The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/29/14 at 02:06 AM ET
I'm not necessarily thrilled with the start of, "Look through 40+ foreign-language news websites for news" season starting, but it's that time of year.
The local news sources' stories are starting to blend together--DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose profiled Xavier Ouellet yesterday, Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji profiled Mattias Backman on Wednesday afternoon, and this morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James discusses Ouellet, and St. James' article is where we'll start...
During his time in Detroit, Ouellet didn’t produce any points, but he averaged a shot per game and, of the four games during the regular season, one was the 3-0 season finale victory at St. Louis and the other three games were all non-regulation loses.
Ouellet plays a heady game, one that, with development, should fit in well with Detroit’s style. He has a solid history of success, including having captained his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team and having represented Canada at the 2013 World Junior championship, where he was Canada’s top defenseman. He’s shown himself to be a key asset on the power play — during his last two years of junior hockey, 19 of his 31 goals were scored during man advantages.
Ouellet made the jump to Grand Rapids this past season, producing four goals and 13 assists for 17 points along with a plus-three rating in 70 games while penalized only 22 minutes. He was scoreless, with four penalty minutes, in eight playoff games for the Griffins.
Defense is a tough position to play in the NHL. Ouellet only turns 21 in July. He may end up starting next season in Grand Rapids, but he’d be a top call-up when a regular inevitably pulls up hurt.
But the balance of this article, save a Facebook picture from Tomas Tatar and an article that we'll get to at the end, is a matter of translative interpretation.
Based upon GT.se's Bjorn Lindsten's report that eight teams are vying for Mattias Janmark's services, I did some looking around.
Jnytt's Peter Gustafsson reports that Janmark spent two days in Jonkoping, home of HV71, and Varmland's Folkblad's John Ekberg spoke to Janmark about possibly visiting Karlstad to check out Farjestads BK. What follows is roughly translated, and I don't know what Swedish for "tough interview" is, but that's Janmark to a tee, in Swedish and in English:
After AIK Stockholm's relegation to the Allsvenskan, Mattias Janmark's become one of Swedish hockey's most hunted players. With 61 points in 100 SHL games over the past two seasons, the national team-playing 21-year-old, who can play both center and wing, is recognized as a skilled player at the SHL level.
Janmark's agent, Christian Sjogren, says that eight of the 12 SHL teams have expressed interest in him. Lulea, Linkoping, HV71 and Modo are four of the clubs who've openly stated their interest. According to Corren.se, Frolunda is also tugging at him. And now VF Sport will tell you that even Farjestad is interested.
"Yes, there are quite a few teams that have contacted us. They are in there, and we'll see what comes up," says Janmark himself.
On Monday, he visited Linkoping.
Have you been to Karlstad?
"No, not yet, anyway."
The 21-year-old was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings and finished this past season with games for the team's farm club, the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, but he's inclined to play in Sweden this fall.
"I haven't signed anything, but I havn't received a contract proposal from anywhere else, so I lean toward [staying]."
What are you looking for in the team you choose?
"It's hard to say. There are good things with every team. It's difficult to point to something individually, it's more about what feels right. But there are many good teams interested, so I'll probably pick among them."
Farjestad is one of those teams, what are your impressions of theM?"
"It's a successful team. I have nothing bad to say about tem."
Farjestads' Leif Carlsson declared in VF last week that he's looking for a player for one of the top two lines. After having previously talked about a search for a first-line center, Carlsson also said it could be a winger; the important thing is that the player fits in with those who are already playing for the team. But it's clear that Farjestad seeks an offensive player who can contribute on the power play.
Is that a role that could fit you?
"It's hard for me to say, but of course I would hope for that kind of role in whichever team I come to."
When will you decide?
"The sooner the better, but while it's important that it feels right, it has to take the time it takes."
Regarding the aforementioned Backman, Corren.se's Per Bergsten reports that yes, Linkopings HC is bidding for Janmark, and he reports that Backman "won't be replaced" by a free agent, though the team believes that Backman, who was on loan to LHC this past season, will play in North America this upcoming season.
My Czech and Slovak aren't nearly as good as my Swedish, and online translators tend to make a muddle of Slavic languages, but Petr Mrazek spoke to the CTK News Agency, Hockej.cz, iDnes.cz and iSport, and summarizing his interviews...
