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The Malik Report

Sunday Red Wings stuff: Holland addresses blueline; MacDonald wants to stay, as does Ericsson

Aside from the usual international press whopper (Brad McCrimmon will coach Lokomotiv Yaroslavl next year), this morning’s crop of Sunday columnists’ conversations offers good discussions of the respective states of the Red Wings’ blueline and crease going forward—including Jonathan Ericsson talking about his desire to remain with the Wings, albeit in Swedish:

Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson about the Wings’ belief that their blueline should survive Brian Rafalski’s departure because it’s time for Niklas Kronwall to truly shine—and as such, Holland tells Matheson that the Wings might look for a solid #3 guy instead of a top-two defenseman on the free agent market:

“We’re not going to find a Brian Rafalski on the open market but I think we can move (Niklas) Kronwall up to take Brian’s spot on the power play. We haven’t let him be Brian Rafalski for the last four years. Any time we had a No. 1 power play out popped Brian and (Nicklas) Lidstrom. Late in the game, out popped Lidstrom and Rafalski or four-on-four. Those situations now, Kronwall will be there. Nik’s only 30 years of age. He might not be quite the puck-mover Brian was, but he’s got a physical dimension to his game that Brian didn’t,” said general manager Ken Holland.

“If we get Nick (Lidstrom) back and I don’t have any idea if he is, we’ll still have two world-class puck-moving defencemen to run a power play. We’ve got Brad Stuart, so that’s three guys, but, yes, if Kronwall replaces Rafalski, we need somebody to replace Nik. We might need a second-pair defenceman,” said Holland, who will scour the free-agent list. Jonathan Ericsson (also unrestricted) hasn’t yet proven he can be a No. 4 guy. Young Jakub Kindl looks like a No. 6. The wild card is Brendan Smith, who has superior offensive skills, but is only 22. Maybe he’ll turn into a Cam Fowler.

The Wings hope that Kindl will become a sort of non-physical version of Jiri Fischer if he can regain the kind of form he displayed during his junior hockey days, and Smith isn’t exactly Cam Fowler—he’s much bigger and not as fast—but the Wings believe that he could very well develop into Kronwall’s successor.

Also regarding the Wings’ long-term plans, Matheson essentially confirms Hakan Andersson’s suggestion that, when he is finally ready to come over, Calle Jarnkrok won’t need any seasoning in the AHL:

For the doomsayers who feel the Detroit Red Wings are bereft of young prospective high-end forwards, they have an excellent Swedish centre, Calle Jarnkrok, who played in the Swedish Elite League this season, and Finnish winger Teemu Pulkkinen, who’s in the Finnish Elite League. Both are 19. Jarnkrok, a dogged worker at both ends of the ice and a right-handed centre, is only 165 pounds, but there are whispers he’s better than the Washington Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom was at the same age. And Pulkkinen (183 pounds) was rookie of the year in the Finnish men’s league, finishing in the top 10 in scoring. Jarnkrok was a second-round pick and Pulkkinen a fourth-rounder last June.

Now this is just an educated guess, but I think the Wings will probably look for a speedy winger (I really like Alex Khokhlachev, who the Wings’ website profiled on Saturday), a goaltender (more on that in a minute) and the usual crop of puck-moving defensemen to re-stock the cupboard in this year’s draft.

Looking forward in the literal sense of the term, Matheson took note of Mike Babcock’s comments made to WBBL’s Bill Simonson on Friday:

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock knows they need to improve the back end, but he surprisingly went a step further in a radio interview, saying they need a top-six forward, too. They need a younger guy to push Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom. Jiri Hudler isn’t a top-two-line guy; in fact, he may be trade bait. As free agents go, the best two free agents by age and price might be Washington Capitals’ Brooks Laich and former Wing Ville Leino, who was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers two years ago in a cap squeeze when his progress stalled. The other possibility: Alex Tanguay in Calgary.

Flames GM Jay Feaster told the Calgary Herald’s Vicki Hall that he’s going to re-sign Tanguay, so that’s not going to happen.

As for the trade-Hudler-versus-trade-Filppula equation?

Three factors play into the equation here:

1. The first involves the depth chart. The Red Wings may go into the 2011-2012 season with only five real centers in Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm. If Kris Draper returns and/or Cory Emmerton makes the team, things change, but at present I can’t imagine the Wings wanting to get rid of Filppula as he’d be the Wings’ 2nd-line center if Datsyuk and Zetterberg play together.

Danny Cleary and Johan Franzen can play center in a pinch, but doing so negates their effectiveness as forecheckers, and they’re not particularly seasoned at taking faceoffs. I don’t see the Wings asking Darren Helm or Justin Abdelkader to center their second line over the long haul;

2. In terms of risk versus reward, Hudler’s assets are more tangible. Hudler once posted 23 goals and 57 points, and the season prior to that he posted 42 points. Even this season, Hudler registered 37 points, so he’s a consistent 15-to-20 goal and 40-to-50-point guy with 30-goal and 60-point potential. Everybody knows he can dart in and out of scoring positions on the right wing and that he’s pretty decent at sniping and setting up teammates.

Filppula has never exceeded hitting 40 points on the dot and registered 19 goals a few years ago, but he’s generally established himself as a 10-to-15 goal-scorer and 35-to-40-point producer. Filppula’s speed, adaptability to play on the wing and defensive abilities make him an intriguing player, but at this point, it looks like Filppula will never become the 50-to-70-point-scorer that the Wings envisioned him to be.

In terms of adding scoring punch to your team, if you’re interested in making a trade, for all his frustrating inconsistency, Hudler’s rewards are more tangible than Filppula’s;

3. Most importantly, we’re going into a potential lockout year, and while Hudler makes $3 million real-world dollars, he’s got a cap hit of $2.78 million and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. If Hudler doesn’t work out for a team, poof, he’s gone. Filppula’s cap hit of $3 million belies the fact that he makes $3.5 million in real-world dollars for both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons, making Filppula a longer-term investment who might screw up a team’s cap figure if there is a lockout which reduces the players’ share and chops ten million bucks off the cap’s upper limit.

Let’s add a #4: I don’t believe that the Wings can get anything more than a mid-round pick and/or a depth player for Hudler—think the Ville Leino trade, where the Wings got a mid-round pick and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen—if they plan on dumping his salary, but the truth of the matter also involves the fact that Filppula had a very good playoff showing and essentially bought himself one more year to prove to the Wings that he’s worth the investment, while Hudler did very little to impress the Wings’ brass.

I don’t see the Wings parting with Filppula without having to take on the same salary they’re giving up (and you can bet that whoever would acquire him would demand that the Wings take an underachiever in return), whereas Hudler’s both an easier salary dump and a more intriguing player in terms of getting something for very little, and earning a possible return on one’s investment without a long-term relationship in the offing thanks to the single year remaining on Hudler’s contract.

I just don’t see the Wings moving Filppula, if they move anybody (it’s entirely possible that they’ll stick with Hudler’s “known quantity”). Hudler’s easier to move to dump salary and he’s more interesting in terms of adding a concrete high-risk-high-reward player to another team’s roster while committing less than half the capped dollars that are due to Filppula over the next two seasons.

Whenever one is attempting to play GM and make a theoretical trade, you have to work from the opponent’s perspective, because there’s no such thing as a deal that’s made to “help” your team. I’d also argue that, as the Sporting News’s Craig Custance suggests, this year’s thin crop of free agent forwards only includes three real targets for the Wings if they are to not shop in the bargain bin—Brooks Laich if they’re looking to spend bucks and Tomas Fleischmann or Radim Vrbata if they’re willing to take on players with red flags.

