The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/12/11 at 08:37 AM ET
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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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.