The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/25/13 at 05:25 AM ET
I was hedging my bets when I suggested that the Red Wings might change the script on us and make multiple moves to move bodies and clear cap space on Sunday morning, but I still did a spit take when reading MLive's Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness report that, starting at the draft this Sunday, the Wings will avail itself of its options to make trades, buy out players, and possibly ship Cory Emmerton, Jordin Tootoo and Carlo Colaiacovo elsewhere, that Mikael Samuelsson's healthy enough for the team to buy him out, and that there's no chance in hell that the Wings will re-sign Valtteri Filppula, yielding a "flip" of Fil's rights at the draft.
The Free Press's Helene St. James one-upped Khan and Pleiness to some extent by confirming the Wings' plans with a quote from Ken Holland himself (and noting that Holland will attend the Board of Governors meetings on Thursday):
“I’m going to explore a trade or two,” Holland said Monday. “Maybe a two-for-one deal, maybe a three-for-one, or three-for-two.”
Holland has had talks with the camps for all three of the unrestricted free-agent forwards — Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner — but they’re all part of the puzzle that’ll fall into place over the coming week, vis-a-vis who fits where. It’s almost certain the Wings will end up trading Filppula’s rights, then set out to find a replacement second-line center.
It seems that the plan to snag another second-line center (and the free agent crop thereof includes Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, Tyler Bozak, the aforementioned Stephen Weiss, a bit of a wild card in Nikolai Antropov and the recently-bought-out Daniel Briere) has changed the Wings' plans, because we were initially told that the team would add a big scoring winger and do little else.
If a trade can’t be worked out to clear roster room, — one of those who’ll be in play is defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who became extraneous with the addition of Danny DeKeyser — then buyouts will be considered next week. It’s a bit murky, but it may be possible to buy out forward Mikael Samuelsson, though he could possibly make a case that he isn’t healthy.
As many of you have noted, there's some irony in the fact that moving Samuelsson, Colaiacovo and perhaps Tootoo more or less undoes the moves Holland made last summer, but it's also incredibly important to remember that the Wings had no intention of going with the "kids" this past season. They wanted to grease the transitional wheels by relying on Samuelsson to add some goal-scoring on the second or third line, to have Colaiacovo serve as a #3/4 defenseman alongside Kyle Quincey, and they expected Tootoo to chip in more offense and play a little more regularly than he did.
Instead, injuries hit Samuelsson and Colaiacovo to the point that they barely played this past season, injuries struck the rest of the team in a big way, and the Wings found that Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson did a fine job up front, and after ups and downs from Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith, Kindl found his way, and landing Danny DeKeyser allowed the Wings to roll three defensive pairs (Kronwall-Ericsson, DeKeyser-Kindl, Quincey-Smith) as the regular season wound down.
That changed in the playoffs as DeKeyser suffered a broken thumb in the Ducks series, but the Nyquist-Andersson-Brunner line continued to surprise, and, suddenly, the Wings found themselves having to accommodate the promotions of four forwards (Tomas Tatar's going to graduate to the big club) and DeKeyser going forward.
As the Wings' roster stands now, even without Daniel Cleary (who may or may not return), Filppula, Brunner or the restricted free agents that are Andersson and Nyquist, the Wings have 12 forwards signed. Andersson and Nyquist bump that number up to 14, Brunner 15, and if they add a free agent center and/or winger, that's 16 and/or 17 (don't forget that Calle Jarnkrok may or may not be NHL-ready, too!).
That means that Samuelsson has to go (at least his cap hit is a manageable $3 million), and then there's the big IF on the injury front...
Part of what complicates matters is that the Wings do not know whether they’ll have Darren Helm next season; he’s been bothered since January by a sore back. Todd Bertuzzi is everything that would be useful moving to the Eastern Conference — big and strong with skilled hands, excellent in shoot-outs — but he’s 38 and was injured most of last season. Will he be able to contribute next season? On his part, Bertuzzi certainly doesn’t lack for motivation to come back and be a factor.
