The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/06/12 at 04:20 AM ET
Red Wings GM Ken Holland suggested that his team would step back and reevaluate its plans after being spurned by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, so I cannot deny that I was more than a bit surprised by all the hubbub about Rick Nash on Thursday.
The media very understandably skewered Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson for demanding the sun, moon and stars for Nash’s services, but at the same time, hockey pundits acted as if combining said criticism with enough hyping of the suggestion that the Parise/Suter sweepstakes’ “losers” would surely almost immediately turn to Columbus and overpay for Nash—or at least scramble like a bunch of eighth-graders chasing down the third-prettiest girl to ask to homecoming after their class’s two prettiest girls decided to go “stag,” roaring down a figurative middle school hallway to beat down Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray’s door, ready and wiling to out-bid each other to acquire the services of the reasonably-priced Bobby Ryan.
I didn’t understand the theory that, should the free agent market now be bereft of its brightest gems, and should the rest of the market be picked over by perhaps the smarter smaller-market GM’s who chose to pluck players like Ray Whitney, Matt Carle and Jay Garrison off the market while the Red Wings, Blackhawks, Flyers, Hurricanes, Devils, Predators, etc. either put their eggs in the Parise/Suter basket or refused to overpay for their own “plan B’s,” even if that meant losing them in the process…
That all of a sudden, suddenly, the GM’s would go scurrying over the next shiniest coins on the ground, even if they were only available via trade.
I certainly know that many of you spent Thursday talking about which players the Wings could afford to give up for Nash, Ryan, Keith Yandle and whoever else you think the Wings might be able to bid upon, regardless of the fact that neither the Blue Jackets nor Coyotes would do anything other than expect the Wings to pay a premium they cannot afford to offer as “arch-rivals,” never mind that the asking prices for both Nash and Yandle would create new holes in the Wings’ roster to fill another.
The concept of the Wings overpaying at this point just doesn’t make sense to me, and given Holland’s comments to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, it doesn’t sound like he’s interested in surrendering assets unless absolutely necessary:
“There’s a small list of players out there and a lot of teams in the market,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We’re happy that we got the guys that we did on July 1.”
That day, when unrestricted free agency began, has been the highlight of the summer for the Red Wings. They signed goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, and forwards Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Damien Brunner.
“We like our team, we like who we have,” Holland said. “We’ll continue to look over the market, make our (phone) calls, and continue to try and get better.”
The most talented player available could be Columbus forward Rick Nash. But it could be costly. One of the NHL’s premier power forwards, Nash has been a 40-goal scorer and wants to be moved after years of losing in Columbus. And he has a short list — Red Wings, Rangers, Sharks, Flyers and Penguins.
What hurts the Red Wings is the fact they live in the Central Division with the Blue Jackets. So, the thought of seeing Nash at least six times a season in a Red Wings uniform might not be desirable for Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson — or his frustrated fan base.
That could leave the Red Wings looking at players such as Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle — all at steep prices.
“We’ll do our due diligence and we’ll explore the marketplace, see what is out there,” Holland said. “Like I said, we like our team and we have players who we feel are ready to accept bigger roles.”
I know you don’t want to hear Holland suggest things like that, but the Wings, set up as they are, can neither afford to create bigger holes in their lineup than they already have, nor does Holland seem to be apt to throw money at someone like Alex Semin simply because the team needs to add a few more goals to the mix.
It wouldn’t be a complete surprise if he took on a Bouwmeester-like salary, but making trades just isn’t Holland’s modus operandi, and we may end up seeing the Wings signing defensemen like Matt Gilroy, Carlo Colaiacovo, Pavel Kubina, Jaroslav Spacek, Michal Rozsival, Scott Hannan or Chris Campoli, and maybe a forward like Petr Sykora, Niklas Hagman, yes, Mike Knuble, Peter Mueller, Wojtek Wolski, Jochen Hecht, Marco Sturm, Eric Fehr, Kristian Huselius, or, should the Glendale citizens’ petition to overturn the city’s subsidization of the Phoenix Coyotes’ sale make the ballot, Shane Doan.
