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The Malik Report

Red Wings trying to retain their own free agents-to-be as UFA day approaches, market thins

So Brooks Laich is off the market after signing for crazy money with Washington, the rising cap means that the Hurricanes could afford to re-sign Joni Pitkanen, as Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski suggests, the Islanders have two days to try to convince Christian Ehrhoff that a gigantic payday makes playing for Garth Snow and Charles Wang worthwhile—as opposed to, say, taking $4.5 million to play for the Red Wings, which James Wisniewski might find appealing—and barring any unforeseen circumstances, Jaromir Jagr’s going to choose to play for Pittsburgh, not Detroit.

The strangest unrestricted free agent market’s thinner than the wisps of hair on my head when I was 19 (good riddance), the Red Wings will have serious-arse competition for the two or three top-flight defensemen available on Friday and, for the first time in a long time, a marquee player in his late 30’s is telling Detroit, “Thanks, but there’s somewhere else I’d rather play.”

So what are the Red Wings doing while they wait for Friday? First and foremost, according to MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Wings are trying to keep Jonathan Ericsson, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller in the fold...

Holland provided up update on contract talks with defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who can become an unrestricted free agent on Friday:

“We’ve done a lot of talking (with Ericsson’s agent) the last 4-5 days,’’ Holland said. “We’d like to re-sign him. I don’t think money’s as big an issue. He’s 27, he wants to know where he fits going forward and how it affects his role. We’ll see between now and Friday if we can get a deal done.’‘

Holland said that’s pretty much the case with forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller as well.

And the Wings have officially told Kris Draper and Chris Osgood that their futures in Detroit will have to wait to be determined:

Holland said on Tuesday that he has informed forward Kris Draper and goaltender Chris Osgood that they won’t be offered contracts prior to Friday, the start of free agency. Holland wants to see what unfolds in free agency before making a final decision on the two long-time Red Wings.

“We’ll reassess after July 1, when we see who’s out there,’’ Holland said.

The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness confirms the latter bit of news...

“We’re going to explore the market first,” Holland said. “We have cap space. The players we’ve got want us to build around them. They want to stay. They want to be important players.”

The Wings have 16 players (11 forwards, four defensemen, one goaltender) signed for a salary-cap hit of $47.6 million. This year’s cap is $63.4 million. The Wings also have to sign rookie forward Cory Emmerton since he’s out of minor league options. If he doesn’t make the roster Emmerton could be claimed off waivers if they try and send him to the minors.

Before confirming Khan’s report on Monday, stating that Eaves and Miller in particular may test the market to receive the kinds of assurances in terms of ice time, top-nine roles and no healthy scratching that the Wings cannot give them:

“We want to keep them,” Holland said. “We think they’re going to grow and develop into bigger roles and have bigger responsibilities.”

Eaves has been a third- or fourth-line player in Detroit. He has developed into a stellar penalty killer and good forechecker. He has also contributed a bit offensively with 25 goals in the past two seasons. Holland said Eaves’ agent was going to talk to his client today and then get back with the Wings by Thursday.
...
“I’m sure they look at our depth and they’re not sure where the opportunities are going to present themselves,” Holland said. “They think they can have a bigger role with other teams.”

As for Ericsson, he’d be pegged in as the Wings’ #5 defenseman if they sign someone—and while there’s always the, “We’ll improve from within and/or patch holes and wait till next season” option available to Holland, it’s very hard to believe that the Wings will stray from their blueprint in terms of building from the strongest core of puck-moving defensemen available—so Ericsson, who’s at least received a contract offer in the $2+ million range, wants to be sure that he isn’t buried at the bottom end of the depth chart, either:

“We’d like to sign him,” Holland said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We’re close on money, but there’s more involved in his decision than just money. We’re talking about his role this year and going forward.”

Bottom line, perhaps with Eaves and Miller as well as Ericsson?

“We’ll continue to talk,” Holland said.

And fans will continue to wait. If Ericsson walks, as Pleiness states, the Wings won’t stand pat—they’ll find someone to replace him, but he’ll probably come from the UFA bargain bin. The Wings’ first priority involves replacing Rafalski, then either finding a back-up goaltender and/or reinforcing their forward lines.

If the Ericsson, Eaves and Miller exit, obviously, the plan changes a little bit, but in any and all cases, the Wings will not overpay to bring someone to Detroit. It’s about selling players on taking less than the insane amounts of money teams that feel like overpaying can throw at players because in Detroit, you’re paid well, treated like a king by the team’s ownership and, most importantly, you’re expected to be part of a team that contends for the Stanley Cup each and every season.

No matter how many free agent curve balls are thrown Ken Holland’s way, that ultimate bottom line will not change, and the Wings will not deviate from building a team that can fulfill those lofty expectations for the sake of “gutting it out till there are better free agents” available. If Holland can’t find what he wants to fill roster holes on the open market—and it might take more than one defenseman to do so in the Wings’ case if the top targets disappear—he’s stated that he’s willing to make trades.

