Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: NHL season’s end reminds us that Wings’ season of change is upon us

For Red Wings fans, these dates will define our "summer"...

Monday marks the beginning of a buyout period that we hope will bolster the relatively thin crop of unrestricted free agent-to-be defensemen...

And these Tweets, from Newsday's Arthur Staple, and via Pro Hockey Talk's Cam Tucker, are reasons for hope:

According to the Miami Herald's George Richards, we'll find out whether Tom Renney or Bill Peters will head to Florida on Monday (via Tucker again)...

And as NHL teams have to incur a significant financial penalty (something like $240,000) for signing European-born players after June 15th, we should find out whether this gent named by TSN's Bob McKenzie a few days ago joins Tomas Nosek in the fold by Monday as well:

McKenzie: And there's another free agent we should keep our eye on who most people haven't heard of: a 22-year-old Czech by the name of Jiri Sekac. He went through the NHL Drafts and never got picked up. He was once cut by the Peterborough Petes but he had a strong year in the KHL playing for the Prague team. Right now he has more than a dozen firm offers on a max entry-level deal for two years. He's expected over the next couple of days to make up his mind as to which team. This is a guy who is in great demand. He's a 6'2, 190 pound left winger who many believe is ready to step in NHL-ready.

I understand why my fellow Wings fans are edgy right now: we've just watched the Los Angeles Kings win their second Stanley Cup in 3 years, and all the Wings have done since Ken Holland, Mike Babcock, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg told us that "just making the playoffs" wasn't acceptable any more is to find that the Wings are about to sign Tomas Nosek.

Who's this Nosek guy? I didn't know who the 6'2," 201-pound left-winger was until about 3:20 PM on Friday, when I read Wings Eastern European scout Vladimir Havluj gush about the young man's potential as someone who'd slipped through two draft years.

If we are to believe MLive's Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's reports, the Wings weren't the only team interested in Nosen, but MLive's Khan summarized Nosen's status as a player whose development remains "in progress":

Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said 6-8 NHL teams were pursuing Nosek, who had 19 goals and 44 points in 52 games for HC Pardubice in the Czech league.

Red Wings European scouts Vladimir Havluj and Ari Vouri are high on Nosek. Jiri Fischer, Detroit's director of player development, said, "I'm really excited about him."

Nosek played on the 2012 Czech World Junior team that Fischer helped coach as an assistant.

"He's a very smart two-way center who can play the wing," Fischer said. "He's very responsible defensively, makes good plays. He's more of a playmaker than a natural finisher. He just gets better every year."

Fischer said Nosek was Pardubice's best player.

"He'll have to get stronger, work on his skating," Fischer said. "He is a hard worker."

Nosek's agent, Ales Volek, also represents Red Wings forward Tomas Jurco. Volek liked how Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill helped develop Jurco, which aided the Red Wings in their efforts to land Nosek.

All I can tell you about Nosek thus far is that his player profile page on HC Pardubice's website shows pictures still-gaunt player, searching for him on YouTube reveals that he and a Czech bodybuilder share the same name, that it's wiser to search for his last name and team name--for interviews, not highlight clips...

And in terms of "quality of competition," 19 goals, 25 assists and 44 points in 52 Czech Extraliga games reflect scoring totals for a player who had a strong season in a middle-of-the-pack professional league. The Czech Extraliga isn't as slick as the Swedish Hockey League, it isn't as gritty as the Finnish Liiga, and it isn't as peppered with former NHL'ers as the KHL...

So it's very hard to say what Nosek's "upside" might be. We're talking about a signing of a Colin Campbell, Jared Coreau or Trevor Parkes as opposed to a Danny DeKeyser or Damien Brunner (who was much older and wiser at 26), and that we could be talking more about a player who's similar to Mattias Janmark--a late-bloomer who may in fact have some strong offensive potential and natural size and bulk--as opposed to an Anthony Mantha.

So, "Swell," you think, "Why are the Wings signing these guys and considering re-signing this guy"...

"Instead of preparing to go after Thomas Vanek (the highlight of this summer's unrestricted free agent forwards) and Matt Niskanen (the gem of the defneisve crop) and Ryan Miller (the best of the goaltenders)?

