Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: Welcome to the Big Red Machine, Danny DeKeyser

Updated 2x at 4:53 AM: I know that my fellow members of the ever-twitchy Red Wings nation spent all of five minutes celebrating the Red Wings' signing of Danny DeKeyser before wondering what the team will do about Valtteri Filppula and whether the team can make playoff-strengthening moves at the trade deadline given Ken Hollad's comments to NHL.com's Brian Hedger (cue: Pavel Datsyuk's future and extending Jimmy Howard and Damien Brunner as well).

I'm sure that Holland, Jim Nill and the Wings' braintrust (Nick Barnowski reported that capologist Ryan Martin was in Grand Rapids to watch University of Minnesota defenseman Ben Marshall play in the NCAA regionals) spent about five minutes celebrating a signing that SI's Allan Muir accurately described was a "water is also wet" move to the rest of the hockey world before catching the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 loss to Anaheim and the now playoff-bubble-bound Columbus Blue Jackets' 6-4 win over Calgary(!)...

But I hope that Holland and Nill at least cracked a couple of beers and toasted what Red Wings fans thought was a sure "miss" on a "can't-miss prospect." As far as Red Wings fans are concerned, DeKeyser's signing proves that there's still an allure to playing for the Wings, a "cachet," if you will, that hasn't quite faded despite Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement, and that's a huge relief.

As for DeKeyser, Holland and Nill told the Wings' press that he'll take part in the Wings' Saturday practice ahead of Sunday's matinee against Chicago and back-to-back tilt against Phoenix, but the team won't rush him into action...

And really and honestly, that's the whole point here, and may have been the "tipping point" as to why DeKeyser.

We were all told took his equipment with him to Newport Sports Management's offices in Toronto, and we all know that, over the past week, he was wined and dined by the Edmonton Oilers (and billionaire owner Darryl Katz), Nashville Predators (with coach Barry Trotz making the trip), St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs (they entertained him in a suite during a Leafs game) and probably another half-dozen teams.

Those teams took a NCAA-playing defenseman that's never been able to so much as keep a hockey stick from the Wings' rookie camp two summers ago to incredibly fancy dinners, probably gave him a nice Rolex or two, some personalized jerseys, other "perks" and, most importantly, promises that his $3.75 million cap-hit contract would also include a promise of playing top-four minutes immediately upon his signing--and thanks to TPL Hockey for confirming his cap hit.

That's a lot to think about, so it's not surprising that DeKeyser took his sweet-ass time deciding which team to join, and TPL Hockey also told us that DeKeyser's delay involved thoroughly calling back the teams he visited with to thank them for their offers and personally inform them of his decision.

So what's a 23-year-old defenseman ready to don #65 to do this morning?

Most certainly, he'll be swarmed by the media, praising the "local boy does good" and asking how to pronounce his name.

Given that he wore Bauer gear in college, I'm sure that a Bauer rep will soon be in town to fit him for new gloves, new custom-made sticks and gloves, and the Easton, Warrior and Reebok-CCM reps will also likely promise DeKeyser a few thousand bucks and/or some golf clubs for wearing their gear, too.

He'll take his NHL "mugshot."

But after that?

Holland and Nill stated that DeKeyser will remain with the team, but he'll practice and not play for at least a week. He'll take part in day-to-day activities, sit in on meetings, get acclimated to the Wings' training and nutritional regimens, and he'll enjoy rides on Red Bird III when the team heads to Phoenix next Thursday and Coloardo on Friday (acclimating to NHL travel as well as the NHL pace of practice and play), with the flight attendants learning exactly what DeKeyser likes to eat on flights so that his favorite foods are ready for him when he boards the plane.

He'll probably have a roommate on the road trip to ease his transition, and we all know that the Wings' leadership will provide ears to bend and shoulders to lean upon if he feels overwhelmed.

Mike Babcock won't play DeKeyser to play him, however, and after DeKeyser deals with the initial rush of family-and-friends ticket requests and expectations, the Wings' goal is to make him feel like a part of the team and a part of the Big Red Machine.

No top-four minutes off the bat.

No expectations to step in and play like the Brad Stuart-with-offensive chops that he's projected to be.

No promises to fans that the 23-year-old with no pro experience is a franchise savior, but instead, suggestions that he's going to help the team down the line, and as he develops and earns playing time.

And if DeKeyser wants to know what kind of road he faces in terms of fulfilling his fans and team's expectations, he needs to look to Texas.

Why?

Calle Jarnkrok, the crown jewel in the Red Wings' prospect pipeline, spent Friday playing his second game in two nights with the Grand Rapids Griffins, going scoreless and taking two shots in the team's 3-2 win over Houston (Jarnkrok also went scoreless in Thursday's 4-1 loss to San Antonio).

Then he, sent-for-conditioning Carlo Colaiacovo (no points, two shots) and the rest of the Griffins boarded a bus to endure a 175-mile trip to Cedar Park, where the Griffins will play their third game in three nights, tangling with the Texas Stars tonight.

