The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/26/12 at 06:34 AM ET
If one source makes it a “report,” two make it, “sources say” and three make it official, MLive’s Brendan Savage and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness received a hand from the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, who gives Wings fans another leg to stand upon if they indeed hope that Carlo Colaiacovo is the Red Wings’ free agent band-aid of choice:
According to a— Bob Duff (@asktheduffer) August 25, 2012
#redwings source, club has offered UFA D Carlo Colaiacovo a 2 yr deal in area of $2.5 million per season.
I’m not exactly jumping up and down about the Wings’ interest, but Colaiacovo is the most talented of the remaining unrestricted free agent defensemen available on the UFA market, he’s the most talented in terms of being able to not just keep up with the Wings’ system in terms of skating and his skill set, but he can also head-man the puck pretty well, and under the current, expiring CBA, even with his injury history, a $2.5 million salary for any defenseman who can skate in a straight line and handle the puck better than a five-year-old is a bargain.
Discussing players that are already “pieces of the puzzle,” the Free Press’s Helene St. James has spotlighted a significant number of Wings players who have to either maintain their 2011-2012 level of production and play or improve going forward for the Wings to withstand the losses of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, and to deal with the team’s inability to land a top-six forward, for that matter. She started with Niklas Kronwall and Danny Cleary, and she moved on to discuss Ian White, Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula, Jakub Kindl, Johan Franzen and even Damien Brunner, but today’s “focal point” might be the most important Wing with room to improve this side of Jimmy Howard:
Henrik Zetterberg‘s offensive production has ebbed and flowed as injuries have made necessary, or his presence on a line with Pavel Datsyuk has ebbed and flowed, but Zetterberg was absolutely dominant during the World Championships for Sweden, playing playoff-MVP-worthy hockey and finishing third in tournament scoring with 15 points in 8 games (and leading the tourney in assists with 12) while playing 20-some minutes a night on Sweden’s top line.
With Zetterberg incredibly likely to be wearing the captain’s “C” on his jersey this fall—or whenever the 2012-2013 season starts—he’s going to have to lead like he’s never led before, and as St. James suggests, that involves bouncing back from a very streaky season production-wise in 11-12:
Looking at numbers: 22 goals, 47 assists, 69 points, plus-14 in 82 games in 2011-12.
Looking at money: Salary for 2012-13 is $7.75 million; signed through 2020-21 with an average salary cap hit of $6.083 million.
Looking back: Zetterberg had a very slow start, with just three points the first month despite playing next to Pavel Datsyuk, a combination that usually brings out the best in both players. Zetterberg didn’t heat up until the last third of the season. He poured 34 points into the last 30 games to finish with a team-leading 69 points. He was the team’s best player in the five-game playoff series loss to Nashville.
Looking ahead: Zetterberg, who turns 32 in October, has long been a leader on the Wings, but he unofficially stands to emerge next season as the new captain after the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom. Zetterberg has been groomed for the role for the past several years, but he will still need to navigate new waters as he learns to be the buffer between teammates and coach Mike Babcock. Part of a captain’s role is to ensure a smooth locker room, and the Wings don’t have as many veterans to help out as they did in the past.
Zetterberg is coming off a subpar season for him offensively, contributing fewer than 70 points for the first time since he played just 63 games six seasons ago. For the Wings to re-establish themselves as a tough opponent, they need Zetterberg in top form on a regular basis. He’s an elite performer, one of the best two-way players in the game, and stands to gain even greater prominence.
If Zetterberg can play anything like he did for Sweden, and if he can drag Franzen, who was dominant until his nose was violently broken by Ilya Nikulin, along for the ride, all while not letting the “C” wear him down…
The Wings will be more than fine, even with a defense that begins the season with holes and what will probably be multiple “band-aids” (the Wings may very well need to sign a #7/8 defenseman unless they want Brian Lashoff and Adam Almqvist to be their first injury replacements) on the roster.
In the” did people miss this or something? category, Pro Hockey Talk’s Jason Brough mentioned the substance of an interview Kyle Quincey gave to the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers on Thursday, and MLive’s Brendan Savage soon followed.
