The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/29/12 at 06:05 AM ET
Updated 3x with some Hudler speculation at 8:36 AM: Before the Red Wings’ brass sits down for next week’s organizational meetings, the team’s amateur scouts are spending this week in Toronto, attending the NHL’s Draft combine, and they’re probably doing so while wincing: the Wings acquired Kyle Quincey in exchange for the team’s first-round draft pick, which, at the time of Quincey’s arrival, was still in the mid-20’s, but the Wings’ late-season slide means that the Tampa Bay Lightning will be utilizing the 19th overall pick at Detroit’s expense.
By Wings standards, that’s a ridiculously high pick, especially given this year’s supposedly “weak” draft class yielding a high probability of players ranked just outside of the “top ten” drifting down to that 19th spot, but the Wings’ scouts at least hope that by the time the 49th pick (or thereabouts, depending on compensatory shenanigans on the NHL’s part) comes around, they’ll still be able to draft a first-rounder who’s slipped through the cracks, as assistant GM Jim Nill told the Free Press’s George Sipple:
“You kind of know who the first 30 players are in the draft, so you kind of weed them out,” Nill said. “You’ve got a group of another 20 or 30 guys that you think you could have a chance at in the second round. So we’ll interview those kids.”
Nill said they may interview some players in the top 30.
“What you do at the combine ... it’s a big convention center, so you kind of walk around and see everybody,” Nill said. “You run into kids and get to meet them. See how they interact, just so you get a feel for them. The more information you can gather, the more it can help you down the road.”
Russian-born forward Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting is the top-rated player in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for North American skaters, but Nill said there are about five players who could wind up being the first overall pick.
“I think it’s wide-open,” Nill said. “The top 10 or 15 picks are very strong, and then the next group of about 30 are all pretty equal. They’ve all got some great assets, but some things they need to work on.”
All of that being said, I’m gonna put this bluntly: I’ve talked to a couple of you about draft possibilities, and while I’ve got my Hockey News draft issue in print, if you are to buy the digital version from Zinio, I wouldn’t start lusting after any prospects rated above 30 by their list-makers.
The Wings will be inking three draft picks to contracts this week in Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and Calle Jarnkrok, and Arbetarbladet’s Christer Aberg reports that Brynas, who plays for Brynas IF, will be inked shortly…
But they’re “hoping” that Jarnkrok will remain in the Swedish Eliteserien for another season, even though Jarnkrok’s too young to do anything but play in Sweden unless he makes the Wings’ roster (the NHL’s transfer agreement with Sweden and Finland mandates that draft picks remain with their club teams for 2 years after they’ve been drafted):
Calle lost—but will stay in Brynas for one more year
Sometime before Friday, Calle Jarnkrok will become one of Detroit’s players.
Before June 1st, he must sign a contract so the NHL giant will retain their rights to Brynas’ team MVP.
“It will happen any day now, it’s no secret,” says Calle’s agent, Christian Sjogren.
Talks have been ongoing for some time and have been fairly routine. Detroit will sign the 20-year-old and is sure to give him as good a rookie contract as can be obtained.
“We’ll negotiate for the full amount and there will be a contract at any time this week, and everyone will be happy with it. It almost always goes that way in the end,” said Sjogren when asked to comment on the matter.
With a newly-written contract in his pocket, the most likely scenario is that Calle will be loaned to Brynas next season.
“That’s at least what Calle himself has expressed as his wish in the negotiations. We’ll see how it goes, but Detroit’s also a team that prefers to let its players stay in Europe for a year to further develop,” says Sjogren.
That’s just the route Jakob Silfverberg took after Ottawa signed him to an entry-level contract last spring. He went to their rookie camp, but came back home, and we all know how it ended with success and a championship. Now the next big Brynas prospect will probably choose the same path.
Calle has previously said that he wants to bulk up a few more pounds and get stronger in every way. And Detroit has always talked along that line and stated that he’d do best at home in Sweden.
Detroit’s director of European scouting, Hakan Andersson, is also of the opinion that Calle will do best with another season in the Eliteserien.
“I’m not the one who decides, but my personal opinion is that he needs to train really hard for one more summer, get lots of playing time and be an important player for Brynas. He also needs to take a bigger part in various tournaments for the Tre Kronor, where he was able to see the most and learn the most this past season.”
It’s probable that he will attend Detroit’s rookie camp this summer.
“Yes, though I’d be happy to see that he does,” says Hakan.