As Holland told Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom, if Jarnkrok (I'm guessing that he'll attend Sunday and Monday's games, watching the Wings skate in Gordie Howe commemorative jerseys during Sunday's warm-ups) doesn't look strong enough for North American hockey after his 9-game stint with the team ends on April 14th (the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation wants Jarnkrok to play for the Swedish National Team in the Sweden-and-Helsinki-based World Championships), the Wings will send Jarnkrok right back to Brynas IF for another season.

Ditto for Teemu Pulkkinen, whose breakway goal (clicky for YouTube highlights) in Game 5 of Jokerit Helsinki's first-round loss to Lukko Rauma and his slick playmaking in Jokerit's Game 6 loss may make him look NHL-ready to the untrained eye.

And as you and I already know, Tomas Tatar's still in Grand Rapids, Gustav Nyquist's playing on the fourth line, Petr Mrazek's slated to play another year in Grand Rapids, Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff received a somewhat derisive, "That's a lesson for them" from Mike Babcock when their d-to-d pass resulted in the Sharks' 2-0 goal on Thursday, and Babcock's only recently started to praise Joakim Andersson for slowly but surely turning into a 3rd-line stalwart center.

The Red Wings' top prospects are part of the Big Red Machine.

Nothing's given to them other than some of the best owner-and-management treatment in the NHL, and expectations are always tempered with, "It's going to take some time for them to get big enough, strong enough and earn their ice time. We believe they'll be a big part of our future, but we're not going to rush them for the sake of rushing them" statements from the coaching and management staff--sometimes repeated to the point of nausea-inducing triteness.

As you and I already know, the Wings only reluctantly embraced a youth movement this year. The team assumed that Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm, Mikael Samuelsson and Carlo Colaiacovo would be playing the Nyquist/Tatar, Andersson, Justin Abdelkader and Brian Lashoff roles, the team thought that Jonas Gustavsson would be healthy, and it had no idea that its cavalcade of injuries and man-games lost would force it to accept younger players playing in prominent roles...

But even this youth movement's been slow and steady, just like Exhibit B to Jarnkrok's A, Jakub Kindl. Kindl was drafted 19th overall in 2005, and at the beginning of the season, we all thought that he was destined for the waiver wire, but the Wings were patient with him, and Kindl's finally started to look like a top-four defenseman at the tender age of 26.

He's part of the Big Red Machine, and he's earned his breaks, slowly but steadily over time.

DeKeyser will probably develop on a much faster timeline than Kindl or even Jarnkrok, but he's going to have to earn every millimeter of his playing time and role on the team, and in the interim, even though he's a "hometown kid done good," his family and his fans are going to have to wait and see what happens over the balance of this season, because he may not wear a jersey with arched letters on the back (i.e. a regular season or playoff game jersey as opposed to training camp's straight-letter font jerseys) until next season.

That's why Detroit was the perfect fit for DeKeyser all along, and that's why I believe he'll succeed here.

No Fabian Brunnstrom or Ville Leino or Justin Schultz-like expectations. Just shut up, learn, get bigger and stronger and acclimate to pro hockey.

He is no franchise savior.

He's a part of the master plan.

A part of the machine.

As my aunt suggested when I told her a less wordy version of this sequence of events: "OH! So he's becoming part of the Red Wings Borg!"

That ain't a bad thing.

Now I'm gonna get out of the way and let the MSM tell the tale, starting with the Windsor Star's Jim Parker:

The options were limitless for Dan DeKeyser, an undrafted late-blooming defensive de-fenceman who spent the last several days entertaining pitches from a string of NHL teams. In the end, the native of Macomb, Mich., elected to sign a two-year, entry-level contract as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings, a team rebuilding a defence that lost its foundation when seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom retired last year.

The Red Wings also went into the truncated 2013 season without veteran blue-liner Brad Stuart, having traded the pending free agent to the San Jose Sharks in June.

DeKeyser spent the last three years at Western Michigan University, claiming the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's defensive defence-man honours two years running.

DeKeyser had several ties to the Red Wings. For starters, he played under Jeff Blashill for one season and played youth hockey with the son of assistant general manager Jim Nill. Blashill is a former Red Wings assistant who is now coaching the club's American Hockey League affiliate, Grand Rapids Griffins.

DeKeyser will join the Red Wings immediately and remain with the club through the rest of the regular season, but he's not expected to play Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks (12: 30 p.m., NBC, live chat at windsorstar. com). General manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press that DeKeyser needed practice time.

"We're trying to rebuild the defence," Holland said. "He's a rangy, mobile guy. We're very, very happy to add him to our club."

Cue the Free Press's Helene St. James' conversation with Holland:

"We're happy," general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press. "You're always looking for defensemen. We're trying to rebuild the defense, and he's 6-foot-3. He's a rangy, mobile guy. He capped off his season by winning best defenseman in the CCHA. We like him."

