The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/02/14 at 10:30 AM ET
The Pacifica's packed and I'm preparing to make a 400-mile trip to Grand Marais, MI today for my first vacation in two summers. Paul will handle the Wings blogging duties for the next wee (I'll return on August 9th), but the next two or two-and-a-half weeks should remain realtively "slow" on the Red Wings front.
I know that DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose and the Free Press's Helene St. James are continuing their surveys of Eastern Conference teams, the Freep's continuing its bracketed "Who's Your Red Wing?" vote and MLive's doing its "best Wing by position" survey, but the Wings' front office has exactly three things to do until Daniel Alfredsson begins skating later this month (at least aside from monitoring the health and progress of Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan "Middle Finger" Ericsson and Daniel "Old Yeller" Cleary):
1. The team will attempt to re-sign restricted free agent Danny DeKeyser;
2. The team will send a few amateur scouts to the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia as the event kicks off the 2015 draft's scouting season;
3. And there's no doubt that the Wings' scouts will be in attendance at both Team USA's World Junior Evaluation camp, which takes place from today until the 9th in Lake Placid, NY, and Hockey Canada's National Junior Team Summer Development Camp, which takes place from tomorrow until the 9th in Montreal and Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Several top prospects for the 2015 draft are skating at these camps, too, but the Wings' main focus will likely lie in:
A) Watching the progress of 3 2014 picks in Lake Placid: Team USA's Dylan Larkin (whose "USA Blue" team will be coached by Tony Granato), Sweden's Axel Holmstrom and Finland's Julius Vahatalo are all taking part in a camp which pits U.S. "White" and "Blue" teams against Swedish and Finnish WJC evaluation teams;
B) Keeping tabs on a pair of Canadian prospects headed back to their Major Junior teams this year in Zach Nastasiuk and Tyler Bertuzzi, whose Canadian team will battle WJC evaluation teams from Russia and the Czech Republic--as well an August 9th-scheduled game between Russia and Holmstrom's Swedes.
Otherwise...Both I and several of you have wondered aloud how steep Jim Paek's uphill climb actually is in terms of helping Korea qualify for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Korea wouldn't normally have any chance of making the top 12 teams which participate in the Olympics, but Korea's obviously a "special case" given that they're the host country, and an article that Paul posted helped shed some light on the situation.
The Los Angeles Times' Helene Elliott reports that Korea University's hockey team is spending the next three weeks in Southern California, working with the Anaheim Ducks' developmental coaches. Elliott quantifies Paek's challenge:
The national team — which will be coached by former King Jim Paek and is expected to draw on the Korea University squad — is ranked 23rd in the world. Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, said this year he'd like to see Korea's team rank 18th or better before he'd consider granting it an automatic Olympic berth because he wants to avoid lopsided results in the Games.
At the end of the 2014 World Championships, the IIHF posited its post-Olympics-and-Worlds rankings (below the top-level World Championship group, there are several other divisions in which the 30 countries' teams that don't make the "top 16" take part in World Championship play--Division 1 Group A, Division 1 Group B, Division 2 Group A, Division 2 Group B and Division III), and Korea's challenge isn't impossible, but they have to pass the majority of the following teams:
22. Great Britain
The Italians utilize a pretty dang solid number of Canadians granted Italian citizenship to stack their roster, the Kazakhs snag both Americans and Canadians (former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kevin Dallman was born in Canada but plays for the Kazakh team), as we've learned from the current state of geopolitical events, the situation in Ukraine and its relationship to Russian and other-former-Soviet-bloc countries is...complicated...and Japan and Great Britain employ similar measures. The Koreans tend to do the same thing, but they're obviously drawing from a slightly shallower pool in terms of professional players (it's hard to name a pro player of partially-Korean heritage).
So Paek and Korea can definitely reach 18th place over the next 4 years, but it's still going to be a very tough task for the team.
SI's Allan Muir's list of unrestricted free agents who may not find future employment includes a player whose degenerative back and leg issues are much more worrisome than the spectre of a civil trial that's been pushed back several times already:
Todd Bertuzzi: Despite rumors earlier this month, Bertuzzi has not signed with the Carolina Hurricanes or anywhere else for that matter. The 39-year-old winger was largely ineffective last season and routinely buried in the press box, where he spent four of Detroit's five playoff games against Boston. But it's not just age and injury problems (he had shoulder issues last season) that make it tough to see him finding another NHL opportunity. Bertuzzi is finally headed to court in September to face a civil lawsuit for his 2004 on-ice assault of Colorado's Steve Moore. That's the sort of distraction no team wants to bring on itself.
I'm not going to name the person who suggested that Bill Peters was going to bring Bertuzzi to Carolina, but I'd say there's an E3 chance that you know who he is...
In less-stark news, I remember that Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish said that he wanted to find out about the superstitions of the Wings' summer development camp participants, and he's posted an article that discusses just that:
Tomas Nosek: “I had a little ritual when I was young, but now I don’t have it. I try to go on the ice at the end of our team, so it is maybe some little ritual.”
Dylan Larkin: “No, not really, not here. Usually I do a routine during the season, you know with the NDTP I have a pretty good routine, but now going to Michigan I might have to change it up a little bit. So just try to get into a routine as much as possible.
The line between "routine" and superstition is a thin one.
And finally, I'll be back in a week and you're likely to see the Paypal button soon after as the Wings' fall prospect tournament begins all of four-and-a-half weeks after I return, training camp will be five weeks away and the Wings will be practicing informally in Troy by the last week of August, so we're really not all that far removed from the 14-15 season.
I'll try to focus on things other than hockey for as much as I can over the next couple of weeks, but I've learned this summer that hockey truly has become a 12-month sport, and I hope that you've been at least kept from full-fledged withdrawl via the "hard" and "soft" news alike.
See you in a week.
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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.