The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/05/13 at 03:13 AM ET
I've seen this happen, and it isn't pretty, but it's done without much fanfare:
The ice at Joe Louis Arena ends up going down the storm drains next to the Joe and, most likely, into the Detroit River, so it goes back to where it comes from (given that ye olde City of Detroit water is what's used to make it).
On the other side of the state...
As noted on Tuesday evening, the Grand Rapids Griffins suffered a serious setback in their attempt to make the AHL's Calder Cup Final, but...Well, let me put it this way:
If a Yooper and a West-Sider were to get into an argument as to which person was ignored by the other 2/3rds of the state of Michigan more, they would come to the same conclusion: nobody from Metro Detroit cares about them. This isn't completely inaccurate: depending on where you draw the boundaries of "Metro Detroit," is either slightly larger than Los Angeles or is bigger than Rhode Island. I tend to lean toward the latter, and Metro Detroit contains somewhere around half of the state's population, distributed over a relatively large geographic area. So we're a weeeeeeee bit worried about what happens around "here" first.
So the fact that the Detroit Free Press sent Aaron McMann to Grand Rapids to talk about Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist's contributions to the Griffins' playoff cause does indeed pay tribute to how far the Wings' AHL affiliate has come:
“This team has been good all year,” Andersson said. “We’ve found a way to win in different ways all year.”
The Griffins finished the American Hockey League regular season 42-26 with the Midwest Division title. But they were trailing Oklahoma City — one of the last teams into the playoffs — 2-1 in the Western Conference finals, with Games 4 and 5 on the road. They needed help. One day later, after the Wings were eliminated from the NHL playoffs, Nyquist — Grand Rapids’ point leader (60) before being recalled March 20 — and Andersson boarded a flight to Oklahoma City.
“I told my guys when they were sent down that they weren’t coming down as two saviors,” said Griffins coach Jeff Blashill. “They’re coming down as two real good pieces to the puzzle.”
And the move immediately paid off. Twelve minutes into the first period of Game 4 Saturday, a power-play goal by Andersson gave the Griffins a 1-0 lead. The assist? Nyquist. They went on to win, 4-0.
“We played a lot in the lockout together,” Andersson said. “We have some good chemistry and like playing with each other. It’s worked out well.”
Andersson, who had 27 points in 36 games before being recalled Feb. 8, tacked on two more assists in Sunday’s 3-0 Game 5 win — tilting the series in Grand Rapids’ favor, 3-2.
Tomas Tatar, who played 11 games with Detroit this year, was glad to see Andersson and Nyquist back. Tatar’s 15 postseason points have made him a target.
“The big difference is that (other teams) have to be careful about those two,” Tatar said.
Tuesday's game didn't go particularly well for any Griffins player, regrettably, and Game 7 will take place tonight at 7 PM EDT (at Van Andel Arena). But East-Siders will be in attendance and even the East-Sider press cares about 'em now. Stunning.
(Technically speaking, from a Metro Detroiter's point of view, "East Siders" live east of Woodward Avenue, and although I was born a block-and-a-half east of Woodward, I have always lived West of Woodward, so as far as this "East-Sider" is concerned, I'm a West-Sider. Who lives in Extreme Southwestern Oakland County now. As if that matters).
In news regarding current, possible future and soon-to-be-former members of the Red Wings' roster, one never knows about the Fourth Period's "reports" as they never cite their sources, but this is probably true:
Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk has already acknowledged his desire to play in Detroit for the next few years, and contract talks between the two sides are getting underway.
Datsyuk, 34, has one-year left on his contract, but recently told the local media that he "would love to stay" beyond next season.
It's believed contract negotiations have started between the Red Wings and Datsyuk's agent, albeit only preliminarily.
The two sides have at least one month to finalize a deal, as an extension cannot be formally signed and announced until July 5.
Datsyuk, who spent the lockout in the KHL, would eventually like to finish his playing career in Russia, but only after he's done at the NHL level. Datsyuk's seven-year, $46.9 million contract expires after next season. It's unclear what type of contract he's looking for, but could see his salary in and around the same $6.7 million he'll make next season.
Yes, yes he will. Pavel will get as much as he wants. And it will be fair.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings must also focus on signing impending unrestricted free agents Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner.
Filppula and Brunner are due for raises and could command significant interest on the open if they go unsigned by July 5.
Regarding Filppula, as I said yesterday, somebody will pay someone whose potential and skill set far exceeds his output and actual implementation of said skill set, but it's not going to be the Red Wings.