The Wings tend to go with reclamation projects when the free agent market’s picked over, and it got picked over in a hurry.
So yes, the Wings will probably go into the 2012-2013 season as a “work in progress,” but I don’t believe that Holland will simply throw up his hands and not attempt to look for reinforcements…
Nor do I buy the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa’s suggestion that the Wings should muddle along, if not tank a few games this season, and pin their hopes on the 2013 free agent class after engaging in a “rebuilding” year. That same strategy backfired on the Wings in a big way this summer because the vast majority of their targets re-signed with their rights-holders, and especially given that there will be a new, more restrictive CBA in place by the time next July comes around, I think this logic is borderline silly:
When team-changing free agents like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Shea Weber and Jarome Iginla become available, perhaps a year from now, the Red Wings need to position themselves precisely as they did this summer: With ample cash available for shopping and owner Mike Ilitch’s plane idling at the airport.
If the Red Wings want the shortest path to their next Cup, they must have ample money available next summer and be willing to patiently play the bidding and courting game — and, yes, risking losing, again — in the hope of signing two players who are among the cream of the crop. Hoarding cash, continuing to develop their younger players and hoping the veterans step up is probably the best to which the Red Wings can aspire in 2012-13.
That kind of strategy rarely works—ask every team that bid on Parise and Suter that isn’t Minnesota—and while cap flexibility is essential going forward, and I’m with Krupa here…
Right now, the Red Wings are not among the NHL franchises that can part with one or two of its big pieces, along with some smaller ones, to acquire the last part of a puzzle. I do not perceive a good reason, for example, to lose Valtteri Filppula, a top-four defenseman, a legitimate prospect and a draft choice or two for Nash, when they clearly need more than just Nash.
Cue the “silly” alarm again:
The blame for these circumstances does not lie with the Red Wings brain trust. Viewed objectively, the prime cause is, in fact, all of the success the Red Wings have enjoyed for so long that, if only by course of nature, the team now requires refurbishing. The partial reconstruction must be done under a salary cap, amid a trend of at least two years of players often garnering more money than their worth and the prospect of a new collective bargaining agreement.
Like it or not, the Red Wings must patiently play that game. Does it mean they will not win the Stanley Cup in 2013? Having just observed the Kings and the Devils play in the Finals, never say never. But it is likely to be a longer shot than it has been in at least 17 seasons.
Regardless, it all argues for Detroit lying fallow, for now.
There may be some slack nights for attendance and television viewers this season, while $17 million in cap space is unspent. But the discerning fan base must come to understand it is a means to an end. And then, the best front office in the game must again prove its worth, amid some of the most strained circumstances for the Red Wings in two decades.
That partial reconstruction comes from within, from the players that took steps forward at the World Championships (Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader, Valtteri Filppula, Henirk Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and yes, Johan Franzen), youngsters like Smith and Nyquist, the reclamation project that is the arbitration-filing Kyle Quincey, a new leader in Niklas Kronwall, two defensemen with more to give in Jonathan Ericsson and Ian White, a healthy Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves and Danny Cleary, veterans like Todd Bertuzzi and the re-treaded Mikael Samuelsson, perhaps a slightly more consistent Drew Miller, the “new guys” in Jordin Tootoo and Jonas Gustavsson, the x-factor that is Damien Brunner and the bubble boys in Jan Mursak, Cory Emmerton and Jakub Kindl…
But it doesn’t come from hoping that things will go better a year from now. It comes from Holland doing his “due diligence” to see if he can add a player via a trade in an affordable manner—for example, I know the Winnipeg press has been jitterily suggesting that the team ought to trade Tobias Enstrom now, because they’re not sure if the Jets are willing or able to lock him up since prior to the trade deadline—and it comes from understanding that a combination of internal growth and a few free agent additions whose names probably won’t have you or me playing around with jersey customizers might be the best way to help address the crater left by Nicklas Lidstrom’s departure without creating another crater in the process.