Concurrently, it’s worth noting that, as the Wings’ media corps continues to speculate about the team’s desires to sign free agents like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch noted that the groundwork for, say, trades and draft-day deals to acquire free agents’ rights will take place starting on Wednesday:
The 30 GMs will gather for their annual meeting in New York Wednesday as the Stanley Cup final begins. That’s where teams will start to set the table for changes before the draft June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.
Garrioch then rambles on about the various trade scenarios that could benefit the Ottawa Senators, but given that the Predators are about to begin negotiations with Ryan Suter, and given that, last year, anyway, the two “best” defensive free agents on the market in Christian Ehrhoff and James Wisniewski (okay, so they didn’t work out so well, but still) were signed by the teams who acquired their rights at the Draft (it’s no longer the “Entry Draft” for some stupid reason), I’m guessing that Ken Holland and the Wings will be very aggressive regarding the Suters, Matt Carles, Jay Garrisons, Alex Semins and Parises of the world should they not re-sign with their teams by the time the draft begins, and that’s why Holland will put out “feelers” regarding said free agents’ availabilities on Wednesday…
In foreign-language news, I’m just going to steer you toward the Google translation of Tomas Tatar’s chat with CAS.sk readers as I’m no expert on Slovakian colloquialisms, but they did post a pretty spiffy set of photos of Tatar talking about growing up in Dubinca and learning to play hockey stickhandling on the asphalt all-purpose “court” in front of his family’s apartment, growing up playing with fellow Slovak World Championship team member Mario Bliznak, and talking about possibly adding another tattoo to the tiger on his right shoulder and “Go for Gold” on his right forearm to commemorate his silver medal;
• In Sweden, Hockeysverige.se’s Uffe Bodin reports that Dick Axelsson will once again play for Sweden in the Inline Hockey World Championships, which start on June 1st in Ingolstadt, Germany, and Aftonbladet’s Emil Karlsson at least reports that Farjestads BK’s general manager, Hakan Loob, is interested in bringing Axelsson back to Farjestad after a rough year spent with Modo Ornskoldsvik (though Axelsson has—gasp—bought an apartment in Stockholm!—which his agent, Lars Cederstrom, says is no big deal);
• In Moscow, Sportbox.ru reports that Russia’s gold medal-winning World Championship team will be feted with a kinda-sorta parade today, which will be aired on the sports network Russia-2;
• And as just a sort of heads-up? Yes, as Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski noted, Russia Today picked up the whole, “Russian AHL wants to play a game on an aircraft carrier” story, but this is, by European hockey league standards, “summer”...
And in the summer, the KHL and their various farm leagues make all sorts of grandiose claims. In addition to the game on an aircraft carrier spiel, the MHL’s president also claimed that they’re planning on playing multiple games against AHL and ECHL teams, and that’s incredibly, incredibly unlikely, and I’m sure that KHL president Alex Medvedev will come out any day now and insist that the KHL will again attempt to host NHL teams for pre-season games, though the head and knee-hunting Eric Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes were subjected to a few seasons ago all but assured that the leagues will never play each other again.
Sport-Express also ran with the picture from the Toronto Star of Dominik Hasek shaking Curtis Joseph’s hand meaning that the Maple Leafs will surely pursue both Tomas Vokoun and Hasek, they’re pretty sure that Bob Hartley’s been hired as the coach of the Montreal Canadiens, and Lifesports.ru still hasn’t taken down its headline insisting that the Washington Capitals would trade Alex Semin to Detroit from back in frickin’ February, so let’s just say that reporting truth, reporting rumors as truth and plain old making stuff up meet in one happy collision at this time of year…
And hell, even the more reputable Swedish, Finnish, Czech and Slovak hockey websites, never mind the slightly tabloid-y ones, take the factually accurate sentence, “Dominik Hasek has told a Czech newspaper that, at 47 years of age, he would like to attempt to make a comeback and even sign with an NHL team, with iSport.cz linking him to Buffalo and Detroit” and turn that into, “Dominik Hasek’s coming back and will sign with Buffalo or Detroit! Soon!”
Long story short? It’s already the season of gigantic empty promises and seriously unsubstantiated rumors and postulations catching on as supposedly legitimate and triple-quadruple-checked factual stories…So while I’m cool with Puck Daddy reporting the story because it’s interesting?
I’m reading it, too, and as this is a Wings blog, I’m not gonna report the rumor-y stuff, and I’ll continue to warn you about the bluster and BS coming from the other side of the Atlantic (and this side, too)...
