The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/12/12 at 09:01 PM ET
Updated 2x at 9:12 PM: Sorry I’m slow on this one, gang. I’ve been plain old sick today. Anyway, this evening’s crop of Red Wings-related news revisits the topics discussed in the overnight report and mid-day news thread, with one exception:
League exec told us last night he expects Preds to deal Suter rights around draft, ‘just like they did with Hamhuis, Hartnell and Timonen’
Now this goes against everything Predators GM David Poile has told the Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper and Fox Sports Tennessee’s John Manasso, never mind ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, so I’m slightly wary of ye olde “league source”-fed rumor…
But unlike the Chief, I fully believe that the Wings would do what’s necessary to acquire Suter’s rights despite the fact that Poile—assuming he’s unable to sign Suter in the ten days between tomorrow and the Draft in Pittsburgh—and the Predators believe that the Red Wings are indeed their “arch-rival.” Suter is their #1 target, and short of selling the barn to buy a horse, the Wings would probably move multiple draft picks down the line and maybe even a prospect or two if Poile needs the pot to be sweetened. At the draft, it’s about cutting one’s losses, and the Wings will do their absolute best to ensure that they get the players they’re looking for.
Speaking of one of those main targets, 1500 ESPN Twin Cities’ Judd Zuglad says that former Minnesota North Stars GM Lou Nanne has all the faith in the world that Parise is heading to play for the Minnesota Wild on July 1st, if not sooner…
Former North Stars president and general manager Lou Nanne confirmed as much on Tuesday during his weekly appearance on “Reusse and Mackey” on 1500 ESPN. Nanne said that after talking to Wild owner Craig Leipold last week he believes, “the Wild are going to throw the kitchen sink” at the winger in order to land him. Nanne said he thinks the fact the financially strapped Devils lost in the Cup finals make it less likely that Parise will stick with that organization. Parise has spent his seven-year NHL career with New Jersey and served as the team’s captain.
“I was under the belief that he would have to win the Cup to come to Minnesota until I talked to Craig Leipold last week,” Nanne said. “I’ve gotta tell you, the Wild are going to throw the kitchen sink at him. I think there’s a good chance he ends up in Minnesota, because I don’t see anybody in the National Hockey League willing to give as much to Parise as the Wild are going to be willing to give. So I would not be surprised if Zach Parise came home.”
Nanne went on to say that the Wild will pursue Parise and Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter, who also will be a free agent on July 1.
“They’re going to do everything in their power to get them,” Nanne said. “And I would not be surprised if they got them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t get them. But I have to tell you, if they don’t get them it’s going to be confusing to me—especially Parise, because I really believe the Wild will pay more than anybody else for him.”
The Red Wings, Rangers and Penguins also have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Parise, whose father J.P. played with the North Stars.
“I talked to the Rangers and I know they’re going to go after (Parise), but I know they’re not going after him with the same money as the Wild are,” Nanne said. ” ... I also think Pittsburgh’s going to be involved, and I also think the Detroit Red Wings are going to be involved. The sleeper team that nobody’s talking about is going to be the Florida Panthers, and I do believe there’s going to be a number of other guys, like the Bruins would want Parise. Everybody’s going to want Zach, and most of the teams out there right now would find a way to fit him under the salary cap at, I would say, the same price, and that’d be in the range from $7.5 to $8.5 million. But I think he’s going to end up making more than that.”
• The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo sounded a similar tune earlier this afternoon…
The New Jersey Devils weren’t even done shaking the hands of the victorious Los Angeles Kings last night when I started to get bombarded with tweets about the future of Zach Parise.
OK, well, maybe I sorta asked for it with my way too soon, tongue-firmly-in-cheek “#parisewatch” tweet.
But, in reality, all eyes and ears will indeed be on Newark these next few weeks in an attempt to ascertain what the heck’s going to happen between the Devils and their tremendous captain/heart-and-soul.
