The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: Fil gone, Colaiacovo bought out, DET unlikely to pursue big-ticket UFA’s
by George Malik on 07/03/13 at 02:23 AM ET
Okay, let's get down to brass tacks here.
1. The Red Wings swung and missed on Vincent Lecavalier. Why? He wanted five years and a no-trade clause, and he apparently has little concern for the concept that a team that has a shaky defense and no starting goaltender also has no cap space, barring trading Braydon Coburn and putting Chris Pronger on the LTIR, anyway, so what the hell, chase the money and play for a team with some superb offensive talent even though you're going to need a name tag to know who your teammates are in six months, never mind a year.
The Wings had the money, but they didn't want to do anything stupider than already having to deal with the players we're going to talk about next, and as the Free Press's Helene St. James has been telling us from the start, the Wings think Lecavalier's too slow to keep up already, at 33, never mind at 38.
If Colaiacovo clears at noon Thursday, the Red Wings will use one of their two compliance buyouts to shed his $2.5 million salary-cap hit for 2013-14.
Colaiacovo's actual salary for next season is $2.85 million. The Red Wings will owe him two-thirds of that amount (roughly $1.9 million) over the next two seasons. He will become an unrestricted free agent.
The Red Wings do not plan to buy out forward Todd Bertuzzi, who has one year remaining at a cap hit of $2.075 million. Forward Mikael Samuelsson is not eligible for a compliance buyout because of his injury (pectoral muscle). If the Red Wings were to claim he is healthy and attempt to buy him out, Samuelsson could dispute it.
(Bert's staying, yay!)
So the Wings are alleviating a log-jam on defense, probably after finding that there was no interest in Colaiacovo (see: he may be made of glass), leaving the team with Kronwall-Ericsson, Kindl-DeKeyser, Quincey-Smith and Lashoff, unless...
They have no defenseman with the Grans Rapids Griffins who is ready to step into the NHL next season (except Lashoff), which could present an issue if there is an injury or two.
That's why the Red Wings likely will sign a low-cost veteran with NHL experience to a two-way deal, someone they can move back and forth from Grand Rapids.
The free-agent market for defensemen is thin, but the Red Wings might continue exploring trades for a top-pair D-man. They made an offer for Vancouver's Alex Edler at the entry draft but the Canucks didn't move him before his no-trade clause took effect on Monday.
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan also confirms and notes the "made of glass" part...
Colaiacovo, 30, played only six games during the regular season because of a right shoulder injury with one point (an assist).
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness confirms while adding more context to the mix:
As for Mikael Samuelsson, he’s not eligible to be bought out because of his injured pectoral muscle. If the Wings deemed him healthy, Samuelsson, who will make $3 million in the final year of his deal, could dispute it.
With the buyout of Colaiacovo the Wings are in need of a veteran for Grand Rapids for insurance or they could try and swing a trade for a top four defenseman.
The move could also be to clear space so they can pursue Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler. At the NHL Entry Draft on Sunday, Detroit was among several teams to make a pitch to the Canucks for Edler. The Canucks didn’t deal Edler and on July 1 he had a no-trade clause kick in. Edler, 27, begins a new six-year deal at a $5 million salary-cap hit a season.
The Wings were in need of a top four defenseman last offseason after losing Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade) this offseason. Detroit currently has six defensemen under contract for next season.
Brendan Smith is a restricted free agent and will get a deal done bringing the total to seven on the blue line heading to training camp.
The Wings have a number of defensemen coming up through the ranks, including Ryan Sproul, Xavier Oullett and Mattias Backman.
And Adam Almquist.
“He's looking forward to July 5,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Tuesday. “There's a significant difference. That's why it doesn't appear we're positioned to do a deal.”
The Wings made offers to Filppula in August and September before talks broke down. Filppula made $3 million last season and is believed to be asking for about a $2 million raise a year.
“It makes good sense for Fil and his agent to hit July 3 and see what's out there,” said Holland, who last spoke with Filppula’s agent on Monday. “I'll stay in contact with his agent. If it's time to leave, it's time to leave.”
On Wednesday, teams can begin talking to potential unrestricted free agents 48 hours before the official signing period begins on Friday at noon. This is new under the latest collective bargaining agreement, allowing potential free agents and teams time to decide what their best option is.
“When players hit the open market they're probably moving on,” Holland admitted. “Players usually get offers that are better because so many teams are in play. This year is different because of the reduced cap.”
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Talks between general manager Ken Holland and Filppula’s agent have produced little traction, and Filppula likely will begin to field phone calls from other teams with the signing of unrestricted free agents starting Friday.
“One call can change everything,” said Holland, noting he’ll remain in contact with Filppula until Friday’s deadline. “I’ve been around long enough to know that. We’ll see what develops. Is Fil going to hit the market? I don’t know that.”
Filppula had a subpar season, playing in 41 games and finishing with 17 points (nine goals) and a minus-4 rating. He made $3 million last season and is looking for a contract that’ll get him close to $5 million per season.
