The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/30/13 at 03:47 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings will attempt to make the most of their 7 picks during today's draft in Newark, NJ (TSN and NBCSN will air it from 3-9 PM, and it may drag on for a longer period of time, with the NHL Network picking up the rest of the coverage; the Wings pick 18th, 38th, 79th, 109th, 139th, 179th and 199th), and Wings director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell told RedWingsTV that the Wings are prepared for a very long day due to all the trade scuttlebutt, as well as having to re-set if the Wings do make any draft-day trades:
The Wings' website has posted a dedicated blog page for the draft, but they weren't necessarily allowed to be the fly on the wall when the team's management met on Saturday afternoon:
McDonnell discussed his background and plans for Sunday in a subperb and incredibly thorough article penned by Bill Roose, which includes some profiles of possible Wings picks...
McDonnell, as well as [former assistant GM Jim] Nill prior to his departure, evaluated hundreds of draft-eligible players from Western Canada to faraway hockey outposts like Sochi, Russia preparing for Sunday’s draft, which is considered the deepest collection of amateur hockey talent in the last decade. But with young defensemen still in their early 20s – Brendan Smith, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff, Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Mattias Backman, Nick Jensen and Alexei Marchenko – in the system, the Red Wings would like to use their No. 18 overall pick on a forward, someone like Rimouski’s Frederik Gauthier or Russian winger Andre Burakowsky.
However, trades or other developments could affect the Red Wings’ thinking while on the Prudential Center floor, said McDonnell, who played and later coached for the Kitchener Rangers.
“We would really like to get a forward, and this year seems to be a real good year to need a forward,” he said. “Having said that, if we’re picking 18 and there are four or five quality defensemen that we have rated quite high and they’re sitting there when we’re picking we’ll go that route. It’s all a matter of putting assets into the system and preferably this year a forward, but if one of those real good defensemen that we’re really, really high on is sitting there we’ll take him.”
Unlike drafts in other North American pro sports where first-year players are selected for immediate impact, the NHL draft, for the most part, is about developing prospects, whose final grade is typically years away.
“For the most part, I think you’re looking at perhaps a three or four year process with these kids,” McDonnell said. “There are no guarantees for any of them, and we’re taking kids at 18 years of age and you really don’t know what their true character is, or if they’re really willing to put the time or effort into becoming a pro athlete or not.”
What McDonnell does known though, is that the Red Wings won’t land one of the perceived NHL-ready prospects in this draft as defenseman Seth Jones and forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Alesander Barkov will be long gone before Detroit picks.
“Other than the top guys like Seth Jones, I think the 40th (ranked) player could go 10, 11, or 12,” McDonnell said. “It’s really beauty in the eye of the beholder.”
McDonnell also discussed the Wings' plans in a conversation with the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness (and this is a repeat, but it's worth re-posting)...
“The only difference this year is we’d really like to get a forward, unless there’s a defenseman that’s too good to pass up,” said Joe McDonnell, the team’s director of amateur scouting. “When it comes to our pick, if we feel there’s two players that are even we’ll lean toward the forward.”
“Every team’s almost in the same boat,” McDonnell said. “It’s just the way the game has evolved. It’s a big man’s game. I’m not saying there’s no room for smaller guys, but if you can get a big, skilled guy, you go that route. Still take small guys if we have to. But we’re looking to get bigger. We have bigger guys coming up in (Tomas) Jurco and (Riley) Sheahan.”
“We’re excited, at 18, we know we’ll get someone we really like,” McDonnell said. “The draft in general is strong, in the first round and even into the second round. It’s deep at the top end of the draft and then it peters out. There will be guys we like even in the seventh round. But the high-end part of the draft is good. At 18, we’ll get a quality player.”
The Wings have selected forwards with their top picks in each of the last three drafts – Martin Frk (2012), Tomas Jurco (2011) and Riley Sheahan (2010).
“It’s always the best player,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We feel like we’ve got some good prospects on defense and some good prospects up front. We’d like to add a few more. We’re hoping to look back in six years and we’ve got two NHL players out of this draft. If you have a great, great day maybe you have three.”
And the Wings' scouts and GM are always more than willing to admit that today is just the first step in a long process of player development:
“You deal in percentages and hopefully we come down the road and we have some NHL players,” Holland said. “As we’ve all seen it’s a very patient process. You’re dealing with 18-year-old kids and most of them, other than the top end of the draft, there’s a developing process they have to go through.
“It starts on draft day by holding onto your picks, making selections and then working their way through juniors, college and then to Grand Rapids,” Holland continued. “Some funnel up to Detroit and some drop by the wayside. We have number of prospects within our organization and we’d just like to our pool of prospects.”
