The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/23/12 at 06:17 AM ET
I had an, “I can’t believe I was dumb enough to wait until now to spit it out” moment earlier this morning (okay, so it’s the middle of the night for most of you. It’s the end of the day for me): after reading some of your takes on MLive’s Ansar Khan’s report that Ken Holland’s hoping that Shane Doan’s “Tour of Potential but Unlikely Employers” will make a stop in Detroit, as well as your takes on the Wings’ desire to avoid having to pay what is probably a sticker-shockingly high asking price to acquire one Alex Semin…
I headed over to Capgeek.com and found a very simple answer as to why the Red Wings don’t want to find their hands tied financially going forward, even if exercising fiscal restraint means that the team might lose out on Doan, Semin and any free agent leftovers who may or may not believe the theory that Detroit is no longer the “place to play”:
Capgeek’s Red Wings organizational chart spells things out in stark detail:
In the summer of 2013, under what we can assume will be a CBA with a lower salary cap but players whose “market values” were still determined under a previous and more inflationary CBA, under a CBA that will obviously do more to prevent “lifetime deals” and high salaries in certain years from being buried in contracts’ averaged annual values, and under a CBA that will likely impose stricter term limits on any and every contract:
• Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard, Danny Cleary, Damien Brunner, Drew Miller and Ian White will be unrestricted free agents;
• And Gustav Nyquist, Jan Mursak, Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl and several prospects who are likely become increasingly important to the cause going forward in Tom McCollum, Brian Lashoff, Joakim Andersson, Brent Raedeke and Francis Pare (and Jordan Pearce) will all be restricted free agents, all coming off their entry-level contracts.
It’s incredibly hard for Holland & Co. to even begin to speak to these players about possible contract extensions until the new CBA is sorted out as signing said players based upon this summer’s signings’ values might handcuff the team going forward as well…
But there is no doubt that at least Filppula, Howard, Cleary, White, Nyquist and Smith are key cogs who will command significant salaries a year from now, and for the Wings to have any hope of retaining their services, the Wings have to ensure that whatever they do this summer doesn’t hamper the team’s ability to retain the services of the players they’ve drafted and developed (or, in Cleary, Miller and White’s cases, have astutely acquired).
When Nick Barnowski and I got 10 minutes to speak with Wings capologist and de-facto assistant GM Ryan Martin, Martin stressed that his job involves both interpreting a collective bargaining agreement that’s still teaching him new things at the end of its reign as the legal document defining the parameters of the Wings front office’s business, and his job involves anticipating future events and doing his best to make sure that the Wings are prepared for tomorrow.
If there is an unspoken message in Holland’s relative fiscal restraint after losing out on the bidding for Ryan Suter, not being able to land Rick Nash due to Columbus’s desire to not do business with Detroit and not finding Shea Weber’s desire to screw with the Predators to include a, “I want to land the last big payday of this CBA by not only screwing over Nashville, but also signing with their self-styled arch-rival” caveat, well, his message is that while the Wings remain determined to exhaust their options in terms of attempts to aggressively improve the team, he’s not going to trade making a splash today for not being able to retain a 65 point-scorer like Filppula, a starting goalie like Howard or a top prospect who may suddenly find himself in line for a multimillion-dollar raise in Smith next summer.
In a different sort of “future” department, the Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple’s emptying out his voice recorder from the Wings’ summer development camp, and he discusses one of the Wings’ potential speed merchants-in-the-making in Alan Quine, an incredibly fast playmaking forward who’s coming into a contract year hoping to bulk up a bit (with hockey players needing to be built like tree trunks, Quine was the most “European” among the North American-trained forwards in that he’s got big, bulky shoulders, but is still somewhat skinny otherwise) and to pile on the points with Mickey Redmond’s alma mater, the OHL’s Peterborough Petes:
Quine had 30 goals and 40 assists in 65 games last season for the Petes and was minus-19 with 21 penalty minutes. He also appeared in three games with the Grand Rapids Griffins and had one assist. What does Quine think he needs to do to earn a pro contract?
“Consistency and just trying to be as physical as I can,” Quine said during the recent Red Wings development camp in Traverse City. “Trying to throw my weight around a little bit and put up some good numbers.”
Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said Quine is “a great skater, a Darren Helm-type player.”
“He’s on the right path. He’s doing everything right. He trains hard, works hard,” Nill said.
Peterborough (27-34-3-4) missed the OHL playoffs last season. Quine hopes to help lead the Petes to the postseason in 2012-13. He mentioned the acquisition of forward Francis Menard, who scored 60 points in 68 games last season for the Guelph Storm, as a positive step for the club.
“I was above a point a game last year and hopefully next year I can be even higher, maybe 90, 95, 100 points,” Quine said. “That would be ideal.”
Quine may have more of an offensive “upside” than Helm as he can set up teammates while darting around or through his opponents, skating just as fast with the puck on his stick as he does without (just like Andreas Athanasiou), and given his progress in terms of his physical form (he was rake-thin when the Wings drafted him) and poise on the ice, it’s incredibly likely that Quine will be turning pro with the Griffins in the fall of 2013.
