The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/27/14 at 02:21 AM ET
Updated 2x with notes about a Datsyukian robbery and the summer development camp at 4:44 AM: The first post-Jim Nill draft is going to be particularly interesting to me...
But given the amount of trade talk we've been hearing, you and I might end up waiting as long to watch the Red Wings make the 15th overall pick this evening (or trade down, as RedWingsCentral's suggested; the first round takes place this evening at 7 PM EDT, on NBCSN and TSN; rounds 2-7 take place at 10 AM tomorrow on the NHL Network and streamed online at NHL.com) as we've waited to watch the Wings pick in the mid-20's in previous drafts.
I honestly believe that the first round might take the longest of any first round that's been televised--the first round is usually a three-hour affair, but the reporters in Philly might be nodding off at 11:30 if any of the chatter we've heard comes to fruition, so if you plan on watching, prepare for a hurry-up-and-wait affair.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright gave several interviews hinting at the Wings' general draft strategy, and this morning, Ken Holland tells the Free Press's Helene St. James that he's
“I”m excited about this year’s draft because of what we’ve got already,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We’re hoping to get another good prospect. We’re trying to build up, get as many prospects as we can and hope some of them end up in the NHL and help us win games.”
In 2013, the Wings left the first round with Anthony Mantha, a now two-time 50-goal scorer in juniors who was still available at 20th overall. At 15, the choices remain high-end — several skilled forwards could be available, such as Alex Tuch, Adrian Kempe, Kasperi Kapanen, Sonny Milano, Robby Fabbri and Dyan Larkin, along with defensemen Jack Dougherty, Julius Honka and Haydn Fleury.
The Wings' picks are as follows: 15th in the 1st round; no pick in the 2nd round (due to the David Legwand trade), 76th in the 3rd round, 106th in the 4th round, 136th in the 5th round, 166th in the 6th round and 196th (the Wings' pick) and 201st (conditional pick from the Sharks' signing of Brad Stuart) in the 7th round.
Again, the weirdest part of this draft is that Nill and Joe McDonnell's Stars pick exactly one spot before the Wings, so this is a draft where we're likely to see the teams pursuing similar players, and the Stars have the advantage here (if you recall, the Wings had at least remote hopes that Valeri Nichushkin could've slid down to them last year, but the Stars scooped him up with their 10th overall pick).
St. James reviews the Wings' first-round record over the past half-decade--it's kind of spotty--before concluding with the following:
The huge reliance on young players last season, along with UFA markets weakened by teams re-signing star players, lies behind the Wings’ renewed draft enthusiasm. Sheahan, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco — selections from 2008 through 2011 — have showed they’re NHL-caliber. Mantha will get a shot this fall.
“When you look at what we did last year, with our prospects, it’s exciting,” Holland said. “We’ve got a lot of guys with NHL potential. We’re hoping to get some more this weekend.”
St. James added a pair of Tweets as well, and they'll serve as our transition between draft talk and trade talk (for the moment):
The latter Tweet might suggest that the Wings aren't keen on a two-year term for Boyle, because the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported that Boyle's looking for 2 years (at least) at $5.5 million or more.
You probably know by now that the "wining and dining period" has allowed the Wings to speak with Boyle's agent, George Bazos, with Matt Niskanen's prickly agent, Neil Sheehy, with Jarome Iginla's agent, Don Meehan (he represented Nicklas Lidstrom), and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan surmises that the Wings have probably talked to Anton Stralman's representative, and Tom Gilbert's agent, too.
Kulfan asked Holland to weigh in on the draft-day-trade talk, including Thursday's Darren Dreger-posited suggestions that the Wings are eyeing Keith Yandle and/or Tyler Myers:
“We’re going to explore,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who is looking for a goal-scoring winger capable of playing on the top two lines or a top-four righthanded defenseman. “There’s a bunch of names out there.”
Players like Livonia native Ryan Kesler (Canucks) and Jason Spezza (Senators), although both appear headed to Western Conference contenders.
And defensemen Keith Yandle (Coyotes), Alex Edler (Canucks) and Dustin Byfuglien (Jets).
