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‘Three Things’: On Vili Saarijarvi, Reilly Webb and a conversation with Jeff Salajko

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an article in which she discusses Vili Saarijarvi's progress made since being drafted 2 years ago:

I think I have improved a lot, on the ice and off the ice, too, strength-wise,” Saarijarvi said. “I’ve gotten a lot stronger and put some weight on. I am not going to get so much taller, so it is about getting stronger. I know I am a good skater, that I can play the game.”

Saarijarvi stands about 5 feet 10. He said he was around 160 pounds when he was drafted, and is now around 175 pounds.

That Saarijarvi shoots right was part of the appeal in drafting him, as right-shot defensemen are rarer than left-shooting ones. Saarijarvi is mobile, makes good decisions with the puck, and has a knack for getting his shot through from the blueline. He’ll have a chance with the Griffins to show he can run a power play in the AHL, as he did in the OHL.

“It is going to be a lot harder to do at the next level but I want to take the challenge and work on it as much as possible,” Saarijarvi said. “I can do a lot of skill stuff.”

St. James continues, and she posted a video of Saarijarvi speaking during the Wings' summer development camp:

2. Hooked on Hockey Magazine's Kevin Sporka posted a Q and A with 2017 draft pick Reilly Webb:

Describe your feelings getting drafted by Detroit? Yeah, I’m pretty excited to be drafted by such a great organization. I couldn’t be more happy. Day 1 of camp was pretty good.

What style of hockey do you play? I’d say a defensive defenseman. I like to use my size to my advantage and do whatever I can to win, whether it’s block a shot, or do whatever I can.

What are your thoughts being at this camp? Everyone here is a good guy. You know, first day of camp was a little challenging, but I think you need to challenge yourself in order to make yourself better. That’s what they stressed here today. You want to take care of your body, take care of yourself, and challenge yourself out here

Sporka continues...

3. And the latest "Red and White Authority Podcast" from DetroitRedWings.com's Arthur J. Regner consists of an 11-minute chat with Red Wings goalie coach Jeff Salajko:

Update: The Athletic's Frank Provenzano penned an subscriber-only article in which he dicusses the salary arbitration process:

Arbitration is one of the least enjoyable chores in an NHL front office. In my experience, most general managers have a 10,000-foot view of the process but delegate the ‘in-the-weeds’ nuts and bolts to someone, ahem, like myself.

If I had a dime for every time I received an incredulous look from a GM when I laid out the arbitration risk outcome, I probably could have retired a long time ago. Arbitration is usually a way for players to get to a salary level that they know they couldn’t get to in a normal contract negotiation. And most NHL GM’s resent that.

The rub here is that, because the player controls the election process, the team is usually going into the game with a weaker hand from a numbers perspective. The only way to really combat this fact is to tear down the player’s argument which, by definition, involves tearing down the player. And that player is almost always (by design) seated 15 feet across from you at the hearing.

When push comes to shove, most NHL GMs (with the notable exception of Mike Milbury, who infamously reduced Tommy Salo to tears) won’t go there.

The rational approach to arbitration is to present your arguments and let the chips fall where they may. But this is not always a rational process, which might be one reason why Red Wings’ GM Ken Holland has avoided the hearing room over the course of his tenure as Detroit GM. Expect more of the same when it comes to Tomas Tatar.

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Temo's avatar

Hope you’re rested up and feeling better, George!  Superb coverage of this year’s camp! Many thanks, brother!

Posted by Temo from La Capital, Míchígán on 07/15/17 at 06:06 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Admittedly its been awhile since I’ve seen Saarijarvi live, but if you got him skating backwards, he was a hot mess. Lots of scrambling and falling over, and if he’s still the same it makes him absolutely useless for defense, especially considering his size. The last thing Detroit needs is more defensive liabilities.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 07/15/17 at 06:39 PM ET


So we drafted him 2 years ago. He attended our development camp and was given professional NHL guidance on diet, nutrition, fitness…and after roughly 25 months he’s gained just 15 pounds? And these are the ages between 18 and 20 when some guys easily add 20, 30, even 40 pounds.

I dunno. This doesn’t sound too promising. It has Almquist 2.0 written all over it. By the way, Almquist helped lead his team to the Swedish championship last season. Making a nice living. He did score 1 goal in 2 career NHL games.

Posted by fatsavage on 07/15/17 at 11:25 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

once upon a time

Posted by MoreShoot on 07/15/17 at 11:34 PM ET


From all of the reports out of camp it sounds like his skating is a strong part of his game. If he can be a first pass, quick outlet kind of D man, similar to Rafalski in his prime, he can be a valuable asset.

Given his size, he might need a big mobile partner though….one who plays with an edge.

Posted by NewfieWing on 07/16/17 at 12:27 AM ET


And these are the ages between 18 and 20 when some guys easily add 20, 30, even 40 pounds.

Ahhh. I see you remember your party days from college.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 07/16/17 at 11:10 AM ET


And these are the ages between 18 and 20 when some guys easily add 20, 30, even 40 pounds.

Ahhh. I see you remember your party days from college.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 07/16/17 at 11:10 AM ET

Not me. But pro athletes tend to pack on the pounds during these years. Brendan Smith was 170 pounds when we drafted him. Two years later he was 195. By his early 20s he was 205-210 pounds.

It’s a red flag that Saarijarvi has gone from 160 to 175. That’s not much progress in 2 years.


Posted by fatsavage on 07/16/17 at 12:26 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

For the second time this summer.. Jesus Datsyuk Christ. This season could not start soon enough.

So we are going to “red flag” a kid who gained 15 lbs because its not 20lbs? A kid that gained weight period? And comparing him to smith without considering body types, height difference, etc.? If this isnt a major troll job then send me to the nearest livable planet.


Posted by ilovehomers on 07/16/17 at 01:31 PM ET


I thought you were ignoring me Homer? Maybe you should.  tongue laugh

Oh and please forgive me for fearing that Saarijarvi turns into Almquist. I guess there are no similarities. None.  rolleyes

Posted by fatsavage on 07/16/17 at 03:58 PM ET


    Posted by ilovehomers on 07/16/17 at 01:31 PM ET

He just wants to complain, that’s all he does everyday, damn near every post. I’m willing to bet he is a very unhappy person inside.

Posted by benzanato on 07/17/17 at 02:50 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.