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The Malik Report

Red Wings GM Ken Holland still looking for depth up front

As it turns out, Red Wings GM Ken Holland isn’t necessarily done making moves after having surrendered a first-round draft pick to Tampa Bay for Kyle Quincey. Holland told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness that he’d like to add a depth forward as well but because so many teams still harbor some sort of playoff aspirations thanks to tightly-packed standings that they’re still not sure whether they’re going to sell off assets prior to the trade deadline at 3 PM EST on Monday, he doesn’t expect any discussions with opposing teams’ GM’s and/or player agents to take on any sort of urgency until Sunday at the earliest:

“We don’t really have anything going on, but I do expect the phone to be ringing Sunday night and Monday,” Holland said. “Will we do anything … I think things are going to happen on Monday.”

Holland said he’s talked to a couple teams, but most of them are waiting until after Saturday to decide what they will be doing at the deadline.

“You just have to look at the standings in the West,” Holland said. “I hear lots of rumors of players with the potential of being unrestricted free agents being in negotiations with their teams. I still think Monday, some things will happen around the league. I think the standings and the opportunity for negotiations (with teams’ own players) have things in a holding pattern.”

Holland also spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan about his plans

“I don’t have any irons in the fire,’’ general manager Ken Holland said. “I’ve had lots of conversations, talked to 6-8 teams over the last week. All want to see what their teams do through (Saturday).’‘

He said he anticipates a flurry of activity after Saturday’s games and expects to hear from teams on Sunday and Monday. The Red Wings want to add a complementary forward, preferably with size and abrasiveness.

Khan goes through the list of possible targets…

Montreal’s Travis Moen and Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad would fit the bill, if they don’t re-sign with their respective clubs. Moen, on short-term injured reserve, hasn’t played since Feb. 9 due to an upper-body injury, but that shouldn’t affect his ability to be traded if the Canadiens can’t re-sign him.

Columbus, in the midst of a complete fire sale, likely will unload checking-line center Samuel Pahlsson.

Former Red Wings Mike Knuble of Washington and Mikael Samuelsson of Florida, as well as Dallas agitator Steve Ott, also have been mentioned in trade rumors. Knuble has been a healthy scratch in several games over the past couple of weeks, including Friday, so he might be moved. But it’s unclear why the Panthers, who are just one point behind Winnipeg in the Southeast Division (with four games in hand) would want to trade Samuelsson, whom they acquired on Oct. 22 from Vancouver for David Booth.

Ott would be more than a rental, with two more years remaining on his contract at $2.95 million per season. So it would cost more to get him.

But as Khan suggests, with Teemu Selanne out of the Wings and the Wings likely to want to move nothing more than, at most, a mid-range/middling/underachieving prospect and/or a member of the Griffins or Walleye which the Wings feel could be parted with without damaging the Wings’ future, and perhaps a mid-round draft pick, a team that’s shored up its defense and has a capable back-up in Joey MacDonald will do what it always does between tomorrow and Monday:

Holland, assistant GM Jim Nill and capologist Ryan Martin—and probably Kris Draper—will find spot to comfortably gather at Joe Louis Arena and patiently, insistently and systematically kick every tire over and over again:

“We’ll be bunkered in there Monday morning, the phones will be ringing,’’ Holland said. “I think things will be happening.’‘

Just as importantly, as the Detroit News’s John Niyo suggests, it’s not like the Wings do their biggest shopping in March, which is why Wings’ fans hopes for an impact acquisition should be kept to a bare minimum. Holland will indeed check in on the asking price of every forward on the market, but he, Martin and Nill tend to prefer to wait until the summer to make more meaningful acquistions, either from the top shelf of free agents (whose rights could be snagged at the Entry Draft) or from the mid-to-late-July bargain bin:

“If we do nothing between now and Monday, I’m OK with it,” he said Thursday, the day his team’s record-setting 23-game home winning streak finally was snapped by the Vancouver Canucks.

The Red Wings’ GM reiterated that point Friday, along with a few others, citing his team’s record — second in the NHL only to Vancouver’s — with 20 games left in the regular season. Yes, he’s “probably” done shoring up his blue line after acquiring former Wings prospect Kyle Quincey in a three-way swap involving Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay and the Colorado Avalanche. (Talk about strange bedfellows.) And yes, Holland says, “we’re done in goal,” with All-Star Jimmy Howard as the now-trusted No. 1 and Joey MacDonald proving himself a dependable backup ahead of Ty Conklin.

So it’s in the forward corps that the moves are to be made now — “if something’s there,” Holland cautions — and it’s in the forward-thinking plans involving the Wings’ core they’ll be made later.

As Niyo suggests, it’s not as if there are teams lining up to trade off their superstars, and given uncertainty regarding the CBA, we’re seeing more and more teams simply standing pat and re-signing their most attractive players.

It’s not just Selanne who wants to stay put; Ryan Smiyth wants to stay in Edmonton, the Sabres are considering re-signing Gaustad because, as the Niagara Gazette’s Bill hoppe noted, it’s not as if a6’5” checking center is easy to replace, and obviously we’ve seen Tuomo Ruutu and Ales Hemsky receive their asking prices and more from their current employers, thus yielding a “shallow” pool of available players, and again, teams that are so uncertain as to whether they can make a playoff push by Monday that they’re hesitant to do anything but hope right now.

Would the Wings like to add a Gaustad, Moen, or some other big body that can help the PK? Sure…

“You can always add to your team — always,” Henrik Zetterberg acknowledged Friday. “I don’t think there’s any team that couldn’t add something to get better.”

But the biggest-bottomed bottom line here is pretty obvious and pretty simple:

Until the Red Wings know what Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart plan on doing in terms of continuing their careers and continuing them in Detroit, until the team finds out what Jiri Hudler can do come playoff time, until Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore make their final attempts to retain their jobs in Detroit, until Joey MacDonald and/or Ty Conklin prove that they’re the “answers” in the crease who will allow the Wings to give Thomas McCollum one more year in Grand Rapids while he and Petr Mrazek battle to become Jimmy Howard’s eventual understudy, yes, because what he brings is unique and special, until Tomas Holmstrom decides whether his knees can handle another season’s worth of crashing and banging, given what happens this year, until Danny Cleary undergoes whatever arthroscopic knee and/or groin surgery he’ll probably need to undergo to repair what’s ailing him…

Until the Wings know exactly how much it will cost to re-sign not only Hudler, but also restricted free agents-to-be Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm…

And until the Wings know whether Ryan Suter, Zach Parise or any of the other high-profile players that they would at least consider backing up a Brinks truck to add are going to be available, or whether whatever new CBA hammered out (hopefully before next September) will hamper the Wings’ ability to add contracts, based upon Lidstrom, Stuart, Holmstrom and Hudler’s decisions—and whether the play of Detroit’s current crop of stars and supporting cast members this April and hopefully May and June reveal any other glaring weaknesses which must be addressed…

There’s just no point in doing anything more than dreaming of adding a player of Suter, Parise or even (Niyo dares to dream!) restricted free agent-to-be Shea Weber’s caliber until lte June or July.

That’s a shopping list for another day, of course, and we’ll see how all that plays out after this season does. In the meantime, Holland says, “If we’ve got to go with what we got, we like our team.”

No reason he shouldn’t — now, or in the future.

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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.


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