The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/12/13 at 03:02 AM ET
For the vast majority of the summer, no news regarding one Darren Helm's status has been good news, but as we're approximately a little over a month from the beginning of NHL training camps, fans (myself included) have begun to get a little antsy about Helm's status.
The Free Press's George Sipple happened to ask Red Wings GM Ken Holland about Helm's recovery from persistent back issues, and he received good news--albeit good news with a caveat given that Helm hasn't been engaging in physical "battling" yet:
“Everything’s good,” Holland said. “He feels good. He’s training. I know he trained very hard last week. He’s in Detroit. He’s very happy where he’s at. He has no issues. Obviously, the challenge is physical play. I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Holland is hoping Helm will be able to come to training camp next month without any issues.
“Getting banged around, that’s part of his game,” Holland said. “That’s part of what makes him special. He’s physical. He’s on the puck. He finishes body checks. He goes to hard areas.
“I’m sure early on we’ll probably go light with him in preseason games. But in order to be able to play the first game of the year against Buffalo on Oct. 2, he’s going to have to play three or four preseason games. My feeling is if he’s in the lineup against Buffalo we’re feeling pretty good about things.”
Helm would be a huge boost to the team’s depth as their third-line center. The Wings were essentially without an entire third line last season with Helm, Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (multiple injuries) limited to a combined 12 games.
Wings fans are also waiting for the Red Wings to re-sign Gustav Nyquist and/or to resolve their roster and salary cap issues before the season begins, but MLive's Ansar Khan points out that these issues won't magically resolve themselves. Like Helm's recovery, only time will tell what transpires to alleviate the Wings' roster and cap crunches:
The team has one more of its own players to re-sign – restricted free agent forward Gustav Nyquist. A deal is inevitable, likely before the end of the month, general manager Ken Holland has said. Restricted free agents have virtually no leverage, except the high-end players who can attract offer sheets. And even that is rare (only eight since 1998).
The Red Wings currently have 24 players signed for a salary cap figure of $67 million. That includes a little more than $3 million in performance bonuses (including Daniel Alfredsson's $2 million for playing in 10 games), which can be applied to the 2014-15 cap.
That's why Capgeek.com's salary cap figure doesn't have the Wings over the cap yet.
So, essentially, the Red Wings are slightly under the $64.3 million cap. But, they'll be over it once they sign Nyquist, which also will put them two players over the 23-man roster limit (teams can go 10 percent over the cap during the off-season and don't need to meet the roster limit until after the exhibition schedule).
Or 5 PM on September 29th...
If nobody is placed on injured reserve after the preseason, the Red Wings would need to trim two forwards. However, the status of center Darren Helm remains murky. He reported progress with his ailing back during development camp in July, but it's too soon to know whether he'll be ready for the start of the season.
Holland has been trying to swing a trade since before the June 30 entry draft but hasn't had any luck. Jordin Tootoo appears to be the most viable trade candidate since veterans Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi have little trade value coming off injury-plagued seasons (each also has a no-trade clause). Not knowing Helm's status, the club might be reluctant to part with center Cory Emmerton.
Put bluntly, however, you have to move who you can move, and Emmerton's $533,333 cap hit and Patrick Eaves' $1.2 million salary for this season may be easier to shed than Tootoo's 2 remaining years of $2 million in real-world dollars at a cap hit of $1.9 million, especially with so many teams either incredibly close to the salary cap or over their "team budgets."
Forwards Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner remain unsigned. Holland indicated last month that there was a chance he could re-sign Cleary, but only if the club could shed an equal amount of salary – “dollar in, dollar out,'' he said. That appears unlikely to happen, at this point.
As Khan also notes, tons of Wings will be taking part in summer Olympic orientation camps, with Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen taking part in the Swedish Olympic orientation camp today and tomorrow in Stockholm;
From August 22nd to 24th, Pavel Datsyuk will take part in the Russians' Olympic orientation camp in Sochi;
From August 25th-28th, Mike Babcock and Team Canada will hold their orientation camp in Calgary;
And on August 26th and 27th, Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader will take part in Team USA's Olympic orientation camp at the Capitals' practice facility in Arlington, Virginia.
Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar already took part in the Slovaks' Olympic orientation camp on July 1st, and Jakub Kindl wasn't invited to the Czechs' orientation camp as it was a very small affair, but Petr Mrazek did take part in the mid-July gathering.
In the prospect department, as noted on Sunday, Saginaw Spirit goaltender Jake Paterson had a rough outing in his one and only start with Team Canada's World Junior evaluation camp team, but the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan notes that Paterson wasn't going to win or lose his job based upon one summertime start:
None of the three goaltenders -- Comrie, Jake Paterson (Detroit) and Zachary Fucale (Montreal) -- necessarily set themselves apart, but none were shoddy, either. They will have an advantage because they got to show [coach Brent] Sutter what they could do (and Paterson moreso as he was Canada's third-stringer last winter), but there will be competition from others. Remember that two of three goalies (Laurent Brossoit and Maxime Lagace) who were part of the camp last summer were not on the 2013 team. Only Malcolm Subban made it from the summer camp. Expect Matt Murray, Chris Driedger, Tristan Jarry, Spencer Martin and Philippe Desrosiers, among others, to give themselves a chance to earn an invitation to the selection camp.
At the other end of the spectrum, I'd been wondering what Slava Kozlov was up to, and Sovetsky Sport's Dmitry Nesterov reports that the 41-year-old is still playing in the KHL, and will spend this season with Spartak Moscow. He and Spartak tangled with Dynamo Moscow and 40-year-old Andrei Nikolishin (whose son, Ivan, is one of Russia's best 2014-draft-eligible players);
And NHL.com's John Kreiser included a member of the Wings' front office in his list of "seven young players who were traded too soon":
Kris Draper: A dollar didn't go far in 1993, but it was enough to get the Detroit Red Wings a 22-year-old checking center who was key to four Stanley Cups.
That $1 price was all the Red Wings had to pay to land Draper, a fourth-round pick (No. 62) by the Winnipeg Jets in 1989 who had played only 20 NHL games in three stints with the team. Draper was never a major offensive force, but he became a reliable checking center and penalty-killer for one of the NHL's elite organizations. He won the Selke Trophy in 2004 and earned a berth on the Canadian Olympic team two years later to go along with being a member of four Stanley Cup championship teams.
In all, Draper spent 17 seasons with the Red Wings. That's pretty good value for a buck.
And Marie Hallman posited a 25-image photo gallery of Niklas Kronwall's charity game for Jarfalla HC this past Friday with photos from Jens Forsberg, and she reports that Gustav Nyquist scored a spin-o-rama shootout goal and that Jonas Gustavsson pitched a shootout shut-out;
Back over on this side of the pond, if you want to read more of Senators owner Eugene Melnyk's rationalizations for jettisoning Daniel Alfredsson lest his sports franchise lose money, Sportsnet's Chris Nichols will provide you with a slate of Tweets from the Ottawa Citizen's James Gordon that will make you very, very glad that the Ilitch family doesn't run its sports empire like Melnyk runs his businesses;
The Red Wings remain amidst sixteen sports logos vying for the Free Press's "best sports logo in Michigan" title...
And I'm not thrilled about doing this right now, but I don't really have much of a choice. If I am to attend the Red Wings' prospect tournament and main camp in Traverse City, I'll be leaving South Lyon for Traverse City on September 4th, and won't be able to return home until September 17th or 18th, which means two weeks' worth of paying for somewhere to stay and food to eat, so I'm starting my funding drive now.
If there's any way that you can contribute to the cause, I would be very grateful, and if not, I completely understand. I'm going to stick with Paypal because it's worked thus far, and again, you'll have to use my personal email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, as the recipient.
Thanks again. I wouldn't have been able to attend the summer development camp without you, and I'm incredibly grateful for your support and readership.
15: His single season plus/minus rating career-high, which placed him among the top dozen defensemen in the NHL. His plus-15 was also a team best for the Red Wings this season.
4: A NHL season single career-high in goals, half of which were game-winners, for the Czech defenseman. It was the most goals that he scored since producing six markers at AHL Grand Rapids in 2008-09.
24: Led Red Wings' defensemen in shots on goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs, tying him with forward Valtteri Filppula for seventh on the team.
And amongst Sunday's Tweets...
(the key is apparently to make sure the fish can't see you)
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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.