Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings catchy uppy post 2: on the prospect camp sked, Fedorov, future Wings and Big House Beer

Updated 2x with TONS of stuff at 5:27 PM: Here’s a round-up of the English-language news I missed due to my post-concussive equivalent of migraines, and just as the first catch-up post talked about future events before getting down to brass tacks, this post will follow the same format:

• First and foremost, Pavel Datsyuk and John Tavares will face off in the semifinals of EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote from Friday, May 18th until Wednesday, May 23rd;

• Second, Tomas Jurco and the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs will take part in the Memorial Cup starting on Friday in Shawinigan, Quebec, and the Sea Dogs are slated to play against the London Knights on Saturday, May 19th, the Edmonton Oil Kings on May 21st and the host Cataractes on Wednesday, May 23rd. Teams have to win at least two of their three “round robin” games to advance to the semifinals, and all three for a “bye.” Hokceysfuture.com’s Jason Menard summarizes the Sea Dogs as follows:

Up front, the club is paced by the outstanding Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA), who enters the playoffs healthy after missing a large chunk of the season due to injury. He made the most of his limited time, racking up 72 points in only 37 games. Combined with Coyle, and complemented by offensive talents such as Stanislav Galiev (WAS), Tomas Jurco (DET), and Zack Phillips (MIN), the Sea Dogs are talented, experienced, and deep—all elements that often equal success in the finals.

The Sea Dogs are a club coming together at the right time. Most of their top players suffered through some injuries and icing a full roster was a rare occurrence. If there is a weakness on the club, it’s a minor one in that Mathieu Corbeil (CLB) doesn’t exactly match up to some of his counterparts in the tournament. However, if Corbeil can continue the strong play he displayed en route to backstopping the club to the QMJHL title, then Saint John could be hard to beat.

Although the club enjoyed a relatively easy path to the Memorial Cup, a lack of being tested shouldn’t be an issue for the squad as it has last year’s experience to draw from and their combination of skill, depth, and experience should overcome any minor deficiencies the Sea Dogs may have.

In other words, they’re favorites to defend their title.

 

Third, and perhaps most importantly for you and me, the Left Wing Lock’s Sarah Lindenau reports that the Wings have released their schedule for this summer’s prospect development camp in Traverse City:

The Detroit Red Wings will host their annual prospects development camp at the Centre I.C.E. Arena in Traverse City, MI again this year. This year’s camp will begin on July 7 and run through the 14th. All practices are open to the public and this camp is the only opportunity to see many of the Red Wings up and coming college and European talent. In addition, the Wings selections from the 2012 NHL entry draft are expected to participate and it will give the organization it’s first look at the new additions.

No roster is currently available for this camp, but the LWL will have it as soon as it is made available.

Below is the complete Schedule for the event, please note all times are subject to change:

July 7

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm on-ice workouts (Full Squad)

July 8

Team Lidstrom:

8:30 am – 10:30 am off-ice workouts

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm on-ice Tomas Storm Skill Development

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm power skating

3:45 pm – 4:30 pm practice

Team Zetterberg:

8:30 am – 9:00 am on-ice Tomas Storm Skills Development

9:00 am – 9:30 am power skating

9:45 am – 10:30 am practice

2:30 pm – 4:30 pm off-ice workout

July 9

Team Lidstrom:

8:30 am – 9:00 am on-ice Tomas Storm Skills Development

9:00 am – 9:30 am power skating

9:45 am – 10:30 am practice

2:30 pm – 4:30 pm off-ice workout

Team Zetterberg:

8:30 am – 10:30 am off-ice workouts

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm on-ice Tomas Storm Skill Development

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm power skating

3:45 pm – 4:30 pm practice

July 10

7:00 pm Scrimmage (full squad)

July 11

Team Lidstrom:

8:30 am – 10:30 am off-ice workouts

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm on-ice Tomas Storm Skill Development

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm power skating

3:45 pm – 4:30 pm practice

Team Zetterberg:

8:30 am – 9:00 am on-ice Tomas Storm Skills Development

9:00 am – 9:30 am power skating

9:45 am – 10:30 am practice

2:30 pm – 4:30 pm off-ice workout

July 12

Team Lidstrom:

8:30 am – 9:00 am on-ice Tomas Storm Skills Development

9:00 am – 9:30 am power skating

9:45 am – 10:30 am practice

2:30 pm – 4:30 pm off-ice workout

Team Zetterberg:

8:30 am – 10:30 am off-ice workouts

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm on-ice Tomas Storm Skill Development

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm power skating

3:45 pm – 4:30 pm practice

July 13

8:30 am Scrimmage (both squads)

Lindeneau is excellent in terms of providing updates on Twitter at @Lindy72, and she suggests that we should follow @RedWingsCamps, the official Twitter account of Centre Ice Arena.

