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Red Wings evening news: And then things got weird

Updated 3x at 12:10 AM: With the Red Wings reeling and re-setting after losing out on Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and

losing out on Matt Carle as well, what does the mainstream media in Detroit do? Dish doom and gloom, starting in “Tweet” form, from MLive’s Ansar Khan:

No power for 27 hours and counting. This is a good time to make some predictions because I can always blame it on the heat later (cont.)
I don’t think the Wings will sign Semin because they don’t want to make a long term commitment to someone whose commitment is questionable
I don’t think the Wings will sign Carle because he’s viewed as soft, not worth the $5 million or so a year for 5 yrs it’ll take to get him.


I just can’t see Shane Doan leaving Phoenix, despite his agent’s attempts to solicit offers. Maybe it’s a way of gaining leverage.
I can’t see Columbus trading Rick Nash to Detroit. Just doesn’t make sense to help a rival that way and anger your fanbase even more (cont.)
Plus, I just don’t think the Wings would be willing or able to put together the kind of package CBJ would demand.
I’d be shocked if any team tenders an offer sheet to Shea Weber because Nashville surely would match anything, especially after losing Suter
If you want Weber, it’s best to wait until he’s UFA in 13. Nash. likely will move him before the trade deadline if it can’t sign him, but
...he might end up being a rental biding his time until UFA. Like Hossa for Pitt in 2008.
These were my predictions before free agency: I thought Suter would stay in Nashville and Parise would go to Pittsburgh.
Bobby Ryan, my guess is winds up in Philly or with NYR (whichever team doesn’t get Nash). Or he stays in Anaheim. I wouldn’t trade him.
As for the Wings, Keith Yandle seems like a logical move. If Phoenix really is intent on dealing him.
OK, I’m burning up in here. I will step outside and charge this phone in my car.

I saw the Detroit News’s John Niyo poking around on Twitter during the “decision” process, so it’s not surprising that he chose to do what he does best—ride the line between pessimism and perspective-lending…

Still, the bottom line is this: The Wings are no longer the chosen ones in the NHL. They’re just one of 30 teams. Still a good team, mind you. Better than most. And still an Original Six team, for what that’s worth. (Sadly, not as much as it used to.) But for those who still carried delusions of a decade ago, when owner Mike Ilitch had the money and the motive and the marketplace to assemble a roster stacked with future Hall of Famers, well, where have you been the last few years?

Ilitch flew to Madison to make the Red Wings’ pitch to Suter on Tuesday flanked by general manager Ken Holland, head coach Mike Babcock and his ace in the hole, Chris Chelios, a longtime Suter family friend. They presented their new-and-improved offer — a 13-year contract worth nearly $90 million — and all the spit and shine their storied franchise and its still-talented roster could muster. But that doesn’t sell the way it used to, apparently. (And if you’re being honest, that Brian Rafalski signing we all lauded back in 2007? That was a homecoming just like Parise and Suter, wasn’t it?)

“There’s 30 teams, and it’s a cap world,” said Holland, who sounded disappointed — and maybe a bit frustrated — but not disconsolate on the phone Wednesday. “Players are going different places for different reasons.”

And for all the obvious reasons, plus a few more, that’s why he insists he’s not going to panic after striking out once, twice and … let’s just say there’ve been a few over the last couple years, shall we?

“You can say, ‘You have to’ and ‘You have to,’” Holland said, when I reminded him of the expectations they’ve brought upon themselves with 21 consecutive playoff trips and four Stanley Cups. “But in our mind we went after Suter and Parise hard. We didn’t get ‘em. At the end of the day, there’s 30 teams in the game now, and lots of teams went after these guys. One team gets them.”

As Niyo wisely points out, the Predators and Devils are the ones truly devastated by what happened, and the Penguins, Flyers, Blackhawks got kinda screwed, too.

