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The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: a prospect, a question and a list

Looking at the Red Wings’ summer development camp in the rearview mirror, I find it somewhat ironic that news regarding the surprisingly large Jake De Haas’s trade to the BCHL’s Penticton Vees popped up on Friday, and that the Free Press’s George Sipple profiled Andreas Athanasiou today, because the pair of prospects almost prompted a delayed reaction in terms of the impressions the pair left upon me.

De Haas was, depending on whose stats you read, supposedly either 6 feet tall or 6’1” and around 185-190 pounds, and while I’m not going to suggest that Hockey’s Future’s 6’3,” 197-lb stat is quite accurate, nor would I suggest that the Vees’ 6’3,” 200-pound stat is spot on, De Haas ended up standing 6’2” and looked like he weighed a good 190-195 pounds, and was anything but the classic, “Smallish, project puck-moving defensemen” I think many Wings fans had assumed the team drafted 170th overall.

De Haas is in fact a very big large young man, and while he’s going to need the year ahead in British Columbia and at least a couple of years at Clarkson University to flesh out his game and physical form, I think back and remember how poised he was with the puck and how sharply he moved said puck while skating it up the ice. I’d compare his skill level to that of Ben Marshall, who just completed his first year with the University of Minnesota, except that Marshall’s grown from somewhere in the 5’8” to 5’9” and 155-pound range to a sturdy 5’10” and 175, and Marshall might be a bit more mobile, but not by much.

Athanasiou didn’t look as big or as strong as De Haas, but what strikes me thinking back is his ability to score goals and generate scoring chances on the rush, using his tremendous foot speed and really his very strong core and lower body—which aren’t exactly areas that freshly-drafted prospects shine in—to slither through bigger, more poised and more polished players and score because he could lean into bigger players and slither right past ‘em. Sipple took note of what might be a good comparison in terms of both build (Athanasiou is under six feet tall and still very skinny but gangly nonetheless) and at least his present skill set:

“He can fly,” said assistant general manager Jim Nill. “He’s got Darren Helm-type of speed. He was projected as a first-round pick coming in, and at times he showed that. We know there’s something there.”

Athanasiou, 17, doubled his goals output in his second season with London of the Ontario Hockey League. After 11 goals and 11 assists in 57 games in 2010-11, he had 22 goals for 37 points in 63 games last season.

“I had 22 goals, but I was averaging 5 or 10 minutes a game,” Athanasiou said. “That’s not bad for the 5 or 10 minutes of ice. Just because of the deep team that we had, I didn’t get much ice time.”

Athanasiou—a healthy scratch for some of London’s playoff games—impressed scouts at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka tournament, where he helped the Ontario under-17 team win gold with two goals and three assists in five games. He said it was an adjustment playing on a top line in that tournament to being in and out of the lineup with the Knights. He had to learn to make the most of his playing time.

“Sometimes I’d be on the first line, and then the next game I’d be in the stands,” Athanasiou said. “It wasn’t so much my play as the amount of players we had on the team. We had to take turns.”

While Brendan Smith looked like what he was at times—a man among boys—and the more mature veteran prospect campers (Mitchell Callahan, Brian Lashoff, Willie Coetzee, Landon Ferraro, Tom McCollum, etc.) led the charge, I remember that Athanasiou took one of Tomas Storm’s more technical drills and amped up the level of difficulty on his own, just as Mike McKee ate up Pete Renzetti and Aaron Downey’s off-ice drills to the point that the pair had to make things harder for McKee to get interested.

At one point, Storm had lined up several sticks set up between pairs of car tires, and he wanted the players to essentially skip over the stick, hopping with whichever was their dominant leg and then the other while sliding a puck under said sticks and between said tires and regaining it after their little skip-jump. Some of the players had a little difficulty with the drill, but most got through it tolerably, and some were downright elegant in their ability to push the puck forward, skip, hop and land with the puck continuing as if it didn’t need but the slightest touch, if not a little slowing down. Athanasiou decided that the drill was too easy for him, so he literally hopped over the sticks with his skates together, landed with those skates together—which is usually a recipe for falling to the left, right, or worse, forward—and instead of doing a face plant, he elegantly pushed the puck forward and let his skating stride resume naturally.

Sometimes players make bigger impressions after the fact, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

 

Regardless of whether the Red Wings are out of the Shane Doan sweepstakes or whether Ken Holland does indeed believe that the Wings have some chance in hell of landing a player whose oddball agent, Terry Bross, may or may not have asked for a 4-year, $30 million deal for a 35-year-old (that would be $7.5 million per season for four years against the cap, even if Doan retired a year into that contract)...

