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Afternoon news: An ‘alternate history,’ Larkin ‘sticks around’; on Sawchuk and a Walleye signing

Of Red Wings and Walleye-related note this afternoon:

1. Puck Daddy has been asking bloggers to write "Alternate Histories" for their NHL teams, and Winging It in Motown's J.J. From Kansas wonders what would've happened had the Red Wings signed Marian Hossa instead of Johan Franzen:

Very few people doubted Hossa would be the better player of the two, but the writing was on the wall for the future and Franzen was both the home-grown guy and the more affordable playoff monster. The Red Wings were faced with a flattening cap and the uncomfortable reality that between Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, and Johan Franzen, the team would only be able to sign two.

The easy refrain from 2017 is that this wouldn’t be a problem if Ken Holland would stop giving out awful contracts, but that wasn’t really the case more than one lockout ago. Probably the worst contract on the Wings’ books back then was Kris Draper making $1.58 million with one year left to go (although Brad Stuart’s deal was one year too long). Remember, this was back when Dan Cleary had knees, so his $2.8 million cap hit was fine for a guy who averaged just under 40 points over the course of that deal.

From that point, Franzen has played only half of the games and given them 218 points. Hossa, meanwhile has given 641 games (87%) and provided 473 points, 73 of which have been in the postseason.

J.J. continues...

2. In the present tense, Bauer posted a video in which Dylan Larkin, Jack Eichel and Alex Galchenyuk have some fun with a "Boom Meter" while testing out the Bauer Supreme 1S stick:

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Questions For Khan

Ansar Khan of Mlive answered some questions from the fans and the first question was what can the Wings do to get cap compiant.

A: They’re going to see what unfolds in training camp and the preseason before making any move. They anticipate injured players (Tomas Tatar, Luke Glendening, Niklas Kronwall) being ready to go at the start of the season but won’t know for sure until they get rolling. Plus, there’s always the possibility of injury in camp and the preseason.

They’ll be only slightly over the cap after Andreas Athanasiou signs and Johan Franzen is placed on LTIR, if everyone is healthy. Rather than trade a regular in the lineup like Helm, Sheahan or Green, I think they’d waive someone.

Regardless, they’re not going to move Green unless they’re out of the playoff picture at the trade deadline. He’s their only offensive threat on the blue line and would leave a significant void on an already weak power play.
Helm, with four years and $14.75 million remaining on his contract, and given his injury issues, would be difficult to move unless the team retains some salary. I doubt they want to add more dead cap space in addition to what Stephen Weiss is costing them.

I agree that Sheahan is probably worth more to them – especially if he can return to form – than what they could get for him in a trade.

more Q & A...

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A Jolted Petr Mrazek?

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Looking at money: Signed through 2017-18 for $4 million. Restricted free agent in summer 2018.

Looking ahead: Of all the Wings who need a bounce-back season, none intrigue more than Mrazek. Shortly after his NHL season ended he went to the World Championship, where his mediocre play (1-2, .881 save percentage, 2.47 GAA) left the Czechs starting another goaltender once elimination rounds began. Then Mrazek was exposed in the expansion draft, and neither Vegas nor another NHL team (via trading with Vegas) was interested. Not even Dallas general manager Jim Nill, who ran Detroit’s draft when the Wings selected Mrazek at 141st overall in 2010, and whose right-hand man, Jim McDonnell, largely was responsible for scouting Mrazek in juniors. 

It all adds up to a message that should jolt Mrazek out of a malaise that dates back a year and a half. 

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The Outlook For Niklas Kronwall

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2017-18 outlook: Knee issues and age have taken their toll on this once valuable workhorse....

Kronwall struggled through his worst season, the knee issues hurting his mobility and reducing his effectiveness. He said he was he told surgery won't help.

His role was reduced a bit, minutes trimmed, rested on occasion. He still played 10 sets of back-to-back games, averaged a fair amount of ice time and remained a regular on the power play.

Unless he makes a remarkable recovery, his minutes should be trimmed further, he should be rested on more back-to-back situations and his role on the power play reduced. Problem is, other than Mike Green, the Red Wings don't have many alternatives to play the point. Trevor Daley could fill the role. Young Ryan Sproul would be an option if he could stick in the lineup.

Key question: Will Kronwall continue to have a prominent role on the power play?

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NHL.com’s ‘31 in 31’ series examines the Red Wings’ 2017-18 season outlook

NHL.com's "31 in 31" team preview series focuses on the Red Wings today, with five articles serving as 2017-18 season preview snapshots.

1. NHL.com's Dave Hogg ponders the Red Wings' current status as facing a cap conundrum...

The Red Wings may start a rebuilding process that could take a few seasons of pain for some long-term gain, or they may try to assemble a more veteran group that could start a new postseason streak immediately.

Each path is difficult, and made tougher by the limits of the NHL salary cap. Detroit is nearly $4 million over the $75 million cap for this season, according to CapFriendly.com; teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason.

Forwards Henrik Zetterberg, who turns 37 on Oct. 9 ($6.083 million), Frans Nielsen, 33 ($5.25 million), Justin Abdelkader, 30 ($4.25 million), and defensemen Niklas Kronwall, 36 ($4.75 million), and Jonathan Ericsson, 33 ($4.25 million) are five of Detroit's nine top-paid players, and all are signed through at least the 2019-20 season. The Red Wings also have forward Johan Franzen, who last played Oct. 10, 2015, because of concussion-related issues, counting $3.9 million against the salary cap for three more seasons.

Detroit's only significant free agent acquisition was defenseman Trevor Daley, who signed a three-year contract reportedly worth $9.5 million (average annual value of $3.167 million) on July 1. Daley, who turns 34 on Oct. 9, joins a top-six group that is expected to include four players 31 or older, along with Kronwall, Ericsson and Mike Green, 31.

