The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/28/11 at 09:17 PM ET
Updated with actual Wings-Kings updates at 9:54: Red Wings GM Ken Holland chose not to make any trade deadline moves aside from signing Jimmy Howard to a two-year contract extension, and, ahead of tonight’s Brian Rafalski-less match-up against the Los Angeles Kings (10:30 PM EST, FSD/FS West/WXYT/NHL Network), Holland chose to explain his rationale regarding overbuilding the team during the summer and then standing pat to the Wings’ media corps, including MLive’s Ansar Khan...
“That was the plan in the summer, try to spend as much cap space and hopefully our team played at a high level and we’d reassess at the deadline,’’ Holland said. “We’re first or second in win percentage on the road, third overall in points. We lost a lot of people (to injuries), we’re getting some back.’‘
The only way the Red Wings could have added a player was to shed a salary, which they were not inclined to do.
“We got 14 NHL forwards. We like our defense,’’ Holland said. “What price do you pay if it’s only a slight upgrade? I’m hoping we can find our best game down the stretch.’‘
As well as the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
While general manager Ken Holland had conversations with a handful of colleagues, the Wings really weren’t in the market. They spent their money last summer, upgrading the team by signing Mike Modano and Ruslan Salei, which left them with just $570,000 in salary-cap space. To make a move, the Wings would have had to trade a player, and that didn’t make sense to management. The Wings have the third-best record in the league (38-18-6) and rank second in the Western Conference, five points behind Vancouver.
“People can look for flaws, but I think we have a good team,” Holland said. “We’re 21-8-2 on the road. We’re second in the West—I think that shows we have potential, that we have a good team. It’s a good league. We saw last year in the playoffs, the seventh and eighth team were in the Eastern Conference finals. It’s a tight, tight, tight league. I think we’ve got as good a chance as anybody.”
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
“I made a few calls the last few days, but we weren’t really close,” said Holland of any potential deals.
With the Red Wings looking like a top-three seed in the West, and getting Mike Modano and Valtteri Filppula back from injuries last weekend (and Chris Osgood next week), Holland didn’t feel the need to make any changes.
“We like our team,” Holland said. “If we were to add a player, we would have had to take a player out, and we didn’t want to do that. We were in no position to take on a rental.”
Holland spent to the salary cap limit during the summer, and as Monday’s trade deadline approached, he didn’t see a need to disrupt what has been a competitive team all season long.
“Our depth was a big reason we overcame our injuries,” Holland said. “We like the way this team is coming together.”
And WDFN’s Sean Baligian, which you can listen to here:
As for Howard’s extension, the only quip from the netminder himself comes from the News’s Kulfan:
“It’s nice to get everything done and I’m real happy with the opportunity to stay in this organization,” said Howard, who is 30-12-3 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .908 save percentage this season.
Update: scratch that. Howard spoke to the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell about signing his extension:
“It’s nice to get everything done,” Howard said. “I’m really happy with the decision, really happy that I get to stay in this organization.”
Howard said he’s relieved to have his contract situation resolved.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it,” Howard said. “You do think about it. It’s your livelihood. Not knowing what’s going on in your future can be bothersome, but I just tried to go out there and take care of business.”
The two sides began talking about a new deal in December, but it never got serious until recently. From the Wings’ perspective, Holland said Howard has proven himself by winning 70 games in less than two seasons since he took over the No. 1 job.
“His prime years are ahead of him,” said Holland, who added he isn’t close to signing any of the team’s other free agents, Jonathan Ericsson being the most noteworthy. “I like that he’s a workhorse. He’s a guy we can put in net night after night. We drafted him, we developed him, we watched him grow as a goaltender. Both sides feel good about it. We’re hoping Jimmy will continue to grow and we’ll do a deal bigger than this one (next time).”
Waddell also quotes Holland regarding his trade deadline thoughts…
Regarding the futures of the Wings’ other unrestricted free agents-to-be in Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, Mike Modano, Ruslan Salei, Chris Osgood and Jonathan Ericsson, the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff plays up the uncertainty regarding the Wings’ desire to re-sign Ericsson (Duff has stated on Twitter that he believes the Wings won’t bring Ericsson back):
“I’m open to talks,” Holland said, while admitting number-crunching will ultimately determine Ericsson’s future as a Red Wing. “It’s a cap world, it’s all about numbers for both sides,” Holland said. “We’ve got some other potential unrestricted free agents who’ve done a nice job. I’m comfortable waiting until the end of the playoffs.”
Holland admitted that getting his No. 1 goalie’s new deal done was a priority he’d set in place to have accomplished prior to the Stanley Cup playoffs. “It’s out of the way, put to bed, no potential for distractions,” he said.
While you might not think that a problem for a professional athlete, Detroit back-up goalie Chris Osgood begged to differ. “Regardless (of what you say), when the playoffs start, it’s still on your mind, it’s impossible for it not to be,” Osgood said. “There’s enough pressure coming down the stretch, and for that (contract uncertainty) to be an issue would make it even more. To say it’s not would be lying.”
