The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/30/11 at 12:08 PM ET
Updated 2x: with Holland speaking to Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom about Dick Axelsson and free agency at 10:56 AM: On the jitteriest day of the year for Red Wings fans, Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan regarding the team’s free agency plans, and it sounds like the Wings are, like the rest of us, waiting to find out who actually reaches the marketplace on Friday before making their decision as to whether they’ll spend money or make a trade to replace Brian Rafalski:
“We got money, but we got a lot of our pieces in place,” said general manager Ken Holland. “We don’t want to spend for the sake of spending. We will explore the market. A lot of (would-be) free agents have signed, and I anticipate more will (prior to Friday). We’ll work the phones, see what happens.”
The Red Wings will spend up to the cap if necessary, but they won’t overpay. They would like to have some money at their disposable at the trade deadline.
“Part of it is we want to be the best team we can be right now, but we also want to be flexible for the trade deadline,” Holland said.
If Christian Ehrhoff and/or James Wisniewski either don’t reach the marketplace or ask for gigantic salaries, Khan suggests that the Wings have several options, including a trade but excluding an offer sheet (Holland doesn’t believe in employing that tactic)...
The other higher-priced defensemen in the pool are Kaberle, whose stock dropped following a late-season trade from Toronto to Boston, and Washington’s Scott Hannan, a stay-at-home defender who did not register a single point on the power play last season.
If the Red Wings opt for a lower-priced alternative, the possibilities include Ian White of San Jose, Anton Babchuk of Calgary, Jan Hejda of Columbus, Steve Montador of Buffalo and Andy Greene of New Jersey. If the Red Wings opt for a short-term stop-gap—an aging veteran unable to get a long-term deal—the possibilities include Ed Jovanovski of Phoenix, Sami Salo of Vancouver, Roman Hamrlik of Montreal and Bryan McCabe of the New York Rangers.
“We definitely need to do something on defense,” Holland said. “Do we do a bigger money, long-term deal, or is it in our best interest to go with (older, less-expensive) veterans?”
Khan also confirms that the Wings will look for a back-up goalie on the UFA market, but he believes that it’s “Jagr or the bargain bin” in terms of a free agent forward, and Holland suggests as much:
“Up front, all our significant pieces are in place,” Holland said. “We’re looking for secondary pieces.”
Update: As an FYI, the Port Huron Times-Herald reports that the Wings’ alums raised $140,000 for charity on Monday.
Update #2: Ken Holland also had a chat with Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom this morning:
Red Wings praise Axelsson’s move
St. Paul. Detroit Red Wings management isn’t upset that Dick Axelsson turned down the opportunity to play NHL games with them this fall. They believe the talented fowrard
ST. PAUL. Detroit Red Wings management is upset that Dick Axelsson turned down NHL games with them this fall. They believe that the talented forward will get a boost from playing for Modo Hockey.
“We just want to make sure that we retain our NHL rights to Axelsson. [Modo coach] Ulf Samuelsson could be the right man to help Dick’s talent develop, says GM Ken Holland to Sport-Expressen.
Holland was disappointed when Dick Axelsson left the Wings’ farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, and went back to Sweden in the middle of the [2009-2010] season.
After suspending Axelsson for some time, Detroit allowed him to play for Farjestad. Now, Holland believes that Axelsson might have come over [to the NHL] too soon.
“Yes, it might have very well been that way. He wasn’t quite ready for the move and that’s why things happened. I have no problem that he wants to play for Modo now and spend the season there.”
Do you think that Ulf Samuelsson might have an impact on Axelsson’s career?
“Absolutely. Samuelsson played in the NHL for many years and was an assistant coach in Phoenix for several seasons, so if anyone knows what it takes to succeed in the NHL, it’s him. I think this is a good solution for everybody.”
Will you follow Dick in Modo this season?
“Yes, our scout in Sweden, Hakan Andersson, will be in contact with Samuelsson and Modo, so we’re comfortable with the upcoming season.”
Could Axelsson play for the Red Wings in the 2012-2013 season?
“Sure, but we’ll see how things go this winter first. That being said, I think this is good for Axelsson’s development.”
How important was it to get Nicklas Lidstrom to sign for another year?
“Extremely important. And I’m glad that Nick signed before winning his seventh Norris Trophy, because his asking price probably would have gone up!”
What is the state of your negotiations with Jonathan Ericsson?
“We want to keep him and I will meet his agent after the draft here in Minnesota. I know that Jonathan has done well in Detroit and would prefer to stay, so I hope we can solve the money issue to everyone’s satisfaction.”
And you have a hole to fill after Brian Rafalski [retired]?
“That’s right, so we need Ericsson. And then we’ll try to find an established defenseman for the team that will be a free agent on July 1st.
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