About the only thing we shouldn’t expect to see this summer is an offer sheet tossed at a restricted free agent. Otherwise…It’s about overbuilding a team that can at least reach the team’s expectation level of a Western Conference Final playoff finish.

Update: Stating the obvious, via the Free Press’s George Sipple:

Holland said the agents for Jonathan Ericsson, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller continue to consider offers. Holland said he doesn’t think he’s far apart with any on money.

Update #2: Quite interesting, via the Free Press’s “staff”*:

Wings general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday he made Jagr an offer a while ago and “he’s obviously getting close to a decision. I don’t know which way he’s leaning.”

Holland said the agents for Jonathan Ericsson, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller continue to consider offers. Holland said he doesn’t think the sides are far apart with any of them on money.

“These guys are 27 years of age, they’ve been support players in Detroit, they’ve been very happy doing it and they’re coming to a stage in their career where they’d like a bigger role, bigger responsibility,” Holland said. “We’ll see where it goes. We feel there’s a tremendous opportunity here for Jonathan with the loss of (Brian) Rafalski.”

Holland reiterated that he told Kris Draper and Chris Osgood he would explore the market and not sign either of them before Friday, July 1. He also said no decision had been made on Mike Babcock’s assistant coaches.

*I looked up whether one places quotation marks within or outside colons and/or semicolons and the rule appears to be that punctuation goes inside the marks.

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Comments

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George, a question for you.

I’m a big Brent Burns fan and was very disappointed when San Jose acquired him. I’ve looked over the internet, and Minnesota Wild fans are happy with the trade, so are San Jose fans. I’ve come here lamenting the fact the Wings missed Brent Burns, and people here are happy they didn’t get him.

In general, every team’s fanbase is doing their best to convince themselves the decision their team made was the right one, as always seems to be the case for just about every decision.

My question to you is not whether you think the Wings should have gotten Burns, because I’m sure you’d do the same as every other fan and look for reasons why the team you love made the right decision.

My question is about Mike Babcock’s quote about when he heard about the Burns trade and said, “That’s an absolute steal for them. That’s a gold metal win. I’m pissed.” My question, if Mike Babcock loves Burns so much, why was there such a disconnect between him and Ken Holland? If the coach wanted the player so badly, why did the GM not make much of an effort (if any) to get him? And before you say we don’t know if he tried, Doug Wilson went and sat down with Cliff Fletcher for FOUR HOURS before the draft specifically to negotiate face-to-face about Brent Burns. We know Ken Holland did not do this.

Why not?

So that’s my question. How can the coach be so pissed about not getting a player when the GM didn’t even seem to care much for the player? Also, what is Ken Holland’s reaction to the Burns trade, combined with the diminishing amount of free agent options? Is that trade looking better and better to him in hindsight, now that not only is no one as good as Burns available, but quite possibly no one even good enough to be a top 4 defenseman is available, if Wisniewksi and Ehrhoff get signed by other teams?

Really I just want to know why Ken Holland didn’t make more of an effort to get Burns, given that Mike Babcock thinks he’s a “gold” defenseman, combined with the fact that the UFA market is so thin. Why the disconnect between coach and GM? Why be so passive in letting an elite, young defenseman go to your biggest rival when you yourselves need a defenseman just as badly, and when you are the organization who has been keeping their 1st round picks and their prospects every year, whereas Doug Wilson has traded them almost every year, so therefore you should be much more well positioned to trade away some young assets (and have more of them to trade) than Doug Wilson? Yet someone he is the one pulling off big trades year after year while Ken Holland stands pat. Why? To all these things, why?

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/29/11 at 04:22 AM ET

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somehow, not someone. Somehow he is the one.

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/29/11 at 04:28 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The disconnect between the GM and coach is actually pretty normal and pretty healthy. Keep in mind that when the Wings hired Babcock—and after they hired him—Holland and Nill and Devellano had to do their best to convince Babcock that the Wings should not become a dump-and-chase team, and it took Babcock watching the Wings’ players at work to admit that he was wrong.

Babcock may be enamored with Burns, and it might be a “gold medal win” to add him to the Sharks, but for a 25-goal-scorer, a first-round draft pick and, arguably, the organization’s top prospect? Sure, “gold medal win” for San Jose, which has never been able to address Rob Blake’s departure and will probably say goodbye to Ian White. Not a “gold medal win” for the Red Wings if they had to give up Valtteri Filppula, their first-round draft pick and Brendan Smith to get Burns.

They’re allowed to disagree. It’s not a sign of mutiny or an unhealthy relationship. What’s a coach’s “gold medal win” could be an organization selling its barn to buy a horse.

Holland goes after free agents, regardless of how thick or thin the market is. That’s his modus operandi, his game plan, his preferred tactic and the way he rolls, and Babcock knows that.

The part that nobody seems to care to mention is that it’s entirely possible, if not probable, that the Wings were never called to be told Burns was available at X price, nor were they told that the Sharks were offering compensation at Y amount.

