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Red Wings overnight report: on ‘wining and dining’ free agents, the draft and prospect stuff

And now things get particularly complicated. Over the next five days, free agents-to-be can be wined and dined (read the blog entry, quite a bit of info as to how the process works); according to Sportsnet's Mark Spector, between midnight and noon on July 1st, the same's true for restricted free agents-to-be; on Friday, the first round of the draft will take place in Philadelphia (at 7 PM EDT on NBCSN and TSN); on Saturday, the 2nd through 7th rounds take place (starting at 10 AM on the NHL Network); free agency will begin with a flurry of signings on Tuesday, July 1st, and I will be on the road to Traverse City for the Wings' summer development camp a week from tomorrow (a.k.a. July 3rd).

This is an exciting time of year, but it's also exhausting (for me at least), and there's a part of me that is already looking forward to it being July 10th.

Despite the tizzy of comments regarding what Mike Babcock and Ken Holland said on Tuesday, and despite the fact that I'll be working double-time to help Paul out on UFA day, I find that the sturm, drang, the sound and fury, all of it--for Red Wings fans, anyway--is most likely to result in the drafting of seven new players and one, maybe two free agent signings.

At least that's what my gut's telling me regarding this summer's events, and I know that for many of you, that will mean yet another summer's worth of disappointment and anger at what the Wings didn't, could've and/or should've done.

This morning, the Detroit News's John Niyo suggests that the Wings should make a trade instead of going after free agents:

It's a shallow pool of talent this summer, and the Red Wings have some pretty specific needs. A right-shot defenseman who can help run the power play and fit in the top four on the blueline is the top priority. (That’s something the Red Wings haven’t had since Brian Rafalski retired, and it shows.) After that, Holland says, “Ideally, we’d like to have one more established top-six forward who can score some goals.”

Niyo notes this regarding the Wings' restricted free agents-to-be...

“We’ve only got a couple guys left to sign,” said Holland, who has gotten encouraging medical reports the last two weeks on some of his top forwards, including last year’s free-agent injury bust, Stephen Weiss. “And I don’t really want to sign anybody right now. I want to get to Wednesday. I want to get to Philly. I want to get to July 1. I want to see what’s out there.”

Before getting to the thrust of his argument:

[C]onsider this my annual plea for a trade in Detroit. Surely, there’s one out there to be made if Holland is aggressive and eager enough. It likely won’t be for the oft-mentioned Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler. (New Canucks president Trevor Linden insists he’s not on the block.) And there’s no telling which, if any, of the other names floating around in media reports are legitimately in play. But if there’s a deal to be made for a defenseman like Keith Yandle or Brian Campbell or Dustin Byfuglien or Zach Bogosian, the Red Wings ought to be in the mix.

On the one hand, Holland points to the team’s draft-and-develop mandate — something every team is preaching these days — and notes the difficulty the Red Wings have had in filling the pipeline without any top-10 picks.

“We’ve worked hard to try to build up our pool of young players,” Holland said.

But on the other hand, yes, there’s a surplus of NHL-ready young talent now. And outside that desperate deadline deal for David Legwand in March — and another in 2012 for Kyle Quincey — the Red Wings haven’t made a significant trade since their last Stanley Cup triumph in 2008. And look no further than the most recent Cup champs in Los Angeles (Jeff Carter in 2011, Marian Gaborik this year) to see what a difference a big trade can make, even amid today’s cap-induced NHL parity.

The Red Wings still have a window to win a title with the veteran stars they have in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall, not to mention Babcock, who may decide to play out his own contract this season. But that window’s closing, just as the next generation is arriving in Detroit, hoping to open another.

Again, Holland didn't sound all that convinced that the trade route is the right route while speaking with the Windsor Star's Bob Duff...

How tough would it be to move some of the young talent that emerged on the Detroit roster last season?

“We are exploring trades. The difficult decision that we’ve got is that we’ve got lots of young players that we think are going to be real good NHL players. We saw a glimpse of it last year. Any time I have conversations (with other GMs) usually those are the names that come up. And we like those kids, so they would be difficult to move, but at the same time, if you want to get something, you’ve got to give something.