As MLive's Brendan Savage noted, between Filppula coming into training camp nursing a still-sprained MCL and battling his way through a shoulder injury, he posted a less-than-impressive 9 goals, 8 assists and 17 points over the course of 41 regular season games played and 2 goals, 4 assists and 6 points over 14 playoff games played--way less than the 23 goals and 66 points he posted in 2011-2012, even when pro-rated--and monetarily speaking, there's "no fit"...
After making $3.5 million this season, he's reportedly seeking more than $5 million and the Red Wings don't want to pay him that much. As a result, contract talks broke off months ago.
"I gotta go through the next month," said general manager Ken Holland. "I'm going to meet with the coaches, obviously prior to July 5th (and the start of free agency). I'm going to meet with the coaches (this) week and then shortly after try to get our pro scouts in and make a plan. Obviously some of them we want to re-sign. We've got some big decisions because there's a push from below.
Though Filppula was circumspect about his future while speaking with the press on locker room clean-out day--while wearing a "boot" to immobilize a sprained left ankle:
"I haven't thought about that too much," Filppula said after cleaning out his locker following the Game 7 playoff loss to Chicago. "Obviously, it's a possibility that could happen. It'd be tough. It's been a really great place to be. I've been so happy here. We'll see if we go ... if that's what's going to happen."
"I'm sure it would be (strange playing elsewhere). It would be different I'm sure. It would be weird at first. I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. To be honest I haven't given it too much thought yet. We'll start talking. We have to see what feels right for me. We'll see. But the season just finished so I haven't given it too much thought."
Filppula said he wasn't disappointed contract talks with the Red Wings broke off during the season. He was more concerned with this season than next season.
"To be honest I wasn't paying too much attention to it," he said. "I was just trying to focus on playing. Obviously when you negotiate you hope you get something done but that's not always going to happen. That's how it is."
Coach Mike Babcock was critical of Filppula at midseason but sounded like somebody who wanted the 29-year-old veteran back in a Red Wings uniform next season.
"You need good players," Babcock said. "If you don't keep the good players you have you got to acquire good players, so the devil you know is usually better than the devil you don't.''
I don't think that Filppula's agent will let his 29-year-old client (and he just turned 29) miss out on a once-in-a-career opportunity to earn a $20-25 million payday that will set Filppula up for both the rest of his career and the rest of his life for the sake of staying with the Wings...
And as Savage duly notes, with Tomas Tatar due to make the roster next seasnon and the aforementioned Andersson and Nyquist likely to form the balance of one hell of a third line, there isn't necessarily any room for Filppula, either.
If the Wings are to target free agents, I think one player priced himself out of Detroit's budget on Tuesday, and ESPN's Craig Custance offered more insight into the Wings' thought process in what may be a, "Do we add a goal-scoring forward OR a top-four defenseman" situation given the Wings' salary cap and roster crunches:
Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford and Sportsnet reported that New York Islanders captain Mark Streit turned down a 3-year, $14-plus million contract offer from the Islanders as the 35-year-old defenseman (he'll turn 36 in December) is looking for, well...
$5-6 million per season for 4 or 5 seasons.
It’s easy to see why Streit would want to test free agent waters.
He’s primed to hit the market at a time where defensemen are at a premium — he, along with Sergei Gonchar, Ron Hainsey, Ryan Whitney and Marek Zidlicky figure to headline the class, which gives a pretty good idea of how shallow the class is.
What’s more, this group of UFA blueliners actually thinned out last week when Los Angeles re-signed Robyn Regehr to a two-year, $6 million deal.
And per Sportnet's Tom Ruminski:
The 35-year-old Streit is believed to be looking for an annual salary north of $5.5-million per season, while the Isles reportedly made a three-year offer for $4.75-million per season.
In a weak free agent market for defenceman, the Islanders’ captain could be in line to receive a four-year deal that could pay him up to $6 million annually.
After missing 2010-11 with a shoulder injury, Streit returned to the Isles in 2011-12 and led the team’s defencemen in scoring with 47 points. This past season, the native of Englisberg, Switzerland, registered six goals and 21 assists in a lockout-shortened campaign, and five points in a first-round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In his career, Streit has notched 288 points — 65 goals and 223 assists — in 491 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens and Islanders.