It’s easy to say, “Dammit, I wish we got him” when the deal’s done and nobody knew it went down. Holland doesn’t have to say, lock-step with his coach, “Dammit, I wish we knew he was available for Filppula, a first-rounder and Smith” to prove that the organization isn’t falling apart at the seams…

And that’s what concerns me so much about the last couple of days’ worth of comments. This team waits until free agency and avails itself of the players available for the price of their contracts. That does not mean that the team is falling apart or that Ken Holland’s inept or anything else. It means that we’re all waiting, and yes, it sucks, but the short attention span-theatre dramatics do nothing but expend readers’ energy, time and effort as they yell at each other and engage in essays’ worth of speculation…

And I don’t get it. Not for a second.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/29/11 at 04:43 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/29/11 at 02:28 AM ET

This just in.  Brent Burns is a highly-regarded young talent.  He’s also a career minus player with a mercurial reputation for showing flashes of brilliance on some nights while looking utterly lost on others—particularly when it comes to decision-making in his own end of the ice—a serious liability for any NHL defenseman.

He has a sigfnicant injury history (concussions) and this past season was the only one of the past three in which he has played a full season.  He is also a potential UFA next summer and has an agent who has a history of being very much a hard-ball player.

Bottom line:  Doug Wilson gave up a top-six forward off his roster, one of his organization’s most highly-regarded prospects and a first round draft pick for a player who may very well walk away at the end of this coming season. 

It’s also wise to keep a couple of facts in mind about how Wilson went about this.  He signed Devin Setogouchi to a contract that was widely hailed as a “home town discount” and then traded him twenty-four hours later.  In my book this constitutes a rather seriuos breech of good faith, and if you think player agents don’t pay attention to this type of thing, you’re wrong. 

So where does that leave Wilson when his next young star Logan Couture becomes a restricted free agent at the end of next season?  Well, for starters, you can bet that his agent will be much less willing to accomodate any sort of hometown discount after seeing what happened to Setogouchi.  In addition, assuming Burns becomes the breakout player you believe he will, that will mean that Wilson will be faced with the daunting task of trying to sign both of them on top of a roster that already has four players in the 7 million dollar range.  Sure it can be done, but how many high-end contracts can you accumulate before it begins to eat away at your depth? 

As much as their lack of quality blue-liners was thought to be their downfall in the playoffs, I think there’s perhaps a stronger argument to be made that the Sharks’ ultimate undoing was their lack of quality depth up front.  Beyond their vaunted top-six forwards, they were very lacking and once a few of those guys got banged up, well, it was pretty much all over for San Jose as their third and fourth liners were simply not able to pick up the slack.

Holland, on the other hand, still has ample salary cap room to add a more-or-less comparable player to Burns without giving up so much as a single asset from his current roster or a single draft choice.  He will also have the added assurance that said player’s services will be secured beyond next season at a price and term that fit the organization’s long term needs.  Beyond that, unlike the way that Wilson dealt with Setogouchi, Holland will not have compromised even a shred of his credibility when it comes to dealing with players in good faith.  And long term, that is a huge reason why, over the years, players around the league have often taken less for the chance to play for the Red Wings.

So, if you take a deep breath, maybe stop and think about for a minute or two, there’s a reasonable chance that Ken Holland knows what the f^*k he’s doing after all.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 06/29/11 at 05:11 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

And that’s what concerns me so much about the last couple of days’ worth of comments. This team waits until free agency and avails itself of the players available for the price of their contracts. That does not mean that the team is falling apart or that Ken Holland’s inept or anything else. It means that we’re all waiting, and yes, it sucks, but the short attention span-theatre dramatics do nothing but expend readers’ energy, time and effort as they yell at each other and engage in essays’ worth of speculation…

And I don’t get it. Not for a second.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/29/11 at 02:43 AM ET

Well said…+19

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 06/29/11 at 05:20 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

The Wings have 16 players (11 forwards, four defensemen, one goaltender) signed for a salary-cap hit of $47.6 million. This year’s cap is $63.4 million.

Somehow, that’s music to my ears.  I’ve been waiting for a year like this.  I’d take Drapes another year over Eaves or Miller.  There.  I said it.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 06/29/11 at 05:43 AM ET

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George,

“The disconnect between the GM and coach is actually pretty normal and pretty healthy. Keep in mind that when the Wings hired Babcock—and after they hired him—Holland and Nill and Devellano had to do their best to convince Babcock that the Wings should not become a dump-and-chase team, and it took Babcock watching the Wings’ players at work to admit that he was wrong.”

Can I be honest here? Can we both? This just looks like another example of a Wings fan looking for excuses for the team. And you’re such a good Wings fan, and a dedicated one, you can find an example of when the GM and coach disagree, and when it worked out well. However, the large majority, and you hear this constantly, especially from the coaches who are having success, is that “well one of the reason I’m having success is, I just think it’s so important, you know, to be on the same page as the GM, and really be working hand in hand with him.”

