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Red Wings overnight report: on the Tvrdon tug of war, Eaves and the…Islanders?

This time of year is anything but quiet in terms of young players engaging in tournaments and national team selection camps--Under-18 players will take part in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament from August 5th-10th, for example, Team Canada's going to hold part of its World Junior selection camp in Brossard, Quebec starting in August 4th (Anthony Mantha and Jake Paterson are taking part), before joining Team USA, Team Sweden and Team Finland at their annual selection camp in Lake Placid, New York, with that co-selection camp starting on Saturday, August 3rd...

And at this point in the summer, NHL and Major Junior teams sometimes find themselves engaged in tugs of war regarding the futures of 20-year-olds.

The Red Wings have planned on bringing Marek Tvrdon into the fold after three injury-plagued seasons spent with the WHL's Vancouver Giants, but the Giants really, really, really, really want to bring Tvrdon back as an "overager," and as such, the Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen spoke with Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin about Tvrdon's status:

As expected at this time of year, Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin had a whole lot of “maybe,” regarding Marek Tvrdon.

Tvrdon, the slick Slovak left winger, is eligible to return to the Vancouver Giants for a fourth WHL season this coming fall. At 20 years of age, he’s also eligible to play minor pro and he has a signed a contract with the Red Wings, the team that picked him in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Draft.

Martin said the Red Wings haven’t predetermined where Tvrdon will start the season, and will wait to see how he grades out in their training camp. There’s a logic to that thinking. Of course, if they have decided, the Red Wings aren’t about to let Tvrdon get overconfident by tabbing him for the pro ranks already, or they aren’t about to anger him by saying that he’s en route to junior again. Signed 20-year-olds do generally play pro.

That said, a return from Tvrdon would be a massive boost to a Giants team looking to rebound from last season’s dreary 21-49-2-0 last-place finish. He played just 18 games this past campaign due to a blood clot, and he’s managed to stay healthy for one full season out of the three he’s been in Vancouver. He did put up 31 goals and 74 points in those 60 regular-season games in 2011-12.

“The player will decide,” Martin said. “If he’s ready physically and mentally for the rigours of the pro game, he’ll show that. We assess every player situation differently. We want to put him in the best possible environment to succeed. We don’t want a kid sitting in street clothes all the time in Grand Rapids. If that’s happening, then we need to look if he’s better off in the ECHL or back in junior. “

According to Ewen, the Giants could either a) keep Tvrdon as a key contributor or b) trade him to a team that has under 3 20-year-olds (which is the Canadian Hockey League's limit for 20-and-older players on any QMJHL, OHL or WHL team's roster), but just as Tvrdon's played spectacularly inconsistently when he's played, Ewen notes in his blog that Tvrdon's injuries (torn shoulder during his draft year, blood clot that required removing a rib last season) have yielded an incredibly small sample size for the potential power forward...We think...

The Red Wings did have Tvrdon practice regularly with that AHL team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, throughout their run to the Calder Cup championship, so that should help their read on him.

Martin did admit that there was concern about how much hockey he’s missed with the Giants. Throw in a shoulder surgery as a rookie and Tvrdon played just 90 of a possible 216 regular season games with Vancouver over three years.

“That’s tough for anybody,” aid Martin.

If you missed it, the Rapidian's David Urban spoke with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill about the state of the Griffins based upon their veteran re-signings, too...




And in equally "uncertain" news, the Free Press's Helene St. James continues her survey of the Wings' roster with an assessment of what Patrick Eaves can bring to the table...Assuming that he's not traded to carve out cap and roster space (and Eaves is in the last year of a 3-year contract paying him $1.2 million this season):

Looking back: Eaves was the feel-good story coming out of January’s training camp, which saw him cleared to play after spending more than a year recovering from a severe concussion. He was in and out of the rotation the first few weeks, but by the middle of the season played regularly as the right wing on the fourth line, and was part of the penalty-killing unit.

