The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/06/11 at 11:40 AM ET
As free agency slows down and the players remaining on the market begin to scramble to find a home, Twitter-based rumors and speculation have begun to take over because both we and the free agents are left guessing where their hockey futures will take them.
The rumor-mongers got one right and one sort-of-wrong on Tuesday, accurately predicting that the Wings would sign Garnet Exelby and Logan Pyett to strengthen the Grand Rapids Griffins’ roster (the Griffins also lost captain Jamie Tardif to the Boston Bruins) but not accurately assessing the state of the Wings’ search for a back-up goaltender…
Because that situation’s as clear as mud. Wings GM Ken Holland insisted to the Wings’ press corps that the Wings plan on waiting until Chris Osgood gets back from a golfing trip to Scotland this Saturday to decide whether the team plans on bringing him back, and the Wings seem to be at least open to the concept—but then MLive’s Ansar Khan reported that the Wings may have a contingency plan set up already in Ty Conklin, that the Wings at least kicked the tires on Tomas Vokoun, and that Joey MacDonald’s possibly back in the mix as a #2B and/or Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender after not finding work in Russia or the opportunity to become a #2 goaltender at the NHL level.
It certainly sounds—and the emphasis is on sounds—as if Osgood’s career may hang in the balance of his conversation with Holland and/or assurances that his oft-injured groin, which wasn’t able to recover from sports hernia surgery over the five months the Wings played since Osgood’s January reconstructive surgery, won’t give out on him and place the team in a pickle during training camp or the exhibition season.
As Osgood pushed himself through pain to win that 400th game and may or may not have unrealistically assumed that he would recover in time for the playoffs, to enough consternation of the management that they attempted to sign Evgeni Nabokov, the team clearly has a desire to make a clean break and sign Conklin, but Osgood’s years of service to the team, unparalleled resume among the remaining free agent goalies out there (Conklin, Marty Turco, Ray Emery) and mentorship of Jimmy Howard at least have the team questioning whether the simpler choice of bringing Osgood back makes the most sense given both the marketplace and Osgood’s loyalty to the team, as the Holland told the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker, discussing the delay that is waiting for Osgood to return from Scotland to engage in an in-person conversation:
“A gift for his 400th win,” Holland said. “He’s expected back on Saturday. “Before we make our decision, I want to talk to him.”
The 38-year-old Osgood has battled injury problems the last two seasons, which limited him to 11 games last season and 23 in 2009-10.
“There’s not a lot of (free agent), but there are some options,” Holland said. “I’m hoping to talk to Osgood in the next few days and then we’ll make our decision.”
“(I’ve) had conversations with a few people, but no decision will be made until later in the week,” Holland said.
Finding a trade partner to fill the backup role behind Howard doesn’t appear to be an option.
“Nothing intriguing,” Holland said of trade talks.
As Holland’s suggested over the past few days, the Wings are also having a hard time selling the remaining available goaltenders that they would receive adequate opportunities to reestablish themselves as viable netminders behind Howard, who figures to start another 50-55 games this season. Turco and Emery in particular want to be starting goaltenders, not back-ups, so while the Wings may represent the next-to-last musical chair out there, it’s not an appealing one unless someone’s a career back-up who’s comfortable with that job (see: Conklin).
We don’t know what Kris Draper’s future holds, either, as he was very adamant that he wouldn’t take a two-way contract or battle for a spot in training camp. At this point, it appears that those are his only options if he wishes to continue to play as the Wings re-signed both Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller and plan on bringing Jan Mursak and/or Cory Emmerton, who are no longer waiver-exempt, onto the roster as the team’s 13th and 14th forwards. Holland has to have a sit-down talk with Draper over the next week or two, too.
The Wings will make one more within the next day or three, however, in finding assistant coaches to stand aside Mike Babcock’s shoulders, as Holland told the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
General manager Ken Holland said Tuesday that the team was “getting close.”