Holland, however, isn’t going to overpay for anyone, especially with little room on the roster. He continues to negotiate with unrestricted free-agent forwards Damien Brunner (12 goals) and Daniel Cleary (nine goals).
“We have kids ready to play,” Holland said of forwards Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar and defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff, who are likely to be on the opening-night roster after spending last season in Grand Rapids. “We have an internal push. You look at our roster, we’re set in goal, we have a good defense and we have 14 forwards (not counting Filppula, Cleary, Brunner).”
The new rule in the CBA gives teams 48 hours prior to the start of free agency to make a pitch to potential free agents and allows players time to make up their mind is something Wings general maanger Ken Holland likes a lot.
“It’s an opportunity for every team to reach out to unrestricted free agents and make a case,” Holland said. “It’s good for players. In the past players get calls at noon on July 1 and have to make a decision within two hours. That’s a big decision for a player and club. From the club’s perspective, you’d like the opportunity to make contact and tell them about your program. It gives players a chance to hear from a number of teams. It’s a great part of the new CBA.”
A) Clarified the states of the Cleary/Brunner negotiations...
“We’re talking. I think they want to be here,” Holland said of Cleary and Brunner. “We want to keep them."
Although it’s doubtful Filppula will return, the Wings feel they have a good shot of retaining Cleary. The biggest obstacle is the length of the contract. Detroit prefers a two-year deal, while Cleary is seeking at least a three-year contract. If the two sides can come to an agreement on the term of the deal, they each feel confident they can hammer out the money side quickly.
Brunner is an unknown. There really isn’t a market value set for him, so what he’s hearing from other team’s beginning Wednesday will obviously determine whether the Wings can sign the goal-scoring forward or not. It will come down to money with Brunner, and right now the Wings are clueless about Brunner’s asking price or what's a fair amount.
B) And dropped names:
The Wings are planning on contacting several UFAs. Their main objective will be signing a second-line center. At this point, Detroit’s main target is former Plymouth Whalers (OHL)star Stephen Weiss, who has played his entire NHL career with the Florida Panthers. Weiss, 30, is a quality two-way center who's not physical; however, he’s creative, has terrific acceleration, is good on face-offs and has the ability to make players around him better.
There will be many teams after Weiss. If the Wings cannot persuade him to come to Motown, a couple of other names to keep on the radar are Matt Cullen and Mike Ribeiro, although Ribeiro may be too expensive.
Detroit is intrigued by future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. They like Iginla’s game a lot, but some in the Wings organization are concerned that Iginla, at 36 years old, will not be able to play the 200-foot game of going up and down the ice and checking. Of course, Iginla might have little interest in becoming a Red Wing if they reach out to him.
5. At the present moment, the Free Press's Helene St. James confirmed the Twitter reports that David *#$%@& Clarkson wants $6 million per season and that Nathan Horton wants more (think Pavel Datsyuk money; and free snow removal forever):
Vincent Lecavalier will not be joining the Detroit Red Wings, neither will David Clarkson nor Nathan Horton. Stephen Weiss, on the other hand, could be wearing a Wings sweater next season. And defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo will be bought out by the team.
As NHL free agency heats up Wednesday — any unrestricted free agent can talk to any team, although not sign until Friday — the Wings’ focus is shifting more to keeping two of their own guys than bringing in someone new.
Lecavalier, 34, wanted a five-year deal, and got it from the Philadelphia Flyers, at a rate of $4.5 million per season. Clarkson, of New Jersey, is pushing for seven years at a $6 million average; this for a guy who has one 30-goal season to his credit. Boston’s Nathan Horton wants to play in a warm climate. That makes Florida’s Weiss the likeliest new face on the team; he’s a four-time 20-goal scorer who should help the team’s offense.
In terms of the players the Wings want to keep?
General manager Ken Holland is continuing talks with his other two unrestricted free-agent forwards, Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner, and the negotiations are close enough deals could happen. Cleary should come in around three years and $9 million, while Brunner is seeking in the $2.5 million range.
That's a problem, however...
The Wings already have 12 forwards under contract for next season, a number that will grow by two when restricted free agents Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist get new contracts. Depending on what happens with Cleary and Brunner, the Wings may not buy out any forwards. Mikael Samuelsson, 36, and Todd Bertuzzi, 38, both were injured much of last season, but each has just one season left on his contract.
A player like Cory Emmerton is so cheap — $533,333 — that he’s not worth buying out, and he’s also good insurance given the uncertainty surrounding Darren Helm, who missed all of last season because of a sore back. If Helm can’t play, Emmerton would be the fourth line center, with Andersson in the No. 3 spot.
And St. James duly notes that the Grand Rapids Griffins' Calder Cup run has complicated the equation up front, too:
Part of what influences the Wings as they prepare for this coming season is knowing they’ll have three young players pushing for spots in 2014-15, when Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Landon Ferraro are all expected to be ready for the NHL.
6. Oh yeah, by the way, you know about the Tom McCollum not being tendered a qualifying offer stuff?
Not so much.
