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Red Wings overnight report: Damien Brunner intends to make the Wings sweat, contractually speaking

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, rtxg@yahoo.com, 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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Comments

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If Datsyuk signs the extension while he’s 34, does it still count as an over 35 contract? Not that it really matters since I would sign him until he’s 42.

Also, I like Brunner but I would take the money and apply it to the Bickell offer.

Posted by ExiledinLA on 06/18/13 at 04:11 AM ET

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I wonder if Brunner is malign the Wings sweat or if the Wings are playing hardball…

Posted by Garth on 06/18/13 at 06:35 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Meh…. Don’t get me wrong, I was impressed with Brunner and would like to see us retain his services but I’m more concerned that Tick Tock will sign someone with size and grit, like Clarkson. So in conclusion, I am not sweating this Brunner situation.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 06/18/13 at 07:33 AM ET

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So in conclusion, I am not sweating this Brunner situation.

But if they don’t re-sign Brunner then the’lly have to replace him too -their #3 goal-scorer in the regular season and #1 goal-scorer in the playoffs- and that won’t happen for less than Brunner demands.  Signing someone with size and grit should be what happens as well as keeping together their most consistent line in the playoffs.

And I think we all know that if Holland lets Brunner walk, he’s not going to be replaced and instead Samuelsson will not be bought out and Holland will sya that not buying out Samuelsson is just like signing a scoring winger.

Posted by Garth on 06/18/13 at 07:57 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

So in conclusion, I am not sweating this Brunner situation.


But if they don’t re-sign Brunner then the’lly have to replace him too -their #3 goal-scorer in the regular season and #1 goal-scorer in the playoffs- and that won’t happen for less than Brunner demands.  Signing someone with size and grit should be what happens as well as keeping together their most consistent line in the playoffs.

And I think we all know that if Holland lets Brunner walk, he’s not going to be replaced and instead Samuelsson will not be bought out and Holland will sya that not buying out Samuelsson is just like signing a scoring winger.
   
    Posted by
     
    Garth
     
      on 06/18/13 at 08:57 AM ET

Right, I don’t see why the Wings should try to skimp on pay with Brunner when goal-scoring is our number one objective in free agency and anyone else who has his potential or a more proven track record should cost significantly more.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 06/18/13 at 08:07 AM ET

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Our number one issue is getting a Solid D man who can run the PP, not a scoring forward. I would also want a grinder (Bickell, Clarkson) before a scoring forward.

Posted by callmedrw on 06/18/13 at 08:26 AM ET

Bradley97's avatar

If Datsyuk signs the extension while he’s 34, does it still count as an over 35 contract? Not that it really matters since I would sign him until he’s 42.

Posted by ExiledinLA on 06/18/13 at 05:11 AM ET

Yes it does. As Pronger and Philly found out with his ridiculous contract extension (not that it matters anymore, unfortunately for him), it’s not when the contract is signed, it’s when it kicks in.

I hope the CBA allows for severe injury related retirement for over 35 contracts, but I doubt the final wording will fix this problem.

Posted by Bradley97 on 06/18/13 at 08:28 AM ET

Bradley97's avatar

George,

Can Sameulsson be bought out this summer? What about his injury?

Posted by Bradley97 on 06/18/13 at 08:38 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

Our number one issue is getting a Solid D man who can run the PP, not a scoring forward. I would also want a grinder (Bickell, Clarkson) before a scoring forward.
   
    Posted by
     
    callmedrw
     
      on 06/18/13 at 09:26 AM ET

As previously covered on KK, everyone and their mom wants to sign a top-4 D-man.  If you want the most bang for your buck, you’re not going to be addressing that hole in free agency - I think it’s very possible that DeKeyser is your answer from the little we’ve seen of him.  Kronwall is just brutal at the point on the PP, and he doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon, but DeKeyser seems like he could be a reasonable complement.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 06/18/13 at 08:43 AM ET

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So in conclusion, I am not sweating this Brunner situation.

I’m not either.  I’d like to have him back, but I didn’t see anything in his game last year that leads me to believe he’s incredibly difficult to replace.  By the end of the year he had played his way out of the top 6 and down to 13-15 minutes a night, and that didn’t appreciably change in the playoffs.

As previously covered on KK, everyone and their mom wants to sign a top-4 D-man.

That’s a waste.  Detroit has a pretty strong blueline with a much better bottom 3 than they’ve had in years.  The cost of that is their top 3 isn’t as strong as it used to be.  I mean, Ian White is an average to better than average dman and he couldn’t get on the ice for Detroit in any real capacity.  Kindl and Smith and Colaiacovo passed him up.

That’s good news.  Detroit’s got 7 average to good defensemen and other than Quincey they don’t have any noteworthy overpays.  Detroit’s issue is at forward, where D and Z weren’t getting it done, Fil’s leaving, and Brunner may be as well.

