The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/18/13 at 04:20 AM ET
While the Grand Rapids Griffins attempt to avoid a winner-take-all situation by capitalizing on their 3-games-to-2 lead over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Final this evening (7 PM EDT, WOOD TV in Grand Rapids/FoxSportsDetroit.com across Michigan, AHLLive.com everywhere, Time Warner Cable in New York, and WOOD Radio), the Red Wings' roster picture will have gotten a bit clearer back in Metro Detroit.
The news that Pavel Datsyuk's going to ink a 3-year contract extension, and that Pavel Datsyuk's "big day" will involve sitting down to lunch with Ken Holland and Datsyuk's agent, Gary Greenstin (so say MLive's Ansar Khan, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness) to get the final details worked out so that Datsyuk can sign on the dotted line on July 5th (he still has a year remaining on his current contract, so a 3-year extension translates to 4 more seasons of play, knock on wood). The only thing Datsyuk needs to worry about losing, if anything, is his first of two TSN Play of the Year semifinals.
Inking Datsyuk allows Ken Holland and the Wings' managment to get the "sure things" out of the way and move on to their other roster issues.
Where do things stand as of this morning?
We know that Ian White's last appearance as a Red Wing was in DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's "By the Numbers" article.
The Wings' interest in Stephen Weiss suggests that the team's all but certain that Valtteri Filppula will pursue (and receive) a $5 million-plus payday as an unrestricted free agent.
We know that Drew Miller decided to stay in no small part because his agent, Jason Woolley, encouraged him to not "get greedy," and we know that if Daniel Cleary is to remain, he'll have to make a similar business decision, possibly taking a haircut from the pro-rated $3 million of real-world bucks he earned this past season.
It's also safe to suggest that it won't take long for the team to re-sign restricted free agents-to-be Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith to deals at or around $1-1.25 million a season.
The Wings' roster crunch (depending on the health of Darren Helm and/or Todd Bertuzzi) up front and its pursuit of free agents (looks like they'll be going after a forward given that Sergei Gonchar got a 2-year, $10 million deal from Dallas at 39, and that Mark Streit's going to get a 4-year, $21 million deal at 35) as both the Wings and other teams can't make their final decisions regarding cap compliance buy-outs, which should change the UFA picture significantly, decently, or perhaps not at all, until 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final ends...
All of that's up in the air.
Somehow, the Wings will find a way to take their Capgeek-estimated $10.6 million in cap space for the 2013-2014 season and re-sign the RFA's, maybe re-sign Cleary, maybe not, and go after a UFA. That may or may not involve a cap-compliance buy-out of Mikael Samuelsson ($3 million for 13-140 to clear room, and it may or may not involve trading Carlo Colaiacovo and his affordable $2.5 million salary to make room for Brian Lashoff to graduate to the NHL as he's on a one-way deal going forward.
Otherwise, until training camp, the team's not particularly likely to shed extra bodies. Historically speaking, the Wings have been willing to exceed the 23-man roster limit until training camp and the exhibition season allow its players in danger of losing their jobs (see: Patrick Eaves, Cory Emmerton, Jordin Tootoo, Colaiacovo) to determine their own fates by their on-ice performances, and after assessing said performances, the Wings tend to move players accordingly to get under the cap and roster limit by the last day of the exhibition season.
Am I missing anybody?
Oh, right. Damien Brunner. As noted on Monday--twice--the 27-year-old unrestricted free agent-to-be is leaving the door open to possibly pursuing much more than the $1.35 million cap hit (he earned $92,500 for signing with the Wings, he probably hit the vast majority of his $425,000 in performance bonus marks, and he earned a pro-rated 48/82nds of $925,000 in base salary this past season) on the open market.
Brunner did nothing to ease Wings fans' worries while speaking about his future with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan on Monday afternoon:
“I like the Red Wings and the organization, it was first class,” said Brunner, who in his first NHL season, had 26 points (12 goals) in 44 games. “We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.”
Brunner’s regular season essentially was split into two distinct portions. * In the first 19 games, he had 10 goals.
* In the final 25 games, he had two goals.
“He showed the ability to score goals, then he went through the stretch where he didn’t score many goals,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
Still, Brunner, 27, said he would enjoy continuing his career in Detroit.
“I’m really happy with the way it turned out,” Brunner said. “I learned it’s a different game over here and it was a lot to adjust (to) and learn. I made a step in the right direction.”
Brunner played in Switzerland during the lockout, scoring 57 points (25 goals) for EV Zug.
“I played (91) games total this season, and at some point there’s going to be games I’d be hitting the wall but only because it was tough to adjust for me the travel and the time difference,” Brunner said. “The good thing is I came back after that 15- or 20-game slump and played better hockey in the postseason. I always have high expectations for myself and I never (feel like I) play my best and always look for the next best game or better performance. But it was a good first step.”