I’m not about to deny that I’m less than thrilled with the Wings losing out on Sami Salo, Matt Carle and Jason Garrison while they waited for Ryan Suter to make up his mind, nor am I thrilled that Holland’s dropping the “it’s parity!” line while talking to USA Today’s Kevin Allen regarding Parise and Suter’s decision-making processes (“it’s parity” is more like, “anybody can throw two hundred million dollars at two players if they really want to under a cap system,” because I find it incredibly hard to believe that the Wild’s new saviors were solely motivated by the selfless desire to go as close to “home” as possible while establishing themselves as the go-to players for that “hometown” franchise)...
But when I look at not only Holland but also the Red Wings front office’s tendencies as a group, and when I try to take a step back from just being pissed off at the concept that Ryan Suter could spurn any visit from Mike Ilitch, Chris Chelios and Holland—and I’m still pissed off—I’ve got to think that the Wings want to add this summer, not subtract, and that while it might take all summer for them to talk down the asking prices of some ugly ducklings whose agents likely expect their clients to be paid like the top-flight, big-name talent that got away, this team tends to improve itself two or three weeks after insisting that “what it has” is more than enough in early July to compete come October.
The other big Red Wings news story of the day involved the Wings’ hiring of Tom Renney as an “associate” as opposed to an assistant coach, and while I’m absolutely certain that the Wings are paying a man with Renney’s resume the kind of salary many head coaches might command elsewhere, it sure is nice to hear him tell the Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland that that he signed with the Wings for one reason above all others:
“It’s Detroit. It’s the Detroit Red Wings. Period,” Renney said Thursday afternoon, “And for me, that’s all encompassing. Every aspect of the game is represented well. That made it pretty easy at the end of the day.”
His job description has not yet been laid out, but that was of no concern to Renney, who worked with Babcock at the 2004 World Championships. The bigger concern for all involved in the organization is how they will replace incomparable defenceman Niklas Lidstrom.
Renney said he, too, was watching to see if the Red Wings would land Ryan Suter, who instead opted to go with fellow prized NHL fee-agent forward Zach Parise to the Minnesota Wild. But Renney also said the Red Wings, as well as any team in the league, maximizes the potential of its players. He also pointed to the strength of the team game under Babcock’s structure.
“I would consider him a players’ coach with great experience from the Olympic Games to the World championships, from the New York Rangers to the Edmonton Oilers,” Babcock told the team’s website. “(Jaromir Jagr) played phenomenal for him in New York (and) I thought he did a real good job in Edmonton with that young group. He played those young guys to help them develop. He played them on the first power play, he gave them a chance. “Now you know what happens in this business, someone’s got to take the heat and he took the heat in Edmonton. But we think he’s a quality coach, that’s why we’ve hired him. He knows the league. He knows all of the players.”
As for his ties with Edmonton, Renney said they have not severed.
“I’m still a bit of a stakeholder there,” he concluded. “There are special people there from top to bottom working really hard to do something special – and they will. So how can you not sit back and sort of smile.”
Renney received a glowing endorsement from Edmonton Oilers winger Ryan Jones, as noted by the Edmonton Sun’s Derek Van Diest...
“I figured it would only be a matter of time for him,” said Oilers winger Ryan Jones. “He’s a great guy, a great teacher of the game and, for any organization, it’s beneficial to have a person like that. For whatever reason it wasn’t the right fit for the Oilers right now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a right fit for another team.”
Renney, 57, spent three seasons with the Oilers, originally brought on board as an associate to Pat Quinn shortly after Craig MacTavish was relieved of his duties following the 2008-2009 season. Renney took over the head coaching duties a year after joining the club and amassed a 57-85-22 record during that time, as the Oilers finished 30th and 29th respectively in the league standings.