McDonnell engaged in a fascinating conversation with the Free Press's Helene St. James, too, and here's a small chunk of an article that's more than worth your time:
This is the first year the Wings have had a first-round pick since 2010. Are they becoming a more precious resource? “I think they’re very precious, but you can’t take the Stanley Cups we’ve won since 1997 away from us. Getting quality players back in return for draft picks enabled us to win those Stanley Cups. ... First- and second-rounders are all very, very important since the salary cap. You have to draft well to keep a team competitive. Years ago, every summer there were really good free agents available. That pile of players seems to be shrinking every year. It’s ultra important now that you build from within and rely on scouting and developing players.”
It is a gamble, though, isn’t it? “It’s a huge gamble, for sure. That’s why you do your background work, try to narrow the probability of making a mistake. You try to be right. It’s not an easy thing to do. You don’t know what’s in their head, what they’re thinking. Do they have the heart and desire to want to get better? You try to do a bunch of background work and watch them play. And then you hope and pray that they turn out and keep you competitive.”
Other than possibly missing out on the first North Korean NHLer, are all teams scouting all over the globe? “Oh yeah, everyone has scouts in every location. For the high-end players, nobody has a scoop on anybody. The best you can hope for is that with the lower-end players, maybe some teams don’t look at some guys as closely as you do. So maybe you get somebody that way. But pretty much every region is covered.”
Jim Nill knows your secrets. But hasn’t everyone done due diligence at least through the first few rounds on every possible player? “Yeah, it’s really no big deal. Everybody sees the same thing. Some teams like one guy more than others. Jim doesn’t have any of our secrets, or any secrets from us.”
Again, the vast majority of mock drafts penned over the last 2 weeks have suggested that the Wings could be looking at up to 15 players, so it's really hard to say who they're going to pick today, mostly because nobody seems to know who's going where from picks 10-40, as McDonnell himself told Kulfan on Friday.
Who are they going to pick? *#$%@& if I know.
In terms of the moves the Wings might make on the draft floor and their plans going forward, the Wings made the team's re-signing of Jakub Kindl official on Saturday, and his $2.4 million cap hit takes a chunk out of the team's cap space with RFA's Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist left to re-sign, and the team hoping to retain the services of UFA's-to-be Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary...
But the Wings' beat writers have spent the past week-and-a-half telling us that the team wants to move Carlo Colaiacovo, Cory Emmerton, possibly Jordin Tootoo or Mikael Samuelsson, and that the team may use one or both of its cap compliance buy-outs on Monday, with even Todd Bertuzi not ruled out as a forward-crunch-alleviating move.
How that plays out, we won't know, but the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan duly noted that Holland was scheduled to meet with Filppula's agent and Brunner's agent at the draft...
General manager Ken Holland and the rest of his staff are in Newark, N.J., this weekend preparing for Sunday's NHL entry draft.
Holland plans to meet with the agents for unrestricted free-agent forwards Valtteri Filppula, Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary. All three could hit the open market July 5, and can sign with any team.
Holland is also exploring trade options, leading into the start of free agency next week, as he attempts to clear roster and financial space.
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness summarized the team's roster situation pretty dang well:
On defense, six are signed for next season and two, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl who are both restricted free agents, will get deals done bringing the total to eight on the blue line heading to training camp. Detroit would look at a possible upgrade on defense or it may trim one of its eight on the roster, but there is little depth on the blue line in Grand Rapids so that seems unlikely.
Forward is where things are bit more murky. The Wings currently have 12 players under contract and two others that are restricted free agents – Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist – will be signed sometime in the near future to bring the numbers up front to 14.
There are still three unrestricted free agents – Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner – that could find their way back on the roster, but those deals may not happen until the hours leading up to the start of free agency.
If the Wings are unable to sign Filppula they may try and trade his rights to a team so they could try exclusively to negotiate a deal with the center before he hits the open market.
The Wings did make offers to Filppula in August and September before talks broke down. Filppula, who made $3 million last season, is believed to be asking for about a $2 million raise a year.
There is also a chance the Wings could decide to use one or two of their allotted contract buyouts, but would need to do so by July 3 since that player or players has to go on waivers. Teams are permitted two amnesty buyouts that can be used this summer or next summer. They would be able to buy out a player at two-thirds of their remaining value of the contract and not have any of the salary count against the salary cap.
Holland explained why he re-signed Kindl while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James...
“He’s 26 years of age,” general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press. “We felt he established himself as regular NHL defenseman; (he) can play on second power play. He’s physically stronger, he competes harder. He’s become an everyday player for us, the last 35 games of this season. It’s hard to find defensemen. We drafted him. It’s probably taken a little bit longer than he would have liked and we would have liked for him to get to this point, but this year there was an opportunity, and he’s come into his own. We look for him to keep growing.”
Who confirmed that the Wings have submitted qualifying offers to the four RFA's they plan on retaining (no word as to whether the team will attempt to retain Tom McCollum or Brent Raedeke's rights)...
Defenseman Brendan Smith and forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson all have received qualifying offers and will all be re-signed at some point.
