The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/28/14 at 04:31 AM ET
Updated with Lashoff talk at 6:20 AM: This time of year is--if I may be honest--quite fun, because you never know where the "news" will take you on as we slowly wait for the NHL's preseason prospect tournaments to take shape (ONLY TWO WEEKS AAAAAAAAAAAAAA, oh, sorry, anxiety talking). On
This morning (unless you're in Bratislava, Slovakia, where you can go visit Tomas Tatar and get his autograph), the Free Press's David Gallagher has a little bit more about the Crain's Detroit Business-reported (by Bill Shea) "contractors summit" taking place at the MotorCity Casino, where Ilitch Holdings is going to outline its construction plans and discuss the "District Detroit" in further detail...
Olympia Development, an arm of the Ilitch family’s Ilitch Holdings, will hold a contractors information meeting this morning for Detroit-headquartered and Detroit-based businesses interested in opportunities in the construction of the sports and entertainment district the family is planning.
Anchored by a new multipurpose arena that will be home to the Detroit Red Wings, the district is expected to break ground this fall, with the arena opening by summer 2017.
Today’s contractors summit will be held at MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board. Among those scheduled to address the potential contractors are Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, as well as representatives of the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, the City of Detroit Human Rights Department, the Michigan Minority Business Development Center, Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., which is the city’s workforce development agency, and the lead contracting team, Barton Malow-Hunt-White.
At the event, Olympia Development will outline its plan to achieve 30% Detroit business participation and 51% Detroit resident-worker participation in construction of the new Detroit arena.
And MLive's David Muller reports that the Downtown Development Authority, which is overseeing the construction and maintenance of the Wings' follow-on facility, is hiring one hell of a well-paid "inspecting architect":
Detroit's Downtown Development Authority on Wednesday agreed to pay up to $300,000 to hire Rossetti as an "inspecting architect" for the new, $450 million Detroit Red Wings arena.
The 20,000-seat-plus arena is part of a larger, $650 million sports and entertainment district project by Olympia Development, a company run by Mike and Marian Ilitch, the founders of the Little Caesars Pizza chain and owners of the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers and Fox Theatre.
DDA senior project manager Tim Miles said Rossetti was selected after the DDA approached three Detroit-based architects. He said at Wednesday's meeting that Rossetti was the best qualified, as the company has experience with arena architecture.
As architecture inspector for the DDA, the assigned Rossetti associates will be responsible for reviewing arena site plans and advising the DDA.
DDA documents show Rossetti compensation rates for services include a principal at $265 an hour, a project manager at $185 per hour, senior staff at $150 per hour, intermediate staff at $120 an hour, junior staff at $95 per hour and administrative staff will make $95 per hour.
Mueller continues, and this might be the strongest "This project is almost 'shovel-ready'" sign thus far.
NBC's Pro Hockey Talk's Red Wings Day included a state-of-the-Wings-after-free-agency summary, a question as to whether the Wings' 23-year playoff-qualifying streak "matters" (the Wings' players, GM and coach spent locker room clean-out day suggesting that one-round-and-eliminated isn't a status the Wings wish to continue mastering every April), an assessment of Anthony Mantha's chances of making the team, a suggestion that Jimmy Howard's the Wing facing the most pressure to perform this upcoming season, a not-so-surprising fan vote for Gordie Howe as the all-time best Wing, and finally, Ryan Dadoun wondering aloud whether the Red Wings' 13-14 season record represents the "new normal":
Detroit barely made the playoffs in 2013-14 and was promptly dismissed by the Boston Bruins in the first round. In terms of points percentage, it was the team’s worse season since Mike Babcock became the head coach and yet he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. The reason for that isn’t hard to decipher.
The Red Wings had to overcome a lot just to get to the postseason. They set a franchise record with 421 man games lost due to injuries and it wasn’t just a question of the quantity of the injuries. Detroit’s top two players, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were each limited to 45 contests.
Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, forward Johan Franzen, and free agent acquisition Stephen Weiss are just a few of the other players that spent a portion of the season on the sidelines.
Given all of that, were the Red Wings truly a merely average team last season as their record would suggest or were they a good squad that was simply unlucky? Injuries are part of the game and it’s assumed that every team will deal with some hardship over the course of the 82-game season, but when the amount of time players have spent on the sidelines becomes record-breaking, it’s hard to just dismiss it as business as usual.