8. And in terms of other prospects?
7. Why the confusing messages from the front office?
You know the guy who used to run the draft for the Wings? He's probably raided the cupboard.
8. And what are the Wings' messages given the fact that the vast majority of their cap space may be gobbled up by re-signing their 3 restricted free agents in Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Brendan Smith, retaining Brunner and/or Cleary, and probably adding Weiss?
Well, Wings coach Mike Babcock offered this take on the cap going down from $70.2 million to $64.3 million to the AP's Larry Lage, who penned something of a free agency primer (so did WXYZ's Brad Galli)...
“It’s great to have players out there,” Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told AP, “but you have to have money to spend.”
And then there's this:
Free agency won’t be limited to the bought-out bunch. In addition to Horton and Ribeiro, there are other unrestricted forwards such as Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne, Jarome Iginla, Patrik Elias and David Clarkson — unless any of them sign with their old teams by the end of Thursday.
“It’s rare to find a star in his prime in free agency because those guys get signed to long-term contracts before they can hit the market,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “But there are some secondary players and some past-their-prime guys that are battling Father Time that can help you.”
Okay, so what the *#$%@& are the Red Wings thinking?
My theory goes something like this:
1. The team tried to leak that, "We're going to be aggressive with player movement! Goodbye Sammy, Bert, Tootoo, Emmerton, etc. etc!" stuff a couple weeks ago. It came to the draft and found out that the vast majority of teams wanted to wait until at least the start of free agency to go through the same-old-same-old, even if meant putting their teams in cap trouble;
2. The team was made wary of over-reacting to cover its own ass by last summer's moves + the surprising youth movement = "Shit, we have to buy out Colaiacovo and Sammy's suddenly sprained his ovaries, which is apparently legal in contesting a buyout, so we're still trying to dig our asses out from under that" stuff going on;
3. Given the success of the youth movement, given the Griffins' Calder Cup run, given the fact that the team's keeping Datsyuk, and given that it still doesn't know whether Helm or Bertuzzi will be healthy...
4. And given that the team is indeed loyal to its own players to a fault (Cleary, McCollum, Axelsson)...
5. A management team that is in flux has decided to go the safe route yet again, choosing to perhaps even exceed the salary cap to bring an over-built team reinforced with ONLY ONE free agent signing--essentially, finding Filppula's replacement--and a gaggle of forwards into training camp and the exhibition season, where it will allow the glut up front to work itself out via players out-performing each other, other teams in cap trouble suffering injuries that require cheap replacement players, and...
6. Going into the 2013-2014 season determined to minimize the expensive, stupid mistakes that will handicap it cap-wise or roster-wise over the long haul, if they make any stupid mistakes at all.
So the Red Wings' management will be over-cautious, over-loyal and will over-build its roster yet again. So the Red Wings' management will miss out on the big-ticket free agents because they want what the Wings have deemed to be too much money at players who are riskier investments than the players the team already has or has in the system.
They'll go hard after Weiss and maybe Jagr or Iginla, but that's it. They don't want to *#$%@& over the next five years for a quick fix.
I don't necessarily agree with this philosophy, but it appears to have taken hold as it usually does at this time of year...
And, honestly, folks, if Clarkson wants Filppula-desired money and Horton wants more + free snow removal service forever, well...
Throwing money at those guys makes as much sense as giving Lecavalier what he wanted, and the Flyers are never going to win a Stanley Cup because their personnel is a revolving door and no matter how hard they work, they never seem to address their glaring needs on defense or in goal.
Lecavalier chose money, and the Flyers throw money around like it's going out of style. The Red Wings don't do that, for better or worse, and that certainly doesn't make fans happy...
The team's trying to find as many in-house solutions to its problems as possible, and, unlike the Flyers, they actually made the playoffs this past season.
At least they try to be consistent more often than not.
Update: I am dippy.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
- The Wings' website posted pre-draft profiles of Zach Nastasiuk and Anthony Mantha;
- The Wings' ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye, received two league awards as their president, Joe Napoli, was named the executive of the year and their marketing team was named the league's best;
- And Wings draft pick Adam Pope told the West Kelowna Warriors' website that he's delighted to have been picked by the Wings:
West Kelowna Warriors forward David Pope was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday as the Wings made Pope their fourth round selection, picking Pope with the 109th selection at the draft.
Pope is the third Warrior in seven years of existence to be drafted to the NHL, joining Edmonton Oiler Justin Schultz, and Cam Reid who was drafted by the Nashville Predators and currently plays for the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.
“It really is a dream come true,” said Pope. “Detroit was my favorite team growing up, and (Pavel) Datsyuk is my favorite player. When you get drafted by a team like Detroit that really means a lot. I know I have to work hard, and hopefully become the player they envision me becoming.”
Pope was a dominating forward in the BCHL last season. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, he will return for his third season with the Warriors this fall, already armed with a a scholarship to Nebraska-Omaha for 2014-15.
Pope notched 17 goals, and 22 assists on 42 games with West Kelowna last year.
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