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Morning news: On the Joe Kocur Foundation’s softball games this weekend and a Sulak interview

Of Red WIngs-related note this morning:

1. The Joe Kocur Foundation is holding its annual charity softball games in Highland Township, MI this Saturday, and Kocur appeared on Fox 2's morning news show to discuss Saturday's activities:

2. If you find yourself on the other side of the Atlantic, Niklas Kronwall will be taking part in an exhibiton game between Djurgardens IF's alumni and the current team on Friday at the Ericsson Globe arena...

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The Outlook For Jimmy Howard

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2017-18 outlook: Just when it appeared Howard's days in Detroit were numbered, he resurrected his career with a strong bounce-back season, despite missing nearly half the year due to injuries.

He worked hard last off-season to get in shape and was highly motivated to improve, to remain in Detroit and to earn back the starting job. He adjusted well with new goaltending coach Jeff Salajko and slightly altered his technique. He was more composed and patient, not rushing to make saves, making sure his feet were set and working on his vertical-horizonal technique.

He experienced immediate success, despite a lack of offensive support, and likely would have played more games than Mrazek if not for injuries. 

Despite his season, many were surprised the club protected Howard instead of Mrazek, who is eight years younger, in the expansion draft. It was clear indication the veteran is the club's preferred goaltender....

Key question: Can Howard string together back-to-back strong seasons for the first time since 2011-12 and 2012-13?

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Thoughts on the Athanasiou offer sheet threat: will it get the contractual job done or tear asunder?

This isn't what the Red Wings need or want, but it might be what does the trick. That's my thought on the potential KHL offer sheet to Andreas Athanasiou.

From the "player loyalty" standpoint, especially given what happened with Jiri Hudler after he signed in the KHL and played a full year for Dynamo Moscow, re-signing with the Wings only to bounce around the league after his contract expired, this is a dangerous endeavor.

From the "screwing with the cap" perspective, this could be "really bad," and that's the situation that Ken Holland and a management group that doesn't like to be slighted have put the team in.

Plainly speaking, it might get the job of negotiating a contract done.

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KHL Team Makes An Offer To Andreas Athanasiou

via Craig Custance of The Athletic,

Red Wings restricted free agent forward Andreas Athanasiou is weighing a one-year offer from the KHL, his agent Darren Ferris confirmed with The Athletic.

“I have received a considerable offer that is significant,” Ferris wrote in a text.

Update: MLive's Ansar Khan also confirms:

Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou is considering a one-year offer to play in the KHL, his agent, Darren Ferris, confirmed to MLive.

Ferris declined further comment.

Athanasiou is a restricted free agent. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said two weeks ago he's made a number of offers to the fast-skating forward and the sides continue dialogue but were not close to a deal.

Athanasiou, 23, is coming off his entry-level contract, which carried a cap hit of $628,333. He had 18 goals and 29 points in 64 games last season. He has tallied 27 goals and 43 points in 101 games over parts of two seasons, with limited ice time (9:01 per game in 2015-16 and 13:28 last season).

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Wakiji on the Red Wings’ new locker room

DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji penned an article discussing the Red Wings' new locker room and training facilities at Little Caesars Arena, and it's a fascinating read both because we learn about the luxuries afforded the Wings' training staff now and because we discover the...improvisations...that Piet Van Zant and Paul Boyer will admit having made at Joe Louis Arena:

The first thing the Red Wings will notice when they enter their new dressing room at Little Caesars Arena is how much more room they have.

The renovated space at Joe Louis Arena was about 5,900 square feet and the new digs are 25,000 square feet.

But unlike at the Joe, the players won't have to move their workouts into the dressing room as the new gym will have more than enough room.

For athletic trainer Piet Van Zant, life at the LCA should be a lot easier.

"Mr. Ilitch, Chris, has been tremendous with giving us the resources to get everything that we need to help our players," Van Zant said. "The job's going to be about the same but we have more tools at our services. "Obviously the gym's a lot bigger so even though that's not technically our space, it allows us to do a more comprehensive rehab. We have more space where we can do activations, where we can do running patterns, where we can do agility patterns. Here (at Joe Louis Arena) it's out in the hall and probably it will be a little more functional for us."

Wakiji continues at length...