Renney’s contract was not renewed for the upcoming season by the Oilers, who promoted associate coach Ralph Krueger to the head post.
“For me, there were aspects of my game that he really held me accountable for when he was here,” said Jones of Renney. “There were things that he wanted me to get better at, being away from the puck and trying to be more of a physical player. He was a really easy coach to play for. He was passionate, he wanted to win and he cared about each player, not only as a hockey player, but as a person. I find those coaches super easy to play for.”
And just as Renney gushed about joining the wings while speaking to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
“Detroit is a standard-bearer in terms of how the game is played at the highest level and managed,” Renney said. “Expectations are high for Detroit, and as an organization they wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Babcock contacted Renney a week ago and those discussions led to Renney talking with Holland and assistant general manager Jim Nill.
Babcock and Renney have had success together in the past, Babcock coaching Canada to the 2004 World Championship gold medal with Renney his assistant. The two have also worked together in Canada’s national hockey program. What areas Renney will oversee have yet to be determined.
“Mike is one of the best leaders in sport,” Renney said. “Knowing Mike, we’ll all be in the positions we should be in order to help the team win.”
Babcock offered an equally glowing assessment of Renney’s aplomb while more or less admitting to the Free Press’s Helene St. James that going with two inexperienced coaches last season simply didn’t work out:
Tom Renney’s appeal to the Red Wings came down to one factor.
“Experience, experience, experience,” head coach Mike Babcock said today after the Wings announced they’d hired Renney to be an associate coach.
“He’s been a head coach a long time, he’s been a director of player personnel, he’s been an assistant coach, an associate coach,” Babcock said. “I couldn’t find anyone that had more experience than him. The job he did with a young team in Edmonton, the job he did in New York, I thought he was outstanding. There was no one more qualified. Tom’s a good man, hard worker, has tons of ideas.”
Renney called Babcock “one of the best leaders in sports.” The two worked together as assistant coaches at the 2004 World Championships, and ever since, “we’ve always been familiar with each other and communicative,” Renney said. “As the years have gone on, the common denominator has been that much greater. It’s a very comfortable situation for us.”
There hasn’t been much talk yet about specifics, but it’s a good bet Renney will take charge of the power play, which failed to inflict much damage last season. Speaking of his coaching philosophy, Renney kept coming back to the word speed, as in foot speed and moving the puck with speed. After two years coaching a young team in Edmonton, Renney noted that while the Oilers were expected to win every game, everyone knew there were nights they weren’t going to do so.
Detroit, he said, “is a standard-bearer in terms of how the game gets played at the highest level. The expectations for Detroit are as high as they should be. Anybody in hockey, anybody that’s been following the organization for the last couple of decades, can identify with a real high standard of play and performance, and just the organization in general, how people are treated there, they have high expectations for themselves and each other. I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”
Babcock said that as he and general manager Ken Holland talked about what the best move for the organization would be, Renney’s “wealth of experience,” made him the No. 1 choice.
Babcock told MLive’s Ansar Khan that he wants Renney to serve as an experienced buffer, if you will…
“I went through all my contacts, and in the end, Tom Renney, without question, was the best man for the job,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’ll bring thoughts from different organizations that we can learn from.’‘
“He knows how to talk to people and deal with them,’’ Babcock said. “He did an unbelievable job with (star forward Jaromir) Jagr (while with the Rangers).’‘
Said Renney: “Communication is the big thing. They need to know that you care.”
Renney will be heavily involved in trying to remedy the Red Wings’ power play, which ranked 22nd in the NHL in 2011-12. The Oilers, under Renney and former associate coach Ralph Krueger (now the head coach), ranked third on the power play last season.
“We look to him to give us a lot of different opinions,’’ Babcock said. “In Detroit, it’s never been about whose idea it is, it’s about the best idea to help us win. With him and (assistant coach) Bill Peters, we have a great staff to support our players.’‘
Babcock said Renney will be involved with the whole team, not just focusing on forwards or defense. Renney is a proponent of the Red Wings’ puck-possession style.