“I’m so excited to finally get a real training camp with Detroit and starting fresh, learning their systems inside and out,” said Quincey, who was drafted by Detroit and spent three years in the organization. “Great organization. So much history, and I’m going back to the place I was drafted in, so it’s kind of a second chance. And with Nicklas Lidstrom retiring and losing Brad Stuart (traded to San Jose), there’s a chance to step up. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity, and just can’t wait to get back to work.”
If the Red Wings do not begin the 2012-2013 season in a timely fashion, any and every player with a two-way contract (see: Brendan Smith, Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist) in the NHL will be assigned to the AHL, and some of those players will be sent down to the ECHL. Prospects on entry-level deals who are over 20 (put indelicately, players who either belong to European teams or play Major Junior hockey generally have to be sent back to their rights-holders until they’re either 20 or have played 2 post-draft seasons for said teams, so players like Teemu Pulkkinen, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, etc. will remain with their current teams) are automatically property of their NHL team, and will be sent to AHL or ECHL teams…
And all of that happens because if the NHL locks out members of the NHLPA, that will have nothing to do with the fact that players on two-way and entry-level deals are members of the Professional Hockey Players Association, and the PHPA has no issues with the AHL or ECHL at this time.
The Wings are able to send up to six players to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, and Walleye coach Nick Vitucci told the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe that his team will be more or less unaffected by any NHL lockout:
“It shouldn’t affect us at all,” Vitucci said. “It’s business as usual for us, and we’re moving forward.”
He said the prevailing opinion that the talent level in the minor leagues would increase due to “a trickle-down effect” would not apply to the Walleye. Players that have NHL and American Hockey League two-way contracts would start in the AHL if the lockout occurs. And players on AHL and ECHL two-way contracts will start in the ECHL, which is two steps below the NHL. But Toledo’s affiliation agreements with the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks would remain the same, according to Vitucci.
“We are prepared to get a certain amount of players,” he said.
The Walleye will receive a small, set number of players from Detroit’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., and from Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford, Ill.
“I don’t think it will affect us as much as people think,” Vitucci said. “I know we will be getting good players from our affiliates either way.”
One positive aspect that an NHL lockout would have for the Walleye players would be an increase in the number of scouts at Toledo’s games.
“Pro scouts have to see games, and if they’re not at an NHL game, then they will have to be at AHL or ECHL games,” Vitucci said. “We should see a surge for scouts in our building. It’s a great opportunity for our players to showcase their abilities.”
The only question right now is a simple one: the Red Wings tend to hold training camp in concert with the Grand Rapids Griffins up in Traverse City, with the teams splitting into NHL and AHL squads as the Wings slowly but surely make cuts during the exhibition season, with the Griffins unofficially “breaking camp” but continuing to practice at the Joe during the last three or four exhibition games before leaving to hold the last few days of their camp in Grand Rapids.
We don’t know whether the Griffins will hold their camp and pre-season practices (they usually don’t participate in AHL preseason games) in Grand Rapids or somewhere else. To say that it would be awkward for the Wings to host the Griffins and allow the Brendan Smiths and Gustav Nyquists into the building after they’ve been skating with their teammates at other locations in Metro Detroit would be awkward…
And that’s the other question we don’t know right now. At present, it appears that the Red Wings and some of their AHL-playing prospects will assemble as usual in Metro Detroit and begin skating at the Joe by Labor Day at the very latest, but as of 11:59 PM on September 15th, the CBA expires, and while the Wings’ coaches are supposedly not allowed to interact with their players on or off the ice (they’ll be in the stands, of course, and in their offices and the hallways while the Wings’ players come and go) until training camp, the Wings will probably be using the team’s equipment managers and medical staff.
