The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/30/13 at 11:35 AM ET
Updated 10x at 2:52 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice this morning to prepare for Sunday's matinee game against the Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 PM EDT, NBC/97.1 FM, and the Hawks lost 2-1 to Anaheim last night) with a new face in the lineup...
And some familiar faces skated on Saturday morning as well...
The narrative continues...
On the injury front:
And this is very important:
As such, this matters, too:
*Runs and hides from fellow Wings fans' wrath*:
I'd bet you $15 that Lidstrom's in town to assist in trade deadline discussions...And other stuff...
The link goes to a 5-image photo gallery of DeKeyser's first practice with the team...
In the text department, Duff penned a story about DeKeyser's signing...
He’ll sign his contract (Saturday),” Detroit GM Ken Holland said. “We’re going to keep him on our NHL roster for the rest of the season. We go to an expanded roster after the trade deadline. He’ll be available to play, but it’s also an opportunity for him to experience what life is like on an NHL roster on a day-to-day basis.”
An NCAA free agent from Western Michigan born in Clay Township, Mich. and an admitted life-long Red Wings fan, the Detroit brass figured they had an in when it came to getting DeKeyser’s name on a contract.
“I was certainly going into to process hopeful and optimistic,” Holland said. “He grew up a Red Wing fan. He played a lot of minor hockey around here. We had a lot of ties to him. He played for (Grand Rapids AHL coach) Jeff Blashill for a year at Western (Michigan). He played a few years with (Detroit assistant GM) Jim Nill’s son Trevor in midget hockey. And Jimmy Nill knows Danny’s parents through travelling to tournaments and through hockey games. Danny and his agents wanted to go through the process and make sure we were the best option.”
Nill felt that home cooking played a significant role in DeKeyser’s decision. “To be able to play in front of your family and friends, that’s huge,” Nill said. “That’s got a lot to do with it.”
Holland believes DeKeyser gives them another quality defender to rely upon in the future as they move forward in the post-Nicklas Lidstrom era. We’re excited,” Holland said. “He’s 6-3. He’s a great skater, very mobile. At the pro level we see him as a real good defensively solid D-man. He’s gotten better every year in college hockey. He was the CCHA defenceman of the year. He can pass the puck. And like all the younger players he’s got to get stronger.
“But certainly adding him to (Niklas) Kronwall, (Jakub) Kindl, (Ian) White Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, (Jonathan) Ericsson, (Kyle) Quincey and obviously there’s also (Kent) Huskins gives us a solid core. We’ve got Xavier Ouellet coming and Ryan Sproul turning pro next year, so we’re slowly trying to turn our defence from the Nick Lidstrom era to maybe not superstars, but certainly a lot of defencemen that are really good and solid NHL D-men.”
As to DeKeyser’s immediate future, that’s somewhat less certain.
“If (Detroit coach) Mike Babcock chooses to use him in a game along the way it’s Mike’s decision,” Holland said. “Certainly Danny understands we’re fighting for a playoff spot and we’re not holding tryouts. It’s a competition. I can tell you he isn’t playing Sunday (against Chicago) or Monday (versus Colorado). He hasn’t been on the ice in two weeks. 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 three, 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 will help and somewhere down the road if he goes into the lineup like we’re hoping, then from there we’ll see.”
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported that the Calgary Flames will want a significant return for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, but MLive's Ansar Khan believes that the Wings will still pursue the 29-year-old defenseman, despite his $6.68 million cap hit for this season and next season:
Why the Red Wings might be interested in him: They have been seeking a top-pair defenseman since Ryan Suter spurned their offer and signed with Minnesota on July 4.
What it might take to get him: First-round draft pick and/or prospect/young roster player. The Flames are in the midst of a fire sale and have no interest in acquiring veteran players or taking on salary in return for anyone they dump.
Bouwmeester's no-trade clause enables him to control, to a large extent, where he goes. There's little incentive for him to stay in Calgary. He will want to go to a team he feels will definitely make the playoffs, since he's never appeared in the postseason.
His $6.68 million salary for 2013-14 will limit his suitors, unless Calgary agrees to assume a portion of that salary, in exchange for a better return in assets.
The Red Wings like Bouwmeester. They had talks with the Flames last summer. But, is Detroit willing to absorb that hefty salary-cap hit, especially since the cap is decreasing to $64.3 million next season (from $70.2 million)?
