The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/01/12 at 04:46 PM ET
Given the talk surrounding the Edmonton Oilers’ and Carolina Hurricanes’ asking prices for Ales Hemsky and Tuomo Ruutu, respectively, I get more than a little jittery when the pair are linked to a Red Wings team that Ken Holland readily admitted is exploring its options in terms of bolstering its lineup via a smart trade or two (and Holland told the Globe and mail’s Alan Maki that he’s actually looking for a defenseman), but Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner’s got stars in his eyes while suggesting that one more top-six forward would allow the Wings to withstand an injury or two up front (see: Johan Franzen, 2010, Johan Franzen, 2011):
Ruutu turns 29 in February, and at 6 feet, 205 pounds, is an abrasive forward who is versatile and enjoys mixing it up. He’s a good skater and can play all three forward positions. Consistency and injuries have always been issues for him, but Ruutu could provide the Wings with a solid player who can score, set up his teammates and bring a bit of an attitude. In 511 career games with the Blackhawks and Hurricanes, Ruutu has 126 goals and 165 assists.
Hemsky, who turns 29 in August, is 6 feet, 185 pounds and a bit of an enigma. Blessed with a skill level off the charts, he’s never had that breakthrough season that would propel him into the league’s elite level. Injuries have always hampered him. Since February 2011, Hemsky has missed 35 games with various ailments. But he’s shown enough in 526 career games with the struggling Oilers—118 goals, 296 assists—to peak the Wings’ interest. Hemsky has 247 career penalty minutes to 498 for Ruutu.
Chicago and Ottawa have been rumored to be the frontrunners for Ruutu, and Montreal is said to have the inside track on Hemsky. But as long as Ruutu and Hemsky are available, don’t count the Red Wings out of the mix. If the bidding gets too high, the wings might back off because they’re looking to tweak their roster, not remake it. As much as I like Ruutu, Hemsky’s skill set could blossom with the Wings. He should be their target.
Regner discusses the possibility of adding Zach Parise (from what we’re hearing now, the Devils won’t trade him at the deadline) or Ryan Suter (ditto), but he duly note that if the Wings want to target either player, they’re more likely to make their move either at the Entry Draft or on July 1st:
What happens after the season is another story. Suter is Detroit’s No. 1 objective in the free-agent market. They want him that much. If Detroit can sign Suter and Parise during the offseason, GM Ken Holland will do cartwheels down Woodward Avenue.
Still Holland’s focus is the present and adding a forward who will enhance the Wings’ chances of winning another Stanley Cup. Scotty Bowman always used to say that you can never have enough defenseman. In the case of this year’s Red Wings, even Scotty would agree it’s the forward corps that needs shoring up.
Again, I’m keeping my expectations low in terms of what the Wings can realistically add without having to surrender top prospects (see: the crazy Tomas Jurco and a 1st-round pick to Edmonton for Andy Sutton and Hemsky rumor) or the top-two-round picks that the Wings are loath to relinquish, but there are so many teams that are on the buyer-versus-seller fence right now that I’m not sure that we’re going to see a repeat of last year’s early moves, and what happens over the next month will likely determine whether the Wings can pull off a Brad Stuart-style steal or whether they’re going to have to settle for another Cory Cross.
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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.