 


And much further down the line, WWJ reports that the Winter Classic will probably involve alcohol being served…

Hockey fans raise your glasses! Thirsty Maple Leafs and Red Wings fans might just be able to buy alcohol at the Big House during the 2013 NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.

Officials from the University of Michigan are pursuing a liquor license to make the sale of alcohol legal at the annual event.

A House committee will hold a hearing Wednesday morning on the legislation, which school officials say is necessary because they don’t have a temporary liquor license large enough to handle the number of fans expected to pack the 109,901-seat stadium, according to a report by The Detroit News.

The proposed law would not only allow the sale of alcohol at Michigan Stadium for the Jan. 1 outdoor game, but also at festivities in the days leading to the game.

NHL officials are reportedly renting the Big House for $4 million. After expenses, school officials expect to net approximately $3 million in profits, athletic department spokesman David Ablauf told The Detroit News.

Sources say the ability to serve fans alcohol was a stipulation in the NHL’s agreement to rent the stadium.

And here’s the report WWJ is citing, from the Detroit News’s Chad Livengood:

Legislation introduced last week in the state House would make it legal for alcohol to be served at Michigan Stadium for the Jan. 1 outdoor game, which has become an annual event.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday morning on the legislation, which school officials say is necessary because they don’t have a temporary liquor license large enough to handle the number of fans expected to pack the 109,901-seat stadium.

“It’s just for this one event and it’s because the NHL is renting the facility,” school spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.

The proposed law would make the special liquor license good for 30 days to also accommodate festivities leading up to the Winter Classic, Fitzgerald said.

NHL officials are renting Michigan Stadium for $4 million for the nationally-televised New Year’s Day game.

After expenses, school officials expect to net approximately $3 million in profits, athletic department spokesman David Ablauf said.

Serving alcohol was a stipulation in the NHL’s agreement to rent Michigan Stadium that school officials have been working on since alcohol is not allowed or served at any Michigan sporting events, Ablauf said.

The legislation, if approved, also would allow the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to approve alcohol advertising on campus for the duration of the license.

[edit/update: WDIV reports that all is going well in the State legislature]

In news related to the World Championships, the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press’s Kirkland Crawford, MLive’s Phillip Zaroo, Fox Sports Detroit’s Reed Nelson and CBS Detroit’s Mike Stone all mentioned the Valtteri Filppula “Break the Spell” Nike video…

Which, again, references the fact that the country hosting the World Championships hasn’t won the tournament in 25 years, thus yielding a curse which Nike, the official jersey and apparel supplier for IIHF tournaments, suggests that Filppula and the Finns might break:

 

• In the round-up department, MLive’s Ansar Khan and Brendan Savage provided World Championship updates regarding Sunday’s U.S. win over Finland and the Wings participants’ other Sunday games, Monday games and Tuesday games;

• The Detroit Free Press took note of Sunday and Monday’s games;

• And the Detroit News posted blurbs about Sunday and Tuesday’s games;

More specifically, on Monday, the Free Press’s Helene St. James reported news which has been confirmed today in that Jonathan Ericsson appeared to be on track to return to the Swedish lineup for the quarterfinals tomorrow—which he will…

The Swedes, meanwhile, look like they will regain the services of defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. Last week, after Ericsson suffered a back injury in the first game of the tournament, the Wings were under the impression Ericsson wouldn’t play again. But he has apparently improved enough that he went on the ice Monday, and he told Sweden’s Aftonbladet that he hopes to play in the quarterfinals, which begin Thursday.

Johan Franzen, who left Friday’s game between Sweden and Russia with a broken nose, is expected to play today. He’ll wear a full face shield for protection.

General manager Ken Holland called the Ericsson update “good news.” He’s at the Helsinki, Finland, part of the tournament, which will include this weekend’s semifinals, bronze-medal game and gold-medal game.

