The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/23/14 at 03:42 AM ET
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. If you aren't aware of it already, the Joe Kocur Foundation is holding its annual set of charity softball games in Highland, MI today, and tickets are $15 at the door (and worth it). The games start at 11 and will go until late into the evening:
2. And if you're in the mood to head down to Joe Louis Arena to purchase $9 single-game seats on an in-person basis...
3, In actual player personnel news, the "outlook" and "fit" articles continue with:
A) The Free Press's Helene St. James' take on as-yet-restricted free agent defenseman Danny DeKeyser (the Wings have a Capgeek-estimated $5.27 million in cap space with which to re-sign DeKeyser, whose $925K cap hit belied total compensation of $1,867,500 this past season, and possibly Daniel Alfredsson, so expect DeKeyser's monetary demands to start at $2 million):
DeKeyser is 24, but he's also played in all of 76 total regular season games and 7 more total playoff games, so his 4 goals, 19 assists and +11 registered in 65 2013-2014 campaign contests really were rookie season numbers:
Looking back: There were significant expectations on DeKeyser as he entered his first camp with the Wings after being a late-season addition in 2013, when he joined the team a week after finishing up at Western Michigan. His development derailed when he suffered a left-shoulder separation in November, sidelining him for 15 games (and raising questions as to his proneness to injury, as a broken thumb sidelined him two games into the 2013 playoffs).
DeKeyser returned in late December and finished second among defensemen on the team in scoring, first in plus-minus with a plus-10 and second in average playing time with 21:38 minutes.
If anything, DeKeyser's thumb and shoulder injuries are the only real concerns about his game (that and a little rookie inconsistency).
Looking ahead: DeKeyser is a good skater and good in his own zone, and he doesn’t tend to panic when out against quality opponents. He plays smarter than his 24 years, which bodes well for his development. It would be good to see him grow more comfortable handling the puck in offensive situations, as the Wings lack D-men who can score. He’d probably benefit from being paired with a skilled veteran, but the Wings struck out trying to acquire such a defenseman from the free-agent market.
DeKeyser doesn’t make many glaring mistakes. He is top-four material, and though he helps out on the power play sometimes (more by default last season), he is an asset to the penalty kill and an overall workhorse.
DeKeyser should only improve as he gains more NHL experience (he has just 76 games to his credit at this point) and as he adds a little bulk to his lanky, 6-foot-3 frame. The Wings considered it quite a coup when they won his services over all the other suitors in spring 2013 (it didn’t hurt DeKeyser is from the metro area) and he’ll be a building block for years to come.
I don't know if DeKeyser will become anything more than a Brad Stuart-type--a Swiss Army Knife defenseman, better-suited to fit the #4 slot and to play on the penalty-kill than the power play and/or top pair in a pinch--or whether he'll become a top-pair puck-mover, but his game is simple, efficient and mature beyond his years.
If anything, the one thing Wings fans don't have for DeKeyser is the one thing Wings fans need to give DeKeyser in some time to develop and patience for the occasional mistake (I promise he's not going to be Jonathan Ericsson 2) as he continues to develop over the next 2 or 3 seasons.
Riley Sheahan recognizes that the centre position for the Detroit Red Wings is loaded with depth and talent, but he’s ready for the challenge of earning his spot when training camp opens Sept. 18.
“I think my confidence grew when I came in,” said Sheahan, 22, who produced 9-15-24 totals in 42 games after a series of injuries at the position led to his recall from AHL Grand Rapids. “All the young guys got a chance and we were able to have some success and contribute to helping the team win. That was good for us and just as the season goes on, consistency is a big thing. Other than that just staying confident, staying consistent, that’ll be the biggest challenge.”
I get the whole, "ZOMG the Wings have Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Sheahan, Weiss, Glendening, Andersson, Helm and Ferraro all ready to play center panic panic!" stuff...
But the Red Wings don't believe that, oh, say Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller or Johan Franzen can be converted to equally capable wingers if necessary for no reason.
Somebody like Glendening might very well be eventually better-suited to skating in on the forecheck to bang bodies and generate turnovers as a winger than he is to playing at his present position.
Sheahan does a fine job winning battles for the puck along the boards and behind the net, and he also makes fantastic lateral passes to teammates while standing in front of the net. The Wings could very well place Sheahan in front of the net a little more effectively as a winger if they wish, though I get the feeling that having a "power center" of his size is more to Babcock's liking.