Niyo also believes—as I do—that there’s no point in selling the stable and all the horses in it for Rick Nash, or that Shea Weber is going anywhere but Nashville, at least for one more season, so he assesses the Wings’ alternatives as follows:

As for free agency, the panic move would be to spend $6 million a year on a long-term deal for the Flyers’ Matt Carle, the next-best defenseman available after Suter. They’ll have to explore trade options — Keith Yandle? Jay Bouwmeester? — or settle for a serviceable part like Carlo Colaiacovo or Chris Campoli. And hope that Brendan Smith really is the talent they’ve billed him as the past few years. (They already tried, and failed, to land Sami Salo, who signed with Tampa this week.)

And what about the top-six winger they’ve needed for some time now? Yes, they’ll be in the bidding for Shane Doan if the Phoenix ownership situation takes a turn for the worse — or at least the uncertain, again — next week. (Don’t count on it.) They’d better inquire about Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan again. They’ll kick some other tires — one of them, Olli Jokinen, already signed with Winnipeg — and they’ll keep an eye on next year’s free agent crop that includes Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, among others.

And yes, did I mention they’d love to land Nash? Of course they would. But that still seems like a pipe dream.

Sort of like that half-baked Sports Illustrated idea back in 2007, when the magazine made news — and quite a few enemies here in Detroit — by anointing St. Paul, Minn., “America’s new Hockeytown.” Well, five years later — on our nation’s birthday, no less — it was, at least for one day.

“This is the NHL of today,” Holland said. “I keep telling people and they don’t want to believe it: It’s a level playing field.”

But Niyo also went trolling after the Lightning signed Carle:

Wings started prepping for post-lockout reality by holding onto draft picks starting in 2005. Problem is ... (cont.)
... its a painfully slow process, esp. picking late in first round, where the misses are easier to find.
05 draft started with Kindl, who isn’t going to pan out. Also included Abdelkader and Helm.
Next 1st rounder they picked was B. Smith (07), who they’re counting on big-time now. In 08, it was T. McCollum (bust) but Nyquist in Rd 4.
‘09 draft looks like they let Mo Cheese pick, but in ‘10 the top two look like they’ll make it. Last two, who’s to say yet.
Call Fedorov and see if he’d mind playing D now? RT @FSDwakiji So put on your GM hat, John. What would you do now if you were Ken Holland?

Look, you don’t implode the machine and take it apart. That’s too damn dangerous. You can very easily “miss” with those high picks, too, and you may not be able to put the machine back together…

And let’s not kid ourselves here. We’re Detroit Red Wings fans. We’re not going to accept paying the kind of money the Red Wings charge us to watch games to watch Detroit stink after 21 straight years of playoff appearances. Any suggestion to the contrary is ludicrous.

As the Chief already eviscerated Jeff Seidel’s column, I’ll stick with his only mildly bipolar analysis…

There was a time when future Hall of Famers tripped over themselves to play in Hockeytown. Players like Suter and Parise sprinted to Detroit.

But now, it’s just bad news after bad news. First, the Red Wings lost in the first round of the playoffs. Then, Nicklas Lidstrom retired. Then Brad Stuart left, followed by Jiri Hudler.

At the start of free agency, Holland acknowledged there is growing frustration among Red Wings fans.

“The mood out there seems to be we are slipping, which we are slipping a little bit, with the loss of Lidstrom,” Holland said last week.

You have to give him credit for his honesty. But more than anything, you have to acknowledge that he tried to change it. Holland has a solid, patient vision on how to build a contender in the age of free agency: Build the core through the draft, develop homegrown talent and top it off with free agency or trades.

The Red Wings went after the top two free agents on the market. The Wings had about $17 million in salary-cap space to remake their team on the fly. It is the most money the Red Wings have ever had during the salary-cap era. They were set up perfectly to make a big splash. But it turned into a nasty belly flop, and right now it stings like crazy. Yep, that’s gonna leave a mark.

If there is any solace, it is this: Holland has built champions before and after free agency. He is one of the best GMs in the business, and there is no way he is done. The Red Wings have a solid core with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. And they have several young players and a great owner. “We are trying to evolve,” Holland said last week.

But what if you can’t land anybody that you want in free agency? Will they burn through their money and have to overpay just to bring in a second choice? Are we at the start of a horrible downward spiral?