“What has me most concerned is how much we stand at the far blue line and wait for the opponent to come at us,’’ Renney said. “With that being said, I do like the puck, and if I’m giving it up I’m doing my best to get it back quickly with a certain level of exuberance.’‘
Renney continued on that tack while speaking to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness...
“What has me most concerned is how much we stand at the far blue line and wait for the opponent to come at us,” Renney said. “With that being said, I do like the puck and if I’m giving it up I’m doing my best to get it back quickly with a certain level of exuberance. I like to make sure we play the game with speed and with hockey sense, foot speed, checking speed and gap speed without a doubt. To me speed and quickness is essential to work advantages into your game with or without the puck.”
And just as Renney talked up the Wings’ “program” as requiring him to ratchet up his standards to meet the Wings’ goals…
“The expectations are probably the biggest difference right now,” said Renney, who signed a three-year deal. “Coaching in Edmonton you go in with the expectations of winning, but also with the realization of sometimes you’re just not going to. It was a rebuild, trying to redefine a team and playing with a younger lineup. Never was the work habit lost. There is a great group of people there.”
“Detroit is the standard bearer in terms of how the game gets played at the highest level, how it gets coached and how it gets managed,” Renney said. “Expectations are high in Detroit as they should be and I know as an organization certainly they don’t want it to be the other way. That sets you up for failure for sure, but what impresses me most about the Detroit Red Wings is seldom do they,” Renney added. “If they have a tough season, tough stretch, there are usually extenuating circumstances for that.”
En route to setting an NHL record with 23 straight wins on home ice last season, the Wings extended their streak of reaching the playoffs to 21 straight seasons.
“The biggest difference with Edmonton now and the kids getting a little older is they expect to be a playoff team,” Renney said. “I know you don’t need to go there with the Detroit Red Wings because that’s a foregone conclusion.”
He also employed the best adjective possible while addressing the fact that the Wings will have to overcome Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement and Brad Stuart’s departure:
“Every year you’re behind the bench you have to coach up for whatever reasons or whatever the dynamic might be,” Renney said. “We lost a couple of very good defensemen and that just provides an opportunity for someone to step up and show their wares. With that being said, as a coaching staff we have to make sure to maximize everyone’s potential. In order to do that we have to coach hard and if we can and we can stay relatively healthy season there is no reason why the Red Wings can’t continue to win and contend.”
Renney told the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell that he assumed that he wasn’t going to coach in the NHL this year…
“I was prepared to sit out the whole season,” Renney said. “I was in one of those situations where I didn’t need to worry about where I was in life. They (Wings) really came hard.”
“The exuberance they showed in trying to get me there,” said Renney of why he picked the Wings. “I talked to Mike (Babcock), who I have a little history with, and got reacquainted with our hockey philosophies. I talked to Ken (Holland) and was motivated by how inclusive he was about what they’re all about and their desire to get me there. Detroit’s an Original Six team and they set the standard about how to play when they’re playing at their best.”
Renney said he had three or four conversations with Babcock before making his decision.
“It (discussions) wasn’t so much about the guys here, it was the Detroit Red Wings,” Renney said. “Every aspect of the game is represented well here. Excellence is represented here.”
And again, going forward, Renney likes both his fit with the Wings’ and he likes the concept of fitting in with a team he believes has a chance of competing for the Stanley Cup—as-is:
“It lines up perfect,” Renney said. “I’m not the head coach. Mike is all that. The key is I get to work with one of the best.”
Despite Wednesday’s free-agent disappointments, Renney likes the Wings’ roster. Renney said the Wings remind him of his Ranger teams when New York had Jaromir Jagr, the five Czech stars and some youngsters.