You can toss out the Boston Globe’s Kevin Dupont’s, “well, the Wings would like to bid for Shea Weber” spiel via Custance, who confirmed that the Predators plan on matching any offer sheets for Weber, and Holland himself, who told MLive’s Ansar Khan that he simply won’t toss an offer sheet to a restricted free agent to begin with.

At the other end of the ice, Custance also let us know that Chris Osgood is fully healthy and, like Kris Draper, he’s weighing family concerns and the Wings’ willingness to take him back as he decides whether he wishes to continue playing.

There’s good news in the blue paint, regardless of whether Osgood returns, however, via the Free Press’s George Sipple: Joey MacDonald would very much so like to return to the Wings, giving Detroit a superb #3 goaltender or #2 option of they choose to replace Osgood on the cheap:

MacDonald was 5-5-3 in 15 games with the Wings and had a 2.58 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. In 20 games with the Griffins, MacDonald was 10-9-1 with a 2.78 GAA and an .894 save percentage.

“This is where I want to be,” said MacDonald, who will be an unrestricted free agent again this summer. “Fortunately ... I spent pretty much the whole year here and got an opportunity to play and played pretty well.”

MacDonald played in Grand Rapids from 2002 to 2007 and appeared in eight games with the Wings during the 2006-07 season. He left the organization in 2007 to go to the Bruins and ended up playing with the Islanders and Maple Leafs and their AHL affiliates before returning to the Wings last summer.

If he wants to stay, I’m sure the Wings will have him…

And as for Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce, Sipple believes that the Wings would attempt to sign another veteran to helm the Griffins’ crease and help McCollum regain his confidence…

McCollum, the 30th overall pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, struggled this season, splitting time between Grand Rapids and the Toledo Walleye of the East Coast Hockey League. The Wings will likely need to sign a veteran netminder in Grand Rapids to help with McCollum’s development when goaltending coach Jim Bedard isn’t in town.

But I’d argue that, especially if MacDonald ends up in Detroit, the Griffins will simply allow McCollum and Jordan Pearce to battle it out in the Griffins’ crease. Pearce was fantastic over the second half of the season for Grand Rapids, and there’s no reason to believe that he’ll be anything less than their starter next year unless McCollum unseats him.

Somewhat ironically, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan suggested that Detroit remains a place where free agents want to play, and both MacDonald and Jonathan Ericsson are reiterating the fact that Wings players want to stay in Detroit, even if doing so means they’ll earn less than they would somewhere else.

Ericsson has repeatedly stated that he wants to remain a Red Wing in both English and Swedish, and today, he tells Folkbladet’s Par Andersson that he still wants to stay with the Wings if at all possible.

Keep in mind that this article’s written in the classic Swedish “tabloid” form, so it’s overdramatic. Ericsson was pissed off when the Swedish press reported that his agent’s decision to turn down a $2 million contract offer was turned into “Ericsson’s leaving the Wings!” headlines, and his dad hasn’t spoken to the Swedish press since that time, either, so Ericsson’s probably not buying the line that Andersson’s selling, either:

“Jonte” at the crossroads

His hockey career in Detroit might be over. Jonathan Ericsson recently moved out of his house in Michigan and temporarily moved to an appartment in Trotzelligatan in Norrkoping.

“It’s a little uncertain where I’ll play next season,” he says.

After three successful seasons with the NHL’s Swedish team, the Detroit Red Wings, Jonathan Ericsson is at a crossroads. The question is how much—and at what price—Detroit’s biggest boss, Ken Holland, wants to keep the giant defenseman from Lindo?

The issue’s complicated by the fact that NHL teams have to take the salary cap into account. The Red Wings are also a team with quite a few older and more expensive players.

Wants to stay

“The Red Wings are my first choice. I like the organization, and everything about the team,” said Jonathan during an interview in Vasa Park.

So it’s not that the city of Detroit’s the main attraction. It’s not exactly a tourist magnet.

“No, there’s not much to see there,” he admits.

Vita Hasten-trained “Jonte” feels at home in Novi, the suburb outside the city where he’s lived for the past three years, and where he has several teammates who are his neighbors. At the same time, he can’t rule out a move across the North American contract to a team that offers him a gold-lined contract.

“I know there are teams that are interested, so whatever happens, I’ll probably remain in the NHL. And Detroit has the first say,” he says. “I think everything will work itself out in late June or early July.”

You’ve seen parts of the United States. Where would you like to live if you could choose on your own?

“I’ve always loved Chicago, though hit can be cold and windy at times. It feels like a bigger version of Stockholm. And I like Florida’s climate.”

Depressed

In this season’s playoffs, the Red Wings lost to the San Jose Sharks, who defeated Detroit 4 games to 3. It was a difficult result.

“When we were eliminated I just wanted to come home and I did so pretty quickly, though the moving company had forgotten to carry out the order. It was a pain before it got worked out.”

At the last moment, Jonte found a firm that could take away his possessions for safekeeping. He gave some things away.

His new car—a Corvette—is being shipped across the Atlantic by boat.

“Yeah, it will show up soon and I’ll drive it fast,” he says.

Bought a house on an island

Jonathan doesn’t look like an extravagant fellow, but of course he’s invested the millions he’s earned from hockey.

Aside from some cars, he’s also bought a house on an island off Arkosund. A full house which must be renovated.

“I could see myself living out there in 50 years, but there’s a lot that needs to be figured out in the near future.”

The work leaves him with warm hands. While his dad Sven is a woodworking teacher, Jonathan’s skills with a hammer and saw are limited.

“But I helped my brothers build a bridge last summer,” he points out.

His big brother Jimmie plays, as we know, with Skelleftea AIK and on the Swedish national team.

“Jonte” has another brother (Jesper, playing in Finspangs AIK) and two sisters. And a mom and dad.

Follows the Wolves

His summer schedule is understandably jam-packed. There’s much to catch up upon. Possibly also a charter trip with Evelyn, who met Jonathan during his playing time with AIK Sodertalje. He hopes to watch an IFK Norrkoping [soccer] game, hopefully watching the Wolves play by the speedway.

Wolves? You don’t say?

“I’ve followed them since I was little. I follow the Wolves on the internet when I’m in the U.S.,” reveals the 27-year-old

Festive Summer

There’s a wedding, too. But not Jonathan’s. Instead, it’s his friend from Grand Rapids and HV71, national team goalie Stefan Liv, who’ll get hitched this summer. Last year, Henrik Zetterberg and Emma Andersson married. Many of the Red Wings showed up and it was a memorable weekend.

Jonathan Ericsson is hoping to play for at least another decade in the NHL. If his 195-CM-long body is able. Then he’ll probably return home to Norrkoping for good. To finish his career with Vita Hasten.

“As it appears now, I can imagine playing for Vita Hasten at the end of my career,” he assures us.

Finally, Jonte, who’ll win the Stanley Cup?

“Vancouver. They deserve to win it this time.”

Also of Red Wings-related note: The Free Press’s George Sipple reports that Mike Babcock, Chris Osgood and Ted Lindsay attended Ian Jenkins’ memorial game;

• For the record, Severstal Cherepovets picked Calle Jarnkrok in the KHL’s entry draft. It doesn’t mean much as Jarnkrok will remain with Brynas IF;

• For the record, part 2: Igor Larionov’s prize pupil, Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov, won the CHL’s rookie of the year award;

• The New York Post’s Larry Brooks doesn’t believe that Brian Rafalski was one of the five best American-born defenders…

So there are Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch, Mark Howe, Rod Langway and Derian Hatcher as the five best American defensemen in NHL history.

That’s a fact.

Question. Who completes the third pair: a) Rafalski; b) Phil Housley; c) Mathieu Schneider; d) Mike Ramsey?

