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Red Wings overnight report: organizational and player development are year-round occupations

Sentence edited for clarity’s sake:While we’ve spent the past few days discussing Chris Osgood’s retirement and legacy and the increasingly likely probability that Kris Draper will join Osgood in the Wings’ front office sooner than later—and it bears mentioning that GM Ken Holland’s suggestion that the team’s youth movement affords no sentimentality toward players with “diminishing roles” might be a bit of a tit-for-tat response to Kris Draper’s lobbying-through-the-media that he deserves a spot on the team based upon his workouts with the Lions a month ago…

The fact that the team’s essentially chosen to sit on its cap space for the time being, and let its current players and prospects determine who earns playing time and/or top priority in the team’s call-up pecking order, well…These facts emphasize the concept that the Wings’ front office never really kicks up its heels and says, “Okay, we’re done planning for contingencies and we’re done thinking about tomorrow until September rolls around.”

Instead, I’d suggest that you give this interview Mike Babcock gave to the Fan 590’s Jim Lang a second listen, because Babcock not only discusses Osgood’s new role as a goalie mentor, but he also repeatedly reiterates the fact that the team’s expecting its in-their-prime players to take steps forward, from Jimmy Howard on out, that the team expects Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak, Jakub Kindl and even Brendan Smith to push veterans for playing time during training camp and the exhibition season, and that Babcock and his new assistant coaches, Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters, will be taking a little road trip to hash out their roles and responsibilities…

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While Babcock’s spent a few weeks with his family and won’t return to Metro Detroit until the last week of August, it certainly sounds like he, Blashill and Peters will accompany the Wings’ scouts to the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, which Under-18 teams representing the U.S., Canada, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and Russia will take part in from Aug. 8-13 in (per USA Hockey’s website) Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia.

After that, there’s a fast turnaround for the scouts as the Free Press’s George Sipple notes that the NHL’s newly-revealed roster of top prospects for the 2011 draft taking part in the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation camp next month will be closely followed by the Wings’ scouts...

The NHL looks at potential rule changes and innovations during the camp, which will be held Aug. 16-17 in Etobicoke, Ontario. The camp also gives NHL scouts a chance to see some of the top prospects for the 2012 NHL draft. Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett will oversee the camp.

The Red Wings will have three representatives there—assistant general manager Jim Nill, director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell and senior vice president and alternate governor Jim Devellano.

“It’s interesting to see different rules considered,” Nill said. “You see some and right away you say, ‘No chance.’ Others that you aren’t crazy about, you see, and see there’s some merit.”

And even as the Portland Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi reveals that Jimmy Howard, who spends his off-seasons near his alma mater, the University of Maine, apparently made a “substantial donation” to the institution…

Howard works out five days a week at the University of Maine with Terry O’Neill, the Black Bears’ strength and conditioning coach. He not only has used the facilities at the Shawn Walsh Hockey Center, he’s also contributed to them. Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said Howard recently made a significant donation to assist with renovations of Alfond Arena, a move that Whitehead said spurred other former Black Bears, including St. Louis goalie Ben Bishop and Minnesota defenseman Mike Lundin, to contribute.

“For someone to make that kind of donation, it’s an indication of how much he appreciates the opportunity he got at Maine,” said Whitehead, who did not disclose the amount of Howard’s donation. For a young man to step up like that and donate back to the school, maybe on behalf of the next Jimmy Howard, it’s really neat to see that.”

Howard suggested to Lenzi that his decision to remain with the Wings via a 2-year, $4.5 million contract extension involved his development going forward…

“It was just a great fit, and I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” said Howard, who would have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 had he not re-signed. “My agent and I, we talked about that and we both said it’d be best to stay in Detroit, and that’s what I wanted.”
...
“He’s the No. 1 goalie for us,” Nill said, without hesitation. “We want to make the playoffs and we want to make a strong run to win the Stanley Cup. We’ll have the pieces in place to be one of the top teams in the league, and to do that, Jimmy Howard has to be strong in net.”

Howard takes the pragmatic approach in discussing his development.

“Each year has been a step in the right direction,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep refining my game and keep working on the fundamentals. Keep focusing on an even keel and not get too focused on those high peaks, or those low valleys.”

And while Howard’s finally “arrived,” Nill points out that his journey was neither fast nor easy—and it’s a journey fellow University of Maine alum Gustav Nyquist is just about to embark upon with fellow Griffins-to-be Landon Ferraro and Mitchell Callahan:

“It comes down to the fact that you’re challenging yourself,” Nill said. “You go to the minors, and this after you leave college, when you’re one of the top college players in the nation. You find out it’s a long, slow grind to get to one of the best leagues in the world.”

As we already know, once that long, slow grind reaches its end, the players who rise to the top continue to challenge themselves to improve in terms of both fitness and skill development.