DeKeyser, 23, was born in Maccomb and graduated from De La Salle High School. He became an unrestricted free agent last weekend when his Western Michigan career ended with the Broncos being shut out of the NCAA tournament. He was never drafted, and thus was wooed by many clubs who saw a chance to add an NHL-ready player - days before the trade deadline - for nothing more than an entry-level contract.

Holland said DeKeyser will be at practice Saturday, but he won't play Sunday when the Wings host the Blackhawks, or Monday against the Avalanche.

"He needs to practice," Holland said. "I would say that at the pro level, he's a defensive defenseman. He's got to get stronger. He'll be with us the rest of the regular season. When he plays is up to Mike Babcock, but we're not holding tryouts. We're trying to make the playoffs. Danny understands that we're in a playoff race."

DeKeyser's biggest asset is his mobility. He's been on the radar of many an NHL scout since last year, and several in the Wings organization have kept a close eye on him. They've been impressed with how he's grown into his frame, and his maturity.

"We're very, very happy to add him to our club," Holland said.

The Wings don't expect DeKeyser to become a star, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted--they expect him to be a Brad Stuart-style defenseman:

"We want him to stay with us the rest of the season, we think it'll be a good learning experience," general manager Ken Holland said.

Beginning Thursday, a day after the trade deadline, NHL teams can carry an unlimited roster (similar to September in major league baseball). DeKeyser will continue to practice with the Red Wings, and Holland feels DeKeyser could ultimately play in a game.

"I like his size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), I like his range, I like his skating ability, I like his age (23)," Holland said. "We feel he can turn into a good shut-down defenseman."

DeKeyser, 23, played in 118 games at WMU scoring 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists) with 107 penalty minutes. Money wasn't a factor in this decision. All 30 NHL teams could only offer the same, standard entry-level contract. It was up to DeKeyser to choose.

"When you have a local guy who wants to play for you and stay in the area, you want him to play for your team," Holland said.

Here's what Holland and Nill ahd to say to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...

“He hasn’t skated for about two weeks,” Holland said. “If Mike Babcock chooses to use him in a game along the way it’s Mike’s decision. Certainly Danny understands we’re fighting for a playoff spot and we’re not holding tryouts. It’s a competition.

“Is he going to play, I don’t know,” Holland continued. “We need wins. We’re not putting people out there in position where they’re quite not prepared for the opportunity. He needs to practice every day. Let’s put him on the ice every day, practice him for four or five days and let Mike Babcock decide if he’s going to play. We think the experience of being in the NHL, practicing every day with the likes of (Henrik) Zetterberg and being with Mike Babcock and somewhere down the road if he goes into the lineup, like we’re hoping, and then from there we’ll see.”

Pressure to deliver off the bat? Not much. But landing DeKeyser

“Anytime you can add a young, Grade A prospect to your team, it’s pretty good,” Jim Nill said. “He’s a free agent that could go anywhere and he decided to come to us. If you can add a young defenseman that doesn’t cost you any assets, that’s important.

“I think a lot of it is he’s from here,” Nill added about why he thought DeKeyser chose Detroit. “He grew up here. The Detroit Red Wings have always been his favorite team. To be able to play in front of your family and friends, that’s huge. That’s got a lot to do with it.”

Cue the master plan--and this stuff is good:

“We’re excited,” Holland said. “He’s 6-foot-3. He’s a great skater, very mobile. At the pro level we see him as a real good defensive solid D-man. He’s gotten better every year in college hockey. He was the CCHA defenseman of the year. He can pass the puck. And like all the younger players he’s got to get stronger. We’ve got Xavier Ouellet coming and Ryan Sproul turning pro next year so we’re slowly trying to turn our defense from the Nick Lidstrom era to maybe not superstars, but certainly a lot of defensemen that are really good and solid NHL D-men,” Holland added.

...

“We’re in the process of developing another corps of D after losing the Rafalskis, Lidstroms and Stuarts so there’s better opportunity here,” Holland said. “He’s a year older. He’s more mature and it’s a great fit. I’m happy we’re able to land him. Giving the relationships that were involved I was really hopeful that he would choose to stay home and play for his hometown team and he has done just that.”

Ditto, Holland and Nill told MLive's Brendan Savage:

"That's one of the things that's exciting for us," said Jim Nill, the Red Wings assistant general manager. "We've got kind of a young corps that's growing up together. That's how you become a really good team. You go back over the years when there was (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Sergei) Fedorov, (Steve) Yzerman, all these young kids coming together. That's how you build championship teams. We're excited about the opportunity of these guys coming together."

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound DeKeyser chose the Red Wings over at least seven other teams before agreeing to terms on a two-year contract that will pay him $925,000 in the NHL and $75,000 if he goes to Grand Rapids of the AHL.

...