• And Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime picked Game 5 of the Wings-Sharks series as the 2nd-best Wings game of the 2010-2011 season (for whatever reason, the NHL disabled the embedding feature on its video clip of highlights from the game):

May 8, 2011
Red Wings 4, Sharks 3

On this night, the comeback kids could not be denied.

Trailing 2-0 and 3-1, the Red Wings received a trio of third period goals from Jonathan Ericsson, Danny Cleary and Tomas Holmstrom, forcing a Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena.

Jimmy Howard made 39 saves, including a perfect 8/8 while shorthanded. Niklas Kronwall also scored for the Wings.

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Comments

monkey's avatar

Derian Hatcher?

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 05/29/11 at 09:52 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Maybe Ozzie would like to be a coach in GR?...

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 05/29/11 at 10:56 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Filppula also plays defense… very well.

Most of the people who want Filppula traded are just angry that it turns out he’s not going to be the next Datsyuk or Zetterberg instead of realizing that the Wings are paying him half of what Datsyuk and Zetterberg make for just about half the production and that they’re also getting nearly all of the defensive capabilities.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/29/11 at 11:55 AM ET

Michiru Kaioh's avatar

I’m still a huge Filppula supporter. The guy is only 27 years old just now, and that’s the age where a lot of players really hit their stride and come into their own. I think next season is easily his best, and he might finally reach his potential, or begin to really improve at the very least.

Think of all the current wings players who you’d never really heard of until they hit the age of 27 or so. That’s when Pav and Z started to come into their own. It’s when Kronwall finally got his chance to start playing in the nhl. Franzen, Jimmy Howard, Cleary didn’t make himself a solid player until he was 27 or 28 years old…it’s not at all uncommon for a player to struggle early and get better as they mature. Fil seems like he’s been around for ages, but he’s only 27 now, and I still think he’s got great hockey to come. I hope they keep him around long enough for it to be in a Red Wings uniform.

Posted by Michiru Kaioh on 05/29/11 at 12:02 PM ET

11B4PF7 in MN's avatar

I feel that Kronwall is going to explode this year.  We all know what he can play like, but he has always been number three on the defensive depth chart.  I am excited to see him out there on the number one power play unit.  Kronner is probably the best replacement for Rafalski available both internally and externally.

Not that Lidstrom will ever be replaced, but if the Wings were to somehow steal Suter away from Nashville next year or in next year’s offseason, I like how the Wings D would shape up.  Suter, Kronner, the new #3, Stuart, Kindl, Smith.  They may not be the most physical group, but most of them are big bodies that can handle a hit a little easier than a Rafi could.  Caveat, the Wings need to resign Kronner and Stuart next year too…but, just saying…

Speaking of Smith, it seems that every article I read from other websites say amazing things about him.  I do kind of hope he is on the big club this year.  I am anxious to see what he can do.

Oh, and the only reason they should trade Fils, is if he is involved in a package deal that is for a big body second line center.  Otherwise, it would be a bigger loss than most of us realize.

Posted by 11B4PF7 in MN on 05/29/11 at 12:51 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

He shouldn’t trade Fil.. when he doesn’t live up to his potential again, he’ll get a deflated contract, we’ll still have a guy to fill in the 2nd line center.. he can be moved anywhere and doesn’t complain, the guy has no ego for all that Burberry he wears.  Not to mention he’s slick with a stick, just hard to see it when you play next to Pav.  Huds, regardless of point production has serious mental lapses at crucial times in games.  It was that way before he left and that when when he came back.  And he doesn’t score at clutch times like Mule does/did.  And he’s small and useless on the forecheck.. So Huds had a couple good runs with Sammy settin’ him up but hasn’t been able to produce himself.. I say trade him out IF you can work out a deal that gets us the top 6.. if not, then wait.  We have Nyquist getting ready to make the team in a year or two not to mention Tatar and Mursak.. may not be top line guys but they could help fill out the 2nd line when needed, like Eaves and Abby did at times this past year.

I agree they need a top 6 forward though.. When Bert is going the Wings win, EVERY freakin’ time.. but he’s hardly ever going.. Homers always but just doesn’t have the same effect as when the Squatch gets mad.  We’ve slotted people in there spots so aggressively (see darren helm) that when they show they have something more to give in a different area, they are kept from doing that.  We’re paying the price now since our top guys have NO competition to stay top guys internally.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/29/11 at 01:31 PM ET

thethirdcoast's avatar

So the Wings see Ericsson as a #5 or #6 Dman, but he rejected a $2 million contract from them?

Someone please explain this to me because, much like Charlie Sheen, I just can’t process it, man. Maybe someone can clue me in after I go bang some 7 gram rocks.

Posted by thethirdcoast from Algiers, DZ on 05/29/11 at 02:28 PM ET

Avatar

Derian Hatcher wasn’t even the best American-born defenseman in his own nuclear family.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/29/11 at 03:17 PM ET

Avatar

Someone please explain this to me because, much like Charlie Sheen, I just can’t process it, man.

Two things:
1) He’s got a greedy agent in his ear.
2) Despite his on-ice performance, the Wings brass will not shut up about how important he is to their future, so if he’s that important why shouldn’t he try to milk them for as much as he can get?

Posted by Garth on 05/29/11 at 03:36 PM ET

Sal's avatar

I don’t recall seeing anything about the length of the $2mil / year contract offer E supposedly turned down.  Could be he was hoping for the security of more years or the chance of a bigger future payday with fewer.

Posted by Sal from the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains on 05/29/11 at 04:09 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

Most of the people who want Filppula traded are just angry that it turns out he’s not going to be the next Datsyuk or Zetterberg instead of realizing that the Wings are paying him half of what Datsyuk and Zetterberg make for just about half the production and that they’re also getting nearly all of the defensive capabilities.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/29/11 at 10:55 AM ET

Not exactly.  We’re angry that we’re paying him 2nd line Center money and he doesn’t put up any points.  A 2nd line Center making over $3M a year HAS to put upa minimum or 50 points, and he can’t even put up 40.  Yes he’s good defensively, but that makes him a 3rd line center who should have a cap hit closer to $2M.  If Pav and Z are on the same line, our 2nd line will always be weak offensively until we get an actual scoring C for the 2nd line.  We just saw it against SJ where if we were going to score, Pav or Z had to do it, because no one else could come close to scoring a goal.

As for UFA forwards, I’d add Upshall to the list of players I’d love to see.  He can score goals and he’s the gritty kinda guy we need.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 05/29/11 at 04:20 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Not exactly.  We’re angry that we’re paying him 2nd line Center money and he doesn’t put up any points.  A 2nd line Center making over $3M a year HAS to put upa minimum or 50 points, and he can’t even put up 40.  Yes he’s good defensively, but that makes him a 3rd line center who should have a cap hit closer to $2M.

Spend some time on CapGeek and get your head on straight.  Centers with similar cap hits to Filppula:

Olli Jokinen (57 Points) - $3M Cap Hit - First Line Center (3rd Overall Draft Pick)
Dave Bolland (37 Points) - $3.375M Cap Hit - Third line Center (32nd Overall Draft Pick)
Mikko Koivu (62 Points) - $3.25M Cap Hit - First Line Center (6th Overall Draft Pick)
Dainius Zubrus (30 Points) - $3.4M Cap Hit - Third Line Center (15th Overall Draft Pick)
Jarret Stoll (42 Points) - $3.6M Cap Hit - Third Line Center (36th Overall Draft Pick)
Jochen Hecht (29 Points) - $3.525M Cap Hit - Plays Winger (49th Overall Draft Pick)
Antoine Vermette (47 Points) - $3.75M Cap Hit - First Line Center (55th Overall Draft Pick)
Alex Steen (51 Points) - $3.363M Cap Hit - Plays as Winger (24th Overall Draft Pick)
Stephen Weiss (49 Points) $3.1M Cap Hit - First Line Center (4th Overall Draft Pick)

As a Reminder:

Valtteri Filppula (39 Points) - $3M Cap Hit - 2nd(or 3rd) Line Center (95th Overall Draft Pick)

How many of those guys would you trade Filppula for? 