But, Holland isn’t ready to part with the asking price, likely forwards Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan or Tomas Jurco.
“Everybody else is trying to win, too,” Holland said. “There’s 29 other teams that are trying to do the same thing. We’re all trying to be a playoff team. So deals are tough.”
Holland probably attended the Board of Governors' meetings in New York on Thursday, and while we won't know the salary cap's "upper limit's" figure for a little while yet (sounds like it'll be $70 million instead of $71 million, which squeezes the Wings' cap situation a bit), and KH must have absolutely adored this wrinkle, as reported by the CBC's Elliotte Friedman:
The last two days' worth of mock drafts have leaned toward a pair of consensus "likely Wings picks"--US NTDP forward Dylan Larkin (that would be intriguing from a "local angle" standpoint as he's from Waterford [though his favorite team is Toronto?] and is going to the University of Michigan) or HV71 Jonkoping forward Kevin Fiala.
As I was writing this, the Free Press happened to posit an article in which George Sipple spoke with Larkin about possibly "staying home" if the Wings pick him:
“I’m not just saying this, but I really do want to get drafted by Detroit,” Larkin said. “I think it would be cool. Obviously, grew up watching them. I’d be really happy with that.”
He will end up smiling regardless of who selects him, surrounded by family members on draft night.
“You’re not in control,” he said. “In a big game, you’re in control, how you prepare, how you feel. But this, you don’t have any control.”
Larkin, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound left-shooting center, does control where he plays next and has said all along he is going to U-M. When he was interviewed by every NHL team at the combine in Toronto in May, he made it clear he intended to play for the Wolverines. He is expected to be an impact player as a freshman, playing on one of the top two lines.
“It’s exciting to see where the Big Ten is going,” Larkin said after watching Michigan move from the disbanded Central Collegiate Hockey Association to the six-team Big Ten Conference last season.
As for this morning's mock drafts, they tend to lean toward Fiala, with SI's Allan Muir suggesting that the Wings will pick the Swiss mini-mite...
15 Detroit red wings
Kevin fiala, Center
HV71 (sweden) | 5-10, 180
[2013-2014 stats]: 3-8-11 in 17 games
The Skinny: Swiss sensation was standout in international tournaments.
Why him? High-end skill and hockey sense makes him a perfect fit for the Wings
Scouts say: “Forced you to pay attention every time he was on the ice. Was a point-a-game guy in Swedish juniors, and didn't blink when he was promoted to play against the men. Thinks as fast as he skates. Has that ability to make a play when it looks like he's out of options. Great vision. He's magic when the puck's on his stick. High-end offensive instincts. High-ceiling player. Some guys lack size and you worry about them. I'm not worried about Fiala. He's a project. Needs to live in the gym for awhile before he can come over here. Not the most focused player away from the puck, but that's something you can teach. You can't teach this kind of skill.”
And the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi agrees with Muir's assessment...
15 Red Wings - Kevin Fiala (LW) HV 71 (Sweden Jr.): Just 5-9 but explosive; led Swiss in 2014 WJC with five points despite being youngest player.
But The Score's Justin Bourne believes that the Wings will draft a center I haven't heard of until today:
15. Detroit Red Wings
Brayden Point, C
Scouting Report: Brayden Point was part of Team Canada's gold medal team at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament scoring four points in five games. As a smaller forward, Point models his game after Buffalo Sabres forward Tyler Ennis. Read More.
NHL.com lists Point as the 31st-best North American skater, which is waaaaaayyy down from the rankings that the Wings might have available, and he's Fiala-sized at 5'10" and 160 pounds:
• In 2013-14, Point led Moose Jaw and tied for 12th in Western Hockey League scoring with 91 points (36-55—91) in 72 games. He finished the season 36 points ahead of the next highest-scoring player on his team.
• Point was an assistant captain for Team Canada at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship, tallying two assists in four games for the bronze-medal winning club.
• He scored four points (1-3—4) in five games for Canada’s gold-medal winning team at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial and served as an assistant captain for Team Pacific at the 2013 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge (2-3—5 in five games).
