The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/02/14 at 12:52 AM ET
Amongst the Red Wings-related news stories on the day which the team begins formulating its off-season "game plan" in earnest (today is also the last day to vote for Tomas Tatar in TSN's Play of the Year semifinal, and later today, the Toledo Walleye will name their next head coach):
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson had a conversation with Red Wings GM Ken Holland on Sunday evening, and it produced a little clarification on Mike Babcock's status (see: Holland plans on signing Babcock, who has a year left on his contract, to an extension), including a near-perfect repetition of the "grass isn't greener" metaphor, as well as the following (after Matheson confirms that Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill is off-limits, should other teams inquire about his availability for contract talks):
“In this day and age, everything is a story … after our team picture, some media guy asked about Mike’s contract. I wasn’t going to talk to Mike about it during the playoffs or on the plane home (after losing to the Boston Bruins),” said Holland. “We just haven’t got together. He went to Montreal. I went to Grand Rapids to watch our farm team (in the playoffs). He’s out west. We haven’t been in the same city, but we’ll sit down in June. I’d like to talk to him about an extension.
“We work well together,” Holland continued. “I challenge Mike, he challenges me. We’ll argue, but we’ll come back the next day and start over. He pushes our players. Sometimes they don’t like it, but the players respond. I believe there’s respect between the coach and the players.”
“We’ll see what happens. I’m happy with Tom. He’s done a great job for us, he’s a really positive influence on our team. But he’s like other people who want to be a head coach. If somebody has interest in talking to him, he’s earned that right,” said Holland.
If Renney were to get another head-coaching job, would Holland and Babcock ring up former Oilers coach Ralph Krueger in England, where he’s running the Southampton Football Club, to see if he’d be interested. They worked together during the Olympics at Sochi.
And Matheson asked Holland about Anthony Mantha's status given his superb 2013-2014 season with the QMJHL champion and Memorial Cup-participating Val-d'Or Foreurs:
“He had a fabulous year. Eighty goals in, what, 80 games. I don’t know if there was a player in junior as dominant. Doesn’t matter what league you play in, that’s a lot of goals. He’s six-five with a great scoring touch,” Holland said of the Val-d’Or Foreurs forward, who was limited in the Memorial Cup, especially by Edmonton Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart. “
My philosophy is you go to the American League. There’s no entitlement (for Mantha), but if he can beat out guys … we’ll see how he is at (training) camp. I wouldn’t put him in a checking role, but we haven’t had a player like him. We did have (defenceman) Ryan Sproul, who was CHL defenceman of the year, but he went to Grand Rapids. There’s no trouble with his size; physically, he’s more prepared, but there’s still the mental aspect.”
The Red Wings got Mantha at No. 20 in last year’s NHL entry draft.
“The knock on him was his (competitive) level, but he’s improved in that area and we’ll have to work with him on his shift lengths,” said Holland, who was aware that Mantha was on the ice for 90 seconds at times against the Oil Kings.
First, Paul might have been a little more prescient than you or I thought in asking whether Wings fans might live with Mike Green...
What are the odds of Washington Capitals defenceman Mike Green, once a Norris Trophy finalist, being traded at the entry draft or early this summer? I’d say 75-25. He has one year left at $6.25 million, then he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2015. The problem with Green is he can’t stay healthy. He’s had concussion and groin issues as teams keyed on him and pounded him routinely. He’s missed 108 games the last four seasons after 73- and 76-point seasons back-to-back. If he can get a defensively strong partner, he can be an asset, though. I can see the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are badly in need of a puck-mover, taking a shot at him. Maybe Florida, which has salary-cap room, or even the Detroit Red Wings, who do not have any right-handed shooting D-men. The Philadelphia Flyers certainly need an offensive defenceman, too, although would Washington trade with a division rival?
And second, if you weren't already aware of the fact that the Red Wings will be making their third consecutive trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame to watch an alumnus or two inducted, we're all but certain to hear a former Wing's name called on June 23rd:
The Hockey Hall of Fame players will be elected June 23. Goaltender Dominik Hasek (six Vezina Trophys, two Hart Trophys) is a slam dunk. The others in their first year of eligibility: Mike Modano, Mark Recchi and Peter Forsberg. Recchi scored 1,533 points, 12th all-time, and is fourth in career games. Modano, who may be the best American-born player, scored 1,374 points, 23rd overall). Forsberg was a great centre and scored 885 points in only 706 games. It’s tough to not get all four of the first-timers in. The best players still waiting: Dave Andreychuk (1,338 points, sixth most games at 1,639), Pierre Turgeon (1,527 points), Phil Housley (1,258, fourth in career defence points). Jeremy Roenick, Eric Lindros and Theo Fleury are knocking on door, too. Let’s hope the selectors give former University of Alberta Golden Bears coach Clare Drake the love he deserves and he gets in as a builder.