Before setting up tomorrow’s quarterfinals:

The U.S. plays Finland; Canada takes on Slovakia (which includes Wings prospect Tomas Tatar); Pavel Datsyuk and Russia get Norway, and Sweden faces the Czech Republic.

The U.S. crushed the Finns, 5-0, on Sunday, with Howard only facing 18 shots. Thursday’s game will be in Helsinki, too, putting that much more pressure on the host Finns as they face being eliminated.

Finland finished third in the Helsinki pool with 15 points, one behind the U.S. and four behind Canada. The Slovaks gave Canada a good test when they met on opening day in a game Canada only won by a goal, 3-2.

Russia is a hockey powerhouse and has a roster that includes the tournament’s second-leading scorer Evgeni Malkin (14 points). Norway played decently in a 4-2 loss to Russia earlier in the tournament and is capable offensively, but this is Russia’s game to lose.

Sweden, three points behind Stockholm pool winner Russia’s 21, plays the Czechs, whom the Swedes beat, 4-1, on Day 2 of the tournament. Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is expected to join the lineup, as general manager Ken Holland confirmed to the Free Press on Tuesday that Ericsson (back) had been cleared to play after missing all but the first game of round-robin play.

I’ve already posted a ton of TV and scheduling info, so you can head over there for the schedule and TV news…

But here’s MLive’s Brendan Savage’s summation thereof anyway:

• Canada vs. Slovakia, 6 a.m., in Helsinki. Defenseman Kyle Quincey was a late roster addition for Team Canada, which suffered its only loss when the United States posted a 5-4 victory in overtime May 5.

Tomas Tatar, who briefly played for the Red Wings in 2010-11 but spent last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, plays for Slovakia, which won its final five games after an 0-2 start. One of those wins was 4-2 over the U.S. May 7.

• Russia vs. Norway, 7:45 a.m., in Stockholm. Pavel Datsyuk is the only Red Wings player in this game. He helped Russia go unbeaten in seven preliminary round games.
...
• United States vs. Finland, 11:30 a.m. in Helsinki. Goaltender Jimmy Howard and forward Justin Abdelkader helped the Americans post a 6-1 record in the preliminary round.

Team USA’s victories included a 5-0 triumph over Finland Sunday. Valtteri Filppula is playing for defending champion Finland (5-2).
...
• Sweden vs. Czech Republic, 1:15 p.m., in Stockholm. Despite the absence of Ericsson, the Swedish roster features three Red Wings – Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall – as well as 2010 draft pick Calle Jarnkrok.
...
The winners of each quarterfinal will meet Saturday in the semifinals in Helsinki. The bronze medal game is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sunday and the gold medal game will be at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

NBC Sports Network will televise the USA vs. Finland and the bronze-medal games live. The gold-medal game will be shown on a tape-delayed basis at 9 p.m. The broadcast time for the semifinals has yet to be determined.

According to NBC Sports’ TV listings website, every game should air live, with the exception of the final game:

6:00 AM Hockey “IIHF World Championships, First Quarterfinal: Canada vs. Slovakia”

8:30 AM Hockey “IIHF World Championships, Second Quarterfinal: Norway vs. Russia”

11:00 AM Hockey “IIHF World Championships, Third Quarterfinal: Finland vs. United States”

2:00 PM Hockey “IIHF World Championships, Fourth Quarterfinal: Czech Republic vs. Sweden”

 

In World Championship alumni news MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose covered the report—which has been made official—that Sergei Fedorov would become CSKA Moscow’s general manager, with Wings assistant GM Jim Nill speaking to Roose at length about Fedorov rejoining the team he first played for as a professional hockey player way back in 1986:

“Sergei is such a big part of Russian hockey history, he was one of the first players to really defect and open the doors for a lot of people,” Nill said. “And then he kind of came full circle and came back to the federation and is making a name for himself again in Russia, which is nice to see. It’s like giving back to your community and that’s what he’s done.”
...
An elite skater, Fedorov quickly established himself as one of the best two-way players in the game and finished his North American career with 483 goals and 1,179 points, which is the most among Russian-born players in NHL history. On the 13th anniversary of his defection from the Soviet Union, Fedorov left the Wings to sign a free agency contract with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He is still one of the most highly-decorated players in Wings’ history and remains in the top five in virtually every offensive category. Following 18 seasons in the NHL, including 13 with the Wings, Fedorov returned to Russia in 2009 and played the last three campaigns with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. But time has slowed Fedorov, who earned a Hart Trophy (1994) to go with two Selke Trophies (1994, ‘96) and three Stanley Cup championships with the Wings.