“Babcock may be enamored with Burns, and it might be a “gold medal win” to add him to the Sharks, but for a 25-goal-scorer, a first-round draft pick and, arguably, the organization’s top prospect? Sure, “gold medal win” for San Jose, which has never been able to address Rob Blake’s departure and will probably say goodbye to Ian White. Not a “gold medal win” for the Red Wings if they had to give up Valtteri Filppula, their first-round draft pick and Brendan Smith to get Burns.”

How is it a win for San Jose to give up those three assets but not a win for the Wings to give up those three comparable assets? The Wings needed a defenseman just as much as SJ. And like I brought up, the Wings have actually been keeping their picks and prospects. San Jose has been able to make a bunch of these types of moves with no ill-effect on their future (in fact they have more young players contributing than the Wings right now), so why can’t the Wings make ONE? Again, the logic does not add up. Either the Wings have been drafting way more poorly than the Sharks, so even though they kept all their picks they have way fewer quality prospects to offer up, or they had just as many (more, with the greater quantity of picks), but didn’t make the move. And if SJ can make the move with less prospects, that means Detroit was in an even better position too. So if it’s a win for SJ given all those circumstances (you’re going to have to follow the logic train here, it’s a little complicated), either it wouldn’t have been a win for Detroit because they drafted worse than SJ (which is a Holland deficiency), or it would have been a win for Detroit, but Holland failed to make the move (another Holland deficiency). Either way, San Jose got a “big win” (you said it not me), and Detroit didn’t. That’s not good for Detroit. It’s bad. Which is why I have been complaining. San Jose got better, we didn’t. Why can’t I complain about that? I know your answer and it’s that Holland always works through UFA, and we should wait. First, that’s what people said the last two offseasons, and look what happened. Second, and most important, you only need to wait and see if the Wings will sign someone good if there is someone good out there to sign. If Drew Doughty were available right now as a UFA, I would to see if Detroit signed him or not before commenting. However, Doughty is not available. No one is as good as Burns. That’s why no matter what Holland does through free agency, the team will not get as good a defenseman as Burns, and that’s why I don’t have to wait and see to complain. You only wait when you don’t know yet. I already know. The Wings won’t get a defenseman as good as Burns. However, I have suggested, in lieu of that, going after Brad Richards, and that has been met with derision here as well. You’re trying to complain about my comments and my not waiting, but even when I suggest to people ‘there is no still hope, even though we missed Burns, we can still get Brad Richards,’ I get met with derision. In other words, it’s not me. Even when I make suggestions that are completely in line with your ‘have faith in Holland’ ‘wait until free agency’ themes, people condescend with ignorance, etc. That’s not my doing, it’s theirs. You have to admit to their being an inherent bias in most sports fans. I’m sure you’ve noticed it when dealing with other fanbases, yes? Well, it’s here too, you’re just part of this fanbase so it’s not as noticeable. Then someone like me who has an easier time separating my love for the team with analyzing it objectively comes along, and people aren’t used to it. I’m sorry for that but it’s not my fault.

“The part that nobody seems to care to mention is that it’s entirely possible, if not probable, that the Wings were never called to be told Burns was available at X price, nor were they told that the Sharks were offering compensation at Y amount.”

This is not possible. Every GM talks. It’s not their job. If you’re not checking in with even one of the 30 GMs, you’re not doing your job. And especially when the draft is coming up, they all talk and check in with each other. Again, this is another reach, George, if we’re being honest. The excuse is maybe the GMs didn’t talk? This is the national hockey league. They’re always talking, especially leading up to the draft. And you know that! You’re just conveniently forgetting it because it helps you defend Holland. And that is not honesty! We’re supposed to be having an honest conversation.

“It’s easy to say, “Dammit, I wish we got him” when the deal’s done and nobody knew it went down.” That the WIld were shopping Burns was being reported for weeks before the draft. It was everywhere. The media knew it, Burns knew it, his agent knew it, and every GM knew it. As for the specific deal, well Doug Wilson I’m sure knew more specifics than Ken Holland because he went and met with Cliff Fletcher for four hours before the draft! He called Fletcher saying they needed to meet, and then he met with him, face to face, because, in the words of Cliff Fletcher, “I give him credit ... Doug is a great negotiator, and he wanted to get me face to face, to take it to me a little bit, but he was fair…” He sounded like Doug was his parent, and as part of a timeout Doug was giving him, he had to give Doug Brent Burns, or be grounded otherwise. You could see the psychological edge Doug had inflicted on this poor guy from the way he was talking about four hours of negotiating. If Holland had identified the talent better, he would have been the one proactively going to meet with Cliff Fletcher. Again, this is more of maybe “Holland didn’t know he was available” ridiculous reaching for devil’s-advocate excuses that aren’t even good or plausible ones. This to go along with “it’s a good deal for the Sharks, giving up x amount for him, but giving up x amount for the Wings would be been a terrible overpayment.” x = x. If x is good for the Sharks, it’s good for the Wings, especially when you consider Filppula and Sheahan can be replaced through free agency. Even Jurco, at #35, you can package two 2nd rounders to move up there, three if you absolutely have. You can still have Jurco, replace Filppula with a good free agent (Jussi Jokinen, Erik Cole, Tim Connolly, these guys might even be better than him, not to mention Brad Richards), and you’ve basically replaced everything you gave up - maybe even improved on it - PLUS you have Brent Burns. So Ken Holland obviously did not trade for Brent Burns, and maybe that was a good decision or maybe it was a bad decision. Let’s just not pretend it wasn’t a decision. Let’s not pretend he didn’t know Burns was available, or anything like that. He knew, but he didn’t value him as highly as Doug Wilson, so he didn’t go after him proactively like Doug Wilson, and as a result, as always, the guy who wanted him most got him.

