The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/27/11 at 05:01 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings’ status as perennial contenders yields a simple result at the NHL Entry Draft: the Wings tend to pick late in every round, and as such, the picks they make are highly dependent on who the teams ahead of them pick. In this year’s draft, the Wings have earned high marks from experts galore for choosing to trade down into the second round and picking Tomas Jurco 35th overall, but the reason that the team did so, according to a pair of Twitter updates from The Fan 590’s Greg Brady (per RedWingsFeed), is because the player the Wings really wanted to draft got away:
Per good Red Wings source, pretty safe to say they were drafting Tyler Biggs at #24. When Leafs did, traded out. Only guy they wanted there.
Jim Nill & Ryan Martin had both seen Biggs several times….Wings would have thrilled to get him. DRW did not pursue trading picks w/ Leafs.
As such, Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon’s the latest to suggest that the Wings made a helluva pick in Jurco, and earn top marks as “winners” for their usual draft haul:
1. Detroit Red Wings: They traded out of the first round swapping their first round pick for a pair of second rounders from Ottawa and managed to land super skilled forward Thomas Jurco and defenseman Xavier Ouellet. Defense was a key point in this draft for the Wings as they also took defenseman Ryan Sproul with their own second round pick. Overall Detroit grabbed five defensemen with the nine selections they had in the draft. Perhaps Nicklas Lidstrom‘s eventual retirement finally set in on their thinking.
In Jurco they land a puckhandling wizard the likes we haven’t seen since… Oh right, Detroit already has Pavel Datsyuk to do silly things with the puck. That said, if we see Datsyuk doing the kinds of things we’ve seen Jurco do in highlight reels on YouTube, the NHL world might implode.
They also landed forward Philippe Hudon in the fifth round. The NHL Central Scouting bureau had Hudon ranked 31st at their midseason rankings but when the final list came out, Hudon dropped to 74th. Could the Wings have tripped and fallen into another late-round success story? Time will tell, but Hudon is worth keeping an eye on at Cornell next season in the NCAA.
Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime offers this partisan take on the Wings’ Entry Draft class of 2011…
Not too long ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning used a YouTube clip of Steven Stamkos and his unique blend of skills to entice its fan base about the future of the franchise. It worked. And if there were any Lightning fans who hadn’t ‘Seen Stamkos’ on the internet, they surely know who he is now.
Search Tomas Jurco on YouTube and you’ll see that same blend of crafty creativity. If the Slovak prospect turns out to be anything like Stamkos, Ken Holland will have found himself yet another NHL gem.
Dealing with the Draft is an exercise in patience, as the majority of selections are still a few years away from being NHL ready. Still, it’s hard to watch the dangles and not go gooey thinking of a Russian superstar currently donning the Winged Wheel.
For the third time in six seasons, the Wings decided to trade out of the first round, opting to trade the 24th selection to Ottawa for a pair of second round picks. And along with the YouTube sensation, Detroit added a pair of defensemen in Xavier Ouellet, who scored eight goals and 35 assists with Montreal in the QMJHL, and Ryan Sproul, who tallied 14 goals and 19 assists for Sault Ste. Marie.
The Detroit Red Wings 2011 NHL Draft
Tomas Jurco – RW – Saint John
Xavier Ouellet – D – Montreal
Ryan Sproul – D – Sault Ste. Marie
Alan Quine – C – Peterborough
Marek Tvrdon – RW – Vancouver
Philippe Hudon – RW – Choate
Mattias Backman – D – Linkoping Jr.
Richard Nedomlel – D – Swift Current
Alexei Marchenko – D – CKSA
RedWingsTV posted a clip of Sproul engaging in the obligatorily awkward post-draft “photo shoot”...
And in the prospect profile department RedWingsCentral’s Matthew Wuest deserves quite the pat on the back for his tremendous work over the past few days (as usual), having cranked out profiles of Jurco, Tvrdon, Marchenko, Nedomlel, Backman, Sproul and now Quine and Hudon over a 72-hour period of time—that’s eight of the Wings’ nine picks!
Here’s Wuest’s profile of Quine...
The Detroit Red Wings readily admit they’re not entirely sure what they’re getting with Alan Quine. What they do know is that the 5-foot-11, 184-pound Peterborough Petes center has the high-end speed and enough malleable talent in enough different areas to perhaps one day become an NHL player.
“I really don’t know where it’s all going to end up,” admitted Joe McDonnell, the Red Wings’ director of scouting. “I’d classify him as a two-way guy, but he does have some offensive capabilities. It’s a wait-and-see kind of thing.”
The Red Wings took Quine in the third round, 85th overall, in Saturday’s NHL entry draft in St. Paul, Minn. Quine, once a second overall selection in the OHL draft, impressed the Red Wings as a 16-year-old in 2009-10 when he had 28 points in 64 games. But McDonnell describes Quine’s lack of ice time early in his NHL draft year as “mind-boggling.”
In what McDonnell said was a “mutual decision” between the Frontenacs and Quine’s family, the Ottawa native was dealt to rebuilding Peterborough in November in a blockbuster trade for Boston Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner.
“That was a blessing for him,” McDonnell said. “He started playing lots and playing on the power play. They have a good group of young kids there and he fit in really well.”
And here’s his profile of Hudon:
It’s not easy scouting players at the U.S. prep-school level, but the Detroit Red Wings took a long look at Philippe Hudon and had a good feeling about him.