Paul MacLean, an assistant in Detroit since 2005, left last month to take the head coaching job in Ottawa. After the season ended the Wings parted ways with Brad McCrimmon, who replaced Todd McLellan in 2008 and who will be a head coach in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Babcock has talked to numerous candidates, some believed to be former NHL head coaches.
“I’ve made lots of progress,” Babcock said. “I’ve learned a lot about different people. I’ve got my head around what I want to do and hope to be done by the end of this week.”
It’s assumed that former Florida Panthers and Kitchener Rangers coach Pete Deboer and former Blue Jackets assistant coach and Windsor Spitfires coach Bob Boughner are in the running for the spot, but with Babcock, one never knows. MLive’s Ansar Khan dished an intriguing take on Babcock’s options...
The Red Wings hope to fill their two assistant coaching vacancies by the end of the week.
Coach Mike Babcock has been speaking mostly to younger candidates who have coached in the AHL, college or the major junior ranks. There is a chance their new assistant coaches will not have coached or played in the NHL.
“Think young, hungry guys, aggressive guys that want to be (like) Mike Babcock four years from now,” said one person familiar with the search.
In case you missed it, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan is confirming the widely-reported news that Ruslan Salei, who struggled to deal with separation from his California-based family, has made a slightly odd career decision in signing a one-year contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL, which its official website confirms.
Brad McCrimmon’s status as Lokomotiv’s coach may have swayed Salei’s hand, and while I’ve got to pack and head up to Traverse City in a few hours, I must note that McCrimmon gave a lengthy interview to Sport-Express’s Mikhail Zislis. You can check out the Google and Promt translations thereof if you wish.
The other move made by the Wings’ management was a little more subtle but no less telling. The Wings re-signed prospect Logan Pyett, a smallish offensive defenseman with a physical edge (he has to clear waivers to be sent down to the AHL) and brought in now-journeyman Garnet Exelby, who’s a consummate stay-at-home defenseman and one-time top prospect who The Sports Forecaster describes as follows:
Date of birth: August 16, 1981
Place of birth: Ste. Anne, Man, Canada
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 215
NHL Seasons: 7
Drafted by Atlanta in 1999 (8/217).
Acquired as a free agent in 2011.
ASSETS: Doesn’t take any prisoners when lining up opponents along the blue-line. Is very steady, if unspectacular in the defensive zone.
FLAWS: Has virtually no offensive ability to speak of. Can get carried away at times in forgetting his defensive assignments when playing his aggressive style.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Physical depth defenseman.
The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness describes the Wings’ signings thusly:
Pyett, 23, was an restricted free agent and has spent the last six seasons in Grand Rapids where he has 21 goals and 45 assists in 215 games. Pyett was drafted in the seventh round, 212th overall, by the Wings in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Exelby, who turns 30 in August, has 408 games of NHL experience, playing most recently with the Toronto Maple Leafs (2009-10). He spent all of last season with the Rockford IceDogs (AHL) where he had three goals, 10 assists and 128 penalty minutes in 77 games.
Exelby was a seventh-round draft pick (217th overall) of the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. He played five seasons for the Thrashers.
Both are slated to play for the Griffins next season.
The Wings have more than a few defensemen who will play for the Griffins or Toledo Walleye this year, barring injuries, in Exelby, the AHL-only-contracted Greg Amadio and Doug Janik as well as Pyett, Brian Lashoff, Brendan Smith, Travis Ehrhardt and now Gleason Fournier and Sebastien Piche.
At this point, it appears that the Griffins probably won’t re-sign Sergei Kolosov as the stay-at-home behemoth can earn more money in Europe, and they’ve already let forwards Jordan Owens and the aforementioned Jamie Tardif go (as well as anticipating the losses of Mursak and Emmerton) to help make room for a slate of prospects who could play in either Major Junior Hockey or the AHL in Landon Ferraro, Trevor Parkes, Mitchell Callahan and possibly Louis-Marc Aubry, but the Wings’ management will fill out the roster with at least a veteran forward or two—and they’ve got their own decision to make as to whether the team’s willing to let Jordan Pearce (neither Capgeek.com nor the Wings’ management have confirmed his re-signing, and as The Production Line noted on Twitter, the Wings have one more RFA to re-sign in forward Francis Pare) and Thomas McCollum battle it out for the Griffins’ starting job, or whether they feel that the team can’t afford to have anything less than an AHL veteran and/or NHL-capable back-up in place for the big club’s sake.