Great, now consider whether the other team would part with that guy.  I have a feeling that every one of the teams that has a guy you would trade Flip for would turn you down for obvious reasons.  I have a feeling that every one of the teams that has a guy you wouldn’t trade flip for would have to put the phone down for a second to celebrate if he got that call.

“He doesn’t put up any points” is bullshit.  Everybody loves to talk about how he has never put up more than 40 while forgetting that his 35 points in 55 games last year was a 51-point pace, or that if not for another freak injury, his pace this season was 45. 

They also conveniently forget that his career playoff points-per-game if stretched out to an 82-game season would give 54 points. 

We don’t need a scoring center for the 2nd line if Datsyuk and Zetterberg are playing together.  We need Johan Franzen to 1) give a shit and 2) not be hurt.  We need a guy to get him the puck and during the times that both of those two things were true, Franzen and Filppula worked awesome together. 

The guy is 27 for shit’s sake.  Trading him would give the team a net talent and potential loss for the next several years.  There is no point in trading him because he’s not living up to short-sighted and malformed expectations.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/29/11 at 05:23 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The hardest part of reading the “playing GM” comments is the your biggest point, JJ—other teams’ general managers and free agents,’ well, agents, aren’t going to bend over backwards to help the Wings.

As Holland said a few weeks ago, they want to dismantle you and hurt you.

Regarding Ericsson, I think there’s something to be said for remembering that if somebody tosses a free agent a decent but not UFA-market-value contract in February or March, his agent’s probably going to turn it down.

It’s not really a slight against the team because Holland wasn’t really interested in conducting negotiations till after the season and playoffs concluded with anybody not named Jimmy Howard.

If Rafalski hadn’t retired, I think there would have been a more realistic possibility of Ericsson choosing to test the market to get a $3-plus-million offer from somebody who was willing to overpay, but with Rafalski out of the picture and Kronwall slated to take a bigger role, Ericsson’s got a realistic chance of playing in the top four or at least being rotated into 15-to-20-minute play alongside Jakub Kindl as Babcock really liked to rotate the three defensive pairs like he rolls out four lines….

And Ericsson really could receive nearly $3 million despite his underwhelming performance if the Wings weren’t paying Kronwall and Stuart so very little ($3 million for Kronwall and $3.75 million for Stuart). The Wings have a pecking order, and as such, I don’t see him getting anything more than $2.75 million max, and more like $2.5 million realistically.

He may make mistakes of the serious-ass brain cramp variety, but the Wings still believe in his potential and simply don’t have anyone as big or physical as he is on the horizon. Smith is physical and a player Chelios mentioned, Brian Lashoff, is very promising in terms of becoming a #6 defenseman who’s both Stuart-like in his physicality and Lilja-like in terms of blocking shots and playing rock-solid, no-frills defensively (minus the Lilja boo boos)...

But for now, the Wings seem to plan on bringing Kindl along as the #6 guy and seeing whether Smith can out-compete Doug Janik for the #7 spot during training camp and the exhibition season, and it sounds like Holland’s going to realistically look for a #3 defenseman to replace not Rafalski, but instead Kronwall’s production as Nik Jr. graduates to the #2 spot.

Regarding Hudler, he admittedly drives me nuts and I really do believe that he’s easier to pawn off than trying to get equal value for Filppula, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if Hudler was on the roster next fall.

The Wings seemed to talk about him in Ericsson-like terms throughout the regular season and didn’t blast him after the playoffs, and certainly based on the fact that he ended up winning a spot on the playoff roster over Modano or Miller more often than not, and given his usage in key moments (he only played 10-14 minutes most nights), Babcock never seemed to give up on him.

We’ll have to see what the Wings do. The team tends not to make change for change’s sake and it tends to value stability and banking on improvement from within instead of improvement via overpaying on the free agent market, so…

We might see a Wings team without Ericsson, Draper, Osgood, Hudler or Filppula and maybe one of Eaves or Miller, and we might see a Wings team that has every one of those players on the roster and has only chosen to sign a #2/3 defenseman and cross its fingers about continuity delivering results.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/29/11 at 07:23 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

We’ve got Brad Stuart, so that’s three guys

Yes please, to Disco Stu getting some PP time.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/29/11 at 07:28 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/29/11 at 04:23 PM ET

Putting your ‘I’m smarter that you’ tone aside, your list of players doesn’t really say what you seem to think it does, and I’m not really sure why you include players listed as Center that don’t play Center.

Your list essentially consists of Centers that do put up 50+ points with a similar cap hit (proving my point), and Centers that play on very bad offensive teams, and, like Filppula, are overpayed for what they provide (proving my other point).  There’s a reason teams like LA, Columbus, and Florida struggle to score goals.

I like Filppula as a 3rd line Center if he was making $1M less than he currently is, put he’s not worth $3M a year.

And you’re right, he does put up decent playoff numbers, and he was downright great during the 08 run, but it would be nice if he could do it a lot more consistently.

Funny part is your berating me for calling for his trade because it would be hard to get the kind of player I want in return, yet I never said I wanted him traded in my original post, I just said I’m unhappy with his production for his cap hit.  The only way to really trade him and get a net gain in return would be to package him with a draft pick.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 05/29/11 at 08:00 PM ET

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The team tends not to make change for change’s sake

You’ve used this phrase several times recently and I have to say, I just don’t get it.  The Red Wings have been more than patient with Hudler.  They put up with the KHL vs Abritration thing, they welcomed him with open arms back into the fold, and he repaid the hospitality and the 150% raise by having his production drop by a third while playing about the same minutes per game as his last year with Detroit.

How is trading him change for the sake of change?

How is not signing Osgood, who hasn’t been NHL calibre for a couple of years now, change for the sake of change?

How is not keeping Ericsson around and in fact giving him a pretty substantial raise that he hasn’t yet earned change for the sake of change?

Last year we had a built-in excuse when we lost to the Sharks.  The injury bug hit and we had to fight for a playoff spot for the first time in a long time.

This year, we had a team that was better than last year’s team, cruised easily to a 3rd seed and then got beaten by the same team, in the same round as last year.  And guess what?  There are no easy built-in excuses.  Franzen wasn’t 100%?  Dany Heatley was playing with a broken hand and Patrick Marleau was invisible.

Change for the sake of change?  Trying to improve a team by being proactive, rather than just digging through the clearance bin of UFA and picking up castoffs off the waiver wire, is not change for the sake of change.

The idea that Ken Holland is happy with the team that couldn’t get past the second round for two years in a row is preposterous.

Is this the same guy who signed Marian Hossa because he thought it would improve the defending Stanley Cup champs?

Posted by Garth on 05/29/11 at 08:08 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

and I’m not really sure why you include players listed as Center that don’t play Center.

Because Filppula doesn’t always play center either (plus my sources, NHL.com, Yahoo, and Wikipedia don’t always agree what makes a player a center…  I still consider Zetterberg a center, but lots of sites have him listed as a left wing).

I apologize for my tone.  I read more into your comment than what you put because I see a lot of comments about people who have no concept of actual value.  I was taking my frustration out on them because your comment was similar (though not the same).

The thing is that Filppula is definitely shown that he can put up 50 points.  You won’t find a lot of teams that have $2M third-line centers that can put up 50 and are both young and as defensively responsible as Filppula is.  I think you’re expecting too much and I definitely do not think he’s overpaid with a $3M cap hit.  If anything, I see a lot of teams spending $4-5M on their 2nd-line centers.  Sure, they’re getting more production out of them, but it’s arguable that they’re getting more value. 