We know that the team currently has 16 forwards under contract, and with Ken Holland scheduled to meet with Tomas Holmstrom this week, the team may or may not have a 17th forward trying out for the team come training camp. If the team does indeed choose to sign a free agent, then we’re talking about 18.

Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner can be sent to Grand Rapids without clearing waivers, but even if Nyquist and Brunner don’t impress, that leaves the Wings with 14 forwards—again, assuming that Patrick Eaves is healthy, and given that the Wings don’t have anything new to tell us about him, I’m guessing they won’t know how he’s doing until at least the middle of August—and more realistically, given Nyquist’s performance during the last quarter of the 2011-2012 season, and the team’s desire to let Brunner shine, we’re probably talking about 15 minimum.

With a 23-man roster limit, that would suggest that jobs are on the line, and in an ESPN “Insider-only” rumor, Victoria Matiash suggests that Cory Emmerton’s the player most likely to lose his spot:

Forward Cory Emmerton appears to be the early odd-man out for the Detroit Red Wings. Assuming RFA Justin Abdelkader is re-signed, and rookies Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner make the squad, Ansar Khan suggests Emmerton shouldn’t have his heart set on competing regularly for the Red Wings this coming campaign.

“... Being a center gave Emmerton an advantage over other fourth-line players last season. He ended up playing 71 games. This year, they have Abdelkader penciled in as their fourth-line center. Emmerton will be competing for not only for a spot in the lineup, but also on the roster ...”

The 24-year-old Emmerton has two years (cap hit: $533,000) remaining on his contract in Detroit.

One never knows, especially when injuries are factored into the mix, but the odds do appear to be stacked against Emmerton and Mursak given Drew Miller’s 14-goal, 25-point 11-12 season, the fact that Patrick Eaves is more established than Mursak and given that Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo aren’t exactly chopped liver.

That being said, I would imagine that the Wings won’t subtract from the mix unless absolutely necessary, and will parlay the “losers” off via trades prior to the start of the 12-13 season. Let’s hope it starts in October…

 


Regarding possible additions to come, I just don’t believe that the Wings have the leverage to trade for a defenseman worth trading for to begin with unless they’re willing to create a hole in the forward ranks for the sake of upgrading the team’s defense—I’m not buying the “Filppula for X’ rumors for a second given that we’d be talking about giving up a 65-point scorer for a 50-point-producer at best—and one of the few certainties regarding Ken Holland & Company’s master plan is that Holland has repeatedly stated that he’d like to add another defenseman.

So, as Paul noted, it’s worth taking a gander at NHL.com’s John Kreiser’s top 30 remaining unrestricted free agents list as it pertains to defensemen as he adds a few unfamiliar names to the “watch list”:

Player     2011-2012 team   stats

Brett Clark Tampa Bay 82 GP 2-13-15: Points dropped from 31 to 15; minus-26 rating was also a big drop from 2010-11. But he blocked 199 shots and even at 35 is still useful as bottom-pair defenseman.

Carlo Colaiacovo St. Louis 64 GP 2-17-19: Solid second-pair defenseman who can move puck well but has had injury problems

Matt Gilroy Ottawa 67 GP 3-17-20 2009: Hobey Baker winner has nice offensive skills but has yet to turn them into a regular berth on an NHL blue line

Jaroslav Spacek Carolina 46 GP 5-10-15: Big blueliner still possess a big shot, and is reliable defensively - plus-64 last seven seasons

Pavel Kubina Philadelphia 69 GP 3-12-15: Not the offensive force he was when he was younger, but still has size and a big shot

Michal Rozsival Phoenix 54 GP 1-12-13: Hampered by injuries last two seasons and no longer a big offensive force, but solid in his own zone

Scott Hannan Calgary 78 GP 2-10-12: Never a big offensive force, but OK in own zone and can still play 20 minutes a night

Steve Eminger N.Y. Rangers 42 GP 2-3-5: 2002 first-rounder was effective third-pair defender before injuries hit

Kurtis Foster Minnesota 51 GP 4-10-14: Big shot but has never matched offensive numbers he put up with Tampa Bay in ‘09-10

Milan Jurcina N.Y. Islanders 65 GP 3-8-11: Big guy with a big shot but coming off career-worst minus-34 season with Isles

I’d also add Cam Barker to the mix as the 6’3,” 225-pound 26-year-old hasn’t equaled his 40-points-in-68-games production from the 2008-2009 season in three subsequent and mostly injury-filled years playing with Chicago, Minnesota and then Edmonton. I must admit, however, that as the Sports Forecaster’s assessment of Barker’s talents suggests, he’s a bigger and slower version of Carlo Colaiacovo without the resume:

Assets: Possesses a hard, accurate shot from the point, which is especially effective on the power play. Has good size, so he can play a physical brand of hockey.

