The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/23/12 at 03:30 PM ET
Updated repeatedly: According to the Red Wings, the TC camp account simply misunderstood a joke on the Red Wings’ Facebook page. and the TC account is confirming. All is OK!: I’m not too worried about this, but I am slightly concerned: the Red Wings’ Twitter account is going into overdrive today to promote the last day of voting for Pavel Datsyuk in EA Sports’ NHL 13 cover vote semifinals, and the Wings revealed that Nicklas Lidstrom was at Joe Louis Arena today.
Could Nicklas Lidstrom’s NHL career be over?
It’s a horrifying thought to many Red Wings fans but the idea was given some credence on Wednesday, when the official Twitter account for the Red Wings’ Traverse City-based training camps posted the following:
Sad to learn Nicklas Lidstrom retiring #redwings #drwtc
The tweet was deleted within minutes of having been posted and those running the account did not reply when asked about it.
Honestly, Twitter bots like RedWingsFeed and Google tend to find the Wings’ official website uploading articles, videos or pictures indicating that a player’s going to retire, so I don’t think we’re witnessing the end of the world quite yet, but if RWF does start picking up hints…
Then I’m worrying.
In a very, very different vein, ESPN’s Craig Custance confirmed this morning, per his insider-only blog, that potential unrestricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz may or may not sign with his rights-holding tea…
Justin Schultz, Wisconsin—Schultz was the No. 43 overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, picked in the second round by the Ducks and could end up being one of the most intriguing stories of the summer. If he doesn’t sign with the Ducks, he could become a free agent and outside of Ryan Suter there might not be a better available defenseman. The 6-foot-1 British Columbia native blossomed at Wisconsin and had 47 points last year and 44 this season. His semester ended on Friday and the Ducks are waiting to officially hear from him whether or not he’s going to leave school. If he notifies the NCAA in writing of his intention to leave Wisconsin, the Ducks have 30 days to sign him before he can speak with any other NHL team. According to an NHL source, as of Monday night the Ducks still were waiting to hear about an official decision.
Danny DeKeyser, Western Michigan University—DeKeyser had a chance to sign with any NHL team following the Broncos season this spring but somewhat surprisingly opted to return to Andy Murray’s program for his junior year and continue his development in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The 6-foot-3 defenseman, who wasn’t drafted, won’t have to wait long to join the NHL once he’s ready to make the jump. Until then, his focus is on getting stronger and preparing for a long career.
“To get to the next level is just going to take some strength and a little bit of weight,” DeKeyser said when we spoke in late March. “I’d like to have a good summer, put on 10 pounds or so over the summer, get my strength up. That will really help me to move on.” A Michigan native, he grew up a Detroit Red Wings fan but said he’s keeping his NHL options wide open.
And “Angus Certified’s” Jeff Angus pondered whether Schultz might sign with Detroit over other NHL options:
The draws: a class organization from top to bottom, a new arena deal on the horizon, the chance to play with his buddy Brendan Smith.
The drawbacks: Likely no roster spot available, even if Nick Lidstrom retires and Brad Stuart returns to play in California. The Wings are patient with their young defensemen – just look at Smith and Jakub Kindl.
Schultz to Detroit? As Gob Bluth would say,” Come on!” Will the rich get richer? The same set of questions was posed to J.J. from Winging It In Motown.
Why would he be a good fit in Detroit? Schultz’s game matches Detroit’s system extremely well. No team in the league relies more on creating offense and transition from their blue line. To have another smart shot, especially one that shoots right would be welcome just about anywhere. While it may not play much of a difference, the Red Wings having Patrick Eaves, the son of Schultz’s coach Mike at Wisconsin, defenseman Brendan Smith, and what many would consider a front-runner status on former Badger Ryan Suter, it could make a difference.
Why would he want to come to Detroit? The Red Wings are well-known for being a player-friendly organization where there’s an expectation to win, but enough veteran leaders in the locker room to alleviate some of the pressure on a kid. He would be able to grow himself into the spotlight in Detroit rather than having it bearing down on him from the start.
