The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/04/13 at 02:43 AM ET
While Anthony Mantha and Jake Paterson attempt to make Team Canada's cut at the World Junior selection camp starting today at the Montreal Canadiens' practice facility and then shifting to the combined U.S./Finnish/Swedish World Junior summer camp in Lake Placid on Tuesday...
The Free Press's Helene St. James continues her survey of the Wings' present and future with someone the team's essentially stuck with in one Johan Franzen and his moderate cap hit belying a massive contract belying massive underachievement-on-the-dollar that Wings fans insist the team should have spent re-signing Marian Hossa--despite eight gabillion and five indications that Rich Winter planned on giving the Wings a long-term discount on his client's services as much as, well, Neil Sheehy planned on doing anything less than waiting things out to ensure that Damien Brunner earns $3+ million per season.
In theory, anyway, St. James believes that the Mule can indeed get what he wants--or perhaps needs--by playing alongside Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson, and I sure as hell hope so:
Looking back: Franzen opted not to play anywhere last fall during the lockout, but it didn’t take the 33-year-old winger long to get his wind once the NHL season started in January. He was remarkably consistent — other than a six-game scoreless stretch in late February and into March, Franzen rarely went more than a game without at least a point. But he was less impressive in the playoffs, especially in the second round against Chicago, with only one goal and two assists in seven games, none the last three.
Disturbingly enough, despite Franzen's inconsistency, he actually ended up doing a helluva job tossing off assists when he wasn't scoring goals, and he at least impressed me with his ability to posit 17 assists to go with his 14 goals registered over the course of 41 games.
Looking ahead: Franzen can be a frustration for the Wings, who think highly of him because of his size, skill and consistency. and someone who will deliver at least 20 goals a season, but they also wish he would be tougher on opponents. At $4 million a year — not a bad salary-cap hit for a top-six forward — the Wings can live with Franzen’s deficiencies.
That, and with the Tomas Jurcos of the world at least two or three years away, the Wings' most immediate scoring threats in the prospect pipeline--Tomas Tatar, Landon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen and Calle Jarnkrok--are all classically "undersized" forwards, so while the team's managed to draft bigger and grittier players over the past three years, those players aren't likely to be ready for prime time duty for at least another pair of seasons, making Franzen's size, even when he floats...useful.
Franzen could have a good year ahead thanks to the off-season additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss. Weiss should enable the Wings to unite as linemates Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, who will draw any opponent’s top defenders. That likely will create a second line of Franzen, Weiss and Alfredsson, a trio that will have more room to roam against lesser defenders.
Franzen is at his best when he’s driving to the inside and going to his shot, whether at even strength or on the power play. At 6-feet-3 and 220-some pounds, he can be a bulldozer. He played center during much of his career in his native Sweden, a handy asset for the Wings when they face a foe with a big center.
I actually thought he was more engaged when he played center last season.
The bottom line: As vexing as he might sometimes be, his occasional lethargy is outweighed by his assets.
That's the truth, even though so many of us wonder what could have been had the team somehow managed to dole out the big bucks to retain Hossa.
While we're wandering into controversial territory, the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo, penning an article for 97.1 the Ticket, suggests that the Red Wings need to--surprise!--retire #91 after they send #5 to the rafters...But he also believes that #30 should be up there, too:
1. Chris Osgood, No. 30, Red Wings – Osgood is one of only 10 goalies in NHL history to win more than 400 games, the majority of which came with the Red Wings. The Red Wings have won four Stanley Cup titles since 1997. Osgood was the primary goalie for two of those playoff runs.
3. Sergei Fedorov, No. 91, Red Wings – I have never understood the fan hate for Fedorov. He won a Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP. He was a truly brilliant skater and two-way player on three Stanley Cup title teams. And he was at his best during the playoffs.
(Caputo's "athlete #2" was Jason Hanson's #4)
Ring of honor! Ring of honor! And run away!
In other news...As mentioned at the start, Jake Paterson and Anthony Mantha (and summer development camp Jake PaTTerson) are all attending Team Canada's World Junior selection camp...
- Burnaby Now posted a picture of Landon Ferraro sharing the Calder Cup with a young fan...
- Iffin' you want to attend the Red Wings' preseason game in Chicago, Blackhawks 101's Andrew McIntyre reports that Hawks preaseason tickets go on sale this Monday;
- And, regarding Saturday's story about Eisbaren Berlin defenseman Constantin Braun receiving oodles of support from his team and the media regarding his battle with severe depression, Stephan Held on Twitter pointed out that Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff had some things to say about Braun's battle, too:
And I quote from his Facebook page:
Wishing all the Best to my Team Germany Teammate Constantin Braun, who will be taking time off hockey to battle his depression.
Depression is a very serious disease and I wish him all the strength he needs for a full recovery.
What he said.
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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.