Eaves played in all but one playoff game. When coach Mike Babcock wanted to make a change for Game 6 of the Anaheim series, he said he didn’t know why he was pulling Eaves to make room for Mikael Samuelsson — but Eaves was still the guy who got the hook.

Looking ahead: Eaves is among the fastest skaters on the team, making him especially valuable on the penalty kill. He’s one of the few Wings who shoots right-handed, although he doesn’t play in a role that leads to much offense. He occasionally has helped on a top line in the past, but that’s unlikely to happen anymore given the arrival of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, as well as the ascension of Justin Abdelkader.

Eaves, 29, is a third- or fourth-line winger, and will be pressed to earn a spot as a regular next season given how intense competition will be for minutes. His positioning wasn’t helped when the Wings re-signed Drew Miller.

Eaves is a solid role player and provides good depth, but it remains to be seen where he will fit this coming season.

I absolutely adore Eaves' willingness to contribute whenever necessary and to accept sitting when if he's shuffled out of the lineup without any sort of complaint.

He's one of the best "support players" in the league as far as I'm concerned, but re-signing Drew Miller seemed to make Eaves expendable, even though he's "more expensive" than Cory Emmerton ($533K cap hit). Miller'sa better penalty-killer by a slight margin, and he's earned more consistent time in the Wings' lineup.




In other news...DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose continued "previewing the East" by scouting the, uh, New York Islanders...

Reaching the playoffs for the first time in six seasons wasn’t good enough for the New York Islanders. Even though 16 players made their playoff debuts in 2013, the Islanders pushed the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins to the brink last spring, and seem ready to return to the playoffs for the second straight year.

With more than 71 percent of the players in the organization homegrown products – meaning they were drafted by the club – the Islanders are building success from the locker room out. They’re still a young bunch, but they gained confidence as they began to believe in the concepts and structure presented by coach Jack Capuano. There’s growth and progress in the young players that the Islanders began stockpiling four and five years ago with the drafting of such franchise centerpieces as John Tavares and Josh Bailey. New York also has key offensive contributors like Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo, who collectively accounted for 41 goals and 77 assists.

The Islanders finished strong in 2013, posting an 11-2-4 record in the last 17 games of the regular season, and looked to their 22-year-old star Tavares to help get it done. Tavares finished third in the NHL scoring race with 28 goals, including a league-high 19 even-strength tallies. They were practically in every game to the end as they were tied or ahead in the third period of 42 games. The Isles also proved to be an incredibly dangerous road team, posting a 14-6-4 mark, which established a new franchise best .667 winning percentage.

This summer, the Islanders have been quite active in free agency, signing several of their own stars, including goalie Evgeni Nabokov, while adding new pieces in veteran forwards Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. In June they traded away defenseman Mark Streit to Philadelphia for a minor-league forward and a 2014 draft pick, and acquired right wing Cal Clutterbuck from Minnesota. They used a compliance buyout to get out from under goalie Rick DiPietro’s weighty contract that cleared some salary cap space.

The acquisition of Clutterbuck gives the Islanders a third- or fourth-line forward, who plays a physical brand that can get under opponent’s skin, yet he’s still a viable offensive threat having produced 38 goals in the last three seasons.

An up and coming prospect, center Ryan Strome, could earn a spot on the Islanders’ roster this season. A crafty speed demon on skates, he played a handful of AHL games in Bridgeport late in the season, where he played alongside another highly-touted prospect in Brock Nelson. Strome, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, played on the right wing for the Sound Tigers. An extremely gifted offensive forward, the Islanders will give Strome every opportunity to make the big club during the upcoming exhibition season.

Defensively, the Islanders need to tighten up from the 136 goals that they allowed – which was the most surrendered by a playoff-bound team – last season. Without Streit, there is an opening on the top pairing, but more importantly, the Islanders must find someone who can replace Streit’s offense. He produced 27 points, including 16 at even-strength.

