The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: sorting out the free agency strikeout yields more questions than answers
by George Malik on 07/02/14 at 02:19 AM ET
I am very upset with the way things turned out on Tuesday, but I've chosen to marry myself to "my" Wings no matter how angry or frustrated I might feel regarding a managerial or team performance, and I'm "married" professionally to this blogging job, so I'm going to resist the urge to pull the covers over my head and sulk and try to write an overnight report.
If you followed the the "strike-out," "Niskanen alive?" and "beat writers disagree" posts, you read quite a few contradictory Tweets regarding the players the Detroit Red Wings didn't land on Tuesday. Here are some later-breaking tidbits:
Bringing Alfredsson back? As long as his back's fine, he co-led the team in scoring. Bringing Cleary back? Only on a 2-way, league-minimum contract that is a pro try-out. With no preferential treatment and a promise that he's riding a bus if Tomas Jurco, Mitch Callahan or Landon Ferraro out-play him. Jurco does not deserve to be "Nyquist'd' to start the 14-15 season, no way, no how.
The Red Wings DID make 5 solid signings on Tuesday: they re-signed Riley Sheahan to a very affordable 2-year extension, they made sure that Petr Mrazek will be in the fold a year from now (thank Gord the Wings at least manage their youth well; if we didn't have that, I don't know where you or I would be in terms of having a team to believe in; Capgeek states that Petr's getting $737,500 in 15-16, which is fair as fair can be), and they signed Kevin Porter, Andy Miele and Shane Berschbach to round out the Griffins' roster (no news as to whether Miele will take part in the summer development camp)
Anyway, back to the Tweets of gloom:
As such, the Wings have earned this comment from the Toronto Star's Mark Zwolinski...
Detroit Red Wings: Didn’t do anything significant, and the immediate interpretation — fair or not — was that the Wings are no longer a marquee attraction for free agents. But Detroit entered this off-season with two huge concerns that may have affected their approach to free agency. First, the club suffered 421 man-games lost to injury in 2013-14, the most in club history and second-most in the league last season. Their best players missed almost half a season — Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk played just 45 games, Johan Franzen 54; and in a telling development, Stephen Weiss, their top acquisition last summer, played only 26 games. Also, Detroit called up 10 players from its AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, and had seven make their NHL debuts. Detroit may be opening the door for youngsters and looking at big bounce-back seasons from their marquee players.
This from Sportsnet's Gare Joyce...
Losers: Detroit Red Wings
You had to see Dan Boyle as the natural fit in Detroit, a variation or even an upgrade on Brian Rafalski from not so long ago. But when Boyle signed with the Rangers and Matt Niskanen turned them down, the Red Wings responded by… well, actually, we’re still waiting. Forwards Kevin Porter and Riley Sheahan re-signed, but it sure seems like the Red Wings aren’t quite the UFA destination they were five years ago.
This from the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson...
Detroit Red Wings: Once upon a time, the Red Wings were the No. 1 destination for free-agents. Not so much anymore, give or take Daniel Alfredsson. They wanted Ehrhoff, Boyle and Niskanen and lost all three as they wanted a puck-mover on defence. Ehrhoff only took a one-year deal, but opted for Pittsburgh. They ended up re-signing Kyle Quincey when all the doors slammed in their face.
This from Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika...
Detroit Red Wings: No Niskanen, even though the Wings offered seven years and $38.5 million, almost as much as he got from the Capitals. No Dan Boyle, even though the Wings offered two years and $10 million, more than he got from the Rangers. No Robidas, even though the Wings would have matched the three years and $9 million he got from the Leafs. No Stralman. No Ehrhoff, either. The Wings settled for re-signing Kyle Quincey for Mitchell-to-Florida money – $8.5 million over two years. Not what they wanted on defense.
On video, TSN's Aaron Ward suggested that the Wings "lack a stud" on defense due to their youth, and in the process of getting them through free agency, players went elsewhere instead in Niskanen, Ehrhoff, Boyle and Robidas--though I suppose it should be noted that Boyle wanted to reunite with Martin St. Louis, and had been thinking about joining the Rangers for long enough that the Mercury News's David Pollak pegged the deal back in April, and that Ehrhoff signed a Penguins team with two fellow Germans in Marcel Goc and Thomas Greiss (strange the way those "lifestyle factors" kick in)...