Babcock's a big Drake fan, too.
Regarding the Wings' search for a right-shooting defenseman and the team's free agency options (again, Capgeek's Wings organization chart is your friend), MLive's Ansar Khan broached the question more than once in his latest "Ask Ansar" column, and Khan doesn't believe that the team's going to land Matt Niskanen:
General manager Ken Holland, assistant GM Ryan Martin, senior vice president Jimmy Devellano, coach Mike Babcock, Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill and the organization's pro scouts will go over every potential free agent and trade possibility from Monday through Wednesday.
The Red Wings will have ample salary-cap space; they're roughly $20 million under the projected ceiling of $71 million (before signing restricted free agents Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser). How aggressively will they pursue Niskanen? Will they opt to focus on lower-cost, shorter-term alternatives while waiting for some of the young defensemen in their system to reach the NHL?
M-Live readers have many questions about Niskanen.
Q. If Niskanen hits the market, rumors are circulating he will get $7 million-plus per year on a long-term deal. He is the No. 1 UFA defenseman, so I can definitely see a seven-year, $50 million deal for him. On the one hand I am pretty sure he is not worth 40 percent more than (Niklas) Kronwall and I am pretty sure he will not live up to this contract. On the other hand we will have money under the cap and he will definitely fill a void. If you had a chance to sign Niskanen to a seven-year, $50 million contract, what would you do? And where do you think Ken Holland is on that?
A. I wouldn't give him that much, and I don't think the Red Wings would either. That's a higher cap hit than Henrik Zetterberg ($6.03 million) and close to Pavel Datsyuk ($7.5 million).
Two years ago they made a big push to sign Ryan Suter, increasing their offer to 13 years for $88 million ($6.77 million cap hit) before he signed with the Minnesota Wild (for 13 years and $98 million).
They viewed Suter as the next-best thing to Nicklas Lidstrom. Niskanen isn't in Suter's class, so I don't think the Red Wings will go all-out in their pursuit.
Q. If Matt Niskanen is retained by Pittsburgh (or signs elsewhere) what do you think Plan C is on a right-handed defenseman -- another free agent (Dan Boyle as a two-year stop gap) or internal (Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko, Nick Jensen, etc.)?
A. I don't expect Sproul, Marchenko or Jensen to be promoted next season. I believe Xavier Ouellet, a left-handed shooter, is closer to making the NHL. But they still need a veteran top-four guy. It could be Boyle, if the term (two years) and price is right. He's 37 but would still help the power play. Other right-handed free-agent options include Marek Zidlicky, Anton Stralman, Derek Morris and Tom Gilbert.
While getting a righty would be ideal, if there's a better option who's a lefty, I'd expect them to go that route. Options include Andrei Markov (free agent) and possibly Alexander Edler, if Vancouver looks to trade him.
Khan continues, answering questions about free agent forwards (simple answer: no) and Petr Mrazek (Grand Rapids bound?)...
Regarding a veteran that might come back, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose takes a "By the Numbers" look at Daniel Alfredsson's 2013-2014 season....
49: Tied for first on team in scoring with 18 goals and 31 assists, though he played 11 games fewer than defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who also amassed 49 points during the 2013-14 season.
5: The number of three-points games that he produced during the regular season, which resulted in five victories for the Red Wings. He had three-assists vs. PHI (Oct. 12) and at COL (Oct. 17), and his remaining triple-point nights came in the fashion of two goals and an assist at NYI (Nov. 29), vs. CGY (Dec. 19) and vs. PIT (Mar. 20).
18: Finished second on the team in power-play points with four goals and 14 assists. It represented the most PPP that he’s produced in a single season in the past four regular seasons. Only Kronwall (25) registered more points on the power play.
And at the other end of the spectrum, the Free Press's George Sipple spoke with coach Blashill about the up-and-down struggle that was Martin Frk's first professional season. Sipple duly notes that Frk was playing with Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon on the Halifax Mooseheads' first line last spring, and this past season was...very different:
Frk, 20, had three goals with nine assists in 50 games for the Griffins. He also played 15 games with the Toledo Walleye in the East Coast Hockey League, totaling five goals and eight assists.
“He struggled early, and we had a really good lineup when he was struggling early so he wasn’t able to be part of our team for a period of time,” Griffins coach Jeff Blashill said. “When we got him back in the second half of the season, he was still in a learning process, like Tomas Jurco went through the first half of last season.”
Jurco, a native of Slovakia, also came from the QMJHL and struggled offensively in his first pro season with the Griffins. He had 14 goals and 14 assists in 74 games with Gran Rapids in 2012-13.
Jurco made big strides in his second pro season, splitting time between the Griffins and Wings. He had 13 goals and 19 assists in 32 games for the Griffins, and eight goals and seven assists in 36 games for the Wings this past season.
