Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report-type thing: Memorial Cup talk, charitable hockey news, etc

In seven hours, Team USA will kick off the World Championships' quarterfinals against Jakub Kindl's Czechs, and while NBCSN will air the game on tape delay at 9:30 AM EDT, NBC Sports' Live Extra claims that it's going to air both US-CZE game live at 9 AM and the other quarterfinals (Gustav Nyquist and Sweden battle Belarus at 2 PM EDT)...

But I'm going to make a slightly too-honest admission here: you may be better off watching a slightly fuzzier semi-legal stream as it won't be interrupted by commercials during game play (depending on luck, seriously). Also: Swedish commercials are awesome and the Russians sure know how to get excited.

As Wednesday's news cycle included Griffins locker room clean-out-day news, superb videos from Red Wings TV and a Henrik Zetterberg interview with Mitch Albom--and an updated recap of Tyler Bertuzzi's two-goal performance at the Memorial Cup, this morning's stories are, let's say eclectic.

The Free Press's Helene St. James noted that Anthony Mantha and Bertuzzi may or may not be on a collision course for Sunday's championship game, depending on whether Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs win Friday's semifinal game against the Edmonton Oil Kings...

Sunday’s opponent could be the Val-d’Or Foreurs, home of prize Wings draft pick Anthony Mantha. The Foreurs earned themselves a spot in Friday’s semifinal with a 4-3 double-overtime victory Tuesday against the Edmonton Oil Kings. Val-d’Or will play either the Knights or the Edmonton Oil Kings, the team the Foreurs beat in the overtime game.

Mantha, 19, had one assist Tuesday, giving him three points (one goal) after three games. He had 24 goals and 14 assists in 24 playoff games after a regular-season performance of 120 points (57 goals) in 57 games.

The Wings drafted Mantha with the 20th overall pick last summer, trading down two spots from their original 18th pick when it became clear Mantha would remain available. The Wings swapped their first-round pick with San Jose for the Sharks’ 20th and 58th picks, the latter of which was used on Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi, 19, had three goals after two games. The OHL playoff champion Storm looks like an early favorite to win the four-team tournament, having beaten its first two opponents, QMJHL playoff champs Val-d’Or, 6-3, and then following up with a 5-2 victory against Edmonton, the WHL playoff champs.

But you may not know that Mantha was nearly traded from Val-d'Or as GM Alexandre Rouleau was under significant pressure to maximize his return for a superstar playing in his final year of Major Junior Hockey and to re-stock the team for the future.

Rouleau explained his rationale for hanging onto Mantha and adding players to the Foreurs instead--moves that obviously paid off given that the Foreurs won the QMJHL championship--over the course of a conversation with the London Free Press's Ryan Pyette:

“I felt like I had a lot of pressure, even from journalists and media,” said the 30-year-old former Pittsburgh prospect, now in his second season steering the Foreurs. “They said it could be good for your organization to trade him and (now-injured defenceman Guillaume) Gelinas. You could hit the jackpot and start rebuilding.”

Instead, they went after Charlottetown's star goalie Antoine Bibeau, surrendering top draft picks to take their shot.

“Our thinking was more about our young guys will learn if we win something,” Rouleau said. “We have 17- and 18-year-olds on the second line and the experience they're getting is priceless. They will bring something next year to the table that you cannot get from trading players. We're happy with our decision.”


Val d'Or is one of the smaller Canadian Hockey League communities. Guelph is trying to battle for position annually with London, Kitchener and Windsor. To run with the big boys, there's a price to be paid and risks to be weighed.

“I didn't want to send away any of our young guys,” Rouleau said. “The new ownership in Val d'Or has been there for two years. I wanted a decent team for the next few years and that's why I was really careful with our young players.”




In the participatory hockey vein, Jimmy Howard answered a boatload of questions while "taking over" Vaughn Hockey's Twitter account, and his conversation with fans is worth reading, and if you happen to find yourself in Madison, Wisconsin in late June, the Madison State Journal's Andy Baggot reports that you will be able to take in a charity hockey game chock full of University of Wisconsin alums, including Brendan Smith:

The Blake Geoffrion Hockey Classic will be staged at 6:30 p.m. June 27 at LaBahn Arena. Tickets for the exhibition game, featuring a host of prominent NHL players who were standouts for the Badgers, will go on sale Friday at the UW Athletic Department website (http://www.uwbadgers.com).

Geoffrion won the Hobey Baker Award as a senior center for the Badgers in 2010 — it’s been given to the best player in college hockey since 1981 — but he saw his pro career end prematurely due to a head injury suffered in an American Hockey League game in 2012.

Since then Geoffrion, 26, served as an NHL scout for the Columbus Blue Jackets and recently took a job in Chicago working for an executive recruiting firm.

This project has roots back to when Geoffrion attended UW and played for the Badgers from 2006 to 2010. At the annual behest of UW coach Mike Eaves, Geoffrion and his teammates made routine volunteer visits to sick children at the various medical facilities on campus.


Since so many UW players have taken part in the hospital visits Geoffrion said he had no trouble getting commitments from NHL players and alums such as Adam Burish (San Jose), Brian Elliott (St. Louis), Tom Gilbert (Florida), Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers), Justin Schultz (Edmonton), Jack Skille (Columbus), Brendan Smith (Detroit), Craig Smith (Nashville) and Ryan Suter (Minnesota).

“That speaks to the great memories they have in Madison and their generosity in giving back to the community,” Eaves said in a statement.

Geoffrion said he has 24 players signed up with another five to seven pending. He said a surprise or two could come to life if schedules permit.




In the "business of hockey" department, as Paul noted, Shrapned's James A. Conley reported that the salary cap's upper limit may end up in the $69-70 million range instead of $71 million, and even though the Red Wings theoretically have $19-20 million in Capgeek-estimated cap space for the upcoming season, the team has to re-sign restricted free agents Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser, the Wings may or may not promote Petr Mrazek, Pavel Datsyuk's cap hit bumps up to $7.5 million, and if Daniel Alfredsson returns and the Wings pursue a unrestricted free agent defenseman, that cap space disappears in a hurry.




And finally, in "You Can't Make This Up" news, the Ottawa Citizen's Michael Woods reports that the city of Ottawa's naming three streets after Swedish cities--Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo--and both Erik Karlsson and a certain Alfredsson happen to hail from Gothenburg.



Please let me know if you want me to post a World Championship Quarterfinal open post, because I can easily do so if you wish.

See you in six hours.

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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.