And the Hockey News's Ken Campbell penned a damning critique of the Wings:
MOTOWN NO TOWN FOR FREE AGENTS Let me get this straight. Dan Boyle took less money and term to sign with the New York Rangers than he could have received from the Detroit Red Wings. What is this, Opposite Day?
After pretty much ruling the NHL for the past two decades, the Detroit Red Wings have fallen on hard times indeed. Remember the days when free agency would open and the Red Wings would basically open for business, basically telling whichever veterans stars they wanted that playing for the Red Wings was a privilege? The Red Wings never begged and they never got turned down.
Maybe the Red Wings need to learn from this by revamping their "wining and dining" approach. The team used to simply expect season ticket-holders to show up, too.
But now they find themselves in the position where both are happening. For the Red Wings to come away with nothing on the first day of free agency is shocking for an organization that once prided itself as the premier destination for free agents. There was a time when the teams such as Rangers would throw boatloads of money at players and they’d sign for Detroit for less money. But with Boyle, the Red Wings offered a three-year deal at $12.5 million (with salaries of $5 million, $5 million and $2.5 million), while the Rangers got Boyle on a two-year deal for $9 million. The Red Wings were also spurned by Matt Niskanen, who signed with the Washington Capitals for seven years and $40.5 million, $2 million total more than the Red Wings offered over seven years.
There were many in the hockey world who thought the Red Wings would get their comeuppance in a salary cap system, but that’s not at all what has happened here. The Red Wings have handled the salary cap as well as any big-spending, large-market team. They have the money and the cap space, but what they’ve lost is cachet. They are no longer a serious Stanley Cup contender, and for that reason, not a top destination for veterans looking to win now.
The Sporting News's Sean Gentille put things a little more delicately...
Red Wings: Winding up with Kyle Quincey (two years, $8.5 million) after chasing Niskanen, Stralman, Ehrhoff and Dan Boyle is … settling. Let's put it that way. Detroit is a great organization, but at some point, unrestricted free agents are going to have to start signing there again.
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted the out-of-town takes on the Wings' bad free agency day--with some glee, no less:
“My first priority was to be on a good team,” Ehrhoff told TSN.
That’s got to sting just a little bit, don’t you think?
Dan Boyle picked the bright lights of Broadway over Hockeytown for $3.5 million less than the Wings put forth. The Wings offered Matt Niskanen seven years and $42 million. He chose seven years, $40.25 million from the Washington Capitals. Just like that, the Wings were the Austin Jackson of free agency – three swings, three misses, go grab some bench – further evidence that Detroit is no longer a destination NHL players covet.
Second-tier defenders also spurned Detroit. Tom Gilbert already had the offer he accepted from Montreal by the time the Wings called. Stephane Robidas, saying he wanted to be closer to family, spurned the Wings to take a similar offer from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Wings weren’t willing to give Anton Stralman the five-year term he received from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Left standing at the altar again and again. It’s a trend that is becoming a recurring theme for the Wings. Remember the spring of 2012, when Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were the prize UFAs? Flying to Suter’s Wisconsin home on owner Mike Ilitch’s private jet, GM Ken Holland and Wisconsin grad Chris Chelios did the wooing. They boarded the return flight certain they had their man. But Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild. Word was his significant other vetoed any thought of living in Detroit.
Clearly, there’s an image problem afoot for the Wings. They skate in one of the NHL’s most ancient facilities. The view most outsiders have of Detroit is the bleak one presented on the nightly news.
That part, I won't deny, is an issue.
They are coached by a demanding, micromanaging taskmaster in Mike Babcock and that’s not a quality many of today’s pampered athletes seek in their bench boss. Post-season participants for a league-best 23 straight springs, the Wings aren’t winning when it matters most – one playoff series triumph in three years, five straight springs absent from the conference finals, their longest drought since 1989-94.
Babcock rubs players the wrong way from time to time--there's no doubt of that--but Tom Renney's a good foil, and the vast majority of those who play for Babcock at least respect the man.
“On the one hand I’m proud that we’ve been a playoff team, but on the other hand I’m disappointed that the last three years we’ve only been able to win one playoff round,” Holland admitted. “We’re working here to find a way to see if we can be a playoff team and go further.”
“In the old days, it was the Wings who were the big spenders and to see them shut out of this part of the process is interesting, seeing as unlike some other teams, they had some cap space,” Hockey Night In Canada’s Craig Simpson said.