Lubomir Visnovsky and Thomas Hickey are solid puck-movers, but look for more offensive-minded candidates, like Andrew MacDonald or Travis Hamonic to man the point on the top pairing. Hamonic is a top four defenseman capable of logging big minutes as both an offensive threat as well as a shutdown performer. The Islanders know they have a high-character guy in Hamonic, which is why they recently signed the 22-year-old to a seven-year contract worth $27 million.

And he continues...


In the Twitter department...




And in the "for further reading" department...

RedWingsFeed sends us to an article from Fear the Fin's "The Neutral," who found a slip-of-the-tongue from Sharks scout Brian Gross regarding the Sharks' use of advanced stats to determine which players they want to draft--and, of course, the Sharks swapped picks with the Wings for the sake of drafting defenseman Mirco Mueller because they were very, very worried that the Wings would snag him (even though the Wings were going with Anthony Mantha)...

And if you're unfamiliar with the KHL, yes indeedy, as The Hockey Writers' Ian Dunham notes, it's as corrupt as the Russian government is, from Vladimir Putin on down, but it must be noted that so few Russians bat eyelashes about, say, under-the-table payments to players as a rule, provinces like Bashkortostan, home of Salavat Yulaev Ufa, using provincial funds to subsidize team payrolls, or any of the other funny business that's been going on for almost a hundred years of communist and then pseudo-democratic rule.

In post-Soviet Russia, the more things change, the more things stay the same, and the KHL happens to be the playthings of economic oligarchs who gobbled up once-collectivized heavy industry and natural resources interests by paying kopecks on the ruble for shares in said companies. It's a billionaires' playground...

And the fact that Igor Larionov had to turn down the Russian Hockey Federation's invite to serve as Team Russia's GM for the 2014 Olympics because they could not guarantee that political types up to and including Putin would tell him who to pick for the team and who to play.

It is entirely possible, if not probable, that Ilya Kovalchuk will be named Russia's captain for the Olympics, and if history is any indication, players like Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin may be passed over for alternate captain's "A's" on their jerseys because KHL players will be rewarded for their service instead. That's just the way the national team works--under Vladislav Tretiak's guidance, no less.



Update: The Detroit News posited a photo gallery suggesting who wore jersey numbers 0-49 "best" across all Michigan sports teams, and they suggest that Nicklas Lidstrom's #5, Ted Lindsay's #7, Igor Larionov's #8, Gordie Howe's #9, Alex Delvecchio's #10, Pavel Datsyuk's #13, Brendan Shanahan's #14, Steve Yzerman's #19, Frank Maholvich's #27, Chris Osgood's #30, Dominik Hasek's #39 and Henrik Zetterberg's #40 are hockey numbers first and foremost.


Update #2: An FYI from Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples:

The Wolverines will host their annual alumni game this Friday, with nearly 40 former Michigan players taking part.

The puck drops at 6:15 p.m. at Yost Ice Arena, and it is expected to last one hour. After the conclusion of the alumni game, there will be public open skating.

Both the game and the public skating are free to the general public, while skate rentals will cost participants $3.00.

Expected alumni game participants include:

Keith Carter (class of 1982), Andrew Ebbett (2006), Bob Falconer (1974), Danny Fardig (2009), Chris Frescoln (1997), Luke Glendening (2012), David Harlock (1993), Charlie Henderson (2005), David Huntzicker (2001), Shawn Hunwick (2012), Jack Johnson (2009), Mike Knuble (1995), Paul Kobylarz (1985), Kip Maurer (1978), Brad McCaughey (1988), Mark Mink (2003), Lee Moffie (2013), David Moss (2005), Brandon Naurato (2009), Pat Neaton (1993), Eric Nystrom (2005), Rob Palmer (1977), Billy Powers (1988), David Roberts (1993), Mike Roemensky (2003), Jeff Rohrkemper (2013), Noah Ruden (2006), Steve Shields (1994), Ted Speers (1983), Mike Stone (1994), Chris Summers (2010), Chris Tamer (1993), Jeff Urban (1989), Rick Willis (1995), Brian Wiseman (1994), Mike Woodford (2005)

