The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/24/12 at 03:47 PM ET
Updated 2x at 5:09 PM: Cue the lather, rinse, repeat button regarding last night and this morning’s crop of stories regarding the Pittsburgh Penguins’ pursuit of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, because MLive’s Ansar Khan does his best to break the situation down as succinctly as possible:
As attractive a destination as Detroit would be for Suter and Parise – the opportunity to play with talents like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, for an organization with an unparalleled track record of success the past two decades – Pittsburgh would be just as appealing. Suter must have pondered the possibility of making passes to young superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for years to come. And as much as Parise admires Datsyuk and the way the Red Wings play, the opportunity to be Crosby’s winger for the next half-dozen years or so might be hard to turn down, especially since they are close friends.
Both teams have plenty of cap space. The Red Wings will have roughly $19 million. It probably doesn’t boil down to which team will pay the most. Both clubs surely will tender competitive offers.
Other factors will come into play. Which city do they want to settle down in for the foreseeable future? Which club do they believe gives them the best chance to win the Stanley Cup, now and in the future? Which coach would they prefer to play for, Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma or Detroit’s Mike Babcock?
And other teams will be in the mix. Minnesota has made it clear, through back channels, that it will not be outbid in its attempts to bring Parise back home. He is a Minneapolis native whose father, J.P., played for the old North Stars. The Wild will make a pitch for Suter, too.
The New York Rangers, who seem to be in the mix for every big-name player, figure to be interested as well, despite Parise’s claim that he won’t play for them and reports that Suter is not interested in playing in a big, East Coast market. Perhaps a surprise team will throw its hat into the ring. The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, with plenty of cap space, reportedly are interested in Parise. And there’s always a chance that they could re-sign with their clubs after seeing what’s available on July 1 – in addition to satisfying the NHL Players Association, which undoubtedly is pushing them into testing the market.
Suter, a Wisconsin product who lives in Madison, is said to be a small-town kind of guy who doesn’t like the scrutiny and attention he would receive in a big city. Nashville is ideal for someone like that. But so are Detroit and Pittsburgh. Predators general manager David Poile still believes he has a chance to re-sign Suter, which is why he has resisted trading his negotiating rights.
The Devils reportedly will make a competitive offer to Parise. But the larger question is, will New Jersey, being in dire straits financially, be able to surround their captain with enough talented players to satisfy him? How can that guarantee be made by a club that is in so much debt?
There is no such concern in Pittsburgh, a highly talented team that fizzled in the first round of the playoffs, losing to Philadelphia. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points out that the Penguins plan to build around a talented young nucleus featuring Crosby, 24; Malkin, 25; winger James Neal, 24; defenseman Kris Letang, 25; and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, 27.
Thankfully, there is some other news this afternoon, and it’s centered upon the Wings’ draft picks. The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness spoke to Wings assistant GM Jim Nill about Halifax Mooseheads forward Martin Frk sliding down to the second round thanks to a concussion that sidelined Frk for a significant chunk of the 2011-2012 season…
“We had him in the first round, now, everybody says that, but we had him in the first,” Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “He’s a well-known player, so we’re happy he fell (to us). He’s got skill and size and he plays hard. He’s one of Czech’s top players.”
In just 34 games last year, Frk did have 16 goals and 13 assists. In 17 playoff games, he had five goals and six assists to help lead the Mooseheads reach the Western Conference Finals.
“You might draft someone who doesn’t have one and then he gets one the next day,” Nill said. “If you get two, three, four (concussions), now you’re concerned. He had a tough year with injuries but as an underage he was one of their top players in World Juniors in Buffalo,” Nill added. “Last year he was injured and didn’t play in World Juniors. Heavy body, very competitive, he’s got some good skills.”
Frk’s path to getting to the Wings began with the help Jiri Fisher, who is the director of player development for the Wings and was the assistant coach for the Czech Republic in at last year’s World Juniors.
“Before the season I believe he was a top-15 pick,” Fisher said. “He likes to hold onto the puck and play with the puck. Guys who hold onto the puck tend to get hit more. It was the first time something like that ever happened to him. He came back and finished the season strong. Sidney Crosby had a concussion in juniors,” Fisher added. “I don’t worry about those things, it’s just a matter of how much he wants to bounce back.”
Frk wears No. 91 because of his childhood idol Sergei Fedorov.
“Every time he steps onto the ice he wants to be the best player, he wants to make a difference, he wants the puck, he’s got good scoring ability, he can finish, he’s relentless,” Fisher said. “He’s going to have to work on his top speed, the NHL is getting every year faster and faster through the neutral zone. He’s got the mentality of wanting to be great.”