“You have to project guys,” said Red Wings scout Mark Leach, of evaluating players at that level. “He’s a very competitive kid who can really shoot the puck. He’s very willing to play in front of the net and score dirty goals, play a physical game, and he just competes really hard.”
The Red Wings selected the 6-foot, 197-pound right-winger in the fifth round, 145th overall, in Saturday’s NHL entry draft in St. Paul, Minn., and are hopeful he’ll emerge as a prospect to watch when he suits up with Cornell at the NCAA level this fall. Hudon, who has spent the past two seasons playing at Choate-Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn., has easily stood out from the prep-school crowd, registering 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points along with 44 penalty minutes in 22 games this past season.
One thing that caught the Red Wings’ eye is Hudon’s bullet shot.
“He can shoot the puck and he’s not afraid to let ’er rip — from anywhere on the ice,” Leach said.
The only person who doesn’t like the Wings’ picks thus far is, well…you know...
In any case, the second topic of note this afternoon involves the rumor-turned-fact regarding the Red Wings benefiting from a serious realignment of the NHL’s divisional system, as discussed by MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Following last week’s Board of Governors meeting, stories have surfaced, notably in the Ottawa Sun and The Sporting News, that the league will do more than just move one team to the East in 2012-13, when the Winnipeg Jets will shift to the Western Conference.
Reports indicate the NHL is contemplating a four-division format, with two divisions of eight teams and two with seven.
What isn’t clear is which team or teams will head East. Detroit, Columbus and perhaps Nashville all want to be in the East. It would cut down on travel and lead to earlier starting times for most road games, resulting in better TV ratings. And in the Red Wings’ case, it would result in a more attractive schedule for fans, with more games against Original Six rivals Toronto, Montreal, Boston and the New York Rangers, as well as marquee teams like Pittsburgh, Washington and Philadelphia.
But if the league moves Detroit to the East, it likely would be in conjunction with Columbus. It is hard to imagine the NHL would have these teams, the only Western Conference clubs in the eastern time zone, in separate conferences. So shifting the Red Wings and Blue Jackets East and the Jets West would result in 16 teams in the East and 14 in the West.
I agree with Khan’s conclusion that the talk is still just that—talk—and that until the NHL’s GM’s and Board of Governors discuss the concept over the first half of next season, there’s no point in jumping up and down and counting one’s chickens, so to speak, but if you’re as skeptical of every Bruce Garrioch report citing “league sources” as I am, I can at least offer you the fact that Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika offered some credence to Garrioch’s suggestion via on-the-record discussions with GM’s…
I guess we have to talk about it...As the Wings’ free agent choices narrow—TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s reporting that Kevin Bieksa’s re-signed with Vancouver—we know that the Wings have given Jaromir Jagr a take-it-or-leave-it contract in the $2.5 million range, but Jagr hasn’t said, “Sure, sign me up!” because he’s intrigued by the possibility of concluding his career where it began, with the Pittsburgh Penguins. If you’re interested in the rhetorical part of the conversation, Paul already posted a column by the Beaver County Times’ Mark Madden, who suggests that Jagr would be a perfect fit for Pittsburgh while confirming the contract details
Jagr reportedly wants $2 million plus achievement bonuses on a one-year contract. That’s a decent deal.
And via NHL Gossip on Twitter, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma’s spoken to the media, via the Penguins’ website, today, again discussing Jagr’s “fit” with Pittsburgh. It’s just plain old weird to have to admit that the Red Wings have approached a marquee “older player,” have offered him more money (a contract in the $2.5 million range, probably including bonuses) and a chance to play on a winning machine, and they’ve been told, “Um, yeah, let me get back to you about that…If things don’t work out for me with my first choice.”
We’ll know whether the fall-back plan is the one Jagr chooses by July 1st.
In the plain old “pretty cool news” department, via The Score’s Scott Lewis, Eddie Vedder performed in Detroit this past weekend, and his concert poster featured Chris Chelios;
And finally, for the moment, anyway, Fox Sports Detroit’s Mike O’Hara isn’t too keen on “era versus era” comparisons between players, even when they’re all-time greats:
The debate in a weekend talk show was over which of the Red Wings’ all-time greats was a better athlete—Gordie Howe vs. Nicklas Lidstrom.
Lidstrom just won his seventh Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. Howe is one of the top four or five players in history, but his career began with the Wings in the dark ages of 1946 and ended with Hartford in 1980.
The question raised most often in comparing athletes of different eras nearly always centers on whether the old-timers could compete in the modern era. It’s a fair question, given the size of modern athletes and the speed and athleticism that came with developments in training and nutrition.
But it’s just as fair to question whether athletes of this era could compete at the same level under the rules and conditions of earlier eras.
Howe was a magnificent, durable, multi-skilled athlete. He was predominantly a right-hand shot, but he was ambidextrous. It was common for Howe to swoop in from right wing, shift to a left-hand shot and snap the puck into the net—just as fast and accurately as he would have right-handed.
Lidstrom also is a magnificent, durable athlete. But there is a question of whether his style of play would have been as productive 30-40 years ago, when the game was rougher, players were on the ice for longer shift and games sometimes degenerated to outright mayhem.
This is a question to explore later in more detail. My opinion: Most great players would be great in any era, but not all of them.
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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.