The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/22/13 at 04:32 AM ET
Nine days removed from the draft and thirteen from the start of free agency, it's easy to read the Free Press's Helene St. James' report about the Wings' desire to move some bodies up front and/or use some cap compliance buy-outs, to think about the progress made by the Grand Rapids Griffins' players during their Calder Cup run, and to start letting our minds wander.
Two buy-outs, three trades, four free agents signed and eleven kids promoted next year! The roster's going to be completely different! (and surely, we can clone TSN Player of the Year finalist Pavel Datsyuk's competitor, Pavel Datsyuk!) Right? The elevendy twelve signed forwards and eight defensemen mean the Wings have to make tons of moves right away!
It's at this time of year, when TSN's Scott Cullen pens his "Off-Season Game Plan" for the Wings (it''s a great read but it doesn't translate well to a blog entry), that Wings fans tend to head over to Capgeek and build radically different Red Wings rosters, ignoring what Ken Holland told the Windsor Star's Bob Duff--that the vast majority of the changes made to the Red Wings' roster this summer will involve the players that the Wings sent down to the Griffins to bolster their ranks (and Tomas Tatar) joining Detroit's lineup on a full-time basis:
Some of the key players on that championship Grand Rapids team were also significant contributors to the Detroit cause this season, people like centre Joakim Andersson, right-winger Gustav Nyquist and defencemen Brian Lashoff and Danny DeKeyser. Others, such as goalie Petr Mrazek, left-winger Tomas Tatar and centre Riley Sheahan showed promise during brief flings with the big club.
“We’re way farther ahead just because of DeKeyser, Lashoff, Nyquist, Tatar, Andersson, (and free-agent addition Damien) Brunner,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “Four players who started with the Grand Rapids Griffins will be in the NHL next season – Andersson, Nyquist, Lashoff, and Tatar.”
As Niklas Kronwall suggested last weekend, the Wings believe that they've got a star in the making in DeKeyser...
“I don’t know if people realize what he did this year, coming in from college and playing the way he did,” Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall said of DeKeyser. “I don’t know if you should be able to do that, come in and have that big of a presence.”
It would be wrong to paint the Wings as a Stanley Cup contender at this point, something Holland wasn’t even willing to debate.
“We’re in the game,” Holland said. “My feeling is we’re in the thick of things. We’re not at the top of the heap, but we’re in a pile of teams and there are 24 of us in that pile. You can find the negatives in our program, but I think there are a lot more positives than negatives.”
And while the Wings expect something of a "push" going forward...
“We know there’s more to come from the minors,” Kronwall said. “The younger guys have really proven that they can play at the top level. Just the experience they got in the playoffs is great.”
The changes we're likely to see, save perhaps adding a free agent forward, will involve accommodating the aforementioned players:
“The guys we’ve got coming can’t all play here,” Holland admitted. “But you have assets, so you make the decisions based on what’s best for you.”
As Duff suggests, we can't expect each and every one of the Wings' prospects to develop into superstars, and in that vein, the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe spoke to an ECHL graduate who the Wings will sign to an NHL contract shortly regarding his development while playing for both the Toledo Walleye and Grand Rapids Griffins this past season:
After getting his feet wet in the professional hockey ranks in the ECHL with Toledo last fall, forward Luke Glendening earned lofty praise on the way to winning a American Hockey League championship this season. Glendening started his pro career in Toledo in October and played nearly 30 games for the Walleye before earning a promotion to the AHL as he helped the Grand Rapids Griffins clinch a Calder Cup title on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old finished the postseason ranked sixth among AHL players and first among rookies in points with 16. He scored six goals to go along with 10 assists.
“I think I had an okay rookie year,” he said. “I still have a lot to prove. I can't sit back.”
The native of Grand Rapids, Mich., also helped lead his hometown team to its first title. Glendening tallied 21 points in 27 games for the Walleye. He scored 14 goals and had seven assists. Glendening also was selected to represent Toledo at the ECHL all-star game in January. Instead of playing in the game, he was promoted to the Griffins on Dec. 17.