IF Helm returns (and Helm will take part in the summer development camp), the Wings don't need Emmerton as Andersson slides in as the team's 3rd line center and Helm's suddenly the fourth-line center, if Bertuzzi returns, Tootoo is suddenly replaced by a more complete player, albeit one who fights less often, and if the team really does plan on adding a center, room must be made for that player, too, so I'd highly suggest that Patrick Eaves' days may be numbered, too.
The next 10 days figure to be action packed around the NHL. Holland has been in touch with numerous colleagues, part of the process of retouching the roster.
If you missed Pleiness's article, he's reporting that the Wings are still trying to retain Filppula, but we all know that he's looking for $5+ million on a 5-6 year deal, and the incredibly inconsistent 29-year-old center simply isn't worth that kind of investment.
He also noted that the cap-compliance buy-out period starts at 11 PM on the 26th--exactly 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final ended--and extends until 5 PM on July 4th, and in terms of the roster crunch, the Wings would also have 8 defensemen under contract after re-signing Kindl and Smith, and the Wings don't want to carry 8 d-men (St. James has hinted that Brian Lashoff may be moved as well).
Detroit currently has six defensemen under contract for next season – Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff and Colaiacovo. Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl are both restricted free agents and will be re-signed.
Tootoo may just run into a numbers crunch up front, where there just isn’t a lot of room since the team would like to keep their younger players, who would need to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, whom emerged in the playoffs. Tootoo has two years left on a deal is signed last offseason at $1.9 million a season.
Fourth-line center Cory Emmerton may also be available.
After signing Drew Miller to a new deal this offseason, the Wings have 12 forwards under contract for next season. Two others – Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist – are restricted and will be back with the team.
The team has made qualifying offers to Andersson, Nyquist, Smith and Kindl.
There are also two other unrestricted free agent forwards – Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner – the team will more than likely wait until after free agency opens to sign, if they do at all, so their money and rosters spots are tied up. The amount and length of contract will dictate who comes back and who doesn’t.
As for the buy-outs, Khan suggested that the Wings won't utilize one or two of their "get out of jail free" cards until after Sunday's draft, which is traditionally when teams start to move players in earnest...
The Red Wings won't decide until Monday, at the earliest, if they will use a buyout. The Red Wings have a surplus of forwards. They have 14 under contract (including restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson) and are still in contract talks with unrestricted free agents Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner.
They will try to alleviate this logjam by trading somebody this weekend. Scrappy Jordin Tootoo is available, according to a source, and chances are, so is fourth-line center Cory Emmerton.
And he believes that the Wings may cut ties with Big Bert:
Samuelsson has been declared healthy after finishing the postseason on the shelf with a strained pectoral muscle, one of several injuries that limited him to just four games in the regular season and five in the playoffs. But, there is a chance that Samuelsson and his agent could dispute the club's assertion that he is healthy (injured players can't be bought out). He has one year remaining at $3 million.
The Red Wings will see if there is any interest in Colaiacovo at the draft. He has one year remaining on his contract at $2.85 million ($2.5 million cap hit). If they move or buy-out Colaiacovo, they'll have seven defensemen.
Todd Bertuzzi and Tootoo also are compliance buyout candidates.
Then there's this:
Discussions continue with Brunner and Cleary, but no deals are close. Term is an issue with Cleary, as the Red Wings don't want to commit too many years to him at age 34. The club continues having difficulty finding common ground on a salary figure with Brunner, who has only one lockout-shortened NHL season under his belt.
I do believe that the Wings will sign Brunner, but Pleiness could be right in suggesting that the Wings may not be able to do so until after the free agent period begins on July 5th.
There's also a new wrinkle in the CBA regarding exclusive rights to negotiate with free agents, per ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:
Similar to the NBA, the NHL has instituted a free-agency interview period prior to the actual signing period. UFAs will be able to meet and interview with potential clubs from the day after the NHL draft until June 30, prior to the July 1 opening of free agency.
What’s interesting about this is that I don’t think you’ll have a Zach Parise/Ryan Suter situation where you wait all the way to July 4 to sign with a team. Instead, their decisions will be made by June 30 for the most part, you would have to assume.