Flaws: Must improve his decision-making and defensive-zone coverage in order to become a valuable blueliner. Is an average skater for a defenseman. Needs more game-to-game consistency.

Career Potential: Inconsistent defenseman with all-around talent.


That’s it for me…I got into Grand Marais around 9 PM and left the campfire at 3:30. It’s 5:16 AM and I need to finally lay down and go to bed. See you sometime on Sunday afternoon.

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, relax and enjoy and SLEEP!

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 07/29/12 at 10:13 AM ET

bigdee89's avatar

George, thanks so much for adding Cam Barker.  I was wondering why he wasn’t on the list.

Posted by bigdee89 from The Great White North Eh? on 07/29/12 at 10:44 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

The overwhelming point for consideration is similar to that which surrounded Semin, 30 days into free agency and none of 30 teams have made a “reasonable” offer to these guys who one would assume are keenly interested in playing hockey somewhere next year to continue a million dollar income as long as they can.

The disadvantage these guys face is that there is quite a long list from which they must set themselves apart as contract worthy.  Semin had no peer, none at all, from a skills standpoint and still was not signed for four weeks.

Maybe the teams are very cautious because of the uncertainties of the CBA.  The last couple of years are certainly a far cry from previous feeding frenzies of the UFA and trading deadline days.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/29/12 at 12:09 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

I’m not buying the “Filppula for X’ rumors for a second given that we’d be talking about giving up a 65-point scorer for a 50-point-producer at best

Not sure how exactly you can classify Filppula as a 65 point player when every other season of his career he hasn’t even come close to that kind of production.  This would be exactly when you would trade him if you were going to do so, his value has never been higher, but chances are, he won’t match last years production again this season.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/29/12 at 12:26 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

I think chances are very good Fil will match his production, and he plays very well defensively.  Losing him would probably create a larger hole than whoever we get for him would be trying to “fill”.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/29/12 at 01:45 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

So George…RWBill…you’re both saying you wouldn’t trade Filppula for Yandle?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/29/12 at 02:05 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I’d trade Franzen for Yandle

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 07/29/12 at 02:33 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

I think chances are very good Fil will match his production, and he plays very well defensively.  Losing him would probably create a larger hole than whoever we get for him would be trying to “fill”.

Posted by RWBill from hiding indoors from Virginia heat. on 07/29/12 at 11:45 AM ET

I don’t necessarily think it would create a larger hole (assuming Yandle is the one we’re trading for here) but I do think it would pretty much just move the hole from defense to offense.  In order to trade Fil we would have had to have signed a top 6 forward, which we didn’t.  I’d still probably trade Fil for Yandle, just because I think we have more potential of filling Fil’s production from within than we do filling a top 2 D slot.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/29/12 at 05:47 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

So George…RWBill…you’re both saying you wouldn’t trade Filppula for Yandle?

Posted by mrfluffy from Long Beach on 07/29/12 at 12:05 PM ET

I’d say no, at this point.  But you can’t get something for nothing.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/29/12 at 05:49 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Because kf the Wings’ vulnerability on defense and Phoenix’s status as an “arch-rival,” I would expect them to ask for Filppula *and* Brendan Smith in return for Yandle, and that makes no sense at all.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/29/12 at 06:26 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

Because kf the Wings’ vulnerability on defense and Phoenix’s status as an “arch-rival,” I would expect them to ask for Filppula *and* Brendan Smith in return for Yandle, and that makes no sense at all.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/29/12 at 04:26 PM ET

Well, you also have to consider the Yote’s vulnerability on offense as well.  They’ve lost Whitney, and if they lose Doan then they’d be just as desperate to get a guy coming off a 65 point season as the Wings are for Yandle.  Let’s not forget, the Wings aren’t the only team that has needs.  Filppula and Kindl for Yandle sounds right to me.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/29/12 at 06:33 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Filppula and Kindl for Yandle sounds right to me.

But then we’ve created a hole on Offense and Defense. Not cool.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 07/29/12 at 07:33 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

But then we’ve created a hole on Offense and Defense. Not cool.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 07/29/12 at 05:33 PM ET

Losing Kindl isn’t a hole on defense, especially since you know, we’d be adding Yandle in that scenario.  The only way right now to add a top 4 D-man would be via a trade, and you have to give up something to get something.  You sign one of the band-aid D-men we’re going to have to add either way and you’ve got a better D than we have right now.  I know it isn’t perfect, but to me we’ve got more kids with a chance to fill Fil’s scoring role than we do kids with a chance of filling that top 2 D-man role.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/29/12 at 07:45 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Losing Kindl isn’t a hole on defense, especially since you know, we’d be adding Yandle in that scenario.