And as my “Slovak” is terrible, I’m going to give you the Cliff’s Notes version of an interview Wings prospect Marek Tvrdon (who’s already inked an entry-level deal) gave to Sport.sk’s Ondrej Hutan:
• Tvrdon felt much more comfortable at the Wings’ summer development camp this time around than he did during his draft year, and he felt that he played his best during the scrimmage on Bryan Rufenach day, playing alongside Martin Frk;
• Tvrdon says that he felt very encouraged by the positive reinforcement he received during his exit interview, where he was reminded that he’s got a lot of work to do to make the NHL, but was told that the Wings believe in him;
• Tvrdon also had a good time hanging around with Tomas Jurco and Frk and the Czechs (Petr Mrazek, Andrej Nestrasil and Richard Nedomlel);
• But instead of returning to Slovakia, he headed to Vancouver, where he’s working with a strength and conditioning trainer heading into what may or may not be his last season with the Vancouver Giants. Tvrdon points out that unless he actually makes the Wings’ roster, he’s not allowed to play in the AHL as of yet because he’s 19, so he’s doing his best to prepare for a strong season in Vancouver;
• And as such, he’s only heading home to secure a new worker’s visa so that he can play in the U.S. and Canada for the upcoming season.
In the alumni department:
• ESPN Dallas’s Todd Archer reports that Mike Modano and Brett Hull finished 15th and 16th, respectively, in a charity golf tournament in Irving, Texas;
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Andrea Nelson profiled another player who spends his summer golfing in former Red Wing and Maple Leaf Darren Veitch, the latest subject of a “Dual Citizenship” article.
In CBA news, the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the NHLPA’s counter-proposal to the NHL’s first CBA cut-back will involve some revenue-sharing ideas that may very well shake the owners’ solidarity, especially as he may promote the concept of a luxury tax:
“Knowing Donald Fehr, I will be shocked if that’s not part of his proposal, and a big part of it,” said Gary Roberts, dean of the Indiana University School of Law. “Salary caps do not work very well — or for very long — if you have a great disparity of revenue between clubs. You either set the cap so low that some teams make enormous profits — that doesn’t sit well with the players — or you set it so high that the clubs in smaller markets just can’t keep up.”
According to Forbes magazine, Toronto took in $213 million in 2010-11, the last year for which complete figures were available. That was tops in the league, but seven other clubs had revenue above $120 million. Meanwhile, nine franchises — Anaheim, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Florida, Nashville, the New York Islanders, Phoenix and St. Louis — took in less than $80 million in revenue.
“Yet, they’re in a system that says they have to spend about the same amount,” Roberts said.
When the current agreement was struck in 2005, the NHL was a $2.2 billion industry. Seven years later, it is a $3.3 billion industry. But look what happened to the salary cap, which was put in place to put all 30 NHL clubs on even footing. When the league emerged from the lockout, the salary cap was $39 million and the salary minimum was $21 million. If the 2012-13 season were played under the same system, the cap would be $70.3 million and the minimum $52.3 million.
Forcing all 30 clubs to have payrolls within $18 million of one another has created the competitive balance the league sought. But even with the NHL’s limited revenue sharing, it has been hard for small-market clubs to keep pace, even if they sell out most games.
It’s unclear how Fehr and the players’ association will propose to increase revenue sharing. Under Fehr’s guidance in 2003, major league baseball adopted a plan by which all clubs’ locally generated revenue is pooled and divided evenly among the clubs. One source told The Dispatch that Fehr “has considered lots of creative ideas.” One idea, the source said, would allow small-market clubs to “trade” their salary-cap space to wealthy clubs for draft picks or cash.
“The mechanism isn’t hard to come up with,” Roberts said. “It’s the internal politics of it that make it difficult to put in place. You have the most wealthy, most powerful owners in the sport who are going to rise up and fight this. But before you label them as greedy, and unwilling to share for the good of the league, you have to consider their perspectives. They bought those franchises and paid a price that was based on the expected revenue stream. Now, all of a sudden, you’re telling them they have to take a big chunk of that stream and give it to somebody else.”
I’m starting to think that, as player agent Allan Walsh suggested, the only way to truly engage big-market teams in revenue-sharing is to offer some sort of luxury tax above and beyond the “upper limit.” I know that Bettman will hate the concept, but I also know that many big-market owners who find themselves subsidizing the personnel expenses of Bettman’s poorer business decisions absolutely despise sending a chunk of their regular season and especially playoff revenues toward their weaker sisters.
At this point, sticking a few stakes between the owners might be the best way to gain some traction given Bettman’s seeming belief that re-setting the financial system by endlessly demanding givebacks from the league’s highest-profile employees is the way to go, over and over and over again. He’s trying to place band-aids on mortal wounds for the franchises in the most dire financial straits, and for teams like the Islanders and Ducks, who don’t even qualify for revenue sharing under the league’s current guidelines, I’d imagine that being offered carrots that cut into red ink might be worth accepting a competitive disadvantage.
As a programming note, I’m heading on vacation from July 28th to August 4th, and my online availability will be limited at that time as the place my mom and I will be staying at does not have blanket interweb service. I’ll try to post something once a day at least.
And as an FYI: In surveying the Russian press, it’s hard to believe, but most KHL teams are already engaging in the dryland training and/or mandatory pre-training camp skates that precede almost six weeks of exhibition play and summertime “tournaments,” and teams in Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia will be hitting the ice between August 1st and 10th, so while the news cycle’s a bit choppy over here, the 2012-2013 season is already underway across the pond.
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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.