First and foremost, the Red Wings' restricted free agents-to-be (Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser and Riley Sheahan), their possible unrestricted free agent-to-be re-signings (Daniel Alfredsson and/or Jonas Gustavsson) and the simple fact that players like Stephen Weiss, Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff are more likely than not to begin training camp on the Wings' roster take care of quite a bit of the Wings' available cap space...

And second, it's easy to say, "Play all the kids!" in November and then to suggest that the Wings' management should, "Sign all the free agents!" in July...But you don't get to see the kids play if you sign a bunch of free agents, either.

The Red Wings explain their situation as "rebuilding on the fly." The team's coaches and management have been stating that they didn't plan on tanking for five to eight years to accumulate top-five draft picks, a la the Chicago Blackhawks, since long before Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Tomas Holmstrom or Kris Draper hung up their skates, and the team is sticking to that plan.

We witnessed the Wings both show some roster holes in terms of the foundation of their puck possession game on the blueline and have to deal with some significant "learning the hard way" moments by "kids" who are now their primary and secondary scorers up front. If the youth movement is what you've been rooting for, and the youth movement that the team only very reluctantly embraced is what you want to see through, sometimes you have to endure what the New York Times' Lynn Zinser described as follows...

The Red Wings are usually penciled in as Stanley Cup contenders every year, but they are going through a rare period of rebuilding.

And perhaps it's better to not be the competition:

It has not helped that one of the most stocked Eastern Conference teams, Pittsburgh, seems to have imploded in some toxic mix of talent and immaturity led by Sidney Crosby in a semi-constant whine.

The Wings theoretically have a significant number of defensemen on the cusp of NHL-readiness in Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Mattias Backman, Alexey Marchenko and possibly Adam Almquist, the Wings will, by design, head to camp overflowing with forwards...

And instead of attempting to replicate another Lidstrom-Rafalski defensive pairing, whoever the team targets via free agency or trade is far more likely to anchor the second pairing--so that the team has two sets of defensemen whose ranks include a puck-mover and a stay-at-home partner instead of having to rely on Kronwall and Ericsson so very heavily to provide offense.

In terms of the younger players who have yet to "steal jobs" like Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and Luke Glendening have stolen jobs, the Wings will probably head to camp with players still on the roster in the way of the aforementioned young defensemen, in the way of Petr Mrazek, Mitchell Callahan, Landon Ferraro and Anthony Mantha because the team has to prepare for another worst-injury-case scenario.

Historically, the Wings have tended to go after one or two free agent targets, and then they've headed to training camp "overbuilt" so that young players have to force the team's hand in terms of jettisoning players who are there to contribute and compete in case the youngsters aren't ready.

This time around, the Wings will enter the season with some cap space to accommodate recalls and won't have the kind of heavy-contracted veterans that were impossible to move this past season (the rest of the league won't be so cap-strapped that they can't take some of the "leftovers" if the Wings have to shed roster spots and salary, too), but in all likelihood, aside from saying goodbye to Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Cory Emmerton, David Legwand, Kyle Quincey, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and possibly but not probably one or both of Jonas Gustavsson and Daniel Alfredsson...

The team's not going to look all that different from the one that lost to Boston, and that's by design.

Somewhat ironically, the Dallas News's Mike Heika provides a strong reminder that the Wings "winning atmosphere" and strengthening developmental pipeline--the Grand Rapids Griffins won the Calder Cup last spring--are serving as an inspiration to the team whose AHL franchise beat the Griffins in May:

When Jim Nill was sizing up the Stars as a potential new home, one of the first things he did was analyze the AHL affiliate. Nill, who helped run the Red Wings’ minor league team for almost two decades, said he was swayed by the proximity and the success of the Texas Stars. That was one of the major reasons he decided to make the leap a year ago into the general manager’s chair for the first time in his career.

“You have to build through the draft and grow your players, so you have to have the organizational structure to do that,” Nill said, referencing how the Grand Rapids Griffins are managed in Michigan and how the Texas Stars have a similar setup.

“Having been close in Detroit, I know how much location matters,” Nill said. “These players need to know you’re watching. They need to know you’re watching when they do good things; they need to know you’re watching when they do bad things.”

That's been the case in Grand Rapids, and it's paid off for Sheahan, Jurco, Tatar, Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Danny DeKeyser, and to a lesser extent, Jakub Kindl, Brian Lashoff, Joakim Andersson (who's become a spare part) and Glendening.