Toledo Walleye coach Nick Vitucci offered this take on Glendening's "upside"...
"He could also be a fourth-line checker or he could even bump up to the second line,” Vitucci said. “He plays so well away from the puck.”
And Glendening took Wings coach Mike Babcock's effusive praise in stride:
“Obviously those are huge compliments and it means a lot coming from people who have been around the game a long time,” he said. “But there's still a lot of work to be done. They won't give away a spot up there. I have to be ready to work hard. Who knows if I'll ever make it. But I'll keep working.”
Monroe continues and has a chat with Vitucci about Petr Mrazek, too...
One of Glendening's fellow ECHL grads in Trevor Parkes received praise from the Niagara Falls Review's Cory Smith...
The Grand Rapids Griffins won their first American Hockey League title Wednesday and Trevor Parkes was on the ice to hoist the trophy.
The Fort Erie native didn’t play during the Griffins’ playoff run, but had his jersey on for the post-game celebrations after Grand Rapids’ 5-2 win over Syracuse to capture the Calder Cup in six games.
“I’m just real excited for our players who just had an unbelievable amount of determination all year,” Griffins’ first-year coach Jeff Bashill told mlive.com afterwards. “Real excited for our ownership and our organization. A lot of people have given a lot for a long period of time and they should be able to enjoy this."
The 22-year-old forward played 36 games with the Detroit Red Wings’ affiliate this season, scoring three goals and adding six assist. He was a plus-5 and had 35 penalty minutes.
Parkes put up better numbers in the ECHL, where he notched 14 goals and 16 assists in 30 games with the Toledo Walleye. He added three goals and two assists in six playoff games in the ECHL.
But there are players who don't "make it," period, and as it turns out, the Red Wings did NOT sign two members of their 2011 draft class in Phillipe Hudon and Alan Quine.
Quine faced what's become a familiar problem for Red Wings prospects who don't "pan out"--even though he registered 41 points over the course of 28 games played with the OHL's Belleville Bulls (after being acquired in a mid-season trade with the Peterborough Petes), and he bolstered his case for being signed with 15 points over the course of 17 playoff games played, the speedy little center...
Remained "little," with his listed 5'11" and 188-pound stats probably adding an inch and at least fifteen pounds to the equation, and with the Wings brimming with players on their 50-man roster, they didn't need another forward...
So, as the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren found, Quine was working out on Friday, hoping that he'll be picked by another NHL team when he re-enters the draft next weekend:
Quine, 5-11 and 188 pounds and a self-described “two-way player who needs to shoot more,” could be a late-round selection, considering that he posted some big numbers – 14 goals, 27 assists and a plus 29 in only 28 games – after being traded to the Belleville Bulls from the Peterborough Petes last season.
If he’s not chosen, Quine is optimistic he’ll be signed as a free agent, with eyes on at least earning a spot somewhere in the American Hockey League next season.
“I’m not sure what to think, whether it’s better to be drafted or to sign afterwards,” said Quine, who will keep an eye on the draft developments, even though he’s not planning to go to New Jersey. “But it’s a big opportunity for me to prove myself, one way or another. I’m aware of a lot of guys who have gone through situations like this or maybe never even drafted at all. All that matters is that you find a way to prove yourself. Right now, it’s kind of a wait and see thing for me."
He received a taste of the AHL at the end of the 2011-12 season, with one assist in three games with Grand Rapids. He wasn’t, however, part of Grand Rapids run to the Calder Cup title in the spring. Detroit, boasting a full complement of 50 players under contract, opted not to sign Quine on the dotted line.“They have a lot of players in the system, a lot of veteran guys and they did really well (by winning the AHL title),” said Quine. “I have a lot of respect for that organization."
Not everybody makes it. Sometimes we "need to be reminded" that the cold, hard truth of player development isn't about players coming up all roses.
In other news...Regarding another Wings prospect, the Kalamazoo Gazette's David Drew confirms that big, bruising defenseman Mike McKee is going to join the Western Michigan University Broncos after delaying the start of his college career for a season to grind out another scrap-filled year with the USHL's Lincoln Stars.
