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Prospect news: Griffins open playoffs with a win; Walleye take 3-2 lead over KZoo

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins opened their first-round playoff series with the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday, emerging with a 4-3 OT win. Tomas Nosek (OT winner) and Matt Lorito registered a goal and an assist apiece; Robbie Russo had 2 assists, Matt Ford and Evgeny Svechnikov scored goals and Jared Coreau stopped 32 shots.

The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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Will Ken Holland “Take A Risk”?

from Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News,

Holland overvalued his own players, believed his core would improve with experience, and was slow to react when it didn’t happen. Because of that, he feels the heat entering the final year of his contract....

I respect the Wings’ undying desire to reach the postseason instead of scaling way back to start over. But if they’re going to pull it off, Holland must get bolder, more creative. With so many players on bloated contracts — due to Holland’s miscalculations — it’ll be difficult to make trades. That means he might have to take a risk and deal one of the promising youngsters — Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou — for a much-needed defenseman in a value-for-value blockbuster.

more which included Pistons talk too...

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Questions For Khan

Ansar Khan of Mlive answers a few questions....

Q: The way the fans called for Steve to come home (on April 9), do you think that will put pressure on Chris Ilitch to make a change? If not this year then next season?

A: I don’t think so. Two days after that scene, Ilitch affirmed his support for general manager Ken Holland and confirming his return for 2017-18, the final year of his contract.

Ilitch said talk of an extension “is something for the future,” but his comments seemed to indicate he wants Holland here beyond this season. He said ownership has “100 percent confidence” in Holland as its GM into the future and that Holland has the passion to build a championship team again in Detroit.

I get the sense Holland is not ready to retire anytime soon and wants the opportunity to get the Red Wings back to where they were.

I don’t think Yzerman wants to return to Detroit, now or in the future. At least that’s what I’ve heard....

Q: What players do the Wings have a chance of losing through the expansion draft this summer?

A: The protected list will be one of the main topics of discussion and debate when the front office meets next month. I’m sure they have a good idea of what the list will be, but it could change if trades are made prior to the June 21 expansion draft.

Right now, I think some of the players who’ll be available to the Vegas Golden Knights are forwards Darren Helm, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Tomas Nosek, defensemen Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul and goaltender Jimmy Howard.

Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson will be exposed, but it’s safe to say neither will be selected....

more on each of the above answers plus two more questions...

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Detroit Red Wings Sign Christoffer Ehn To ELC

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today signed forward Christoffer Ehn to a three-year entry-level contract. The 6-foot-3, 181-pound center is currently with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins as the club is set to begin its Central Division Semifinals playoff series against the Milwaukee Admirals tomorrow (Friday, April 21) at 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena.

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Xavier Ouellet’s Summer Plans

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Ouellet's not a fighter but he had three fighting majors and showed a willingness to stick up for teammates.

"I think my hockey sense and my compete level allowed me to play all these games this year," Ouellet said. "I obviously got to keep working on a lot of things on the ice but one thing I'm going to do for sure is complete every night."

Ouellet said his off-season objectives will be different this time.

"My goal last summer was to get a little bigger, a little stronger, which I did," he said. "I'm happy about. But I think moving on now, I need to work on speed, maybe get a little lighter, but stay as strong. I'm going to try to get a little faster, a little quicker on the ice."

Despite taking strides this season, Ouellet's future with the organization is in doubt because he's a candidate to be selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the June 21 expansion draft.

Chances are, the three defensemen the Red Wings opt to protect will be Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green and Nick Jensen.


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What About Detroit’s Goaltenders?

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press answered a few Twitter questions today.

The first one regarding the Wings goaltending...

Jimmy Howard did have a career year, albeit cut short by injury, as his .927 save percentage ranked second among NHL goalies with at least 25 games and his 2.10 goals-against ranked third overall. Petr Mrazek, on the other hand, finished with a career-worst .901 save percentage and 3.04 goals-against average. Mrazek’s performance disappointed the Wings all the more after he was declared the starter last summer, and his goaltending coach from the minors, Jeff Salajko, was promoted to the Detroit job.

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman did not find much of a market as he sought to trade Ben Bishop in February, settling for an offer from the Los Angeles Kings. Part of the problem is a limited market for goaltending. Calgary needs one. So does Winnipeg. So does Dallas, but first the Stars would have to rid themselves of one of their two overpriced goalies on the roster.

It falls to Wings general manager Ken Holland to explore a trade. As good as his numbers were, Howard is 33 and has two years left on a contract with a $5.3 million salary cap hit. As mediocre as Mrazek’s numbers were, he is 25, and has one year left on his contract at $4 million. Mrazek might have some trade value – and he should especially intrigue the Stars, where general manager Jim Nill and director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell both have history with Mrazek.