Before St. James transitions us to the other topic of note this morning in the Wings' pursuit of Vincent Lecavalier, and their incredibly high likelhood of flipping Filppula's rights today:
Sunday, they’ll meet with free agent center Vincent Lecavalier.
A busy weekend figures to segue into a busy week ahead, as Sunday’s draft leads into the start of unrestricted free agency, with teams able to sign players Friday. The Wings are in talks with two of their unrestricted free agents, Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary, and while they would like to trade the rights for Valtteri Filppula, Filppula wants to hit the open market, so at best Filppula’s rights may yield a conditional pick.
The Wings are in the market for a second-line center, and Lecavalier makes an intriguing possibility. The Wings like Lecavalier’s size and hands, but have concerns about his pace, and probably will lean against giving him anything more than a two-year offer. Lecavalier, 34, has said he wants a long-term deal.
The Red Wings have drawn a number and will meet with Lecavalier Sunday, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. A previous report from TSN's Ryan Rishaug said Lecavalier was scheduled to meet with the Red Wings Saturday night.
Detroit, like most teams, are fond of the 14-year veteran's size. At 6'4" he plays like a power forward, but has hands that impress. The main red flag for the Red Wings, according to the Detroit Free Press: Lecavalier's speed -- or lack thereof.
Montreal is seen as the front-runner for the former Lightning star. Lecavalier grew up a Canadiens fan, but this week told reporters he rooted for the Red Wings, too.
"If you just think about the Detroit Red Wings, it's actually a team I grew up idolizing. Them and Montreal were my favorite teams," he said.
The Lightning bought out the remaining seven years of Lecavalier's 11-year contract earlier this week. Steve Yzerman is Tampa Bay's general manager, and was keen in making the decision to part ways with the forward.
"Ironically, Steve Yzerman was my favorite hockey player," Lecavalier said of his Detroit memories. "It's definitely a place I would consider."
The Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, and Toronto Maple Leafs were among the teams to meet with Lecavalier's camp Saturday, according to TSN.
Dallas, Philly, St. Louis, Toronto, Montreal, Anaheim, Washington, Boston and even Calgary.
The Red Wings will have plenty of company in pursuit of Vince Lecavalier.
General manager Ken Holland is expected to meet with Lecavalier on Sunday morning, a day after the free-agent center met with numerous interested teams in Newark, N.J., site of the NHL entry draft.
Montreal, Toronto, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Dallas — and there may have been others — reportedly met with Lecavalier on Saturday, with Detroit and Calgary, according to TSN, still scheduled to meet with him.
Tampa Bay bought out Lecavalier, 33, on Thursday, making the him the most popular unrestricted free agent on the market.
The Red Wings have serious interest, but the number of teams involved could drive the salary past what the Red Wings are comfortable with.
Obviously, we've been told that the Wings want to replace Filppula with another second-line center, and Stephen Weiss and others have joined the "Wings want to add a goal-scoring winger like Bryan Bickell, David Clarkson or Nathan Horton" (who informed the Bruins that he's gone on Saturday, but may command a $5.5-6 million salary that would drive the Wings away) conversation...
But regarding all these damn trade rumors about the Wings going after Tyler Seguin or Thomas Vanek?
The Wings are a team that believes in using free agency to snag players for the price of their contracts as opposed to assets, and I don't believe that the Wings have the assets to acquire either player, nor the cap space for Vanek. I don't buy either one...
Everything could change today, but the fact that both the Bruins and Sabres are now division rivals would complicate any deal, and...
Mostly, I think the Wings will go after that second-line center first and foremost, and whether they land Lecavalier or not will determine the rest of the team's free agency moves as Lecavalier can and probably will inform the world of his decision long before July 5th.
Otherwise, the Wings will try to retain Brunner's services, make their decisions on Cleary and Filppula, and decide who to buy out this week, and the rest of the fireworks, any surprise trades excluded, will have to wait for Friday.
I'm not willing to make any predictions as to what will happen, mostly because so much of what we're reading on Twitter is the result of 30 teams' front offices and every player agent tossing off chit-chat and leaking information to the media as they wish to advance their agendas and/or create buzz, and 99% of it is either BS or it isn't going to happen.
Do I think that the Wings are going to move some players, starting with Filppula, and then add a free agent? Yup.
But I've got to be honest with you in admitting that I have no *#$%@& clue how it's gonna go down.
I'll be around all day today, and I'm just glad that draft day's finally here so that the chatter ends and we'll finally get to meet seven (or more) new Red Wings.
In other news...
- The Detroit Free Press's Best Sports Nickname contest ends today at 6 PM, and The Captain is facing off vs. Mr. Hockey;
- The Saginaw News's Corey Butzin took note of Saginaw Spirit goalie and Wings prospect Jake Paterson's invite to Team Canada's summer development camp in August;
- NHL.com's panel named Marcel Dionne the best #2 overall draft pick ever (oh, had the Wings not traded him to LA);
- Amongst Saturday's Tweets of note:
And in less than charitable news, it is indeed crunch time:
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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.