After signing former Western Michigan star Danny DeKeyser on Friday, the Red Wings have 10 defensemen. But, only Niklas Kronwall, at this stage, is a top-pair defenseman. This type of player is hard to come by through a trade, and this summer's free-agent class is thin.
Again, it wouldn't surprise me if the Wings waited to see which players are bought out by NHL teams that will struggle toget under the $64.3 million cap before deciding whether to make a move on a player like Bouwmeester, but that's just my gut feeling.
Meanwhile, in the prospect department, Willie Coetzee, Trevor Parkes, Jordan Pearce and the ECHL's Toledo Walleye know the identity of their playoff opponent...
In the alumni department, part 1: The Utica Observer-Dispatch's Don Laible tells some tall-but-very-real tales of former Wings coach and scout Nick Polano's adventures behind the Iron Curtain, where he played a huge role in helping the Red Wings secure Petr Klima, Vladimir Konstantinov and Slava Kozlov's services:
Petr Klima , who the Detroit Red Wings selected in the fifth round of the NHL entry draft in 1983, was Nick Polano's first Eastern European project. " He ( Petr ) was a young, good prospect. We were told he was the best player in the draft ", Polano explains. " It was my first trip over there; behind the 'Iron Curtain'. After Petr, the Red Wings went strong in drafting Russians and Czechs ".
With the approval of Detroit's leadership, a typical trip behind the'Iron Curtain' entailed Polano, accompanied by Red Wings President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Lites , in the team owner's private jet. The duo would meet up with players they were interested in ' getting out ' of Eastern Europe in the strangest of places, at the weidest hours , doing whatever was needed to secure players who they believed could make the Red Wings a better team. " Sometimes there were two or three we were following ", Nick said " To get players out of Czechoslovakia, we did a lot of work behind the scenes with them. We sent them presents ".
In Polano, Lites, and the Red Wings connecting with Klima, Nick remembers meeting up with good people in Germany who helped their cause. Once deciding that he would leave/defect for promised greener pastures offered by the NHL, after playing in a tournament, Polano assisted in smuggling Petr out of the hotel that his team was staying in, to the American consulate in Frankfurt. Until a visa would be approved that would allow Klima out of the country, Nick recalls for an entire month, doing little but he and Petr just looking at each other in hotel rooms, since neither spoke the other's language, and remained on guard for possible Czech agents locating him and returning their star hockey player back home.
Talk about in one's job description - 'and all other duties'. Nick was directly involved in helping shape the Detroit Red Wings into a Stanley Cup powerhouse in securing such players as Sergei Fedorov and Vladimir Konstantinov. Then there's the pursuit of Slava Kozlov in Lake Placid, New York . " I saw him play in a tournament there, and then followed him around. He turned out to be great in Detroit, and helped us win a couple of Cups", says Polano. " I thought he wouldn't go back to Europe but Slava told me he wasn't ready to defect. He couldn't speak English. Then I get a phone call from his agent telling me that Slava had been in a bad car accident, and that I should go over and see him in the Red Army hospital in Russia.".
The Macomb-St. Clair Chapter of Ducks Unlimited - the ninth oldest chapter in Michigan – will have Detroit Red Wings Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay as the honorary chairman at their 41st annual fundraiser dinner on Friday, April 12, at Zuccaro’s in Chesterfield Township.
“They are a great organization,” Ted Lindsay said Monday at Troy Sports Center, “happy to be part of it.”
Lindsay, 87, was joined Monday by DU Macomb-St. Clair Chapter chairman Gary Stahl from Harrison Township and chapter member Dave Floore of Shelby Township.
“We’ve kept it going,” said Floore, a former DU state chairman and treasurer whose father started the Macomb-St. Clair DU chapter in 1972, “with a lot of good people.”
Among the ‘good people’ the local DU chapter is associated with is Lindsay, who is currently involved with The Ted Lindsay Foundation, which helps raise money to support research and focuses on the cause and management of autism.
“You have to earn things every day,” Lindsay said Monday. “I’ve been lucky with wonderful parents and the talent to play on frozen water in a great hockey city.”...
For more information about tickets for the 41st annual Fundraiser for the Macomb-Lake St. Clair Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, call (810) 343-2438.