C) SI's Allan Muir weighed in on the Wings' battle for "jobs" amongst the forward ranks, too...
Detroit Red Wings
Second-line center: Stephen Weiss likely gets a mulligan for his injury-ravaged first season in Detroit, but should the Wings really expect him to make much of his second chance? He's reportedly healthy, but the team can't afford to set the bar low. If he struggles, Riley Sheahan will have to prove that his rookie season success was no fluke.
Third-line right wing: If Daniel Alfredsson signs on for one more year, it's his gig. He was a consistent contributor last season and, despite edging closer to age 42, they believe he can deliver at a 50-point pace again. On the off chance he chooses to retire instead, keep an eye on highly touted scorer Anthony Mantha. The organization's top prospect would become the first teenager to crack the Wings' lineup in 15 years if he makes the club. If Alfie returns, Mantha could stick as the team's fourth-line RW if he can unseat veterans Drew Miller and/or Daniel Cleary. Teemu Pulkkinen also has a chance to earn a spot in the bottom six, but he'll be in tough to knock off those vets and Mike Babcock favorite Luke Glendening.
D) And Winging it in Motown's SlapshotGoal wondered aloud whether Pulkkinen might make the roster:
Pulkkinen certainly has "his" style that he plays, and he loves to take wristers and slappers from between the circles and blue line, and hey, what's not to love! His shot is so hard, so fast, and so accurate, that goalies often don't even have to time react before the puck is behind them. Sometimes when he shoots the puck it seems to go right through three or four players standing in front of it, past the goalie, and into a precise spot in the net. Did you notice how many times the puck went top corner with little room for error? That's a tough shot to make, yet Pulkkinen blasts it through multiple players at lightning speed and the goalies often don't even move to stop the puck at all because they don't see it coming. His shot is harder, faster, and more accurate than a lot of NHL'ers, and his ability to score goals from anywhere on the ice is a valuable commodity. Pulkkinen keeps is simple, shoots a LOT, and scores goals. He plays with energy and when he's on the ice you get the feeling that he might score at any second. He's exciting!
Griffins coach Jeff Blashill has said a lot of great things about Pulkkinen since he joined the team, including the following.
"Teemu is one of those guys where the puck seems to follow him around the ice … He finds a way to win puck battles. When he’s got the puck on his stick, he’s got a real weapon of a shot. Jeff Blashill (January 2014, GriffinsHockey.com)
"He can create something out of nothing. He can score goals from everywhere on the ice because he has an extremely dynamic shot - both his slap shot and his wrist shot. When goals are at such a premium in hockey, he's one of those few guys who only needs one chance to score. His shot is that good. The thing I like about Teemu is he wants to get better. He listens, and he's working at trying to get better. When he gets better (in the defensive zone), and when you have that ability to score ... Boy, you become a commodity in a hurry." - Blashill (February 2014)
"Teemu is a goal-scorer. He's somebody who can play average and still have an impact on the game by shooting one puck in the net. That's how good of a shot he has. Blashill (May 2014, Foxsports.com).
Quotes taken from Red Wings Central
I don't know how much we'll see of Pulkkinen in Detroit this year, because Jurco should be on the team, but will have to settle for being the top call up. I think Anthony Mantha will start in Grand Rapids, but depending on how his transition goes, he may be second in line. I believe Pulkkinen will be pushing to be in the NHL very soon. He's improved in his defensive game a lot last year, and while I don't think he'll ever win the Selke, I don't care one iota. He can score all the goals his heart desires and let his line-mates watch his back a little. Watch out Detroit, Teemu is coming for YOU!
She also posited a video clip chronicling all of Pulkkinen's 2013-2014 goals, and she watches more Griffins games than most anyone else, so she knows what she's talking about.
As far as I'm concerned, he's definitely one of "my" first call-ups, but I still believe that Pulkkinen needs to work a little harder on becoming a better two-way player--and skating around or through checks instead of stopping and taking hits to make plays--before he earns a full-time promotion.
4. While we're talking about projections made in August, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg sit at 45th and 56th place, respectively, in Yahoo Sports' fantasy hockey rankings (Niklas Kronwall's 93rd), and Rotowire's Fantasy Draft Busts do not include a Wing, but their Fantasy Draft Sleepers do include an aforementioned player:
Danny DeKeyser, D, Red Wings: DeKeyser had a decent first full season with the Red Wings, notching 23 points and a plus-10 rating in 65 games. He might have broken 30 points, but he missed close to a month with a shoulder injury. With no other great blueline options besides Niklas Kronwall, DeKeyser should see an uptick in minutes, both at even strength but especially on the power play, putting 30+ points in reach.