The rest of the article includes a poll, but I'm guessing that the pessimistic fan says, "Yes," the optimistic fan says, "No" and the majority of Wings fans--myself included--might go with, "Yes with a 'but.'"
The Wings' key players have spent far too much of the past three or four seasons battling disturbing bouts of chronic team-wide injuritis (it's my blog, I can make up one word every two weeks), but the team's injuries have forced the coaches and management to reluctantly embrace a youth movement (summertime reactionary and lateral free agent signings excluded), and we've found that "The Kids" are in fact a promising bunch.
Mind you, aside from the aforementioned Mantha, there probably aren't superstars in the prospect mix, but the Wings' prospect development system has become as close to a science as Jiri Fischer can make it, and stacking the deck with as many "very good" prospects has worked solidly enough over the past 10 to 12 years (hell, given the non-Hossa-or-Rafalski free agency record, it's been a Godsend).
So, "Yes, with a 'but The Kids are pretty good and if look at the blueline, for example, when you look at Mattias Backman, Nick Jensen, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul, at least one of them should develop into a contributing defenseman."
That's how it tends to work in this day and age--draft as many players with solid potential as possible, give them the information necessary to develop into professional athletes, and hope that playing time in the AHL yields self-improvement and eventually "stealing jobs." Assuming that the coaching and managerial staffs allow the players to do so, anyway, but what can I say, it's been a summer of trust-straining in terms of the front office-fan-and-even-blogger relationship.
In slightly less optimistic news, Yahoo Sports' Darryl "Dobber" Dobbs suggests that Jimmy Howard is a "Tier 2" fantasy hockey goaltender, and he's right based upon Howard's recent body of work:
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Howard has had two weaker seasons sandwiched between three really strong ones. Because we can't guarantee which Howard we're going to get from year to year, he should not be considered a Tier 1 guy.
As you might assume, I have something to say about the Free Press's George Sipple's article discussing Daniel Alfredsson's status (Danny DeKeyser will probably be re-signed just prior to training camp):
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said today that he’s still trying to work out a deal with restricted free agent Danny DeKeyser and said that a final decision on whether forward Daniel Alfredsson will play next season probably won’t be made until just before Sept. 18, when players report for camp.
Some Red Wings have begun skating at Joe Louis Arena and other locations in the area. Holland said most of the players will be back in town and skating again Tuesday.
(If you are not aware of the situation school-wise, Michigan's public schools can't start until after Labor Day per state law, and the NHL's training camps [opening between September 16th and 19th] and regular season [starting October 2nd] are starting "late" compared to last year's Olympic season, so the older players and some youngsters are doing things like holding "Captain's skates" and attending Tigers games, but those without school-age children [private schools can start before Labor Day] are taking advantage of the long summer. Tomas Jurco's on record as not even returning to Detroit until September 10th)
Holland said Alfredsson wants to play next season but has to decide whether he can contribute again.
“I haven’t talked to him in about a month,” Holland said. “He’s training hard. He’s training to play. He does want to play. When I last talked to him, he said he felt good — he wanted to feel great. He would love to play another year. He wants to play for us. He only wants to play if he feels he can contribute. The best test for him is to skate a couple weeks prior to training camp. I’ll talk to him next week. We’ll wait 10-12 days. Do we sign him to a contract? Does he just want to come to camp? I’m lobbing everything out there.”
My hope, given that Alfredsson has school-age children, is that he's already skating in Metro Detroit, and that the whole, "The last week of August = the Tigers' inevitable pre-September struggles + college football season starting + the Lions' annual preseason issuance of to-be-broken promises + the Wings' media not possessing eleventy twelve scribes like the Ottawa media" all adds up to Alfredsson doing his thing in Troy or Birmingham.
Now that Kris Draper's in the front office, the "Captain's skates" may not be as rigorous as they used to be, but the Wings tend to ramp things up this week.
By next week at this time, the Wings will be going at 75-to-80% on an every-other-day basis; the week before training camp, the Wings skate 5 or 6 days out of 7, and training camp itself, which starts on the 19th (four weeks from tomorrow) will bring much more than the "Captain's practice" battle drills--60-ish players will go all-out at a Babcockian 120 miles an hour battling for jobs.
