The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/04/12 at 05:24 PM ET
Updated 4x at 4:28 PM: If you’ve been following the updates to the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to the Wild post, you know by now that the Red Wings were at least in Ryan Suter’s final three teams, and that their contract offer to Suter was very competitive, but in terms of both money and interest, Parise wasn’t interested in coming to Detroit, and you know from the Free Press’s Helene St. James that the Wings sure as hell aren’t going to trade Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist AND multiple first-round picks to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rick Nash.
So where do the Red Wings go from here? They’ve lost out on Suter and Parise, the team rather desperately needs to add a top-pair defenseman, and while Ken Holland told the Free Press’s St. James that he understood why the players made their decisions…
“Personally, I’m very disappointed, but I’m a realist,” general manager Ken Holland said of losing Suter. “We were down to the short strokes. His wife is from Minny, grandparents are nearby. We lost out to family. Can’t beat family.”
Suter said the Wings “were right there till the end.”
The Wings made a 13 year, $90 million offer to Suter, who they saw as the best option to transition from a defense that has lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart this off-season. Suter signed 13 years, $98 million, an average cap hit of $7.5 million. Parise signed for the same amount, and the Wings weren’t close to that money, as they didn’t want to pay that high of an average salary for Parise.
The Wild now have $35 million - half of the $70.2 million salary cap - tied up in five players in Suter, Parise, Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and goaltender Niklas Backstrom. Parise, who is from Minnesota, said “when it came down to it, it was between New Jersey and Minnesota. Being around family had a big impact.”
But what do the Wings do next?
With Suter off the market, the next-best options are defensemen Matt Carle and Carlo Colaiacovo. The Wings made a two-year offer to Sami Salo on Sunday, but he ended up signing with Tampa Bay. Carle, 27, isn’t a great shut-down guy, but he’s reliable in his own end and has topped 30 assists in each of his last two seasons. He’s coming off a four-year, $13.750 million contract (average salary cap of $3.4 million), and, though it’d be a high price to pay, given the dearth of quality defensemen available this summer he probably will command $5 million a season. Colaiacovo, 29, could be had for less money (he is coming off a three-year contract with an average salary cap hit of $2.125 million), but he’s a risk as he’s been fairly injury prone, missing more than 50 games over the past three seasons with various ailments. He’s got decent offensive skills, which could be further developed from playing in Detroit’s system, but it’s doubtful the Wings would want to commit much term to him.
The other possible route is to trade for someone. Right now, there are five defensemen under contract for next season, headlined by Niklas Kronwall. The others are Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl, and the team is working on re-signing restricted free agent Kyle Quincey.
Kronwall is a bonafide top-four guy who is good in all areas. The Wings will keep pushing Ericsson to become a shut-down defenseman. Ian White’s production dropped off last season after he lost Lidstrom as a partner, but he’s pretty solid overall. Smith is considered a high-end talent, and will be expected to push for a top-four role. He’s a smart, puck-moving defenseman, albeit prone to risky maneuvers as he’s still adjusting to NHL level.
Kindl has been the seventh guy now for a while, and this is his make-or-break season, as he’s in the last year of a contract. Quincey was acquired around the trade deadline, and while he struggled to adjust, the Wings are hoping he’ll have a bounce-back season after being with the team from training camp.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan offers the following set of targets...
Shane Doan, Phoenix, center: Fine power forward who would fill a need, but is waiting to see how the Coyotes’ ownership situation is resolved. He never has shown inclination to leave Phoenix throughout his long career.
Alex Semin, Washington, left wing: Has top-end offensive skills and displayed chemistry with Pavel Datsyuk at the recent world championships, but has been criticized for lack of effort and inconsistency.
Matt Carle, Philadelphia, defense: Mobile defenseman played all 82 games with the Flyers last season with four goals and 34 assists while averaging 23 minutes. Will be heavily pursued by teams now with Suter off the market.
Rick Nash, Columbus, right wing: One of the premier power forwards in the game, Nash scored 30 goals last season and has scored as many as 41 in his career. But would the Blue Jackets trade within the division? Doubtful.
Bobby Ryan, Anaheim, right wing: For some reason the Ducks continue to shop the young 31-goal scorer who has a manageable cap number ($5.1 million) and is in demand by many teams.
Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary, defense: The Flames could be in the need to drop a salary or two, and Bouwmeester and his $6.68 salary cap number may be expendable. Averaged almost 26 minutes, plays well defensively, never has been a big offensive force.
Keith Yandle, Phoenix, defense: The Wings and several other teams had discussions at the draft about this offensive defenseman (32 assists, 43 points).
And he spoke to Ken Holland at some length about the team’s plans. Regarding the team’s offers to both players…
“Family was important,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said Wednesday. “Suter’s wife is from Minnesota, Parise is from there, grandparents are from there. We were satisfied with our offers. I know family was important.”
The Wings made their offers for Suter and Parise on Sunday, the day NHL free agency began. On Tuesday, Holland, owner Mike Ilitch, coach Mike Babcock and Chris Chelios, special advisor to hockey operations, traveled to Madison, Wis., to meet with Suter. They didn’t have an opportunity to meet with Parise. Holland said Suter’s representatives told him the Wings were on a “very short list.” Holland added the Wings also were among Parise’s final candidates.
“I was very satisfied with our offers, they were very competitive offers,” Holland said. “We feel good about our offers. Certainly in the Suter negotiation, we made an initial offer July 1. I talked to his agent July 2 and we adjusted our offer up. And we had an opportunity yesterday to fly in and meet with Ryan Suter and his agent. In the Zach Parise negotiation we made an offer on July 1. We were on occasion told we were on a short list, and ultimately got news today that Zach Parise was going elsewhere. Again, we feel good about the offer we made. There’s other teams than us that were in the hunt that made significant offers. We feel good about what we tried to accomplish.”
So what do the Wings do next? Holland said they’ll look over the free agent and trade markets, with their pursuit of Suter and Parise unsuccessful.
“You take a step back and explore what is available,” said Holland, who doesn’t expect to rush into a decision.
A defenseman will be a key priority. The Wings need a veteran to replace Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired in June.
“We’ve got all summer now,” Holland said. “The market has been combed over pretty good. We’ll explore trades. We’re happy that we got the guys that we did on July 1 (F Mikael Samuelsson, F Jordin Tootoo, F Damien Brunner, G Jonas Gustavsson).”
Holland added: “Part of this might be that we might have to go with some kids that we think are ready.”
The Red Wings obviously had multiple plans of action in place, and now they have to act upon them. Holland and the Wings’ front office’s collective mettle will be tested to the breaking point, and this team cannot afford to continue making lateral moves. I certainly hope that the team doesn’t “take a step back” and sit on its ass while players like Carle and Semin go elsewhere…
But we could be in for a long wait as the other teams in the running for Suter and Parise may take the same tack that the Wings seem to be inclined to pursue.
Also of brief Wings-related note this afternoon:
• The Edmonton Examiner’s Trevor Robb..Okay, this is a repeat of an Edmonton Sun article, but it’s worth revisiting:
Taking in the scene at West Edmonton Mall’s Ice Palace on Tuesday, you’d almost swear you had stepped back in time. The Brick Invitational super novice tournament was well underway and the game featured the Detroit Red Wings versus Toronto Pro Hockey, with both teams donning retro NHL-style uniforms. And out from the Red Wings bench skated No. 33, with ‘Draper’ on the nameplate.
Sure enough, that was Kris Draper coaching behind the Detroit bench. But the little Draper out on the ice was his 10-year-old son, Kienan. For Draper Sr., who spent 22 seasons playing over 1,000 NHL games with the Red Wings, there has never been a prouder moment than watching his son don the red and white.
“It’s pretty special to see my son throw on the No. 33 Red Wings jersey,” says Draper. “Right now I’m a really proud dad. To be able to coach my son and be out there on the bench and share this with him is very special.”
This is only Draper’s second season coaching with the Little Ceasars AAA hockey club, the Red Wings’ parent organization, but from Day 1 he has hearing all about the Brick Tournament in Edmonton.
“When I started coaching with Little Ceasars I started hearing about this Brick tournament and I looked it up online and was really fascinated by it,” said Draper. “This whole event is something that we’ve been looking forward to all year.”
• The New England Hockey Journal’s Jesse Connolly has the details of Max Nicastro’s entry-level deal with the Wings…
After being cleared of assault charges a little over a month ago, Max Nicastro’s friends and former teammates expressed hope that he could move on with his life and his hockey career.