“Like everyone, I was hoping for a couple of free-agent signings,” Renney said. “It’s still a solid group. This team, as well as any team in the NHL, maximizes its players on the ice. Detroit has guys with a little experience and perhaps that has held some younger guys back a bit in the past. Now, they have been provided with an opportunity. There’s not a team out there that plays a better team game.”
The fact that he’s spent the past two seasons coaching the Taylor Halls, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberles of the world doesn’t hurt, either:
“You have to be current,” said Renney of the secret of being successful with young NHLers. “You have to work at it, but not at the expense of the veterans. That’s really critical. You have to be aware of what’s going on in their lives, but not be in their face about it. Communication is the big thing. They need to know that you care.”
For once, as Babcock told DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose (and yes, this is a repeat), the Wings are adding a wealth of experience to the organization…
“He’s a quality, quality man, a guy who loves players, is a good communicator with players and appreciative of players,” Babcock said. “I would consider him a players’ coach and with great experience from the Olympic Games, to World Championships to the New York Rangers to the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been around Glen Sather a ton, been around Pat Quinn a ton, been around Kevin Lowe, been around lots of good hockey people.”
And Babcock believes that Renney will most certainly serve as something of a “players’ coach,” albeit one with the kind of resume that’s usually departing Detroit:
“I thought he did a heck of a job,” Babcock said. “Jaromir Jagr and him had an unbelievable relationship and Jags played phenomenal for him in New York. I thought he did a real good job in Edmonton with that young group and he played those young guys to help them develop. He played them on the first power play, he gave them a chance. Now you know what happens in this business, someone’s got to take the heat, and he took the heat in Edmonton. But we think he’s a quality coach, that’s why we’ve hired him. He knows the league, he knows all of the players, he can give you feedback on all of the players, he knows the Detroit Red Wings.”
Led by such young stars as Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers possessed the league’s top ranked power play last season, before finishing the year third overall at 20. 6 percent (54-for-262).
“In Edmonton, they had the No. 1 power play in the league, he brings a lot to the table, and I think he can do a lot of the talking,” Babcock said. “He can help me out so I can talk less, which I think is a positive thing. “But the bottom line is he got hired here for the type of person he is, how hard he works, and his experience.”
Again, you can listen to Renney speaking to Roose via the Wings’ Flash player or right here:
“Today was something that needed to happen to put pressure on both of us to negotiate a deal in a timely fashion,’’ Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s just part of the process. I made an offer. They never really gave me a (counter) offer. We had one sit down meeting before the draft. It puts a deadline on both sides.’‘
If the sides can’t agree on a deal, an arbiter will decide what Quincey will earn. He made $3.125 million this past season. Hearings will be held in Toronto from July 20 to August 4.
The filing means Quincey, a restricted free agent, can’t receive an offer sheet from another team, not that there was much chance of that happening anyway. Quincey, 26, struggled finding a comfort level after the Red Wings reacquired him on Feb. 21 in a trade from Tampa Bay, which flipped him to Detroit after getting him from Colorado. Quincey had two goals, one assist and an even plus-minus rating in 18 games for the Red Wings. For the season, he had seven goals and 26 points, with a minus-1 rating, in 72 games.
Quincey’s agent, Pat Morris, did not respond to a message.
Forward Justin Abdelkader, 25, did not file for arbitration. He was Detroit’s only other arbitration-eligible player. He earned $825,000 last season, when he had eight goals and 22 points in 81 games.
“I made an offer, haven’t had time to talk,’’ Holland said. “With him not filing for arbitration, there is no time line. We got the summer to find a deal that makes sense for both of us.’‘
The club and Abdelkader have talked about a four-year deal, likely between $1.5 million and $1.8 million a season.