“I think that players like Sergei just love the game so much that you don’t want it to go away,” Nill said. “It’s your whole life, to be that good at what they do, they’ve given everything they’ve got, they’re not done giving it up yet. They still have more to give … Unfortunately the body doesn’t let you go anymore, but their mind and their drive is still there that they want to impact the game in some way.”

Fedorov joins a long list of former Wings teammates who have made the jump from the ice to the front office over the last few years, including Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Fetisov.

“I think it shows that those teams were so successful and it shows the strong leadership with guys that were driven with leadership abilities to get into the font office,” Nill said. “All of these guys have made the step and it just shows you how much character and how much leadership was on those teams.”

Until recently, elite players like Yzerman, Fedorov, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier weren’t always considered as first-choice candidates for top managerial position. But that has evolved since Yzerman led Team Canada to the Olympic gold medal in 2010 and his Tampa Bay Lightning came within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup finals last spring.

“Sergei is a very smart guy and he knows the game very well and I think his presence in the front office will be a great mark for Russian hockey,” Nill said. “You’re talking about some of the best players of all-time, they’re just so passionate about the game. Look at all of these guys, they’ve all played 15 to 20-years plus in their business and to do that you have to have a great passion.”

 

And in terms of potential future Red Wings players taking part in the World Championships, the aforementioned Nill spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan about the team’s desire to sign Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco…

“We’re very happy,’’ Nill said. “They all have high-end offensive skills. You need 2-3 players to become better than you projected. That’s what (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk did. We’re fortunate Zetterberg and Datsyuk came along. We’re still looking for the next wave of talent.’‘

Nobody is saying Jarnkrok, Pulkkinen or Jurco will become the next Zetterberg or Datsyuk, but they will add some much-needed skill and offensive ability to the system. Jarnkrok and Pulkkinen will have an opportunity to make the Red Wings roster in training camp, but in all likelihood will spend another season in Europe. Jarnkrok plays for Brynas of the Swedish Elite League and Pulkkinen for Jokerit of SM-liiga in Finland.

“We’d bring them to camp and go from there,’’ Nill said.

With them probably meaning Jurco next year as Jarnkrok and Pulkkinen have a year remaining on their contracts with their respective pro teams. Jarnkrok’s impressed everybody…

Jarnkrok, of the three, is the closest to reaching the NHL. He earned a spot on Sweden’s World Championship team after finishing second in scoring for Brynas with 39 points (including 16 goals) in 50 games. He took his game to another level in the playoffs, picking up 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 16 games as Brynas won the SEL championship.

“That’s a good judge of his talent, to play in the World Championship at his age (he has one assist in six games),’’ Nill said. “He has great hockey sense, very tenacious, a lot of Zetterberg-type qualities. He’s strong on the puck, never gives up on the puck.’‘

The slightly stocky Pulkkinen all but looks like the player Nill compares him to…

“He’s a pure goal-scorer, with a Brett Hull type of shot; loves to shoot the puck, has a great release,’’ Nill said. “Europeans aren’t known as shooters, but he has a Brett Hull type of mentality. Finds open spots, lets it rip.’‘

And Jurco’s Jurco:

Nill described him as a “Marian Hossa-type player.’‘

“He’s a leader on a very good team, a top-six forward,’’ Nill said. “He’s got high-end skill.’‘

Khan also confirms that the Wings will not sign Brooks Macek, and he reports that the Wings are holding their amateur scouting meetings this week before heading to the draft combine in Toronto from May 28th to June 2nd, and among the topics of those meetings will be the futures of two players who probably won’t be coming over to North America:

Nill said it is highly unlikely that goaltender Daniel Larsson and forward Dick Axelsson will return to the organization. The Red Wings will retain their rights indefinitely, as defected players, should they ever want to return to North America. But Nill said each has carved out a niche in Sweden.

Larsson will play for Skellefea AIK this upcoming season, but Axelsson’s future is much less certain after the struggles he had keeping his focus on the ice instead of on Facebook or Twitter while playing for Modo Ornskoldsvik.


I’ll update this entry with more stuff, but I want to get it out online so that you can discuss the main news. Expect a few slates of “minor news” updates to come.