Now this gets tricky depending on your interpretation thereof, because the draft takes place on the 29th, and free agency begins on July 5th this year. Does that mean that players will be able to negotiate with other teams on June 30th and July 1-4? The answer changes based upon who you ask.
In any case, Brunner's agent, Neil Sheehy, is a very tough negotiator, and I'm sure that he's argued that Brunner's stats translate into a $3 million salary over the course of an 82-game season, whereas the Wings want to keep him in the $2.5 million range.
As for Cleary, I have no idea what's going to happen, but my gut feeling is that the team won't bring him back unless he takes a haircut from the $3 million in real-world dollars and $2.8 million cap hit Cleary had this past season, and I don't think he's going to be too keen on that theory.
And yes, I have to state the obvious in noting that, should the Edmonton Oilers eat a significant portion of Shawn Horcoff's $5.5 million cap hit, he does make his offseason home in Michigan and does have ties to Cleary and the Wings, though I'm not sure if the Wings have interest in a 34-year-old who's been injury-prone over the past couple of seasons.
Long story long, shit just got real, folks, and the Wings are at least going to attempt to move bodies this summer as opposed to after training camp, which is rewriting the script, big time.
Something tells me that I ought to get as much rest as I can between now and Sunday, because the Wings are going to be keeping me up late between the draft and the start of the Wings' summer development camp on July 7th.
In other news...
Grand Rapids Griffins forward Triston Grant and play-by-play man Bob Kaser visited WOOD TV8's studio on Sunday night, Calder Cup in tow, and they spoke with Steve Amorose for seven minutes...
If you missed it, the Grand Rapids Griffins posted their ENTIRE championship rally on YouTube--all 58 minutes' worth of speeches and celebrations:
I can only smirk while reading this assessment of Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier's impact from the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger (though he ends up gushing about Bernier and James Reimer)...
Craig Anderson. Tuukka Rask. Carey Price. Jimmy Howard. And, if he is not traded this off-season, Ryan Miller.
These are the top-end starting goaltenders who will be in the Maple Leafs’ division next season, an impressive cache of puck-stoppers augmented by the shift of Howard’s Detroit Red Wings into the Eastern Conference.
Now ask yourselves this: How many divisional games do you expect the Maple Leafs to win against those impressive goaltenders in run-and-gun shootouts?
But I gritted my teeth while reading this from IIHF.com's Martin Merk:
Perhaps the happiest person in the hockey world not a member of the Hawks is Steve Yzerman. The executive director of Team Canada for Sochi had to have been impressed by the incredible goaltending of Corey Crawford, who must now be a serious candidate for one of the three spots available next February.
Crawford was at his best in the first period tonight, keeping the score 1-0 for Boston at a time when the Bruins dominated play and could have easily built a lead of two or three goals.
Via RedWingsFeed, Kvallsposten's Elisabeth Lindeback had lunch with Gustav Nyquist, and here's the important part of her interview, albeit roughly translated:
It's only been a week since Gustav Nyquist fnished his season by becoming an AHL champion with the Grand Rapids Griffins. It was an eventful season in which the 23-year-old went from being a Swedish dark horse to a star.
"A star, I don't think so," protests the forward, humbly.
"It was a season with a lot of travel as I moved up and down from the NHL to the AHL. But since the beginning or really the middle of March, I was playing in Detroit full-time. Then it was a really fun time."
Detroit managed to get into the Stanley Cup playoffs after playing with a knife against their throat during the final four games of the regular season. Their small margin for error continued in the playoffs, when the team defeated Anaheim in the seventh game of the first round, away from home, but after that, Chicago stopped their progress, despite the Malmo native's dream performance in the third game, and Detroit's 3-1 initial advantage in games.
"It was incredibly tough," says Nyquist. "But I learned a lot. We had a young team this year."
Nyquist played 36 games with Detroit this year and registered 5 goals and 6 assists. Alongside Joakim Andersson and Damien Brunner, he formed a young line which played more and more regularly.
"We complemented each other well. Joakim is a good two-way center and Brunner scores. So it was my job to stay back and find opportunities to be a playmaker."
Some of your teammates have described you as a sports car...