If you were hoping for a back-up plan trade, CSN Washington's Chuck Gormley, via Pro Hockey Talk's James O'Brien, would like to shatter that assumption:
Ironically enough, it's via Pro Hockey Talk's O'Brien that we're going to transition to the, "What happened" part of the equation as opposed to the, "Because it did the Wings are losers!" talk:
This deal is quite similar to the last one he signed with the Red Wings. Quincey signed for two-years, $7.55 million last time around.
Quincey is the third highest-paid Red Wings defenseman and probably earns that description. He’s not the type who tends to put up spectacular numbers, at least with his possession numbers dipping a bit recently.
He’s a player with decent (if fading) offensive potential and a decent amount of snarl. In other words, not the kind of re-signing that will get many people excited, but likely a pretty wise move nonetheless.
So what you're saying is that it could be worse?
Quincey it is, and WDIV's David Bartkowiak weighed in...
The Wings were in the market for a right-handed top-4 d-man, but there were no takers in a limited pool. Quincey is a serviceable top-6 player who had some ups and downs this past season. The good news is he got better as the season progressed.
In 82 games with Detroit he scored 4 goals and 9 assists, and he was a -5. The key number there is 82. Quincey was a reliable guy (on a team with so many injuries) night-in and night-out, despite some poor performances.
The Red Wings seem to believe in a couple young defenseman who are down with the Grand Rapids Griffins, such as Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet. The move to keep Quincey could be nothing more than a depth one if those two, and possibly Alexey Marchenko, end up hitting the full potential the organization believes they have.
As did WXYZ...
Quincey, 28, struggled during the first half of last season but performed strong in the second half. He finished the 2013-14 season with four goals and nine assists and was one of two Wings to play in all 82 regular-season games, along with Drew Miller.
The Wings were in the market for a right-handed defender but found themselves rejected by all top unrestricted free agents who fit the bill. General manager Ken Holland said he will continue to talk to other teams to explore a possible trade, but there will likely be a high asking price.
Quincey is currently in his second stint with the Red Wings. He was Detroit's fourth-round pick (132nd overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and spent his first three seasons with the Red Wings before being waived in October 2008. Quincey was then claimed off waivers by the Kings and spent time with both Los Angeles and Colorado before returning to Detroit in 2011.
Quincey's contract makes him the third highest-paid Red Wings defenseman.
And here come the quotes, from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“We had hoped to sign a right-shooting D-man,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We made offers, but for a variety of reasons they chose elsewhere to go. That’s the reality of the cap world. There are a lot of reasons why players go in different directions.”
“It’s free agency, it’s wide open,” Holland said. “Other teams are after these players, too. Last year we got the guys wanted.”
The Wings could now turn to trading for a right-handed defensemen – Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien, Edmonton’s Jeff Petry or Toronto’s Cody Franson – but the asking price is quite steep – Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco. Arizona’s Keith Yandle, who’s a left-handed shot, is also rumored to be on the trading block.
“There are still a lot of players out there that could be good one-year bargains,” Holland said. “We’ll keep kicking tires. I was hoping to get one or two right-shot defensemen, but they signed elsewhere, that’s their prerogative. That’s going to happen more and more with the cap ceiling and floor going up.”
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
“We went in looking to add a right-hand defenseman and we felt we made very competitive offers,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who had between $8 million-$10 million to spend. “For various reasons, they chose to go elsewhere.”
Holland said earlier in the day he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of turning back to left-handed shooting defenseman Kyle Quincey, a unrestricted free agent who did not sign with any team. That’s just what Detroit did, announcing Tuesday evening it had reached a two-year deal, believed to be worth $8.5 million.
Despite missing out of some top targets, Holland still believes the Red Wings are an attractive option.
“Daniel Alfredsson could be going to the Hall of Fame; he chose to come to Detroit (last season),” Holland said. “Stephen Weiss had a choice of teams, and he chose to Detroit. There is a salary cap. Players have a lot of options.”
With no big acquisition, the trade route is again a possibility. Defensemen such as Tyler Myers (Sabres), Dustin Byfuglien (Jets) and Jeff Petry (Oilers) — all right-handers — could be available.
“We need another defenseman, maybe two,” Holland said. “We’ll see what the rest of the summer holds.”
The Red Wings have taken care of two of their own, and brought two in from the outside. Center Riley Sheahan, a restricted free agent, has signed a two-year contract for $1.9 million Tuesday, the first day of NHL free agency. Later in the day, the Red Wings announced they signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Kyle Quincey to a two-year, $8.5 million deal.