Could you give me a breakdown of which centers at similar cap hits are overpaid and which aren’t, because it’s not exceedingly obvious to me. 

Weiss is overpaid for being a first-line center on a terrible offensive team? (disagree)
Columbus overpays Vermette as the closest thing they can afford to a guy who can feed Rick Nash the puck?  (I agree with this)
LA overpays Stoll?  (yep)

None of those players consistenly put up 50 points in their career.

So that leaves Jokinen, Steen, and Koivu as the ones that “prove” that Filppula is overpaid at $3M?

I would not trade Filppula for Jokinen at all.  The guy’s a headcase with a shitty attitude.  If we’re looking at numbers, Jokinen seems valuable.  If we’re looking at the complete picture, Jokinen is terrible.

Mikko Koivu is a trade I’d make in a heartbeat.  If his cap hit and points production “prove” anything, it’s that the guy is likely woefully underpaid for the value he brings to Minnesota. 

As for Steen, he has not shown that he can consistently put up 50 points.  This is his first time cracking 50.  He’s a first-round pick from the same year that Flip went in the third round.  He’s played a lot more games than Filppula and people in St. Louis are also worrying that he’s not ever going to be a top-line player.  The difference is that Steen was drafted 71 spots higher than Filppula and has a cap hit that would have made the difference between Detroit being able to call up Cory Emmerton at some point this season.  I wouldn’t make that trade either.

This isn’t a cherry-picked list, this is a look around the league.  There are players who provide more value than Filppula, but there are a whole shitload who do not.  Ultimately, I believe Flip is worth his $3M cap hit, but I want to see his numbers go up.  Teams don’t win championships anymore on players that are worth their money.  The financial reality is that a team needs players to be worth more than they’re worth.  Flip needs to put that together next year. 

Packaged with a draft pick or not, what do you realistically think we could and should get in return for him?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/29/11 at 08:25 PM ET

Chet's avatar

You’ve used this phrase several times recently and I have to say, I just don’t get it.  The Red Wings have been more than patient with Hudler.  They put up with the KHL vs Abritration thing, they welcomed him with open arms back into the fold, and he repaid the hospitality and the 150% raise by having his production drop by a third while playing about the same minutes per game as his last year with Detroit.

How is trading him change for the sake of change?

How is not signing Osgood, who hasn’t been NHL calibre for a couple of years now, change for the sake of change?

How is not keeping Ericsson around and in fact giving him a pretty substantial raise that he hasn’t yet earned change for the sake of change?

Last year we had a built-in excuse when we lost to the Sharks.  The injury bug hit and we had to fight for a playoff spot for the first time in a long time.

This year, we had a team that was better than last year’s team, cruised easily to a 3rd seed and then got beaten by the same team, in the same round as last year.  And guess what?  There are no easy built-in excuses.  Franzen wasn’t 100%?  Dany Heatley was playing with a broken hand and Patrick Marleau was invisible.

Change for the sake of change?  Trying to improve a team by being proactive, rather than just digging through the clearance bin of UFA and picking up castoffs off the waiver wire, is not change for the sake of change.

The idea that Ken Holland is happy with the team that couldn’t get past the second round for two years in a row is preposterous.

Is this the same guy who signed Marian Hossa because he thought it would improve the defending Stanley Cup champs?

i wrote a piece that’s supposed to end up in the members’ blog area basically saying the same thing: the wings need to address slightly more turnover than we’re used to this summer, in any number of ways. rafi’s retirement just opens up more options.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 05/29/11 at 08:40 PM ET

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None of those players consistenly put up 50 points in their career.

I honestly agree with you about trading Filppula, this argument holds no water since Filppula hasn’t consistently put up 40 points per season in his career.

And yeah, he’s missed 40-point seasons because of injury but to me Filppula being a consistent 40-point player is the same thing with Franzen being a 40-goal scorer; until he’s actually done it, he hasn’t done it.

Posted by Garth on 05/29/11 at 09:45 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Derian Hatcher wasn’t even the best American-born defenseman in his own nuclear family.


LOL…...In their primes - I’d take Kevin over Derian too. Less defens, but far more offense with Kevin.

Posted by Down River Dan on 05/29/11 at 10:19 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by Garth on 05/29/11 at 08:45 PM ET

Do you think he’s overpaid by a million cap hit dollars?

Not to make excuses and move the goalposts too much for Flip where I won’t do it for Stoll, Vermette, and Weiss (because only one of them was a top-ten draft pick and all three of them have roughly two more seasons’ worth of experience), but since the contract he was awarded in the summer of 2008, his per-game production has him at 43 points per season. 

I know, that’s not the same thing as consistently putting up 40 points, considering he’s only technically done that once in those three campaigns.

My argument is that expecting consistent 50-point production for a $3M second-line center doesn’t seem to be a realistic expectation.  Only Jokinen and Koivu fit that mold.

Getting back to the major talking points, I would like the Wings to go get another surefire top-six forward (after addressing the defense).  It’s clear that the Wings probably won’t get equal short-term value for either Filppula or Hudler and the consensus seems to be that, if you’re going to trade one of them, Hudler should be the one to go (I also agree with this).  I think that with another top-six forward who actually cares about the regular season, Filppula can get back to increasing his points pace.  Based solely on my blind and annoying optimism, I feel that when Filppula’s contract comes up in the summer of 2013, many are going to look back at the seasons starting in 2011 and 2012 and be very happy with the fact that those two years had a mere $3M cap hit.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/29/11 at 10:25 PM ET

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Sometimes I wish I proofread:

I agree with you, but this argument holds no water…

Posted by Garth on 05/29/11 at 10:29 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Quick correction on Mikko Koivu.

His cap hit this last year was $3.25M, but he signed a new contract that makes his cap hit going forward $6.75M.

Totally forgot that the Wild took care of the part where Mikko Koivu was woefully underpaid.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/29/11 at 10:51 PM ET

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I think that with another top-six forward who actually cares about the regular season, Filppula can get back to increasing his points pace.

I absolutely agree with this and I’d love to see what Filppula can do with some consistency. The first and fourth lines are pretty solid and consistent but the second and third lines are in such flux that it’s hard to really complain about any one player’s production.  If they could bring someone in to play with Filppula and Franzen consistently, that would go a long way towards some solid line combos and players who can play together regularly and that might show us what some of these guys are really made of.

Posted by Garth on 05/29/11 at 11:26 PM ET

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George,

You mention only 3 viable free agent forward options, Laich, Tanguay, and Vrbata…

What about Brad Richards? None of the ones you mention even compare to him. Isn’t he the most viable option by far? He brings more strength and brawn to the Wings. He’s the #1 available free agent. The old Red Wings, the champion Red Wings, wouldn’t have hesitated to sign him. He’s the #1 free agent, and he would allow the Wings to play Datsyuk and Zetterberg together. If this were the champion Red Wings past, they would say, “He’s the #1 free agent, therefore, he’s a Red Wing.”

What’s different now? Even as recently as 2008, they did the same thing with Marian Hossa. They were bold. They made the move, and it was a fantastic move. Why is Holland so timid all of a sudden? Why is Detroit not the favorite to sign Brad Richards right now, as they should be, and as they would have been in years past? The fact that no one is even talking about the possibility makes me think there is no chance of this happening, that Holland isn’t even considering it, and that’s precisely what I can’t understand.

What has happened to this organization???

Posted by Johnson22 on 05/30/11 at 04:58 AM ET

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George, everyone else, question #2.

The Wings will have 14 million or so in cap space this offseason. Before this article, I think everyone’s assumption was that the Wings would spend 10 mil or so on that on two 5mil~ defenseman, and maybe the remainder on another top 7 forward or two.