I also had to chuckle at the Hockey News's Rory Boylen's decision to rank the Chicago Blackhawks,
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues' logos ahead of the Red Wings' winged wheel in THN's "Logo Rankings." I think the conceit of the,
"Blackhawks are the best" spiel summed up the Hockey News's most recent editorial bent--"When you can't think up something new, piss people off by shaking things up and telling them that wearing the jersey of a player younger than they are is terrible or whatever." Quoting Boylen:
We didn’t want history to influence our decisions. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens sit outside the top 10 for that reason. Ranking all the Original Six 1-6 is boring, predictable and doesn’t accomplish what we wanted to do here: reward the best logos, not the longest history.
So what you're telling me is that this is a completely subjective ranking list with no respect given to how well something's aged, but we're not supposed to be shocked because people make a very big deal about it because this is The Hockey News?
5. In the past tense, the Spartans just wrapped up this past week's Pro Camp at Munn Ice Arena, and MSU posted a YouTube video chronicling the camp...
As well as a Tweet...
While Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski penned an article discussing the comments Griffins coach Jeff Blashill made to a College Hockey, Inc-sponsored "summit" designed to encourage youngsters to take the NCAA development route:
The College Hockey Summit featured speakers such as Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill and Danton Cole of the U.S. National Team Development Program. The players had the chance to compete in front of college coaches, and they also received a tour of Michigan State’s hockey facilities.
Blashill, a Ferris State alum and former head coach at Western Michigan, emphasized that no matter which route a player takes – college or major junior – success isn’t guaranteed.
“The player dictates the player’s success, not the route,” Blashill told MiHockey. “It can be murky waters to work through for the families and the players and if I can help shed any light on that I was certainly happy to do that.”
Cole, who spoke to the hockey players and their parents after Blashill, said he agrees with the Griffins coach in that the player determines his own success, but that it’s also important to obtain as much information about both sides of the equation as possible.
“These are some pretty good hockey players, they’re going to have some decisions to make and we’re trying to give them as much information as we can,” said Cole, who played for MSU from 1985-1989. “Find out as much as you can and find what fits for you. I like options and I think college hockey gives guys great options in life and in hockey.”
6. In the "present tense" category, if you find yourself in Toronto today, Anthony Mantha and Ryan Sproul are taking part in the NHLPA Rookie Showcase at the Mattamy Athletic Centre this morning, and prior to engaging in an autograph-signing and trading card picture-taking bonanza this morning, NHL.com's Arpon Basu reports that the 33 players were kept busy on Friday:
Many of the NHL's top young prospects earned a fun break from a summer spent focusing primarily on preparation for NHL training camps when they attended the 2014 NHLPA Rookie Showcase. The two-day event, staged during one of the final weekends before training camps begin, hosted 33 NHL hopefuls and featured a healthy combination of work and play.
In its sixth iteration, the event allowed attendees the opportunity to participate in a series of functions, most of them organized by Upper Deck, the official trading card company of the NHL. On Friday, the majority of the time was spent signing merchandise and posing for photographs, as well as enjoying a preview of EA Sports NHL 15 video game.
"It's a pretty exciting experience this weekend," Arizona Coyotes prospect Max Domi said. "It's going to be cool to spend some time with the guys."
The group included Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, as well as Sam Reinhart of the Buffalo Sabres and Sam Bennett of the Calgary Flames, who were selected second and fourth, respectively. Other top prospects in attendance included Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals, Teuvo Teravainen of the Chicago Blackhawks and Anthony Mantha of the Detroit Red Wings.
During a busy Friday, the group also enjoyed a tour at the Hockey Hall of Fame, which was followed by dinner. The showcase is scheduled to conclude Saturday at Mattamy Athletic Centre, formerly the site of Maple Leaf Gardens, for individual photo shoots and a group scrimmage.
For many players, the opportunity to be photographed for their first NHL trading card was one of their first major milestones as an NHL player.
7. Also in the prospect department...
Julius Vahatalo had 2 assists in TPS Turku's 9-0 win over HC Balzano, and again, the "Champions' Hockey League" may be a tournament, but it's a tournament's worth of exhibition games.
8. On Twitter, charitable news version:
The Red Wings answered:
The Wings posted a Facebook photo gallery of Warrior Hockey assembling some Wings gloves and sticks, too (Warrior's an "NHL Preferred Equipment Supplier," in the land of Reebok-CCM-official-sponsorship? Hmm).