That remains to be seen. The available free agents’ out there aren’t pretty—I’ll try to build a list of players I don’t think completely suck for the overnight report, but there are no princes here, only frogs and reclamation projects—but the worst thing the Wings can do is nothing. They desperately need a top-four defenseman and a forward who can score goals, and the Wings cannot simply fold their tent and say, “Well, we went at ‘em as best we could, and now we’ll see what the kids do.”

The Wings may have to chip and chase without Nick, but they’re gonna have to have people who can chip and have people who can chase that puck down and put it in the back of the damn net.

Yes, there is no doubt that, as Holland has previously said, if the team the Wings already have doesn’t step up its game, they won’t be able to rebound from Nick Lidstrom’s retirement, but reinforcements are required here, and while it’s great that Holland offered some words of solace to himself and the rest of us via MLive’s Khan…

“At the end of the day, we feel good about our offers,’’ Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It was in the ball park of what they signed for.’‘

The Red Wings offered Suter, their primary target, a 13-year deal for $90 million. Holland said they made Parise a similar offer. Owner Mike Ilitch, coach Mike Babcock, advisor Chris Chelios and Holland flew to Madison, Wis., Tuesday to make a presentation to Suter.

“We feel good we had an opportunity to fly over and lay out our plan for the team and the for the future going forward, what we’re all about, what we’re trying to build,’’ Holland said. “Obviously, he decided to go to Minnesota for a variety of reasons, some professional and some personal.’‘
“I’m disappointed we didn’t get Suter,’’ Holland said. “Certainly, when you offer someone the amount of money we offered him you feel you’re a legitimate player. We made an offer to Parise on July 1, it was legitimate. We were told a couple of times that we were on a short list of teams he was considering.’‘

Even if the Red Wings had matched Minnesota’s offers to both, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

“You read today where they’re happy to be going as a pair and they’re both going home,’’ Holland said. “Those are some of the things we couldn’t compete against because we’re not (their) home.’‘

But you’ll have to excuse me for saying that I just don’t want to believe that Holland is as comfortable as he seemed while speaking to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness...

“There are no more Suters or Parises on the market,” Holland said. “Those were the last big guys on the market of any major, major impact. I think now it’s going to go slow,” Holland continued. “We’ll explore what’s left on the market. We’ll talk to some teams to see if there are any players available. When things like this happen there seems to be a domino effect.”

Holland did confirm that the Wings did get to make a face-to-face pitch to Suter on Tuesday.

“We feel good we had an opportunity to fly over Tuesday, Mr. Ilitch, Chris Chelios, Mike Babcock and I, and lay out our plan for the team and for the future going forward,” Holland said. “We talked about what we’re all about and what we’re trying to build. Obviously he decided to go to Minnesota for a variety of reasons, some professional and some personal.”

Over half of the Wild’s $70.2 million salary-cap space is tied up in five players: Suter ($7,538,462), Parise ($7,538,462), Dany Heatley ($7,500,000), Mikko Koivu ($6,750,000) and goalie Niklas Backstrom ($6,000,000). During his time in the business Holland admitted to never being confident about much that goes on.

“I’ve been in the game for 30 years and I don’t feel confident about anything,” Holland said. “I don’t feel confident going to the rink that we’re going to win. I don’t feel confident I’m going to get a deal done. That’s not a feeling that you get in this industry.”
“We’re happy with the moves we made on July 1,” Holland said. “Now it’s an opportunity for some younger people to play. We’ll see what happens in the next few months.”

Or the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:

“You take a step back and explore what is available,” said Holland, who doesn’t expect to rush into either market. “We’ve got all summer now. The market has been combed over pretty good. There is the odd guy in the market that we have interest in. We’ll explore trades. We’re happy that we got the guys that we did on July 1. There was a small list of players out there and a lot of teams in the market.”

WXYZ’s Brad Galli reinforces the blow, if you will (and Dave LewAllen did the same via a column that’s already outdated)...

And St. James popped up after the Carle signing to offer the following:

#RedWings will look at trade possibilities for upgrading defense if it comes to that.
#RedWings weren’t about to give D Matt Carle the 6Y, $33 M he got from Tampa Bay.
No great FA D-men options out there. #RedWings won’t panic & overpay. Maybe scour for cheaper vet on a 1-year deal.

