The Malik Report
from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,
Watching Larkin live at Detroit’s Traverse City prospects tournament, it was clear to me that the young center has the chance to be a special NHLer. He thinks the game at a high level and when his team needed a lift, that famed motor that Holland mentioned went into overdrive.
The fact he is still 19 opens up a realm of possibilities around Larkin – not only in terms of what he’ll do locally this season, but also internationally. Perhaps lost in the Red Wings roster news is the fact that Larkin is still eligible to play for Team USA’s world junior entry this winter in Finland. He was one of America’s best players last season in Montreal, though the U.S. fell flat against Russia in the quarterfinal, leading to a disappointing finish.
For Larkin’s new boss, the equation is simple:
“If Dylan’s in the NHL and he’s playing regularly and is important for us, he will not be available,” Holland said. “If he’s in the American League, we’ll make him available.”
In the meantime, Larkin will be getting used to a world in which Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall are no longer guys he sees through a TV screen.
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi about their preseason experiences with the Red Wings, and while the trio won't start the season on the same line...
Coach Todd Nelson said Athanasiou and Mantha, who both spent last year with the Griffins, will open on a line with veteran Mitch Callahan. Bertuzzi, who shined in the playoffs after a late-season arrival, will be paired with Andy Miele and Mark Zengerle.
"I saw that Double-A and Mantha had good chemistry in Traverse City and we'll start the season with that (line) and see how it goes," Nelson said. "Mantha, he has good size and he has deceptive speed and Double-A skates extremely well. And you add in Callahan and he has grit. On paper at least, that line looks pretty strong."
Wallner's conversation with the trio yielded self-assured comments from Athanasiou:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. MLive's Ian Thibodeau penned an article regarding the construction of the Wings' follow-on rink...
The models and renderings are nice, but the site of the future Detroit Events Center is currently a massive, impressive hole in the earth waiting to be filled.
Things are going according to plan, Sean Hollister, senior construction manager at Barton Malow Hunt and White, said. The 40-foot-deep hole has been dug, earth moved, and crews are working on the concrete walls, rotating clockwise around the spot where the new ice pad will go.
The $532.5 million arena will be finished by the 2017 NHL season, Hollister said. So will the retail and office spaces lining the south and east edges of the bowl, coined buildings A, B and C, the piazza park area, a parking garage, and an underground loading bay.
"All of this needs to be done by the 2017 season," Hollister said, referencing the bustling bowl beneath him.
And he continues...
2. The Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe reports that the Toledo Walleye's training camp is underway:
The AP's Larry Lage posited a Red Wings season preview, and Lage is a Michigan-based journalist, and he wrote a pretty damn thorough preview:
THE NEW GUY: The 41-year-old Blashill led the Griffins for three seasons and helped them win their first AHL title in 2013 after being a Babcock assistant for one season. He also led the Indiana Ice to a United States Hockey League championship in 2009. Blashill was born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., but he isn't in awe of leading a storied franchise in a banner-filled arena. "Not now," he said. "Maybe a little bit in the summer. Maybe the press conference. Now, it's just working. It's my job."
Blashill has gotten rave reviews from the Red Wings. "He's a calm guy who knows what he wants," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "It has been fairly easy to adjust to him because he sees the game similar to Babs." And when Blashill speaks, it is like listening to Babcock. "Yeah, they sound similar," forward Justin Abdelkader said. "But they have a different approach in terms of communication. I think he's going to be great with the younger guys because he coached a lot of them in Grand Rapids."
CLOSING TIME: The Red Wings have failed to advance past the second round since coming one win short of repeating as Stanley Cup champions in 2009. Detroit is coming off a first-round exit against Tampa Bay after losing a 3-2 series lead to the team that went on to win the Eastern Conference. In the second round of the 2013 playoffs, the Red Wings blew a 3-1 series lead to Chicago. "That tells us we're close," Abdelkader said. "If we can get some breaks by staying healthy, I like our chances."
Edit: And this is apparently supposed to be part of the preview:
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
Via RedWingsFeed, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples spoke with Dylan Larkin regarding making the Wings' roster, and to suggest that he's "over the moon" is an understatement:
"Blash called me in, and Ken Holland told me,” Larkin told MiHockey today. “It was just us three in the room, and I couldn’t help but crack a smile.”
The USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and University of Michigan alum certainly impressed during the 2015 preseason; Larkin recorded three goals and an assist in five appearances.
“Incredible,” Larkin said, when asked how he was feeling just hours after the announcement. “It keeps…after scoring a goal against Pittsburgh at The Joe, I got a lot of texts, and today, a lot of texts and tweets and everything, it’s been pretty crazy. It’s been a dream come true. Just to be able to call my mom and tell her, it was one of the best feelings of my life.”
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
DETROIT ASSIGNS THREE, GRIFFINS TRIM ROSTER
10/05/2015 2:45 PM
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Detroit Red Wings on Monday assigned forwards Mitch Callahan and Andy Miele and defenseman Brian Lashoff to the Grand Rapids Griffins. In addition, the Griffins assigned forwards Alden Hirschfeld and Dominic Zombo and defensemen Derek Docken and Steve Spinell to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, while releasing forwards Kurt Etchegary, Jean-Paul LaFontaine, Evan Rankin, Josh Shalla, Tyler Sikura and Austin Wuthrich and defensemen Ralfs Freibergs, Jared Nightingale and Andrew Prochno from their tryouts.
