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We’re on Osgood/Draper watch now

Update: For the record, for those of you who wanted to know, Teemu Pulkkinen is training with Jokerit Helsinki, which is the reason he’s not at the Wings’ development camp: Thanks to shoving most of the “evening” and “overnight” news in my late-evening missive, this morning’s crop of Red Wings-related stories is a little sparse, but they reinforce a bottom line: the Red Wings organization and Red Wings fans are going to be dealing with some “heavy” news in short order as Ken Holland will speak to Chris Osgood and Kris Draper this week to gauge the veterans’ physical conditioning and emotional reserves before deciding whether to part ways with the pair almost eighteen years after their NHL careers began.

That process began to reach its final stages as the Wings re-signed Joey MacDonald to a 2-year contract worth $550,000 at the NHL level and $105,000 at the AHL level, with the contract becoming a one-way, NHL-salary-only deal for the 2012-2013 season (which means that MacDonald would be subject to re-entry waivers). Holland told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that the Wings are happy to have brought back a superb #3 goalie to both spell any injured Wings goalie and serve as a mentor to Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce in Grand Rapids:

“He understands the situation,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He had the opportunity (in Russia) but he wanted to remain in the NHL. We’re glad he’s here. He’s a good guy in the locker room and he’s shown he can play (at NHL level). This also lets us keep exploring the market.”

MacDonald, 31, played 15 games with the Red Wings last season after Chris Osgood went down with season-ending groin injury. MacDonald was 5-5-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He is slated to be No. 3 on the depth chart, starting the season in Grand Rapids.

Then things get a little tricky, because the Red Wings know that there aren’t any goalies on the open market (Marty Turco, Ty Conklin, Ray Emery) that can match Chris Osgood’s 400-win, 3-Stanley Cup and fantastic-mentor-to-Jimmy-Howard resume, but at the same time, the team’s tremendously concerned about the fact that Osgood experienced four months of setbacks after having what turned out to be major reconstructive surgery on his groin this past January:

That leaves the No. 2 spot behind Jimmy Howard one of the final questions the Red Wings must address. Holland said he will talk with Osgood this week. Osgood, 38, could be the best option for the Red Wings.

“I’m not going to make any sort of move without talking to Ozzie first,” Holland said.

The Red Wings played the free-agent market but came away less than interested in the options. They remain interested in former Detroit goaltender Ty Conklin, who struggled last season for St. Louis.

While Osgood’s positive relationship with Howard, his willingness to play 20-30 games, and his leadership are a plus, his health has been a problem. Osgood has been limited to 34 games the last two seasons, 11 last year (5-3-2, 2.77, .903).

Holland told the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness and MLive’s Ansar Khan that the team’s been approached regarding acquiring a goalie via a trade, but in that regard the only goalie who makes salary-capped sense would be Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, who’s fallen out of favor with the Flyers and possesses an affordable $1.55 million cap hit (per Capgeek.com) this season, and on the free agent market, it seems pretty darn clear that the team believes that Ty Conklin’s the best option out there.

The Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that we at least have a day or two before we’ll find out about Chris Osgood’s decision, and she believes that the Wings are leaning toward bringing #30 back:

“I want to talk to Chris,” general manager Ken Holland said. “I want to hear what he has to say.”

Osgood is flying home from a golf trip to Scotland today, making his way to his summer house in Vernon, British Columbia, so the two aren’t likely to talk before Wednesday at the earliest.

What Holland wants to hear from Osgood are assurances he can still play. Osgood is the ideal No. 2 in almost every respect: He’s a proven goalie who has topped 400 victories; he has been in goal for two Stanley Cups. He has a strong and supportive relationship with starter Jimmy Howard and keeps teammates loose with a laid-back personality. The drawback—the one reason the Wings have hesitated to re-sign him—is his health.

Osgood, 38, underwent surgery for a sports hernia and other groin-area problems in January, and he wasn’t able to play the rest of the season. He repeatedly told management in late February and March he was ready to come back, then backed out because of reaggravated pain. When the playoffs began, the Wings had to rely on MacDonald, who never has appeared in an NHL playoff game, as a backup.

Osgood could have played—he was practicing daily by April—but it was considered too risky to put him on the bench because he hadn’t seen game action for so long. The surgery and subsequent lengthy rehabilitation prompted the Wings to seek a new backup, but none materialized.

“We explored the market on July 1,” Holland said. “We talked to a couple of guys that we thought would be good additions. They went elsewhere. As the market thinned out, we always knew we had Chris Osgood out there. We’ve protected ourselves with the signing of Joey MacDonald. Now I want to talk to Chris and make a decision within the next week.”

About the only other possible option is former Wing Ty Conklin.

The same “within-a-week” decision-making process (no offense, but as I’m going to be exhausted on Thursday when the prospect camp ends and will be traveling home on Friday, I hope, “Within a week” means next Monday or Tuesday) applies to Kris Draper, and the bottom line is a little different:

While Draper wants to continue playing, and the Red Wings love his leadership, professionalism, mentorship of Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm and the fact that he essentially serves as the team’s de-facto strength and conditioning coach (that will probably be his job when he hangs up the skates), between re-signing Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller and the fact that Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton will have to clear waivers to be sent down to the AHL, and would likely be plucked away by another team (Mursak’s been told by Babcock that he’s sticking around, but Emmerton’s status depends on his performance during training camp and the exhibition season), the team already has 14 forwards, which is all they can really carry.

