The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/25/12 at 03:42 PM ET
Updated 2x with more Suter/Parise blather at 3:33 PM: Thanks to the oddities of Fox Sports Detroit’s aggregation, I needed an assist from NHLGossip to find the article which kicks off today’s crop of Red Wings news, but it’s worth the convoluted trip.
We’ve been talking about the concept that NHL teams’ beat writers may or may not be trying to “sell” free agents on potential destinations, and FSD’s Art Regner suggests that the Red Wings have an ace up their sleeve in terms of landing Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, someone who can put the Wings over the top as the best place for top-flight talent to land, and his name is Mike Ilitch:
Logic will dictate that Detroit is a franchise on the decline, while their main competition for Parise and Suter are teams on the rise. But, given that the money will be the same, the Wings will be willing to front load their deals and overpay for the services of hockey’s most sought after free agents.
If Detroit holds a clear advantage over their competition it’s owner Mike Ilitch. Do not under estimate the persuasive powers of Mr. Ilitch.
Winning, the amenities (the building) and the quality of life will be key factors and that’s where ownership comes in.
Over the years Mr. Ilitch has been able to click with athletes—it seems that every free agent that the Red Wings or Tigers have ever signed point to their meeting with Ilitch as the deciding factor. Whatever he says convinces the very best to give Detroit a try. Obviously, the money and the Wings tradition of competing loom large, but there’s more to it than that.
Mike Ilitch makes them feel wanted. He instills a sense of community and his love for Detroit is boundless. Also, being a former athlete and a self-made man is inspiring. Athletes can relate to a person that has worked their tail off for everything that they’ve earned. The Mike Ilitch story is their story.
So, as this week progresses, don’t lose faith despite what you may hear in the rumor mill. As long as Mike Ilitch gets a shot at Parise and Suter, the Wings will never be out of the game.
• In terms of spotlighting individual free agents, Pro Hockey Talk’s Jason Brough offers a “profile” of Suter…
Ryan Suter (D)
2011-12 cap hit: $3.5 million
Potential landing spots:
Detroit, Minnesota and Pittsburgh are probably the three favorites. It’s still possible Suter could end up back in Nashville, though most believe he’s ready to move on. We probably shouldn’t count out Philadelphia either, despite one report he’s not interested in becoming a Flyer and wants to play in the Midwest.
On paper, the Red Wings are the perfect fit. They just lost Nicklas Lidstrom, they’ve got a ton of cap space, they’re a perennial Stanley Cup contender with deep pockets, and they’re geographically close to Suter’s family in Wisconsin.
Of course, Minnesota is close to Wisconsin, too, and Wild GM Chuck Fletcher badly needs to upgrade his defense. Fletcher is also expected to push hard to sign Zach Parise, a Minnesota native and longtime friend of Suter. If he can land one, maybe he can land the other.
The Penguins weren’t really in the conversation until Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek were traded at the draft, freeing up cap space to potentially make a run at Suter and Parise. If Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero can unload Paul Martin as well, there could be room for both.
• MLive’s Ansar Khan offers a profile of a very different player that he believes the Wings may have interest in, perhaps as a replacement for Brad Stuart, in 36-year-old New Jersey Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador:
2011-12 salary: $2.9 million
Strengths: He’s a big, physical, stay-at-home defender who can he hard to play against. He was second on the Devils in blocked shots and was one of the top penalty killers on the team with the best PK in the league. He experienced a surprising offensive surge in the playoffs, with 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 24 games, to help New Jersey reach the Stanley Cup finals.
Weaknesses: Despite his postseason offensive uprising, he will not put up many points – he had no goals and nine assists during the regular season. But he’s not expected to score.
Notable: He missed the entire 2010-11 season because of a concussion, but played all 82 games the following season.
Why he would interest the Red Wings: He would add size and another physical presence to the blue line.
How he could fit in with the Red Wings: He would be on the second or third pairing and kill penalties.
What it might take to get him: At his age, he won’t get anything longer than two years, perhaps in the $3.5 million range per season.
Is Salvador worth signing as a gritty addition to the second or third pairing? Or do you think the Red Wings will be set on defense if they land a top-pairing puck-mover like Ryan Suter, Dennis Wideman or Jason Garrison?
The Sports Forecaster describes the 6’3,” 215-pound defenseman as follows:
Assets: Plays it smooth and steady in the defensive zone. Can be a physical force and punish opponents with big body checks.
Flaws: Isn’t much of a factor in the offensive zone. Can struggle when lined up against speedy National Hockey League wingers.
Career Potential: Physical stay-at-home defenseman.