“Winning is contagious,” Nill said. “We talk all the time about building a winning culture, and this is a big part of that.”

During the regular season, the Red Wings' break-out "kids" both discussed the fact that the atmosphere in Grand Rapids and Detroit were extremely similar, from the way that the teams played to the ways in which the coaching staff and veterans treated the younger players in an egalitarian manner....And the break-out "kids" admitted that coming up to the NHL level was a difficult challenge in terms of the amount of on-ice, during-practice and in-the-weight-room learning that they still had to master to produce offensively and to contribute to the defensive cause on a regular basis.

The Red Wings' coaches, management and players insisted that this past playoff's spring was a stark reminder of the fact that the organization absolutely cannot simply accept making the playoffs as the standard of excellence to which the team strives--the team wants to improve from within and without to engage in much longer spring playoff runs--but the three parties also insisted that the blueprint was already in place, and that a few astute personnel additions, combined with the lessons learned by their younger players and a strong "push" from the Manthas and Marchenkos, should be enough to push the team back toward Conference Final and Cup Final runs.

Will they be proven right?

*#$%@& if I know. We haven't even gotten to the *#$%@& draft, never mind free agency. We don't know what the cap compliance buy-out market will hold, whether the Wings will make a draft-day trade that involves bodies as well as draft picks, and we don't know whether they'll be able to out-compete other teams for free agent talent.

After that, we won't know whether any of the prospects make, "I'm ready to steal someone's job" impressions until July's development camp and September's prospect tournament, and after that, we'll find out who earns spots on the roster and who will end up exiting the organization until training camp takes place and exhibition games are played (and some players inevitably suffer injuries thanks to the fact that hockey is a contact sport).

In many ways, even for the teams that have been eliminated weeks and months ago, the end of the NHL's playoff campaign represents the beginning of a concentrated period of off-season changes that will help shape the face of the team's roster for the following season.

I know that many of you are aggravated and agitated by the fact that you've been able to watch other teams battle for the Cup while the Wings have "done nothing," but three weeks from this morning, I'm going to be preparing for the second day of the Wings' summer development camp.

The Wings will have drafted at least six new players by then (via the draft on the 27th and 28th), and the team will probably have made its free agency moves by July 5th, if they haven't wooed any of the compliance buy-outs beforehand, and they may or may not make a draft-day trade, too.

The Wings held a free agency powwow between June 2nd and 4th, and the pro and amateur scouts are likely to hold at least one more meeting before the draft to refine their master plan. What other teams do between now and the draft, and then July 1st, will force the team to utilize contingency plans, and that's why they hold multiple meetings.

They need to prepare for the unexpected, too, and in this salary-capped league, "the unexpected" happens very, very regularly.

For the Kings, this morning represents the start of a summer-long party. For the Rangers, this morning represents the start of a summer-long recovery from a staggering defeat.

For the Red Wings and their fans, this morning represents a reminder that there are two weeks until the draft, sixteen days until free agency begins, three weeks until the summer development camp and a little under three months until training camp begins.

The team will have to make good on the promised tweaks to its trajectory in short order.

Long story long, it's about to get interesting.

[Edit: I think it also bears mentioning that the Red Wings are trying "something new" in not completely tanking while shifting from one generation of players to the next. The Kings, Blackhawks, Penguins, Bruins, Penguins, Ducks, they all purposefully stank on ice for multiple seasons in order to stockpile high draft picks, and the Wings are trying something that tends not to build championship rosters over the long haul. It's been challenging for the Wings to climb back to the top thus far, but I'd much prefer this method to watching Detroit go in the tank for half a decade for the sake of prospects who may not pan out. /end edit]

 

 

Also of Red Wings-related note: The Detroit Free Press posted the "highlights" of a Q and A the Wings conducted with Brian Lashoff:

Q: Do you think there is intelligent life on other planets?
A: Yes, I do. The universe is so big, it’s hard to imagine there not being another place like Earth somewhere, just ‘cause it’s so big.

...

Q: What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
A: Octopus, that’s the weirdest thing.

Q: If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?
A: I’d probably choose the President, believe it or not, just to see what a day in the life that would be, how busy it would be and exactly what you have to go through.

Q: If you could meet one historical person, who would it be?
A: Jimi Hendrix.