“We’ll explore and we continue to talk internally about our own players, and any conversations I have with managers about their players, I bring it back to the group of 4-5-6 people that I respect in our organization and trust their opinion. We’ll decide whether there’s a fit to do something or whether we just stay with the kids.


“I’ve said along, when I look at our team, the fallback position is our kids – whether it’s in goal, on defence, or whether it’s up front. Our scouts have done a great job in identifying our young players. I think (Grand Rapids AHL coach) Jeff Blashill has done a great job in developing those young players once they’ve turned pro.

“It appears that we’ve got some real good kids. There’s (forward) Anthony Mantha (the club’s top pick in the 2013 draft) on the way up. We’ll turn him pro and see what he can do next year. When you factor in Petr Mrazek in goal and Thomas McCollum who has made strides and is developing into the prospect we hoped he would be – a little slower than we thought, but he’s become a real solid AHL goaltender. He’s 24 years of age. Some players bloom a little later.

“On defence there’s (Mattias) Backman, (Alexey) Marchenko, (Xavier) Ouellet, (Ryan) Sproul. Up front you’ve got Mantha and Teemu Pulkinnen, there’s Landon Ferraro and the ones we already saw last year. Then were turning pro a guy like (Barrie Colts forward Andreas) Athanasiou. We’ve got the 15th pick in the draft, so we’re going to add another good prospect to our talent pool.”

How does free agency enter into the picture?

“We’re now able to reach out and talk to potential unrestricted free agents as part of the new CBA to kind of tell them about our program and where they fit in. We’ll certainly have a list of people that we’ve got an interest in and plan to reach out to.

“Jeff Blashill thinks a couple of our young defensemen aren’t far away. Are we best served by bringing someone in? Part of that will be determined by what’s out there. If I can find a D who wants to do a year or two . . . we’re moving slowly. I don’t want to lock into something that in two years I’m trying to figure my way out of. Our fallback position is our kids. It’s a good position to be in. If we can get some veterans that fit our term and money, fine. If not, are we better served by going with the kids? If we go out and sign one or two people, we’re basically done.”

And even Babcock, when not addressing Daniel Alfredsson's situation, suggested that the Wings are going to lean upon player development and patience while trying to not be "bad for a long time" to improve (Babcock and Danny DeKeyser looked sharp, too):

In terms of the draft, the Detroit News posted a photo retrospective of the Wings' past 20 drafts, and Hockey's Future's Adam Schnepp, who believes that the Wings will pick US NTDP forward Dylan Larkin with the 15th overall draft pick, weighed in on the Wings' "needs" as follows (he addresses the team's organizational strengths and weaknesses, too)...

Detroit moved Calle Jarnkrok to Nashville for David Legwand at the trade deadline because a combination of rampant injuries and a lack of NHL-ready centers in the AHL left them paper-thin up the middle. The Red Wings need to draft centers to develop. While healing from various injuries should bolster the NHL roster and give younger center prospects time to develop, the Wings need to restock on centermen to avoid being pressed into making trades they may not want to in the future.

The Red Wings could use help on the left wing. Andreas Athanasiou had a good 2013-14 season, and while he may develop into a top-six forward in the NHL, there is a lack of depth behind him. Tyler Bertuzzi had a good MasterCard Memorial Cup run and returned sooner than expected from injury, but he needs to play a full season before any true judgment can be passed on his potential.

Though it may not necessarily qualify as a need, expect Detroit to continue their pattern of selecting a goaltender every other draft. Petr Mrazek will likely stay in the AHL in 2014-15 in order to get more ice time, but he is at least ready for NHL backup duty. Outside of Mrazek, Detroit does not have any goaltender prospects who are close to being ready to play in the NHL. Jake Paterson is more talented than his OHL statistics would indicate, but he still needs time to adjust to the professional game in the AHL.

He noted the Wings' draft tendencies, too...