There was speculation that DeKeyser wanted to a guaranteed a spot in the NHL – "they all do," Holland said – before he made his decision. But the Red Wings were able to offer him one thing nobody else could: The opportunity to play on the team he rooted for as a kid.

...

"He's 6-foot-3," Nill said. "He's got great size and range. He's got a long stick. He's a very good skater for his size. He knows what his game is. He's very good in his own end, defends well. He doesn't try to do too much."

That said, there's plenty of room for improvement in making the jump to the NHL.

"Like every young kid, it's a big step," Nill said. "You're going from college hockey to the best league in the world, the NHL. You think you're ready for it but until you experience it you don't know how good it is. Along with that, every time we talk about young prospects, usually one thing we talk about is strength. That's something he's going to start working on right away. Other than that, just come in and get used to the pace of the game."

And this part, you'll really like:

Nill said the Red Wings haven't discussed whose spot DeKeyser will take if he's added to the roster. He said that will depend on their injury situation. Nill also said landing DeKeyser won't have an impact on how active the Red Wings are before next week's trade deadline.

 

Otherwise, this morning's news regarding the big club involves injuries, as noted by Pleiness...

Wings general manager Ken Holland didn’t know if forwards Johan Franzen (lower-body) or Mikael Samuelsson (broken index finger) would be available for Sunday’s home game with the Chicago Blackhawks. Franzen will see a doctor Saturday after getting injured in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks and missing the entire third period.

Samuelsson has been cleared to return, but now it’s just a matter of conditioning.

And Savage:

Franzen left with what the club called a lower-body injury and was examined when the Red Wings arrived home late Friday afternoon. Franzen missed seven games last month with a hip flexor injury. Assistant general manager Jim Nill said the Red Wings would have a better handle on Franzen's prognosis Saturday, when they practice at Joe Louis Arena.

His status for Sunday's game against Chicago is uncertain but Nill said the Red Wings will definitely be without defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo against the Blackhawks even though Colaiacovo will be rejoining the club after being sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins for a conditioning stint.

"The game plan is he's going to play two games (in Grand Rapids)" Nill said. "He'll play tonight and tomorrow night and come back Sunday. He won't play Sunday. That would be three games in three nights."

Ahem, part II:

 

Franzen's outlook could have an impact on what the Red Wings do before next week's trade deadline. The trade deadline is Wednesday and the Red Wings' injury situation could play a factor in how active they are on the trade front.

"We come to work every day trying to get better," Nill said. "We're going to be open to seeing what's available. We're not going to give up a bunch of assets unless we think it's for something that's going to add to our team. It's been a tough year because we've never really had our full team. We're starting to slowly get to that point.  Once we get healthy, we'll know more. We're just going to watch the team over the next few games as we get close to the deadline and see what's available."

The Wings spent Friday flying back to Detroit from San Jose, so this is the only other piece of Red Wings-related information I could find, from the Detroit Free Press (no author listed):

Is it April in the D already?

Well, almost, as Fox Sports Detroit gets ready for the start of its annual April promotion, when it’s just a great time to be a sports fan here.

It heralds the start of the Tigers’ season — Monday at Minnesota — and the final days of the Pistons’ and Red Wings’ regular seasons, all teams whose games are on FSD.

To mark the occasion, FSD is putting up life-sized bobbleheads of Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Nicklas Lidstrom and Kris Draper at various spots downtown.

Miggy and J.V.’s bobbleheads are in the Jefferson Lobby of the GM Renaissance Center, Monroe’s is at the Rosa Parks Transit Center, Knight’s is at Campus Martius, Draper’s is at Grand Circus Park, and Lidstrom’s is at Rivard Plaza/Riverfront.

I hope that FSD doesn't go with a "FSD Girl" promotion and instead decides to hold a contest to replace Larry Murphy, starring contestant #1, Larry Murphy, and contestant #2, Larry Murphy's glasses.

 

 

In the prospect department, Nick Jensen and Saint Cloud State University will tangle with Notre Dame today at the NCAA regionals in Toledo (1:30 PM EDT, ESPN3), but the University of Minnesota and Ben Marshall had a rough go in Grand Rapids, dropping a 3-2 overtime decision to Yale University.

USCHO's Katie Carito, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner (with a photo gallery) and the Associated Press provide recaps, with the AP noting that Marshall had a rough night:

Jesse Root scored 9 seconds into overtime to give fourth-seeded Yale a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Minnesota in the NCAA West Regional semifinals Friday.

Kenny Agostino intercepted Minnesota defenseman Ben Marshall's pass behind the net and feed Root for his 10th goal of the season.

"It was a good forecheck by Kenny," Root said. "He stole the puck from the guy and passed it to me."

Marshall tried to swing the puck along the boards.

"Kenny put a lot of pressure on the guy and took the puck," Yale coach Keith Allain said. "He got him on a good angle and I knew (Marshall) was in trouble."