Between now and then, Alfredsson should have four weeks of skating and four weeks of interaction with the Wings' medical staff (meanwhile, Daniel Cleary won the players' title at the Ilitch Charities For Children's Celebrity Golf Classic), last year's co-scoring leader should know whether he's "good to go."
While hopefully remaining unsigned or signed to a pro try-out.
In the prospect department: Tyler Bertuzzi merited a tangential mention in the Guelph Mercury's Tony Saxon's, "Guelph Storm training camp begins today!" article...
"There's always been guys like Brock McGinn and Tyler Bertuzzi who come in and earned a spot when they weren't expected to," [coach Scott] Walker said. "If guys come in here and play well enough, we're not going to turn them away. We'll find a way to get them on the team."
The Storm certainly loses plenty of quantity and quality from the team that lost in the Memorial Cup final.
Six of the team's top eight scorers from last season have moved on and three of its top six defencemen.
Presumably, Bertuzzi could take a larger scoring role given that his neck and back issues should deter him from fighting;
In Madison, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State Journal's Andy Baggot reports that Grand Rapids Griffins signees Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes are taking part in the University of Wisconsin's "pro camp," working under Badgers strength and conditioning coach Jim Snider and coach Mike Eaves:
The current list of nearly two dozen alums is long and fairly distinguished, from NHL headliners such as center Joe Pavelski and goaltender Brian Elliott, to mainstays such as defenseman Tom Gilbert and center Craig Smith, to Stanley Cup ring owners such as winger Adam Burish and defenseman Davis Drewiske.
Most have participated in workouts full-time. Some, such as defenseman Brendan Smith and defenseman Jake McCabe, have come in for shorter stays.
One of the more interesting dynamics is how all the veteran pros relate to the guys just starting on their journeys. Center Mark Zengerle, one of seven Badgers players on hand whose college careers ended in March, said everyone loves the state-of-the-art amenities of the camp: facilities, weight training and coaching.
“All that’s great,’’ he said, “but I think one of the best things is actually being around (the pros) and learning things.”
Zengerle, who signed with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, said he pays particular attention to Pavelski, a standout on the 2006 national championship club at UW who has become one of the top all-around talents in the NHL.
“It sounds goofy saying you watch what they do, but it’s true,” Zengerle said of the NHL vets, a group that includes center Jake Dowell, defenseman Joe Piskula, center Ben Street and winger Brad Winchester. “You watch how they act. You see the routine they do and how serious they are in the summer. On the ice and away from the rink, you pick up on the things they do. You’d be stupid not to. I’ve learned a lot from these guys. It is a real great resource and they know that.”
In exhibition action, per DRW Prospects on Twitter:
Hampus Melen is now playing for the Vaxjo Lakers' Junior-20 SuperElit team, and he didn't register a point in Vaxjo's 3-2 shootout loss to Frolunda; before TPS Turku lost 3-1 to Jokerit Helsinki, TPS announced that Vahatalo wasn't going to be in their lineup.
I'm not even going to try to translate TPS Turku's website's interview with Vahatalo because Finnish comes across like this in Google and it's a baffling language:
Over the past year Vahdon magician, therefore, made his debut in the League as well as the national team, but at least they're still the antics of the left, as of June 28th, the Detroit Red Wings reserved Vähätalo NHL after drafting the sixth round of the booking reference number 166 indicates the booking from the attacker himself a slight surprise, even though he was have been a few occasions with the team.
- No, it is then the end of the day, however, could not and did not dare to expect. From childhood, I dreamed that one day reserved for me the NHL. I have seen how the Finnish players have been busy in there, and yes it now seems odd that your name is in that group. What a great story!
Vähätalo circle of friends is the belief that one of the NHL's talented attacker reserved the ranks, however, was hard, and take the opportunity, following the grindstone.
- At that time I was behind the wall and eating all the time Jullea bombarded with messages and I expected that, where in the booking there will be. I knew that he had everything in the world in the interviews, and even I had to meet the kind of survey, in which 250 had to choose 50 adjectives that best describe Julius. There was a strong feeling yes that Julle reserved, Hokkanen times and laughs when he says that the Detroit Red Wings, however, happened to be Vähätalo your favorite NHL club, but "I think it Julle learn even more love."
