The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/22/12 at 10:33 PM ET
Updated 2x at 10:52 PM: Given the CBA gloom and doom of late, let’s count this as a positive: this afternoon, the Free Press’s Sylvia Rector revealed that Henrik Zetterberg is bringing Swedish “Snowballs” to Just Baked‘s Cupcake shops, and, via RedWingsFeed, WWJ Newsradio 950 shows us what these damn things look like.
And I quote, from their press release:
Detroit Red Wing Henrik Zetterberg is hoping his latest business venture will make your mouth water: Royal Swedish Snowballs.
For more than 100 years, Swedes have been satisfying their sweet tooth with the Snowballs, which consists of a light vanilla creme covered in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut snowflakes. And now, it’s our turn to try the delicate desserts.
Zetterberg is partnering with Just Baked, a Livonia-based specialty cupcake shop and bakery, to bring the pastries to the United States for the first time ever. The Snowballs will be produced and sold in Michigan.
To celebrate the dessert’s launch, Zetterberg will be at Just Baked in Royal Oak on Sept. 5 from noon to 1 p.m., handing out an autographed t-shirt to the first 50 customers who purchase a 6-pack of Snowballs.
“I am so proud to have the opportunity to share a taste of my home with the people of Michigan,” Zetterberg said in a release. “I grew up enjoying Snowballs, and I know generations of Americans will now love them as well.”
Royal Swedish Snowballs will be available in all 12 metro Detroit Just Baked locations beginning Sept. 5. They will be sold in 4-packs and 6-packs for $5.99 and $8.99, respectively.
I’m not a coconut person, so you may have my portion.
In other promotional news, from the Wings….
And in the, “Hey, George, that’s great that you’re fried and all, but where’s the real hockey content?” category, Hockey’s Future’s Adam Schnepp was tasked with penning HF’s top 20 Red Wings prospect list (and don’t ask me what the grades mean. The top three consist of the following…
1. (1) Brendan Smith, D, 8.0B
Drafted 1st round, 27th overall, 2007
A successful two-year apprenticeship in Grand Rapids (120 games played, 22 goals and 44 assists for 66 points) led to a 14-game stint with the Red Wings in 2011-12. Smith adapted well to the pro game, recording one goal and six assists for seven points and averaging 15:38 of ice time while logging time on the power play. Smith is a top-end talent who should start the season as one of the Wings’ top-six defenders and projects to be a top-two defenseman at some point in his career.
He is a good skater who moves the puck well out of his own zone. Smith is not afraid to use his 6’1” frame to play physically, though he needs to be careful to not cross the line between physical and illegal play. During the 2011 preseason, Smith hit Chicago Blackhawks prospect Ben Smith in the head and was subsequently suspended for three preseason and five regular season games. With Detroit in dire need of help on the back end, the 23-year-old Smith should get plenty of time to prove that he belongs with the big club.
2. (2) Gustav Nyquist, LW, 8.0C
Drafted 4th round, 121st overall, 2008
Nyquist is a sublimely talented winger who showed flashes of brilliance during his 18-game stint with the Red Wings last season. His puck skills and offensive awareness make him a potential top-six forward in Detroit. His days in that role may not begin this season after averaging less than eight minutes of ice time last season, but it will be difficult for Nyquist not to break the NHL lineup if he continues to progress.
The 22-year-old Nyquist has great hockey sense and plays a good two-way game. He is a very hard worker who is aggressive in both zones without being reckless or irresponsible. His scoring touch translated well in his rookie pro season but he still has to prove he can produce consistently in the NHL.
3. (4) Tomas Jurco, RW, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 35th overall, 2011
Do not be surprised if Red Wings play-by-play announcer Ken Daniels soon adds the phrase “Jurconian dekes” to his repertoire. The 19-year-old Jurco has elite stickhandling capabilities, reminiscent of current Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk. He also has a scoring touch, evidenced by the 2011-12 season in which he recorded 30 goals and 38 assists for 68 points. Jurco’s frame is already NHL-ready at 6’1” and 191 pounds, but his game still needs some work. Developing more day-to-day consistency in his game and learning how to play against more physical defenders at the professional level are both areas that Jurco needs to improve. He will get the opportunity to do so this year when he makes the leap to the AHL and joins the Grand Rapids Griffins.
And this guy?
9. (9) Ryan Sproul, D, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 55th overall, 2011
The 6’3”, 185-pound defenseman may still need to fill out physically, but he had no problem filling the scoresheet in 2011-12. Sproul potted 23 goals and 31 assists for 54 points in 61 games for the OHL’s Sault St. Marie Greyhounds. Sproul has a point shot that scouts rave about, and his comfort with handling the puck meshes well with what Detroit’s system requires of defensemen.