Kulfan continues and confirmed that the Wings will "touch base" with Datsyuk and Greenstin before the news of his extension-to-be came out, and snagged a quip from Holland about the Griffins' playoff push, but I can't quote the whole article...
And what Brunner says worries me. As I said yesterday at this time, the lack of "comparables" due to Brunner's single-lockout-shortened season's worth of stats, combined with his agent's status as a tough cookie (and a bit of a lone wolf) make it hard to figure out what Brunner's worth--though the $2.5-3 million range seems reasonable on a short-term deal--but Brunner himself seems to be enjoying fueling the speculation that a player who's never been unsigned past April may in fact test the free agency waters.
If the Wings lose Brunner, their need to find another goal-scorer becomes absolutely essential, especially given the team's struggles to dent the back of the net during the stretch drive and playoffs.
I still believe that Brunner will remain a Wing, but I also believe that he's going to make both the team and fans like you and me sweat before inking a deal with Detroit just before noon on July 5th.
In fantasy hockey terms, the Hockey News's Darryl Dobbs assesses the Wings' wants, needs and probable moves as follows:
Looking to add – Depending on if the Red Wings use their compliance buyouts on the likes of veterans Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson, they may or may not need a winger or three. Nyquist (and Andersson, for that matter) will get one-way contracts so they will be full-timers next season and Tomas Tatar is also NHL-ready. Re-signing Brunner is a must and if they get him back, the team may only need a third-line veteran.
Since losing Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart last summer, all eyes have been on the defense corps. All year, the Red Wings tried to patch up this weakness - from signing Carlo Colaiacovo and Kent Huskins to calling up Brian Lashoff to inking collegiate Danny DeKeyser. But injuries, along with the colossal disappointment of Ian White, conspired to kill this team's hopes. I doubt the organization will make this mistake again, so expect management to be active in landing a free agent rearguard. There is not a lot to choose from after Mark Streit (whom the Flyers acquired and will probably sign), but Jordan Leopold, Toni Lydman, Ryan Whitney and Andrew Ference should all be on the short list.
Really? That's a Helene St. James-style take, and even she suggested that the Gonchar and Streit trade-and-signing moves may have exhausted the Wings' options on the blueline.
Ready for full time – As noted already, Nyquist and Andersson are on the team already. Both earned more responsibility with each game and I have a feeling they will have big impacts in 2013-14. Nyquist's impact will be more on the scoresheet, while Andersson's will be from his two-way play.
Tatar should also make the jump, but he'll be brought in slowly as a 40-point third-liner out to prove himself. The conveyor belt of high-upside prospect forwards for Detroit continues to turn.
Fantasy Outlook – Give Detroit a round of applause for keeping it up for so long. This is an organization I point to as the best-run in hockey. Success in sports is cyclical, but some cycles are longer than others. Detroit is an example of a long cycle. I can barely remember when this team sucked. Up front, there are plenty of fantasy-worthy players in the NHL and in the pipeline. On the back end, after Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith, there is little to choose from a fantasy standpoint. But in the pipeline a couple of kids are appealing, but they will just need two or three more years. Fantasy Grade: B+ (last year was B+)
Uh, what about Danny DeKeyser? Kronwall seems to like the guy.
Otherwise, SendToNews posted an annoying auto-play slate of interviews with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, captain Jeff Hoggan and defenseman Nathan Paetsch. It's great, eight minutes' worth of stuff, but I know that you hate auto-play stuff, so here's the link (http://www.sendtonews.com/index.php?id=211&SK=8fwKXbZob1);
Hockeytown Authentics Tweeted out a clarification regarding their equipment sale on Saturday, June 22nd: it starts at 11 AM for the general public, but season ticket-holders will have access to gear at 10 AM, though even HTA wasn't able to guarantee what may or may not find its way up to Troy from Joe Louis Arena;
The Toledo Blade reports that Wings prospect camp invitee Travis Novak was named among the 15 players the ECHL's Toledo Walleye want to retain their rights to sign;
I don't want to address it at any length, but the Detroit News's Mike Martindale reports that the Howe family's latest lawsuit against former business manager Del Reddy is now in the hands of a jury;
In the "of historical note department":
And again, and I may as well quote myself:
I would like to attend the Red Wings' summer development camp from July 9-17 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.
During previous years, I've asked you to lend a hand and you've come though in a big way. I need to ask, if it is at all possible, that you might consider tossing a few bucks into the Paypal tip jar. I've generally found that the smallest donations, $5, $10, stuff like that, end up paying for gas and a huge chunk of my stay, and anything more is a bonus.
So if you want to donate, that's awesome, if you don't want to donate, that's cool, and one way or another, I hope to get up there and provide you with in-person, every-day coverage.
My "ID" is my personal email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and you'll need to use that as the person you're sending $ to.
That's it for this morning. I hope!
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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.