The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/27/12 at 06:42 AM ET
In a week, things get interesting, at least behind closed doors. The Red Wings’ amateur scouts, and at least a good chunk of the team’s brass, will head to Toronto on Monday to take in the six-day meet, greet, and make-em-puke that is the NHL Draft combine, and then it’s back to Detroit for the team’s organizational meetings from June 2nd to 5th. With their draft list’s i’s dotted and t’s slashed, the front office—as in the whole front office—will gather at the Joe and decide whether the team plans on attempting to re-sign Jiri Hudler, whether they’ll invite Tomas Holmstrom back for one more season, or whether they’ll move on, whether they’ll make one more attempt to convince Brad Stuart to stay, whether they plan on going with Joey MacDonald or perhaps a free agent as Jimmy Howard’s back-up, and of course, who the team will target on July 1st, regardless of whether Nicklas Lidstrom chooses to continue playing.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James found that Wings GM Ken Holland made no bones about the gravity of next weekend’s festivities…
General manager Ken Holland, assistant general manager Jim Nill, senior vice president Jimmy Devellano, salary cap-ologist Ryan Martin, head coach Mike Babcock, scouts, including Mark Howe and former players-turned-advisers like Chris Chelios and Kris Draper all will gather to “have a conversation about our team,” as Holland put it. “We’re going to rate our players, we’re going to discuss our young players, we’re going to look at options.”
And while the “young players” happen to involve three people who are already property of the team…
Also on the table: Determining the value for the restricted free agents—forwards Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Kyle Quincey—whom the Wings would like to re-sign. Forward Jiri Hudler, an unrestricted free agent, is likely to get more money elsewhere.
Like every other team, the Wings will peg salaries knowing things could change pending a new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players Association.
“We have to discuss what we want to pay people,” Holland said. “We’ll have an internal salary cap number that we think will give us the best options. If that goes higher or lower, we’ll adjust.”
Once that’s established, it’s time to sit back and wait for fireworks, at least after putting out some informal feelers:
First and foremost, the Wings are after elite defenseman Ryan Suter, who isn’t likely to re-sign with Nashville. Zach Parise is far and away the top forward who could be available, but the Devils may well find a way to re-sign their captain, especially after reaching the Stanley Cup finals.
Other forwards expected to be available include: P.A. Parenteau, David Jones, Alexander Semin, Jarret Stoll, Shane Doan and Ryan Smyth. On defense, options include Dennis Wideman, Filip Kuba, Matt Carle and Barret Jackman.
“We’re going to discuss our players and go over all the names we think will be available on July 1,” Holland said. “We feel we have a lot of good pieces in place—we’ve got a No. 1 goalie. We’ve got Pavel Datsyuk, we’ve got Henrik Zetterberg, Helm and Abby—we’ve got depth down the middle. We’ve got some kids that are knocking. We’re going to meet, discuss everything, and have a plan ready.”
As the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson suggests—and it should be noted that even Matheson, at his pre-free-agency rumor-depositing best, suggests that we pay no heed to the Dominik Hasek return rumors, especially given the number of free agent back-ups available on the open market—the Wings probably won’t choose to allot a significant chunk of capped change to retaining Hudler…
With a shallow free-agent pool, winger Jiri Hudler will likely get his $4 million a season from somebody on July 1. There’s no way the Detroit Red Wings want to give him Johan Franzen money — $3.95 million. And the Red Wings don’t consider Hudler, even if he could score 30 goals, as good as Val Filppula, who makes $3 million and is a better all-around player. Hudler is a smaller player and has to go to a team that has bigger forwards. I could see Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Lightning taking a run at him, and the Ottawa Senators because head coach Paul MacLean is a former Wings assistant coach.
But Matheson does believe that the Wings have a pretty damn good chance of a player who the New Jersey Devils don’t have much cap room (and, if you believe the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the same financial wherewithal that the Nashville Predators possess while attempting to retain Shea Weber’s services as well as that Suter guy and the dozen-plus other free agents they have on the table) to retain a certain player who’s captaining a Stanley Cup finalist this spring:
The Devils have no wiggle room [for Zach Parise] because Elias ($6 million) and Dainius Zubrus ($3.4 million) aren’t unrestricted free agents until July 2013, the same with Marek Zidlicky on defence.
There are four scenarios: Parise stays in New Jersey; he goes to Detroit, where the Red Wings will sell him on playing with Pavel Datsyuk, he slides over to the New York Rangers; or Parise, who turns 28 in July, goes home to suit up for the Minnesota Wild.
The Rangers know going after Parise is a better deal than trading for Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash and his $7.8-million salary in exchange for some young assets such as Chris Kreider, Tim Erixon, Derek Stepan or J.T. Miller, a 2011 first-round pick.
If I was handicapping, I’d say Parise winds up with the Red Wings, who have had pro scout Mark Howe watching him all season, with the Rangers No. 2, the Devils No. 3 and the Wild No. 4.
The Rangers have gone after two other Devils in free agency — Bobby Holik and Scott Gomez. But Parise is a different kettle of fish. He’s as good as Nash, not as big, but he does more things. If the Rangers signed him, and cleared Brandon Dubinsky’s $4.2 million for the next three years, they could afford him, and not have to give up any of their young players.