That’s something I heard from the Wings’ prospects who served as “Black Aces” during the playoffs when they were in Traverse City earlier this month, when Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff marveled at how hard Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom worked in the gym and on the ice, working incredibly hard to get, as the Wings like to say, “better and better.”

We’re only about about seven weeks away from the opening of the Red Wings’ prospect tournament and main training camp, and while the players, coaches and management have most certainly taken a week or three off here and there to spend time with their families and relax, their jobs are never really finished.

What we’ll experience over the next month, after Draper’s decision-making process is complete, isn’t as much of a closing of the book on the 2010-2011 season—if we haven’t done that already—as it is pausing to place a divider in a notebook mostly full of empty pages, because the Big Red Machine’s even more like Chuck Norris than Kris Draper could hope to be. It doesn’t sleep, it merely waits, and while we might take a deep breath for a few days here and there, the team’s evolution is never complete nor does it ever stop.

That’s certainly true in the case of one of Babcock’s new lieutenants, who told the Three Hills (Alberta) Gazette’s Amy Nakaska that he had only one regret about choosing to leave the Rockford IceHogs to join the Red Wings in the middle of the summer:

[Bill] Peters said he is “excited about joining the Original Six franchise.” According to Bill, he and wife Denise, and their two children, Aleze (12), and Ayden (6), are in the process of finding a house and a suitable school in Detroit.

“That’s the toughest part - relocating the family,” explained Bill. That being said, Bill’s daughter Aleze told the family, “it’s a chance to make new memories.”
Bill acknowledges that he’s ready to move “on to the next challenge, and the next chapter.”

About reuniting with Mike Babcock, Bill said they’ve had great success in their player-coach relationship, and their coach-assistant coach relationship.  “I anticipate a strong season,” Bill expressed. As far as being an NHL rookie, Peters said he is excited to have a “realistic opportunity to compete for the cup,” and this time, he means the Stanley Cup.

That’s the goal, and when the Wings find themselves in their current predicament, two years removed from a Stanley Cup Final appearance and three years removed from their last Stanley Cup championship, there is only room for improvement.

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Comments

Forlorn in VA's avatar

Good Morning, George.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 07/23/11 at 10:47 AM ET

Avatar

Holland made some nice D adds and adjustments post Rafalski.  But Wings really need another top 6 forward type and this isnt being discussed enough.  I dont understand why forwards who didnt contribute enough last season are being touted to be successful this upcoming year? Even the ones who are demonstrating that they are injury prone?  Adding a F that has offensive upside now and could be had at very reasonable dollars wont be the same as adding a forward with offensive upside at the deadline in terms of costs.  Adding a forward isnt a problem, you simply release someone else or let them pass through the waiver process to be assigned to GR.

Posted by karlander on 07/23/11 at 11:19 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Adding a F that has offensive upside now and could be had at very reasonable dollars

Please use specifics here.  I don’t think there’s one Red Wings fan out there who doesn’t want the team to add a top-six forward who has offensive upside and the willingness to sign at very reasonable dollars.

Here is Capgeek’s list of all UFA forwards right now (pending some likely retirements)

Which of those players fits your criteria for being a top-six forward who has offensive upside and can be had at very reasonable dollars?

I’ve seen Samsonov’s name thrown around. He might be worth taking a look at. I’m not sure if he’s a true top-six guy anymore, but he’s worthy of discussion at least.
Can Drury find his game again and, what’s more, would he be willing to sign at “very reasonable” dollars?
Nylander and Kovalev are done.
Lots of people wondering about Zherdev and why he’s still a free agent.

Also, teams can’t “release” players. Contracts are guaranteed.  They can put them on waivers to assign them to Grand Rapids, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll pass through waivers. My thought is that Emmerton is the most likely to end up on waivers and that I feel he will clear.  However, I thought Ritola would clear waivers last year and the Red Wings lost him to Tampa Bay for zero return. That has to be taken into consideration when playing amateur GM.  Are any of these guys worth taking a gamble on losing the potential that Emmerton has?

Personally, I’d rather see the Wings work out a trade for Alex Semin which sees Emmerton as part of the trade package, but I have no idea what George McPhee would ask for in return and there are things I, as an amateur GM, would simply not be willing to give up (including an established NHL center).

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/23/11 at 11:54 AM ET

Number9Loyalist's avatar

Hey JJ, good response to the “we need another top 6 forward” question - I’m not sure how karlaner’s could be reading the blogs and say “But Wings really need another top 6 forward type and this isnt being discussed enough” because it’s what we all have been discussing.