Yahoo Sports' Ryan Lambert posted both a recap and clip of the OT goal:

 

 

In Canadian Hockey League playoff action, Xavier Ouellet didn't register a point, but the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada defeated Acadie-Bathurst 3-2 to advance to the second round of the QMJHL playoffs;

Phillipe Hudon scored goals 1 and 2 as the Victoriaville Tigres rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Moncton 3-2 in OT, advancing to the second round of the QMJHL playoffs in 5 games, just like the Armada.

Yahoo Sports' Mike Sanderson named Hudon his first star of the night:

No. 1 star: Philippe Hudon, Victoriaville Tigres: The Tigres shocked the QMJHL world Friday night by eliminating the Moncton Wildcats 3-2 in overtime, and Red Wings prospect Philippe Hudon was at the center of it, scoring two goals for Victoriaville.

Philippe Maillet scored the winner at :32 of overtime to drop the Wildcats to the canvas. Dmitrij Jaskin and Alex Saulnier scored for Moncton. Twin brother Allain Saulnier had two assists. Blackhawks prospect Brandon Whitney earned the win in net, making 31 saves.

Hudon also had three hits. He finished the five game set with six points, including five goals to lead the Tigres in goals.

The 13-seed Tigres dropped the sixth seed Wildcats by taking advantage of three games at home with a 2-3-2 format, sweeping the three home games after taking a split in Moncton. The Tigres were outshot in every game, but played the underdog card perfectly, keeping the Moncton shots to the outside, waiting for their chances and taking advantage of them.

Victoriaville will move on to play either the top-seed Halifax Mooseheads or the second-seed Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the next round.

In the OHL, Ryan Sproul's time with the Soo Greyhounds came to an end on Friday. He scored a game-tying 2-2 goal but the Greyhounds dropped a 5-3 decision to the Owen Sound Attack, losing their first round series in six games.

In the strange one-off NCAA-eligibility-extending league called the BCHL, James DeHaas didn't register a point, but the Penticton Vees defeated the West Kelowna Warriors 6-4 to open their second-round playoff series with a win;

 

In regular season play, in the AHL, as previously noted, neither Carlo Colaiacovo nor Calle Jarnkrok registered a point in the Grand Rapids Griffins' 3-2 win over the Houston Aeros.

The Griffins played without Louis-Marc Aubry, who was suspended for one game for an "illegal check to the head" in Grand Rapids' Thursday night loss to San Antonio.

The Griffins' website provides a recap and a photo gallery:

Led by a pair of goals and an assist by captain Jeff Hoggan, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Houston Aeros 3-2 on Friday at the Toyota Center.

Hoggan put the Griffins (38-22-3-3) on the scoreboard just 29 seconds into the first period. Jan Mursak skated behind Houston’s goal and made a great pass to Hoggan, who was moving up the near side. The left wing picked up the pass 15 feet from the goal and snapped it home past goaltender Cody Reichard.

The Aeros (33-23-5-5) scored twice within 19 seconds to take a two-goal lead early in the opening period. Justin Fontaine found Chad Rau and the Eden Prairie, Minn., native snuck his shot past Tom McCollum for a power play goal at 5:29.

Nineteen seconds later, Jason Zucker found Nick Petersen in the slot, and the right wing blew his shot past McCollum to give the Aeros a 2-1 lead.

Hoggan scored his second goal of the game at 7:49 of the first period to tie the game at two. Reichard blocked the Griffins’ first shot but couldn’t control the puck in front of the goal, and Hoggan quickly scooped up the puck and slipped it through the goaltender’s pads.

After a scoreless second period, Chad Billins broke the 2-2 tie at 17:59 of the final period. Reichard deflected the first shot by Grand Rapids and as the puck trickled past him, Billins swooped in and tapped it home. The goal gave the Griffins a 3-2 victory that they wouldn’t lose.

Reichard stopped 33 of 36 shots while McCollum earned the victory behind 27 saves.

The Griffins will stay in Texas as they wrap up their three-in-three against the Texas Stars tomorrow at 8 p.m. EDT.

If you're interested, the Houston Aeros' website and the Houston Chronicle's Heather Galindo also provide recaps, and I checked out SendtoNews.com but couldn't find a highlight clip.

In the ECHL, Willie Coetzee registered a goal and 3 assists, Trevor Parkes had a goal and 2 assists and Jordan Pearce was pulled from the Toledo Walleye's 8-5 win over the Wheeling Nailers (Pearce gave up 4 goals on 12 first-period shots).

The Walleye's win came in their last game of the regular season, and as they're locked into 7th place in the ECHL's Eastern Conference, they're probably going to play the Cincinnati Cyclones in the first round of the ECHL playoffs.

 

 

And finally...

As Paul noted, the damn Islanders re-signed Lubomir Visnovsky, who was probably one of the Wings' main trade deadline targets;

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported that the Calgary Flames are asking for "an immediate asset in return" for Jay Bouwmeester...