The Griffins hope Frk will contribute more on offense next season. Blashill challenged Frk (6 feet, 193 pounds) to skate with the puck more, play at a faster pace and shoot more.
“He cares,” Blashill said. “He wants to be better. He’s willing to do extra work. ... He had a tough year, no doubt about it, but it gives us a lot of promise that he can have a great year next year because of the work that he seems to be willing to put in.”
Regarding the further-off future whose determination also happens to be imminent (ha), the NHL draft takes place on June 27th and 28th in Philadelphia, and the Wings will have picks in the 1st and 3rd through 7th rounds.
The NHL has a draft website up which includes rankings of North American and European skaters as well as North American and European goalies, and The Sports Forecaster has a draft site up as well, and it also includes a combined set of rankings.
For illustrative purposes, MLive's Brendan Savage plucked a mock draft out of the interweb and made a blog entry out of it...
Are the Detroit Red Wings preparing to take a junior center in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft?
NESN.com thinks so.
The website is projecting that the Red Wings will take Sault St. Marie center Jared McCann with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the draft June 27 in Philadelphia.
"The age of veteran centers Pavel Datsyuk and Stephen Weiss might result in Detroit using this pick on a player who excels offensively in the middle of the ice," wrote Nicholas Goss of NESN.com. "McCann back-checks consistently, plays physical and excels on faceoffs.
"This is the type of two-way game the Red Wings expect from their centers. His offensive game needs polishing (although he did tally 62 points in 64 games this season), but that shouldn't be a concern because Detroit doesn't rush players to the NHL before they are ready to contribute at both ends of the ice."
And here's how McCann breaks down according to NHL.com's rankings...
North American Skater - Sault Ste. Marie, OHL
Final Rank: 10 Midterm Rank: 11
Position: Center Shoots: Left
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 175
Born: May 31, 1996 Hometown: Stratford, Ont.
Born in: Stratford, ON, CAN
• McCann finished second on Sault Ste. Marie in goals (27) and points (62) during the 2013-14 season. In 2012-13, he received Ontario Hockey League All-Rookie Second Team honors after recording 44 points (21-23—44) in 64 games.
• He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2013 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial and bronze at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship. McCann also represented Ontario at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
• He scored the game-winning goal for Team Orr in a 4-3 win over Team Cherry at the 2014 CHL Top Prospects Game.
• McCann is a superstitious player who hops into a cold tub before every game, a tradition he started while in a slump after hearing NHLers Rick Nash and John Mitchell do the same. McCann finished with a hat trick the first time he tried it, and has done so every game since.
• He wears No. 19 and models his game after the two-way style of Jonathan Toews.
NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards: "Jared is a highly skilled and creative playmaker. He has excellent hands and puckhandling ability. He sees the ice very well and can get the puck through traffic with great saucer passes. He is not a guy who will always bring you out of your seat but is dangerous every shift. An excellent penalty killer who reads the play very well."
And here's the Sports Forecaster's shorter version:
C | 6'0", 179 lbs. |
Birth Date:May 31, 1996 (18 years old)
Place of Birth:London, Ont.
Assets: Has excellent two-way instincts, sound defensive acumen and intriguing playmaking qualities. Is an asset with or without the puck. Also displays projectable size.
Flaws: Needs to continue to improve his shooting skills in order to become a better goal-scorer at the highest level. Also needs to add more bulk and fill out his frame.
Career Potential: Quality two-way center with upside.
There's just so little consensus as to who is going where after the Top 5 that I have no clue who the Wings will pick, though Holland's stated that he wants a "skater." My suggestion? Go ahead and look through as many mock drafts as you want, use the tools that NHL.com and TSF have provided so that you get to know the first 20-30 "skaters," and then don't get too attached to them, because there's a 1-in-30 chance that the Wings will end up with 'em.
In the land of lists, the Hockey News's Josh Elliott got a dig in while penning his "Top 10 Perennial Contenders" list (what is it with the Hockey News hiring people who want to be bigger dicks than their staff writers? First that Shuker guy writes a "jersey-wearing rules" missive insisting that no one can wear the jerseys of any player younger than they are, or they're jerks, and now this...)...
These 10 teams have had the most post-season success, counting up the number of playoff rounds they’ve appeared in since 2005, and adding any Stanley Cups on top.
1. Detroit Red Wings – 20 playoff rounds, 1 Stanley Cup
They were a dynasty before the salary cap was instituted. And, while the shine has come off the Winged Wheel in recent years, they’re always in the mix come playoff time. They’re no longer as good as the teams that went to the final in 2007-08 and 2008-09, but their 23 straight post-season appearance streak is the best in pro sports.