And Pleiness profiled Chris Osgood’s first suggested pick in Saginaw Spirit goaltender Jake Paterson…
“He’s a mixture of Jonathan Quick and (Cory) Schneider,” said Chris Osgood, who watched Paterson play numerous times with Saginaw. “Watching goalies all my life, I could tell right away he had something for sure. Obviously, he was raw when I first saw him early in the season. What I like about him is he’s athletic when he needs to be but he’s calm demeanor to him,” Osgood added. “When he was playing you could tell his team knew he was calm. He was high on our list and was definitely one of the guys we targeted and hoped would come to us in the third round.”
Paterson said he’s not a goalie that will ‘flop around all over the place.’
“I’m pretty quick down low with my reactions with the glove and blocker, so I’d say a butterfly goalie who’s pretty calm in the net,” he said.
Paterson’s play in the second half of the season and in the playoffs is what really attracted Detroit to the netminder.
“I talked to Ozzie a little bit a couple of times throughout the year, but draft day was pretty unpredictable this year so just fortunate to go to Detroit,” Paterson said. “I was a Wings’ fan growing up so to be picked by the Wings is just an unbelievable feeling right now. I’ve always liked Osgood, being a goalie, he was always one of my favorites,” Paterson continued. “He’s been one of the guys who was always showing his leadership off the ice as well.”
And Paterson spoke to the Saginaw News’s Kyle Austin about being picked by his favorite team:
Paterson became the first Saginaw Spirit player on the team’s active roster to be picked by the Red Wings. He will be the fourth Wings prospect to suit up for the Spirit, and the first goaltender prospect. Now, whenever he skates out to play goaltender, most scrutinized position on the ice, he’ll do so not only as the current backstop of the home OHL team, but as a possible future goaltender of the home NHL team.
“I don’t know if there’s any added pressure,” Paterson said Saturday night from Pittsburgh. “Detroit’s a good team to go to. It’s a good opportunity.”
Ontario Hockey League teams are not affiliates of NHL teams, but the Spirit regularly brings in former Red Wings players for appearances, and the Spirit wear Red Wings-inspired special jerseys once every year. Spirit home games are a short drive for Red Wings front office personnel.
And here’s something that should endear him even further to the Spirit/Red Wings faithful: despite growing up in Mississauga, just outside Toronto, Paterson claims he’s been a Red Wings fan all along.
“I don’t know how it ended up,” Paterson said. “My sister was a Wings fan, and I ended up liking the Wings as well. It was kind of an odd situation, growing up in Toronto, liking the Wings.
And one of his favorite goaltenders growing up: Osgood. So when Osgood started showing up more frequently at Spirit games down the stretch, when Paterson was playing some of his best hockey of the year, the Spirit goaltender started thinking he could get drafted by his favorite team.
“I had a pretty good feeling when Detroit went up to the mic,” Paterson said.
Also: If you haven’t read it already, the Wings’ website points us to NHL.com’s profile of London Knights forward Andreas Athanasiou. Metro London’s John Matisz spoke to Knights assistant coach Misha Donskov about Athanasiou’s positive attributes:
Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings (fourth-110th)
John Matisz: Andreas obviously went later than expected, at least when you look at rankings from the start of the year. Detroit could have just picked up another later round gem, though. Thoughts?
Misha Donskov: Andreas is a player with elite speed. What separates Andreas from other elite skaters is not only his ability to skate, but his ability to skate with the puck on his stick. He moves extremely well laterally and is very dynamic on the rush. He is a player with high-end skill. Detroit is an great organization that puts a premium on skill, and we know he will be a great fit.
And in the “for the record” category, the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell notes that estranged Anaheim Ducks prospect Justin Schultz’s 30-day window of opportunity to sign with the Ducks ends at midnight tonight, and that means he’s an unrestricted free agent as of Monday. Campbell discussed the 22-year-old defenseman’s appeal as a top pick, and he reports that Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott (I believe Arnott is Zach Parise’s agent, too, for what it’s worth) will sit down with the University of Wisconsin defenseman to gauge the contract offers Schultz receives on Tuesday:
“This one is going to be just as big as the (Zach) Parise and (Ryan) Suter,” an NHL executive said, “ because of the economics of it.”