$5.5-6 million would take half of the Wings' $11.957 million of cap space away, and given that the team will probably spend at least a million bucks re-signing RFA's Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Jakub Kindl, given that Damien Brunner might command $3 million and given that the team at least wants to make a stab at re-signing Daniel Cleary (unlikely) and Drew Miller (possible), the team wouldn't have any more wiggle room, and given that Holland's interview with Bill Simonson yielded a higher probability that we'll see Kronwall-Ericsson, DeKeyser-Kindl, Quincey-Smith and Lashoff as the team's seven "starting" defensemen next season...
I get the feeling that things will shake out as ESPN's Craig Custance suggested in an ESPN.com chat on Tuesday:
GBK (Lincoln Park): Craig, what do you think the Red Wings will do this summer? I'd like to see them add a veteran defenseman, and let go of guys like Bertuzzi, Samuelsson and maybe even Tootoo, who is fine in the regular season but not in the playoffs. What big free agents are out there and how will the cap shrinking change how teams approach free agency?
Craig Custance: GBK - Interesting off-season ahead for Detroit. If they let Filppula, which is a possibility, they have some money to spend in free agency. They want to keep some spots open for their good young talent, but they could really use a scorer on the wing. I like Nathan Horton as an option for Detroit. A guy like Bickell would appeal to Babcock too. Big body, banger, who can score.
(cue Babcock telling Mitch Albom that he wants his team to get "bigger and heavier")
The Wings' free agency outlook could change dramatically depending on who's bought out on the salary cap compliance buy-out market, and the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran explained how the buy-outs work...
The NHL’s new collective bargaining calls for the restrictive salary cap to drop to $64.3 million from $70.2 million. It’s the first time since the cap was introduced in 2005-06 that it will drop, and it will put the squeeze on teams whose current signings already have them over or near the cap.
To help bridge the gap, the NHL and the NHL Players Association agreed to compliance buyouts. Like a regular buyout, a player gets a portion of the money he signed for (two-thirds of salary owed for players 26 and older; one-third for those under 26). Unlike a regular buyout, the money does not apply to the cap. Darcy Tucker and Colby Armstrong, for example, will cost the Maple Leafs $1 million next year.
Teams get two compliance buyouts.
Montreal (Scott Gomez) and the Rangers (Wade Redden) have already used one each at the beginning of the season. Players can be bought out starting this summer for a short period and again next summer (starting 48 hours after the awarding of the Stanley Cup to one day before free agency period kicks in.)
Bought-out players become unrestricted free agents, albeit with two provisos: they may not re-sign with the team that bought them out, and they cannot be traded back to that team for one season.
Further complicating matters are new stringent rules that apply to teams that signed players for longer than seven years: if the player retires before the end of his contract, the team won’t get any salary cap relief. This might actually be a benefit to teams trying to get to the floor — not having to pay salary but still having a retired players’ salary count towards cap.
Teams cannot buy out a player who is injured. If they are on the fence with a player this year and bring him back next, they run the risk of having him recovering from an injury during the 2014-15 buyout period.
Signing-bonus dollars are not subject to the buyout.
ESPN's Custance, penning an insider-only entry, noted that teams may attempt to trade some of their buy-out candidates instead of facing the embarrassment that is paying a player a lot of money to play for someone else, especially given that teams can retain up to 50% of traded players' salaries in trades--and Custance says that 48 hours after the Stanley Cup final ends, each and every team not named the Rangers and Candiens gets 2 "get out of cap jail free" cards...
The hard part is convincing ownership that it's a great idea to pay a player to play elsewhere, because in some cases these are going to be very useful players. If a guy like Brad Richards is cut loose by the compliance buyout, there will be a lineup of teams interested in the center. Richards isn't the only buyout candidate who will draw interest. That's not an easy conversation.
"Clearly, there are some teams that have to. Just looking at their cap situations, they have to," Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. "It's one thing to say you can buy somebody out and they're off your cap but still have to write a check to them. Not every owner has the same world view of that matter. It's still real dollars. Clearly, that's an option some teams will look at strongly. Your preference is to always make hockey moves, if you can."
And that's part of the secrecy. General managers aren't going to tip their hands on buyout candidates just in case they can trade them without paying the money to cut them loose. Another highlight of the new CBA is the ability to conduct retained salary transactions, which allow teams to trade a player while retaining up to 50 percent of that player's salary on their books. Teams can have up to three players on their roster who have their salaries paid by other teams, as long as the aggregate amount of retained salary doesn't exceed $9.645 million this coming season. So the new CBA leaves other outs besides compliance buyouts, something GMs much prefer.