If unsigned by July 1, Parise will be the biggest free agent to come down the pike since, well, last year’s made-for-TV Brad Richards frenzy. If he gets to July 1, you know the Wild will be on his front lawn (or Newport Sports’ front lawn in Missssssissssssssssssssauga, Ontario) with the keys to St. Paul and its Governor’s mansion.
The Wild, even though it is not permitted to talk about him specifically, is clearly praying Parise wants to come home. It has a boatload of money and salary-cap space. And the Wild is intent on trying to sell Parise, and Ryan Suter for that matter, that if they sign in Minnesota, they would have the ability to win here perennially because of the seven (they believe) upper-echelon prospects set to turn pro next season.
Both these guys are going to get long-term contracts from any team that signs them. So they’re going to want to go (or stay) on the team they believe they have the brightest futures deep into their contracts. And, if they’re as good as everybody thinks they are, they should be two of the catalysts to those bright futures.
If contract talks with Parise break down with New Jersey and contract talks with Suter break down with Nashville, I think the Wild would try to get aggressive and trade for their rights. I don’t believe the Devils have ever traded the rights to a free agent. They certainly have lost a bunch of free agents for nothing though. Nashville, on the other hand, has a history of trading the rights to free agents (Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell in the same deal with Philly, Dan Hamhuis to Philly and Dan Ellis to Montreal), although GM David Poile has said publicly he’s not going to trade the rights to Suter.
But if you’re the Wild and you may have to go head to head in a free-agent frenzy with teams like Detroit and the Rangers and name your team, I’d think you’d want to get ahead of the game, wine and dine em and sell your program on them in advance of others.
• If you’re keeping score at home, Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski reports that the New Jersey Devils cut into that $77-80 million in arena debt by making $26 million in playoff revenues, somehow…
• And the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons attempts to drop a bombshell by suggesting that the Los Angeles Kings of all teams are the newest big favorite to land Parise:
[W]hile they won’t say so because they can’t legally say so, the captain of the New Jersey Devils is No. 1 on their off-season shopping list. They want Parise, as do many teams, and they want him badly.
Parise fits perfectly into the Kings’ ultra-competitive philosophy, led by general manager Dean Lombardi and his able assistant, Ron Hextall. What they determined on their way to the Stanley Cup was what so many have known already. But until you witness it up close, experience it with your players - that fine line between success and failure often comes down to little more than effort.
And it’s not just effort. It’s a willingness to compete at a level beyond the norm. That willingness, when combined with superb goaltending by Jonathan Quick, terrific team altering leadership from coach Darryl Sutter, and all-world play from defenceman Drew Doughty, is why the Kings came out of the eighth seed and won 16 playoff games, losing just four, and now have an entire summer to celebrate.
The Devils defence couldn’t match the Los Angeles defence in the Final. And the Kings now hope to replicate that kind of honest intensity, but that’s the real challenge going forward. Just ask the Boston Bruins about that. They seemed set a year ago to make another Cup push. But they couldn’t find the collective team hunger a year later. The Kings are hoping to go to school on the Bruins one year run.
Which is why Parise is so important to them. They love the way he competes. They love his skill level and natural leadership. While Parise has yet to speak openly about his future, the word that has filtered down to NHL general managers is that his No. 1 consideration in choosing a location next year is finding a team that just won’t challenge for the Stanley Cup next year, but will challenge every year.
What team is better set up to win than the Kings? Maybe the Penguins, but their need is on defence. Maybe the Red Wings, but they just lost Nick Lidstrom and Brad Stuart. Maybe the Rangers, but they’re thin up front when compared to Los Angeles.
Imagine one line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, another of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Parise? That may not be exactly the lineup plan but the Kings are doing that kind of imagining as the off-season approaches quickly. The champs have all their important players under contract for next year with $16 million to spend, assuming the new Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t alter the salary cap number. Only Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll are unrestricted free agents. They also have a backup goaltender, Jonathan Bernier, who is coveted by several teams. The options are many for a team that doesn’t want to be one and done. Parise is the equation changer everyone is looking for.