• I would also highly recommend that you take a gander at the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ chat transcript as she told readers that the Wings are interested in signing Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Garrison, that the Wings probably won’t go after Justin Schultz, but will stick with Kyle Quincey instead, that she believes the Wings are indeed going to toss Jaromir Jagr a contract offer and that there’s at least a 50% chance that both Parise and Suter end up in Detroit;
• If you missed this weekend’s draft scuttlebutt, the Hockey News’s Lyle Richardson will get you up to speed;
• In free agent news of a very different kind, Aftonbladet’s Patrik Larssons reports that estranged Wings prospect Dick Axelsson has signed a contract with the Frolunda Indians. Frolunda’s official website confirms the 1-year contract, as do GP.se’s Anna Andersson and Johan Skold;
• And perhaps at the other end of the spectrum, you can guess who penned this analysis of the Wings’ draft haul:
Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: Losers, barely. I’m not sure that I’m ever going to understand why a team with so many 30-plus-year-old players never has a first-round pick (one in the last four drafts), but they do seem to make decent enough picks. Martin Frk was a strong selection in the second round.
Let’s not tell Captain Troll that the Wings have traded down to snag two second round picks twice…
• In a similar vein, from RedWingsFeed again, Michigan Hockey Now’s Michael Caples says that their website will offer a profile of Martin Frk at some point this week, and MI Hockey Now’s Matt Mackinder penned a profile of
Jake Paterson already;
• In a different sort of participatory category, MLive’s Brendan Savage is asking fans to weigh in as to which players they feel should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame—with their 2012 induction class to be named tomorrow at 3 PM, via TSN;
[edit/update]: Yahoo Sports’ Sean Leahy reports that the NHL Network will simulcast the announcement in the U.S. [/edit]
• According to TVR.by, a “Museum of Belarusian Statehood” opened in Minsk, Belarus today, and it includes a pair of gloves worn by Ruslan Salei;
• And I’m going to push this a bit as I’m getting down to the nitty gritty: I’m over halfway to my goal of deferring the cost of attending the Red Wings’ summer prospect camp from July 7-14, but I’m also a little under two weeks from leaving for Traverse City. If you can lend a hand, I’d be grateful:
You’ll have to use my personal email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, and if you want to aid the cause by some other manner or means, fire me an email at that address or at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.
Update: Thank you captain obvious, per the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell:
NEWS: New Jersey Devils left winger Zach Parise is scheduled to meet with his agents Monday in Minnesota to discuss his strategy for July 1.
VIEWS: With the New Jersey franchise teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, there is no way Parise returns to the Devils, not with the kind of stability and payday that await him in any number of other cities.
And who can blame him? Would you want to make a long-term commitment to an employer whose financial situation is so tenuous when you have dozens of other options available? Of course not. All things being equal, the Devils would stand an excellent chance of retaining Parise with a long-term deal, but they are not in the position to be throwing around Ilya Kovalchuk-like contracts anymore.
Speculation is the Minnesota Wild are basically prepared to top any offer Parise will receive July 1 in both money and term, but if he wants an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup in the next couple of seasons, his three most likely options are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings.
The Penguins and Red Wings will push hard to sign both Parise and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter July 1 and one of them could end up with both players. After losing Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, the Red Wings will undoubtedly push harder for Suter because filling that void will be the bigger priority. If the Red Wings do manage to sign both players, they instantly become a serious contender for the Stanley Cup again. But with a roster that appears to be in decline and no impact players in that crucial 22-28 age range, the Red Wings might not be able to offer Parise and Suter the same opportunity to win that the Penguins can.
Update #2: Captain obvious, part 2: Here’s Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon’s profile of Zach Parise:
Zach Parise (LW)
2011-12 cap hit: $6 million
Potential landing spots: There’s no shortage of Parise suitors — to be honest, all 30 teams would like to acquire the services of a guy that’s notched five 30-goal seasons since the lockout, captained his team to the Stanley Cup finals and is regarded as one of the league’s most relentless and tenacious players.
That said, some have emerged as more serious players than others.
Minnesota: Ex-Minny GM Lou Nanne went on a local radio station and said that, while having dinner with Wild owner Craig Leipold, he learned “no one is going to outbid the Wild” for Parise’s services and the money offered will “be so substantial” that Parise won’t turn it down. Also, Parise was born and raised in Minnesota and his family still lives there.
Pittsburgh: GM Ray Shero flipped Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek at the draft and cleared a bunch of salary in the process. That’s important, as it was later revealed Shero wants to make a run at Parise and Ryan Suter. Parise would be an ideal winger for the Penguins, who have been trying to find an elite scoring guy to play alongside Sidney Crosby since forever. (After last season James Neal is now Evgeni Malkin‘s official guy, in case you were wondering.)
New Jersey: The Devils hold the unique distinction of, you know, having Parise under their employ, meaning there are six more days to try and convince him to stick in Newark. The Devils’ biggest problems are 1) their massive financial crisis and 2) the rumblings Parise isn’t all that keen on staying there. That said, he is the captain and the heart/soul of the team. That has to count for something….right?
Detroit: GM Ken Holland is on record saying the Wings will be “very aggressive” on July 1, with most expecting them to go hard (hehe) after Parise. The allure for Parise would be the chance to be centered by either (or both of) Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg which, if you’re a winger, is pretty enticing.
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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.