Worth noting, the Ted Lindsay Foundation will also be part of a wine tasting on April 15 at Tremonte in Troy. Lindsay said wine servers will Thomas Holmstrom, Mike Babcock, Mickey Redmond, Trevor Thompson, and Frank Beckman. Tickets are $125 and include a strolling dinner and Igor Larionov’s wines. Igor will also be present from 6-9 p.m. For tickets, call (586) 219-8051.
Update #0.5: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose notes that the Wings are winless in 2 games against Chicago while setting up an "at a glance" preview of Sunday's opponent:
Expect Sunday to be a grind when the Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks in a special Easter matinee at Joe Louis Arena. But that’s nothing new. It’s a grind every time the Red Wings and Blackhawks meet.
The Central Division foes, who have been bitter rivals for the past 87 years, have played nine consecutive one-goal games, including two earlier contests this season. Both times the Blackhawks managed to eek out 2-1 overtime wins on Jan. 27 at Chicago and March 2 at Joe Louis Arena.
The Blackhawks, who opened the season with points in a NHL record 23 consecutive games, have cooled off lately. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are enjoying a resurgence of sorts, especially on the power play. Detroit has scored at least one power-play goal in eight straight games with six of those games coming on the road.
It’s a far cry from where the Red Wings’ special team unit began the season, going 0-for-36 on the power play over the first 10 games of the season. Since then, Detroit’s power play is 7-for-22 over the last six road games.
However, Sunday against the Blackhawks, as is always the case for the Red Wings, puck-possession will be key, though Chicago is tough to beat through the neutral zone. The Blackhawks lead the league with an astonishing 324 takeaways. The Carolina Hurricanes are a distant second at 289.
Blackhawks are 11-1-1 this season when leading after the first period. And since backup Ray Emery has started two straight games – he was between the pipes Friday at the United Center against Anaheim – it’s more than probable that Corey Crawford will get the start against the Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard.
I wouldn't expect Nyquist to stay in the AHL for a long time given his play...But getting Nyquist, Jarnkrok and Tatar on the same line for a game or three isn't a bad thing, either. That combination's probably essential to determining whether Jarnkrok's ready to make the jump to North America.
MLive's Ansar Khan's practice update is chock full of news:
1. Regarding Franzen and Samuelsson playing and what that might mean for sending someone down:
“Great news on Mule,'' Holland said. “Obviously, we were concerned coming out of San Jose. Samuelsson we felt was going to play (Sunday). Really, he was cleared to play on Tuesday or Wednesday and it’s all conditioning, so he said he feels pretty good.''
The club needs to clear a roster spot for Samuelsson, who's been out since Feb. 19 with a broken left index finger. It might opt to reassign forward Gustav Nyquist to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“We’ve got people we can send down that are on two-way (contracts) if we have to, that don’t need waivers, so there’s options there,'' Holland said. “Just want to wake up tomorrow morning and make sure that nothing’s changed with Franzen and nothing’s changed with Samuelsson.”
2. Regarding Darren Helm, who's skating on his own:
“Getting better,'' Holland said. “I think he’s a little frustrated. I think he hoped he was going to be better.''
Said coach Mike Babcock: “I just saw all of the MRIs and all of that, and they were explaining it all to me, and it sounds like things are going in a positive direction for him. But, we’ve been hearing that for a long time. So when he starts practicing every day and has no side-effects, we’ll know something good’s happened.”
3. And regarding Todd Bertuzzi and Kyle Quincey:
Bertuzzi practices again: Forward Todd Bertuzzi took part in his first full practice with the team, but there is no time frame on his return from a pinched nerve in his back.
“Bert came on the trip and got himself a little bit of sun, so he’s looking good,'' Babcock said. “He’s skating better. Feeling good.”
Defenseman Kyle Quincey practiced with a cage to protect his fractured cheek bone. Holland said he's roughly two weeks away from returning.
Update #8: In the prospect department...
And, via RedWingsFeed, the Wings' website posted a 6:25 clip of DeKeyser speaking to the media...
As well as Mike Babcock's off-day presser:
Update #9: Here's the Free Press's Carlos Monarrez's practice update, which focuses on DeKeyser:
“I definitely grew up as a big Wings fan,” DeKeyser said. “Getting to play for your hometown team is something pretty special, so it’s a definitely a good opportunity for me.”