Would he have a roster spot available to earn?I don’t believe Schultz would be able to walk into a roster spot if he signs his first NHL contract with the Red Wings. Aside from being famous for taking care of their players, they’re also a bit notorious for over ripening their prospects. Brendan Smith is looking forward to his first full NHL season with the big club after a year many thought he should have already been with them. While Schultz would be given a chance to jump over a guy like Jakub Kindl, it’s not likely he’ll find himself anywhere but Grand Rapids for the first year.
Provided he is NHL ready, what role could he play in 2012-13? With so much in the air as far as the status of Detroit’s defensive corps next season, it’s hard to tell where he would end up if the club made room for him, but I think he’d slot onto the third pairing to get 10-12 minutes per night. Depending on other acquisitions, he would probably be either first or second in line to take over a point on the 2nd power play unit in the event of injury.
Schultz to Detroit makes a lot of sense if immediate ice time at the NHL isn’t his primary goal. The Wings are set to reap the rewards of their patience with Smith and Kindl, and it is likely that Schultz would take the same route as those two (at least two years in Grand Rapids).
Likelihood of Schultz to Detroit: Two Holmstrom goaltender interference penalties out of 10.
I don’t think that he’s coming to Detroit—Angus believes that Edmonton’s the front-runner for Schultz’s services, with Toronto, New York, Vancouver and Philadelphia close behind, and he’s right—but we can always dare to dream.
Update: While we’re on the subject, the Sporting News’s Jesse Spector answered a question about Lidstrom and the Wings’ free agency plans today:
“Who do you think would be the best fit for the Red Wings to pursue this offseason?”—Mike Crossman
Detroit has $44 million and change committed to 18 players for next season, so there is cap space to work with, although there also is a rather significant question as to whether Nicklas Lidstrom, an unrestricted free agent who had a $6.2 million cap hit this season, will return or retire. The good news for the Red Wings is that Lidstrom is expected to make his decision before July 1, so GM Ken Holland will know exactly what the situation is when the market opens.
Regardless of Lidstrom’s decision, though, replacing the seven-time Norris Trophy winner on a long-term basis is a major priority for the Red Wings, and Ryan Suter has long been rumored to be a top target should he decide to leave Nashville as an unrestricted free agent. Matt Carle also would make a lot of sense for Detroit if he opts to leave the Philadelphia Flyers. Both Suter and Carle have the kind of puck-moving skill that the Red Wings need for their system.
Another intriguing option would be Semin, who may benefit greatly from a change of scenery, and especially from a move to a team where his offensive talents could be maximized. Even as he has struggled to replicate the form that made him a 40-goal scorer in 2009-10, Semin still has been a 20-goal man the past two years, and even in what was arguably his worst season, scored on 11.5 percent of his shots on goal in 2011-12. What might he be able to do on a line with Pavel Datsyuk, and for that matter, how good would it be for Semin’s mental game to be teammates with a fellow Russian in the conversation for best player in the world?
After failing to get out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time in 2006, and with Lidstrom at the end of his career—either now or soon—it might seem like the Red Wings are poised for a transition period. With the right additions, Detroit can reload rather than rebuild, and it is good fortune that a free-agent class that is thin overall happens to be thick with top talent that fits in Hockeytown, especially with a system that is hardly rife with chips for trades.
Update #2: The Finnish papers are in full-out freak-out mode themselves today as the Minnesota Wild have signed Mikael Granlund, and Sport.aktuality.sk’s Jakub Slovak is equally excited about the probability that the Wings will sign Tomas Jurco over the next few days.
Apologies for the tweet this morning about Lidstrom. It was posted for 2 seconds.
It was based off a very poorly worded Facebook post by the official #redwings facebook page that has since been changed.
The tweet was removed as soon as that Facebook page was changed. It is not our goal to spread inaccurate information. Thank you.
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