Osgood’s advice to Howard was simple and straightforward. “I told him it would be in his best interest if he did (sign) prior to the playoffs, or as soon as he could,” Osgood said. “Now that is out of the way, he’ll have more of a clear mind when he plays. It’s impossible not to be thinking about it, especially a young goalie.”
Osgood didn’t think it would have been wise of Howard to test the free-agent market in the summer. “There’s too many goalies, not enough spots,” he said. “It’s different than it used to be.”
Regarding tonight’s game against LA, per MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Wings won’t have Brian Rafalski’s services as he’s still suffering from back spasms, but they received good news regarding the Baby Mule:
Holland said defenseman Brian Rafalski will miss his second game in a row due to back spasms.
Johan Franzen is in Detroit, where his wife delivered their first child on Sunday. Franzen sent the team a photo but didn’t say whether it was a boy or girl (a club spokesman said the baby was wearing pink but wrapped in blue blanket) and didn’t mention the name.
Franzen will join the team for Wednesday’s game in Anaheim. Drew Miller replaces Franzen in the lineup tonight.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms...
“We don’t know what he had,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “He didn’t put a name or anything. Nobody knows what it is.”
And offers this quip from a lighthearted Wings locker room:
More breaking news from the Detroit Red Wings: Goalie Chris Osgood is mulling a shirtless appearance on the Jim Rome show while teammates are mulling what Mule had. Osgood, one of a handful of players at Staples Center for today’s morning skate, might be on “Jim Rome is Burning” on Wednesday.
“It’s the same one I did two years ago,” Osgood said. “It’s not for sure. But if I do go, I probably wouldn’t wear a shirt.”
Osgood, renowned in the locker room for doing topless interviews, said his other choice would be to wear a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses.
The Kings’ news surrounds the team’s acquisition of Dustin Penner and re-signing of Justin Williams, as noted by the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott,ESPN Los Angeles’s Dan Arritt and LAKings.com’s Rich Hammond on both the Kings’ website and LAKingsInsider.com (with videos included). Kings GM Dean Lombardi isn’t sure whether Penner will be able to play for the Kings tonight.
Other than Scott Parse, however, the Kings are fully healthy, and Jonathan Quick will start opposite Jimmy Howard.
Update: NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale posted a story about the Howard extension;
• The Wings earned a “B grade” from Yahoo Sports for their decision to stand pat;
• The Grand Rapids Griffins’ “Half Eagle, Half Lion, all Griffin” blog pays tribute to defenseman Logan Pyett’s hat trick against Hamilton on Sunday night;
• And the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema noted that the Griffins didn’t make any deadline moves, either.
Update #2 9:37 PM: As Trish notes below, Wyshynski changed his mind:
Detroit Red Wings: Re-signed Jimmy Howard to a two-year extension ... and that was it. Could have been in the market for another defenseman, but are instead rolling with the roster they have. GRADE: C+
ESPN’s Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun aren’‘t thrilled with the Wings standing pat, either:
Detroit Red Wings: It seems like a small thing given how well starter Jimmy Howard has done, but Detroit GM Ken Holland is hanging his hat on the belief that veteran netminder Chris Osgood can return from a sports hernia injury that has kept him out for weeks. With a number of goaltenders available, including popular former Wing Ty Conklin, who was put on waivers by St. Louis this week, it would have seemed logical to be safer than potentially sorry if Osgood can’t answer the bell and grab another goaltender before the deadline.
Update 9:54 PM: LA Kings Insider’s Rich Hammond offers a very belated Game preview and Kings lineup:
Don’t forget, there’s actually an NHL game tonight between the Kings and the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings made a little bit of their own news today, signing goalie Jimmy Howard to a two-year, $4.5-million contract extension. The Red Wings, to little surprise, are cruising along this season, in second place in the Western Conference. They’ve been struggling a bit at home of late but have won five consecutive road games, most recently a 3-2 shootout win over Buffalo on Saturday. The Kings are 2-0-0 against Detroit this season, with a 3-2 overtime win at Staples Center on Dec. 4 and a 5-0 win at Detroit on Dec. 13.
And here’s a lineup change:
The Kings will make a lineup change tonight, with Peter Harrold replacing Kevin Westgarth and playing right wing on the fourth line with Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis.
For the Wings, Abdelkader will play alongside Holmstrom and Modano and Ericsson and Kronwall will play together as Salei’s always paired with Kindl.
Update 10:27 PM: Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien doesn’t understand this whole, “You can’t mortgage your future for your present” concept:
Here are the five biggest losers from Monday’s anti-frenzy*, in order of increasing badness. (Keep in mind this is taking February 28th into consideration rather than a surprisingly stout month of pre-deadline deals.)
5. Detroit Red Wings just extend Jimmy Howard‘s contract
While some of these other teams would get a grade ranging from a C- to a big red F, the Red Wings probably would get a flat C or just an “Incomplete.” It’s not like they needed to do anything; after all, they remain a very dangerous team and re-signing Howard still stands as one of the day’s best moves.
That being said, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski aren’t getting any younger and even some of the guys in their “prime” years have a lot of mileage for players in their early 30s. Why not swing for the fences while you’re still at full power rather than settling for a walk?
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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.