The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/29/11 at 02:41 PM ET
Well I don’t know what the hell to think about this: the Dallas News’s Mike Heika believes that the Stars might target Red Wings free-agent-to-be Jonathan Ericsson if he hits the open market, suggesting it’s an “educated guess” that Joe Nieuwendyk would toss money at Ericsson if/when things go south in his negotiations with the Wings, who remain the front-runner for his services:
If you want him to leave a successful place like Detroit, where he seems a perfect fit, you will have to overpay him. He made $1.25 million last season, and the guess is Detroit has him targeted at about $2 million. They are looking for a high-level defenseman in free agency to replace the retired Brian Rafalski, and they also have a couple of good young defensemen pushing up in Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith.
And that may be why Ericsson hasn’t already re-signed with the Red Wings. If he is intent on going to free agency, he is likely intent on going to a new team. Could the Stars be that team?
It depends on the price. The Blackhawks matched an offer sheet for Niklas Hjalmarsson that pays him $3.5 million for four years. Is that what it would take to get Ericsson? The Stars are paying Trevor Daley an average of $3.3 million for six years, could Ericsson have more upside? It’s an interesting discussion.
Also of Red Wings-related note this afternoon: Do the Chad LaRose and Tomas Kopecky deals make it infinitely harder for Ken Holland to keep Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller? You bet. Is today likely decision day, via RedWingsFeed, for Christian Ehrhoff? You bet. Are the Wings in the market for Brad Richards’ services, as his agent, Pat Morris, suggested to Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski? I have no frickin’ clue;
• As Paul posted, the Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey isn’t a Wisniewski fan, but the Sporting News’s Craig Custance believes that Wisniewski’s also the best defenseman likely available on the open market, and he believes that the Wings will make a hard and concerted push for his services:
In a free-agent market that gets thinner by the hour, one name could stand out on July 1. Montreal defenseman James Wisniewski is emerging as the best option for teams looking to add defense, and he’s highly unlikely to get a deal done with the Canadiens before July 1. An NHL source told Sporting News on Wednesday that, barring something unforeseen, Wisniewski will be a free agent on July 1.
Part of it is simple economics. Montreal just signed defenseman Andrei Markov to a three-year deal worth $5.75 million per season. Wisniewski will likely command a deal worth $5 million annually in a weak market, which is more than the Canadiens might want to pay for those two defensemen.
Wisniewski and Christian Ehrhoff are the two best available defensemen in free agency, and it’s clear it will take more than the five-year, $23 million deal Kevin Bieksa signed with the Canucks to land one of the two. The Islanders traded for Ehrhoff’s rights and would likely have to overpay to sign him, a deal that would only increase Wisniewski’s value.
At 27 years old, Wisniewski is hitting his prime and had a career-high 51 points, including 10 goals, last season. He’s not always great defensively but offers more physical edge than some of the other options. It could add up to a big payday on July 1.
“Wisniewski is going to get more than Ehrhoff,” said one NHL source.
If he hits free agency, the Red Wings could be the frontrunner to sign him. With the retirement of Brian Rafalski, they have the money to spend and a hole to fill. Wisniewski is also a righthanded shot, which is appealing for a Detroit blue line loaded up with lefthanded shots, and a native of Canton, Michigan.
I’m going with the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson’s take—it’s a 60-40 chance that the Wings will sign him. If Ehrhoff’s available, that changes things.
• For the record, the Fourth Period’s free agent chart believes that Ericsson, Maxime Talbot (!!!!), Ian White, Ed Jovanovski, Wisniewski, Tomas Kaberle and Ehrhoff are all in the mix for the Wings;
• USA Today’s Kevin Allen also spoke to WBBL’s Bakita and Bentley about the Wings’ free agent options, suggesting that Wisniewski’s the Wings’ primary target, with Ed Jovanovski as the fall-back plan, but in both cases, he doesn’t believe that the Wings will pay top dollar for their services.