There isn't much room for newcomers among the forwards. Martin Frk, who turns 24 on Oct. 5, Tyler Bertuzzi, 22, and Evgeny Svechnikov, 20, are expected to compete for one spot, but the other 11 forward positions are occupied by veterans under contract.

Continued...

2. Hogg ponders "Three Questions Facing the Red Wings"...

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‘Roughly translated’: Niklas Kronwall on the end of the playoff streak

Niklas Kronwall will be holding his annual "Kronwall-Stars" game to benefit his youth hockey team, Jarfalla HC, on Saturday, and ahead of the game, Kronwall spoke with Aftonbladet's Tomas Ros about the Red Wings' disappointing 2016-17 season. What follows is roughly translated:

"We betrayed the fans"

How is it to belong to a team that missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years?

Niklas Kronwall knows.

"We betrayed the fans, and it hurts me," says Detroit's veteran defenseman.

The city of Detroit is so proud of its hockey team, the Red Wings. A team that gave it so many successes and the city hockey favor. Detroit is called "Hockeytown" for a reason.

But last spring's long streak broke, the longest professional streak in North merica. The one that featured 24 years of playoff hockey in Joe Louis Arena, and, during that epoch, allowed the team to celebrate four Stanley Cup Finals and lots of playoff wins.

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Grand Rapids Griffins sign Kevin Tansey

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:

GRIFFINS SIGN KEVIN TANSEY

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday signed defenseman Kevin Tansey to a one-year contract.

Tansey, 24, split the 2016-17 season, his first full campaign, between the Chicago Wolves and the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound blueliner contributed three points (1-2—3), a plus-three rating and 21 penalty minutes in 19 regular season games with the Wolves and made his Calder Cup Playoff debut, skating in two games. A 2017 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic participant, Tansey played in 44 games with the Mavericks and led all team defensemen with 13 goals while placing second among team blueliners with 31 points (13-18—31).

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The Expected Season For Riley Sheahan

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Looking at money: Signed through this coming season with an annual average value of $2.075 million, then a restricted free agent.

Looking ahead: Here’s the thing about Sheahan – he scored 14 goals in 2015-16, and 13 goals in 2014-15. For that matter, he had nine goals in 2013-14. Even in his small body of NHL work, this past season stands out as an aberration, not a pattern. Sheahan, 25, came into pro hockey with a reputation as a defensive player, honed by his years at Notre Dame.

Encouraged first by Mike Babcock’s coaching staff and then Jeff Blashill’s, Sheahan showed growth in his offensive capabilities. It speaks to his reputation around the league that even as his numbers were so bad last season, there was still a fair deal of interest in Sheahan at the trade deadline (the Wings opted to hold onto him to see if he can bounce back). His confidence by the midpoint last season clearly was shot, and it’s tough to recover for a young player.

Sheahan enters next season with a contract on the line, which tends to motivate most players just a little bit extra. He got a little reminder in the season finale, too, that he can score. If he can shake off the travesty that was 2016-17, odds are he can once again chip in in the 10-12 goal range. Put it another way – who would take a Vegas bet that Sheahan will again go 79 games without scoring a goal? 

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The Outlook For Dylan Larkin

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2017-18 outlook: After a smooth transition from college to the NHL in 2016-17, Larkin took a step back last season, not uncommon for young players.

He didn't have as much space or time to make plays. It was more difficult to score, harder to defend. He described it as a learning experience and vowed to be more mentally prepared heading into this season, realizing he has a lot to learn about this league.

He will get another opportunity at center, where the team will soon need a young player to step up and assume the No. 1 spot after Henrik Zetterberg retires. He wasn't prepared for it at the start of last season but fared better near the end of the year and performed well there at the World Championship.

Zetterberg is expected to remain the top-line center, so playing on the second or third line should help Larkin with the transition, where he's not going up against the best players all the time. Larkin flourished the first half of his rookie season on Zetterberg's wing; he must find a way to thrive without the captain.

He has tremendous speed, which he often uses to circle the perimeter looking for an opportunity. Adding strength should help him be more effective on the inside.

Key question: Will a slightly more experienced Larkin adjust to the center spot?

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Evening news: Ryan Martin, USA Hockey WJC consultant; a podcast with ‘Murph’ and (a little) more

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. When I attended the World Junior Summer Showcase last week, I noticed that Red Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin was wearing a USA Hockey jacket, and given that the usual uniform of a hockey scout and/or general manager is a track jacket with their team's logo on it, slacks, coffee and a small notebook, it was really weird to see someone from the Red Wings not wearing a Red Wings logo.

As it turns out, USA Hockey's Michael Caples explains that Martin was at the WJSS representing both the Red Wings and USA Hockey's World Junior Championship team:

Led by [Team USA GM Jim] Johannson, the player evaluation process involves a committee of trusted personnel, all of whom helped select last year’s gold medal-winning U.S. squad. Joining Johannson in player personnel roles is Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager, Ryan Martin, and USA Hockey’s Ben Smith, while the coaching staff includes head coach, Bob Motzko (St. Cloud State University), and assistants Greg Brown (Boston College), Grant Potulny (University of Northern Michigan), Kris Mayotte (Providence College) and Steve Miller (Ohio State University).

Caples continues, and given that Ken Holland's worked with Hockey Canada previously, it would make sense that the Wings are allowing other members of their management team to consult with their country's national teams.

2. From the Red Wings, DetroitRedWings.com's Art Regner took advantage of the Wings' summer fantasy camp and conducted a "Red and White Authority" podcast with Larry Murphy:

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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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