I’m not as inclined to seriously consider Semin as you seem to be and will confess that my reluctance is based on reports, not on any eye witness evidence.  He is described by several sources as being inconsistent in his effort and didn’t deliver in the playoffs - which in many ways brings to mind Franzen’s last year.  I also read descriptions of Semin’s personality that were not flattering (head case) and the Wings place a very high value on attitude and coach-ability.  I think a large part of the decision to dump Ville Leino was his selfishness.  #9

Posted by Number9Loyalist on 07/23/11 at 01:13 PM ET

Number9Loyalist's avatar

While we’ve spent the past few days discussing Chris Osgood’s retirement and legacy and the increasingly likely probability that Kris Draper will join Osgood in the Wings’ front office sooner than later—and it bears mentioning that GM Ken Holland’s suggestion that the team’s youth movement affords no sentimentality toward players with “diminishing roles” might be a bit of a tit-for-tat response to Kris Draper’s lobbying-through-the-media that he deserves a spot on the team based upon his workouts with the Lions a month ago—the fact that the team’s essentially chosen to sit on its cap space for the time being and let its current players and prospects determine who earns playing time and/or top priority in the team’s call-up pecking order seems to emphasize the concept that the Wings’ front office never really kicks up its heels and says, “Okay, we’re done planning for contingencies and we’re done thinking about tomorrow until September rolls around.”

I almost ran out of breath reading this single sentence!  lol

Posted by Number9Loyalist on 07/23/11 at 01:16 PM ET

Avatar

Personally, I’d rather see the Wings work out a trade for Alex Semin which sees Emmerton as part of the trade package, but I have no idea what George McPhee would ask for in return and there are things I, as an amateur GM, would simply not be willing to give up (including an established NHL center).

I’m sorry but i ‘d have to disagree. How about Filppula, Emmerton and a second round 2012 pick for Semin? I think that would tempt Mcphee and would be worth the risk. I would love to see Semin and Datsyuk skate together.

Posted by From The Hockey Wastelands from Cleveland on 07/23/11 at 01:29 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I almost ran out of breath reading this single sentence!

You beat me to it, Number9. But I actually did run out of breath half-way through that 163-word tome.

We love your insights and in-depth reports, George, but could you possibly break up those never-gonna-end, one-sentence paragraphs a bit. It’s summer, man. Our brains need a vacation. smile

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/23/11 at 01:31 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’m sorry but i ‘d have to disagree. How about Filppula, Emmerton and a second round 2012 pick for Semin? I think that would tempt Mcphee and would be worth the risk. I would love to see Semin and Datsyuk skate together.

Posted by From The Hockey Wastelands from Cleveland on 07/23/11 at 11:29 AM ET

I’d rather give up Hudler, Emmerton and a first-rounder if it came to that. Hell, I’d rather give up Hudler, Emmerton, a first-rounder, and a third-rounder.

It’s just an opinion, but unless Semin is signed to a five-year deal before the trade, I’m not willing to part with Filppula to get him in return.  I know Hudler has much less trade value than Filppula does, but I like that he can play 2nd-line center well enough to give the Wings the option of having Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the same line at 5-on-5.

Although, a crazy part of me would sometimes like to see Darren Helm play as the team’s 2nd-line center…  I’m just not sure I want to give up what he brings to the energy line and some of his PK minutes to get that in return.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/23/11 at 01:45 PM ET

Rumbear's avatar

Awesome post G!  How ya dealing with the heat?

Posted by Rumbear from Top O the Hasek, doing the prospect shuffle.... on 07/23/11 at 02:57 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Sorry about that—it was late and a day of wandering around Meijer, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid and a few other places with a 61-year-old who gets googly-eyed when she’s in large stores took its toll.

And you don’t want to know how bad things got in college…imagine twenty to thirty pages of paragraphs containing one or two sentences comprised of five or more clauses! :O

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/23/11 at 03:01 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

JJ.. that’s because karlander doesn’t read the blogs.. he’s a staple over at mlive self deficating wing fan.. surprised to see him hear actually

Id like another top 6 but im confident this group will be in the top 3 of the western conference and by the dealing we can add whatever forward isn’t hurt.. maybe they blow our mind and pick up Suter at the deadline

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 07/23/11 at 03:13 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

As others have already noted, this:

While we’ve spent the past few days discussing Chris Osgood’s retirement and legacy and the increasingly likely probability that Kris Draper will join Osgood in the Wings’ front office sooner than later—and it bears mentioning that GM Ken Holland’s suggestion that the team’s youth movement affords no sentimentality toward players with “diminishing roles” might be a bit of a tit-for-tat response to Kris Draper’s lobbying-through-the-media that he deserves a spot on the team based upon his workouts with the Lions a month ago—the fact that the team’s essentially chosen to sit on its cap space for the time being and let its current players and prospects determine who earns playing time and/or top priority in the team’s call-up pecking order seems to emphasize the concept that the Wings’ front office never really kicks up its heels and says, “Okay, we’re done planning for contingencies and we’re done thinking about tomorrow until September rolls around.”

is why you I read TMR.

