The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/26/14 at 04:30 PM ET
As Paul noted, the Red Wings made one expected move on Sunday, assigning Mikael Samuelsson to the Grand Rapids Griffins, and they made one surprising move as coach Mike Babcock chose to scratch both Todd Bertuzzi
and Daniel Cleary (edit: It turns out that Cleary will play with Henrik Zetterberg sidelined) today against Florida (5 PM EST, FSD Plus).
Going forward, especially given Ken Holland's statement to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness yesterday...
“I told Mike (Babcock) ‘dress the 12 forwards you think gives us the best chance to beat Florida,’” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “That means if one of the kids isn’t in the lineup he’ll be sent to Grand Rapids instead of Samuelsson. I don’t want the kids here if they’re not in the lineup.”
And Babcock's take on the statuses of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening yesterday...
"It’s great, I like the competition,” Babcock said. “The National Hockey League is about the best guys get to play and they get to play the most. These kids have come up and played hard and they’ve extended a challenge, so that’s a good thing.”
Neither Sheahan, Glendening nor Jurco will have to clear waivers in order to be sent back to Grand Rapids.
“They’re either in the top 12 or they’re in Grand Rapids,” Holland said.
Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton will have to clear waivers again if the Wings decide to send them back to the Griffins.
And then today's Babcock comments, per MLive's Ansar Khan...
“[Franzen] can really shoot the puck,” Babcock said. “Any time you come back from an injury, I don’t know how you’re going to respond. I mean, (Darren) Helmer’s an example of that. I don’t know what to expect from the Mule. We’re just going to play him and see how it goes.”
It will be the second game this season Cleary has been a healthy scratch. Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl also are scratched.
“I think these kids have given us some energy,” Babcock said. “What it does is it gives some of our veteran guys for example who are sitting out a chance to freshen up, which doesn’t kill anybody either. Those kids have brought us good energy.”
Babcock said center Joakim Andersson will return for Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia. The club will need to free a roster spot for him.
(Jimmy Howard may or may not return vs. Philadelphia on Tuesday or against Washington on Friday)
“We wanted him, but we weren’t allowed,” Babcock said.
Babcock said Daniel Cleary would be a healthy scratch, along with Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl.
That means youngsters Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening remain in the lineup.
"Obviously, itâ€'s an important thing for us," Babcock said. "We need all hands on deck if weâ€™re going to be successful.
"I think these kids have given us some energy. What it does is it gives some of our veteran guys for example who are sitting out a chance to freshen up, which doesn't kill anybody either."
What do the Wings do next?
The Windsdor Star's Bob Duff noted that St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had an intriguing take on the Wings' issues last week:
Babcock isn’t the only one around the league who has noticed. Earlier in the week, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wondered what the Wings would do as their lengthy injury list began to shorten and key players returned to health.
“He’s (Babcock) going to have some interesting problems because what started out as adversity for them, if you look at it, they’ve got young players who are really playing well right now, so when all these guys come back, it’s going to be interesting to see who they keep and who they let go back down to Grand Rapids,” Hitchcock said.
“I see some real bite in their team from some of the younger guys like (Tomas) Tatar and Glendening and Sheahan. These guys have got bite on the team now. It will be interesting because the younger guys are looking at this as a real opportunity. And you never know what happens.”
The Wings will be faced with another difficult decision come Tuesday, when centre Joakim Andersson is expected to return from a back injury.
“Andersson will be in next game,” Babcock said. “We wanted him (today), but we weren’t allowed.”
For the moment, Babcock has the luxury of message-sending:
With Franzen in, veteran right-winger Dan Cleary (minus-nine) joined right-winger Todd Bertuzzi (minus-16) and defenceman Jakub Kindl (minus-11) as healthy scratches, removing a combined minus-36 from the club’s lineup.
You and I both know that this kind of stuff isn't going to continue happening on a long-term basis:
Holland and Babcock's respective modus operandi (plural) involves keeping those veterans in the lineup most of the time, and when Andersson comes back, there's no point in having Riley Sheahan or Luke Glendening sit out as a healthy scratch so that Andersson can play.
The same's true for the aforementioned youngsters and Jurco when Datsyuk returns, and going forward, it appears that it's Patrick Eaves who's become the team's 13th forward, and that Cory Emmerton will be waived once again.
In the Red Wings' world, it is much, much better for Sheahan, Glendening and Jurco to return to Grand Rapids and help the Griffins defend their Calder Cup title instead of sitting in the press box, and in the Red Wings' world, come playoff time, the Nuclear Deterrent (Bertuzzi) and the Good Guy in the Locker Room and on the Bench (Cleary) are playing.
Today's game against Florida is something of a thank-you note to the trio of youngsters, but next season will be telling, because it's become very clear that Sheahan (out of waiver options) and Glendening (still eligible to be sent down) are NHL-ready, and Jurco's pretty close. We may not see Bertuzzi, Cleary or Eaves re-signed as a result, and you can decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. I think it speaks to Babcock's old axiom that you have to steal another player's job to earn an NHL spot.
There's no doubt in my mind that Franzen, Andersson and Datsyuk at least are better options than Sheahan, Glendening or Jurco, so in my opinion, demoting those three is a no-brainer as it'll be better for their development.
I am very intrigued by the fact that Jakub Kindl seems to have fallen out of favor on a team that's carried six defenseman, however, and as Brian Lashoff's embraced the Glendening-like, "If you're gonna stick here, kid, you need to add an edge to your game" message received from the coaching staff, where does Kindl fit in when Lashoff can be so very dependable while hacking, whacking and legally punching opponents in the back?
Do the Wings keep Kindl going forward, or do they parlay him and perhaps some other assets (we haven't seen Landon Ferraro yet, and he has to clear waivers next year) into a defensive upgrade?
That's the question as far as I'm concerned, especially given the Holland and company and Babcock's tendency to not surrender free agents-to-be at the deadline--which means that Stephen Weiss will likely be the team's "acquisition" up front.
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