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Red Wings morning report: ‘Homer’s picks,’ free agent alternatives and prospect tourney uncertainty

Updated with Hudler speculation at 8:48 AM: Slovakia and Canada are already playing in the World Championship quarterfinals as I write this (and Tomas Tatar is playing fantastic hockey this morning), and Expressen’s Jonas Solberger and Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros are confirming that Jonathan Ericsson’s good to go after missing almost two weeks with inflammation to his SI joint, with Ericsson slated to play in the last game of the day—Sweden vs. the Czech Republic at 2:15 PM EDT…

And the NBC Sports Network is indeed airing each and every one of the Quarterfinals via TSN’s broadcast feed this morning, so if you do have a spare moment at work or school, there’s nothing wrong with asking whoever monopolizes your time to check out the Canada-Slovakia game, Russia vs. Norway (8:45 EDT), USA vs. Finland (11:30 AM EDT) or perhaps the Sweden-Czech game.

I did find news of a sort that combines foreign-language focus and the subject matter that both you and I would prefer to be focusing on at this time of year—the NHL playoffs—from Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom, who spoke to Tomas Holmstrom about his “playoff picks.” This is roughly translated, of course:

Tomas Holmstrom’s tips: Rangers in the finals

Los Angeles. The Swedish NHL pros who don’t play in the World Championship and remain in the U.S. and Canada follow the Stanley Cup playoffs in detail.

“Lunkan” has been fiendishly good, so I think the New York Rangers will get to the finals,” says Tomas Holmstrom in Detroit.

The New Jersey Devils won last night (3-2) and evened up the series 1-1, but “Homer” believes that Henrik Lundqvist and his Rangers will emerge victorious in the semifinal series.

Their opponent in the final?

“The LA Kings have been very strong, but you never know with Phoenix. It’s remarkably great to have come this far, as they’ve done,” says “Homer.”

“Can beat Canada

Our NHL players who have children in school remain in North America until the beginning or middle of June.

“It’s too bad that you can’t see the Tre Kronor’s games in the World Championship on TV here in the U.S. I hope they beat the Czech Republic in the Quarterfinals, and then Canada will probably be waiting for them. But even though the Canadians have a good team this year, I believe Sweden can beat them on the big ice,” says Tomas Holmstrom.

Hesitates to answer

He has just returned to Detroit from a family vacation in Miami, Florida.

Regarding his own career, he says: “I will meet with our general manager, Ken Holland, when he comes home from the World Championship, so my decision will take a few more weeks.”

If Holmstrom does continue playing, he’s going to have some new teammates in Detroit, and as noted both in the overnight report and especially Helene St. James and Ansar Khan’s suggestions that the Wings might have to take a look at Alexander Semin, the Wings need some “alternate” targets if their desires to sign Ryan Suter and Zach Parise don’t pan out.

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan offers two alternates this morning, and we’ve already talked about one of them:

Who’s next on the Red Wings radar? It’s a slim market, but a couple interesting names are Capitals forward Alex Semin and Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. Both players have baggage and neither would instantly make the Red Wings a sure-fire Stanley Cup contender. But both have positive factors — and wouldn’t cost as much.

Semin, 28, pretty much ended his Capitals career Monday when his agent, Mark Gandler, publicly ripped the organization.

“He does not like the way he’s being used,” Gandler told TSN Radio in Canada. “He does not like the role he has under the (Capitals’) new direction.”

Washington went to a more defensive-oriented scheme under coach Dale Hunter (who isn’t returning), stifling offensive players such as Semin and Alex Ovechkin. Semin had 54 points (21 goals) in 77 games, then four points (three goals) in 14 playoff games.

Jackman, 31, is a rugged defensive defenseman who could be starting the downward side of his career. For a short-term deal, though, Jackman might help a team. But listening to Jackman when the Blues season ended, he may not want to leave St. Louis.

“St. Louis is my home and no matter what happens, I’m a Blue through and through,” Jackman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’ve had the best 10 years of my life in St. Louis and I hope to have another 15. This is my No. 1 choice, (but) it’s all (the decision of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong).”

I’d think that the Wings would be much more interested in Dennis Wideman (terrible playoff run included), Jay Garrison and especially Matt Carle on defense—if not, per Capgeek.com’s UFA finder, lesser lights like Filip Kuba or Matt Gilroy if push comes to shove—but that’s just my take.

Up front? This is just my gut talking, but given the poor crop of free agent forwards, especially in terms of scoring, I would not be surprised if the Wings make some sort of trade to add a scorer.

(And if you missed it in the overnight report, the Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo made sure to suggest that free agent signings won’t necessarily remedy the systemic issues which plagued the Wings’ defense during the playoffs)

The Wings do not, however, want to tap too deeply into their pool of prospects, which will, as MLIve’s Ansar Khan revealed, soon include Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen and a turning-pro Tomas Jurco as signed property of the Wings…

But while the Left Wing Lock’s Sarah Lindenau revealed the schedule for the Wings’ prospect camp this summer (from July 7-14 at Centre Ice Arena), we don’t know whether the Wings will hold their prospect tournament in Traverse City this fall, and MLive’s Ansar Khan explains why CBA uncertainty puts the tournament in jeopardy:

The NHLPA notified players on Wednesday that the league has sent written notice it plans to “terminate and/or modify’’ the CBA when it expires on Sept. 15, according to USA Today. The anticipated move is a formality, since it has long been understood the sides want to negotiate a new labor deal.

Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said it’s business as usual for his team.

“We’ll wait until August (to cancel the prospects tournament, if necessary),’’ Nill said. “We still want it to go on. We’ve talked to the other seven teams. We’re operating as usual, that we’re going to have it.’‘

The tournament is scheduled to start Sept. 14 at Centre I.C.E. But it can’t proceed without a new CBA.

Nill said the same teams that participated in 2011 are scheduled to return: Buffalo, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, St. Louis and the New York Rangers.

In the for the record department, regarding prospects, I thought this was pretty cool: Petr Mrazek played all of 9 minutes and stopped 2 shots for the Czechs in their 8-1 victory over Germany on Tuesday, and what did he have to say to iDnes’s Michael Langr about the experience? “I’m never nervous.”

And, erm…I don’t know how to explain this other than to say “Rosenberg.” The Free Press’s Michael “Evil Drew Sharp II” Rosenberg argues that there is no such thing as “genius” in sport, but instead, “competency,” and he suggests that the Red Wings are among the best franchises around because their management is “competent” enough to earn its bounces:

We often mistake competence for brilliance. Winning comes from hard work and intelligent decision-making, hour after hour, day after day, year after year. It’s not about strokes of genius. It’s about scouts getting on a plane for the fifth straight day to see a prospect who isn’t supposed to be great, on the off chance he wows them. It’s about doing the homework on a player, not just listening to the hype. It’s about making a tough decision because you have done the work to know it is the right decision.

An example: It has been said that the Red Wings were lucky to land Pavel Datsyuk in the sixth round and Henrik Zetterberg in the seventh. Of course they were lucky. But it’s not luck that the Wings are the best European-scouting organization in the NHL. When they drafted Datsyuk and Zetterberg, they valued players of their type far more than most NHL teams. Somebody was going to get lucky with those players. Because of their competence, the Wings were the most likely to get lucky.

Were the Wings lucky that Steve Yzerman fell to No. 4 in the 1983 draft? Sure. But recognizing he was ready to be captain at age 21, putting that talent around him and hiring a coach who forced him to become a two-way player ... that was not luck.

Update: Via Paul, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes that Jiri Hudler would fit in pretty well as an Ottawa Senator:

Jiri Hudler, C, Detroit Red Wings

You have to think Hudler might decide to stay where he’s comfortable and had plenty of success in his career.

It’s difficult for any player to leave Motown, but Hudler is coming off a 25-25-50-point season in 82 games and may want to cash in on his success. He is familiar with MacLean, a former Red Wings assistant coach, and could work well in a second-line role.

After making $2.7 million this season, Hudler is going to be in for a healthy raise. There may not be room for him in Detroit because the Wings are expected to make a pitch for Parise along with defenceman Ryan Suter.

Hudler could be a nice fit for the Senators, but he’ll attract plenty of interest even with the CBA set to expire.

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Chet's avatar

as much as i’ve been sick of various wings-generated cliches that may or may not be reality (“we like their team,” “we just need to start on time”), i’m also semi-sick of hearing about them being “the model franchise of the NHL.” i’m sick of hearing about how management “finds diamonds in the rough” and scoops up veterans who turn out to be “successful reclamation projects.”

enough already. it’s been four years since any of that worked. a playoff streak is meaningless without cups.

semin is an option at like $2M / year, and maybe not even then. as he is now, he gets the wings no closer to the cup.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 05/17/12 at 09:02 AM ET

creasemonkey's avatar

I’m watching Tatar for the first time (live PST at work) and holy hell, I can’t wait for him to get to the Wings.

Posted by creasemonkey from sweet home san diego on 05/17/12 at 09:06 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Totally agree with Caputo that the Wings problems are largely systemic.  It’s lackluster PP and PK, and those aren’t 100% problems of personnel.

Quite frankly if we’re talking about lower-tier names like Semin, Wideman, Garrison, Carle, etc… I hope Mr. Illitch just puts his checkbook away.  I don’t see a one of them being an asset to the Wings.  It was nice to try and bring in an Ian White last season, but it also proved that square peg does not go in round hole.

Posted by Primis on 05/17/12 at 09:22 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Again, I’m a little baffled about the concept that we’re writing off next year’s Wings already…

And I do think that the Wings have to do *something* in the personnel department, regardless of whether it’s a free agent signing or trade. Adding a secondary scorer of some kind and another puck-mover would address some of the issues which cannot simply be addressed by revamping systems of play, and the Wings won’t stand still this summer.

Tatar? Holy schmoley he was awesome.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/17/12 at 09:37 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I want this guy on the Wings next year >>>>> Jay Garrison
As for Tatar? He’s a fun kid to watch in G.R. and can’t wait to see him “in the bigs”.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/17/12 at 10:12 AM ET

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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.


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