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Red Wings overnight report: on offensive balance, roster issues, Alfredsson and Olympic Z

The Red Wings may not be able to move any of their "surplus" players at present, but Ken Holland and Mike Babcock sounded optimistic tones about the state of their team on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM on Tuesday. This morning, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan kicked off a slate of 3 articles looking at the Wings' forwards, defense and goaltending by talking to an optimistic general manager who believes that Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss give the Wings a much more balanced offensive outlook:

“We felt we had some needs we wanted to fill,” Holland said. “We wanted to get more scoring. We were challenged last season to score some goals.”

Holland went about quickly and aggressively to improve that deficiency July 5, the first day of unrestricted free agency. In a matter of hours, the Red Wings signed Daniel Alfredsson to a one-year, $5.5 million contract and Stephen Weiss to a five-year, $24.5 million contract.

The Red Wings ranked 20th in the NHL last season, scoring 2.54 goals per game. Adding proven offensive players such as Alfredsson and Weiss should improve the Red Wings.

“Daniel has been one of the great scorers in the National Hockey League,” Holland said. “Weiss is one of the tremendous playmakers.”

...

[Alfredsson's] motivation to win a first Stanley Cup could fuel Alfredsson — as well as his teammates —much as it did for veterans such as Dominik Hasek, Luc Robitaille, Steve Duchesne and Dallas Drake in the past with the Red Wings.

Weiss scored over 20 goals four times in his career in Florida before needing wrist surgery last season, which limited him to one goal and three assists in 17 games.

Kulfan continues at significant length, and while he doesn't believe that the Wings will find a way to re-sign Daniel Cleary, this post-conversation-with-Holland quip kind of makes me cringe:

The Red Wings still have interest in re-signing unrestricted free agent Daniel Cleary, but being over the salary cap and having no room on the roster makes it impossible currently.

Holland also spoke to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness on Tuesday evening, and he reiterated a familiar point of emphasis regarding the health of one Darren Helm:

“He took baby steps in Traverse City (at the development camp),” Holland said. “He pushed it hard the last couple of days and continues to train and feel good. It appears he's headed in the right direction.

“We'll probably be careful the first couple of days in camp, then eventually we have to get him in a couple of preseason games and test him out,” Holland continued. “He's a physical player, he finishes checks and he goes to the hard areas.”

Helm was limited to playing just one game last season due to a slightly torn disc in his back.

“We really won’t know until he gets on the forecheck and he's banging and someone's banging him,” Holland said. “He’s had four different back specialists look at him and all agree there is no structural damage and time will heal it.”

Holland also offered Pleiness the same update regarding re-signing Gustav Nyquist that he delivered to MLive's Ansar Khan...

The Wings are close to signing Nyquist to a one-year deal according to Holland.

“We've done a lot of talking in the last couple of weeks,” Holland said. “I anticipate getting it done.”

The forward would like to sign a two-year deal, but there's a difference of opinion on salary.

I don't mind repeating Holland's comments to Khan regarding the roster crunch--because the dearth of free agent signings, never mind trades, seem to indicate that the marketplace is frozen at present:

“Things are pretty quiet,'' Holland said Tuesday. “There's not much going on. At this stage, lots of teams will go to camp feeling their kids will fill holes for them.''

That will force the Red Wings to seek other means to trim up to two players before the start of the season.

“If we have to go to training camp with what we have I feel OK,'' Holland said. “There will be more talk in camp. There's moves to be made to get ourselves cap compliant.''

Both Pleiness and Khan noted that both Danny DeKeyser and Gustav Nyquist can clear waivers, and as such, they could be sent to Grand Rapids to alleviate the Wings' soon-to-be-over-the-cap status, and to get the Wings under the 23-man roster limit should the team not be able to move two of Patrick Eaves (1 year left on a deal paying him $1.2 million, per Capgeek), Cory Emmerton (1 year left at a $533K cap hit) or Jordin Tootoo (2 years remaining on a deal with a $1.9 million-per-season cap hit)...

But that really strikes me as, "If and only if we're totally *#$%@&" talk, and the plain and simple truth for both the Red Wings and every other team is that players are going to suffer injuries during training camp and the exhibition season, and those injuries are likely to determine the shape of the Wings' roster going into the season.

Khan also noted that there is one more "escape valve," though it's not an appealing one:

The Red Wings could opt to waive a veteran like Patrick Eaves and assign him to Grand Rapids if he clears.

Under the new CBA, clubs receive only limited cap relief ($100,000 for players who signed at age 35 or over and a maximum of $925,000 for others) for players who clear waivers.