Otherwise...To the good, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article "Previewing the East's" New York Rangers...
ARRIVALS: Forwards Lee Stempniak, Matt Lombardi, Chris Bourque, Tanner Glass, Chris Mueller, Nick Tarnasky; defensemen Dan Boyle, Mike Kostka, Matt Hunwick, Steven Kampfer; and goalie Cedric Desjardins.
DEPARTURES: Forwards Brad Richards, Derek Dorsett, Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot, Michael Haley; and defensemen Anton Stralman, Justin Falk, Raphael Diaz, Stu Bickel and Aaron Johnson.
PLAYER TO WATCH: The terms and money made sense for the Rangers to sign 38-year-old Dan Boyle (two-years, $9 million), a quality defenseman, who still skates very well and can fill the void left by the departure of Anton Stralman. Obviously, Boyle isn’t the player that he once was, but he’s a savvy veteran who can smoothly operate the power play as a valuable right-handed shot from the blue line. Boyle will certainly be an added source of leadership among the young Rangers’ D-men.
And to the, "If I didn't report this I would be a very bad blogger" bad, I really would be a crappy blogger if I didn't mention that CBS Detroit reports that Ronald Ilitch was arrested in Detroit on Wednesday. He's the second-oldest Ilitch "child" and he's had some serious brushes with the law for a long time now.
AWKWARD TRANSITION TIME!
Two weeks from today the Pacifica will be packed and I'll be heading up to Traverse City for the prospect tournament and main training camp, staying in Traverse City for a full two weeks. The monetary goal remains about $2,000 and I'm at the $850 mark, so I need to continue asking for your support so that I can at least pay my hotel bill and get gas and food (hopefully not at the same time).
I've attended two of the past three Traverse City-based training camps/prospect tournaments and the past three summer development camps at your leisure. If you're willing to lend a hand, I would greatly, greatly appreciate it.
Any and every donation helps pay the way up there (I break even) and I'm strongly considering printing some t-shirts and/or ensuring that every entry has a "sponsored by/brought to you by" note (and as always, the coverage is based upon your suggestions and questions, so it's an interactive experience).
My "merchant ID" is my non-work email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, and I'm incredibly grateful for your readership and support. Thank you.
Update: Well this should be interesting. MLive's Ansar Khan's latest "Red Wings outlook" features Brian Lashoff, a 24-year-old defenseman who's signed for 2 more years at a cap hit of $750,000 (on a one-way deal, per Capgeek) and finished the 2013-2014 season with 1 goal, 5 assists and a -2 in 75 games played (and no points and a -3 in 5 playoff games played):
2013-14 in review: Ranked third among the team's defensemen and fourth overall in games played. ... Was a healthy scratch in the first four games of the season and then played in 80 of the final 83, including all five playoff games. ... He didn't miss any games with injury. ... He averaged much less ice time (14:25) than he did as a rookie in 2013 (17:47) and improved from a minus-10 in just 31 games to a minus-2 in 75 games. ... Was fourth on the club in blocked shots (93). ... Scored lone goal on Feb. 6 at Florida. ... Averaged 2:21 per game on the penalty kill.
2014-15 outlook: After being paired with Jakub Kindl for much of last season, Lashoff will be competing with Kindl for the sixth spot on defense. It should be Kindl's job to lose, making Lashoff the seventh defenseman. But Lashoff finds a way to get into the lineup. The undrafted free agent was a late bloomer who got his foot in the door early in the 2013 season when the team was decimated by injuries on defense. He's appeared in 106 of 129 games since he was first recalled from Grand Rapids. The quintessential stay-at-home defender, he just needs to play a safe, simple game; move the puck, limit mistakes, kill penalties. He's young but his future with the organization is in question, since the Red Wings have several promising young defensemen who are a year or two away from reaching the NHL.
Key question: If the Red Wings have a long-term injury on defense, should they play Lashoff or call up a top prospect from Grand Rapids?
I'm not sure about that, but Lashoff's definitely on the bubble, and he's going to have to do what Drew Miller's hoping to accomplish in adding some outlet passing to his game to fend off Backman, Marchenko, Ouellet and Sproul.
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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.