate it.
I'm sticking with PayPal as folks are familiar with it, and the email address that you use as my "recipient" ID is my personal email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, I'm with the Wings on this tip regarding the holiday weekend and the first party weekend for those of you in college:
Update: HockeySverige.se's Uffe Bodin found a spiffy documentary about Henrik Zetterberg on YouTube:
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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.