In Minnesota, the citizenry are awash with expectations that Parise might want to come home. His dad, J.P., runs the hockey program at the exclusive Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school and Parise’s girlfriend is from North Dakota and one of J.P.’s best friends is former North Stars GM Lou Nanne, who holds significant sway in that area. But then again, plenty of NHLers don’t want the pressure of playing before friends and family.
In theory, the Wings represent a happy medium…In theory. We’ll find out more about their plans…A little over a week from now.
I’m not quite as sold on this suggestion from the Detroit News’s Ted Kuflan, however:
Add one more name to the list of free agents the Red Wings could be pursuing. Defenseman Justin Schultz.
Who? Schultz is a 2008 2nd-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks who has been unable to come to terms with the Ducks.
Schultz “de-registered” from the University of Wisconsin earlier this week which begins the process of him becoming an unrestricted free agent. The Ducks have a 30-day exclusive negotiating window with Schultz, but there appears to be little chance of the two sides coming to terms. It’s likely Schultz will become an unrestricted free agent right around June 21 and he’ll be able to officially sign a contract July 1.
Schultz, 22, finished his junior season with the Badgers and was one of the best players in the NCAA, scoring 44 points (16 goals) in 37 games. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, he could still use some bulk, but no one doubts his offensive prowess.
Schultz is a native of British Columbia, and the Canucks and Edmonton Oilers are known to covet Schultz. But the Wings have interest, too. He’d be a real good, under the radar addition.
That’s very true, but TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who broke the story, put Schultz’s situation this way...
Next to New Jersey’s Zach Parise and Nashville’s Ryan Suter, the soon-to-be 22-year-old from West Kelowna, B.C., may be the most sought after NHL free agent.
And the Wings can’t and won’t offer Schultz the kinds of promises that other teams can give him. The Wings won’t want to give a 22-year-old a “rookie max” salary with enough bonuses to bulge his cap hit north of $3.8 million, nor will they guarantee anyone who isn’t already an established NHL player a spot on the roster. The teams that Schultz has been linked to in Vancouver and especially Edmonton have both the money to burn and the kind of philosophy to promise this year’s Fabian Brunnstrom/Mats Zuccarello/Ville Leino playing time given that…
Well, Brunnstrom himself readily admitted to his hometown newspaper that he’s going to have to take an AHL deal once again to earn the opportunity to play for the Wings, and while Leino’s cashed in, he’s been more risk than reward overall. There’s just no point in giving an inordinate amount of money and promises of playing time to a Schultz when you can chase Suter, Matt Carle or Dennis “Sorry I had a bad playoff run! Do I still count as an elite free agent? In this class? Yes? Good!” Wideman.
Also of Red Wings-related note this morning:
• It’s a top-heavy kind of morning in terms of Wings-related stuff, so we head directly into the “punny” category via the Free Press’s Steve Schrader’s “News Quiz”...
Who hopes to make a comeback, before it’s too late?
A) 47-year-old Dominik Hasek.
B) 147-year-old Chris Chelios.
C) Facebook stock prices.
D) The Tigers.
Why is a bill passing through the state Legislature to allow liquor sales in the Big House for the Winter Classic?
A) The NHL said no alcohol, no game.
B) So Ann Arbor fans can yell, “Go Labatt Blue!” (Sorry, Molson.)
C) To honor Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner I’ll Have Another.
D) You think they could get 100,000 sober people to sit outside Jan. 1 and watch a hockey game?
• And my eyebrow rose half a foot when I read that the Free Press’s Tom Walsh, their business columnist, just happened to write about having lunch with Olympia Entertainment CEO Tom Wilson. Wilson just happens to be in charge of building that top-secret rink that totally doesn’t have an architect lined up to design it. Interesting…
Update: From Kitchener, Ontario’s 570 News:
There’s a chance to meet a hockey legend in Kitchener this afternoon.
Mr. Hockey and Detroit Red Wings great Gordie Howe will be at the Keller Williams Golden Triangle Realty office at 640 Riverbend Drive, signing autographs from 1:30 until 3:30pm.
They are asking $99 for an autograph on a small item, 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to Family and Children Services of Waterloo Region.
“Everybody remembers that moment when they met Gordie Howe…unbelievable.”
said Jeff Reitzel, broker-owner, with Keller Williams and Mortgage Alliance.
Reitzel tells 570 News he has formed a friendship with Howe over the last few years, so it seemed like a natural fit to bring him here.
“We really like how they help children (Family and Children Services).” added Reitzel.
Update #2: MLive’s Ansar Khan is intrigued by Schultz, too:
Many believe Schultz not signing with the Ducks indicates he has his sights set on a particular team. Various reports list the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers as the leading candidates to land Schultz, who turns 22 on July 6.
Would he be interested in joining the Red Wings, who’ve had their share of Wisconsin defensemen in recent years (Chris Chelios, Brian Rafalski, Brendan Smith) and might get another (Suter) on July 1? Not if he’s determined to play in the NHL right away. Even if Nicklas Lidstrom retires, the Red Wings probably would be inclined on having Schultz spend a season with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
A two-time Hobey Baker finalist and WCHA defensive player of the year, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-handed shooting defenseman had 40 goals and 73 assists in 121 games over three seasons with the Badgers.
He and Smith were teammates in 2009-10.
The Red Wings also were among many teams pursuing Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser, who opted to return to school for his senior season. Detroit will continue its pursuit of DeKeyser next spring.
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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.