And therein lies the most important part of these signings—these are the first signings made by the Red Wings’ management, without the approval of now-departed Grand Rapids Griffins GM Bob McNamara. Jim Nill and the Wings are now in charge of building the Grand Rapids Griffins’ roster, and it’s intriguing to know that one of their first signings involved not bringing a highly-skilled player into the fold, but instead, bringing in someone who can toss his gloves and crash and bang if necessary, supplementing Janik as a stay-at-home call-up.
The Griffins also find themselves in a revamped North Division and will face a five-game first playoff round as the AHL realigned its divisions on Tuesday.
My availability will be quite limited today for a very good reason: I’m heading up to Traverse City, MI, to cover the Wings’ summer prospect development camp, which will last for eight days starting on Thursday. I posted the details thereof about a week ago, but in case you missed ‘em, here they are again as the camp will be open to the public for the first time since 2005:
RED WINGS TO HOLD ANNUAL DEVELOPMENT CAMP AT CENTRE ICE ARENA IN TRAVERSE CITY
… NHL Prospects Set to Hit the Ice in Northern Michigan from July 7-14 …
Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings will hold their annual summer prospect development camp from July 7-14 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City , Mich . Fans wishing to attend the proceedings may attend the first day free of charge, with tickets for the remainder of camp available for $5 (per day) apiece at the rink only. This year’s development camp will feature seven of Detroit’s nine selections from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, including highly-touted offensive dynamo Tomas Jurco (RW, Saint John, QMJHL) as well as his fellow second-round picks Xavier Ouellet (D, Montreal, QMJHL) and Ryan Sproul (D, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL). Previous camp attendees set to appear at this invaluable week-long training session include renowned prospects Brendan Smith (D, Grand Rapids , AHL) and Landon Ferraro (C, Everett, WHL). The full schedule for this year’s prospect development camp can be found below:
Thursday, July 7 (Admission: FREE)
2:30 – 3:30 p.m., On-Ice Workout (Group 1)
2:30 – 3:30 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 2)
3:45 – 4:45 p.m., On-Ice Workout (Group 2)
3:45 – 4:45 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 1)
Friday, July 8 – Wednesday, July 13
( Split Squad)
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 1)
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 1)
Thursday, July 14
8:30 – 10:00 a.m., Scrimmage/Skills Competition
Here’s the list of prospects who will attend the camp, and I’m assuming that try-outs will be revealed on Thursday:
2011 RED WINGS DEVELOPMENT CAMP ROSTER
POS NAME HT WT BIRTHDATE HOMETOWN 2010-11 TEAM ACQUIRED
D Almqvist, Adam 5-11 175 2/27/1991 Jonkoping, Sweden HV71 Jonkoping (SEL) R7 (210), 2009
F Aubry, Louis-Marc 6-4 202 11/11/1991 Trois-Rivières, Quebec Montreal (QMJHL) R3 (81), 2010
F Callahan, Mitchell 5-11 175 8/17/1991 Whittier, California Kelowna (WHL) R6 (180), 2009
F Cayer, Julien 6-4 186 7/6/1989 Longueuil, Quebec Clarkson (NCAA) R5 (151), 2008
F Coetzee, Willie 5-10 185 11/7/1990 Maple Ridge, British Columbia Toledo (ECHL) Signed as FA (2010)