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Afternoon news: A bit about Athanasiou and Tweets of note

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Athletic Detroit's Craig Custance penned a "360-degree view" of Andreas Athanasiou's 2017-18 season outlook, and those who've watched Athanasiou definitely seem to agree that #72 needs to summon his speed on a more regular basis:

View from an NHL scout: “My body of work on him is not really large, but he’s shown me some good things. The biggest thing for me right now is to consistently see him bring that energetic speed to the game every night. I see it some nights and I don’t see it on others. When he doesn’t have it, he’s not nearly as effective. That’s the case with a lot of those type of players. It’s when you can bring that game every single night, that’s when you’ve got something.”

“I’d still pencil him in as a third liner, mainly because we see more skill in the game, right on down to the fourth line so the idea of a first and second line isn’t so relevant anymore. So often, coaches will have a first line and then a second line that is one they want to match up against the other team’s first line. Then they’d want a third line with skill, which is where I’d put him.”

Custance continues (paywall)...

2. And, on Twitter:

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All About Detroit’s Prospect Tournament

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings will compete among a field of eight NHL teams when they host the 2017 NHL Prospect Tournament at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich., from Friday, Sept. 8 to Tuesday, Sept. 12. Held in northern Michigan for the 19th season, the eight-team tournament is comprised of the Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues. Tickets for the tournament are still available for $10 per day, which covers four games, exclusively at Centre Ice Arena or online at www.centreice.org.

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If Henrik Zetterberg Takes An Early Retirement

from Jared Clinton of The Hockey News,

The salary cap shouldn’t be the Red Wings’ only concern, however. It would be safe to say that, in a perfect world, Detroit would have had their succession plan in place for Datsyuk and Zetterberg before either were on their way out of the league, but that’s not the case.

Over the past several seasons, the Red Wings have built their offense around the likes of Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader, and veteran Frans Nielsen was also brought aboard to provide some stability up front, but it hasn’t allowed for a clear next generation to stand out. That’s not to say the four aforementioned forwards aren’t key contributors — they are, to be sure — but calling them out-and-out star leaders that can carry this franchise into the future is a stretch. For that, the Red Wings have to look to Larkin, Mantha and Athanasiou.

The trouble there, though, is that following a 23-goal, 45-point rookie season, Larkin was drilled by a sophomore slump, scoring 17 goals and 32 points and watching his ice-time take a cut. He did get a few more opportunities in certain areas — he slightly increased his penalty kill time, for instance — but, overall, it was a disappointing season for a player with as much promise as Larkin. And while true that Mantha, who scored 17 goals and 36 points, and Athanasiou, who potted 18 goals and 29 points, had upticks in production, neither are yet at a point where they can carry the torch for the Red Wings.

That’s worrisome for Detroit because this franchise’s success throughout the 25-year playoff streak was built upon succession plans.

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The Season Ahead For Danny DeKeyser

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Looking ahead: DeKeyser showed growth his first two seasons in the NHL, but his numbers have taken a hit as his role has expanded. It will be interesting to see how DeKeyser is affected by newly signed defensemen Trevor Daley. The two are penciled in to start the season together, and Daley’s experience and skating ability should have a positive effect on DeKeyser. DeKeyser spent the majority of last season paired with Green, whose risk-taking can lead to the puck ending up in Detroit’s net.

DeKeyser has been slotted higher than he should be the past two seasons, a necessity borne out of Kronwall’s decline and the lack of a high-end defenseman on the team. He’s suited to be a second-pairing guy, but he has had to do much more because of injuries to teammates. Daley isn’t an elite defenseman but he does upgrade the Wings, and maybe DeKeyser can rekindle the growth he showed a couple of seasons ago. It’s worth remembering, too, that at 27, he is just coming into his prime.

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The Outlook For Darren Helm

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2017-18 outlook: Helm, after signing a five-year, $19.5 million contact, got off to a strong start. His line, with Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek, carried the club offensively the first few weeks. Then Vanek got injured. Then Helm suffered a dislocated shoulder, sidelining him for two months.

The club missed his speed and competitiveness. He plays hard consistently, a trait the team is trying to instill in some of its younger players.

Helm creates scoring chances but doesn't finish enough because he lacks scoring touch. His inability to slow the game down and realize he has more time with the puck has always been an issue because his motor is always running.

If he can stay healthy, he can be counted on for 12-to-15 goals.

A center most of his career, Helm is expected to play on the wing, possibly on a line with Frans Nielsen. He is versatile and could play in the top six if needed.

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About The Malik Report

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.

 

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