The thing about Schultz is that money will not be the issue here. Every team that makes an offer on him will do so knowing it will have to absorb a $3.8 million salary cap hit next season - $925,000 in base salary, $850,000 in signing bonus and $2 million in performance bonuses – on a three-year deal. So what it comes down to are other issues that relate more to where he feels more comfortable and where he gets the best opportunity to play. No defenseman has ever maxed out on his performances bonuses as an entry level player and in order to do so, Schultz would likely have to go to a team where he’ll be able to play a lot and get substantial time on the first power play. If that’s what he’s looking for, teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Edmonton Oilers might be a good fit. If he’s looking to play close to home, the Vancouver Canucks, Oilers, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets would appear to have the inside track. If he’s looking to play with former Wisconsin teammates, the Toronto Maple Leafs (with Jake Gardiner) and the New York Rangers (Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan) would be a good fit.
None of that has been determined yet, which adds another layer of intrigue to a player that already comes with a fair share of mystery. The problem is other teams have not been able to even approach him to this point because they’d be guilty of tampering.
“Nobody knows why he won’t sign with Anaheim,” said one NHL scout. “Nobody knows what he wants or where he wants to sign.”
That will become clear in the coming days. There has been speculation Schultz is looking for a guarantee he’ll be on an NHL roster next season, but the reality is no team can do that. Every entry-level deal, without exception, must be a two-way contract, meaning it is subject to a minor league salary of $67,500 if he doesn’t play in the NHL.
And as good as Schultz is, there will be some growing pains along the way. As evidenced by his 18 goals and 44 points in just 37 games with Wisconsin, Schultz has a special offensive component to his game. He probably has the poise and skill to quarterback an NHL power play now, but he’s not a particularly physical or developed player and playing against college players who are in their teens and early 20s and competing against men who are NHL veterans represents an enormous adjustment for any young player.
“Anyone who thinks this kid is going to just jump in and be a top-four defenseman with no adjustment period, well, that’s just not the norm,” a scout said. “I think he’s going to make the jump, but it might not be the prettiest jump.”
Update: I have no clue what he’s talking about, but Jonathan Ericsson conducted an interview in Swedish with Corren.se:
“It’s a surreal experience, for sure,” said Paterson, a goalie for the Saginaw Spirit the Wings drafted in the third round (80th overall). “To be picked by the Wings is just an unbelievable feeling right now. I’ve always liked (Chris) Osgood (and) being a goalie, he was always one of my favorites. He’s been one of the guys who was always showing his leadership off the ice as well.”
Paterson, a Mississauga, Ontario native, said he felt he might get selected by Detroit, but admitted that any team that drafted him would be an honor.
“I talked to Ozzie a little bit a couple of times throughout the year, but draft day was pretty unpredictable this year,” Paterson said. “(I’m just) so just fortunate to go to Detroit. It was kind of a surreal experience to meet him as a person, I kind of grew up watching him, so it was pretty awesome to talk to him throughout the year.”
What could make Paterson’s story even more dramatic is the fact that he didn’t start playing goal on a full-time basis until he was 10.
“I was a forward until I was about 10 years old when I switched to goalie for whatever reason,” explained Paterson. “I’ve been a goalie for the last couple of years, obviously.”
Paterson said his playing style is one that mirrors current NHL stars Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Miller, two players he idolizes.
“I would say that I’m a hybrid goalie and I’m usually pretty calm in the not net, not usually flopping around all over the place,” said Paterson. “I’m pretty quick down low with my reactions with the glove and blocker, so I’d say a butterfly goalie whose pretty calm in the net.”
Update #2: Western Michigan University’s Adam Bodnar spoke to Mike McKee about being picked by the Wings:
Western Michigan hockey’s Mike McKee and Colton Hargrove were both selected on day two of the 2012 National Hockey League Draft on Saturday with McKee being taken by the Detroit Red Wings and Hargrove drafted by the Boston Bruins.
McKee, a 6-foot-4 and 225-pound defenseman, was selected 140th overall in the fifth round by the Red Wings. He is only the second Bronco to be selected by the Red Wings, joining Andy Suhy who was drafted by Detroit in the eighth round of the 1989 draft. McKee is coming off his first season in the United States Hockey League where he played for the Lincoln Stars. He appeared in 59 games for the Stars, tallying two goals and adding 17 assists for 19 points. He finished with a plus-7 plus/minus and led the team with 237 penalty minutes.
“It was pretty exciting and a dream come true,” said McKee. “Going to the draft last year and sitting through it and not getting drafted, I tried to prove people wrong this year in Lincoln and getting that phone call today saying you’re a Detroit Red Wing made all the hard work pay off. The Red Wings have been such a good organization for a long time. They do a great job of bringing up players through their system and they always seem to have amazing defensemen.”
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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.