"If they want to do a buyout, I'm sure they'd be thrilled to do a trade before they'll do the buyout," [Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo] Kekalainen said. "Now that you can eat the money, that brings money to the picture … the economics of the cap. That's the benefit some teams can afford."
And then there is the complicated issue that is the "cap recapture" mechanism to recoup teams' savings earned via signing players to lifetime contracts. I wanted to try to explain this as Custance spends the rest of his entry discussing it...
But I'm going with bold text for a reason here: even Capgeek.com had to edit its cap recapture calculator because it didn't get the numbers completely right. With the final CBA having yet to be completed, we still don't totally understand how the "cap recapture" mechanism works, and things get really really *#$%@& complicated really really *#$%@& quickly depending on when a player who has a lifetime contract retires, as Custance noted:
[Marian] Hossa's actual salary drops to $1 million in the 2017-18 season, when Hossa will be 39. Which would make the conclusion of the 2016-17 an ideal time to retire. If he does, that means the Blackhawks would have earned a cap benefit of $17.1 million over the course of this deal. So from 2017-18 through 2020-21 Chicago would be dinged with a $4.275 million penalty each of those seasons against the salary cap. That's the cost of a top-six forward.
So, long story short, and as far as we "get it" right now, if a player retires X years before his deal ends, the rights-holder is charged the ENTIRE "cap savings" spread out over the course of those X years. I think. Because this shit's confusing Capgeek, and that's a terrifying statement to make.
But Custance believes that it's entirely possible that some of these players may be traded to teams who can more easily accommodate the "cap recapture" penalties, because a trade would spread those penalties out between the player's previous and current employer:
Now, for a player of Hossa's caliber, a trade seems much more reasonable than a compliance buyout. So let's say the Ottawa Senators come calling and want to bring Hossa back to end his career where it began. If the Senators trade for Hossa this summer and he retires after that 2016-17 season, the penalties are much more reasonable.
The Blackhawks would have received a $10.5 million benefit and would be hit with an annual cap penalty of $2.625 million and the Senators would be hit with an annual penalty of $1.65 million from 2017-18 through 2020-21, a much more manageable number when it's shared.
Now I happen to believe that the Red Wings signed Henrik Zetterberg assuming that, barring injuries, he would fulfill the vast majority of his contract, which doesn't expire until the 2020-2021 season (that's 8 more seasons for a 32-year-old), and between the fact that he's the team's captain and that he's one of the few Swedes that's at least expressed some statements regarding being happier in Detroit than enjoying David and Victoria Beckham treatment from the press in Sweden due to Mrs. Zetterberg's celebrity status....
I don't see him going anywhere regardless of when he retires.
But Franzen? I think the Free Press's Evil Drew Sharp of all people hit the nail on the head, Chicago-style, in suggesting that it is entirely possible that Franzen may not finish his career in Detroit. With seven seasons remaining on his deal and at 33 to Zetterberg's 32...And being fantastically and frustratingly inconsistent...It is entirely possible that the Wings may move him or buy him out a summer from now.
Speaking of Sharp, he'll be engaging in a chat on Freep.com at 11 AM EDT today, spending two or three questions talking about the Wings choking because that's what he believes they did before talking about whatever else has captured his short attention span.
From the CBC's Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts column...
3. Nathan Horton has 34 points in 35 playoff games. At even strength in those games, Boston is outscoring opponents 38-12 with him on the ice. The Bruins have some tough calls to make -- Patrice Bergeron will get taken care of -- but I wouldn't want to fool around with the chemistry of those forward lines.
4. Bryan Bickell's current salary is $600,000. It sounds like the Blackhawks wanted to keep him somewhere between $1.5-$2 million. Let's see: big guy who can finish in a weak free-agent year, proving he can play with good players ... yeah, it's going to go higher than that.
5. One coach before the Western final began: "Chicago: two series with almost zero travel. Minnesota did not bruise them. Detroit battled, but they don't beat you up. Los Angeles: one long travel series, two opponents who take a lot out of you. A four-hour flight on short rest leading to a back-to-back. The Blackhawks need to own those games." I called him to tell him how smart he looked so far. His reply: "It will be different in L.A."
Henrik Zetterberg's stick and Jonathan Toews' pork chop-faced sideburns would disagree.
7. It would be a surprise if the Dallas Stars hired a new guy before Grand Rapids is eliminated from the AHL playoffs. Stars general manager Jim Nill and Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill have a history and a mutual respect. It doesn't mean Blashill is the favourite, but it would be a surprise if there wasn't a conversation over coffee and bonbons. Grand Rapids leads the Western Conference Final 3-2 over Oklahoma City.