Regarding Chris Osgood and the team’s back-up goaltending issue, he believes that the team’s going to wait and see what other teams do over the first week of free agency and then determine whether the leftovers are worth taking a gamble on, suggesting that Chris Osgood’s probably done;
He does believe that the Wings will retain Ericsson’s services;
And he’s a fan of three ten-team conferences:
• For the record, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye have extended their affiliation agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks, and they should do the same with the Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins as well;
• For the record, part 2, the Free Press’s Matt Helms reports that the Ilitch-backed M-1 Rail program is back on track, pun intended;
• In the prospect department, per Sault This Week’s Randy Russon (and, again, we pronounce Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario’s names as “Soo Saint Marie”):
As for Sproul, the 6-foot-3 defenceman who has grown about four inches in the last year, Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill made some rather interesting comments after taking the high-scoring defender, who scored 14 goals for the Hounds during the 2010-11 season.
“He’s a late bloomer,” Nill said of Sproul. “We rolled the dice and now we’ll wait to see how much room for development there is.”
• And finally, from the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
Playing for the Detroit Red Wings, the same team that his dad Gordie Howe starred for when he dominated the National Hockey League and earned the title Mr. Hockey, was a treasured time for Mark Howe, but the member of the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2011 believes that it was the timing of his appearance in a Detroit uniform that made it so.
“Growing up in Detroit, being the son of Gordie Howe, I don’t think I would have been able to handle that experience as an 18 or 20-year-old young man,” Howe admitted. “When I had the opportunity in my career to be able to join the Red Wings (in 1992, at the age of 36), to me, it was a great opportunity.
“Growing up with the Red Wings logo, it was something I dreamed about as a kid. To get a chance to play and be part of that organization was a thrill. It’s what I grew up with and to get a chance to live that dream was a special opportunity for me. The only regret I had after I retired was the one day my dad said to me, ‘Why didn’t you take my No. 9 out of the rafters and wear it for one game?’ Had he asked, I would have done it.”
As a youngster, Mark Howe was afforded the opportunity to hang around the rink with the Red Wings, getting his hockey indoctrination from the best players in the world. “I learned so much as a kid,” Howe said. “I grew up in Detroit with the coaches they had back in the 1960s and 1970s who were family friends – Bill Gadsby and Doug Barkley. “What was really nice for me was as I started getting older – maybe 10, 12 years old – the coaches would let me on the ice with the team. At training camp, they would let me partake in the scrimmages. I remember being schooled one day by Dean Prentice. He scored a hat-trick going around me and he said, ‘Son, you better learn how to play defence.’”
Howe learned the position well enough to be recognized as a Hall of Famer. “I never thought this day would happen,” admitted Howe, Hall eligible since 1998. “I’m just so glad it did. I just know what a tremendous day this is for my dad as well. I’m very emotional. It brings a tear to my eye. Dad was ecstatic, which I knew he would be.”
Update: Via Paul, here’s a follow-up story regarding Ian Jenkins from AnnArbor.com’s Lee Higgins:
Family members of a young hockey star who died last month after falling or jumping off a pickup truck in Milan, don’t want charges filed against the truck’s driver, Milan Police Chief Jeff Lewis said. Officers are wrapping up their investigation into the death of 15-year-old Ian Jenkins, Lewis said, and prosecutors must decide whether to file charges against Jenkins’ 16-year-old friend who was driving.
Investigators plan to submit their findings to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office Juvenile Court Division on Friday, Lewis said. The driver is from Milan, but his name is not being released because he’s a juvenile, Lewis said.
“We see where there was some negligence, but there’s more to charging someone that just mere negligence,” Lewis said. “I don’t believe there’s any intent on the driver’s part in this case.”
Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Jenkins was sitting on a truck bed cover on his friend’s Ford Ranger about 3:45 p.m. May 19 with his feet resting on the bumper, as the truck traveled slowly in an alleyway behind several homes, police said. The truck was traveling east on Reagan Lane and turned to travel south on Eisenhower Lane, Lewis said. After traveling an estimated 90 to 100 feet, Jenkins jumped or fell off the truck and hit his head, Lewis said.
As soon as the driver realized Jenkins was no longer on the truck, he stopped and got out to help, Lewis said. Jenkins, who was considered one of the top youth hockey goalies in the country, never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead four days later at the University of Michigan Hospital.
Lewis said Jenkins’ friend is a licensed driver who was not driving erratically or traveling at an excessive rate of speed. He was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Lewis said.
Update: Congrats to John Ogrodnick, who the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky reports will become a U.S. citizen today.
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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.