Ken Holland and company like to select players from the CHL, with no real distinction between OHL, QMJHL, and the WHL. The Red Wings front office has a strong European scouting department, and they almost always select at least one player from Sweden thanks to the keen eye of Detroit's Director of European Scouting, Hakan Andersson. Though they typically shy away from NCAA prospects, Detroit has selected them with slightly increasing frequency (see Mike McKee in 2012, Ben Marshall in 2010, and Riley Sheahan in 2010).

Detroit has seven picks in the 2014 NHL Draft. Their selections are 15, 76, 106, 136, 166, 196, and 201 (from San Jose).

But you'll have to read the rest of his article to find out why he believes that the Wings are going to pick the 17th-ranked North American skater (per NHL.com's player rankings; TSN tossed off a set of their own on Monday evening).

USA Today's Kyle Woodlief will be chatting about the draft today at 1 PM, and it's worth noting that the Plymouth Observer's Tim Smith profiled Whalers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, while the Saginaw News's Cory Butzin reports that Saginaw Spirit forward Dylan Sadowy, the 33th-ranked North American skater (per NHL.com; he isn't in TSN's Top 60).

Regarding free agency, Sportsnet's Luke Fox penned a pretty exhaustive Wings free agency analysis, including an interactive depth chart (which is kind of neat) and a Capgeek-like listing of the restricted free agents and player stats (quite fancy!), and he comes to the following conclusion:

Areas to address: Detroit made a splash last summer, scooping veteran free agents Alfredsson from Ottawa and Stephen Weiss from Florida, and although those results were mixed, don’t be surprised if Holland spends again on July 1st. The Red Wings are all set up for some cap relief as the ceiling raises and past-their-prime UFAs Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and David Legwand all walk out the door. Holland already used a compliance buyout on gritty Jordin Tootoo. Role player Daniel Cleary, who’s coming off a tough season in which he rated a minus-11, will either leave or re-sign for cheap, perhaps on a two-way deal.

A bold move would be trading for a centre (cough, Joe Thornton, cough) to complement an offence led by Datsyuk, Zetterberg and the emerging Nyquist. Alfredsson isn’t sure if he wants to play one more year, but he fit in well with this group.

Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson form a decent top two on the blueline, but after that, things drop off considerably. Here’s where that cash flow can help; Holland could chase a Dan Boyle or Matt Niskanen to shore up his D. Kyle Quincey, a UFA with a $3.775-million cap hit, will be wearing a new sweater next season, but RFA Danny DeKeyser should be re-signed.

In net, the oft-injured Jimmy Howard endured a rough season — his goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts all hit three-year lows — but with a summer to recover and the support of Jonas Gustavsson, who just signed a new deal with the Red Wings, they should be fine.

The elephant in the dressing room, however, is coach Mike Babcock, whose contract expires at the end of 2014-15 and can essentially write his own ticket. Holland will try to keep him, but Babcock has all the leverage. It’s no coincidence Holland re-signed highly regarded AHL bench boss Jeff Blashill this summer.

Possible signing targets

Dan Boyle (D): An instant way to upgrade both Detroit’s back end and its power play.

Daniel Alfredsson (RW): If he still has the urge to play, Alfie might be convinced to take a bonus-heavy, cap-friendly contract. No way he wants to move his family again.

Unless Alfredsson wants to go home to Gothenburg, of course.

The Free Press's Helene St. James happened to weigh in on Alfredsson and the WIngs' other issues on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast, starting at the 18-minute mark, and she believes that the Wings will re-sign Alfredsson if the salary is right and his back is OK:

St. James also discusses Iginla--who she points out she has already advocated the Wings pursue--and she weighs in on Babcock's Jack Adams candidacy, she praises Riley Sheahan

While we're talking about Babcock, I had to laugh when I found this video from Mile High Sports' Ryan Boulding:

These, too:





In the prospect-and-young-player department, the Detroit Free Press's George Sipple spoke with Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin about the fact that Zach Nastasiuk and Tyler Bertuzzi will attend Hockey Canada's World Junior summer camp...