Now, from the interview posted here, it seems Ken Holland is only planning on spending 3-4 million on 1 free agent defenseman.

So here’s my question. The Wings are spending to the cap no matter what, I assume, (yes? can someone confirm this?), so if Ken Holland is saying he’s only planning on signing a #3 defenseman (for 3-4 mil, one assumes), even though there are top pairing defenders available, and of course signing a #2 defenseman improves your team more than signing a #3, and you consider that the Wings have 14 mil or so in cap room, does this then mean that Ken Holland is planning on spending 10 million on forwards? (10 million = 14 mil of cap space minus the 4 mil on the #3 defenseman).

Is that the secret plan? That he views the forward group as a much bigger need than the defense? And maybe Brad Richards is a possibility after all?

Because if he’s spending to the cap no matter what, and he’s not spending much of that money on the defense, as he says right here in this article that he’s not, then that means he’s either planning on spending a lot more on goaltending, like a Bryzgalov, or he’s planning on spending it on the forwards. And we all know he’s not going after Bryzgalov, so it has to be the forwards then, right?

Because whether Kronwall is good enough to be a #2 or not is really beside the point. just because you have him, it doesn’t mean you don’t go out and sign another top pairing defenseman. The whole notion of, “Kronwall can step into the #2 role, so all we need is a #3,” either that’s lethargy and Holland no longer is committed to excellence, or it’s cap related. Because if you really want to win and you have unlimited cap, obviously the tune would be different. You’d say, yes, Kronwall CAN step into a #2 role, but we’ll be a better team if he’s a #3 still, and we have an even better #2. In fact, with unlimited cap, we’ll just make Kronwall our #6, and we’ll sign every single defenseman available who is better than him, and make them our top 5, and we’ll have the best defense corps of all time.

So my question is, the fact that Holland seems to be penny pinching on the defense, the fact that he’s saying, “We COULD sign a #2, but instead we’re going to save a little money and have Kronwall step in as our #2, and then just sign a less expensive #3,” is the fact that Holland seems to be penny pinching on defense, even though they seemingly have plenty of room to really, really upgrade the defense (if that’s their main focus)... does this mean the defense isn’t his main focus, and the REASON he’s penny pinching on defense is because he really wants to spend huge bucks on the forwards?

What do you guys think?

The way I see it, if Holland is only planning to spend 3-4 mil on the backend even though he has way more cap room than that, and we all thought the backend needed to be a big focus in the offseason, the way I see it is that either means:

1. He’s saving money to sign a big goaltender (which seems so unlikely)
2. He’s saving money to either sign Brad Richards, or to spend big money on other UFA forwards (or to trade for one)
3. He’s not going to spend to cap

And I believe it has to be one of the latter two.

Could he really not spend to the cap?

And if he is spending to the cap, and it would be a crime if he didn’t and I would no longer support this team if, after being eliminated two years in a row in the 2nd round, when they most need to improve, they decided to lower their standards and penny pinch… but assuming they do spend to the cap, if they’re only spending 4 mil on another defenseman, and it takes another 10 mil or so of forwards to reach the cap, does that mean they’re planning on either Richards or Parise? How else do you get to the cap without massively overpaying people? Spending 5 million on Laich, and another 5 on Tanguay, I mean that would do it, but it seems so below them. They’re smarter than that, at least they used to be. Laich is wildly overrated, and Tanguay is pretty damn good actually but he can be had for a lot less, plus he’s not reliable enough year to year to invest that much money in.

So then what’s the explanation? Are they just going to waste all the cap on their own players? Chris Osgood another 1.5 million, Ericsson 2.5 million, and they keep both Hudler and Filppula… that’s one way to waste all your would-be cap space. But assuming they free up as much cap space as possible (trading Hudler or Filppula, either letting Ericsson go or re-signing him for much less, re-signing Osgood for no more than 600k, only keeping 20-21 players on the roster as opposed to 23-24 with a bunch of healthy scratches each game, which just wastes cap space)...

...assuming they free up as much space as possible, how do they reach the cap if they’re only going to spend 4 mil on UFA defenseman? Is Holland really planning to spend 10 million on UFA or trade forwards, and if so, which forwards? Has to be a Brad Richards in there, no?

Posted by Johnson22 on 05/30/11 at 05:16 AM ET

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What has happened to this organization???

There’s this thing called the salary cap?

What do you guys think?

I think you’re forgetting about a guy named Lidstrom.  Assuming he’s coming back, he’s going to make about $6M.

And we’ve only got 10 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie under contract.  That’s 9 roster spots we have to fill.

Could he really not spend to the cap?

Yes, because he’s going to want to make sure he has the space to re-sign Stuart, Kronwall, Helm and Abdelkader.

Posted by Garth on 05/30/11 at 08:20 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Sorry about the absence of an overnight report…My internet service went down at 8 PM on Sunday and it’s still down. I will return when I have more than internet access via my phone.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/30/11 at 11:05 AM ET

monkey's avatar

What has happened to this organization???

Salary cap. 

I have mentioned the possiblity of the Red Wings singing Brad Richards, for whatever that is worth, but the reality is it will be tough to sign another top tier forward and fill out the rest of the roster with anything more than scrubs, especially when defense is the focus and Kronwall, Stuart, and hopefully Lidstrom (most likely case seems to be another one year contract) will all be UFA next year.

When Holland signed Hossa he said at the time it was a one year one time thing.  That cap space got taken up by signing Zetterberg and Franzen to long term big money contracts.

George has a hissy fit whenever someone mentions it, but Lidstrom signing for low money would give the Wings lots of cap space to play the market with.  If Lidstrom came back for a million, the Wings signed a $3 million d-man to fill Rafalski’s roster spot (as Holland has himself suggested they want to do, with Kronwall moving up to the #2 slot), and the others came back for similar money as they made last season, Detroit could conceivably have the cap space to sign Richards to a reasonable salary (by reasonable I mean $7.45ish million per year).  There has, however, been no indication that Lidstrom wants to play for way less than he is worth, and at least a few of the other UFA are due a raise.  There are a number of other issues with that scenario, #1 being how much Kronwall can command on the open market in 2012.

The fact is a guy like Brad Richards is going to want money and term and that is not necessarily going to work for the Red Wings in both the short and long term.  We do not want our own Ilya Kovalchuk.

Could he really not spend to the cap?

Yes.  He has expressed repeatedly in the past how he doesn’t like going into the season with no wiggle room in the salary department.  Having $3 million or so to play with mid-season would be a rare and desirable luxury for the Red Wings.

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 05/30/11 at 11:20 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I know that I’ve been accused of telling people how to be a fan before and that it’s generally not a good idea to even discuss that, but this:

And if he is spending to the cap, and it would be a crime if he didn’t and I would no longer support this team

I’m allowed to think that’s a shitty thing to say, right?

he fact that no one is even talking about the possibility makes me think there is no chance of this happening, that Holland isn’t even considering it, and that’s precisely what I can’t understand.

What has happened to this organization???

Richards has been mentioned before.  The fact was that nobody was talking about bringing Hossa on board and that’s what ended up happening.  Holland is smarter than the fans.  Don’t assume that he’s not on the Wings’ radar.  Telling the media that you want a specific guy tends to make his asking price go up.  I have a theory this is one of the baseline contributors to the reason that the Eastern Conference is inferior to the West.  There’s simply more media out East and guys get bloated expectations of their own worth as a result.

only keeping 20-21 players on the roster as opposed to 23-24 with a bunch of healthy scratches each game, which just wastes cap space)...