- He returned to the Czech Republic on Tuesday and apparently held some sort of presser in Prague as part of a sponsorship deal. He's heading back to his hometown, Ostrava, for a short vacation, but he and his significant other were attending a presser with San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl on Wednesday;
- Mrazek feels that he had a good season in the AHL and played in 9 solid NHL games;
- Mrazek says that he would go back to the AHL if the team re-signs Jonas Gustavsson, and that he'd attempt to best his statistics there (2nd in goals-against average, for example). He says that his "number one priority" is earning a spot on the Wings' roster, however, and he reiterates his desire to graduate to the NHL level, saying, "I hope that it's time to go up." He would prefer to not go back down to the AHL;
- According to Mrazek, the Red Wings weren't sure what they wanted to do in terms of re-signing Gustavsson when he last spoke with the management. He expects the situation to rectify itself over the next couple of weeks;
- During the season, he stayed with Tomas Tatar when recalled to Detroit;
- He thought that the Winter Classic was a fantastic experience, and he stated that the NHL wasn't going to allow him to use his "Snowman" pads, but he plans on donning a similar pair if he's in the NHL around next Christmas. He describes the Winter Classic as giving him goosebumps;
- He feels that he and Jimmy Howard get along well and complement each other given their senses of humor. He likes the fact that they can make fun of each other off the ice and then prepare for games as professionals;
- He watched the World Championships as he was able to do, and he hopes to play for the national team sooner than later;
- He will train with his friend and Czech national team goalie Peter Stepanek this summer (Stepanek plays in the KHL, and as I recall, Stepanek's long-term girlfriend is Mrazek's sister), and he believes that his off-ice training paid off this past season;
- And he and Tatar are going to a seaside resort for a short summer vacation (in Dubai?).
In Slovakia, Tomas Jurco's NHL spot is more secure than Mrazek's, but Jurco's preparing to train at home in Kosice assuming that he's still got to earn his spot.
According to Pravda.sk's Tomas Prokop, Jurco celebrated the conclusion of his 2013-2014 campaign by having all 4 of his wisdom teeth removed, but he did discuss his time spent with the Grand Rapids Griffins (what follows is very roughly translated)...
"Texas had a great team. We had an inexperienced defense. We were less in sync, and could've played with more surprise. The opponent was the favorite," said Jurco, who scored his second AHL hat trick in one of the games. "In that game I really stood out, but I could've had a few more goals. I didn't finish in the end and I missed an empty net."
He was more or less allowed to skate around the fact that Jurco was disappointed with being forced to play in Grand Rapids instead of playing for the World Championship with Slovakia, simply commenting about the tournament instead...
And Jurco said this about his summer and tasks ahead in the fall:
"I'm counting on the fact that I've got a good chance to earn a spot with Detroit at the beginning of the NHL season. It's all on me. But I'm not satisfied with the thought that I'll start with the NHL team. I have to prepare well," adds Jurco, who has a two-way contract next year.
For the moment, one of [Slovakia's] greatest talents will relax. "It was probably the most difficult season I've experienced. I got tired. I also want to enjoy the fact that this is probably the longest time I'll be home in Kosice for many years," said Jurco, who has won both an AHL title and a Memorial Cup.
I'd prefer to wrap this entry up with some English, and it involves some controversy: I'm readily cheering against the Chicago Blackhawks because I'd hate to see them win back-to-back Stanley Cups, but in light of the Hawks' plight (down 3 games to 2 against Los Angeles), the Hockey News's Brian Costello wonders what defines a "dynasty" in the modern-day NHL:
This is the one that always gets me. The Detroit Red Wings won three Stanley Cups in a six-season stretch from 1997 to 2002 (including back-to-back in 1998). My old definition of a dynasty didn’t allow for them to be called such, because there were three different Cup winners between Detroit’s second and third Cup title in that stretch. But in a salary capped NHL that artificially creates parity, I am willing to soften on that stance – even if it happened before the creation of the salary cap in 2005-06. Nine players on that 2002 Detroit winner were members of their 1997 title team – Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Kris Draper, Sergei Fedorov, Tomas Holmstrom, Igor Larionov, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.
So maybe that was hockey’s last dynasty. Detroit won again in 2008, but that shouldn’t be considered part of Detroit’s dynasty run, even though fans of the Red Wings consider it all part of a winning generation. Only five players were part of all four Detroit titles from 1997 to 2008.
New Jersey won Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003, but those three wins are too far apart to be called a dynasty. Plus, you can’t have two dynasties run concurrently. And we’re loosely calling Detroit a dynasty in that era.
If Los Angeles goes on to win the Stanley Cup this year, that’s two Cups in three seasons, not enough to be called a dynasty, but now within reach. The Kings would have to win a third Cup within five or six seasons of that first win for the word dynasty to enter their lexicon. And they’d need to keep the core group of Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and a handful of other together for that to qualify.
I'm just cheering for the Eastern Conference at this point. What about you?
Update: Via my pal Michelle Osgood on Facebook, this story is a month old, but it's still worth reading/watching:
You might not think that Tom McCollum's a Wings prospect any more, but Fox 17's Steve Amorose points out that McCollum, who was signed to an AHL-only contract this past season, has earned his way back into the conversation as to who should play in Grand Rapids as an NHL-ready goaltender if Petr Mrazek does in fact graduate to the NHL.
McCollum took advantage of his last chance by putting up a team-best 24 wins this season. He’s also posted the best goals-against average (2.30) and save percentage (.922) of his Griffins career, and it may have just saved his professional hockey career.
“I really just wanted to prove that I could play in this league,” McCollum said. “I think I’ve done that so far. Had a really good summer. Just spent a lot of time working out on the ice and trying to really refine my game and get better.”
“Well he certainly did a real good job moving his career forward,” said Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. “It takes everybody different timelines to get to where they are excelling at a level for numerous reasons and now he is at a level where he is excelling.”
There's a video accompanying the story.
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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.