The Malik Report
Red Wings wining-and-dining update: looking at Grabovski, Alfredsson; Cleary, Brunner to test market
by George Malik on 07/04/13 at 06:48 PM ET
Things have gotten crazy while I was battling boogers. Among the Red Wings-related items of note, MLive's Ansar Khan reports that the Wings are looking at Mikhail Grabovski since the Leafs bought him out...
Grabovski, a creative playmaker and good skater who can play center and the wing, is a close friend of Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, whom he idolizes. They played on the same line for CSKA Moscow during the NHL lockout this season.
The Red Wings will be seeking a second-line center when free agency begins Friday at noon, if, as expected, they're not able to re-sign Valtteri Filppula.
Grabovski (5-11, 183) was placed on unconditional waivers. He has four years and $21 million remaining on his contract, so it's highly unlikely he will be claimed by noon Friday.
He will become a free agent, able to sign with any team except Toronto. He might be had at a somewhat discounted price, since the Maple Leafs will be paying him $1.8 million a year through 2020-21.
The Red Wings began reaching out to free agents on Wednesday, the first day clubs were permitted to make contact under the new CBA. Stephen Weiss of Florida is their primary target. They also touched base with the agents for Mike Ribeiro (Washington) and Matt Cullen (Minnesota), among others.
Grabovski, 29, slumped this season, with nine goals, seven assists and a minus-10 rating in 48 games. He had a disastrous playoff series against the Boston Bruins, with two assists and a minus-10 rating in seven games.
But the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the Wings' interest in Daniel Aflredsson has been stifled by the league [edit: though Alfredsson's told the Gothenburg Times' Alexander Piauger that the Senators are his first priority]...
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland has been in contact with pretty much every candidate that would make a good No. 2 center — Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson is the leading candidate, if he agrees to a bonus-loaded contract — but an e-mail sent out around noon today precluded the Wings and every other NHL team from making any concrete offers to a new face.
Contrary to many clubs’ impression, contract offers to unrestricted free agents cannot be made until noon Friday. That was the gist of a message sent out by Bill Daly, after Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi called and complained early Thursday.
The Wings do have offers out to all of their own three UFAs — Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner — but all three are expected to cross into the free market Friday. Filppula is out of the picture for the Wings, anyway, because he believes himself to be a No. 1 center. Cleary is looking for a three-year contract around $3 million per season, and he has garnered interest from almost a dozen other teams. The Wings remain hopeful of working out a deal because Cleary rebounded from a slow start to have a great playoff stretch, he brings leadership and he’s beloved by coach Mike Babcock. Likewise, Brunner’s camp has been contacted by several suitors, but the Wings remain hopeful of retaining his services, too.
Looking at possible new faces, the Wings have had talks with the camps for Alfredsson, Stephen Weiss, Mike Ribeiro, Tyler Bozak and Matt Cullen, as well as Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow. It’s not that the Wings aren’t willing to spend money; it’s that they don’t want to overpay for services. Alfredsson would make a good fit, because he might agree to a low salary with bonuses that could be deferred until 2014-15’s higher salary cap. Weiss is rumored to be pushing for close to $6 million a season, an average cap number that would match that of Henrik Zetterberg. The Wings were very interested in New Jersey’s David Clarkson, until they were told he’s looking for six-to-seven years at a $6 million average. Boston’s Nathan Horton, on the other hand, is looking for a quiet hockey market in preferably a warm climate, so that knocks Detroit out on both counts.
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan says that the situation is fluid to say the least:
General manager Ken Holland said he contacted up to six players in the 48-hour period that prospective free agents were able to have discussions with interested teams.
Alfredsson’s name emerged in numerous reports around the league Thursday after negotiations between the Senators and their longtime star hit a snag.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray was asked about Alfredsson’s status Thursday during a press conference to announce a three-year contract extension for head coach Paul MacLean. Murray expressed confidence that the Senators can get a deal done with Alfredsson.
"I guess it's the big issue in town now," Murray told reporters. "I didn't realize it was that big an issue because we're going to get it done I would assume."
There’s also the Red Wings’ own free agents, and Holland is working on those negotiations with agents for forwards Valtteri Filppula, Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary. Filppula is a key piece of the puzzle. If Filppula were to leave —which is expected — Holland would go on the market in search of a center, such as Weiss or Ribeiro, to replace Filppula.
About six teams have shown serious interest in Filppula, 28, who slumped to a 17-point season (nine goals, eight assists) last season. Filppula earned $3 million last season but could attract an offer close to $5 million because of a free-agent class that lack many proven offensive players.
The situations with Cleary and Brunner are different from Filppula’s. Cleary, 34, is looking for about a three-year contract, which he would likely get from another team if he can’t come to terms with the Red Wings. Brunner continues to attract attention from numerous teams because of his offensive potential. Brunner’s agent, Neil Sheehy, confirmed there was contact with teams over the last 48 hours and said, “Important decisions will have to be made between now and Friday.”
Update: Oh yeah, by the way, the Wings are looking at defensemen, too, per the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
Two names they appear to have interest in are Andrew Ference and Marek Zidlicky.
Ference, 34, would slot right in and would provide a veteran presence along the Wings’ youthful blue line. He made $2.25 million last season and may cost the Wings a year-deal at $3.5 million to obtain his services.
Zidlicky, 36, may bit a bit costlier since he’s coming off a deal that paid him $4 million last season in New Jersey. He could be looking for a two- or three-year deal at $4 to $4.5 million to sign.
His point-per-game average has been on a decline and his play in the defensive zone has made him a liability.
Detroit currently has six defensemen under contract for next season – Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl, Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff.
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.Detroit just re-signed Kindl, who was a restricted free agent, to a four-year extension worth $9.6 million.
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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.