Nastasiuk scored 23 goals and 28 assists for 51 points in 62 regular-season games last season and added three goals and one assist for four points in five OHL playoff games. Nastasiuk (6-feet-1, 190 pounds), who shoots right, played in a dozen games last season for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate. He was scoreless in five regular-season AHL games and added one assist in seven playoff games.

Although Nastasiuk didn’t have much offensive production, Martin said Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill was impressed with his potential.

“At the end of the playoffs, Blashill said, ‘I wish we could get this guy next year,’ ” Martin said. “That’s how good he was. Not only could he make our team in Grand Rapids, he could help us win games in Grand Rapids.”

After missing a large portion of last season with a head/neck injury, Bertuzzi had a strong finish. He scored nine goals and 25 assists for 34 points in 29 regular-season games, then added 10 goals and seven assists for 17 points in 18 playoff games.

“He loves to hang around the front of the net,” Martin said of Bertuzzi. “I compare him a bit to Andrew Shaw (of the Blackhawks). He’s got a niche. He goes to the front of the net, he can get his stick on pucks, and he’s got hands and hockey sense.”

I can't quote all of Sipple's article, but you'll be surprised at who was behind the team's decision to pick Bertwozzi in the 2nd round...

Regarding a current Wing, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose looked back on Tomas Jurco's (still looking for a hand in translating Tomas Jurco's interview with Hokej.sk) rookie season:

He appeared in seven games during his first stint with the Wings, tallying his first NHL goal on Dec. 17, and his first two-point game (1-1-2) four nights later before returning to Grand Rapids.

But he didn’t stay in Western Michigan for long. Jurco was recalled on Jan. 16 as the Red Wings continued to suffer from an abundance of injuries, and he stayed in Detroit for the remainder of the season.

The forward finished the regular season with eight goals and seven assists through 36 games, often skating on the “Kid Line” alongside Tomas Tatar and Sheahan.

Most commonly known as “The Magician” for his popular YouTube videos displaying his impressive puck-handling skills, Jurco added a physical element to his game upon his arrivals in Grand Rapids and Detroit in order to continue his success.

“AHL is a little differently, there’s more I would say there’s more hitting and it’s a little different,” Jurco explained. “This is a little smarter here so I think I was building it while I was in Grand Rapids and then when I came up here I knew Babs liked me when I’m physical so it’s a good thing for me and I’m trying to do it. I know if I’m going to do that I know I’m going to get more ice time so it’s a good thing for me.”

While Jurco continues to focus on being more physical, he ultimately hopes to stay in the NHL long enough to combine that aspect of his game with the remarkable skills that made him an Internet sensation.

“Yeah that’s my next step that’s what I’m trying to do,” Jurco said. “If you put these two together, skills and physical, I think it’s going to show up pretty good so hopefully I can do it and hopefully I can do it quick enough to stay here."

First goal included:




Otherwise...Sticking with the Czech-and-Slovakian republics, sometimes Google-translated Czech is best, and after reading InGoal Magazine's Kevin Woodley's wonderful article about Hasek's technique, I figured this quip from Hasek, via the Czech news agency CTK, seemed appropriate...

Hero of the Olympic tournament in Nagano acquired during their careers a number of individual awards. Six example Vezinovu took the trophy for best goalie in the NHL and two Hart Trophy for Most Valuable Player of the competition. Five times won the Gold Stick for the best Czech player of the season and was declared a hockey player and domestic century.

Valuation even after retirement. Last year in Pardubice hung his jersey with the number 9 on the ceiling of the arena and subsequently to his Hall of Fame Buffalo said. Previously, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Czech hockey. "You get it all weighs. Think about it, what he did for hockey. Pardubice, or NHL.'s The greatest honor that hockey players can get at the end of a career, definitely," said Hasek.

Hall of Fame in Toronto had not placed only players who have had involvement in the NHL. Hasek, however, the Canadian-American competition the most.