• In perhaps more reliable reporting, USA Today’s Kevin Allen offers this assessment of the state of the Suter/Parise “sweepstakes” while talking about 10 big off-season storylines…
2. Ryan Suter/Zach Parise sweepstakes: They are the most desirable free agents. The Nashville Predators are still trying to persuade defenseman Suter to stay, and New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello undoubtedly will make a significant push to keep winger Parise. Players unsigned this close to July 1 usually explore free agency. Suter and Parise are in the primes of the career. The Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild might pitch for both, and the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings are expected to inquire about Parise.
And he offers this take on the Wings’ desire to patch the gigantic holes left in the lineup by the retirement of Lidstrom and exit of Suter:
8. Renovating the Red Wings: With Nicklas Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart’s rights traded, the Red Wings will embark on a renovation project. GM Ken Holland will be aggressive this summer, addressing the defensive losses and the team’s scoring slumps. The Red Wings could have $20 million to spend on free agents. They like Suter because he plays a poised, smooth style that could help ease the pain of Lidstrom’s retirement.
Speaking of the filling the blueline holes, MLive’s Ansar Khan has already taken a look at what Dennis Wideman might bring to the table, and this evening, the Free Press’s Helene St. James examines Jason Garrison:
Garrison had a breakout season for the Florida Panthers in 2011-12, producing 16 goals and 17 assists in 77 games, and finishing with a plus-6. He had a goal and two assists in four playoff games, sitting out three because of injury.
Garrison, 27, has very good size at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. He’s got a booming slap shot—one that helped deliver nine power play goals—and he’s a solid penalty killer. He was second on the Panthers with an average of 23:41 minutes in playing time, and second with 124 blocked shots. He was credited with 127 hits (this, though, is one of the most subjective stats kept by the NHL).
The Wings need help on the blue line, having lost seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and Brad Stuart to a trade to San Jose. Lidstrom and Stuart were both top-four guys, and restocking the defense is a top priority. The Wings are, of course, very interested in what happens in Nashville with regards to pending unrestricted free agent Ryan Suter and restricted free agent Shea Weber, and will be among Suter’s top suitors on July 1.
There are other unrestricted free agent defensemen expected to be available, like Dennis Wideman, who has more much more experience than Garrison and who is a right-handed shot, something the Wings miss especially on the back end after Brian Rafalski retired last summer. Garrison, though, could be a good back-up plan. He’s coming off a two-year, $1.35 million deal, which, in light of the season he just had, made him one of the NHL’s best bargains. He’ll be looking for a big raise, but there’s a limit to how much bargaining power he has with just 190 games to his credit.
Might Garrison fit in with the Wings? Absolutely. He’d make up in size and shot-blocking and penalty killing what the Wings lost in Stuart. He’s got a big shot that could help rejuvenate the power play. He’s young. He might make a very nice partner for Ian White, a smaller, right-handed shot. Garrison learned this past season how to be a go-to guy and got to develop his puck-handling skills, something the Wings look for in a defenseman to help facilitate the transition game. He isn’t of Suter’s caliber, but no one else is who’s expected to be available in two weeks.
My favorite assessor of talent, the Sports Forecaster, describes Garrison as follows:
ASSETS: Moves the puck efficiently out of danger. Brings a nice combination of size and speed to the rink. Works hard and is effective on the penalty kill. Plays a safe, mature and steady brand of defense. Also owns a big point shot.
FLAWS: He doesn’t shy away from the physical game, but he isn’t a highly aggressive player defensively—despite excellent size. He’s strong, but needs to continue adding some more power to his game. Has been somewhat injury-prone at lower levels.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Solid puck-moving defenseman.