While it caused an ‘Abdelkader-flying-with-the-Blue Angels grey-out’, once I came back around and finished reading, it made perfect sense.

Keep up the good work, GJM.

(And enjoy some “down time”; you deserve it.)

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 07/23/11 at 03:35 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

“is why you I read TMR.” = “is why you I read TMR.”

(and why I should do a better job of proof reading my posts before i hit submit red face

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 07/23/11 at 03:38 PM ET

Avatar

Wow love the personal attacks for expressing the top 6 forward need.  Yes you guys are oh so clever and knowledgeable, it simply oozes from your posts.  Its more realistic and prudent to think about forwards currently available than to wet dream over Alexander Semin and fantasy hockey trades. Why not Crosby fellas, LOL !  Interesting, I’ve mentioned Samsonov and Zherdev in several of my recent posts and you do as well and appear to see the possible merits and upsides, so why the attack?  Because your’e a bunch of GM wanna be’s that dis others even if they share some of same opinions.  Good to see Malik has such a mindless following. Hmm, what would Ring Lardner think?, or Turgenev ,?  Dont tell me dudes, you think they played for the Islanders !  LOL.  Self righteous prigs.

Posted by karlander on 07/23/11 at 10:51 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by karlander on 07/23/11 at 08:51 PM ET

The shit are you talking about, man?

You wanted to discuss top six forwards, so discuss them.  Or would you rather just go ahead and call everybody here mindless and self-righteous again?  Doesn’t seem like we’d be worth your time under those criteria.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/24/11 at 12:05 AM ET

Avatar

Dorothy I hear there’s no place like Kansas, true ?.  But I hear they dont use the ” S word”  in Kansas so you must be from Nebraska. Another corn husker.  Just click those ruby red-wing slippers together and dream of that Semin for Emmerton trade. (  LOL,  with insights like that are you sure you dont want to post on an Islanders blog ?)

  It’s easy to say top 6 at the deadline but it can be costly. Yeah theres cash there but Id go with Samsonov or Zherdev for modest dollars.  Along side Datsyuk that could be good value for money.  Your definition of the waiver system and Ritola is my definition of release.  Claimed, the salary gone, why should we have gotten anything for Ritola ?  Its a de facto release via the waiver system.  Bottom line, Im sure everyone agrees its a good team, should be entertaining during the regular season at a minimum but I will be surprised if injuries the forwards who’ve gotten older or slower dont ending up mandating that another skillful forward will need to be found (.And it wont be Mursak. ) Zherdev will forever be attached to that columbus-khl fiasco but this is a guy who’s had some nice years even with the attitude. I think he’s a lock for 25 goals on Detroit.  Thats tempting.

Posted by karlander on 07/24/11 at 02:54 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Dorothy I hear there’s no place like Kansas, true ?.  But I hear they dont use the ” S word”  in Kansas so you must be from Nebraska. Another corn husker.  Just click those ruby red-wing slippers together and dream of that Semin for Emmerton trade. (  LOL,  with insights like that are you sure you dont want to post on an Islanders blog ?)

With jokes like this, you should be writing for Leno.  That way mouth-breathers and imbeciles everywhere can appreciate the kind of original humor you bring to the table.

Your definition of the waiver system and Ritola is my definition of release.

That’s fine.  My definition is the correct one while yours is lazily-worded and ill-fitting.

why should we have gotten anything for Ritola ?

We basically did get something for Ritola; we got Mike Modano.  That’s the comparison I was making. If you want to bring somebody in, you have to figure in the gamble that there is a future-cost associated with losing a prospect.  I understand that you’re fine with that. I am too. 

So what kind of “modest dollars” are we talking about for Samsonov or Zherdev?  How much do you think each would be willing to take?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/24/11 at 12:09 PM ET

Avatar

JJ thats a good question.  I imagine if the bucks are too low maybe Zherdev splits again to the KHL.  Do I personally think someone whos a lock to score 25 as a Wing is worth 1.6 million per., yes I do.  Samsonov is a harder worker obviously but older and has logged some hours.  I still like him though and see his hard workingness as a small skilled guy sorta the way Hudler should be !  Someone will get him for reasonable dollars.  I figure because of his salary last year, his agent is still wanting bigger dollars and thats what has slowed it down for him but yes Id give him 2 million in a hearbeat. ‘We’d still have 3.75 million in CAP space after adding either so thats pretty solid.  Sorry you didnt like the jokes.  I guess when the Thrashers didnt relocate to Ft. Riley, you took it badly.

Posted by karlander on 07/25/11 at 09:27 PM ET

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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.