If a trade does not materialize, the Wings may expose both on the waiver draft. To further complicate matters, Jared Coreau is no longer waiver exempt.

more Q & A...

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Prospect news: Sambrook’s Otters advance to OHL Conference Final; Walleye lose in Kzoo

Of prospect-related note:

In playoff action, in the OHL, Jordan Sambrook finished at +2 as his Erie Otters defeated the London Knights 5-4 in overtime, advancing to the OHL's Conference Final in 7 games.

Erie will play the Owen Sound Attack in one of the OHL's Conference Final match-ups; Vili Saarijarvi's Mississauga Steelheads will play the Peterborough Petes in the other final.

In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye lost a wild one in Kalmazoo, dropping 1-0, 2-1 and 3-1 leads en route to a 6-4 loss at the hands of the Kalamazoo K-Wings.

Kyle Bonis registered 2 goals and an assist for the Walleye, Shane Berschbach and Tyson Spink had 2 assists apiece and Dan Walters had a goal and an assist, but Jake Paterson stopped 47 of 52 shots as the Walleye suffered their first playoff loss. Toledo still leads the best-of-7 playoff series 2 games to 1.

The Walleye's website posted a recap:

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Talking about Double A

The Free Press's Helene St. James revisits Andreas Athanasiou's Locker Room Clean-Out Day comments this evening:

Speaking to the media as the Wings gathered for a team picture at Joe Louis Arena last week, Athanasiou spoke about what he took away from this season and his goals for 2017-18.

“You learn so much playing in this league,” he said. “I just try to do the best I can and play within my game and not try to do too much. Coming into next season, I'm going to keep a mind-set of wanting to get better.

“Speed is part of my game. When I get those opportunities, I know I can either get a good scoring chance or change the momentum. It definitely can swing momentum.”

Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha are young guys capable of shouldering more for the Wings as they seek to become a playoff team again as soon as next season. Athanasiou, who turns 23 this summer, might well have hit 20 goals were it not for a cross-check to the back that caused lingering pain down the past 10 days of the season and sidelined him the last two games.

Athanasiou said he wants to “come into every game next season and try to be as dominant as possible.”

St. James continues, and as she suggests, Athanasiou can and will become a more consistent player.

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Kulfan talks about the draft

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke to The Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy, Sportnset's Jeff Marek and one Ken Holland about the Red Wings' draft situation going into a year in which the Wings will pick 11 times:

“There’s a lower ceiling,” said Ryan Kennedy, draft guru at The Hockey News, talking about the draft pool. “There are a couple of players at the top (Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier) who might step right in (to the NHL), but this is a draft where you only have several players playing in the NHL next season, maybe one or two.”

The Red Wings have a 6.7 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick in the Draft Lottery that takes place April 29 in Toronto (7:30 p.m./CBC ,NBC). Colorado (18 percent), Vancouver (12.1 percent), expansion Las Vegas (10.3 percent) and Arizona (10.3 percent) have the best odds of landing the top pick (probably either Patrick or Hischier).

How long has it been since the Red Wings have been in this sort of position? The Red Wings haven’t had a top-10 pick since selecting Martin lapointe 10th in 1991.

But they’ll have 11 selections overall in June, as general manager Ken Holland acquired extra picks at the trade deadline when he dealt defenseman Brendan Smith and forwards Thomas Vanek, Steve Ott and Tomas Jurco, all of whom were potential unrestricted free agents (except Jurco) and the Red Wings sinking out of the playoff chase.

“That’s fine, in the spot they’re in right now, they need draft picks,” said Jeff Marek, Sportsnet (Canada) draft analyst. “I like the kids they have in their organization. They need more draft picks to add to what they already have.”

Kulfan continues, and he compiled a list of top draft prospects...

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ECHL suspends Kalamazoo player that hacked Walleye’s Simon Denis

From the Toledo Blade, ahead of tonight's Game 3 between the Toledo Walleye and Kalamazoo K-Wings:

Kalamazoo's Wilson slapped with indefinite suspension

The ECHL announced Monday it has suspended Kalamazoo captain Ben Wilson indefinitely as a result of his actions in a playoff game Saturday night against Toledo.

The league made the ruling after Wilson forcefully cross-checked Walleye defenseman Simon Denis seven times across his back in a stunning outburst in the first period of Game 2 of the Central Division semifinal series.

The veteran defenseman repeatedly used the shaft of his stick to strike Denis on his back as he lay on the ice after play had stopped at the Huntington Center.

WTOL's Jordan Strack posted a clip of the infraction:

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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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