The 19-year-old defenseman has clear offensive upside but needs to work on adding bulk and playing more physical if he wants to become an everyday NHL defenseman. Luckily, there is still plenty of time for that. Sproul will return for one more season with Sault St. Marie before likely heading to the AHL to play with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2013-14. Sproul could be a point-producing second pair defenseman at the NHL level if he improves his defensive and physical games.
Sproul spoke to the Sault Star’s Peter Ruicci about his desire to make the playoffs with the Greyhounds this season…
“We were probably one of the best teams in the league, player-wise last season,” said Sproul, whose club finished with the league’s fourth-worst record (29-33-2-4). “It’s hard to figure out what happened. And it’s definitely been tough the last two seasons. I’m looking forward to us turning it around this year.”
But can the Greyhounds, who begin on-ice training camp workouts next Wednesday, take significant strides? Sproul, voted to the OHL’s third all-star team at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 campaign, thinks they can.
“My biggest goal is to make the playoffs and, absolutely, I think we can do it,” he said. “We have to.”
“And we need to work together as a group,” the Mississauga native added. “We absolutely have to take care of our opportunities this season. We have to have the right mental approach and develop some confidence.”
The fact that he’s at least a strong candidate to be named the Greyhounds’ captain…
“It would obviously be an honour,” he said. “I want to be a leader. But we have a lot of very good leaders and, hopefully, all of the older guys step up and help our younger guys. I want to play my best, improve my game in all areas and do whatever I can for this team. But my biggest goal is for us to make the playoffs.”
And the fact that none of the Wings’ top prospects will be taking part in the until-now annual prospect tournament in Traverse City due to a probable lockout, robbing Wings fans of the opportunity to make their own top 20 list:
“I was really looking forward to it,” Sproul said.
But even without the rookie camp, Sproul is determined to show the Wings what he’s capable of by putting together his best OHL season. He worked hard over the summer, concentrating heavily on strength and endurance.
“I want to be stronger on the puck and stronger in my own end this season,” he said. “I just want to be a better all-around player.”
He looked very, very good at the summer camp—he’s starting to fill out that very lanky frame, he’s continuing to work on throwing that added weight around, and he simply looks as confident as a person who knows he can stand up and lead after turning what should have been a six-to-eight-week recovery from a broken jaw into, as Ruicci notes, all of a ten-day absence, but you’ll have to watch the Greyhounds play to see Sproul in action.
“I miss hockey a lot,” said Draper, who retired at the end of the 2010-11 hockey season. “I had 18 years playing in Detroit and four Stanley Cups. It was a memorable experience and I was able to walk away from the game after playing for 20 years. Detroit turned into my home in those 18 years.”
Draper is now a special assistant to Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland.
“We talk a lot of hockey and watch a lot of hockey,” Draper joked. “I’m getting educated on this end of the sport. (Holland) calls it the ‘University of Detroit Red Wings’ for me, which is true. My first year as a special assistant was really good. I’m still growing in that role and learning the business side of it all.”
Draper said he sat in on a contract negotiation to learn the numbers aspect of the game. He said he also enjoyed being a part of the draft. Draper, decked out in a black shirt that read “Made in Detroit,” discussed the retirement of Red Wings captain Nick Lidstrom.
“It’s a huge loss,” he said. “But I see (Niklas) Kronwall really stepping up and Brendan Smith is ready for some opportunities. This is his time. Kyle Quincey played so well in Colorado and Los Angeles and I’m expecting him to do the same here. And Jonathon Ericsson is a strong defenseman,” Draper said, with a proud smile.
He also commented about the Wings new addition of Jordin TooToo.
“You know, you hated him as a (Nashville) Predator just like we hated (Chris) Chelios as a (Chicago) Blackhawk. Now Chelios works for the organization, and I think our fans will really like TooToo.”
I caught up with Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey today at Magness Arena, where he is participating in DU’s Alumni Pro Camp. Quincey, who was traded by Colorado on Feb. 21 in the three-team deal that brought forward Steve Downie to the Avs, was in last week’s NHL-NHLPA meetings in Toronto and his thoughts about the possible lockout/new CBA negotiations will be in Thursday’s paper.
We also talked about his new contract (two-year, $7.55 million) and big opportunity with the Red Wings and — after he asked me about the unsigned Ryan O’Reilly — he offered his thoughts about the young Avalanche center’s value.
“I’m so excited to finally get a real training camp with Detroit and starting fresh, learning their systems inside and out,” said Quincey, who was drafted by Detroit and spent three years in the organization. “Great organization. So much history, and I’m going back to the place I was drafted in, so it’s kind of a second chance. And with Nicklas Lidstrom retiring and losing Brad Stuart (traded to San Jose), there’s a chance to step up. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity, and just can’t wait to get back to work.”
Quincey, who will maintain his home in the Denver area and continue to live here in the offseason, said he misses his old teammates.
“That’s a great, tight-nit group of guys,” he said. “Great locker room over there.”
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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.