If the Wings were to make a trade, let’s say for a goaltender, and dump a forward (Jiri Hudler?) on someone without taking another forward in return, or if they were to seriously shake things up and trade two forwards for one (which is about as likely as the Wings asking Dominik Hasek to come out of semi-retirement to serve as Howard’s back-up), there might be a spot for Draper on the roster.

Otherwise, I can offer you only three tidbits this morning:

• First, MLive noted that Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold blathered about a major divisional realignment a few days ago—which is actually old news;

• Crain’s Detroit Business’s Bill Shea reports that the private backers of the M1 Rail project which would make a Foxtown rink that much more appealing to the Wings (and the private backers happen to include Mike Ilitch and Peter Karmanos, among others) are incredibly unhappy with the way the Detroit Department of Transportation is screwing up the proposed route and its speed;

• And Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien offers some tidbits about EA Sports’ NHL 12 game...Hell, we’ve been talking about Commodore 64’s long enough that we might as well speak about a semi-modern computer game.

I’m gonna be pretty bleary-eyed today at prospect camp, so the coverage might be a little light by my standards, but I’ll continue to do my best to provide you with the coverage you paid for.

 

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Comments

stonehands-78's avatar

George, just ‘do your best’—- enjoy.

(And Thanks! Your work is top-notch.)

L.G.R.W.

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 07/12/11 at 09:52 AM ET

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I don’t think Wings should be looking for a Backup that can match Ossie’s past we need a goalie that can/might have to play more than back to back games now.  I am not sure Ossie could play 20 games if Howie went down? I also think his salary should come down $1.47M which is too much for 38 yr old with Chronic injury problems that may or may not be resolved.
Asking him if he can play is sort of dumb, is he going to say no?  Wings got burnt by that already.  I think Conklin has less risk involved and has played more games in the past 2 years, which Ossie hasn’t, which is a big factor. Anyway I vote Conklin or ? and Ossie should retire. Who knows what KH will do.

Posted by WingsRiders on 07/12/11 at 10:12 AM ET

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It will break my heart if Ozzie can’t play- but once again I love the most perfect sports organization on earth for the way they handle these things.

I am comfortable giving Joey Mac a chance in back up during the regular season. But If Oz can’t play in the playoffs (if needed) then I will be worried. NOT because Jimmy can’t handle (Because he CLEARLY CAN) but because he needs more rest before April.

Still if any team can juggle and manage goaltenders, its the Wings.


I will be tremendously sad if Draper isn’t signed though- who else can keep up on a line with Helm? I though Draper has had two great seasons on wing with Helm, and am pretty sure his production was up.

Posted by Juice from LA on 07/12/11 at 11:17 AM ET

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Why does Helene keep saying Ozzie is the ideal #2?

In what world is a 38 year old with a reconstructed groin who hasn’t played well in YEARS the ideal #2?

Wow, he mentored Jimmy.  That’s fantastic, but has nothing to do with the current situation.

What Jimmy needs now is not a mentor, but a capable back up who can take the pressure off of Jimmy and the team, so that they don’t have to worry about Jimmy being overworked or playing through injuries because the back up can’t hack it.

He’s not the ideal back up.  At all.

Hang them up Ozzie.

Bring in someone better, Kenny.

Please.

BTW, I love how “Holland will talk to him on Saturday” has turned into “Holland won’t talk to him till Wednesday at the earliest”.

Posted by Garth on 07/12/11 at 11:33 AM ET

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I will be tremendously sad if Draper isn’t signed though

I wish there was a place for him, but I just don’t see it.  The Wings are overflowing with bottom-six forwards…

Posted by Garth on 07/12/11 at 11:35 AM ET

statelouis26's avatar

Cross my fingers we don’t “see” either get signed

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 07/12/11 at 12:09 PM ET

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I believe in Oz

Posted by Jacob Russell from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/12/11 at 12:17 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

There doesn’t seem to be room for Kris Draper on the roster this season.  So…if Holland is not going to offer Draper a contract, I just have a hard time seeing him offering one to Ozzie.

Draper has no injury issues, has all the motivation in the world, and has played his ass off whenever called upon.

Ozzie, on the other hand, hasn’t played like himself since we won the Cup in ‘08.  Looked very out of focus and out of shape at times.  Could not be relied upon last season, which put a lot more pressure on Howard.  Had very serious injuries which no one - until he actually plays - can say with certainty have been resolved.

If I’m Ken Holland, that is just too many question marks for me.

The Wings can’t - and don’t - keep players around forever just because we love them.  I have a hard time believing that Ozzie is the best option out there for #2 goaltender.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 07/12/11 at 12:34 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

Posted by MsRedWinger from Florida, wishin’ I was back in the Mitten on 07/12/11 at 11:34 AM ET

Though I agree with your prediction of result, I have a hard time agreeing with this assertion to arrive at it: if Holland is not going to offer Draper a contract, I just have a hard time seeing him offering one to Ozzie. Only because they play two different positions. The Wings don’t need anymore bottom six forwards, but do have a need for a back-up goaltender. One really has nothing to do with the other.