Q: What song is on replay on your iPod right now?
A: Right now, a lot of the Rival songs.

I'm a little baffled as to why Dobber Hockey pondered whether Niklas Kronwall or Ryan Suter was the better fantasy hockey defenseman (via Puck Daddy's Jen Neale), but it's that time of year...

In much less light reading, I can't make you read the National Post's Sean Fitz-Gerald's interview with Andrew McKim, who was recently awarded a $1.6 million judgment due to a career-ending hit delivered by former Wing Kevin Miller, but it's...A good read. A hard read, but a good one;

In the programming department, CBS Detroit's Carol Cain noted that Plymouth Whalers GM Mark Craig and director of communications Peter Krupsky will be on TV this weekend:

The city’s convention business is making a comeback as evidenced by Cobo Center where events have  doubled from three years ago, Tom Connors, general manager of Cobo and regional vice president for SMG, said during taping of “Michigan Matters.”

Connors, who has run the facility the past four years, said conventions at Cobo has jumped from six three years ago to 14 so far this year.

“It’s the highest level in many years,” said Connors, who gave credit to the Detroit Regional Convention Authority, the Metropolitan Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau, a customer advisory board, and much needed renovations.

Connors appeared with Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Delaers Association, who is also  on that Cobo advisory board. The DADA stages the North American International Auto Show there, and Denise Ilitch, CEO of Ilitch Enterprises, also was part of the panel.

...

Also appearing on the program was Mark Craig, newly hired general manager of the Plymouth Whalers, the Ontario Hockey League junior  team that plays at the suburban Detroit arena.

Craig and Peter Krupsky, who does broadcasts and handles communications for the team owned by Peter Karmanos, talked about the franchise which has made the playoffs 23 years in a row. Both men discussed changes at the team and the next season which kicks off in late September.

You can hear the conversation by watching “Michigan Matters” 11:30 am Sunday on CBS 62.

And finally, I'm not thrilled about asking, but I do need to ask:

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.

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Comments

SYF's avatar

In some of the Nosek videos I’ve seen on Youtube, I saw a guy getting into the hard spots fearlessly and coming out with the puck or his head up looking for the puck.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 06/14/14 at 12:22 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

At the core of the signing, Tomas Nosek has the potential to save the Legwand trade from being a disaster.

This requires:
1. Nosek to end up being just as good as or better than Calle Jarnkrok
2. You to believe that the Wings aren’t able to land Nosek if they still have Jarnkrok in the fold where he would presumably be above Nosek on the depth chart.

Number 2 there isn’t much of a stretch. Number 1 is a gamble.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/14/14 at 12:56 PM ET

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It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time, George.
The Wings can sign premium free agents AND play the kids. It means making tougher decisions on middle-of-the-road veterans.
I’m advocating something like this:
1) Sign Iginla For $5.5M or whatever.
2) Sign Morrow cheap
3) Sign Orpik or trade Smith for Boychuk

Tatar Datsyuk Iginla
Franzen Zetterberg Nyquist
Morrow Weiss Jurco
Sheahan Helm Abdelkader

Kronwall Boychuk
Kindl Dekeyser
Ericsson Marchenko

Howard/Mrazek

The Red Wings improve while continuing to develop their youngsters. It’s precisely what “rebuild on the fly” means.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/14/14 at 02:38 PM ET

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So…you have kindl above Ericsson on the defensive pairings….brilliant…..

Posted by Vedeynevin on 06/14/14 at 06:19 PM ET

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Yes, Vedeynevin, I have an offensively oriented defenseman (Kindl) with a defensively oriented defenseman (Dekeyser).

I also think it’s high time for Red Wings fans to drop preconceived notions about Ericsson and look at him for what he actually is.

Is he a defensive rock? The thinking seems to be that because he’s 6’4 and plays the PK that he must be. But I don’t think Ericsson is a positionally sound defenseman. There’s no way to prove it, really, other than eyeballs, and by his really low blocked shot and takeway stats (low for a regular PK guy, anyway.)
Ericsson was a forward until he was 16 or something. And sometimes that’s terribly obvious.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/14/14 at 06:25 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/14/14 at 07:25 PM ET

So if he’s an offensive defenseman instead of a defensive one, why is he below Kindl though?