“And that’s what concerns me so much about the last couple of days’ worth of comments. This team waits until free agency and avails itself of the players available for the price of their contracts. That does not mean that the team is falling apart or that Ken Holland’s inept or anything else. It means that we’re all waiting, and yes, it sucks, but the short attention span-theatre dramatics do nothing but expend readers’ energy, time and effort as they yell at each other and engage in essays’ worth of speculation…

And I don’t get it. Not for a second.”

I never required anyone to respond to my posts by yelling. If they’re doing that, it’s by their own accord, not mine. And I agree, I don’t enjoy that either. I come here for intelligent conversations about the team. Sometimes I get that, sometimes I just get assholes responding like children with ignorance and condescension (two things which, by themselves, are bad enough, but which should definitely never be combined, if you understand what I mean. They are contradicting and ironic notions).

As for free agency, I touched on this earlier, but I don’t need to wait this time with regarding Burns because no defenseman is better than Burns, in my opinion. Therefore, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter who Ken Holland signs on defense, he still will have made a mistake in not getting Burns. Whereas you are waiting to see if he signs Wisniewski on July 1 to decide whether the offseason is a success, and to comment, I will still consider that a failure compared to what the Sharks got in Burns, therefore I am commenting now. No matter who they get on defense, not getting Burns was a mistake, a failure, and I can say that now, before July 1, because nothing that happens on July 1 will change that in my estimation. Do you understand? I’m not jumping the gun. That is my opinion, and due to its nature, I don’t have to wait until July 1 to have it cemented or confirmed in the same way you do.

Also, something you may be overlooking (if we’re being honest and frank, which I believe we can be), is that I’m betting you said the exact same things last season, and the year before. “Is Ken going to upgrade this team like it needs to be, or is he just going to sign like, a Modano type, and leave it at that? Because if that’s all he does, it’s not good enough. That’s a huge failure.” - “Stop complaining. Just wait for July 1. Ken Holland is the best GM in the league. He has a track record. Just wait.”

And the year before that even I’m sure it was the same thing.

Yet, another year has passed, and you’re still advocating waiting. At what point exactly is it okay to complain? If they get eliminated this season, can we complain next year? The year after? When? San Jose filled a big need on their team with a great, versatile defenseman with tons of offensive potential, and the Red Wings didn’t. This on the heels of losing to that very team two years in a row. Excuse me for being concerned about the direction this team is going in. How many times are they going to let big-name, talented players get traded to other teams, while they do nothing? Or how about just depth signings? The Wings were dealing with injury problems late last season, but were still a good team. But a good team with injury problems, and you had to guess that at least one top 6 forward was going to be injured come the playoffs the way things were going. How valuable would maybe a 3rd line forward who could have stepped up into the top 6 if needed have been in the playoffs? And those wouldn’t have cost too much. Chris Higgins would have been absolutely perfect. He helps the speed a lot too, which would have been extremely helpful against San Jose. Say I buy into the notion that Brent Burns is too expensive, like you say, then what about Chris Higgins last trade deadline? You have an AGING team. An INJURY PRONE team. You see a versatile, depth forward, available for what was it, a 3rd round pick and a no-name prospect? And Ken Holland’s answer was “no”?

This is why I feel I have every right to complain. For all the Wings deficiencies we’ve talked about, and their needs, and their injuries last postseason, they could have beaten the Sharks, and the Canucks. Whether they would have been healthy enough to beat such a physical Bruins squad in the Finals is hard to say, but they could have beaten the Sharks. Maybe Chris Higgins, and another very small move, is all it takes. Chris Higgins, Cory Stillman, maybe, was a great value add for the Hurricanes. Or maybe some of the guys out there who never even got traded, who we didn’t hear about because they didn’t get traded, who could have helped.

George, I can at least understand not wanting to give up lots of assets for Brent Burns, even if i disagree with it. But when you have an aging, injury prone team that is trying to win a Cup, and you literally stand pat at the trade deadline, that is almost incomprehensible. It’s just plain stupid, I’m sorry to say. Why WOULDN’T you add someone? Some of those guys were available for so little, late round draft picks, why wouldn’t you?

