The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/20/12 at 07:17 PM ET
Updated 3x at 6:14 PM: As we wait for Pavel Datsyuk to take part in the NHL Awards tonight at 7 PM EDT (on NBCSN live and on the CBC on tape delay), I did something incredibly rare for a blogger working on 4 hours of sleep thanks, to a 10:30 AM interview—I took a nap this afternoon—and as such, the Chief beat me to the punch here:
After this morning’s assessment of Jaromir Jagr’s possible “fit” with the Wings from Ansar Khan, this afternoon, the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that the team Adrian Dater likes to kick sand in the face off may very well be interested in romancing a Diva with a capital “D”:
Jaromir Jagr intrigued the Red Wings a year ago, and once again has their interest.
The Wings anted up for Jagr’s services last summer but folded at $2.5 million, the most they were wiling to risk on an older player who hadn’t been in the NHL in three years. After posturing and playing bidders off one another, Jagr ended up signing with Philadelphia, whose offer of $3.3 million also topped that of Jagr’s former employers, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jagr went on to score 19 goals among 54 points in 73 games, showing that when one is as skilled as he is, turning 40, as he did in February, doesn’t mean what it does for lesser players. He followed up with eight points in 11 playoff games.
Now he’s once again inching towards unrestricted free agency, and while he isn’t at the top of the Wings’ wish list, he is on the list.
Jagr is a big guy - 6-foot-3, 240 pounds - and brings invaluable experience as a two-time Stanley Cup champion. His NHL resume includes five Art Ross trophies as the NHL’s leading scorer, and the 1999 Hart, along with being the MVP finalist in five other times.
The Wings want to add to their top-six group, and while their sights are set first and foremost on Zach Parise, there can’t not be a backup plan. Jagr, who topped 50 goals in ‘05-06, would no doubt look very slick playing next to Pavel Datsyuk, who creates time and space for his wingers and then feeds them the puck
The very reason St. James believes Jagr might come this way, assuming that he doesn’t re-sign with Philadelphia or go to Montreal, is the reason I don’t think he’s coming here:
Jagr, incidentally, shares his agent with Jiri Hudler, whom the Wings would like to re-sign but who in all likelihood will test free agency because he’d be one of the only forwards who’d have scored 25 goals. Parise had 31 goals, and Teemu Selanne had 26 - and Selanne isn’t interested in anyone but the Ducks.
Svoboda jerked the Wings and Penguins around as they pursued Jagr last summer, and he’s no less a complete and total dickhea…I mean charmer this time around. And given Jagr’s moodiness, acting out in the press and me-me-me-first personality, I just don’t see any “fit” on a team that doesn’t like it when players behave that way on a daily basis.
[edit/update: the Freep now has a poll regarding whether you believe the team should sign Jagr /end edit]
In other Red Wings-related news this afternoon:
• From MLive’s Ansar Khan on Twitter:
Red Wings will open 2012-13 seasons at home against Nashville on Oct. 12. NHL schedule expected to be released tomorrow.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms:
Red Wings to open home season Oct 12 against Nashville. Wonder what team Suter will be playing on
Ditto for the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:
If unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter does become a Red Wing once free agency begins July 1, his first regular season game will be against his former team.
According to a source, the Wings will open the regular season at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 12 against the Nashville Predators.
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms, too:
Full NHL schedule to be released Thursday by noon, but Red Wings will open 2012-13 season at home on Oct. 12 against Nashville Predators.
• Ahem, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen:
“Right now, as we get closer, it appears [Suter] is going to take a peek on July 1,” Poile said in advance of the 2012 NHL Awards at the Wynn Las Vegas, where he attending as a finalist for the GM of the Year Award. “I’m certainly hoping—based on our conversations, everything I know about Ryan, his personality, his comfort level, everything we have to offer in Nashville both on and off the ice—we still are the right place for him. I understand that he’s earned the right to do this (test free agency). I wish he was signed, but if I get it done on July 1 or something like that, that would be fine also.”
Suter’s decision will come first because he can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. [Shea] Weber is a restricted free agent, so Nashville has some leverage with him. However, if Suter signs elsewhere it is possible Weber signs only another one-year deal with the Predators so he can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013. The Predators used their one-time option to take Weber to team-elected salary arbitration last summer and he ended up with a one-year contract worth $7.5 million. Weber has until July 5 to decide if he wants to take the Predators to player-elected arbitration this summer. If he remains unsigned by July 1, a likely scenario considering Suter’s situation, Weber is open to fielding—and perhaps signing—an offer sheet from another club.
Weber, though, will not give a sales pitch to Suter, his close friend and teammate since 2005. They were selected in the 2003 NHL Draft, with Suter taken with the No. 7 pick and Weber with the No. 49 pick.
“It’s a personal decision for Ryan and his family and they’re going to decide what is best for him,” Weber said. “Obviously I’d love to play with the guy for the rest of my career, but if that’s not the way it goes, it doesn’t work out that way, then that’s the way it goes.”
Weber said he does not know what Suter is thinking right now. Suter is spending the offseason on his farm in Wisconsin.