Shouldn’t he just be paired with the stay-at-home DeKeyser?

Take away Kindl’s advantages in zone stars, quality of competition, and usage on the power play (while not killing penalties at all), and Ericsson is a better offensive defenseman than he is.

Also, Orpik is terrible and I don’t know why the Bruins would give up Boychuk for Smith straight up, but I’m more focused on the idea that Kindl belongs higher in the same role (as defined by you) than a guy he’s not better than at it.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/14/14 at 06:35 PM ET

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Posted by Captain Bob on 06/14/14 at 03:38 PM ET

And I think I’m demanding.  There’s a whole lot of pet theories/player highlighting here!

Posted by captaineclectic on 06/14/14 at 07:22 PM ET

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JJ—give Jakub Kindl a year where he doesn’t spent all his time with Miller and Glendening and Abdelkader, and you’ll see Kindl’s stats rise. For more on Jakub Kindl, see this: http://www.redwingscentral.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=21455

If we keep Kindl, he can’t be a 13-minute a night guy who plays with Miller/Andersson/GLendening, etc

Why would Boston trade Boychuk? That was the speculation out of Boston media, where they’re trying to save money to sign Iginla and others.

Orpik IS the kind of defenseman we need, even if he’s not at his peak. 2-3 years of Orpik would add something our D really lacks: Balls.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/14/14 at 10:56 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

yeah, better players drag Kindl up, but the effect doesn’t work both ways. The thing that seems to drag performance up for players with Kindl is simply the fact that Kindl’s zone starts and quality of competition is so sheltered that they can’t NOT dominate.

Amazingly, Drew Miller’s numbers got better when he was pulled away from Kindl too.

If you’re arguing that Kindl NEEDS to be sheltered on the 2nd pairing because Ericsson is more capable of creating offense out of incredibly sheltered minutes but without the benefit of playing behind guys who drive possession, then we’re onto something, but the idea that Kindl is actually the guy moving the needle doesn’t work. Personally, I’d just as soon dump Kindl and see if we can get a defensemen in there who’s capable of helping his teammates regardless of their ability to help themselves.

Besides, it’s not like Kindl wasn’t given a chance to put up points. He was 2nd on the team for TOI while on the PP among defensemen and he barely kept his scoring pace above stay-at-home DeKeyser.

Why would Boston trade Boychuk? That was the speculation out of Boston media, where they’re trying to save money to sign Iginla and others.

Then why are you ALSO suggesting signing Iginla?  If Boston’s purpose in trading Boychuk is to afford Iginla, then signing Iginla isn’t going to happen. I don’t think Chiarelli is going to make that move because the gamble that it makes their defense much worse is very high.

Orpik IS the kind of defenseman we need, even if he’s not at his peak. 2-3 years of Orpik would add something our D really lacks: Balls.

Having the balls to go out there and take yourself out of position, get walked to the outside, and generally get dominated isn’t actually a good hockey skill. Orpik is well past his prime. He’s a bad defenseman. Brooks Orpik had a worse year than Kyle Quincey despite the fact that he got to spend more time behind one of the league’s very best drivers of possession more than any other defenseman on his team.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/15/14 at 12:47 AM ET

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JJ—Every defenseman we have has the balls to “get walked around.” We have ZERO toughness on our D. That needs to change. Balance is the key.  And right now, our entire lineup is soft as pillow.


We need one tough top 6 forward.(Iginla or whoever)
One tough tweener forward (Morrow or whoever)
One tough D.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/15/14 at 12:52 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Toughness wasn’t the problem on defense. Moving the puck was. Secondary zone support was the problem.

Brooks Orpik doesn’t move the puck. He doesn’t provide support up the boards for himself, and for as good as toughness apparently is, it doesn’t seem to do much for keeping the puck out of the net.

Remember, he played on a “tough” defense behind the guy who’s going to win the Hart trophy and that didn’t stop opponents from running shit on him.

We need people who are good at having the puck. In the great mysterious list of guys who are “tougher”, that doesn’t seem to work out to guys who are actually good at making the puck go the right direction or at preventing it from going the wrong way. Tough isn’t worth shit. Boston didn’t win because they out-toughed Detroit; Boston won because they had the puck a shitload more and had defensemen who would move the puck up ice quickly.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/15/14 at 01:03 AM ET

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JJ—The cure for our team isn’t adding another soft, pushover-D.