• In terms of depth players, it turns out that there’s a reason Fabian Brunnstrom told Heslingborgs Dagblad’s Linus Ahlin that he “doesn’t give a damn” what happens in terms of free agency after not hearing from the Wings for a significant period of time. Holland told Khan that the Wings aren’t necessarily interested in bringing Brunnstrom back as Holland and Jim Nill, who is the Grand Rapids Griffins’ general manager as well as the Wings’ assistant GM, prepare to find veteran talent to place around the Grand Rapids Griffins’ youngsters:
“Haven’t written him off, but we got a couple of things in play,’’ Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We want to explore what’s out there. We’re looking for certain types of guys (for Grand Rapids). I think Brunnstrom is a good player, but we need leadership, toughness down there. We’re exploring the market.’‘
Brunnstrom, 27, had one assist in five games with Detroit. He had 12 goals and 35 points in 45 games with the Griffins.
The Red Wings have 46 players under contract, not including restricted free agents Kyle Quincey and Justin Abdelkader, who will be signed later this summer. The Red Wings made an offer to defenseman Doug Janik, but he’s contemplating an offer in Europe.
“His agent told us a couple days ago he thought he’d go to Europe, if not, he’d consider signing with us,’’ Holland said.
Janik, 32, has spent three seasons in the organization. The stay-at-home defenseman played in 29 games with the Red Wings during that time. He had 10 goals and 33 points in 67 games for Grand Rapids in 2011-12.
Defenseman Garnet Exelby is seeking a better deal. Exelby, 30, spent the entire season with the Griffins, picking up seven goals, 21 points and 177 penalty minutes in 75 games.
“We had talked about bringing Exelby back, but he’s exploring the market, so we’re not sure,’’ Holland said.
The 50-man roster limit isn’t like the salary cap, nor the 23-man roster limit—the Wings can’t exceed it during the summer and then get back under compliance before the last day of training camp—so it’ll be interesting to see whether the Wings try to get rid of some of their roster glut before signing NHL or AHL free agents.
Holland plans on talking with Tomas Holmstrom next week to determine if there is a place on the roster for the 39-year-old forward.
With the recent additions of Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo , the Red Wings are overflowing with forwards.
Holmstrom said he was interested in returning to play another season, but said his health would be a factor also in the decision.
Approximately 40 Red Wings draft picks and invitees will participate in the development camp for prospects beginning Saturday in Traverse City. Jiri Fischer, Chris Chelios, Blashill and goaltending coach Jim Bedard are coaching.
That tidbit might indicate that Jim Paek won’t be coming back to assist Blashill’s cause in Grand Rapids.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• My Finnish is nonexistent, but Valtteri Filppula took part in the annual Bermuda charity tennis tournament in Heslinki, and he told Ilta Sanomat that the team will simply have to do its best to find a defensive replacement while dealing with Nicklas Lidstrom’s departure, and he told YLE that he believes the Wings’ relative roster continuity should serve as an advantage going forward, and that he hopes to play more consistently this season;
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford offers a “By the Numbers” look at Jimmy Howard’s 2011-2012 season with the Wings:
41: Against Boston on Nov. 25, he made 41 saves, the most he made in a single game during the 2011-12 season. The Wings eventually won in a shootout, which he contributed to by shutting down the shootout attempts of Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley.
2.12: His goals-against average, which was a personal best since joining the Wings in 2005.
35: Number of wins he had this season, which marks his third consecutive year of reaching the 35-win plateau. He was on pace to top his career-best 37 wins before a broken index finger sidelined him on Feb. 2.
100: Making 25 saves, he registered his 100th career win in a home game against Phoenix on Jan. 12. He is one of only nine Wings goalies to obtain 100 or more wins while playing in Detroit.
• For what it’s worth, part 1: ESPN’s Katie Strang reports that the NHL and NHLPA had a “cordial” 2 hour-40-minute meeting in New York as the NHL and PA begin their second round of CBA talks;
• For what it’s worth, part 2: The Sault Star’s Peter Ruicci offers this take on one of the Wings’ top prospect’s “roads” to the NHL:
It’s a while before he need worry about such things, but recent developments with the Detroit Red Wings could make Ryan Sproul’s eventual path to the NHL much smoother.