Me no likey. Nill did tell NHL.com's Steve Hunt that he "won't rush" his coaching-hiring decision while attending the NHL's draft combine.
29. About two months ago, one GM made a prediction that Detroit will go to Pavel Datsyuk and say, "Pavel, one year from now, you'll be 36. You're in great shape. You can play in Russia at 38. Or 40. You'll regret it if you leave here too soon." Sounds like he was right.
Or 40. Or 42. Or never.
In terms of what Ken Holland spent Tuesday discussing...
The NHL's competition committee decided to:
1. Grandfather in visor usage for players who begin playing in the NHL in the 2013-2014 season and beyond--though players with visors will no longer be penalized for starting fights;
2. To at least give hybrid icing a trial run during the 2013-2014 season's training camps and exhibition games;
3. To shrink the depth of the bottom of nets by 4 inches;
4. To review all 4-minute high-sticking penalties by video from the "War Room" in Toronto;
5. They're nixing the, "Well, that pass could have been touched, so it's no icing" discretionary call from the linesmen's rulebook;
6. And goaltending equipment is going to be both tweaked and goaltending equipment cheaters may be publicly named and fined--and Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reports that both skaters and goalies' equipment will be reviewed and "standardized" by a to-be-established review committee;
The Canadian Press, the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle, the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby (with lots of waffling from Colin Campbell), the Associated Press, NHL.com's Mike Brophy, Puck Daddy's Harrison Mooney and the Sporting News's Sean Gentile all weigh in...And Sportsline's Adam Gretz and Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford point us toward InGoal Magazine's Kevin Woodley, who reports that--at least initially, anyway--the competition committee made a pretty radical proposal (emphasis on *proposal*):
InGoal Magazine has learned the NHL plans to present more than one option to reduce the height of the pads, but both are expected to include a significant downsizing:
1. Continued use of the individual sizing chart, but with a reduction in the thigh rise from 55 per cent of each goalie’s measurement from the knee to hip, down to 40 per cent. The NHL targeted a 50 per cent maximum eight years ago, but it was negotiated up to 55 per cent by the NHLPA. Given the average total measurement in the League is around 20 inches, a 15 per cent reduction would equate to three lost inches in pad height. Of course that is three inches per pad, and given most goalies use the top of these pads to close the 5-hole when they are down on the ice, that could mean an additional six-inch opening.
2. A fixed maximum for every goalie above the knee, likely between seven and eight inches. This would eliminate the sizing chart for thigh rise, and instead fix a maximum height for every goalie’s pad above the knee. Using the average 20-inch knee-to-hip measurement, an eight-inch maximum would be the same as a 40 per cent maximum.
While abandoning even a portion of a sizing chart the NHL fought so hard to get may surprise some, the reality is establishing pad height based on a standing goaltender has little to do with how it is used on the ice. Goaltenders don’t use extra height above the knee to protect their thighs while standing, they use it to wrap around in front of them when they drop into the butterfly, protecting the knees and closing the 5-hole.
How much extra pad each individual goalie needs to establish that seal depends more on the width, or flare, of their butterfly – in other words, how wide they can spread their legs to the side when on their knees – than their standing height. If a goalie can flare their legs out wide, it won’t take much extra thigh rise to close the 5-hole. Those with a narrower butterfly sometimes need longer pads above the knee to wrap around and close it off.
The question now is whether they believe that 5-hole seal is needed for safety?
Woodley continues at significant length, no pun intended, and let's just say that if goalies ain't cheatin,' they ain't tryin,' and they're cheatin' like mad.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
- The Dearborn Press & Guide notes that Darren McCarty was signing autographs at the ValuLand in Dearborn on Monday;
- Wings fans on MLive named Jimmy Howard both the Wings' regular-season and playoff MVP;
- Bill "Huge" Simonson believes that the Red Wings have the best chance of any Michigan-based team to earn a championship sooner than later;
- And in Dresden, Germany, IIHF.com's Martin Merk reports that lapsed Wings prospect Dick Axelsson is having a fine old time at the IIHF's Inline Hockey World Championships.
Update: If you find yourself in Malmo, Sweden in August, Expressen's Alf Karlsson reports that Gustav Nyquist, Phoenix's Mikkel Boedeker, Dallas's Christopher Nihlstorp, Edmonton's Magnus Paajarvi and Boston's Carl Sodeberg will train with the Malmo Redhawks.
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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.