Update #1: The Free Press posted replays of their chats with sports editor Gene Myers and the Free Press’s George Sipple, who spoke to Red Wings equipment manager Paul Boyer during the team’s equipment sale on Saturday:

“This year, I had a lot more questions about new skates and new sticks. People wanted to know why a company like Easton went to a white stick,” Boyer said, referring to Easton’s Mako line. “On the used skates, people wanted to know if they fit properly and why Bauer would do the things that they do, the difference between an APX skate or the T1. Just general questions about fit and performance on some of the new and the used skates,” he said.

Boyer said he’ll get to work soon on preparing for the development camp in July in Traverse City, as well as writing purchase orders in preparation for training camp. Boyer added that the development camp ends up being a big help for him, as well as the young prospects.

“It’s a chance for us to meet them and them to meet us,” Boyer said. “We get everyone outfitted there. It saves us a lot of chaos the first day of training camp. We send them home with gloves and helmets and pants. It’s a good prep time for us. It puts us ahead of the game.”

The Free Press also posted a reminder of a poor playoff call in 2009 and a very strange reprint from 1987;

• If you’re interested, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spent a significant chunk of his Sunday notebook wondering why someone like Ray Whitney, who’s played so very well for such a long time, couldn’t seem to fit in with the Wings during the 2003-2004 season, to the point that the Wings bought him out;

• The Wings’ Twitter account is pointing us toward their Winter Classic micro site, which will probably become more important sooner than later, but for now, it matters because Bill Roose spoke to Bill Lockhead as a Wings alum and Mark Osborne as someone who has “dual citizenship” as a Wing and a Leaf;

• The Wings also posted an incredibly through report about the Red Wings ‘brand’ online:

The Detroit Red Wings’ 2011-12 strong regular-season performance on the ice helped grow the overall brand off the ice as well. Detroit’s 86th season in the NHL saw the team achieve great success as the Red Wings set a league record by winning 23 consecutive home games, clinched their franchise-record 21st consecutive playoff berth and extended their own league record by amassing 100 points for the 12th straight year.

Off the ice, the Red Wings enjoyed notable success this past season. In addition to posting their best attendance figures in five years, the organization greatly expanded its commitment to Hockeytown by spending more than 1,000 hours in the community, visiting over 100 local schools and greatly increasing the team’s charitable fundraising through several new community initiatives. The Winged Wheel’s local and worldwide reach experienced significant growth in areas such as digital marketing and sponsorship activation while also consistently connecting with fans at a grass-roots level through the ongoing ‘Hockeytown Thanks’ initiative.

“The 2011-12 season was a remarkable success for the Red Wings from a variety of standpoints,” said Olympia Entertainment President & CEO Tom Wilson. “We’re fortunate to play in one of the best sports markets in the country and we are proud to serve as a source of pride to our fans and stakeholders. The Red Wings’ illustrious and ever-growing legacy is something very special and we take our responsibility as a community leader and the caretaker of the Red Wings heritage very seriously.”

It’s a very lengthy read…

• Speaking of the Wings’ “brand,” Winging it in Motown’s Jeff Hancock spoke to Wings director of social media Jake Duhaime;

• In a cross-sport marketing promotion of sorts, the Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley reports that the owner of Kentucky Derby owner “I’ll Have Another” is a Red Wings fan:

For the most part, they are a pair of Californians who are riding high behind racing’s hottest horse. But every so often, trainer Doug O’Neill gets a subtle reminder that he’s working for a Canadian owner. When it comes to talking about Paul Reddam’s beloved Detroit Red Wings, after all, there are ground rules.

First: During the season, never mention the score of a game, because it’s being recorded at home for Reddam, who grew up in Windsor, Ont., and still cherishes his roots, to watch after the races.

Second: Best not to talk about the goaltending situation in Hockeytown these days.

“If (Reddam) could watch horse racing and hockey all day long, he’d be in heaven,” O’Neill said in a recent interview on the Pimlico Racecourse backstretch where, this Saturday, their colt I’ll Have Another will attempt to win the Preakness Stakes and his second jewel of the Triple Crown.

“He’s determined. If he could write a cheque for the Red Wings to get a goaltender, I think he’d do it.”