But these aren’t Nicklas Lidstrom’s Red Wings anymore, and greatness is behind them. They haven’t been beyond the second round since 2009, and with Boston, L.A., Chicago and Pittsburgh all younger and better right now, Detroit’s spot at the top of this list won’t last much longer.
And HometownHockey.ca's Shaun Maddex decided to pen a list of teams who may bid for Ryan Kesler's services, and while I don't believe that the Wings are interested in him at all...
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are one of the more interesting teams that might be interested in Kesler. Detroit is starting to get to the point where they need to add some youth to their aging lineup. This past season when Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk went down to injury it was young players such as Nyquist and Tatar that were able to carry the load. It wasn’t even close to enough, and in the Playoffs the Boston Bruins easily handled them. Adding a player like Ryan Kesler to the mix would give the Red Wings a very nice compliment to Datsyuk and would allow the Wings to use Zetterberg in a role that is less taxing on his body.
With a plethora of young players that find their way through the system in Detroit and enter the league NHL ready, the Red Wings may be willing to sacrifice some youth to get back into Cup Contender status. Youngster Anthony Mantha just had an incredible season in the QMJHL for Val-d’Or. He finished with 120 points in 57 games and was named the CHL Player of the Year. Mantha’s success means that one of Tatar, Jurco or Nyquist may be available.
The Starting Bid: Ryan Kesler for Tomas Jurco, Joakim Andersson, and the 15th overall pick.
From what I understand, the Canucks' asking price is much, much higher than that--more like an established, impact NHL player, two top prospects and a 1st-rounder--but what do I know.
If you wish to read about hockey equipment, I was fascinated by the Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa's tour of Reebok-CCM Hockey's Montreal headquarters, but you may not be fascinated by it, and if you are interested in reading about horse-racing, there's apparently a race-horse named Datsyuk, but I'm not sure if those are "on-topic" stories.
This little "With the People" jaunt from WXYZ's Brad Galli isn't necessarily "on-topic," either, but WXYZ's 7 Sports Cave is quite good viewing (it's on every Sunday at 11 AM, and the show is posted on WXYZ's YouTube channel in both highlight and full forms), and Galli's attempts to find Motor City ComicCon attendees who could name the Russian 5 made me smile:
In the Twitter department...
First: I have been asked if I would be interested in emulating MLive's Khan by holding some sort of "mailbag" feature, so I'd like to as you if you would like to engage in the whole Q-and-A format...
Second: It's time to let you know that I'm going to be launching the Prospect Camp and/or Training Camp Fundraiser shortly. I'm hoping to leave for Traverse City on July 2nd or 3rd, depending on how July 1st goes, and I am flat frickin' broke in terms of savings, so if I can't raise enough $ to go, I just won't be able to go. That's not stated to guilt you into helping me out, that's just telling you what the realities of my financial situation illustrate. so if you're not a fan of the Paypal button, etc., you might not want to scroll down to the end of the entries for the next month.
Update: Slightly off-topic:
1. Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager reports the following, and given that the Red Wings have been tapping the QMJHL more and more regularly over the past couple of drafts, this is significant news:
The QMJHL made a business decision on Friday, trying to pull a fast one behind the backs of their players, especially potential overagers.
In a true political move, the QMJHL announced Friday afternoon they were reducing the salary for overagers from $550 a week to $150. This puts them in line with the salaries of the other two junior leagues, the OHL and the WHL, by way of per diem pay.
Typically, in politics, the government or a party will release information they know will be ripped to shreds on a Friday afternoon, so by the time the public can talk it up, it’s Monday morning, and it’s blown over.
It won’t blow over for the potential overagers or their employers for this season.
Philippe Boucher told Mikaël Lalancette of TVA that “we risk losing certain players” and said that he’s worried about the rule keeping good 20 year olds out of the league for better pay elsewhere.
In the old system, teams paid out $46,200 to their three overagers over the course of a seven month season. In 2014-15, teams will pay their three 20 year olds $12,600. The idea saves $33,600 and is designed as cost-effective for the smaller market teams who can’t keep up with the bigger markets of the league.
The QMJHL limits the number of 20-year-old or 21-year-old "overagers" to 3 per team, but this is an incredibly significant cut in per-diem pay, and I would expect that it's going to result in many more "overagers" from the 18-team league turning pro each year...
2. And I know that the #NHL15Subban and #NHL15Bergeron hashtags aggravated the hell out of me over the past couple of weeks, but the Montreal Canadiens almost made up for it by posting pictures of their adopted mascot, Youppi! (the former Montreal Expos mascot) featured in pictures taken from all around Montreal, wearing a "Fallon #1" Rangers jersey as the Canadiens lost a bet with Jimmy Fallon. In a very strange way, the pictures were touching and sweet, and Sportsnet's Jonathan Brazeau posted all ten of them. Here's my favorite one:
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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.