There’s a fundamental flaw in the thinking about why a team keeps a full roster instead of chancing only having 20-21 players around.  If you play around with the minimum, you leave yourself zero room for injury.  The thought that you can just magically pluck a ready-to-play-in-the-NHL player out of Grand Rapids in case of injury does not work for several reasons.
1) Take a look at how the Blackhawks handled filling their roster with not-ready-for-primetime players when they had injuries.
2) What you’re also “wasting” by doing it this way is the ability to keep several players’ signing rights.  The more games these not-ready players play in the NHL, the closer they get to qualifying for unrestricted free agency or waiver eligibility.  This is a good way to run your own well dry before you’re ready.  It’s also completely against the Red Wings’ organizational philosophy.
3) If they are ready to play in the NHL, they’re going to be waiver eligible.  Piggybacking on George’s point above, if I’m a GM and I see a team that’s struggling because their GM was foolish enough to try to save $1-1.5M on cap space by intentionally shortening his roster and now they have to call people up because of injury, I’m even more likely to pluck one of their players off waivers just to screw things up for them.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/30/11 at 11:33 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Also, when the Wings won the cup in 2007-08, they did it with about $4M in cap space.

The Penguins in the next year did it with about $1.5M

Only last season and this season will see teams spending at (and over) the cap to win the cup (regardless of whether Boston or Vancouver does it). 

The Canucks will still be in decent shape losing the depth they will invariably lose, the Blackhawks are still going to struggle for another year before they can really compete for the cup again.  Great, spending up to the cap has about a 50% success ratio in a very small sample size. 

I honestly didn’t think that Vancouver’s plan to have six 2nd-pair defensemen and two third-pairing guys would work out for them without a true top set.  We’ll see what happens to their D-Corps in the offseason and whether that will mean the difference between being a top-tier competitor and first-round fodder.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/30/11 at 11:46 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Everybody: please keep the tone polite and the personal attacks to a minimum. This has gotten out of control and I’m not going to tolerate it. I should have said something yesterday but the no interweb = not much access to the comments.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/30/11 at 12:47 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

it would be a crime if he didn’t and I would no longer support this team if, after being eliminated two years in a row in the 2nd round, when they most need to improve, they decided to lower their standards and penny pinch…

boy that’s an entirely different type of fan than I am

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/30/11 at 02:48 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Part of the reason that Nick will not intentionally lowball himself, as well-intentioned as that may be, is that the NHLPA would call for his head—he can screw up not only the asking price for UFA players, but the amount in general that goes to the players.  It would be a rare case indeed, but may have ramifications for the future of the PA, and Nick is not going to help handicap them after he’s retired—that’s genuine class.  I wouldn’t rule out a haircut, but it’s a farce to think that he’ll re-sign for a million.

And at just over $3.9 million a year cap hit, I wouldn’t call Mule’s contract ‘big money,’ exactly, but that’s just semantics (look Monkey, you nitpick me on Ozymandias…;-)

Also, it seems a lot of teams tend to play with four second-pair defensemen and two or three third-pairing guys.  Defensive defensement that don’t contribute many points, but take care of their own end.  it’s the rare team that has puckmovers on the bottom pairing and legitimate #1 defensemen.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/30/11 at 04:43 PM ET

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Don’t know if people are still checking this, but no one really answered my question. People just said I was forgetting that Lidstrom would get a big chunk of the cap space, and then there wouldn’t be much left for high money players.

But, by my math…

Adding up all the players under contract next season, per capgeek, the Wings are only at 40.8 million. That’s with 10 forwards, 3 defenseman, and 1 goaltender.

Hudler has no place on this team, so you take away his 2.85 million cap hit, now you’re at 38 million with 9 forwards, 3 defenseman, and 1 goaltender. The aging, injury plagued Chris Osgood screams cap-minimum, but let’s say he gets 600k. That’s 38.6 million now, and you’ve got your two goaltenders. I would think Lidstrom could be re-signed for 3-4 million of Holland really made a point of it, but let’s say he gets 5 million. That’s 43.6 million with 9 forwards, 4 defensemen (this is including Kindl), and 9 forwards. Let’s say Brenden Smith is on the team too, so he and Kindl will slot in anywhere between #5 and #7. Smith has an .875 caphit (although thats probably with bonuses, so it could be less), so 43.6 + .9 = 44.5 million. 9 forwards, 6 defenseman, 2 goaltenders.

You still need another top 4 Dman to go with Lidstrom, Kronwall, and Stuart, so let’s add that 3.5 million #3 defenseman Holland says he’s planning to sign. That’s 48 million, 9 forwards, 6 defenseman, 2 goaltenders. Let’s add a vet #5 defenseman who can step in as a #4 if one of the top 4 gets injured, let’s say a little more pricey one than Salei, and therefore a better one. A 1.5 million quality #5. That’s 49.5 million, 9 forwards, 7 defenseman, and 2 goaltenders. If you want to add an 8th defenseman for a million, you can do that too, but I’m going to save that for the deadline.

If the cap is 62 million, you have 62 = 49.5 = 12.5 million now to for three forwards.
Brad Richards get 8 million a year in salary, front loaded, 6 million cap hit. That’s 55.5 million, two more forwards needed. Patrick Eaves was pretty good on the PK, let’s re-sign him at his .75 rate. 56.25 million, 1 forward needed. Drew Miller can come back too at his .625 million. 56.85 million, 12 forwards, 7 defenseman, 2 goaltenders. .Cory Emmerton looks ready to me, he’s the 13th forward, .821 cap hit, 57.6~ million.

Now the roster is:


Datsyuk - Zetterberg - Holmstrom
Filppula - Richards - Franzen
Helm - Abdelkader - Cleary
Eaves - Miller - Bertuzzi
Emmerton

Lidstrom - Kronwall
Stuart - 3.5 million
1.5 million - Smith
Kindl

And we’re still almost 5 million under the cap here. What do you want? Joni Pitkanen? Maybe even Andrei Markov? Or you can add ANOTHER top 6 forward.

Assuming the 3.5 million defenseman adequately replaces Rafalski (which he should because Rafalski wasn’t that great when he had to play so injured), the defense is just as good as last season. The 1.5 million #5 defenseman is going to be better than Salei, and Smith should be just as good, hopefully better, than Ericsson. So if you go the “another top 6 forward” route, the defense is just as good, and your forward group is… how much better would you say having Brad Richards and a new 4 million dollar forward too is compared to Jiri Hudler?

Or, you can use that remaining 4-5 mil on Pitkanen, Markov, or whatever defenseman you chose. Or, instead of re-signing Drew Miller, you can use his .625k and a portion of the remaining 4 million to sign a couple Raffi Torres types, maybe upgrade those bottom lines instead. Whatever you choose.

So here are the new rosters. First using the two top six forward route.

Datsyuk - Zetterberg - Holmstrom
4 million - Richards - Franzen (this second line, with a healthy Franzen, is the top line on basically every other NHL team besides maybe Anaheim, Pittsburgh when Malkin and Crosby play together, and Vancouver)
Filppula - Helm - Clearly (hell of a third line)
Eaves - Abdelkader - Bertuzzi
Miller, Emmerton

Lidstrom - Kronwall
Stuart - 3.5 million
1.5 million - Smith
Kindl

Now the extra defenseman route.

Datsyuk - Zetterberg - Holmstrom
Filppula - Richards - Franzen
Helm - Abdelkader - Cleary
Eaves - Miller - Bertuzzi
Emmerton

Lidstrom - Kronwall
Stuart - Markov/Pitkanen
1.5 million - 3.5 million
Smith, Kindl

What am I missing? People here telling me we can’t sign Richards because I’m forgetting Lidstrom… Why do I even have to go to the trouble of typing all this a second time? This is what I said in my first posts. This was the question I asked. I basically said, there is loads of cap room, like 14 million (after Lidstrom’s 5 million, obviously), I can fit Richards AND Pitkanen onto this team and stay under the cap, so why is Holland acting like he can’t fit EITHER?