The Calgary Flames don’t have to necessarily move him -- he’s got one more year left on his deal (at $6.6 million), so he’s not a pending unrestricted free agent forcing the NHL club to seek immediate asset return. But since the face of the franchise, Jarome Iginla, has been dealt, anything is possible now in Calgary.

"I think they move Bouwmeester," one NHL team executive told ESPN.com Friday. "But they want a lot for him."

As they should, frankly. He’s not a rental player and, at 29, he’s in the prime of his career. He’s a top pairing blueliner and those don’t come around easily in this league.

Central Division rivals Detroit and St. Louis are teams that have interest in Bouwmeester, no question. The Blues crave a top-4, left-handed blueliner who can play alongside either right-handed stud Alex Pietrangelo or Kevin Shattenkirk.

But Bouwmeester’s salary could be an issue for a Blues team which has a number of core players to re-sign this summer: RFAs such as Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart, not to mention UFA Andy McDonald.

Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk alone are due for healthy raises.

The new CBA, however, provides for teams to "retain salary in trades." If the Blues could get the Flames to eat some of that Bouwmeester salary in return for paying the asset price that Calgary wants, well, I guess that’s a possibility.

The Red Wings don’t need anyone to pay anyone’s salary -- that’s not an issue. It’s all about the asking price from the Flames and whether Detroit could live with giving up that kind of asset package -- whatever it might be.

Uh, yes, Pierre, the Wings will re-sign Jimmy Howard shortly, they're going to re-sign Damien Brunner, they have to decide whether to re-sign fellow UFA's-to-be Valtteri Filppula (he won't be traded unless the Wings get a player in return), Danny Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White, and Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl and Joakim Andersson will all be restricted free agents coming off their entry-level contracts this summer...

And as soon as DeKeyser becomes more than an honorary Wing, that $3.75 million pro-rated salary is on the books--though Capgeek.com believes that the Wings can add as much as $31.7 in aggregate salaries at the trade deadline (we all wish!).

We All Bleed Red and AWood40 are must-subscribe Wings YouTube video "bloggers," and We All Bleed Red posted two clips from Chris Chelios's appearance on TSN's Off the Record (Dear Gord, he's 51 and he doesn't look a day over 40)...

 

You can watch Chelios's 8:58 interview with Michael Landsberg here on TSN's video page.

And "finally finally," yes, Ken Daniels did call Henrik Zetterberg "Steve Yzerman" on Thursday. It may have been the highlight of that crappy, crappy game. This also comes from We All Bleed Red:


I don't complain much, but Thursday was a 16-hour day, Friday is now a 15-hour day, and this weekend's gonna be busy, and the trade deadline (I will be gone on Tuesday from 1:30-3:30 but will be here till 2:30 on Wednesday as the aunt has a doctor's appointment at 3:30) is going to be busy, too. I hope that today's post-practice news cycle is quiet, because I need to catch up on sleep.

Update: Via RedWingsFeed, here's an update on Franzen from the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Johan Franzen saw team doctor Douglas Plagens on Friday evening to check on a lower-body injury suffered during Thursday's game at San Jose, Calif. Holland said the injury "looks day to day" but expects to have a better handle on the situation today. Mikael Samuelsson and Patrick Eaves are available if Franzen can't play Sunday.

Update #2: The Free Press was updating its website at 1 AM for a long time. It was great because they allowed folks who stay up a little late to catch up with the news early and it helped people like me write complete recaps. Now they're back to 4 or 5 or 6 AM, and as such, here's the Free Press's Helene St. James' take on the Wings' stretch drive form, posted at 4:52 AM:

"I think we've come together pretty good," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We're doing the little things right. I think we're sticking to the plan, and I think the special teams has been good this trip. We just have to keep building on that. Overall, I think we're doing a lot of things right. We've just got to keep doing it."

The Wings played with cohesion they didn't have the first half of the season. Before Thursday's game -- which saw only one penalty called -- the Wings' power play had scored in eight straight games.

"I think we're definitely on the right track," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We're all pulling in the same direction and guys are coming together as a group. I think we're building some more chemistry as we go along, and we've done some good things on this road trip."

The trip's games began March 22, when the Wings fell behind, 1-0, to the Ducks but stuck to their plans, and thanks to a hat trick from Justin Abdelkader, came away with a 5-1 victory. Two days later, the Wings built a two-goal lead by midway through the first period, on goals from Daniel Cleary and Drew Miller, then spent the rest of the game protecting it for a 2-1 decision. A night later in Phoenix, the Wings used two power-play goals to stage a 3-2 rally.

"I think we're not getting rattled out there," Jimmy Howard said. "If stuff isn't going our way, we stay the course. That's a good thing, because once playoffs come, it's not going to go your way every single night and you've got to find that even keel out there. I think it was a good trip. We're on the right path. We've been playing really well away from the Joe, and that's a good sign."