Where the players might skate if there’s a lockout is uncertain, though the Troy Sports Center might be a surer bet than Compuware Arena as the Whalers’ friendliness toward the Wings is complicated by the fact that their owner, Peter Karmanos, also owns the Hurricanes, and who the players will have to hire to sharpen their skates, nurse their sore spots and, fill their water bottles and ensure that they’re hydrating and eating properly…
All of that is complicated, and even the Troy Sports Center part gets complicated as Kris Draper is both a part-owner of the CORE Sports Fitness gym at the Troy Sports Center and a Red Wings employee.
The timing as to when, whether or if players choose to play in other leagues—with the Swedish Eliteserien already denying entry to any NHL’er who’s not willing to remain there for the balance of the 12-13 season, and the KHL making things complicated by promising to “expand” their rosters so that nobody loses their jobs, and this morning, promising that no more than 5 non-Russian players will be skating on the ice for any KHL team, regardless of how many foreigners their teams employ—is also up in the air.
That’s all going to depend on what happens in the boardroom, and in many cases, whether the Wings have family or business ties which preclude them from heading elsewhere in November or December. It’s harder to believe that players with kids will scoot unless the season’s canceled, and people like Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall have formal roles with the NHLPA, with Zetterberg serving as a member of the negotiating committee, so I would not anticipate a mass exodus on October 1st, for example.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• The Belarusian Telegraph Agency posted two translated quips from the Ruslan Salei memorial hockey tournament in Minsk, but you’re not going to get much out of the pair of videos accompanying the stories unless you speak Russian;
• In a different kind of multimedia vein, the pair of stories about Kris Draper talking about the Wings at Wednesday’s Great Lakes Loons game now also include a Saginaw News photo gallery of Draper throwing out the first pitch, if you’re interested in that sort of thing;
(1/2) Less than 48 hours in the— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) August 25, 2012
#WingsHawksRace and the Blackhawks are closing in. They just passed 200k followers, so we need your help!
Check out our new Facebook Timeline, featuring photos of all of our Stanley Cup winning teams! facebook.com/DETROITREDWINGS— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) August 25, 2012
• And finally, just in case you think that Gordie Howe and his sons don’t keep their ears perked up for hockey news, especially given Mark’s status as the Wings’ director of pro scouting, the Vancouver Province’s Steve Ewen reports that a long-shot prospect is taking part in the WHL’s Vancouver Giants’ training camp thanks to a tip from Mr. Hockey:
Gordie Howe went fishing. Colton Roberts landed the big one. Roberts is a 16-year-old left winger from Stanley Mission, Sask., who was skating at the Vancouver Giants’ rookie camp this week. The Giants didn’t find him as much as he found the Giants.
Howe, the legendary Mr. Hockey, is one of the team’s co-owners. He went on a fishing trip this summer with his brother Murray and Dale Saip, the Giants’ longtime vice-president of business development, to northern Saskatchewan.
Guides led them to Stanley Mission (population 1,700), one of the first settled communities in this country located on the banks of the Churchill River some 80 kilometres north east of Lac La Ronge, 305 kilometres north of Prince Albert. Along the way, the Howes and Saip kept hearing about this young, hot-shot hockey player. Howe and Saip put in a call to Giants homebase and had Roberts receive an invite to camp.
It’s a level of hockey he’s never seen before. Google brings back one hit on him, a story in the Prince Albert Daily Herald from January, 2011, that lists him playing over 50 minutes in a 7-5 win over the Weyburn Hitmen in a Prince Albert bantam tier two tournament.
“What am I going to tell everybody when I get home? I’m going to tell them I got interviewed by a newspaper,” laughed Roberts, the oldest of five kids. “I’m going to tell them that the hockey is fast. The level is pretty good. It’s good hockey, fast.”
To get to the Giants’ Ladner home base, Roberts drove for three days with his uncle Gord.
“I have a lot of admiration for uncle and him … we’re talking a 24-hour drive,” said Saip. “I drive to Saskatchewan on fairly regular basis. I think I’m related to most of the province. I know what that part is like. But coming out of there … I’ve flown over that part of the country…it’s not a paved highway out. It’s a gravel highway. It’s not an easy drive.”
The story continues, and the kid probably won’t stick, but it’s quite apparent that Saskatchewan-born hockey players stick together.
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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.