“People are curious and a lot of people know we’ve come up together and we know each other very well,” Weber said. “They’re trying to get any inside scoop that they can and, believe me, that’s the last thing that I’ve got. It’s just about being a good friend to him and his family, and however it shakes out that’s the way it goes.”
“There will be a lot of attention on Suter and a lot of teams interested, but I still believe Nashville still has the advantage with all the facts that we are still getting better, we have a really good core group of guys,” [Pekka] Rinne said. “I can’t talk about what he thinks, but I know he likes it there, the city and the organization. I still believe I have a really good chance to play with him in the future.”
• Regarding the draft, part 1: Plymouth Whalers coach Mike Vellucci chatted on Freep.com this morning;
• Regarding the draft, part 2: According to the Toronto Star’s Mark Zwolinski, the Maple Leafs have one prospect in the system that the Wings wished they’d drafted in Sondre Olden, snagged from the draft in 2010:
Toronto acquired an extra third round pick and outfoxed Detroit to get Olden, who was heavily scouted by Red Wings super scout Hakan Andersson.
• Regarding the draft, part 3: The Detroit Sports Site’s Chris Burke offers a “FF” after asking ESPN draft guru Grant Sonier which player the Wings might pick 49th overall, with Sonier offering the following via his Twitter account (@NHLDraftBlog)
G Collin Olson (US U-18s), RW Brian Hart (HS) could both be around like em both MT @DtownSportsSite who might be there for Detroit at 49?
• In participatory news, the Free Press’s George Sipple will chat about the Red Wings at 11 AM on Thursday;
• And in the land of disagreement, I’m going to have to disagree with J.J. from Kansas’s take on whether the Wings should re-sign Justin Abdelkader, penned for Winging it i Motown:
I know that Abdelkader’s bizarrely eclipsed Jonathan Ericsson as the “most hated Wing” right now, but just as J.J. disagrees with my suggestion that small-market spending has screwed up the marketplace to the point that Abdelkader could be worth $1.5-almost $2 million, I disagree with his premise that the Wings should simply let Abdeklader twist in the wind, see what they can get in free agency, and maybe hope another team tosses a RFA offer sheet his way.
In my opinion, the Wings need to just plain old sign Abdelkader and Quincey and go with known quantities and their established games and potential for now. I’m not sure I’d expect Abdelkader to get the same long-term deal that Helm did, but I don’t buy the concept that Abdelkader’s expendable, either. He’s an incredibly versatile 3rd and 4th line forward who provides grit, jam, faceoff-winning ability, superb penalty-killing and the willingness to fight, and in this day and age, for better or worse, what he gives to the team is “worth” north of $1.5 million.
I’m fine with that, just as I’m fine with the team spending north of $3 million to retain Kyle Quincey because defensemen half a decade older will earn $4 million or more for being able to skate in a straight line.
Update #1: From St. James:
The Red Wings will start the 2012-13 season playing the same team with which they ended last season: The Nashville Predators.
The NHL is slated to release the 2012-13 schedule by noon Thursday, and two dates for the Wings are known: They open, at home, on Oct. 12, against the opponent that knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs two months ago.
The other known date is, of course, Jan. 1, when the Wings are down to host the Winter Classic against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Everything could change, however, if there’s a labor dispute between the league and the Players Association. The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires this summer, and there’s fairly wide-spread sentiment that at least some of the season could be wiped out. Few believe it’ll come to a repeat of ‘04-05, when the entire season was lost as the two sides fought bitterly until the NHL succeeded in implementing a salary cap.
The NHL is expected to release the schedule Thursday morning. Of course, it is contingent upon the league and the NHL Players Association hashing out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current CBA expires on Sept. 15.
This will be eighth time in the past nine seasons Detroit has opened at home. The only exception was in 2009, when the Red Wings opened with a pair of games in Sweden against the St. Louis Blues.
The highlight of the Red Wings’ schedule was announced months ago, the Jan. 1 Winter Classic against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium.
The Red Wings are expected to have home games against each of their other Original Six rivals in the Eastern Conference—Boston, Montreal and the New York Rangers—since those clubs did not play in Detroit last season.
The Red Wings also are expected to play at Winnipeg, since they did not play there in 2011-12. The Jets remain in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference.
Update #2: Comcast Sportsnet Northeast’s Joe Haggerty spoke to Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and some guy named Pavel Datsyuk about CBA negotiations, and Datsyuk remains his brilliantly astute self:
The looming CBA negotiations elicited different reactions across the group of NHL stars at the Wynn Resort and Casino readying for Wednesday night’s NHL Awards ceremony.
Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk wasn’t hiding his concern for the good of the game and the ultimate winners and losers: hockey fans.
“Of course I’m worried about it,” said Datsyuk when asked about the CBA. “The last lockout was really bad for the fans. If it happened again it would be a bad, bad thing for the fans.”
• If you’re interested in this sort of thing, Fox Sports Southwest’s Steve Hunt spoke to Curt Fraser about his decision to join the Stars as an assistant coach…
Several weeks ago, Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk contacted Detroit GM Ken Holland asking to talk to Fraser for a position on Gulutzan’s staff. Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill asked him if he’d be interested. He said yes and flew to Dallas for an interview.