The rest of the schedule is evenly split with seven games at home, starting Sunday against Chicago, and seven on the road. There's one more trip to Phoenix and another to western Canada, but this past stretch with seven of eight games on the road loomed on the schedule, and the Wings feel good about having emerged from it 5-3.

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Comments

Joe Z.'s avatar

DeKeyser’s signing proves that there’s still an allure to playing for the Wings, a “cachet,” if you will, that hasn’t quite faded despite Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement, and that’s a huge relief.

George it proves nothing, DeKeyser is a kid, never played for an NHL team.  What the fuch does he know, he’s a rookie. It’s not like Suter, Parise or Hossa, you know proven players, have chosen to go Detroit….

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 03/30/13 at 05:42 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

The Dekeyser news is great and curbs my Wings’ anxiety a bit.
Questions:
How the hell is Franzen always getting hurt when he’s just floating around avoiding contact? I don’t get it.
Will Flip and/or White be moved?
When Samuelsson comes in who’s out? I hope it’s not Andersson.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 03/30/13 at 07:35 AM ET

Avatar

Sproul’s Hounds are still alive. They lost game 5 and are now down 3 games to 2.

Posted by loojay on 03/30/13 at 07:40 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

“That’s one of the things that’s exciting for us,” said Jim Nill, the Red Wings assistant general manager. “We’ve got kind of a young corps that’s growing up together. That’s how you become a really good team. You go back over the years when there was (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Sergei) Fedorov, (Steve) Yzerman, all these young kids coming together. That’s how you build championship teams. We’re excited about the opportunity of these guys coming together.”

I’m excited about this too.

And, um, Joe Z:  Even though DeKeyser is a “kid,” I would imagine he’s been watching NHL hockey pretty much all his life.  Give him some credit for knowing where he wants to play.  Geez.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 03/30/13 at 07:51 AM ET

topshelf14's avatar

Excellent write up George. Good way to start my day, coffee and red wing hockey talk! The Wings future looks bright!

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 03/30/13 at 08:04 AM ET

OnlyWings's avatar

It would be nice if the Wings could get 3 or 4 points from the Hawks/Avs. Please don’t lose to the Avs!!!

Pretty exciting prospect pool with the Wings even before Danny.  I hope not to see Backup Gus vs Avs, he can win games but his style scares the SH1T out of me.

When the season started would have predicted Lashoff, Andersson playing full time, Tatar/Mrazek played and showed they are NHL quality, Kindl looks solid, E52 looks good, Aby in the top 6, Brunner looks good (Still a Rookie and Huge Jump from Swiss hockey),  Nyquist showing flashes of Dangle, ...lots of good stuff and the future looks like it will be fun to watch.

Using Samuelsson and game condition gave me an early morning chuckle!

Now Beat the Hawks!

Posted by OnlyWings on 03/30/13 at 08:22 AM ET

Avatar

What the Wings NEED to do since they won’t play any of the guys from the ahl unless guys in the nhl get injured is be willing to trade a couple of those guys for a top 6 forward. I’m really starting to believe they’re going to give in and pay Flip his 5M/yr and Tatar will never see the ice in Detroit again.

I would imagine the Wings are the only team in the league who would let a prospect walk without ever figuring out how good they might be then later give a first round draft pick to get them back. Right now, I have zero faith in this front office in terms of roster management. Other teams in the league, you know, actually play their young talented guys on their lower lines, or even top lines if they are good enough, rather than signing 8 retreads and 4th line guys to play on their second third and fourth lines.

Just need to vent because I’m thinking about all the talent they have we all know will never get a chance to play in Detroit

Posted by teldar on 03/30/13 at 09:15 AM ET

d ca's avatar

...he’ll enjoy rides on Red Bird III when the team heads to Colorado next Thursday and Phoenix next Friday (acclimating to NHL travel as well as the NHL pace of practice and play)...

George,

It’s actually the reverse. They play Phx on Thurs (10pm) then fly to Denver and play the Avs on Fri at 9pm.

I am worried they’re going to put up a lackluster effort especially since I’ve got $$$ tickets to the game in Denver (in the corner, bench-side, where the Wings shoot on twice). It will be the 3rd Wings game I catch on the “road” (RBC Center right before the Wings went to the White House and the Verizon Center)—funny that my white Wings jersey wasn’t a road jersey when I bought it.

Anyways, was thinking that this is probably DeKeyser’s best chance to play (1st back-to-back after the trade deadline)—but since reading this sounds like he’ll be getting in April 24/25th with no rush to play him. Does his NHL contract start the minute he plays for GR or Detroit since he’s over 20 (meaning the 5 game rule or whatever they changed it to with the lockout shortened season doesn’t apply)? I would think one of the conditions wherever he signed was that he has to start the clock ticking on the contract by playing so that he is a RFA in July 2014 (and not 2015).