Kronwall, Smith, Dekeyser, Kindl and KQ and Ericsson are all supposed to be players who were puckmovers. Either by the Rush or by the first outlet pass.

Sure, we don’t have a Rafalski or Lidstrom. But the D we do have, except Lashoff, were all supposed to by puck possession D.

Coach has to do some thinking about who’s playing with who.

When Kindl plays with Jurco/Sheahan/Tatar, he’s the kind of D who lead our Defense in plus/minus in 2012/13.

When Kindl plays with Miller/Andersson/Whoever, he’s brutal. Kindl’s strength is holding the line, making a pass or putting a shot on net. He doesn’t play in the offensive zone with Miller/Andersson whoever. The numbers are screaming at you.

Play your puck possession D with puck possession forwards.
Keep Abdelkader off the puck possession lines.
Get a hard-nosed D to play with your checking line and to play the PK.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/15/14 at 02:25 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

When Kindl plays with Jurco/Sheahan/Tatar, he’s the kind of D who lead our Defense in plus/minus in 2012/13.

Yes, a lucky passenger. That’s exactly the type of D-man Kindl is.

The numbers are screaming at you.

Yes, they tell me other defensemen do even better when given those opportunities.

Besides, I’m not asking for them to add a soft pushover D. Neither Niskanen or Stralman are pushover D. I just don’t want to add a traffic cone to our blueline because five years ago he was a good defenseman

Brooks Orpik sucks

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/15/14 at 04:09 PM ET

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Brooks Orpik is better defensively than just about anyone on our D, even if he’s slow.  Slowness really hurt the LA Kings defense with Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene and Jake Muzzin, eh?
Someone like Orpik provides a nastiness that a defense needs and we’ve lacked since Stuart left.

Niskanen and Stralman are pushovers.
What’s the fascination with Stalman? His 13 points? His 5’11 stature?
If Niskanen is so damn good, then why are the Penguins even debating whether or not to offer him the moon?

Niskanen, within 2-3 years, will be replaced by Sproul/Marchenko and even Jensen.

We don’t have a single prospect who can provide what Orpik might provide us for the next 3 years.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/15/14 at 04:38 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Brooks Orpik is better defensively than just about anyone on our D, even if he’s slow.  Slowness really hurt the LA Kings defense with Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene and Jake Muzzin, eh?

The possession metrics of the three LA defensemen you named are incredible compared to Orpik’s.  You can have slow D-men if they can move the puck. Brooks Orpik doesn’t move the puck. He played heavy minutes behind arguably the best player in the world and he didn’t move the puck.  This is why he sucks.

What’s the fascination with Stalman? His 13 points? His 5’11 stature?

The fact that the Rangers were better with him on the ice than they were with Ryan McDonagh.

If Niskanen is so damn good, then why are the Penguins even debating whether or not to offer him the moon?

If Orpik is so damn good then why are the Penguins even debating whether or not to let him become a UFA?

We don’t have a single prospect who can provide what Orpik might provide us for the next 3 years.

Brian Lashoff can easily provide that level of suck. He’ll do it for a lot cheaper too.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/15/14 at 05:07 PM ET

tkfergy's avatar

We don’t have a single prospect who can provide what Orpik might provide us for the next 3 years.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/15/14 at 05:38 PM ET

You’re right we have 5 that can: Ouellet, Sproul, Marchenko, Backman, and Almqvist. I’d rather see someone make his mistakes because they are new to the league then because they are slow and can’t pass the puck correctly.

Posted by tkfergy on 06/15/14 at 07:11 PM ET

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Ouellet, Sproul, Marchenko, Backman, and Almqvist

Not a single one of those guys has the physical intensity + size of Orpik.

Every one of those guys, except Ouellet, is pretty soft. And Ouellet is barely 6;0 tall.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/15/14 at 08:50 PM ET

tkfergy's avatar

Every one of those guys, except Ouellet, is pretty soft. And Ouellet is barely 6;0 tall.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/15/14 at 09:50 PM ET

I’d rather have soft and in a position to play the puck then someone that is out of position trying to make a hit while the other team scores on a 2 on 1, because he left his partner out to dry. Also Backman plays the most physical of those 5, you may not see the big Kronwall style hit from him, but he eliminates players with his body as well as using his stick to get the puck away from them.