Unable to land any of the big-name (right-handed shooting) defensemen Tuesday, the Red Wings turned back to the left-handed Quincey.
"We needed to have an NHL defenseman," general manager Ken Holland said. "We know Kyle, he's a good guy, he plays a lot of minutes, he's a penalty killer, and he's played well for us."
MLive's Ansar Khan,who reveals some of the details regarding Niskanen's camp telling Detroit it didn't make the cut and Ehrhoff's camp not negotiating with anyone once the Pittsburgh deal was in place...
Holland dismissed speculation that Detroit isn't the free-agent destination it once was or that the franchise has lost its luster in the eyes of players hitting the open market.
"Thirty teams are a destination," Holland said. "The game has changed. Players can go wherever they want. We all have the same money (because of the cap). We made some pitches. Those players chose to go elsewhere."Holland doesn't accept the notion that free agents don't want to play for coach Mike Babcock because of his demanding ways.
"I think we got a fabulous coach," Holland said. (Team Canada executive director) Steve Yzerman has picked him for two Olympic teams and the results speak for themselves (gold medals in 2010 and 2014)."
Holland said he will continue exploring trade possibilities for a right-handed shooting defenseman and look for free-agent bargains this summer.
"Still lots of players out there that could be good one-year bargains," Holland said. "I was hoping to get a right-shot defenseman or two. They signed elsewhere, that's their prerogative. That's going to happen more and more with the cap ceiling and floor going up."
And Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner asked Holland if he was disappointed by Tuesday's events:
When asked if he was disappointed that the Wings were shut out in the open market, Holland replied, "No, not in the least. You're talking about four to five players, and there's 30 teams. It's free agency. It's wide open.
"Other teams are after these players, too. Last year, we got the guys we wanted (forwards Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson). This year, we didn't."
Holland is well aware of the speculation that Detroit is no longer a destination for free agents, but doesn't buy it. He believes that in a salary-cap world, every team is a potential destination because the money is the same.
This comment really bugs me:
"The game has changed, players can go wherever they want," Holland said. "We all have the same money. We made some pitches. Those players chose to go elsewhere. I don't know the reasons we weren't able to get the players we targeted."
It's your damn job to find out why, Mr. Holland, because it keeps happening.
Prepare to cringe:
"There's still lots of players out there that could be good one-year bargains," he said. "We'll keep kicking tires."
"All I can say is, we targeted right-handed shot defensemen," he said. "There were a few on the market. We didn't land one."
The Red Wings need to spend the rest of the summer speaking with the agents of the players who didn't sign here, asking why they didn't pick Detroit, what the deciding factors were, and why the agents might feel that Detroit is not a "destination" for their clients.
While some folks have told me that they get a disturbing rumble that Babcock rubs people the wrong way, I have to be honest in telling you that there's always a player or two at some level who despises playing for the man, and there are always a vast majority of players who appreciate the fact that the "micromanager" does in fact keep practices brief, his pre-game, during-game and post-game comments brief, and that he's learned to delegate to the leadership group and his assistants in terms of buffering himself.
Other people have told me that the fact that Joe Louis Arena is on its last legs is a real deterrent to player-signing, and I think that Duff does have a point regarding the negative coverage about Detroit. The rest of the world seems to believe that Detroit is some sort of island of doom that floats separated from the rest of Michigan, and that players, fans, everybody's stuck on the damn island cowering in fear. That's not the case at all, and there is a perception problem...
I believe that the past three or four years' worth of mostly lateral moves, on the blueline especially (Alfredsson's signing was superb, but even Stephen Weiss sort of "offset" Filppula wanting to go and be "the man" in Tampa Bay, and the Wings didn't do anything to offset Jiri Hudler leaving to be "the man" in Calgary; the fact that St. James reports that Stuart was available and that the Wings didn't pounce just pisses me off), combined with the Wings' suggestions that they're a team in "transition," have made more aggressive teams appealing destinations over time.
Where are we at?
The Free Press's Helene St. James summarized things pretty dang well earlier on Monday evening...
While Quincey buys the Wings some breathing room, a pressing question is figuring out why players are rejecting what used to be a premier landing spot for hockey players. Part of it is fiscal — the Wings can’t throw money at players like they did a decade ago, because of the salary cap.