I disagree. It means Spacek or similar is our next best solution. That makes me shudder. Maybe we move Oulette instead. If PHX is looking to move Yandle, they’re looking longer term. 

That’s also the problem with moving Flip. His contract is up after this season, and due a 1.5-2M raise, even if he only matches this past season’s output.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 07/29/12 at 08:23 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

John W. raises uncomfortable scenarios I’d rather not think aboat.

Maybe Colaiacovo is a Norris nominee waiting for the right fit, and he’ll sign for $2.5.  Besides, his name is fun to say,  Kohl-ee-AK-ovoh .  That’s fun.

I’m going to grab a 22 Sierra Nevada Southern Henisphere Harvest Fresh Hops Ale and hide out in Gnome Underpants Village.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/29/12 at 08:49 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

Maybe Colaiacovo is a Norris nominee waiting for the right fit, and he’ll sign for $2.5.  Besides, his name is fun to say,  Kohl-ee-AK-ovoh .  That’s fun.

I’m going to grab a 22 Sierra Nevada Southern Henisphere Harvest Fresh Hops Ale and hide out in Gnome Underpants Village.

Posted by RWBill from hiding indoors from Virginia heat. on 07/29/12 at 06:49 PM ET

I like Colaiacovo as a 3rd pairing guy (a good replacement for Kindl in my above scenario).  His D is a bit suspect but he’s a good offensive defenseman (sounds like Kindl, doesn’t it?)  if he can stay healthy.  Obviously there is no great scenario at this point, but that’s what happens when you lose your #1 and #3 D-man and your #5 forward and replace them with 2 bottom 6 forwards.  We had to sign at least 1 top 6 forward or 1 top 4 D-man to avoid leaving a serious hole somewhere, but since that didn’t happen, we have to choose between a hole on D or a hole in our top 6 forwards.  Right now we have a hole at both.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/29/12 at 09:05 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Right now we have a hole at both.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/29/12 at 07:05 PM ET

Compared to last year, we do not.

An addition to the “legitimate” top six forwards would be nice, but that’s not the biggest issue.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/29/12 at 09:19 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

Compared to last year, we do not.

An addition to the “legitimate” top six forwards would be nice, but that’s not the biggest issue.

Posted by mrfluffy from Long Beach on 07/29/12 at 07:19 PM ET

Seeing as we had a hole in the top 6 last year, yes we do.  Bertuzzi hasn’t been a top 6 since he left Vancouver, and losing Hudler and gaining Samuelsson is a subtraction as well. 

Besides, my entire point is that I agree the forward hole isn’t our biggest issue, and that’s why I think trading Flip for Yandle would be worth it.  That’s also where my point about the hole at forward comes from, trading Flip creates an even bigger whole in our top 6, which is why adding a guy like Semin would have helped.  Now we either have to live with our glaring holes on defense, or create a hole at forward in order to help the D.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/29/12 at 09:49 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Seeing as we had a hole in the top 6 last year, yes we do.

No, “We” did not.

The Wings were the top in the league 5-5 Goals for/Against.

The Wings were 7 in the league Goals For.

The Wings scored 239 goals last year (again, obviously ranked 7th).

Scoring goals wasn’t necessarily the problem.

Yes, the special teams, again, were atrocious, but I’m all but guaranteeing that has more to do with coaching then the players on the ice.

I agree with you on this point- another legitimate top 6 forward was a great need this summer, but not the greatest.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/29/12 at 10:29 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

The Wings were the top in the league 5-5 Goals for/Against.

The Wings were 7 in the league Goals For.

The Wings scored 239 goals last year (again, obviously ranked 7th).

Scoring goals wasn’t necessarily the problem.

Yes, the special teams, again, were atrocious, but I’m all but guaranteeing that has more to do with coaching then the players on the ice.

I agree with you on this point- another legitimate top 6 forward was a great need this summer, but not the greatest.

Posted by mrfluffy from Long Beach on 07/29/12 at 08:29 PM ET


Ok, I’ll concede the point about the forward hole last year.  But after we missed out on all the high end D-men the first week of July, another legitimate top 6 forward became the greatest need simply because it would allow us to trade a guy like Flip (or Franzen) to get the D-man that we really need. I guess that’s all I’m trying to say.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/29/12 at 10:46 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.