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The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: A season preview, a Mule on the rebound and the Cup in Flint

NHL.com’s “30 teams in 30 days” feature focuses on the Red Wings this morning, with some very familiar themes dotting Dan Rosen’s preview—injuries and age supposedly catching up to the Wings in a big way—but Rosen believes that the Wings have a secret weapon of sorts with which to shore up a roster ever-so-slightly in flux thanks to the retirements of Brian Rafalski, Kris Draper and Chris Osgood:

Detroit remains deep and versatile up front, skilled and big on the blue line. [Jimmy] Howard is coming into his prime years as a No. 1 goalie and with [Ty] Conklin riding shotgun, the Wings could have one of the League’s best goaltending duos. Conklin is used to playing between 20-30 games a season, which seems like the appropriate amount of work to keep Howard fresh into the spring.

If injuries become an issue, Detroit might have to dip into a pool of unproven yet promising players like Cory Emmerton, Tomas Tatar and Jan Mursak, who have a combined 30 games of NHL experience.

However, unlike in previous years, Holland still has plenty of wiggle room below the salary cap to make some in-season moves. According to capgeek.com, the Red Wings are $5.845 million under the cap even with a full 23-man roster. There are 12 teams in the NHL that currently have higher payrolls than the Wings, who spent to the cap last season. If they keep that cushion through the winter, Detroit might be a major player at the trade deadline to beef up in time for another run at the Stanley Cup.

The preview includes much more in the analysis department, but I’m scratching my head about EJ Hradek’s suggestion that Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi’s concussions suffered in Game 7 against the Sharks somehow prove that the Wings are endlessly injury-prone…

As the Free Press’s Helene St. James continues a season preview of sorts via focusing on players whose performances are essential to the Wings’ collective success, and after discussing Jiri Hudler’s status as either a player on the rebound or trade bait, the Wings’ hopes that Niklas Kronwall will establish himself as at least Brian Rafalski’s successor, Danny Cleary’s possible status as a full-time top six forward and Jonathan Ericsson having some serious expectations to live up, both contractually and otherwise, she suggests that Johan Franzen must finally display the kind of consistency in terms of game-to-game effort and scoring that he displays in April over the course of the regular season:

Franzen is something of an enigma. He’s a behemoth on the ice at 6-feet-3, 222 pounds. He’s gifted offensively and can be matched against big opposing centers, the latter a reflection of his start in the NHL as a defensive forward. What remains an issue is consistency. Last season, five goals came in a Feb. 2 game at Ottawa. He then scored just two more over 27 games before the playoffs.

In ‘08-09, Franzen scored 34 goals and had 59 points in 71 games. Convinced he’d be a good long-term investment, the Wings signed Franzen to an 11-year deal worth $43.5 million in April 2009. Franzen spent much of ‘09-10 recovering from a major knee injury, but still squeezed 10 goals and 21 points into 27 games.

He did not play with the same level of dominance last season. He is at his best when he’s physical with the puck down low, because his size makes it hard for opposing defensemen to move him, and his deft hands make it hard for opponents to guess if he’s going to shoot or pass.

While Franzen’s salary-cap hit is $3.9 million, his actual salary, $5.25 million, reflects a status among the NHL’s second-tier forwards (below the stratosphere occupied by the Ovechkins, Crosbys and Datsyuks).

For the Wings to be better in ‘11-12, they need Franzen to play like the force he can be and be closer to a point-a-game performer.

Put bluntly, it’s time for Franzen to both stay healthy and crack the 40-goal barrier this season. He can’t continue to pull a Brendan Shanahan and sleepwalk through games—though Shanahan would tend to sleep through a dozen or so, Franzen seems somewhat disinterested almost half the time, and that’s simply unacceptable given his salary and importance to the team going forward—and if he does want to spend the balance of his career in Detroit, he’s got to prove that, like Shanahan did, he can offer at least some sort of physical edge on a more consistent basis, too.

This isn’t Wings-related, but it’s important, part 1: The Flint Journal sort of bass ackwards-ly allowed Bill Khan to hint at the fact that Tim Thomas would bring the Stanley Cup to the Flint area on August 24th before posting the details thereof a little later last night, via the Flint Journal’s George Jaska—and as of early Wednesday morning, anyway, it doesn’t appear that the Cup will be on display for public picture-taking purposes:

Area civic leaders are preparing for the visit of Davison native Tim Thomas and the Stanley Cup at a public celebration on August 24.

It was announced today that Thomas, award-winning goalie for Stanley Cup champions Boston Bruins will return for a 1-3 p.m. event at Davison High School’s Cardinal Stadium. Leaders met today to lay plans that include a brief presentation at 1 p.m. to welcome Thomas, a 1992 Davison High School graduate.

Thomas then will be recognized by school, City of Davison, Davison Township and Richfield Township representatives. The Richfield Township Board tonight authorized Supervisor Joseph Madore to prepare a proclamation saluting Thomas, who was named the most valuable player at the Stanley Cup hockey playoffs where Boston defeated VanCouver 4-0 in game seven of the Stanley Cup championship.

Officials said that because of Thomas’s tight schedule he will have to leave Cardinal Stadium which seats 9,000 people for a football game, immediately after ceremonies. Officials also said due to contract obligations and time constraints Thomas will be unable to provide autographs or pose for pictures with individuals. Visitors, however, can bring their own cameras and take pictures, officials said.

I do recall that Bruins defenseman and University of Michigan alumnus Stephen Kampfer stated that he’d display the Cup at Yost Arena when his day with the Cup came, and late August would be the perfect time to do so as the start of football season and oodles of students either returning to campus or heading to U of M for the first time would yield plenty of interest and the presence of alums who might be willing to toss a donation toward the athletic department.