"I played the Czech League, KHL, NHL, so I can compare., I've enjoyed hockey here in the Czech Republic and there. NHL is the best league in the world and with all due respect to the other, nothing can match the NHL. Who has not experienced, so it's hard to understand, "said Hasek, who played in the most famous competition of 735 matches in Chicago, Buffalo, Detroit and Ottawa. In the playoffs he added another 119 matches.

The ceremony inducted into the Hall of Fame in Toronto is looking forward. "I wrote to people who congratulated me that meet there and we celebrate it," said Hasek.

This is more "Geekage outage," but The Goalie Guild's Justin Goldman's experience with Vaughn Hockey's making this hockey equipment nerd think that it's time to visit Warrior and Warren, Vaughn in Oxford and Brian's in Kingsville, Ontario to talk about hockey equipment with real hockey equipment manufactures...

Speaking of which, I received this in an email from Total Hockey:

Detroit City Sports is holding autograph-signings with Gordie Howe on the 28th and Ted Lindsay on the 29th, too.




And finally, 1. Thank you for your support! 2. I've got a ways to go:

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:

If you can aid the cause, I'd be incredibly grateful; if you can't, I understand, and as usual, literally any amount helps. You'd be surprised how many $5, $10 and $20 donations end up paying my way. Thanks.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


J.J. from Kansas's avatar


Not many people doubt that when levying criticism at Holland, George.

It simply doesn’t matter.  Ken Holland is the top of the executive ladder when it comes to making decisions.  He put many of those fellow executives in place so he can confer with them and, when it comes time to make a decision, Ken Holland’s is/should be final.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/25/14 at 08:04 AM ET


It’s called analysis paralysis.  Instead of making moves and calling the final shots, he stands pat and plays it too safe because he knows most people in “Hey Hey Hockeytown” won’t criticize.  And the media will continue to admire and genuflect when his name is mentioned.  So if you’re Ken Holland why make a move?  Better off playing it safe and then spin to the Wings PR staff, aka Detroit media.

Posted by bababooey on 06/25/14 at 08:32 AM ET


So if you’re Ken Holland why make a move?  Better off playing it safe and then spin to the Wings PR staff, aka Detroit media.

Posted by bababooey on 06/25/14 at 08:32 AM ET

Because eventually the love fest will end, when you show no results.

Posted by George0211 on 06/25/14 at 08:36 AM ET


Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/25/14 at 08:04 AM ET

Exactly.  The boss can surround himself with as many execs as he wants, he’s still the boss and the final decisions are his.

Or to put it another way, there’s no chance in hell that Chris Chelios or Kris Draper are overruling Holland when it comes to who the Wings sign.

Posted by Garth on 06/25/14 at 08:40 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

Trade for Trouba!!!  That kid can play!

Ha, yeah, Jets aren’t giving him up, but thanks for the graphic. I just signed up to win on the website listed.  I really like watching that guy play and I’m a little sad I’m a several-day drive away from Troy…

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 06/25/14 at 10:18 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Whatever Holland and the Wings do is fine with me except Cleary.  Will see if Holland blows a roster spot for Cleary who has been done and is done.

Illitch has to sign Holland soon and then get Babs signed.  Pens have signed a coach waiting to be fired which was a little worrisome.

Holland wanting, maybe, a forward is a little odd.  Only thing I can think of is Alfies health may be an issue.

And to put my head in the noose, Jimmy has to have a bounce back season or an above average season.  Sadly I am not sure he can excel with an average D crew. Hope I am wrong.

I would add Stralman and continue the reload in the next UFA season.  This is not a great draft year or UFA year, IMO.

Interesting times for a couple of weeks and more likely into training camp.  Let the Rumours and overpaying begin!!!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 06/25/14 at 11:33 AM ET


LA resigned Gaborik. 7 years at $4.85 per. A little risky term because of his injury history, but great cap number. Kings will remain a top contender for the next 4-5 years, they are doing it right, but as Babs said yesterday “those teams (Hawks, Kings) were so bad for so long…” 

Posted by VPalmer on 06/25/14 at 03:07 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.