It’s not the metro area — while the city of Detroit may not have the allure of Chicago or New York, players routinely rave about living in the suburbs. Todd Bertuzzi has described it as awesome. Daniel Alfredsson and his family are living here next year, whether or not he plays. Owner Mike Ilitch and Holland are held in high regard for the way they treat players.
It’s not the competitiveness of the team — the Wings still boast superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Is it head coach Mike Babcock? Babcock is demanding, but that’s considered a positive quality in a professional coach — the ones that let things slide don’t win, and players care about winning. Holland downplayed any chatter Babcock is a reason, saying, “I’ve never heard those rumors. I think that we’ve got one of the best coaches in the NHL and he’s been a reason why some people have come here.”
The Wings were Daniel Alfredsson’s hand-picked selection last summer, over the hard-pursuing Bruins. And Detroit is the only place Alfredsson wants to play again this season.
It’s worth exploring for the Wings why they seem to have lost some luster. Datsyuk and Zetterberg and both in their mid-30s, putting pressure on regaining contender status before their window to win again closes. That won’t happen unless the Wings once again become a go-to destination.
Here's what I know:
A good fifteen or twenty percent of these signings tend not to work out (ask "us fans" about Stephen Weiss, reclamation project!), and some of these players will doubtlessly be bought out...
But it sure would be *#$%@& nice if the Wings could spend a tiny fraction of that amount improving their team on a more-often-than-not basis, and for the past four or five years, it's been more-not-than-often.
This is the best thing Ken Holland said on Tuesday, and it comes from the AP's Larry Lage. It's small consolation:
The Detroit Red Wings, who signed restricted free agent forward Riley Sheahan to a $1.9 million, two-year contract, await the 41-year-old Alfredsson's decision whether to retire.
"If his back feels good in August, we'll talk about a one-year deal with him," general manager Ken Holland said. "He's not going to sign a deal with anyone else."
Alfredsson fit in fantastically well, and while yes, he is indeed 41 years old, he posted 49 points in 68 games, and his family is going to be staying in Birmingham regardless of whether Alfredsson continues to play or not this upcoming season.
Maybe he should've been part of the, "Come to Detroit, it's great here" wining and dining process. Maybe the Wings need Alfredsson and other active players to get more involved with this business, because it certainly didn't hurt in #11's case.
In the rumor department, from The Fourth Period:
It's believed the Leafs have some interest in unrestricted free agent forward Steve Ott, who split last season between the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. Ott, 31, is also believed to be courted by the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, among others.
In terms of the Wings' depth signings, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples helps us get to know Kevin Porter...
The 28-year-old won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award during his senior season with the Wolverines in 2008. Since his four years with the University of Michigan, he has spent time in both the NHL and the AHL, playing professionally for the Coyotes, Avalanche and Sabres.
Last year, Porter played in 12 games with the Sabres, and 50 with their AHL affiliate in Rochester. In AHL competition, he recorded 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points, along with 24 penalty minutes.
He played for the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2002-04. Before his junior days, he competed for Little Caesars, Honeybaked and the Ice Dogs AAA program.
And Andy Miele:
Miele, a 26-year-old native of Grosse Pointe Woods, has signed with Detroit, according to Scott Norton of Norton Sports Management.
The Grosse Pointe Woods native won the 2011 Hobey Baker Memorial Award in 2011 during his senior season with the Miami RedHawks; Miele led the nation in scoring with 71 points in just 39 games.
Since moving onto the professional ranks, Miele has appeared in 15 games with the Coyotes, after the club signed him as an undrafted free agent out of college. He has spent the majority of his time in the AHL with the Portland Pirates; last season he recorded 72 points in 70 games and was named to the AHL’s Second Team.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted Porter's signing, too:
Porter tweeted, “Being from Detroit I couldn't be any happier to be joining the Detroit Red Wings organization this next season. #MadeInDetroit”
Porter played four seasons at Michigan, and was captain his senior season for the Wolverines under legendary coach and former Red Wings forward Red Berenson. Porter is UM’s all-time leading goal scorer (85) and ranks second in career points (183) and fourth in assists (98).
In six NHL seasons, Porter has produced 29 goals and 55 points in 206 games with Phoenix, Colorado and Buffalo. He played in the AHL All-Star Game two seasons ago when he finished second in team scoring with 44 points in 48 games. Porter was a fourth-round draft pick of the Coyotes in 2004.
Signing the 28-year-old Porter will provide the Red Wings’ organization with versatile depth at forward as he can play all three positions up front.