The former BU defenseman took a big step toward doing that on Tuesday. Nicastro inked a two-year, entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings. He’ll earn $612,500 in the NHL or $65,000 in the AHL with Detroit’s minor-league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Nicastro, 22, was suspended from the team midway through his junior season after a female student alleged he sexually assaulted her. Two days after being suspended, he reportedly was no longer enrolled at the school.
The California native played in 102 games during his tenure with the Terriers, during which he had 11 goals and 22 assists for a total of 33 points.
Detroit selected Nicastro 91st overall back in 2008 after his first of two seasons with the USHL’s Chicago Steel.
• And some kid named Adam Lidstrom posted a picture on Twitter:
Just posted a photo http://instagr.am/p/Mq4u6uJnNZ/
Update: Two things:
1. I am not going to cover the Wild, Predators, Penguins or Devils’ reactions to what happened in any sort of detail. These players did not come to Detroit, and we know the basic details as to why they didn’t choose the Wings. I want to leave it at that;
2. And please do not be uncivil with each other. We will disagree regarding whether Suter or Parise were “right” or “wrong” to take the time they took to make their decisions, whether those decisions are “right” or “wrong,” and we will most certainly disagree as to “what the Red Wings need to do” to remain a contending team. Please remember that people are allowed to vent and that many Wings fans have every right to be frustrated and angry, but please keep it polite and steer away from personal attacks.
Content update #1: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness is getting his Holland quotes together…
#redwings GM Ken Holland: I’m disappointed we didn’t get Sutter.
#redwings GM Ken Holland: There are no more Suters or Parises on the market
And Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner ponders what’s next:
It’s not a secret that Suter was on Detroit’s radar for the last couple of years, and his has to be a catastrophic blow, not only to the on-ice product but to the Red Wings’ collective ego.
Whatever the Wings do next, you can bet that owner Mike Ilitch will demand that it be big. Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan or one of the 12 apostles, it’ll be something that will re-energize Hockeytown. Expect the Wings to go after unrestricted free-agent forward Alexander Semin with the hope that Pavel Datsyuk will be able to reel in the extremely talented, but totally enigmatic forward.
Unrestricted free-agent forward Shane Doan would be a great addition, and the Wings will pursue him. However, he’s the most popular athlete in Phoenix, and I don’t see him leaving the desert. One of Doan’s teammates, Keith Yandle, is a strong trade possibility. Yandle, 25, is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds with a high skill set. He would fit into the Wings’ attacking style. You have to believe that whatever the Coyotes are asking for Yandle, Detroit’s situation might make almost everybody in the organization available.
Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester could also be had in a trade, but he’s been labeled an underachiever who doesn’t play as big as he is, 6-foot-4, 212 pounds. Even though the Red Wings need a solid, top-four defenseman, Bouwmeester might not be worth the risk. Still, he’s a quality player who could be a last resort.
As far as the rest of the unrestricted free-agent defensemen go, it’s slim pickings if you’re looking for a top-four guy. Matt Carle is out there, but the Wings aren’t sold on him—although that was yesterday and Suter’s gone. They could sign the likes of a Scott Hannan, Sean O’Donnell or Michal Rozsival. All of them would provide a veteran to stabilize the defense, but like most of what’s left, their better days are behind them.
If there is a wild card in all of this, it could be restricted free-agent defenseman Shea Weber. No, Detroit will not sign him to an offer sheet, and it’s a given that Nashville will try to sign their restricted free-agent captain to a long-term deal. But if Weber publicly comes out and says he’s one-and-done in Nashville or demands a trade, the Wings would give up the farm to land him. Again, it’s all up to Weber, how he reacts to the Suter signing could impact the Red Wings—although it’s a bit of a reach.
No, Art, they won’t.
Update #2: So sayeth MLive’s Ansar Khan:
The Red Wings have holes to fill. They lost two top-four defensemen, Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (San Jose). Top prospect Brendan Smith will fill one spot, but they need a top pair defenseman. They also need a goal-scorer. Mikael Samuelsson essentially replaces Jiri Hudler (Calgary), but they need a high-end forward.
The Red Wings want star power. They have Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, but they would covert another big-name player or two. They want to create a buzz, re-energize their fan base following three consecutive early playoff exits. And they want to sell tickets. The problem is, there aren’t many stars out there.