This is why I’m concerned, very concerned. He didn’t trade for Burns because of the assets, fine, but the trade deadline? There’s no excuse there. It seems like no matter the player, whether the cost is big or microscopic, he does nothing, zero. I believe the Red Wings would have beaten the Sharks with Higgins and Stillman. Stillman is a really good, creative player, and he was healthy and skating well. He could have taken Franzen’s spot easily, and even added more creativity to that line for Datsyuk to play off of. And Higgins would have been great to have step up into a bigger role when Cleary and Hudler weren’t playing their best hockey.

Those guys would have cost so little to add, but Holland didn’t add them, or ANYONE else! That’s what amazes me, and concerns me so much. Do you understand? Is it okay to complain about that now? Or am I just doing something you don’t get, and look down upon from your perch?

Two offseasons, two trade deadlines, 3 drafts, he’s done nothing. There are ALWAYS opportunities to get better, you know they are out they, they exist, and he has explored none of them the last two years. He really has just been sitting on his laurels. It’s almost unprecedented in my memory for a GM of such a top, contending club, to give his players so little help over such a long period. Big teams are always adding when the options present themselves, tweaking at the very least, bringing in more depth. Except Detroit. Depth is supposed to be the staple of this franchise, but at every opportunity to add more of it, Holland refuses.

George, doesn’t that concern you? I know it concerns me, whether what I feel at this moment in time is George Malik sanctioned concern or not. Your opinion is not the only one that exists, and it’s not always right. In fact, I think I’ve made a very, very, very good case for mine, especially the last part about the trade deadline last year, Higgins, others, etc.

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/29/11 at 06:54 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Concerns, yes, and no, my opinion isn’t any more equal than anyone else’s—shit, I expect people to question my opinions and call me out and all of that good stuff—but I can’t change the fact that the team’s not doing anything. Right now, we’ve got two days to wait and then we’ll see what happens, and between now and then, I guess we’ll talk it out.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/29/11 at 07:06 AM ET

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Westwing,

you make some good points, but it still reads like the Burns counter-argument. You wouldn’t have written that as, say, a Florida Panthers fan, if someone asked you about Brent Burns. That opinion is in direct result, and opposition, to mine. The problem is that mine wasn’t a response to anything. It was just my opinion, my middle ground on Burns, and when you’re countering the middle ground you will always come up on the side, the bias.

With that said, and I hope you consider “that,” they did give up Setoguchi. But he’s not a 2nd line goalscorer to me. He only had 42 points last year, and that was for the top line a good portion of the time, on a high scoring team next to Joe Thornton. To me he’s a 2nd/3rd line tweener. His speed and hard shot are obviously better than the average 3rd liner by a long shot, but he’s so one-dimensional that he can’t really be a true quality 2nd liner. Ryane Clowe, Couture, Pavelski, Oshie, Ribeiro, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Leino, Purcell, these are good second line players, along with many I’m forgetting. Devin Setoguchi is not as good as you guys think in my opinion. I understand other Wings fans overvaluing him because he plays well against Detroit, but I watch the Sharks a lot and he’s not that good on average.

Good point about the hometown discount. Unfortunately, Doug Wilson immediately started the spinjob about how he didn’t know about the Burns deal until after the Setoguchi deal, and all that BS, and the media ate it up, so it might not be as bad a situation for the Sharks as it would have been if the media actually reported on it, asking setoguchi how he felt to be so obviously betrayed, and all that. Still, it should hopefully get around the agents and the players what happened. It’s a good point. I always agreed with this and never said differently. But the Wings weren’t in that situation. They could have traded for Burns without losing loyalty, so it has nothing to dow with the WIngs chances, just the cost for the Sharks.

And as for Couture, he played for Wilson’s old junior team, and there will be no problems. Wilson is not the type of guy who pays for any of his mistakes. Unfortunately players like it there in SJ and want to stay. Couture is only an RFA so he can’t choose a different team that easily, and money talks more than loyalty. Maybe he’ll get a NTC, which doesn’t help us at all.

The Burns monster year thing is a great point, one I’ve been making actually, where I’ve said I hope he has a great season and then the cost goes way up. However, what I’m worried about is that Wilson will sign him before the season. In the story on the Sharks site there is a line like, “Wilson knows Burns, who has one year left on his contract, is a player with tremendous upside who will be a great player on the Sharks for years to come, and Wilson plans to have him locked up. ’ We’ll get to the business part when the time is right,’ Wilson said.”

