The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/19/12 at 02:01 PM ET
I know that failure is not an option around here, and that trying doesn’t count as far as Red Wings fans are concerned, but this Red Wings fan can’t help but give the team an “A for Effort”: over the last three weeks, the Wings have made an in-person pitch to Ryan Suter, MLive’s Ansar Khan told us that the Wings did their best to land Rick Nash, instead of throwing an offer sheet at Shea Weber, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Wings were trying to trade for Weber’s rights instead, and we already know that the Wings are assumed to be serious bidders for Shane Doan’s services as they wait to find out whether Doan will leave Phoenix at all.
In the interim, the Wings did their best to pluck some bargain signings off the market in the once-every-other year retread in Mikael Samuelsson (cheaper than Jiri Hudler, can replace Hudler’s goal scoring), the more and more affable Jordin Tootoo and something of a safe gamble in Jonas “the Monster” Gustavsson, all the while wrapping up deals to keep Darren Helm and then Kyle Quincey in the fold, with only Justin Abdelkader to re-sign and Tomas Holmstrom’s future to determine.
We also know that, as noted in the overnight report, the Wings at least have some sort of interest in Alex Semin’s services, and that the Free Press’s Helene St. James believes that the Wings are both looking at bargain/band-aid UFA defenseman and are probably playing the trade market right now:
The Wings remain in search of a defenseman to add to their top four, which now includes Kronwall, Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson. Brendan Smith might audition for a spot if needed, but given he has 14 games of NHL experience, he’d be a risk to put in such a prominent position instead of in the third pairing.
The Wings pursued Ryan Suter, but he opted for more money and to be closer to his family and chose Minnesota. They also offered a contract to Sami Salo, but he chose Tampa Bay. They weren’t interested in Matt Carle at the $5.5-million cap hit he got from the Lightning.
This wasn’t a banner summer for unrestricted free-agent defensemen, and the ones left are third-pair types. The Wings will continue to explore their options, but are more likely to improve their defense now via trade.
MLive’s Ansar Khan agreed in his article about the Weber offer sheet…
The Red Wings, under general manager Ken Holland, have never tendered an offer sheet to a restricted free agent. Holland has said he believes it’s pointless, since the player’s team almost always matches.
Detroit desperately needs a top pair defenseman after Nicklas Lidstrom retired. The Red Wings made a big push for Weber’s teammate, Ryan Suter, offering him a 13-year deal worth $88 million, but he signed instead with the Minnesota Wild for $98 million over 13 years.
There are no more high-end defensemen on the free-agent market, forcing the Red Wings to fill that void through a trade.
The Red Wings also are seeking a top-six winger. They offered New Jersey’s Zach Parise a 13-year deal worth $73 million, but weren’t even in the ball park. He joined Suter in Minnesota for the same amount (13 years, $98 million).
The Red Wings made an offer for Shane Doan, who apparently won’t decide anytime soon whether to re-sign with the Phoenix Coyotes.
They also made an offer to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rick Nash, but it generated no conversation.
And it’s also worth repeating that Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels disagreed with my, “Get a band-aid and wait till the CBA is settled and training cam/the exhibition season/earl regular season leave teams with extra defensemen that can be had more affordably than they’re probably worth now” theory, telling the Fan 590’s Greg Brady that he believes the Wings will pursue a trade this summer:
So yes, I struck a moderate tone, perhaps a predictably moderate tone, in the overnight report, but I also readily admitted that Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Ryan Martin and Mike Babcock were working the phones like men with multiple plans in the works during the Wings’ summer development camp last week, and as that phone-working has bore out some very definitive results…
I’m not faulting the Wings for trying to aggressively improve their team and continuing to do so as the days have passed and more evidence suggests that Ken Holland is doing anything but spending his days golfing at the Predator Ridge course in Vernon, British Columbia, that all Mike Babcock is doing is water-skiing and having a few “pops” by the fire in Emma Lake, Saskatchewan, or that Ryan Martin are simply dealing with the heat as best they can and dodging rain while golfing here in Metro Detroit.
The Wings’ brass has multiple plans of action in play here, and while they haven’t landed the player(s) they’ve targeted, they are clearly moving forward with dogged determination, aggressive resolve, poise and something that you and I lack at this time of year—patience—which is an excellent sign.
Regarding Weber in particular, the Free Press’s Helene St. James tossed off the following Tweets this morning…
Flyers have signed RFA D Shea Weber to 14-year $100M+ offer sheet. #RedWings coveted Weber, but small chance Preds would trade him to DET— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) July 19, 2012
Re: Flyers signing RFA D Shea Weber to offer sheet - signing other team’s RFAs to offer sheets not business MO of #RedWings. Explored trade— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) July 19, 2012
And St. James offered this take on the Red Wings-related ramifications of the Weber offer, especially given this morning’s news that the offer sheet pays out $14 million—with $13 million of it lockout-proofed as signing bonuses—over the first four years, almost blowing the Carolina Hurricanes’ offer sheet to Sergei Fedorov out of the water:
The Wings coveted Weber, but poaching other teams’ restricted free agents—while it’s allowed under the collective bargaining agreement—is not their modus operandi. They would have preferred to work out a trade for Weber, but as unlikely as it is that Columbus will trade superstar forward Rick Nash to Detroit, the odds of Nashville trading the face of their franchise to Detroit are even fainter.
The Predators have a legitimate rivalry with the Wings, most recently stoked when Nashville bumped Detroit in the first round of the playoffs this year. For the Predators to announce they’ve shipped their best player to an opponent within the Central Division, the return investment would have to be phenomenal—think Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk (neither of whom would have been relinquished), and then some.
What the Flyers offered Weber isn’t outrageous—it fits right in with what elite players are getting. Suter, 27, got 13 years and $98 million from Minnesota. Suter’s cap hit is $7.5 million; Drew Doughty, the Los Angeles Kings’ stud defenseman, has a cap hit of $7 million through 2018-19.
But while an average cap hit of around $7.1 million for Weber is palatable, what might make the Predators choke is how the contract is structured. Nick Kypreos, a former player, reported on Twitter that the offer sheet would pay Weber $56 million over the first four years—about half of the total money involved. That might prevent the Predators from matching.
If the Flyers do get Weber, here’s the upside for the Wings: He’s out of their division and out of the Western Conference. At most, they’ll have to face him once or twice a season, barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup finals. And the Flyers will have dealt a devastating blow to the Predators, one of the Wings’ top competitors.
She makes a good point on both counts. I can’t imagine the Predators trading Weber to Detroit without asking for a huge premium, so while some of you might suggest that Ken Holland’s intestinal fortitude might be lacking, the fact that he has aggressively pursued Suter, pursued Nash, and pursued Weber by a realistic method—because, let’s face it, the odds are better than 50/50 that the Predators will match the Flyers’ offer because the team would be left in shambles otherwise—and the fact that the team’s willing to wait for Doan show me that Holland’s cajones may be plated with tungsten carbide after all.
Also of, uh, note: the German website Kicker Online is confirming that the Cologne Sharks (Kolner Haie) have signed Chris Minard to a one-year deal, and he’ll be joining a former Grand Rapids Griffin in Germany as Doug Janik signed with Adler Mannheim last week. The Griffins have also lost Garnet Exelby to the Bruins last week, though they’ve signed Triston Grant, Nathan Paetsch, Chad Billins and Luke Glendening to AHL-only deals, Jim Nill is not quite done building a solid core of veterans and/or NHL-ready call-ups around Jeff Blashill’s team of very young players.
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