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Vladimir16's avatar

Emmerton’s cap hit is super low but I’d still dump him to keep Eaves. Eaves should be up to speed this fall and could very well be better over all than Miller (which I personally think he was until a puck blasted him in the face). Hell, have Franzen play center if Helm can’t play.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 08/01/13 at 08:00 AM ET


(Sammy’s deal breaking my heart) Eaves would be nice to have and I’d hate to see him somewhere else but it makes more sense to keep Emmerton than Eaves for Cap reasons.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 08/01/13 at 11:37 AM ET


I get why Emmerton will probably stick around (essentially makes league minimum, plays center) but I hate, hate, hate that he has a full time job with this team. He’s a replacement level player. Guys at his ability level are free to acquire and are freely available (via call ups, waiver wire, undrafted free agent signings, etc.) whenever necessary as a rule.

In the last two seasons no Detroit Red Wings forward has been as sheltered as Emmerton—doesn’t play the penalty kill, starts around 60 percent of his non-neutral zone shifts in the attacking zone, faces the easiest quality of competition of any forward on the team.

Despite playing the most limited, most protected role possible, Emmerton also has had the worst possession numbers on the team two years running. Detroit gets outshot badly when Emmerton is on the ice, even though he’s playing only 8 minutes a night against scrubs and starts in the offensive zone 50% more often than the defensive zone.

Emmerton adds nothing other than a body to grind out a handful of minutes in the most low-leverage situations the team can find for him. He’s useless. But because the Red Wings have no bottom-six center depth and because he costs less than 1% of the cap he gets to keep his everyday job while guys like Tatar sit around in Grand Rapids.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 08/01/13 at 12:36 PM ET


EDIT—okay, after I posted and reread that it occurs to me that, yes, Emmerton does play the penalty kill. But that’s more or less because he can and he’s not playing a lot in other key situations, not because he’s a PK specialist. Remove Emmerton from the equation and the penalty kill will not suffer; someone else would easily fill his minutes.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 08/01/13 at 12:41 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Remove Emmerton from the equation and the penalty kill will not suffer; someone else would easily fill his minutes.

You actually make a lot of good points about Emmerton’s overall usefulness and about how expendable he is (I’d keep Eaves over Emmerton and simply make do with not having a true 4th line center if Helm isn’t healthy enough to play).

While I don’t think Emmerton is worth keeping around just for PKing, I also don’t think his minutes are exceedingly “easy to fill”.  Only Drew Miller played more PK time among Detroit’s forwards and Emmerton had the 2nd-lowest rate of being scored against while shorthanded among all forwards (very close behind Zetterberg who played 20 fewer minutes).

Darren Helm’s return should help allay it, but I do have concerns about Emmerton missing from Detroit’s PK. I also think that since 80% of the game is played at even strength, I’d much rather have somebody who can do that well, even if it makes the PK ever so slightly worse.


Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/01/13 at 01:10 PM ET


Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/01/13 at 01:10 PM ET

Fair points.

I do wonder how much of Emmerton’s statistical penalty killing efficiency (which I tend not to trust as readily anyway as ES stats because we’re talking about a much smaller sample of data) is based on his skill as a penalty killer and how much is based on usage. For the most part they’re not sending Emmerton out against the top units, at least not as frequently as a guy like Miller. And Emmerton is much more likely to, say, get one of the rare offensive zone faceoffs on a PK (13.3 percent of his PK shifts last season started in the attacking zone, compared to just 3.1 percent for Miller).

But I will concede that Emmerton may be a better PKer than I give him credit for. Even so, as you correctly point out, it doesn’t make up for the fact that he is almost certainly the team’s worst possession forward at even strength by a not insignificant margin.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 08/01/13 at 01:26 PM 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.