• CBS Detroit points us toward a “that’s stating the obvious” quip from The Sports Xchange:

—Nicklas Lidstrom is confident in his ability to continue playing at a high level. His health and his age (42 on April 28) are not concerns. He has faith in the organization’s ability to maintain a competitive roster, and he is motivated to win another Stanley Cup. Lidstrom, however, is not sure if he still has the drive, after 20 NHL seasons, to train the way he needs to over the summer to be prepared for another long and grinding season. Plus, his family might want to return to his native Sweden. The seven-time Norris Trophy winner as the league’s top defenseman will take a few weeks, maybe a month or two, to decided whether to play next season or retire.

—If hockey was the only thing he had to consider, Brad Stuart would return to the Wings. But his situation is more complicated because of family concerns. As a result, it appears the gritty, stay-at-home free agent defenseman will not return. He is expected to sign with a team closer to his home in San Jose. Stuart’s family lives in San Jose and is unable to move for personal reasons. It has forced Stuart to commute back and forth during the season, during breaks in the schedule. It has been difficult for him being away from his two sons, ages 4 and 5.

QUOTE TO NOTE
“Everyone in here believed we had a good team, that we could do something this year and we didn’t. It is tough, it’s frustrating for everyone. Definitely wasn’t anything we expected.”—Wings center Henrik Zetterberg.

It’s Stuart’s stepdaughter and his wife’s residency restrictions due to her custody of Ciera that make things complicated, but still…

• Via RedWingsFeed, part 1: the Score’s Justin Bourne just saw the international Kronwall hit…

• Via RedWingsFeed, part 2: RedWingsCentral’s Twitter account informed us that it’s updated its profiles of Mitchell Callahan, Max Nicastro, Louis-Marc Aubry, Thomas McCollum, Alan Quine, Landon Ferraro, Mattias Backman, Adam Almqvist and Tomas Jurco;

• RWF wants us to keep an eye on NCAA free agent-to-be Justin Schultz, a defenseman profiled by the Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford;

• And Tino Wandfluh on Twitter says that the Red Wings are eying Swiss forward Damien Brunner. NHL Gossip provided me with a description of the 26-year-old from Ben from Last Word on Sports:

Every year it seems there is an undrafted free agent player from Europe who NHL teams are salivating over in an attempt to sign.  This year is no different.  In fact we’ve already seen one such player signed as Czech Roman Červenka signed with the Calgary Flames.

There are reports out that multiple NHL teams are after Damien Brunner, a 26 year old forward currently playing for the Swiss National team in the IIHF World Championships.  Teams reportedly interested include the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild, and Philadelphia Flyers.  One can assume there are other teams interested who are trying to fly under the radar.

Brunner has been a scoring star for Zug in the Swiss Elite League, which is traditionally a low-scoring league.  In 2010, he scored 58 points in 47 games.  In 2011 he scored 46 points in 40 games.  And this year he did something that no Swiss-born and trained player had done in 30 years – he led the Swiss league in scoring with 60 points in 45 games.

Brunner is considered undersized at 5’11″, 187 lbs (eliteprospects.com) or 5’10″ 176 (hockeydb.com), but he certainly has talent.  How that will translate to the NHL is unclear, but when a player like this is available without costing NHL teams prospects it certainly draws attention.  Whether he flops like a Fabian Brunnstrom, or earns a regular spot in the NHL like a Raphael Diaz, remains to be seen.

Brunner is said to have very good skating, stickhandling, and an NHL-level shot and release.  In the World Championships he’s shown an ability to create offence against NHL caliber defencemen, and has clearly been Switzerland’s best player.  Despite his size he’s shown an ability to play a gritty game and to get to the front of the net.  From all indications, he is a capable two-way player, which will greatly help him to make the NHL even if he needs some time to find his offence.

Update #2: A listing on Kijiji.ca reminded me to remind you that Gordie Howe will be signing autographs at the Keller-Williams Reality office in Kitchener, ON on May 27th;

• Regarding the Memorial Cup, Yahoo Sports’ Neate Sager posted an “A to Z guide to the tournament;

• The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch took note of this quip about Nicklas Lidstrom made by Daniel Alfredsson in a Q and A on IIHF.com:

Question: What do you think about Erik Karlsson? Does he have a chance to become a superstar like Nicklas Lidström? (Marcin Kyc, Sosnowiec, Poland - via Facebook)

Alfredsson: You know, it’s tough to compare someone to Lidström, one of the best defencemen in the modern era. They are different players, too, in the ways they play. I think Nicklas is more of a solid guy that plays in every situation. Erik might get there, but he’s more of an offensive guy. He’s definitely improved his defensive play, but he’s more of an explosive guy that joins the rush all the time. I think Nicklas picks his spots more, and he never makes a mistake. He’s just solid, night in and night out.