D Ehrhardt, Travis 5-11 204 4/12/1989 Calgary, Alberta Grand Rapids (AHL) Signed as FA (2009)
F Ferraro, Landon 6-0 170 8/8/1991 Vancouver, British Columbia Everett (WHL) R2 (32), 2009
D *Fournier, Gleason 6-0 184 9/8/1991 St-Fabien, Quebec Rimouski (QMJHL) R3 (90), 2009
F Hudon, Philippe 6-0 197 4/15/1993 Montreal, Quebec Choate-Rosemary (CTHS) R5 (145), 2011
F *Järnkrok, Calle 5-11 165 9/25/1991 Gävle, Sweden Brynäs IF (SEL) R2 (51), 2010
D Jensen, Nick 6-1 195 9/21/1990 Roger, Minnesota St. Cloud State (NCAA) R5 (150), 2009
F Jurco, Tomas 6-1 191 12/28/1992 Kosice, Slovakia Saint John (QMJHL) R2 (35), 2011
D Lashoff, Brian 6-3 208 7/16/1990 Albany, New York Grand Rapids (AHL) Signed as FA (2008)
F Macek, Brooks 5-11 175 5/15/1992 Winnipeg, Manitoba Calgary (WHL) R6 (171), 2010
G McCollum, Thomas 6-2 210 12/7/1989 Amherst, New York Toledo (ECHL) R1 (30), 2008
G Mrazek, Petr 6-0 170 2/14/1992 Vitkovice, Czech Republic Ottawa (OHL) R5 (141), 2010
D Nedomlel, Richard 6-4 204 7/1/1993 Prague, Czech Republic Swift Current (WHL) R6 (175), 2011
D Nicastro, Max 6-2 210 3/2/1990 Thousand Oaks, California Boston University (NCAA) R3 (91), 2008
F Nyquist, Gustav 5-11 185 9/1/1989 Halmstad, Sweden University of Maine (NCAA) R4 (121), 2008
F Oslund, Nick 6-3 210 11/15/1987 Savage, Minnesota St. Cloud State (NCAA) R7 (191), 2006
D Ouellet, Xavier 6-0 179 7/29/1993 Bayonne, France Montreal (QMJHL) R2 (48), 2011
D Parkes, Trevor 6-2 185 5/13/1991 Fort Erie, Ontario Montreal (QMJHL) Signed as FA (2010)
D Piche, Sébastien 6-0 198 2/4/1988 La Sarre, Quebec Toledo (ECHL) Signed as FA (2009)
F Pulkkinen, Teemu 5-10 171 1/2/1992 Vantaa, Finland Jokerit Helsinki (FEL) R4 (111), 2010
F Quine, Alan 5-11 184 2/25/1993 Belleville, Ontario Peterborough (OHL) R3 (85), 2011
F Raedeke, Brent 6-0 200 5/29/1990 Regina, Saskatchewan Grand Rapids (AHL) Signed as FA (2008)
D Rufenach, Bryan 6-0 192 4/15/1989 Cameron, Ontario Clarkson (NCAA) R7 (208), 2007
D Smith, Brendan 6-2 195 2/8/1989 Mimico, Ontario Grand Rapids (AHL) R1 (27), 2007
D Sproul, Ryan 6-3 185 1/13/1993 Mississauga, Ontario Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) R2 (55), 2011
F Tvrdon, Mark 6-2 210 1/31/1993 Nitra, Saskatchewan Vancouver (WHL) R4 (115), 2011
*Participating in Off-Ice Workouts Only
I’m heading off to pack, get some groceries and leave around 1 or 2, so I’ll be mostly out of contact today. Again, I am extremely grateful for your kindness in helping fund the trip!
Also of Red Wings-related note: As another reminder, if you find yourself in the Dallas area on Saturday, 103.7 Lite FM’s Tony Zazza notes that Mike Modano and a slate of professional athletes, celebrities and the NBA championship trophy will appear at Modano’s charity baseball game in Frisco, TX;
• I’m somewhat surprised that The Puck Stops Here argued that Mark Howe actually has a solid case to be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame;
• In the multimedia department, part 1: the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness weighed in the Wings’ free agency moves via a video embedded in his Wednesday morning column...
• In the multimedia department, part 2: The Red Wings’ website posted some highlights from “Social Media Day”...
• And MsRedWinger offers a reality check regarding second-guessing the Wings’ moves, and it’s worth your time.
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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.