9. On Twitter, other stuff version:
(And the poor guy's hands were never the same again, stone, just like that!)
(Well that's what happens when your name's attached to Kyle Quincey, things get worse and wors...Oh, bloody hell...)
(Therein lies the whole, "Hey, hiring Jim Hiller as an assistant coach given that he was going to take the year off to pitch a player tracking-and-advanced-stats-package-to-NHL-teams thing comes in quite handy" concept)
(and in case you were wondering, I was taught that placing a period after a parenthetical expression--inside or outside the parentheses, is rude and snooty, so while Esquire might do it, I do not do so)
10. For whatever reason, this slipped under most everyone's radar, part 1: Via Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke to Plymouth Whalers fans, personnel and alums about Peter Karmanos' threat to move the team if attendance doesn't improve during last weekend's Whalers alumni game, but this story got buried under the News's "More Sports" category.
That's kind of ironic given the lack of coverage of the Whalers in general, and kind of predictable, too:
When the Whalers begin their exhibition season Aug. 30 — they open their 25th Ontario Hockey League regular home season Sept. 27 against Erie — the focus will be on stands as much as on the product on the ice. The inability to gain any traction among metro Detroit sports fans, empty stands at Compuware Arena, and strong interest from Ontario cities fueled owner Peter Karmanos to issue a challenge to area hockey fans this summer.
Show up, Karmanos said, or the team will be moved.
“Right now it’s the Plymouth Whalers and they’re playing out of this arena,” Karmanos said when issuing his challenge in May. “They’ll be here at least another season and we’ll just have to keep evaluating. When you put a quality product on the ice and you win every year, you’re in the playoffs for 23 straight years, sooner or later people have to start coming.”
Trying to attract attention while competing with the Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, Pistons and Michigan and Michigan State has been an annual battle for the Whalers. But an avid, loyal following remains.
[Rasa] Poorman and her husband, Glenn, have been avid Whalers fans for “many years.”
Their devotion and passion has extended to the point where they are a billet household, housing Whalers players for the past five seasons. The couple doesn’t understand why more Detroit sports fans — hockey fans, specifically — haven’t turned into Whalers fans.
“Maybe it’s because not enough people know about the team,” Rasa Poorman said between glimpses at the ice and watching the likes of David Legwand and Tyler Seguin make plays during the exhibition. I work in the medical field and when I talk to patients, they’ve never heard of the Plymouth Whalers. It’s more about getting people in here and getting to know this brand of hockey. We did, and we ended up being billets. Now, it’s a way of life for us.”
Kulfan continues, and I'll be trying to get to more Whalers games regardless of whether it's as "media" or as a paying customer this upcoming season (hell, you get to sit behind the bench for $15, it's a good deal) because the product is superb....
And the Toronto Sun posted a Reuters interview (penned by Peter Ruthers) that's something of a late-breaker from Jim Paek's introductory press conference as the Korean Ice Hockey Team's coach:
[W]ith few facilities to groom talent and a nationwide pool of just 60 professional players to choose from, the task of turning Korea into an ice hockey force is a daunting one. What will it take to make Korea serious about ice hockey?
"Success," he tells Reuters in an interview at Mokdong ice rink in Seoul on Friday. "You get some success right away at the Asian Games and in the World Championships and people will flock to the sport. You see what success has done for short track here. All the kids see them on the Olympic stage and they suddenly want to do short track. Same with Kim (Yuna) and figure skating.
"If we get some success, Korea will build more rinks. If they build more rinks, we'll have more success. I'm not sure if it's the chicken or the egg, but we need success on a world level to get things started."
South Korea enjoys regular success at the Winter Games in short track and speed skating but few have even dared to dream of facing ice hockey powerhouses such as Canada, United States and Sweden on Olympic ice.
The International Ice Hockey Federation is keen for Korea to compete in Pyeongchang but is wary of the potential for the kind of lopsided losses that would embarrass the hosts and damage the sport's reputation. Paek, however, sees no downside to being on the same ice as ice hockey's superpowers.
"Who would ever think we would even be able to participate at the Olympic level in the first place?" the 47-year-old former defenseman said. "It would be my job to find a system and figure out how we would survive, but even if we lost say 10-0 to Canada we'd take positives out of it."