Erik has that potential to be a superstar, there’s no question. I also think he might almost change the way you want the defencemen to play, too, a little bit. You want that guy that skates all the time, that joins the rush all the time. It’s a tough mix, where you also want to be strong and play in front of your own net. But when you see a guy who can skate like he can, it could be a huge advantage. I don’t think a lot of people thought he would be able to play this well at the size he is. But he’s got balance and speed to make up for lack of strength and size.

• The Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston reminds us that Steve Yzerman retained Wings GM Ken Holland as part of his advisory staff for Team Canada’s 2014 Olympic team, and both men are in Helsinki to watch the Worlds;

• From the Sunday columns, part 1, from the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons:

Expect Philly GM Paul Holmgren to make a pitch for the negotiating rights to Nashville D Ryan Suter if he doesn’t agree to a new deal with the Predators. The Wings will certainly be among the teams that hold talks along with Minnesota.

• From the Sunday columns, part 2, from the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson:

I can see Philly GM Paul Holmgren trying to trade for Ryan Suter’s UFA rights after the draft if the Preds can’t sign him with Chris Pronger’s concussion clouding his comeback and Kimmo Timonen 37, but one factor to consider as the Preds try to resign Suter: there’s no state income tax in Tennessee so Suter can keep more of his salary there. Plus the grass isn’t always greener someplace else. The Flyers went out in the second round, another suitor (Detroit) went out in round one. Nashville went out in Round 2. There are no guarantees anymore where you play that a Cup beckons. If the Preds gave goalie Pekka Rinne seven years, they’ll give Suter, say, eight at eight ($8 mil is what Duncan Keith makes in Chicago). Sixty-four mil. Thank you very much.
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Jersey will likely forfeit their first-rounder in June (in the bottom four) for their sleight-of-hand to trying to sign Ilya Kovalchuk before they had to rework his contract. Only thing that might give them pause to wait until next June: With captain Zach Parise possibly leaving as a UFA winger (Detroit will make the biggest push with scout Mark Howe his biggest booster), they could use a first-round pick to stock the cupboard this year.

• And from Matheson, today:

Q: I’m transplanted in the Nashville area and not many people here believe that Ryan Suter will return due to the money. Nashville isn’t a big market like Detroit or Philadelphia or New York City. Can they really give Suter a seven- or eight-year contract when they’re already giving Pekka Rinne seven years and they have to re-sign Shea Weber? That could be about $22 million for three players.

(Jim Petalsky)

A: You are right that tying up so much money in three guys shackles a general manager when it comes to getting a supporting cast around those players with the salary-cap issues. They say the cap will be $69 million tops next year, but in a new CBA it could be coming down. Suter and Weber are joined at the hip; they play together, they play almost identical minutes. Weber gives you more pop offensively; Suter is quieter and steadier defensively in my opinion. It’s the best defence pair in the NHL.

From talking to people in Nashville, they’re confident Suter will re-up. I’m not so sure. If he’s unsigned after the June 22-23 draft, with free-agency looming on July 1, I still think Philadelphia will go after him hard because this is what the Flyers do and, as I’ve said, Chris Pronger may not play again and Kimmo Timonen is 37. They will make a play to get his rights before July 1.

I know Detroit likes Suter, too. Their pursuit will be predicated on whether Nick Lidstrom is back for next year. If not, they’ll full-court press Suter. As for Weber? He’s an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2013, so they have to make a serious call on him, too. In the long-run, money talks loudest, as it always does.

• Shifting gears in a big way, this is plain old neat, per the Free Press’s Jo-Ann Barnas:

Alexa Tchekmarev has been named to the U.S. junior national synchronized swimming team. She’ll compete in September at the 13th World Junior Synchronized Swimming Championships in Volos, Greece. Alexa’s father, Sergei Tchekmarev, is the team masseur for the Red Wings.

• And, uh, Niklas Kronwall, Staffan Kronwall and Erik Karlsson…can cook?

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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.