The 6'4," 245-pound McKee (the stats don't lie there) will turn 20 in August, and he captained the Stars this past season, registering 21 points, a +15 and a staggering 292 penalty minutes over the course of all of 42 games, and it's going to be very interesting to see how he adapts to college hockey given that fighting will get you kicked out of a game;
In news regarding another academic institution, the Michigan Daily's Greg Garno reports that University of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon reported that U of M will have a little bonus in its athletic budget because the NHL will be paying a total of $2.5 million to the school to "borrow" Michigan Stadium for the Winter Classic.
I attended U of M, and if you ever wanted to know what it's like to go to a school that has a bigger budget than most small countries, try these numbers on for size: the athletic department alone spent $137 million and earned $146.4 million in total revenues.
Their entire budget, including academic research, teaching and the operation of the University Health System runs into BILLIONS of dollars of investment and HUNDREDS of millions of dollars in profits. It's a remarkable place to study, and its face is constantly changing as new buildings go up every year, but I was and am a blue-collar kid born in Detroit and raised in Garden City, somebody who was considered "well-off" because my parents could take me to the U.P. on vacation every summer and sent me to Catholic school...
And man, I felt like a *#$%@& fish out of water from my first year at U of M until the day I graduated.
Maybe it was the blue-collar-ness, but while my cousins caddied at the Country Club of Detroit, I learned to believe that golf was a good walk spoiled;
In the plain old "neat find" category, I found an awesome picture of a toothless Gordie Howe in front of a VERY TALL Wings bench (with Alex Delvecchio, Johnny Wilson and visible behind it; I believe the other gent is Metro Prystai). Just click on that link for the big picture. Here's a re-sized version:
I'm going out with a bang here content-wise as I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you read ESPN's Pierre LeBrun's chat with Wings associate coach Tom Renney regarding one Jaromir Jagr. Renney coached Jagr during his tenure with the New York Rangers...
It is a measure of Jaromir Jagr's place in the game, and his complex personality, that much from Tom Renney’s time coaching the Czech star in New York has stayed with the veteran coach through the years.
It is likewise a measure of the two cerebral men that much of what has stayed with Renney is not so much the hockey, but the man himself.
Renney recalled that he and Jagr would have long chats, very little of which would revolve around the game but would include all manner of other topics.
“We'd spend maybe six or seven minutes talking about hockey and then 50 minutes on other stuff. That’s a special relationship to say the least,” Renney told ESPN.com this week. “There’s a real mutual respect there.”
Renney, now an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, has paid close attention to Jagr’s march toward his first Stanley Cup since his second year in the league, with Pittsburgh in 1992. In fact, Renney feels that as much as he might have helped Jagr's career coming out of the 2005-06 lockout, Jagr was a catalyst for Renney’s coaching career.
“He really helped me get traction again as a coach,” Renney said. “It obviously helps when you’re best player is all-in. I think he kind of felt I had his back and he mine."
And I hate to say it, but as I read LeBrun's story--in which LeBrun describes Jagr as an "artist"--I was reminded that Dominik Hasek had a similar personality.
Though Hasek was a little less "manly" than the ever-appearance-conscious Jagr, he was equally a narcissistic, semi-insane perfectionist (okay, Dom's just plain nuts) whose desire to stay in tip-top physical shape through punishing workouts and endlessly tweaking his equipment himself...
Meant that on one Christmas Day, 2007, Al Sobotka had to head down to the Joe and unlock the rink so that Hasek could make Matt Ellis take shots on him for a couple hours.
The Wings have flirted with acquring Jagr for the past two summers, and I'm sure he'll be on the move again this summer, but his ego still needs its own private plane, and I'm not sure that I'd be thrilled to hear that the Jagr circus came to town, especially given the Wings' ups and downs in dealing with Mike Modano (Modano was and is a very good guy, but like Brett Hull, he came to town thinking of himself as a brand name as much as a player).
And finally, the development camp fund is trudging along. I think I'm still about 15% of the way there with two weeks to go. Cross your fingers...
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, and you'll need to use that as the person you're sending $ to.
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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.