I guess it doesn’t really matter because the result is the same in the end, but I only question it because I tend to be more of a “how you get there” kind of guy.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 07/12/11 at 12:44 PM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

thanks George!

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 07/12/11 at 12:47 PM ET

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Only because they play two different positions. The Wings don’t need anymore bottom six forwards, but do have a need for a back-up goaltender. One really has nothing to do with the other.

It’s probably a moot point because I doubt either will be back, but her point (and I’ve made the same point before) is that Draper is still a capable player and if Detroit didn’t have Mursak and Emmerton who are out of minor league options, Draper would probably be back, even if it was only in the 13th/14th forward role.

Osgood on the other hand shouldn’t be back because he’s not capable enough for the role.  He has played poorly for several years, is 3 years older than Cup-winning Osgood and is coming back from a groing injury.

Draper is losing his role because Detroit doesn’t want to let Mursak or Emmerton go, forcing them to lose another talented youngster, who might be a longtime contributor, via waivers and getting nothing in return for one year of service from Draper.  With Osgood, there are clearly better options, if only from a healthy point of view, which is a pretty significant POV, and if he gets the job it will only be based on his past accomplishments.

On principle, if you’re not giving Draper a chance to make the team you shouldn’t simply be handing a job to Osgood because Draper is demonstrably still able to fulfill his role while, at the very best, Chris Osgood is an enormous question mark.

Posted by Garth on 07/12/11 at 12:54 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

On principle, if you’re not giving Draper a chance to make the team you shouldn’t simply be handing a job to Osgood because Draper is demonstrably still able to fulfill his role while, at the very best, Chris Osgood is an enormous question mark.

This is the connection in logic I was seeking. Thanks.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 07/12/11 at 01:04 PM ET

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I will be tremendously sad if Draper isn’t signed though


I wish there was a place for him, but I just don’t see it.  The Wings are overflowing with bottom-six forwards…

If only the Wings were overflowing with top-six forwards instead….  :D

(I’d love to see Draper back, but I just don’t see it either due to lack of roster space.)

Posted by puppydogbones from Muskegon currently residing in Sabres-land on 07/12/11 at 01:24 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Garth, thanks for articulating my position better than I did.  That was exactly my point.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 07/12/11 at 02:11 PM ET

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To me, the joey macdonald signing means they bring Ozzie back.  Ozzie has been really good when he’s been healthy, the key is making sure he’s healthy.  But, with Joey Mac coming back, I think they are confident if they need him as a backup.

Posted by Mikelios from Dearborn on 07/12/11 at 03:42 PM ET

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Ozzie has been really good when he’s been healthy, the key is making sure he’s healthy.

Except for the last three regular seasons, right?

But, with Joey Mac coming back, I think they are confident if they need him as a backup.

I don’t understand how signing Joey means they’re confident in Ozzie.  That doesn’t make sense.

Posted by Garth on 07/12/11 at 04:24 PM ET

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Joey coming back means they can take the chance on Ozzie. Ozzie has a lot of upside, if he’s healthy. Given the past couple years that’s a big “if”.  I meant that the Wings have confidence in Joey Mac as their backup, if they need him.  Because he has a two way contract the first year, it’s a foregone conclusion they’re signing another backup, right? To me, it’s going to be Ozzie.

Posted by Mikelios from Dearborn on 07/12/11 at 05:03 PM ET

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Ozzie has a lot of upside, if he’s healthy.

Again, except for the last three seasons, right?

Joey was brought in last year to be the veteran presence in Grand Rapids, before there was any concern over Ozzie’s health.

Him being re-signed doesn’t seem, to me, to have anything to do with Ozzie.  Whether they sign Ozzie or Turco or bring Hasek back, they’re still going to need a guy in Grand Rapids to mentor the younger goalies and pick up slack if either Detroit goalie gets injured.

The main thing that bringing Joey Mac back into the fold says to me is that they’re not confident in any of their minor league options, should they have a goaltending injury in Detroit.  And we kind of new that already, with McCollum’s setbacks and Larssen going back to Europe.  Jordan Pearce may well be the “goalie of the future” but they don’t want to have to rely on him if something happens in Detroit.

To me, it’s going to be Ozzie.

I pray that you’re wrong, and I can’t imagine Ken Holland (or, frankly,anyone)looking at Ozzie’s stats from the last three years and saying “If something should happen to Jimmy Howard this year, I’m comfortable with Ozzie being our starter.”

Posted by Garth on 07/12/11 at 05:10 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

I don’t understand how signing Joey means they’re confident in Ozzie.  That doesn’t make sense.

Posted by Garth on 07/12/11 at 03:24 PM ET

I think Mikelios meant they’re confident in Joey Mac if they need Joey Mac as a backup.
At least that’s the only thing that makes sense.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/12/11 at 05:16 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.