Amongst his picks, up front…
Alexander Semin, Washington – By far the most talented unrestricted free agent still available. He has many elements the Red Wings are seeking (goal-scoring, size, right-hand shot) and might fit well on a line with fellow Russian Datsyuk. However, the Red Wings have serious concerns about his commitment and work ethic. Will his motivation further deteriorate after signing a long-term deal? It’s doubtful he would accept a short-term contract when he can cash in big.
Shane Doan, Phoenix – The power forward’s agent has called the Red Wings several times the past couple of days, seeking an offer, and with Parise off the market, Detroit will make a pitch for Doan. However, Doan has stated he won’t decide until Monday if he will leave Phoenix, where he has played since 1996. His main concern is whether the team will relocate in 2013-14 due to the unstable ownership situation.
Rick Nash, Columbus – The Red Wings have inquired about what it would take to land this big, talented star. He has a short list of teams he would approve a trade to – the New York Rangers, Philadelphia, San Jose and Detroit are among the clubs reported to be on it. But the Blue Jackets would be hesitant to deal him to the rival Red Wings. Detroit’s offer would have to be substantially better than any other team’s. Having struck out on Suter and Parise, might the Red Wings up their ante for Nash?
Bobby Ryan, Anaheim – Like Nash, Ryan is another immensely talented offensive player that any team would desire. At 25, he’s three years younger than Nash, and his cap hit ($5.1 million for the next three seasons) is more palatable than Nash’s ($7.8 million for the next six seasons). But, like Nash, it would take a lot to land him and Detroit might not have the assets.
And on defense:
Matt Carle, Philadelphia – He is the only free-agent defenseman remaining who had more than 20 points in 2011-12 (38). He’s a decent two-way player who can log a lot of minutes, but he won’t put up huge offensive numbers and he’s somewhat soft. Are the Red Wings prepared to offer him a long-term deal worth around $5 million a season? Chances are, Carle returns to the Flyers.
Keith Yandle, Phoenix – The Coyotes were shopping this skilled defenseman at the draft and spoke to the Red Wings, who weren’t prepared to deal because they thought they might get Suter. Expect trade talks to pick up. But teams that missed out on Suter might drive up the cost for Yandle.
Carlo Colaiacovo, St. Louis – He’s an under-the-radar guy, a good skater who moves the puck well. But he’s injury-prone. The Red Wings have talked about him, but he’s not a top-pair defenseman and probably not someone you’d risk signing to a long-term deal.
Shea Weber, Nashville – Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, like most general managers, don’t like sending offer sheets to restricted free agents. Would he make an exception for Weber, after losing out on Suter? It’s doubtful. The Predators, stinging from Suter’s departure, are sure to match any offer Weber receives, no matter how big. Nashville might look to trade Weber if it can’t sign him long-term. Detroit would have to pay a premium to convince the Predators to deal him within the division. Teams might be better off hoping Weber signs for one year in Nashville and becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary – He makes $6.68 million in each of the next two seasons. That’s a lot of money for a player whose offensive game has been in decline the past three years.
Update #3: Here’s what ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun thinks will happen for each and every one of the teams Suter and Parise spurned:
For Nashville, it means trying to replace Suter on the blue line but more importantly, convincing captain Shea Weber (an RFA) to sign long-term despite Suter’s exit. That’s not going to be easy. And if Weber balks at a long-term extension this summer, Poile has no choice as far as I’m concerned: trade his rights. Here’s hoping Poile can convince Weber to stay. The Predators, a well-organized franchise that does things the right way, deserve a break.
Meanwhile, with the Big 2 finally signing, here comes the domino effect.
Purposely waiting on Parise to sign, the Columbus Blue Jackets will step up efforts to deal Rick Nash, and the Anaheim Ducks will also circle back to jilted Parise suitors and ask them how they feel about Bobby Ryan.
The New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Detroit, San Jose, Philadelphia and Carolina, according to sources, all have interest in Nash, who controls his fate via a no-movement clause.
Ryan is a cheaper cap hit, so my guess is the Ducks will call some of those same teams and see if there’s a fit, as well.
As @thefourthperiod mentioned, the Wings are making inquiries about Semin.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan disagrees:
I’d be surprised if they go after Semin…I just don’‘t think he’s Wings’ type of player.
Doan….he’s not going to leave PHX…after all these years.
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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.