Once an organization that featured great talent and depth on defence, the Wings are suddenly short in that area. The retirement of all-time great Nicklas Lidstrom and the request, and subsequent trading of Brad Stuart to San Jose, has put the Wings in a bind. Their problems obviously grew with Ryan Suter’s decision to pass on Detroit’s free agent offer, electing instead to join Zach Parise in signing with the Minnesota Wild.
The 19-year-old Sproul is the Hounds top defenceman and among the favourites to be named team captain this fall. A second-round choice of the Wings in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Mississauga native certainly has the ability and experience to be mentioned among the OHL’s very best all-round defencemen.
A year ago, Sproul finished third in scoring among league rearguards with 23 goals and 31 assists in 61 games.
• For what it’s worth, part 3: Yahoo Sports’ Dmirty Chesnokov offered the following about Alexander Semin:
I asked Semin if he was going to play in Detroit - one of the clubs reportedly interested. His reply: “I don’t know.” Evaluating his options— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) July 5, 2012
• And for what it’s worth, the Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo got downright cheery while speaking about the Wings’ fortunes on Thursday night:
Here are three reasons the Detroit Red Wings aren’t doomed just because they didn’t sign Zach Parise and/or Ryan Suter:
1. Even without Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings are still a solid hockey team, led by Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, two of the top players in the world. People focus so much on what the Red Wings don’t have, they often forget what they do have.
2. It’s still early in the off-season. It’s highly likely the Red Wings will still make moves that will improve their roster.
3. More times than not, during the salary cap era, teams regret signing free agents to long-term, mega-buck contracts. They haven’t really been a factor in the latest Stanley Cup championship runs.
Finally, you’re not going to see much of me today, one way or another. I’m still not feeling particularly super, so there is a 20% chance that—if it’s okay with you—I may just head up to the Wings’ summer development camp on Saturday, but I’m probably going to let myself sleep in, pack when I get up, go on a little grocery shopping run and leave for Traverse City in the middle of the afternoon.
I’m going to try to take things a little easier content-wise as well as even last year ground me down significantly, but I will do my best to deliver your money’s worth, and again, I’m going to ask for as much feedback as to what you’d like to see in terms of content, who you want me to interview or focus on, what you do or don’t want to see or any other sort of constructive criticism you can give me between Saturday the 7th and Friday the 13th. I’m going to stay in Traverse City for one extra night as I’ll probably be exhausted on the 13th, and I’ll head back home on the 14th and will be in town until the 28th, when my mom* and I are taking part in a family vacation in the Upper Peninsula that’ll come to an end on August 4th or 5th…
And then we’ll have about six weeks to go before the Wings’ prospect tournament begins.
I’ll pop in and out during the morning and before I leave, and I’m guessing that Saturday will be a somewhat light day and that coverage will ramp up from there, but I’ve got to ride that fine line between pushing myself to generate content and doing what I’m doing now in overworking myself (I’ve been writing for about two and a half hours despite my desire to write a “short” overnight report and get into bed by 2…It’s 3:14 as I’m typing away…).
Anyway, Paul will let you know if there’s any serious-ass breaking Wings news, and I’ll probably catch up in the evening. The “overnight reports” will definitely come on different schedules for the duration of my stay in TC as the on-ice sessions start at 8:30 and go till almost 5, which means that I’ll be curling up around midnight and getting up at six, but I hope you’re OK with that.
I have the spreadsheet going to make sure that I itemize my spending, so if you’re willing to lend a hand for today’s trip or want to donate for the training camp fund, that’d be awesome…
You’ll have to use my personal email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, and if you want to aid the cause by some other manner or means, fire me an email at that address or at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.
*And as a point of clarification, I noted that I was talking to my mom after she worked at a nearby nursing home during yesterday’s overnight report. Mom may be 62 but she’s a nurse caring for the patients. She’s not one of ‘em.
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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.