Posted by d ca on 03/30/13 at 10:11 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 03/30/13 at 08:51 AM ET

When you’re talking about “allure” and bringing in UFA’s, Z’s comment DOES apply.  I’m not tryin ‘to beat KH up, but on the other side, to claim it’s proof has allure for UFA’s I think that’s misleading.  Dekeyser grew up around Detroit, knows members of the Detroit Org, evidentally was a “dream” to play for Detroit.  How does that prove summer UFA’s find Detroit alluring?

Even KH and JN have mentioned we’re “trying to get a knew arena” and updated RBII recently to help allure.  There’s definitely a problem with that in a cap-era NHL.

Good on KH and JN though, you don’t wanna whiff on gimmes.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/30/13 at 10:51 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Just need to vent because I’m thinking about all the talent they have we all know will never get a chance to play in Detroit

Posted by teldar on 03/30/13 at 10:15 AM ET

You know that, do you?

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 03/30/13 at 10:56 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff received a somewhat derisive, “That’s a lesson for them” from Mike Babcock when their d-to-d pass resulted in the Sharks’ 2-0 goal on Thursday,

Lashoff made two bad giveaways resulting in both goals.  There is a reason that youngsters have to prove their way onto the team.

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 03/30/13 at 10:59 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

D’oh! Shows you what happens when I write something after a pair of 16-hour days.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/30/13 at 11:04 AM ET

Avatar

You know that, do you?

I love when someone responds to a hyperbolic comment born out of frustration as if it were anything other than a hyperbolic comment born out of frustration.

Posted by Garth on 03/30/13 at 11:23 AM ET

SK77's avatar

You know that, do you?

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 03/30/13 at 11:56 AM ET

Teldar also knows that if the Wings end up re-signing a second line center then an unproven rookie winger will never again see the ice in Detroit.

Posted by SK77 on 03/30/13 at 11:25 AM ET

Avatar

Good for you overhaul.  As a Wings fans, I had to shake my head at george’s notion of the “allure” of playing for Detroit and still (4+ years later) calling it the “Big Red Machine.”  If I were an outsider, that rhetoric would make me vomit.  This signing was an absolute gimme for KH, as you stated.

I also wonder why George is defending keeping this kid in the NHL.  Why is this the best place for him?  Wouldn’t it be better having him playing 20-25 minutes a night in GR than getting into 1-2 games at 8-10 minutes a night for the rest of the season in Detroit?  Isn’t that what George tells us about all the other prospects, even proven prospects like Smith and Tatar?  Why is this kid any different?

I also wonder what it will tell future Ville Leinos, Brunnstroms, Hat Trick Dicks, Brunners and on and on.  Will they now be able to hold KH hostage to get a paycheck for sitting in the press box?  I can’t see George defending them, but perhaps his attitude changes by way of what KH tells him to think.

Posted by jkm2011 on 03/30/13 at 11:33 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

I was noticing Franzen playing as though he had contracted a case of Bertuzzi-Butt* on Thursday. No wonder then he left with another apparent Hip injury, since that was what was taking the blunt of all the impacts.

 

*Bertuzzi-Butt is a disease that inflicts a small number of hockey players each year.  It’s most telling symptoms are: A player has the puck and decides it’s more useful to turn around and play backwards, with his tail towards the play and: A reluctance to spend any time in the middle of the offensive zone.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 03/30/13 at 11:49 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

DeKeyser signing doesn’t prove Detroit has any allure, except to a kid who GREW UP in Michigan…

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 03/30/13 at 11:54 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Why is this kid any different?

because he’s 23 and according to pretty much everyone he is already “there” as far as playing ability.  playing him in GR won’t do him any good.  he’s essentially been in a farm-team-level league for the last few years…college.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 03/30/13 at 11:58 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Lashoff made two bad giveaways resulting in both goals.  There is a reason that youngsters have to prove their way onto the team.

Lashoff wasn’t on the ice for the first Sharks’ goal.  That play was Ericsson letting Clowe get body position on him behind the Wings’ net and turning a board battle that Zetterberg was essentially winning into a 2-on-1 battle where Pavelski came away with the puck before banking it in off Kronwall’s skate.

Brendan Smith made the right play to make that pass to Lashoff. Cleary had lost the zone, Andersson helped retrieve the puck and then passed it to Smith to reload the rush high in the Wings’ zone. Smith passed to Lashoff as Andersson turned up ice.

Smith’s mistake was in taking a fraction of a second too long to pick up Burns immediately after the flubbed pass by Lashoff.

All that said, Lashoff has been making quite a few mistakes lately. I don’t know if flubbing a pass counts as a “rookie mistake” considering how many times I’ve seen Kronwall and White do that, but it was certainly a mistake.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/30/13 at 12:04 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/30/13 at 11:51 AM ET

I wasn’t saying that DeKeyser signing with Detroit means that Detroit is an alluring destination for other players.  Note that I was responding to a comment that DeKeyser “is a kid” who “never played for an NHL team.”  All I said was give HIM credit for knowing what HE was doing.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 03/30/13 at 01:19 PM ET

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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.