The Griffins will drop the puck on their regular season this Friday against the Bakersfield Condors at Rabobank Arena at 10 p.m. EDT, before squaring off against the San Diego Gulls the following night at Valley View Casino Center at 10:05 p.m. EDT. Next weekend, Grand Rapids will kick off the home portion of its schedule with back-to-back games against the San Antonio Rampage on Oct. 16-17 at 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena.
As the Grand Rapids Press's Peter Wallner notes, the Griffins lost a player due to a suspension as well:
From the Red Wings:
DETROIT SENDS THREE TO GRAND RAPIDS
… Kindl Placed on IR; Active Roster Reduced to 23…
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today assigned forwards Mitch Callahan and Andy Miele and defenseman Brian Lashoff to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. Additionally the Red Wings placed defenseman Jakub Kindl on seven-day injured reserve retroactive to Sept. 29.
The Red Wings’ active roster currently stands at 23 players: 15 forwards, six defenseman and two goaltenders, with additional five players on injured reserve.
ESPN's Craig Custance ranks all 30 NHL teams by the quality of their forward lineup, and I'm pleasantly surprised to say that the Red Wings finished in the top third of Custance's list:
8. Detroit Red Wings
Forward cap charge: $38.3 million, 53.3 percent of the cap payroll
Pavel Datsyuk's injury could mean playing time in the top six for talented rookie Dylan Larkin to start the season, and this forward group has the potential to get better as the season progresses. Larkin has had a big training camp and is forcing the Red Wings' hand a bit, but the best path may still be time in the AHL, followed by a productive IIHF World Junior Championship tournament, and then permanent playing time in the NHL in the second half. This group has veteran stars Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, along with young talent in Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan. Sheahan, in particular, is better than people realize. Luke Glendening is the perfect fourth-line center.
Sportsnet's John Shannon issued "one nice thought" for each and every one of the NHL's 30 teams...
If I may be blunt, I'm not sure how big of a victory Dylan Larin's presence on the roster is given that Daniel Cleary is still on the roster, and especially given that Larkin is most likely headed back to Grand Rapids when Darren Helm returns from his separated shoulder.
It's certainly exciting to know that a 19-year-old has made the team and will play on the top line for the present moment, and it certainly speaks to the Wings having a coach who believes that the best players (for the most part) should be on the roster, but this feels like a temporary win, not a long-term one, unless Larkin steals a job and manages to play on an every-night basis--and that's up to Dylan Larkin to prove, not you or me.
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa weighs in on the situation, and he suggests that Jeff Blashill staked his territory as a coach fully in charge of his own team's roster as much as anything else:
[T]he fact that the move occurred is significant of something else important: Blashill, the second-youngest coach in the NHL, new to the league except for one season as an assistant and the replacement for perhaps the best in the game, is firmly in control of his new gig.
"If he didn't grab the job, the easier thing to do would have been to put him in GR to see where we're at and see how his play goes," Blashill said. "We just felt – I, specifically, really felt – that he makes us better, and to such an exponential amount that we felt it was that important that he start on the team. You could ask around the league and a lot of people would say that the safer thing to do would be to put him in GR. But we just feel like he's in that spot."
That Blashill discerned the circumstances and made sure his decision became THE decision is a mark of a good coach. It is critical, several days before the start of his first season, in the shadow of a master, that Blashill had the confidence and self-possession to see it through.
It is a new day for the Red Wings in a variety of ways.In Mike Green and Brad Richards, two significant free agents finally arrived this summer. With Larkin, a young player is instilling the belief the franchise is on the rise, once again, and maybe in ways that can be significant, sooner than anticipated.
And the new coach? Blashill seems eminently in control and it already shows. Dylan Larkin is on the roster.
Krupa believes that Larkin will spend the year with the big club. I'm not so sure about that, but I will readily admit that it's good to see that the new coach is indeed "in charge."
MLive's Ansar Khan reports that as Jakub Kindl is on the IR due to an eye infection, the Red Wings are officially down to 23 players on their active roster ahead of Tuesday's 5 PM deadline to be 23-man roster and salary cap compliant, but the roster could change by Friday's home opener vs. Toronto:
Helm, out since Sept. 18 with a separated shoulder and concussion, has skated briefly the past few days but hasn't practiced, so it's highly unlikely he'll be available for the weekend.
Kindl (eye infection) and Marchenko (groin) returned to practice today.
"We're not sure (if Helm will be ready for opener)," Blashill said. "We have a few that weren't able to play last week due to injuries; we'll judge them day to day and see if they're ready to go or not. Same with Marchenko, same with Kindl."
Brad Richards didn't skate today because he was in Chicago to pick up his Stanley Cup ring.
Here are the lines they skated with:
Justin Abdelkader-Henrik Zetterberg-Dylan Larkin
Tomas Tatar-Luke Glendening-Gustav Nyquist
Johan Franzen-Riley Sheahan-Tomas Jurco/Teemu Pulkkinen
Drew Miller-Joakim Andersson-Landon Ferraro/Daniel Cleary
Blashill said he'll likely keep that first line intact. Glendening certainly was holding Richards' spot on the second line. So Glendening will either move to the wing on the third line, where he's played all preseason, or center the fourth line.
Khan continues, reporting that Xavier Ouellet and Brendan Smith are likely to form the third defensive pairing...
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.