The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/22/11 at 02:27 PM ET
Updated 2x with an Abdelkader-flying-with-the-Blue Angels video and Mike Babcock on the Fan 590 at 12:48 PM: As noted in the overnight report, Red Wings GM Ken Holland told the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker that, aside from determining Kris Draper’s future, he’s content to allow his team’s current roster and its prospects to determine their present and future over the course of the regular season, saving up the cap space to address any needs in terms of a top-six forward or blueline bolstering nearer to the trade deadline. Holland reiterated his points of emphasis to MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“I think we can compete and I like our cap space,” Holland said. “If, after 60 games, we get to the (trade) deadline and are in a playoff position, we can make a deal. We haven’t had that (cap space) the last couple of years.”
Again, between the additions of Ian White, Mike Commodore, Ty Conklin, retaining the services of Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and Jonathan Ericsson, the fact that Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak have to make the roster to avoid being waived and adding depth in the call-up department by re-signing Joey MacDonald and Doug Janik and adding both Chris Conner and Garnet Exelby, training camp might have more to do with establishing a pecking order in terms of call-ups from Grand Rapids (Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar, Jordan Pearce and Thomas McCollum are likely to exhaust their waiver exemption by the 2012-2013 season) than anything else.
That being said, Holland admitted to both Parker and Khan that the team would like to eventually add another forward to the mix…
“If we had to go to training camp next week, we’re ready to go,” Holland said.
The Red Wings tried to acquire a top-six free-agent forward. They made an offer to Jaromir Jagr, who signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. They showed interest in Tomas Fleischmann and Scottie Upshall, each of whom signed a four-year deal with the Florida Panthers.
“I’d like to add a top-six forward, but so would every other team in the league,” Holland said. “We wanted to add a guy like (Danny) Cleary, a good, two-way forward. We explored but came up short on a few (players), either in dollars or term.”
But for now, it’s about keeping somewhere between $5.5 and $6 million in cap space—Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien says that the team has $5.85 million In cap space remaining—in a rainy-day fund and preparing to defend the team’s Central Division title with two new assistant coaches’ ideas likely to address any defensive shortcomings.
Holland remains a believer that parity reigns…
Holland estimates that as many as 20 teams are capable of winning the Stanley Cup.
“That’s the beauty of our league,” Holland said. “Vancouver and (Cup champion) Boston both went to the finals last year and won Game 7 in the first round in overtime. They were one goal away from being eliminated. We’re still a good team and we can compete with teams perceived to be the best in the Western Conference.”
And the fact that the Wings have some serious tagging space available for the 2012-2013 season to either add salary and/or retain players is very important because, as NHL.com’s EJ Hradek notes, Holland’s biggest priority in terms of retaining his own players involves re-signing Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart:
“We’ll probably start conversations with their agents in training camp,” Holland said. “It will probably take some time from there.”
Fortunately, this is far from Holland’s first rodeo when it comes to signing key players.
“If you look at our recent history, we signed Pav (Pavel Datsyuk) late in the season back in ‘07 and we got Z (Henrik Zetterberg) and (Johan) Franzen done in the second half of the ‘08-09 season,” Holland said. “It’s a process.”
It might take time, but Holland simply has to keep those two—particularly Kronwall—in the fold if the Wings are going to continue to their long run as a championship-caliber team. As Holland and his top-notch management group understand, you can’t be a real Cup contender with a sub-par group on defense.
Holland certainly realizes that while Kronwall and Stuart aren’t the sexiest names to wear a Wings sweater during his tenure, they’re extremely important to club’s immediate future and eventual transition into the—dare I say it—post-Lidstrom era. Kronwall and Stuart no doubt will be expected to help mentor talented prospects like AHL standout Brendan Smith, as well as still-learning young pro Jonathan Ericsson.
Because of Holland’s terrific track record, I have to believe he will get his D-men. If for some reason that pursuit goes off the rails, the Wings’ long-term future will take a major hit. The clock already is ticking.
Otherwise, today’s Red Wings-related stories include Danny Cleary’s hometown’s mayor insisting to the Carbonnear (Newfoundland) Compass’s Mika Rekai that Harbour Grade, NL is the sports capital of his province, via RedWingsFeed, NHL.com’s John Kreiser mentioning that Brendan Shanahan’s shot totals and Nicklas Lidstrom’s career plus-minus ratings aren’t bad…
And The Hockey News’s Rory Boylen reports that the second-to-last day of Pavel Datsyuk’s hockey camp in Ekaterinburg, Russia offers a little pro hockey flair for its campers:
The only thing missing at this point is the NHL experience and the kids are about to dive into that aspect on Friday, with an authentic team draft setting the stage the day before.
The schedules on the second-last day of the camp ran as usual and even began to swerve towards the physical components of the game. But it was at the end of the second practice when the mood began to shift to game day. The players gathered around a table that was placed at center ice and coaches were assigned to the two teams that will face off Friday afternoon: The Banditos and The Torpedoes.
Todd and Jay Woodcroft became GMs of the two teams and, through the translating of Masha Leonova, went through all the pomp and circumstance you would expect from a professional team at the podium, with a little injected humor.
“He has an entourage the size of President Putin’s…The Banditos are proud to select: Vova!”
The GMs let the players know trades could still happen until 10:00 p.m. Thursday, so they had to make sure they answered the phone just in case (though it wasn’t that serious). There are stories of some past players being unable to sleep the night before and on the Friday a few have shown up in suits over the years.
From now until game time, the teams will be separated: Players eat with their teammates, do drills together and play soccer against each other. This is what the buildup has been coming to and the excitement in their young faces is palpable.
Update: via the Wings’ Twitter account, the Wings’ website posted a six-minute clip of Justin Abdelkader’s flight with the Blue Angels this past Wednesday:
Update #2: Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to The Fan 590’s Jim Lang about Chris Osgood’s new position:
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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.