In the actual prospect department, recent draft pick version, if you missed it, Dylan Larkin spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard on Tuesday morning, and if you ever need a reminder that this young man doesn't turn 18 until the end of July, this interview will sound like an interview with a 17-year-old:
Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples spoke with Larkin's parents...
For Kevin and Sidney Denise Larkin, the fact that their son Dylan was drafted by their hometown Detroit Red Wings made watching him walk up on stage and accept an NHL jersey even more special.
“You would think that the NHL would be a dream but to make it even better, a hometown boy, the new arena, it’s even more exciting,” Kevin Larkin said. “I know that Dylan is very, very thrilled. He had a good feeling all day.”
The elder Larkin, who was sitting next to his wife and older son Colin (who plays in the NAHL) while Dylan walked on stage to collect his new Red Wings jersey, said his family is thrilled about the fact that Dylan’s hockey journey will stay within the state’s borders for a long time to come. Dylan will be playing for the Michigan Wolverines next fall, after spending all of his youth hockey and junior hockey (with the U.S. National Team Development Program) inside the Mitten State.
“I guess we’re getting spoiled with being local,” he said. “He played all of his youth hockey in Detroit, and now going to Michigan, and the thing that we’re really excited about with the Wings is that they don’t rush their players. So we’re excited to get a fair turn at Michigan and then they (the Wings) will advise us accordingly.”
The elder Larkin hails from Toronto; he and his siblings moved to the U.S. for college soccer (he also played Junior A hockey in Canada). Sidney Denise is a U.S. citizen. The Larkin family certainly brought a hockey pedigree with them for their Michigan-born children. Dylan Larkin’s cousins Ryan and Adam Larkin are both building their own hockey paths – Ryan is a Miami University commit, while Adam will be heading to Yale after playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
And while Larkin is obviously going to the University of Michigan, the Erie Times-News's Victor Fernandes reports that the Erie Otters, who own Larkin's OHL rights, will ask him to forfeit his NCAA eligibility to join the Otters:
[General manager Sherry] Bassin plans to speak with Detroit Red Wings officials about center Dylan Larkin, the 15th pick in this past weekend's NHL draft and Erie's 10th-round pick in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection. He spent the past two years with the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., and is committed to the University of Michigan for next season. At the draft, Larkin was quoted as saying that "school has always been important to my family."
In the strangely-timed article department, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's latest "Wings in Waiting" article profiles Teemu Pulkkinen:
“Everybody talks about his shot,” [Red Wings director of player development Jiri] Fischer said. “Everybody talks about how he can score, about his dangerous shot. Well, you know what? The following year (after being drafted), he goes out and sets the record for most assists.”
During the 2010-11 season, Pulkkinen played in 55 games for Jokerit in Finland, earning 18 goals and 36 assists. The forward’s assist mark broke Teemu Selanne’s single-season record (25) set during the 1990-91 season.
Pulkkinen joined the Grand Rapids Griffins in April 2013 after his third season with Jokerit, earning an assist and a minus-1 with two penalty minutes in two regular-season AHL games. The forward played in 14 playoff games during the Griffins’ run to the Calder Cup championship, scoring three goals and adding two assists, and a plus-2 with 10 penalty minutes.
“When he got called up to Grand Rapids in the spring last year, he didn't earn the trust of (Griffins coach) Jeff Blashill to put him consistently in the lineup,” Fischer said. “He was basically watching in the press box for almost the entire playoffs. I believe he thought it was going to be easier for him to get better. I think he snoozed a little bit. Last year he started to work a little bit harder. He showed up in our development camp and he won the treadmill test. He showed up in great shape.”
Pulkkinen’s hard work paid off in his first full season with the Griffins, as he led the team and finished 16th in the league in scoring with 31 goals and 28 assists through 71 games. The forward also made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 season, appearing in three games with the Red Wings in which he recorded four shots.
“Every game he plays, he is dangerous,” Fischer said. “Every team Grand Rapids plays against, they talk about him in their pre-game meetings. He's got a very dangerous shot; he's got a lot of confidence to shoot the puck. Now, off the rush, he's not afraid to challenge defensemen one on one. He just wants to play well. He just wants to be better than the other guy.”
Regarding the summer developoment camp, which kicks off on Friday, the Red Wings have posted six videos chronicling the draft experience, and now they've chosen a predictable narrator to set the summer camp up...
Finally, I do have to ask one last time:
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.
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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.