• Point finished fourth in WHL scoring among first-year players and paced all North American rookies with 24 goals and 57 points in 67 games during the 2012-13 season.
• In 2011-12, Point tallied 41 points (19-22—41) in 32 games with the Calgary Buffaloes of the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League before joining the Warriors in the WHL Playoffs. He tallied 10 points (7-3—10) in 14 postseason games with Moose Jaw, including three game-winning goals, two of which came in overtime (2OT in Game 4 of their first-round series vs. Regina; OT in Game 4 of their second-round series vs. Medicine Hat).
• His brother, Riley, played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and now plays for Red Deer College in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association.
Director of NHL Central Scouting, Dan Marr: "What makes him stand out is that he's one of those guys who won't be denied. He has that competitive factor where he can go out there, make a difference and make it at a quick pace."
We'll head back to the Detroit News's Kulfan for this note...
Tyler Wright, director of amateur scouting for the Red Wings, doesn’t believe there’s a glaring, specific need at any one position in the organization.
In fact, he believes there are several defensemen and forwards at Grand Rapids who aren’t far from hitting the NHL, as well as goaltender Petr Mrazek.
And again, here's what Wright told MLive's Ansar Khan...
"We're confident we're going to get a good player at 15," Wright said. "Whether it's a forward or defenseman, we'll take the best player available."
"I think the center position is a major piece of a building block in a lot of organizations," Wright said. "You can never have enough centers."
"We'd like maybe a right-handed shot on the back end – size, speed through the middle of the ice," Wright said. "You can never have enough puck-moving D and scoring wingers."
"Passports are really irrelevant," Wright said. "We have to be visionaries. We have to start projecting who's going to be the best player 4-5 years down the road. The Red Wings have done a tremendous job developing players once you get them in the system. We just got to get good players. We want passionate, hard-working players who won't stop at anything to get into the National Hockey League. Passion and character are big to me."
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
“I think it’s one of the more challenging drafts,” said Tyler Wright, Detroit’s new director of amateur scouting. “Nobody has separated themselves at the top. There’s a mix of three, four or five guys at the top, but after that anyone can go from there.”
In past drafts the Wings have focused on drafting players with good size, but would prefer players with good hockey sense.
"That wins you games,” Wright said. “You can still have smaller players in the lineup, but you have to surround them with bigger players. Size is something we definitely will take into consideration.”
Trading down is always a possibility for the Wings, who have seven picks in this year’s draft.
“Trading down is always an option,” Wright said. “With no second round pick we really have to see how the draft goes. If we have a guy who is high on our list and slides down to us I would recommend taking the pick.”
I tend not to make draft-pick predictions--the Wings do nothing but surprise me, year after year, but Hockey's Future's Kevin Forbes listed a player available from the QMJHL who I wouldn't be surprised to see the Wings pick if he sticks around into the 3rd round:
3. Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW Val-d'Or Foreurs
5'11", 187 lbs.
One of the benefits for a draft eligible player participating in a long playoff run is it provides extra opportunity to show off your abilities. For Nicolas Aube-Kubel and the Val-d'Or Foreurs, winners of the QMJHL's President's Cup as league champions and participants in the Memorial Cup, their playoff run could hardly have been longer.
Playing behind league scoring champion Anthony Mantha, Aube-Kubel played an instrumental role in the Foreurs success, providing secondary offense and tenacious fore-checking. This might, one day, be a job description that he fills at the pro level as well. A high-energy, fleet-footed forward, Aube-Kubel had 22 goals and 53 points in the 65 regular season games of his sophomore year and followed that with four goals and 13 points in 24 post-season matches.
NHL.com lists Aube-Kubel as the 40th-ranked North American skater, and while he's small, it's that playoff run that really propelled him up the rankings. NHL.com's scouting report reads as follows...
NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Bordeleau: "He reminds me a little of Jason Pominville, only a little stronger at the same age. He's very involved and shoots the puck really well. He plays in all situations.”