Expect a Matt Carle profile in the offing from one of St. James or MLive’s Khan shortly, and as Khan already looked at P-A Parenteau today, I expect that we’ll hear Alex Semin’s game be analyzed in short order as well.
In perhaps stinging reminders of the playoff run past, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox believes that a certain memory was a pivot point upon which the entire playoff run hinged…
5. Raffi Torres is a better scapegoat than Shea Weber.
The suspension-soaked first round seems like a distant memory, but perhaps the list of supplementary discipline measures that marked, if not marred, the Round of 16 would have never gotten quite so long had Nashville star defencemen Weber been suspended (or, even better, penalized by the ref) for his gratuitous turnbuckle-style head-slam of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg. (A major penalty and maybe the Wings score three goals. Thing things happen.) By the time Phoenix’s repeat offender, Torres, left his feet and injured Blackhawks playmaker Marian Hossa, enough was enough: 25 games.
And the Toronto Sun ranks it as the Second-most important development of the post-season:
Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber escaped suspension but was fined $2,500 for slamming Detroit Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass during Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
And finally, in news that seems to bother you much more than it bothers me, via RedWingsFeed, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan wonders whether the Red Wings really can offer Tomas Holmstrom further employment after announcing that they’ll play the free agent marketplace before getting back to him:
Holmstrom, 39, is leaning toward returning for one more season. But general manager Ken Holland wants to see what develops personnel-wise through free agency, which begins July 1, or the trade market, and see how the Red Wings roster looks after all that before finalizing a decision on Holmstrom.
“This gives both of us some time,” Holland said. “Homer is leaning on playing, but all the things we heard from Nicklas Lidstrom (who retired last month), about whether the energy and passion to play is still there, it’s the same with Homer. He wants to make sure.
“I want to keep on eye on July 1 and see what happens. Let’s see where both of us are at after (July 1).”
Even if Holmstrom wants to return, there may be no room for him. After they sign restricted free-agent forwards Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader, and defenseman Kyle Quincey, later this summer, there will be 13 forwards and six defensemen, with room for one more forward and defenseman presumably to be acquired this summer.
If Holmstrom were to return, a young forward such as Gustav Nyquist might have to be sent back to Grand Rapids.
But Holmstrom scored 11 goals last season, 10 on the power play, where Holmstrom remains among the elite net-front players in the game. And on a team that is rapidly losing veterans, Holmstrom could be valuable in a leadership role after the retirements of Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Brian Rafalski, Chris Osgood and Kirk Maltby in recent seasons.
It does not hurt one iota to give Holmstrom the, “We’ll see in July” line, even if it simply delays his retirement press conference. He’s earned it over the course of 14 years and 4 Stanley Cups, and in the end, he probably won’t be retained, but if he wants to come back like Kirk Maltby did and compete for a job during training camp, his odds of beating out Nyquist would be against him, and he may have to end his career in Grand Rapids if he does lose out on a try-out or two-way deal…But more power to him. You cannot have too many players with NHL experience on your roster—ideally, you’ve got 3 goalies, 8 or 9 defensemen and 14-16 forwards vying for spots—so I’m all for this move and then some.
In a programming note: I have been nursing my sniffles as I will be in and out of the office this week: tomorrow, I have to take my mom to an appointment in Sterile Whites, I mean Sterling Heights, which is an incredibly long haul from South Lyon, so I will have to leave at noon and won’t be back till around 2:30…On Thursday, I have to head to my local community mental health office to pick up meds (that’s what people with mental illnesses do when we don’t have insurance—thankfully my CMH caseworker is wonderful) at 2:30 and then take ye olde aunt to a hair appointment at 3:30…And on Friday at 1 PM, and Monday at 4 PM, mom has MRI appointments in Southfield.
I’ll do my best to a) get better so I can be around more and b) do my best to cover what I can, but my jobs around here involve taking my “roommates” to appointments and buying pop (about to go on a pop run presently), and the only things that take precedence over hockey is family and friends.