“Right from the first time I sat down with Joe [Nieuwendyk], you could tell right away this was a special group and a group of people that I would really like to get involved with,” Fraser said. “It went pretty quickly and all of a sudden I got offered the job and I couldn’t be more excited to get started. Joe, Glen [Gulutzan], Paul [Jerrard], they have an exceptional group here to work with and [it’s] something I’ll be very excited about.”
As someone who has been coaching pretty much ever since he retired from playing in 1990 and during his more than two decades behind the bench, the Cincinnati native has had plenty of time to pick and choose bits of knowledge from everyone he’s worked with over the years so that he can formulate his own coaching philosophy.
“My coaching philosophy is pretty simple-excellence at every position is what I follow. But for me, this is a bit of a change. I’ve been a head coach a lot and now with the position that’s opened up in Dallas, I can bring that experience that I have,” Fraser said. “I’ve learned a ton working with Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings over the last four years. I think that’s what they’ll be looking for me to add. My strength is offense and I think that’s maybe something that they’re looking for. Hopefully I’ll be able to really shore that up for them and help the club.”
Something else that he feels has made him the best man for the job is the fact that during his four seasons in the Red Wings organization is that he worked closely with Detroit head coach Mike Babcock to ensure that the club at Grand Rapids mirrored the one in Hockeytown as much as possible. Fraser also feels he has an incredibly strong rapport with young players, another quality the Stars were looking for with in this hire since the organization is intent on building from within more than from free agency.
“With Detroit, it was fantastic working with the young kids,” he said. “We got a lot of guys up who spent a lot of time with the Wings. They’ve run into a lot of injury problems the last two or three years and it’s required a lot of other guys to get up and help out. When I first got hired [Mike] Babcock and I both talked about mirroring the Wings in almost every way so when the kids came up they were well prepared, they can slide right in and fit right in right away rather than just having a good seat on the bench. That’s what our kids have done. That’s been something that’s been great and it’s something that every team needs in the NHL.”
• And I don’t know what to say about this clip from ABC 26: A WGN station in Louisiana of all places posted a non-embeddable video of Chelios signing Take Me out to the Ball Game at last Friday’s Cubs-Tigers game.
Update #3: ESPN’s Scott Burnside held a chat with ESPN readers, and here’s what he had to say about the Wings and of Wings-related note:
Bruce (Detroit) Scott - in your mind, who do the Wings have the better shot at getting, Suter or Schultz? Lots of chatter about the latter around here lately.
Scott Burnside: Bruce; What about both of them? Wings will have lots of cap room and a need to re-tool along the blue line with Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement and Brad Stuart heading back to the west coast with the Sharks.
Lonny (Andover, Mn) Do you see the Wild landing either Parise or Suter this off season?
Scott Burnside: Lonny; I think Chuck Fletcher will take a hard run at Parise and Suter will likely be in the mix as well. Not sure the Wild are close enough to attract either player assuming both hit the market on July 1. Fletcher has done a nice job of assembling young talent but their collapse last season will make it harder to lure blue chip guys like Suter or Parise unless he can sell them on being the cornerstone of something special down the road in Minnesota.
Scott (Virginia) Odds philadelphia gets parise or nash?
Scott Burnside: Scott; I’d go Parise over Nash for the Flyers. The problem with Nash is that he’s going to cost not just term and money but assets. Parise it’s all about the dollars and the term and the selling job.
Dave (Miami) Do you think the Panthers will be able to re sign Garrison?
Scott Burnside: Dave; That’s a tough one. Talked to Dale Tallon here at the awards yesterday and he’s hopeful but the free agent crop of defensemen is so thin that after Ryan Suter Garrison is going to be a popular guy. The question I would have if I’m Garrison, will I find a situation that’s as good and comfortable as I have it in Florida. With Brian Campbell playing a significant role in his breakout year I’d be very cautious about simply chasing the money to another team where perhaps the dynamics are different, the expectations are higher and all of a sudden the offense takes a dip.
JD (DC) Scott, in your opinion who is currently the most undervalued free agent out there?
Scott Burnside: JD; With all due respect to the guys who will be available July 1 it’s pretty thin. But the guy I’m curious about is P.A. Parenteau who had a breakout year with the Isles last year. It doesn’t look like they’ll get a deal done before July 1 and a guy who had 49 assists and 67 points will garner lots of attention. Still, were those totals a function of playing on the Island and would he be able to replicate them somewhere else? He’s had to scratch and claw his way into the league and this is a chance for him to turn a fine season into some security either on Long Island or somewhere else. No doubt in my mind someone will take a chance that last year wasn’t a fluke.
Mike (Mission Viejo, CA) How likely is Parise to the Kings and who do you have as the early Cup favorites next year?
Scott Burnside: Mike; Kings are expected to make a strong push for Parise and even without him I think you have to keep the Kings at the top of the heap right now at least in terms of the Western Conference. So hard to tell now with free agency and trades to come that will change the landscape in some cases dramatically. But the Kings are in a great spot as a defending champion to ice a strong team next season.
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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.