But I must point out that the Hockey News's draft preview had scouts bagging on Aube-Kubel for benefitting from playing on a QMJHL championship-winning team, so the reason I believe he might last into the third round is that scouts might believe that he's a Martin Frk II--somebody who's going to really struggle transitioning into pro hockey because he's dominating in the up-and-down QMJHL with strong linemates.
You are most certainly familiar with most of the free agents listed in NHL.com's Dan Rosen's list of the best UFA-to-be defensemen out there, but this guy's scouting report earned a smile from me....
Quincey played 82 games this past season. That in itself is a feat considering how badly the Red Wings were beset by injuries.
He was physical, but not overly physical. He blocked 109 shots and put up 13 points. There was nothing spectacular about his game, except he was always there and always willing to move up and down the lineup.
There are moments when he makes a blunder that leaves you shaking your head, but he can be physical, move the puck and isn't a liability in the defensive end. If placed in the right role, he can be effective.
(Head-shaking blunders and Quincey? Naaaaahhh)
And I'm going to throw this name out there and ask you what you think--because it sounds like he's going to Minnesota at this point:
Previous team: Los Angeles Kings
Last contract: 2 years, $7 million
Mitchell would certainly would like to return, but media reports say the Kings plan to go with a cheaper option such as Brayden McNabb, who was acquired on March 5 in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.
The signing of forward Marian Gaborik took up a chunk of general manager Dean Lombardi's remaining room under the salary cap. The Kings already have five veteran defensemen under contract, and barring a last-minute move, Mitchell looks like he'll have to play somewhere else if he hopes to continue his career.
I'm not keen on Mitchell, but he does fit the "big and mean" role. The Sports Forecaster describes him as follows:
Assets: Is a huge presence and displays terrific defensive instincts and leadership. Possesses a decent shot from the point. Loves the challenge of shutting opponents down, and will use physicality.
Flaws: Offensively, he is pretty much limited to his shot so he gets into trouble when trying to do too much with the puck. Is a little inconsistent in the hitting department. Injuries can be an issue.
Career Potential: Savvy veteran defenseman.
Meh. If the Wings don't land Niskanen, Boyle or Gilbert, I'm fine with the team going with "the kids."
And finally, I'm almost there! Literally and figuratively!
Over the three years that the Wings have held development camps in Traverse City, I've asked for your help in raising the finances to cover my hotel and gas bills, and you've been amazingly and remarkably kind in affording me the opportunity to "work for you"; due to my present financial circumstances, I'm afraid that I have to ask for your assistance again.
If there's any way that you can lend a financial hand in my attempts to get up to Traverse City for the summer development camp and/or eventually to attend the prospect tournament and main camp in the fall, I would be incredibly grateful for any help.
I'm sticking with Paypal as it's the most direct route (though I will also do the whole, "Give me your address and I'll send you a check or a few bucks in the mail" thing, too), and you have to use my email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, as the recipient.
Here's the button:
If you can aid the cause, I'd be incredibly grateful; if you can't, I understand, and as usual, literally any amount helps. You'd be surprised how many $5, $10 and $20 donations end up paying my way. Thanks.
Update: FYI/FTR: Via Sovetsky Sport's Mikhail Potapov, the ITAR-TASS news agency reports that the Russian authorities are closing in on the suspects who stole nearly $50,000 worth of items from Pavel Datsyuk's Yekaterinburg apartment last summer. There was no security camera footage, but ITAR-TASS's Julia Temereva reports that the Ministry of Internal Affairs for Sverdlovsk (the equivalent of the Russian state police) believes that a team of "super-professional" criminals targeted Datsyuk.
Update #2: FYI regarding the Wings' summer development camp, from the Bayshore Resort:
Detroit Red Wings Development Camp, July 4-8
All practices will be open to the public, including an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, July 5. Tickets will be available only at Center ICE Arena for $5 per day at the door on each day of the event.
DWR Goalie Coach Jim Bedard will be holding a clinic on July 3rd and 7th. Call Centre ICE to register. Limited to 24 people. Cost is $69 per goalie and jersey will be provided.
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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.