DeKeyser, an undrafted but coveted free agent, was courted by a dozen teams. His decision wasn’t easy, but he liked the Wings’ organization and said it helped that his parents, who live in Clay Township, could see him play regularly.
“Yeah, it was tough,” said DeKeyser, who is 6-foot-3 and mobile. “I could have picked reasons for going to any of those teams. But ultimately, in the end, I thought this was the best decision for me.”
For most of his career, DeKeyser wore No. 5 in tribute to his favorite player, Nicklas Lidstrom. DeKeyser said Lidstrom helped sway his decision and today he got to meet his idol when Lidstrom made a rare appearance at practice.
“He called me the other day when I was going through the decision process and talked to me for a few minutes,” DeKeyser said. “I got to meet him here today, so it was pretty special.”
Lidstrom liked what he saw from DeKeyser’s first practice.
“He’s a very good skater,” Lidstrom said. “He looked confident out there. I’m sure he was nervous on the inside, coming out and skating with the guys for the first time with the guys. But he looked confident and it looks like he’s a good puck-moving defenseman.”
Wings on mend: Holland said it “appears” forwards Johan Franzen (lower body) and Mikael Samuelsson (finger) will play Sunday against Chicago.
“We have to make some moves between now and tomorrow,” Holland said. “Haven’t made any moves. You’ll be the second to know, not the first."
Update #10: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's DeKeyser story:
“[Lidstrom] called me the other day when I was going through the decision process and talked to me for a few minutes,'' DeKeyser said Saturday, after his first practice with the Red Wings. “Then I got to meet him here today. So it was pretty special. That helped in my decision, definitely.''
DeKeyser, who inked a two-year deal on Friday, wore No. 5 at Western Michigan and decided to wear No. 65 with the Red Wings because “it has a 5 in it.''
“He just told me about the organization and how special of a place it is to play,'' DeKeyser said. “They have a great management team and a locker room full of great guys. He said it would be a fun place to play, so I took his word for it.''
“He's coming to a very good organization, very committed organization, a team that wants to win, ownership that wants to win,'' Lidstrom said. “He's from the area, so I'm sure he's very excited about playing here in front of his family.''
Lidstrom said DeKeyser, the Macomb native, wasn't prepared for his call when general manager Ken Holland handed him the phone.
“We had a good little chat,'' Lidstrom said. “I just told him about the positive things I've seen and learned over the years with the team. He had a lot of teams that were asking for him and had meetings with a lot of teams, so I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision for him.''
Update #11: Here's the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's DeKeyser article...
“I definitely grew up a big Wings fan and to have a chance to play for you hometown team is definitely something special so it’s definitely a good opportunity for me,” said DeKeyser, who grew up in Macomb County and graduated from De La Salle. “I’m going to come in, get my feet wet a little bit, practice here this week and just take it from there.
“It was tough decision,” DeKeyser added. “I could have picked a lot of reasons to go to any of those teams, but ultimately in the end I thought this was the best choice for me. I just looked at what some of the best places would be like to play for and what they had one the blue line and where I would fit in. Here there are quite a few young guys and a good group of veterans. I thought it would be a good fit for me.”
It’s not known when DeKeyser will get his chance to play, but it won’t be Sunday against Chicago.
“I want to be a big part of the team here,” DeKeyser said. “I just have to work hard and that’s all I can do then we’ll see what happens from there. I need to get adjusted to the next level. Guys are a little bit bigger and stronger and quicker so that’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment there for me, but I think and can come in here and be fine.”
In three seasons at WMU, DeKeyser, who was undrafted, appeared in 118 games and had 12 goals, 37 assists and 107 penalty minutes.
“He’s obviously good, good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “At his level he’s been a dominant player there for the last two years and we’re excited to have him. He hasn’t practiced since Tuesday, so that will take him a little bit. He’ll watch tomorrow. We’ll probably put him in warm-up tomorrow, or whatever, and just go from there.”
DeKeyser skated with Kyle Quincey in practice.
“You see a guy play at one level and he’s a dominant player,” Babcock said. “Now he’s got to be able to turn that from there into being a dominant player at this level. There’s a process there. The other thing about it is we started the year with no depth on D and then suddenly we’ve got all of these guys on D."
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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.