Update #1: Devils GM Lou Lamoriello spoke to the Newark Star-Ledger’s Mike Vorkunov about Parise…
Now, a summer awaits that will pit the Devils with many key decisions to make. Captain Zach Parise is a free agent. So is Martin Brodeur and his backup, Johan Hedberg. According to CapGeek.com, the team has $28 million in cap space remaining for next season but only has 13 players under contract. Bryce Salvador is a free agent and Mark Fayne is a restricted one.
Parise should have his suitors and the Devils will be a part of that group.
“First of all, we’re just going to just reflect on what’s transpired in the last 24 hours,” Lamoriello said. “No question, there are priorities. Zach is certainly one of them and certainly very important. But right now we’re just reflecting on what’s just happened and we’ll get to that in the very near future.”
• Among the other “top ten” offseason stories from USA Today’s Allen:
1. CBA talks to begin: The NHL and NHL Players Association are expected to begin negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement soon. The current deal expires Sept. 15. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has not publicly shared the league’s objective, but based on what the NBA and NFL achieved , the NHL likely will want to reduce players’ share of revenue from its current 57%. The NHL lost a season during the 2004 lockout. given that the NBA lost 16 games this season, it’s not unthinkable that the NHL could lose some as well.
10. New Hall of Fame class: Players in their first year of eligibility include Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Mats Sundin, Jeremy Roenick and Curtis Joseph, among others. There has also been lobbying, from outside the selection committee, to get late NHL coaches Pat Burns and Ray Shero inducted.
• And let’s put this simply: According to ESPN’s Craig Custance, in an insider-only blog, the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings, in descending order, are next season’s Cup favorites as of the day after Stanley was awarded.
Update #1.5: Per Sportsnet’s staff, here are some Bodog odds for next year’s Cup winners:
—Pittsburgh Penguins 7/1
—Los Angeles Kings 11/1
—St. Louis Blues 12/1
—Vancouver Canucks 12/1
—Chicago Blackhawks 12/1
—Detroit Red Wings 12/1
—New York Rangers 12/1
—Philadelphia Flyers 14/1
—Boston Bruins 14/1
—Nashville Predators 18/1
Update #2: The Windsor Star’s Rob benneian looks at Mike Knuble as a possible acquisition, and I’m not sure what to think about him. He’s big, strong and physical, but he’s also 40 and somewhat slow, and with Homer in the mix…
As Benneian notes, Knuble is a native of East Grand Rapids, and he did tell CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley that he’d love to finish his playing career in the state he plans on settling in when he retires, leading Wings fans to kinda go ape.
Is he a good fit? Sure…
The fact that Knuble has basically said he’d come and take a limited-minutes role and be more of a locker room leader and veteran presence (something that will come in handy with 20 years of leadership recently walking out the door and back to Sweden), makes him all the more attractive. This is going to be a no-nonsense, shut-up-and-do-my-job kind of guy who has been good for 20-30 goals a year for almost a decade, save for his trainwreck of a 2011-12 campaign.
Sure, there is reason to be concerned about his 6-12-18 stat line from a year ago, but don’t expect Ken Holland and Co. to tender Knuble a contract without doing their due diligence.
At worst, he is a guy who can compete with the Millers, Eaveses, Mursaks and Emmerton’s for minutes on the fourth line. At best, Knuble could be an invaluable piece of the power play with his size (6’3″ ,230) and scoring touch (80 career goals with the man-advantage). Add in the fact that Tomas Holmstrom is likely following his best friend Nick out the door and the Wings are going to need someone to stand in front of the net and take a beating.
But he’s also someone I’m not sure the Wings want to play ahead of Emmerton, Mursak, Eaves or especially Nyquist. We’ll see what happens. If he does sign, I’d be very happy to finally see one of those rare Wings that “got away” return to conclude his career with his hometown team, if you will, and if not, I’d understand the Wings’ desire to stick with younger players, even if they’re smaller.
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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.