Posted by tkfergy on 06/15/14 at 09:05 PM ET

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I’d rather have soft and in a position to play the puck then someone that is out of position trying to make a hit while the other team scores on a 2 on 1, because he left his partner out to dry. Also Backman plays the most physical of those 5, you may not see the big Kronwall style hit from him, but he eliminates players with his body as well as using his stick to get the puck away from them.

So you’re saying Orpik is out of position all the time? Give it up. Orpik his a smart, hard-hitting defenseman.

Backman is soft as warm butter. I watched him the AHL. He’s not “physical” at all.
Ouellet is more physical than Backman.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/15/14 at 10:03 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Give it up. Orpik his a smart, hard-hitting defenseman.

Then why did the majority of shots that took place while he was on the ice come for the other team?

Why did the Penguins improve at moving the puck in the right direction when Orpik was on the bench versus when he was on the ice?

Hell, even pretending that it’s “not his job” to make sure his team has the puck more than the other team, that doesn’t get particularly moving when you consider his team’s goaltending ALSO got worse with Orpik on the ice.

to recap: Bad things happened more often than good things when Orpik was on the ice for the Penguins. When he left the ice, the Penguins improved. Even if you base your analysis off the unsupported “shot quality” argument, Orpik was bad.

You can believe whatever you want about what he brings to the table, but I’m far more confident in the argument that Brooks Orpik isn’t very good over the continually parroted “he’s good because grit” argument.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/15/14 at 10:51 PM ET

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Orpik is the kind of guy you use when you’re in your own end, when you’re facing tough competition.
Orpik had 40 percent of his team’s defensive zone starts (Nisky and Maata were at 33-34.).
Orpik had the lowest percentage of offensive zone starts among Pittsburgh’s top 3 D.
His quality of competition (29.3) was closer to Kronwall’s (29.6) or Dekeysers (29.1) than it was to Smiths (28.4)
Niskanen was used more like Smith (28.4).

Orpik wasn’t as sheltered as Niskanen and Maata.

So there you have it. You put Orpik against the tougher competition and give him the most defensive starts and least offensive starts, and you’re going to see, gasp, a different shot differential.

If I signed Orpik, he’d be a 2-3 pairing, 1st PK, final 60 second kind of guy.
I mean, unless you think Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith should do the job again.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/15/14 at 11:27 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

So there you have it. You put Orpik against the tougher competition and give him the most defensive starts and least offensive starts, and you’re going to see, gasp, a different shot differential.

Adjusting for zone starts still leaves a significant gap in what should be Orpik’s ability to prevent bad things from happening versus what he actually did.  Remember, he played more minutes behind the very best Pittsburgh had to offer offensively as well. Plus, for all those defensive zone starts, Orpik enjoyed the 2nd-highest percentage of faceoff wins while on ice among Pittsburgh defensemen, so a part of the reason that he was disadantaged by zone starts was his inability to more-effectively move pucks out of his own zone.

I mean, unless you think Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith should do the job again.

If my only two choices are Brooks Orpik does this or Smith+Lashoff does this, my choice is to watch fewer Red Wings games because that’s a bad set of options.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/15/14 at 11:47 PM ET

Avatar

You’re being over dramatic.
You can’t run 6 puck-possession defenseman out there and expect success. You can’t run a bunch of soft forwards an expect success.
You need balance. Different kinds of players to do different kinds of jobs. Hard to believe there are people willing to overpay Niskanen for 6-7 years at $6M a year…based on ONE GOOD YEAR with Crosby and Malkin. But then they act like you’re a moron if you suggest 4 years, $3.5M for a defenseman who actually kicked our ass in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Of course, these are the same fans who almost surely defend Holland’s incomprehensible 7-year contract to Ericsson.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/16/14 at 12:48 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

At least Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindl wouldn’t have to be paid $5 million on an individual basis to be mediocre defensively.

I happen to believe that Brooks Orpik supporters remember how bloody dominant he could be in 2008 and 2009 and have kind of forgotten the ankle and knee issues or the fact that he’s 33, not 28.