So it may not be as rosy as you think. Obviously, if Couture and Burns (or just Burns) doesn’t re-sign, that changes everything, but I’m sure they will. Players like it in San Jose, and after giving up all those assets, Wilson will look like an idiot if he doesn’t re-sign him. He will pay whatever it takes to protect his reputation, just like he did after trading for Huskins and Wallin. Both of those players were injured when he traded for them at the trade deadline. Huskins didn’t even play after he gave up an asset to acquire him before his contract ran out, and Wallin played the entire postseason poorly due to injury. To save face, Wilson overpaid to re-sign both of them, just so that he didn’t look like an idiot trading assets for injured players who never played a healthy game (or a game at all in Huskins’ case) for the team. Of course to those in the know he looked even stupider, but to the dumb media he saved face, his goal. I’m sure he’ll do the same this time, except with Burns it will be worth it, whereas with Wall and Huskins he paid for his mistakes (for once) by losing cap room to bad players.

Anyway I’m too lazy to respond to the rest. But suffice to say, some are good points which I’ve already either posted myself or agreed with when others said them, and a lot of is a rebuttal, posting Burns in the light of “He’s a good player, BUT (negative) (negative) (negative),” instead of an objective light which would be, Burns is a great player with lots of talent. He has a few weaknesses, same as any player, but he’s still young and improving, and his weaknesses pale in comparison to his great talent, so much so that he was able to score 17 goals on a weak Wild team last season.”

For example, look at this. Excerpts from a Sharks blogger, one blog he wrote after Setoguchi re-signed with the team one blog after he was traded for Burns. A Sharks fan actually pointed this out. Here is part of his comment.

“Funny how 2 columns ago you said.

“Setoguchi has a great upside. He is a great team mate and fits in the Sharks dressing room, he is very patient and makes himself available to the press after games (and answers questions with some thought instead of clichés), and he works hard in the off-season and has become a crowd favorite for his office participation in the community. “


Now all the sudden it is “Setoguchi had a decent playoff run and has room to improve, but what we have seen from Seto so far is pretty much what you are going to get.” Really so what happened to that “Great upside” you said he had? Funny how you change your tune to fit the teams PR SPIN.”

So that’s basically what you are doing. I posted my honest opinion of Burns, and now you’re doing the 2nd quote thing from the excerpt, the one after Setoguchi was traded, except you’re doing it about Burns. It’s the negative spin because the negative spin is what would be best for your team, the Wings, if it were true. And of course as a Wings fan I want the same thing, unlike you I just have an easier time telling the difference between the way I want things to be and the way they are. I have no doubt that Brent Burns is not as elite defensively as he could be with his skating and size, but I’m not overplaying that like you are. There are no perfect players. I know Burns far outweighs his weaknesses. I think if anything here pro-Wings is likely concerning me it would be undervaluing Wisniewski, not overvaluing Burns. Maybe Wisniewski is one of those guys who can do more with less, that type of thing. I’ve always thought of him as a good puck-mover, quick, but not a cornerstone defenseman. He had a really good season this year though. Maybe that’s where I get surprised. I’m open to that possibility. I’m open to not knowing the full story on Wisniewski. But Burns I know. I watch him a ton.

Anyway, I’m gonna go. Good talking guys. George, I hope you’re open to what I have to say. You’re not always the most open to other peoples thoughts, if we’re being honest. I hope you can move past that in this case and take what I said in my last comment to heart.

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/29/11 at 07:20 AM ET

Avatar

Oh you responded George while I was writing that. And yeah, I got sucked in to talking too much today. Who is to say what the future holds, but at the very least there is no need to have all these same conversations about Burns over again. The more important conversation is the one where I tried to explain bias-fan-syndrome to everyone, but I’m not sure I got through.

Anyway, George, you admit to having concern, with a one word answer, so if that’s the case, why all the excuses for management? Why not say, “all we can do is wait, but I feel you buddy, I don’t have as much faith in Ken anymore, he hasn’t made any good moves the last two seasons so we probably shouldn’t expect any this UFA period, although I’m still hoping for one.” Why not that instead of acting like there’s nothing to be concerned about at all, and everything is going to plan?

I laid into Holland about last trade deadline and many other things, and you seem to have admitted that you agreed with that point, that he should have added more depth to an aging injury prone team as long as it was cheap (not exactly a difficult or contentious point for anyone to agree with I don’t think), yet why have you never said as much? Someone brings it up and articulates it well and makes a good case for it, and you begrudgingly agree to it with a one word answer, but beyond that, nothing. It’s like you don’t want to agree, you don’t want to believe he messed up, even though you begrudgingly admit he did. So why the begrudgingly part? Why can’t you just admit it easily and actually bring it up yourself, and demand better? It’s not your job or any fan’s job to cover up for their organization’s mistakes, and be in denial about them.

It seems like anything negative about the Wings, no matter how obvious, gets you the wrong way. You just don’t want to admit it. It’s like Ken Holland is this god to you, and every mistake someone points out, it’s like tearing down your idol or something. You should be on his case same as the rest of us for the last two seasons, but instead you defend him at every turn unless you absolutely can’t, and then at most it’s the begrudged one-word answer.

Sorry, no one likes to be analyzed, especially by someone who doesn’t know you. I don’t know you at all. But from limited experience, you just seem so protective and won’t listen to reason sometimes if it’s painting a negative picture about some aspect of your team. I just don’t get it.