And I sure as *#$%@& hope this is the bottom line regarding the "youth movement" versus Cleary sentimentality, though strange things may yet happen in that vein:

Forwards Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner remain unsigned but Holland said the club is not in a position to add any players.

If you want to hear my somewhat glitchy recording of Babcock's interview, here it is...

And after working out the whole, "Don't use Tweetdeck or take Skype messages during interviews!" spiel on my new audio-recording software, I did a pretty solid job getting Holland's interview down:

For the record, given that I a) pay Soundcloud $13 a month and b) yay, new audio-recording software, I am considering doing some sort of bare-bones podcast. Please let me know if you might be interested in such an endeavor as I think that I sound like a duck, but would be willing to chitchat about hockey and figure out how the hell to coordinate guests and stuff (yay Skype).

 

 

 

Regarding one Daniel Alfredsson's press conference in Ottawa this Thursday, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports that Alfredsson will appear at a certain medical facility where he has a long-standing charitable commitment to reducing the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses via the "You Know Who I Am" campaign:

The latter Tweet from Mr. Blocks Me on Twitter is anything but official.

I'm getting the feeling that Alfredsson will somewhat charitably allow the press to ask him questions about leaving Ottawa, but the whole, "I may be leaving but I'm going to honor my extensive charitable obligations" atmosphere seems to suggest that it is even less likely than it was before--and it wasn't bloody likely at all--that Alfredsson would honestly tell anyone what the hell happened between his agent, J.P. Barry, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, Senators GM Bryan Murray and himself over the past year.

If anything, we can probably expect more of Alfredsson placing "blame" upon himself. I'm not expecting "great theatre" or "enticing" intrigue in any way, shape or form.

As I noted in the "odds" entry, suggestions that Melnyk's finances are ever-so-slightly exaggerated. His pharmaceutical business is doing pretty well and he's still nearly a billionaire.

Yes, there's some significant rink debt involved in his decision to no longer spend "to the cap" and instead embrace a "budget team" ethos, but given Melnyk's penchant for the dramatics that Alfredsson is loath to engage in, well...

Not landing a license to build a casino may have stank for Melnyk from a moneymaking perspective, but his decision to keep ticket prices at near-bottom-of-the-league prices is his own, as is his belief that his businesses cannot live as intertwined financial operations.

 

 

 

In Swedish news of a different kind, Henrik Zetterberg and Henrik Lundqvist gave Swedish-language interviews to Radiosporten during the second and final day of Team Sweden's Olympic orientation camp in Stockholm. You probably won't get much out of the interview, but Radiosporten's Lena Sundqvist took note of the pair's comments, and here are rough translations of Zetterberg's Red Wings and Olympic-pertinent quips:

Among others in attendance, Detroit's captain Henrik Zetterberg's gearing up for his fourth Olympics, and he's looking forward to leading the Olympic team in Sochi.

"It will be fun, and it's great to see that there are so many young talented players coming up. Seeing their growth is amazing," says Zetterberg, who praised one of the Olympic newcomers specifically. "I'm incredibly impressed by [Minnesota Wild defenseman] Jonas Brodin. Both from the World Championships two years ago, and also how he's played in the NHL. It's going to be fun to play with him."

Henrik Zetterberg and Douglas Murray looked down the team's roster to see when players were born, and they decided the following:

"We're getting old now!" said Zetterberg, who completed his first season as the captain of the Detroit Red Wings.

"I felt no more pressure just because I had a 'C" on my chest. There are many of us who lead the team together, and it's always been that way in Detroit."

But "round robin play" would have summed up how close Detroit came to missing the playoffs, and it was sketchy.

"Obviously it wouldn't have been fun to miss the playoffs for the first time in 23 years during my first year as captain, but it all worked out in the end, and it was a learning year for all of us."

- I felt no more pressure just because it was a C on his chest. We are many who leads the team together and so it has always been in Detroit.

But is the round robin would summed and Detroit came close to missing the playoffs, it was sweaty.

- It is clear that there would have been fun to miss the playoffs for the first time in 23 years during my first year as captain, but it all worked out after all and it was a learning year for all of us."

Zetterberg also spoke to the Swedish news agency TT, and it touches upon similar topics, though whoever penned the article makes a very wise point in noting that Zetterberg--like Nicklas Lidstrom before him--just isn't the kind of household name he is in Sweden that he is here:

Henrik Zetterberg, 32, is aiming to take part in his fourth Olympics. But he takes a quiet approach to eventual stardom.

"I think people think more of Peter (Forsberg) than they do me, actually."

He was part of the quarterfinal loss in Salt Lake City in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010.