That’s what I was asking. Many of you guys just condescended and insulted me instead of answering my question. Now that I’ve spelled it out so a kindergartener could get it, someone please answer the question. And don’t give me any of that “You couldn’t get Richards on a 6 mil cap hit.” Obviously if it takes 6 million to re-sign Lidstrom, not 5, and 7.5 caphit to sign Richards, and not 6, that would just mean you can’t have Pitkanen AND Richards. It would mean you’d be able to get Richards and Raffi Torres, or someone else. People love to use that argument because if you discredit just one of the numbers of one of the players, you can discredit the person’s whole proposal in many people’s minds, especially if they’re already really close to the cap. Luckily I don’t have to worry about that with what I posted because I achieved everything I wanted to, and everything Holland said he wanted to do (except instead of “another top 6 forward” I added Brad Richards), while still being 5 million under the cap, which means it still works in every scenario short of Brad Richards needing a 10 million dollar cap hit to sign, which I’m not anticipating…

So what’s the answer? If at worst I can fit at least Brad Richards + superior role players under the cap on top of Lidstrom, the #3 defenseman, and filling out the roster, and at best Brad Richards AND a Pitkanen or the like, how come Ken Holland is acting like they can’t fit either?

That’s what I want to know. Someone, please.

Also the process of elimination question is still valid. No one here has been told by Ken Holland what he plans to do, but if we assume they are spending to the cap, and Holland has told us he’s not going to spend much on the defense, does that not suggest he plans to spend big big big $$$ on the forwards? It would seem to me that’s the one explanation. It’s like an SAT question. After re-signing his returning free agents, Kenny has 18 million dollars to spend on free agents, but he says he’s only going to spend 5 million (total, on the #3 & #5) on the defense. Kenny’s team already has its starting goaltender, so what will Kenny do with his remaining 13 million in cap space?

A. Either spend it on forwards, or not spend it at all
B. Buy 20,000 Buicks for himself and his extended family
C. Start an online poker career
D. Invest in changing America’s standardized testing format

The point is, by process of elimination, it seems like the only logical explanation is that Holland is either going to spend all that massive cap space on forwards, or he’s never going to have massive cap space to start with because he’s going to keep Hudler, and re-sign guys like Ericsson, Miller, and Eaves to 2 million dollar contracts. Nothing else makes logical sense to me. That’s why I’m bringing it up. I think I’ve figured out this massive revelation for you guys, that we now have figured out Holland’s offseason plan by process of elimination, and I was curious about peoples’ actual thoughts on the subject, instead of “you’re not a real fan,” and “There won’t be much cap space left because Lidstrom is going to take up 12 million by himself.”

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/02/11 at 09:08 AM ET

Avatar

It’s supposed to say 62 - 49.5 = 12.5, not 62 = 49.5 = 12.5

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/02/11 at 09:42 AM ET

Avatar

And here, for those that don’t like to read long posts, I’ve simplified it. Here’s ‘how to build a cup winner, immediately, in less than (1000?) characters.

Datsyuk (6.7) - Zetterberg (6.083) - Holmstrom (1.875)
Filppula (3) - Richards (6 - would be paid 8 mil per yr, but 6 mil cap hit) - Franzen (3.95)
Helm (.9125) - Abdelkader (.7875) - Cleary (2.8)
Mursak (.55) - Miller (.65) - Bertuzzi (1.937)
Emmerton (.533)

Lidstrom (5) - Kronwall (3)
Markov (5.2) - Pitkanen (4.4)
Stuart (3.75) - Smith (.875)
Kindl (.883)

Howard (2.25)
Osgood (.6)

= 61.741378 total

Cap will be 62 mil plus.

AT MINIMUM, you can get Brad Richards and one of Markov or Pitkanen. At minimum. If Pitkanen won’t sign for less than 5 million, if Markov wants 6, if you can’t get Richards’ cap hit down to 6 mil, then you may have to settle for just two of those three. But it’s definitely possible to get all three. Or you can just get Richards and Markov, for instance, and then instead of paying Pitkanen 5 mil, you might have to settle for Brewer at 4 mil, or someone else in that range.

Bottom line, at minimum, you can sign Brad Richards, one of Pitkanen or Markov, and then a 3rd free agent, either another top 4 defenseman, or a top 6 forward. Either way, you should end up with three impact players, including Brad Richards, from free agency. So that’s what Wings fans should expect out of this year’s free agency. It as simple as what I just outlined. It will take a few days of talking to agents, finding the best return for Jiri Hudler, etc, but that all comes with the territory. The point is the players are available, and the cap space is there in droves. All it will take to build the Wings back into the best team in the NHL for next season is a little bit of execution on this plan by Ken Holland.

Posted by Johnson22 on 06/02/11 at 10:02 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

What am I missing?

A whole lot of reality.

so why is Holland acting like he can’t fit EITHER?

Again, Holland has to deal with the reality that everything you tell the media before July 1 echoes on July 1.  If you talk too much about ANY specifics, you increase the costs on the players you want.  This is the fans talking, not Holland.

Luckily I don’t have to worry about that with what I posted because I achieved everything I wanted to

I’m not going to say that Brad Richards isn’t a possibility, but I don’t have to discredit just one number, you have a LOT of bad numbers.

Hudler has no place on this team, so you take away his 2.85 million cap hit

And you get what in return?

The aging, injury plagued Chris Osgood screams cap-minimum, but let’s say he gets 600k. That’s 38.6 million now, and you’ve got your two goaltenders.

He screams cap-minimum to you, but the wings are not going to get a cap-minimum backup who can play 20-25 games.  You also forgot an entire goaltender, as the Wings need to sign 2.  You’re missing about $1.4M worth of goaltending in your fantasy.

let’s add that 3.5 million #3 defenseman Holland says he’s planning to sign… Assuming the 3.5 million defenseman adequately replaces Rafalski (which he should because Rafalski wasn’t that great when he had to play so injured)

Rafalski was overpaid, but he was not overpaid by $2.5M.  If you want a guy to “adequately” replace him, you’re spending in the $4-5M range.

Patrick Eaves was pretty good on the PK, let’s re-sign him at his .75 rate.

And while we’re at it, let’s buy ourselves ponies.  Patrick Eaves spent time on the first line.  He is going to sign for at least a million and probably closer to $1.25.

Just those three numbers and you’re already off by $3.4M.  Let’s forget that Miller is also going to remind Holland that he scored ten goals this season from the fourth line and did a hell of a job killing penalties. Would be weird for the guy behind him on the depth chart (Emmerton in your opinion), to be making less money than he does.

I also think that $5M for Lidstrom is a lowball.  He deserves to win the Norris Trophy and if he wants to make $6 (as he should), then he’s going to make $6M.

All-in-all, I think your numbers are off by about $5M, which is just about the amount of room you thought we would have if Brad Richards signs with a cap hit of $6M to a front-loaded long-term deal.

Which means that Brad Richards is still a feasible thought.  I just don’t think it will happen.  With the uncertainty going into the following offseason and the idea that a new CBA is going to have to be ironed out (which may include a $10M drop in the salary cap in a year that the Wings will need to re-sign Kronwall and Stuart), I don’t see the Wings adding Brad Richards to a long-term deal.  As for this:

I was curious about peoples’ actual thoughts on the subject, instead of “you’re not a real fan,” and “There won’t be much cap space left because Lidstrom is going to take up 12 million by himself.”

Nobody said he’s going to take up 12 million by himself and threatening to take away your rooting interest for a club because you’re not happy with their spending strategy remains a shitty thing to say in my estimation.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/02/11 at 10:22 AM 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.