In other words, it’s highly likely that Kampfer will have the Cup after Thomas, and will make it available to the public.

In more directly charitable news, if you find yourself in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Thursday, the Winnipeg Sun’s Jim Bender reports that Darren Helm, former Wing Derek Meech and a host of Manitoban NHL’ers will take part in a charity hockey game to benefit the Believe in the Goal foundation at the MTS Centre, and as previously noted, Niklas Kronwall’s holding a charity hockey game to benefit his childhood club, Jarfalla Hockey, on Friday (Jarfalla’s a suburb of Stockholm);

If you missed it, the Red Wings announced that they’ll be holding a HockeyFest on Saturday, September 10th at Joe Louis Arena…

In prospect-related news, Mattias Backman scored a goal for Team Sweden’s World Junior evaluation camp team as it defeated Teemu Pulkkinen and Team Finland 7-1 at a combined evaluation camp for USA Hockey, Sweden and Finland in Lake Placid, NY on Wednesday evening. Daylife.com’s posting pictures from the event...

And I have a few ideas as to how to pump out some content as we really reach the end of the “summer” in terms of Wings news, but I’m admittedly taking a low profile this week as this is really the first time since just before the NHL Awards that the Wings news cycle’s reached an ebb and I’ve had a chance to catch my breath.

We’re only a month away from the prospect tournament and main training camp, and as I probably exhausted your kindness in asking for help going up to the summer development camp, I’m well aware of the fact that when the Paypal button returns, it’s gonna take some begging, pleading, and quite a bit of singing for my supper to receive any support whatsoever (I’m just gonna have to take a chunk out of my savings account and that’s the way it is), so I’m open to suggestions as to what kind of content you’d want (I know that other Wings blogs are engaging in favorite game remembrances, season previews and other stuff, so the question is obvious—what are they missing that you’d like to see at this time of year?), but I’d prefer to keep things quiet this week and start cranking things up as the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation camp hits on the 18th and 19th as we’ll already have Wings players returning to Detroit and skating in Troy or at Joe Louis Arena on an informal basis by, at the latest, the last week of August.

Let me know what you need but please keep in mind that, vacation included, this really is my only “week off” until, um…Next June, hopefully.

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MsRedWinger's avatar

Seems like Franzen hasn’t been the same since that serious knee injury a couple of seasons ago.  I’ve read comments suggesting that it takes a very long time to really recover from something like that, so maybe that kind of explains last season.  Hope he gets back to top form this year. 

The more I think about the Wings’ roster this season, with all the young guys waiting for their chance, the more excited I get.  Players like Hudler and Ericsson could easily find themselves gone if they don’t show up big time.  I want to see Brendan Smith in action.  Sure wish I could go to training camp…

George, put up the button.  I think there are those among us who can chip in a little, at least, again.

cool smile

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 08/10/11 at 09:43 AM ET

42jeff's avatar

(Motivation + adrenaline) * skill = Bubbye Hudler

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 08/10/11 at 10:59 AM ET


The team is definitely full into transition mode. Hard to believe that Lidstrom, Datsyuk,  and Holmstrom are the few left from the 2002 cup.
Young guns like Abdelkader, Helm, Tatar, Mursak, Kindl and Smith could easily put the pressure on Hudler and Ericsson for their spots - except I think Big E has a Big no trade clause *sigh*  I. Don’t. Get. It. 
Anyway … fellow Flint native Tim Thomas disappoints me now.  He’s going to have The Cup here on my daughters birthday (same daughter whose first word was “hockey”) and he isn’t doing anything public?  Oh well.

Posted by Monica McAlister from Michigan on 08/10/11 at 11:19 AM ET


I believe that Ericsson has a limited NTC, which IIRC means he picks the 10ish teams at the beginning of each season that he’d accept a trade to and the Wings would be free to move him to one of those teams without asking. Any other teams would require his approval.

Posted by RyanVM on 08/10/11 at 12:03 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

Ok, minor nit-pick.  Davison is not Flint. 

I graduated from Davison Sr. High and moved out of state the year before Thomas started there.  I’m glad he’s making an appearance in town, I’m sure a lot of people are excited about it even if he can’t stick around afterward.

George, I’m going to second MsRedWinger, put up the button.  I just got my flexible spending reimbursement, and it’s burning a hole in my pocket.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/10/11 at 01:20 PM ET

joedaiceman's avatar

I’m onboard as soon as the Paypal button returns to contribute. Would not be the same without your reportage at training camp.

Posted by joedaiceman on 08/10/11 at 01:42 PM ET


Franzén is one of the most frustrating players I’ve seen…

Posted by herm from the office on 08/10/11 at 03:08 PM ET

Doug Miller's avatar

George, thanks for throwing in the news about Thomas, as I had been wondering about that day myself since the end of the Finals. As well the bit about Yost Arena… sounds very interesting..

Posted by Doug Miller from Wyandotte, MI on 08/10/11 at 03:31 PM ET


Minor nit-pick…

Thomas was born in Flint making him a Flint native but yes he was raised in Davison.

I was born in Flint and raised in Linden - Linden is not Flint by any means but I am still a FLint native.

Posted by Monica McAlister from Michigan on 08/10/11 at 03:54 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

I guess I should have been more clear by saying that the CUP will be in Davison, not Flint.  My comment had nothing to do with whether Thomas considers himself a Flint native or a Davison native.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/10/11 at 04:38 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.