"If you look at all of the Olympic games, I think we've had good teams every time, and had a good chance to go all the way. But twice, it didn't work out that way," he says.

And Henrik Zetterberg remembers the tournament in Turin in 2006. In the final, he scored the game-tying goal against Finland, and the game ended in a 3-2 decision and an Olympic gold medal.

"The first question you get is--how do you measure yourself up now? But when you've won you want to get there again," says Zetterberg when the national team met in Stockholm on Tuesday.

Detroit's team captain, which he became after Nicklas Lidstrom retired, noted the high proportion of players born in the 90's who were featured on the roster, and he says he's ready to take a bigger role on the team.

"It's become a smaller generation, so to speak, since the last Olympics. I think it was me and Dogge (Douglas Murray) who sat down and looked at all the birthdates and realized that we're pretty old on this team (laughs). But it's fun and it's a part of hockey to take new steps and new roles all the time," he says.

And finally, via RedWingsFeed, Expressen's Magnus Nystrom says that Zetterberg very patiently answered oodles of questions about the Olympics, the Red Wings, Lundqvist's Rangers and even Detroit's bankruptcy, so I don't think we've heard the last of Zetterberg's interviews from Stockholm.

 

 

We're not quite done with foreign-language news, but Czech is a prickly pear to Swedish's tangled yarn, so I'm going to have to give you a summary of Petr Mrazek's interview with Tyden.cz's Tereza Velikovska:

  • Despite having a very successful first season as a professional player, Mrazek says that he's actually starting to get nervous about the upcoming campaign;
  • He's crossing his fingers about being included in the Czech Olympic team. When he took part in the Czechs' summer Olympic gathering, coach Alois Hadamczk told Mrazek that he's got to play well (but the numbers are stacked against him given that Michal Neuvirth, Tomas Vokoun, Ondrej Pavelec and even Jakub Stepanek and Jakub Kovar are ahead of Mrazek on the depth chart);
  • Mrazek reacted to a little flattery regarding comparisons of his style of play to Dominik Hasek's by suggesting that he's just trying to be himself, but he does admit that he idolized Hasek growing up;
  • He was asked about heading to Ottawa prior to his draft year to play in the OHL, and he says that he received significant help in acclimating from Czechs on the team and a Czech family in the community;
  • He also says that HC Vitkovice's claim that they owned his contractual rights when he was 17 was not accurate;
  • He's still being asked about his enthusiastic celebrations during the 2012 World Junior Championships, and he still says that he was just caught up in the moment;
  • And he says that he was thrilled to get a chance to play for one period during the 2012 World Championships;
  • In terms of his first pro season, he admits that he wasn't thrilled about starting in the ECHL, but he's happy that he managed to work his way back up to the Griffins, and he described his NHL debut as "surreal," though he notes that his experience in the locker room was staggering in a different manner as the Wings' players were "just normal guys";
  • Again, he feels that the Grand Rapids Griffins won the Calder Cup because the team was united under Jeff Blashill's guidance, and he points out that he headed home after the season instead of lingering to celebrate his win as the AHL playoffs extended into the middle of June;
  • And he understands that he's going to have to play very, very well during training camp and the exhibition season to unseat Jonas Gustavsson. If he doesn't do so, he expects to start the year in the AHL.

 

 

 

In the participatory vein, the Red Wings are facing off against Ferris State University in the "final four" of the Detroit Free Press's "Michigan's best sports logo" contest...

 

 

 

And finally, I'm looking at two weeks' worth of hotel and food costs to head up to Traverse City exactly 3 weeks from today to cover the Red Wings' prospect tournament and main camp, so if there is any way that you could lend a financial hand, I would be extremely grateful (I'm about...Uh...1/16th of the way there?). Five-buck donations, $10 donations, whatever you can afford, it all helps me get to Traverse City.

I'm sticking with Paypal for the present moment as folks are familiar with it, and the email address that you use as my "recipient" ID is my personal email address, rtxg@yahoo.com (regardless of whether you send email to that address or my Kukla's Korner email, georgemalik@kuklaskorner.com, they end up in the same place).

Again, your support is plain old humbling. I wouldn't have been able to attend the summer development camp without you, and I'm incredibly grateful for your support and readership.

 

Update:

Update #2: Henrik Zetterberg and his Swedish teammates spoke with Expressen's Linus Norberg about the Russian anti-gay laws, and Zetterberg led the charge in saying that the laws are horrible. He and his teammates feel that the athletes have to do something to support gay athletes.