If the cap really does land at $69.5 million, and the Wings have to give DeKeyser, Sheahan and Tatar substantial raises to lock them up long-term, and given the Alfredsson $3 million bonus…I would rather see the Wings go after someone who’s posted more than 25 points as a career high. But that’s just me.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/16/14 at 12:59 AM ET

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33 isn’t very old. Just watch how Willie Mitchell gets it done at 37.
Who cares how many points Orpik scores?
What’s the obsession with points?
Kronwall. Smith. Kindl. Dekeyser. Ericsson. Those guys can score points for you. And if they can’t, what makes you think Niskanen can?
His one year where he did? People here ever heard of Fool’s Gold? You want to give a giant payday to a defenseman who just happened to post career best numbers in his contract year? That’s a great way to overpay.
We’ve got guys who, if they can’t play the Niskanen role today, should be able to play it by 2015-16. I don’t see much upside in offering him a 7 year deal.
Not when Kronwall is signed forever. Not when Ericsson is signed forever. Not when Dekeyser is going to be signed her forever.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/16/14 at 01:12 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

But then they act like you’re a moron if you suggest 4 years, $3.5M for a defenseman who actually kicked our ass in the Stanley Cup Finals.

That was five years ago. Brooks Orpik from 2009 was a much better defenseman than 2014 Brooks Orpik. Giving him 4 years would be moronic.

What’s the obsession with points?

Points are how you win hockey games.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/16/14 at 06:59 AM ET

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Orpik was better. Not much better. But better.
He’s still a better defensive defenseman than anyone on our team. And if I could choose Orpik or any Red Wing D to be on the PK or to kill the final 60 seconds in a one-goal game, I’d choose Orpik.
Maybe you don’t remember all those coughed up leads last year. I do.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/16/14 at 07:04 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Orpik was better. Not much better. But better.

yes much better. He was much, much better in 2009 than he is in 2014. If he were still at good now as he was then, the Penguins would have already locked him up. This isn’t a case of a guy they know they can’t afford. This is a guy they know they can simply let go because his skills have diminished.

Maybe you don’t remember all those coughed up leads last year. I do.

The way to protect a 1-goal lead is to drive possession toward your opponent’s net. They find it much more difficult to get shots past your goalie when the puck is 200 feet away.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/16/14 at 07:11 AM ET

Avatar

Player - PKGA-PKTOI
Orpik—18-—212
QUincey-23—-199
Kronwall -21—-241
Lashoff-19—-176
Dekeyser-16—145
Ericsson-14—-143

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/16/14 at 07:14 AM ET

Avatar

The way to protect a 1-goal lead is to drive possession toward your opponent’s net. They find it much more difficult to get shots past your goalie when the puck is 200 feet away.

So you’re actually advocating for six soft-ass, puck possession D?
LOL.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/16/14 at 07:16 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Team SH SV%
PIT - 90.8%
DET 88%

Team times shorthanded
PIT - 254
DET - 295

In fact, the Penguins gave up shots at a higher rate with Orpik on the ice than the Wings did with any of those guys. The difference is entirely in save percentage variance. Credit that to Orpik if you want, but it doesn’t make sense that he’d be terrible at controlling save percentage at even strength and then suddenly become good at it shorthanded.

So you’re actually advocating for six soft-ass, puck possession D?

Since your definition of soft is apparently people who can move the puck and who aren’t Brooks Orpik, yeah. I’m advocating for six of those guys.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/16/14 at 07:35 AM ET

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Shots aren’t scoring chances.
Advocating for guys like Smith, Lashoff, KIndl etc over a proven performer like Orpik is silly.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/16/14 at 07:46 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Shots aren’t scoring chances.

They proxy pretty well and unless you have the actual scoring chance data suggesting variance from the proxy, it’s useless to bring it up.

Advocating for guys like Smith, Lashoff, KIndl etc over a proven performer like Orpik is silly.

I’ve been advocating that the Red Wings eliminate Lashoff and Kindl from their roster entirely. I also wouldn’t play Smith in the role you’re setting aside for Orpik, so we’re actually in agreement on this point, except it’s irresponsible for you to frame it like that in the first place because it’s a strawman.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/16/14 at 07:55 AM ET

Avatar

Orpik is the best, hard-hitting, defensive D-man on the market.
I’d scale him back from 21:11 to 19-20 minutes and be glad that we finally got someone who can physically intimidate opposing forwards.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/16/14 at 08:06 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.