While it would be nice to hope that Sammy and Bert coming back and actually playing would solve that, I’m not sure I would bet on that being the case.  Both guys have enough of an injury history to make betting on getting 70 games from both of them a longshot.

 

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/18/13 at 09:02 AM ET

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Our number one issue is getting a Solid D man who can run the PP, not a scoring forward

But that’s absolutely not going to happen, at least via free agency.  If they want a solid D man who can run the PP then they’re going to have to trade for him.

Not re-signing Brunner just creates another hole that needs to be filled.  Best thing for everyone is for Holland to shore up Brunner and the RFAs so that he can concentrate on signing a top six forward.  If Brunner is still around at UFA time then Holland is bound to get overwhelmed and sign Joe Kocur in a panic and claim he’s the scoring forward they were looking for.

Posted by Garth on 06/18/13 at 09:44 AM ET

TKShreve's avatar

Should we start putting change jars in gas stations, Little Ceasar’s and dry cleaning joints to build a “Sign That Extension Pavel” fund?

Actually, four more years is a big win for Detroit fans IMO. I wouldn’t hold the guy hostage, as he’s paid his dues. If he wants to moonlight in Mother-Russia, so be it. I’ll rest knowing he played a lengthy career here in Detroit during his prime, won some cups and we saw the best he had to offer us on a night in-night out basis.

To watch Stevie Y, Lids and Pavel over the years has been a true blessing. One that most other franchises cannot hang their hats on.

Posted by TKShreve from East Uptown on 06/18/13 at 09:47 AM ET

TKShreve's avatar

Re: Brunner -

Am I the only one who sees him as a defensive liability? He has a tremendous amount of work to do in that dept.

Posted by TKShreve from East Uptown on 06/18/13 at 09:49 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

and sign Joe Kocur in a panic and claim he’s the scoring forward they were looking for.
Posted by Garth on 06/18/13 at 10:44 AM ET

I’d take The Sheriff anyday. Even an old sheriff wink

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 06/18/13 at 09:52 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

Think of Brunner as a better, faster and more likable Jiri Hudler with more upside for the decencies in his game ( Hudler wasn’t going to grow or get noticeably faster) with less hookers and a more crooked nose.  He looks better now right?  He is a better then average third line goal scorer.  That makes him valuable.  With him there; a free agent or one of Tatar/Nyquist/Samuelsson/bertuzzi can fill flips spot on the top two lines and the team gets stronger.  Especially if Helm also is back.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 06/18/13 at 09:55 AM ET

henrymalredo's avatar

As much as Brunner was a little inconsistent and has a limited track record, he’s the closest thing to a true scoring forward that the Wings have.  Unless he’s really looking to break the bank, the Wings need to sign him before he hits UFA even if he’s a bit overpaid on a short term contract.  With how weak the free agent class is this year, Brunner would break the bank in free agency.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 06/18/13 at 09:57 AM ET

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I worry about singing Brunner to anything over $2.5 to 3mm.yr, so a few years.  His game disappeared and he was even a consideration to be scratched at various times during the season because when he wasn’t scoring, he wasn’t a factor.  He’s 27yrs old, not exactly a rookie either.  I guess at the right price I’m ok with him coming back, but his body language leads me to believe that he thinks he’ll get a bigger payday from someone.  Remember there is a certain GM in Dallas who knows these guys well and have groomed them as much as Holland, probably even more so.

Posted by bababooey on 06/18/13 at 09:58 AM ET

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Am I the only one who sees him as a defensive liability?

You mean he’s not the perfect player?  Well then, *#$%@& him…

Posted by Garth on 06/18/13 at 10:11 AM ET

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Remember there is a certain GM in Dallas who knows these guys well and have groomed them as much as Holland, probably even more so.

Which is exactly why Holland needs to lock him down.  If he doesn’t see the worth of Brunner then you can damn well be sure that there are scores of other GMs who do.

Posted by Garth on 06/18/13 at 10:13 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

George, the Griffins game isn’t on WOOD-TV in the Grand Rapids area. It’s on WXSP just as it was for the Games here in G.R. The options for watching WXSP in Michgan can be found here.

As much as Brunner was a little inconsistent and has a limited track record, he’s the closest thing to a true scoring forward that the Wings have.

I think Nyquist and Tatar might disagree with that. In fact, Tatar is a lot like Brunner – except he’s faster, harder on the puck, and better defensively.

I still hope Kenny can sign Mr. Smiley Face, but there are options if he doesn’t, including a big-body foward who also has the ability to score (like Bickell, Clarkson, Horton, etc.).

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/18/13 at 10:32 AM ET

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I still hope Kenny can sign Mr. Smiley Face, but there are options if he doesn’t, including a big-body foward who also has the ability to score (like Bickell, Clarkson, Horton, etc.).

But that’s something they are (in theory) on the lookout for anyways.  That’s supposed to be a focus for Detroit assuming that Tatar, Nyquist, Andersson and Brunner are on the roster.

Posted by Garth on 06/18/13 at 10:45 AM ET

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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.