11. On YouTube, AWood40 posted a 13-minute highlight clip of the Red Wings' second-round opener against St. Louis from 2002:
And HockeyWebcaster posted an 8-and-a-half minute clip of Sergei Fedorov's 5-goal game from December 26th, 1996:
12. In Toledo, the Walleye aren't particularly good at posting press releases on their own website, but this note from Hockeyfights.com is pretty cool, and I'll explain why in a minute:
Forwards Dane Walters and Mike Towns have agreed to terms with the Toledo Walleye for the 2014-15 season.
Walters spent last season with the Elmira Jackals, appearing in 50 contests with 10 goals and 13 assists. The St. Paul, Minnesota native spent four years at Western Michigan University where he skated in a total of 144 games with 83 points (39G, 44A). As an assistant captain in 2011-12, the 25-year-old forward helped lead the Broncos to the CCHA Championship. He was named team captain for his senior season in 2012-13 and was awarded CCHA Best Defensive Forward award. The 6'0", 198 pound forward collected over 20 points in each of his last three years at Western Michigan. Prior to his collegiate days, Walters spent two years in the USHL with Sioux Falls where he had 38 points (15G, 23A) and 143 penalty minutes over 111 games.
Walters attended the Wings' summer development camp two years ago, and he's one of the nicest "interviews" I've ever had. He's a 25-year-old grinder who's not particularly big, but he's a scrappy, hard-working forward, and he's a leader, a smart, snappy dude, so I'm glad to say that he and last month's summer camper, defenseman Kevin Clare, are on a Walleye team that, by ECHL standards, looks to be a very strong one.
Towns played 40 games last year in Ontario, where he collected four goals, five assists and 67 penalty minutes for the Reign. The native of Surrey, British Columbia finished his 2012-13 year with the Idaho Steelheads posting five points (2G, 3A) and 82 penalty minutes. He also skated with the Denver Cutthroats of the Central Hockey League (60 penalty minutes in 34 games) and the Knoxville Ice Bears of the Southern Professional Hockey League (3A in five games). The 28-year-old forward set career highs in goals (9), assist (15) and points (24) in 2011-12 with the Ice Bears, while collecting 82 penalty minutes. Towns wore a letter as an assistant captain or captain in all four years he skated at Adrian College. In 103 total college contests, the 6'4", 220 pound forward posted 24 goals, 36 assists and 193 penalty minutes.
And finally, I've got about two weeks to go until the prospect tournament starts (a week from yesterday), and I've raised...$500...Out of a necessary $2,000+ to stay in Traverse City for two weeks and eat like a college student and cover the prospect tournament and main camp. I don't know how I'm gonna do it without your help.
I've attended two of the past three Traverse City-based training camps/prospect tournaments and the past three summer development camps at your leisure. If you're willing to lend a hand, I would greatly, greatly appreciate it.
Any and every donation helps pay the way up there (I break even) and I'm strongly considering printing some t-shirts and/or ensuring that every entry has a "sponsored by/brought to you by" note (and as always, the coverage is based upon your suggestions and questions, so it's an interactive experience).
My "merchant ID" is my non-work email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, and I'm incredibly grateful for your readership and support. Thank you.
Update: "Everything he says...Is true." Not just accurate for the Kids in the Hall's "The Monkeys" sketch, but also this from the Saint John's Telegram's Robin Short, profiling the "Newfoundlanders [preparing] to go camping":
Dan Cleary — Back in 2008, when the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, Cleary was one of the more popular Detroit players — a jack-of-all-trades type who could pop the odd goal, get some scattered power play minutes, be a reliable defensive player, kill penalties and take a faceoff right after Detroit scored or was scored against.
Fast forward a few years and today Cleary is getting killed on social media after the Wings signed the 35-year-old veteran to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
(And a $250,000 signing bonus, and a $1 million bonus for playing 10 games, and a no-trade clause. He's "getting killed" because his performance merits it, as does the Wings' decision to offer Daniel Alfredsson, their leading scorer, a try-out by comparison)
No doubt, it’s another sign of Detroit’s loyalty to its long-serving players. Cleary turned down a much more lucrative offer from Philadelphia last season to stay in Detroit, and this is Ken Holland’s way of saying thanks. You can be certain a job in the organization awaits Cleary when he’s done playing.
That will be at the end of this 2014-15 season, if Cleary makes it that far. He had a brutal 2013-14 season — four goals, eight points in 52 games — a year in which he tried to play with a shredded knee, was scratched and then finally shut down for the year.
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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.