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/29/11 at 07:32 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

When I see fourteen paragraphs pop up as a response in fourteen minutes, I have a right to be concerned.

I don’t like to wade into the discussion parts here. I start the conversations and you guys finish them. I’m usually already working on the next thing and I don’t expect what I say to be taken as the right answer or the proper opinion, just as one man’s opinion and nothing more.

If that’s not enough for you I can’t do anything about it other than to suggest that you email me and that we can hash it out that way because I mean it, right now it’s hard to get a moment to do things like shower or eat or get a few hours of sleep in, and it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/29/11 at 07:33 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I just try to stay positive and somewhat detached…I get as worried and jittery as anybody else does. It’s just like when I write recaps of games—I spent as much time swearing at the refs and cheering when the Wings scored as anybody, but then I have to go and write about it and pretend that I’m a professional instead of just another fan.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/29/11 at 07:46 AM ET

detroitredwings's avatar

Guys, keep in mind that Burns used to play for McLellan and Shaw as a member of Houston Aeros. They go back a long way.

Posted by detroitredwings on 06/29/11 at 11:01 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

the Islanders have two days to try to convince Christian Ehrhoff that a gigantic payday makes playing for Garth Snow and Charles Wang worthwhile—

I hope Holland goes and yanks Erhoff out from under Snow just for the sake of spite.
..................................


Btw way folks…. good god… you guys are writing dissertations!  How long do you expect my attention span to last lol!

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 06/29/11 at 11:15 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Guys, keep in mind that Burns used to play for McLellan and Shaw as a member of Houston Aeros. They go back a long way.
Posted by detroitredwings on 06/29/11 at 09:01 AM ET

This is the kind of stuff that we need more of on discussions like this.  Thanks for the info.

Similarly, Mike Richards is going to LA to play for TWO of his former HC’s in Terry Murray and John Stevens.  Stuff like this starts to add up when you pick apart big trades, readers (and writers for that matter) need more of it.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 06/29/11 at 11:32 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

He’s 27, he wants to know where he fits going forward and how it affects his role.

Actually, Ericsson’s role might best be served by moving TO forward!

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 06/29/11 at 11:34 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

eyes quickly glazed over.  ridiculous.
Brevity is the essence of wit.

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 06/29/11 at 11:42 AM ET

Avatar

It seems like anything negative about the Wings, no matter how obvious, gets you the wrong way. You just don’t want to admit it. It’s like Ken Holland is this god to you, and every mistake someone points out, it’s like tearing down your idol or something. You should be on his case same as the rest of us for the last two seasons, but instead you defend him at every turn unless you absolutely can’t, and then at most it’s the begrudged one-word answer.

...  But from limited experience, you just seem so protective and won’t listen to reason sometimes if it’s painting a negative picture about some aspect of your team. I just don’t get it.

Wholeheartedly agree.  You should have seen him on mlive, when he was 1000 times worse.

Posted by jkm2011 on 06/29/11 at 12:15 PM ET

tkfergy's avatar

Actually, Ericsson’s role might best be served by moving TO forward!

When the Wings drafted him he was a forward.

Posted by tkfergy on 06/29/11 at 01:03 PM ET

Avatar

Wilson has and will be more aggressive than Holland because the Sharks have never even made it to the SCF.  He is more than happy to pull a Stan Bowman and go all in to win one at the cost of blowing up his team at the end of the year.  Meanwhile, the Wings have made the playoffs for 20 years straight, have 6 SCF appearances, and 4 cups. 

It’s a difference in philosophy and I for one agree with it.

Posted by Sabby on 06/29/11 at 01:22 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/29/11 at 05:32 AM ET

Overly-long, boring comments in which the author’s opinion is forced upon the reader: check. 
A sensitivity to those who disagree with the opinions stated: check.
A better-than-thou “I read other blogs and know more than you” attitude: check.

Could it be?  Is it?  It must be….pjwalny, welcome back.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 06/29/11 at 02:02 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Issue being resolved.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/29/11 at 02:13 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

Could it be?  Is it?  It must be….pjwalny, welcome back.
Posted by WingsFaninCO on 06/29/11 at 12:02 PM ET

Kudos to you, nice catch!

Posted by SnLO from the sub great-white north on 06/29/11 at 02:38 PM ET

calquake's avatar

the short attention span-theatre dramatics

Uh… what?  I wasn’t listening, what did you say?  Oh look, a quarter. cheese

Posted by calquake on 06/29/11 at 03:00 PM ET

Crater's avatar

How can you rip on Holland for not making a deadline move? His hands really were tied with the Cap. He would have had to pretty much give away hudler and Flip to be able to then trade prospects and pics like you are suggesting. Long term sustainability is the Wings goal. When they miss the playoffs an explode like the Avs did this season, then you can complain about failed off seasons and deadline mistakes.

Posted by Crater from SoCal on 06/29/11 at 03:24 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.