"I wouldn't say that, but it's neat if people think that. I don't think I've got a higher top skating speed than other NHL'ers, but I'm pretty decent on the ice."
What are you working on in terms of developing your game?
"My shot. I want to be quicker and have a harder shot. Since I'm a small player, I need to spend some time in the gym this summer to build my body. But I'm never going to weigh 90 kilograms [198 pounds, i.e. around 200].
Gustav Nyquist skated for the first time in theLimhamsvagen, for Limeburners HC, before moving on to the Malmo Redhawks, where he played junior hockey. Then he chose to make schooling a priority and left Malmo and Sweden to play college hockey in the United States. He doesn't regret his choice today.
"Malmo had a great junior team, but if I think back, it couldn't have gone better," he says. "My three years [at Maine] were my best thus far. I grew up fast because I had to learn how to live on my own right after high school. It was good for my development. The coaches believed in me and home games were jam-packed with 5,500 fans. It was a striking sight.
The main reason that Gustav Nyquist chose college hockey instead of betting on making the Redhawks A-team involved his studies.
"Schooling is important to me. I thought I might not get this far in hockey, and it's good to have an education to fall back on. Maybe it's not as fun to start studying when you're 35 or 40 years old, he says, and continues: "I studied business finance, and have one semester left to graduate. But I'll complete my degree at some point. Otherwise, it'll feel like I threw away three years. But I can take most of my courses online, so it's probably not going to be hard."
From college hockey he went to the Red Wings' farm team during the 2010-2011 season--the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins. Nyquist played a total of 132 games for that team over the course of three seasons.
"Detroit prefers to leave young players in the AHL until they're truly ready. There are many talented young players but they're not always 100% ready for the NHL. If you get the chance to play early and it doesn't go well, it can be difficult to deal with. Being a young player in the NHL is tough."
Malmo native Carl Soderberg took the opportunity to join the Boston Bruins after Linkopings HC lost in the SHL finals in Sweden. Though he spent many nights in the stands, Gustav Nyquist doesn't think that Soderberg will regret his decision.
"He had a chance to win the Stanley Cup, and imagine the journey he's been through. It's worth it. I don't know Carl personally, but he had a fantastic season with Linkoping, and it's clear that he wanted to take the chance and try the NHL," says Gustav Nyquist,and he adds, "Boston is one of the NHL's best teams. Who gets on the team right away?"
But back to Gustav Nyquist, who finished the season as a winner in the end. After Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs, he went back to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.
"It was fun, it didn't end with Chicago and the AHL's the second-best league. I also got to be part of a championship team, which I'd never done before in my career," says Gustav Nyquist of the championship which was secured last Tuesday.
Last but not lest, what did you think about being invited to the Tre Kronor's team meetings for the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014--how does that feel?
"It's awesome, but quite honestly, I was surprised. Nothing's bigger than the Olympics, so it would be an amazing experience. But at the same time, nothing's guaranteed, more players will be invited and some won't make it. But I was happy and it's very positive for me."
And finally, the development camp fund surged forward over the weekend and went kerplunk on Monday. I'm about 40% there but I need help to get the other 60% covered. Spread the word if you can--and thank you for your support!
I would like to attend the Red Wings' summer development camp from July 9-17 in Traverse City, MI, but I am a blogger. My paycheck is not very big, and due to health crap, this is the only job I've got. As such, I do not have the funds to pay for gas to get me to Traverse City or 11 days of a hotel stay.
During previous years, I've asked you to lend a hand and you've come though in a big way. I need to ask, if it is at all possible, that you might consider tossing a few bucks into the Paypal tip jar. I've generally found that the smallest donations, $5, $10, stuff like that, end up paying for gas and a huge chunk of my stay, and anything more is a bonus.
So if you want to donate, that's awesome, if you don't want to donate, that's cool, and one way or another, I hope to get up there and provide you with in-person, every-day coverage.
My "ID" is my personal email address, email@example.com, and you'll need to use that as the person you're sending $ to.
Update: 9 Sports posted a highlight clip/report from the Sidney, Australian-held exhibition game Kyle Quincey took part in.
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About The Malik Report
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.