And now we have to endure an incredibly painful waiting period as the Wings’ brass tries to recover and reload with signings we’re probably not going to think very much of, which sucks big fat hairy donkey balls, but either you’re the kind of fan who believes that faith in your team is allowed to accommodate doubts, or you’re like those who are serving the Red Wings for dinner tonight, passing out forks to everyone, insisting that they are finally “done like dinner.”

Your call.

Update: Here’s Pleiness’s take on what’s out there:

Defense: Phoenix’s Keith Yandle and Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester have been rumored to be on the trading block, or the Wings could send restricted free agent Shea Weber (Nashville) an offer sheet.

There also are unrestricted free agents: Carlo Colaiacovo (St. Louis), Michal Rozsival (Phoenix), Kurtis Foster (Minnesota) and Cam Barker (Edmonton).

Forwards: The top two unrestricted forwards left are Alexander Semin (Washington) and Phoenix’s Shane Doan.

Semin has been raked over the coals from experts for his lack of consistent play, but he averages close to a point a game. Pavel Datsyuk could be what Semin needs to prove those experts wrong.

Doan’s agent has called Detroit several times the last few days seeking an offer, which the Wings really couldn’t make until they knew if they were in or out of the Parise sweepstakes. Doan, however, won’t decide until Monday if he’ll leave Phoenix, where he has played since 1996.

Columbus’ Rick Nash and Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan both may be dealt for the right asking price.

The Wings have inquired what it would take to get Nash and it seems like it’ll be a lot. Plus, it’s hard seeing the Blue Jackets dealing him to a division rival.
Ryan, 25, makes far less than Nash ($5.1 million for each of the next three seasons), but just like Columbus’ top forward it’ll cost the Wings a lot.

Update #2: From RedWingsFeed, here’s the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell’s take:

“I don’t know if I have a priority,” said Holland of his next move. “We tried to get into the market for the top two free agents and it didn’t work out. There were only two of those guys available.”

In assessing what’s left in the free-agent market, Holland wants to avoid paying a lot more money for players that aren’t appreciably better than what the Wings have.

“If you look at the players we have, other than just paying more . . . . ,” Holland said before cutting himself off. “There’s also got to be an opportunity for some of our kids and the guys we’ve just signed to play. It’s not a high profile, big-star team that we’ve had in the past. We made our pitch the last three days and it didn’t fall in our favour.”

Holland said he’s not going to panic into rash moves and believes the Wings still are a playoff contender as is. He said he’ll use all summer to build his team if need be. Regardless of whatever signings or trades he makes, Holland said part of the solution has to be internal growth.

“We’re looking at Quincey, Ericsson, Smith, Nyquist developing,” Holland said. “We have to have internal growth and development. That has to be part of the solution. Any team that has Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Filppula, Franzen, Kronwall, Howard, Helm on it isn’t a bad team. We have also added Tootoo, Samuelsson, Brunner and Gustavsson. They’re not sexy signings, but they’re good fits for our team.”

However, on a day of disappointing news for Detroit, Holland is hardly going to tip his hand on Plan B. Hknows he’s working in a market used to having stars. Spoiled as Wings’ fans have been, they aren’t nearly as demanding in terms of expectations as owner Mike Ilitch. Knowing that, it would be surprising if the Wings entered training camp with just the 14 forwards, six defencemen and two goalies currently listed on their NHL roster knowing they had immense salary cap space sitting unused. It would also go against Holland’s own philosophy of doing the bulk of your team building in the summer, especially these next few weeks.

“We’re going a little younger,” Holland said. “Will we be younger in October, I don’t know. I’ll work the phone and see where it goes. We have the makings of a good team. I’d like to improve it. We need one defenceman, we’d like to have a veteran. Up front, we’ll have be offence by committee.”
“I think regardless of what happens here the next couple of weeks, we’ll go into camp as a work in progress,” Holland said. “That’s a lot different than the past 15 years around here.”

Update #3: Let’s all be surprised, via RedWingsFeed, that the Hockey News considers the Wings to be “big losers” in free agency, and that Ken Campbell believes the team is old and busted. He’s so excited that he believes the Wings will finally fall off the face of the earth that it’s stupid.

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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.