And if you plan on venturing out to take in the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle this weekend, (yes, this is a strange note to end upon), the Detroit News’s Rod Beard reports that little Wings fans will have something to occupy their time with:
The Meijer Family Fun Zone will feature tents with activities for all age groups, including interactive games such as slot-car racing.
Families also can enjoy face painters, balloon and caricature artists and an inflatable zone.
The fun zone also features Detroit Red Wings interactive games, with a hockey net and tunnel, a Playstation 3 area with NHL 2011 and a mini-ice rink.
Update: If ever there was a proper closer to this, “Welcome to ‘summertime’ in the NHL, the home of unsubstantiated rumors, big promises, blather and other insanity,” here’s the clincher, from WGRZ 2’s Patrick Klinck in Buffalo:
File this story in the Curiosities section. A source close to legendary former Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek told 2 on Your Side’s Ben Hayes that Hasek would like to return to play in the NHL. The source said Hasek is working out and wants to play one more season. If the NHL were an option, it would be his top choice.
Hasek is now 47-years old and hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2007-2008 season with Detroit. He played in Russia during the 2010-2011 season.
At 42, Dwayne Roloson is currently the oldest player in the NHL.
Hasek’s agent told 2 on Your Side, that he had no comment on Hasek’s future.
ZOMG! Because that’s totally not what iSport.cz’s various sportswriters reported over the past week, like word for frickin’ word, including Rich Winter’s comments! Because, you know, that would involve citing one’s “sources!”
Face, meet palm…
And more blather at 4 AM, I suppose. Yes, I realize that it might seem somewhat hypocritical for me to say what I just did given that I’m speculating on the availability of free agents’ rights at the draft, but that’s admitted guesswork based upon the best players available, and is not supposed to be taken as, “This is who they’re gonna go after, reserve your customized jersey now!” predictive stuff. I’m not in that business. I can estimate and guesstimate, but I try to keep the factual errors to a minimum. That’s the “game plan,” as usual, and that will remain my “game plan” for the rest of the spring (it hit 95 degrees in Metro Detroit on Monday, so it was quite “summery”) and actual summer.
Update #2: Even more speculation hit the wires this morning: This is incredibly roughly translated, but Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler’s European agent, Pavel Marsoun, very strongly suggested to the Czech news agency CTK that his client may prefer to test the unrestricted free agent marketplace instead of re-signing with Detroit:
Hudler apparently to try free agency
Prague: Forward Jiri Hudler seems ready to try the NHL free agent market for the first time. The Oloumouc native’s contract ended after the season with Detroit, and the chances that he will sign a new contract aren’t very big. Regardless, it can’t be ruled out that he might continue with the Red Wings. Hudler was Detroit’s second-leading goal scorer during the recently completed season.
“But now we will address it during the draft,” said the player’s agent, SAI agency’s Pavel Marsoun, to CTK. According to the overseas media, Detroit tried to negotiate a new contract after the season with Detroit, but failed to agree on financial terms. “That’s all just speculation, we’re still talking about figures,” said Marsoun.
Hudler earned $3 million U.S. dollars in salary last season, and will almost certainly earn a better contract. The question is by how much. According to the website MLive.com, Detroit could pay about $500,000 more, which is what Valtteri Filppula earned. The free agent marketplace opens on July 1st, and then Hudler can be offered a new contract from other teams.
“Detroit doesn’t know what the salary cap will be for next season at the moment. They may wait to July 1st to sign new players, and then negotiate with Jirka,” said Marsoun.
The 28-year-old forward flew to Montreal today to train, and it seems that he’ll be sought after in the marketplace. Only Zach Parise and Teemu Selanne can boast of scoring more goals in terms of the players who are up for grabs.
Parise, who’s helped New Jersey reach the Stanley Cup Finals, seems likely to sign a new contract with the Devils before July 1, and Selanne, if he doesn’t retire, will only continue his career with Anaheim.
“It’s true that our position is good in terms of interest in Jiri, and Detroit is one of our options. But it’s certainly true that the Red Wings are interested in him. He played on the top line on their team,” Marsoun said, pointing to the fact that Hudler played with Henrik Zetterberg and Filppula. Even with a slow start last season, he scored 23 goals in the last 57 games.
Hudler has played 409 games in the NHL so far, with 87 goals and 127 assists, and in the playoffs he’s scored 12 more goals and 21 assists in 66 games. So far he’s only played for Detroit.
Update #3: If it matters, the Carbonnear Compass’s Nicholas Mercer reports that Danny Cleary’s hockey school has relocated to a bigger town after being based in Cleary’s hometown of Harbour Grace, and their business is picking up.
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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.