Update #3: It's 6:30 as I type this (I started this entry around 2:30), and the Swedish newspapers don't update until around 10 AM most days...So you're going to get the Google-translated garble of Hockeysverige.se's Stefan Johansson's interview with Zetterberg. Sorry :/

"It's really nice to play winger sometimes"
Zeta on its C center role and Alfredsson

Hockey Sweden, see met Henrik Zetterberg and talked about taking over captaincy in Detroit, the new teammate Daniel Alfredsson and how he prefers to play center, but still like the variation.

- It's great to play winger sometimes, when you can stand and rest up at the blue line, says Henrik Zetterberg jokingly hockeysverige.se.

Last season, Henrik Zetterberg had the almost impossible task of filling the gap as captain of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings after giant Nicklas Lidstrom.

"Zata" took full responsibility, both on and off the field, and delivered 48 (11 +37) points in 46 games in the regular season and 12 points in 14 games in the playoffs.

- We did not get the pre-season we wanted because of the shortened season. Then we lacked "Lidas" in the first game when we lost to St. Louis 6-0. But after that, I think we started well and took us to the end of the quarter-finals, even though we were only one point away from missing the playoffs for the first time in 23 years, says Zetterberg Hockeysverige.se

How shafts to the role as team captain for Detroit after Nicklas Lidstrom?

- Although it is only one person who has the "C" on his chest, we are many leaders in the team who helps out for everything to work, and we have all learned a lot from each other, so it's been very good.

- But it is clear that "Lidas" leaving an incredible gap. Meanwhile, other, younger players a chance to step forward and show that they can take responsibility.

When it comes to Zetterberg's own game on the field, he has no clear favorite position

- I often get this question over in the U.S.. When I play with Pavel (Datsiuk) so we usually say that it is best for the day at the they can play center, but I have to choose I will probably center on which you become more involved in the game. But on the other hand, it's great to play winger sometimes, when you can stand and rest up at the blue line, laughing Zetterberg.

For the upcoming season, the Red Wings acquired, among others, Daniel Alfredsson of Ottawa Sena Thurs A new acquisition as "Zata" welcomes with joy.

- Daniel's a fantastic player and will bring positive energy to the club. There is a player who brings a lot over the pitch, both with his experience and with his playing style. He will give us a whole new dimension as "right-hander" in our Power Play like we did last year.

- When it was clear that he would be leaving Ottawa, I did everything I could to influence him to choose Detroit, says Zetterberg.

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Comments

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

George I’d be interested in chatting hockey on a podcast with you.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/14/13 at 05:13 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

I have a vision of Danny Cleary sitting at his kitchen table, cell phone on the the table in front of him, rocking back and forth and mumbling “Kenny is going to call, Kenny is going to call, Kenny is going to call…”

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 08/14/13 at 08:48 AM ET

DocF's avatar

“I have a vision of Danny Cleary sitting at his kitchen table, cell phone on the the table in front of him, rocking back and forth and mumbling “Kenny is going to call, Kenny is going to call, Kenny is going to call…”

Hee hee!  Well if Ken doesn’t call ,then Jim Rutherford should.  Even a shell of Danny Cleary is better than all but a couple of the Carolina forwards.

Doc

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 08/14/13 at 10:45 AM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

It certainly seems like answers won’t be forthcoming from Alfredsson. Probably unrealistically optmistic to believe that Ottawa journalists will be able to coax out any real answers, particularly in the context in which Mr. Alfredsson has made himself available!

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/14/13 at 10:45 AM ET

Avatar

Even a shell of Danny Cleary is better than all but a couple of the Carolina forwards.

Not for three million dollars he isn’t.  And judging by his regular season play he’s certainly not going to make a non-playoff team into a playoff team.

It certainly seems like answers won’t be forthcoming from Alfredsson.

I doubt any press conference taking place in Ottawa is going to include any candid quotes about why Alfredsson left.  If he was giving an interview to a Swedish newspaper or even a Detroit one he might be a little forthcoming, but in Ottawa I would imagine he’s just going to say how great the city and the fans are and how he wishes that he could’ve worked out a contract with Melnyk.

Posted by Garth on 08/14/13 at 11:42 AM ET

d ca's avatar

Sorry but I think the extra contract year to circumvent the cap going into it PLANNING on not playing that year is a big deal.

The NHL should use his comments as a basis to speak to both him and the Ottawa Sens and then issue a ruling. That ruling should be a draft pick forfeiture if found to be true (and it came straight from the horses mouth). They should take in the fact he actually played, but if that is the way the contract went down—-it should still cost the Sens.

It’s one thing to say I signed a 11 or 12 year deal when I was 28 hoping to play to age 40. It’s entirely another to say I signed a 4 year deal when I was 35 with no intention of playing when I was 39.

Posted by d ca on 08/15/13 at 11:46 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.