The Malik Report
The Red Wings' major moves today--the signing of Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Steve Ott, re-signings of Alexey Marchenko and Darren Helm--get a "C" grade from me, in no small part because of the comments Ken Holland and Nielsen made (a.k.a. the essay portion of the exam) after the moves were made.
I get that Nielsen was the Wings' "#1 choice" after Stamkos, which is a little suspect as the fleet-footed Dane happens to be 32 and signed until he's 38, so you and I were going to be stuck with the guy. That being said, every comment I've read about him from Islanders fans suggests that Nielsen's 20 goals and 51 points this past season belie a strong skating and an all-around game from a very consistent player. I do hope that the Wings were right on this one.
Vanek is simply a wild card. His point production has been in decline for some time, but he's been signed for a pretty reasonable salary at a 1-year term, and if the Wings can rekindle the competitive fires of the Vanek of old, they'll have a 20-goal-scoring sniper on their hands.
A Dane and an Austrian skate into Hockeytown . . . So what’s the punchline? Actually, the joke is on Detroit Red Wings fans.
When the Wings exited meekly from the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third straight spring and won a solitary playoff game for the second time in three years, there was talk of change, rumblings of making moves to try and alter the chemistry and perhaps even the culture of the team’s roster.
When Pavel Datsyuk opted to head home to Russia, it opened up both a hole and a financial opportunity to implement those types of changes, to reshape the roster.
Instead when Friday, the first day of NHL unrestricted free agency concluded, what the Wings gave everyone was more of the same.
That’s not to say that Denmark’s Frans Nielsen and Austria’s Thomas Vanek are bad players.
“We’ve added some guys up front that are legitimate NHL forwards,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said, and you can’t argue that point.
Duff continues, suggesting that the Wings have neither remedied their blueline issues nor need for gritty forwards...
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS AGREE TO TERMS WITH FORWARDS MATT LORITO AND BEN STREET; GOALTENDER EDWARD PASQUALE
... Lorito Agrees to Two-Year Deal; Street and Pasquale Agree to One-Year Contracts …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today agreed to terms on a two-year contract with free agent forward Matt Lorito and to a pair of one-year deals with forward Ben Street and goaltender Edward Pasquale.
Lorito, 25, led the Albany Devils with 54 points (18-36-54) and 36 assists in 71 games during his first full season in the American Hockey League. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound winger also posted a plus-16 rating and 26 penalty minutes with the Devils, while tacking on seven points (3-4-7) in 11 postseason games. After playing four years at Brown University, Lorito turned pro during the 2014-15 campaign and joined Albany, recording 12 points (3-9-12) in 11 games for the Devils.
Lorito served as team captain during his senior season at Brown and earned All-Ivy League honors three of his four years with the Bears. Also during his senior campaign, Lorito tied for the team lead in scoring with 23 points (11-12-23) and became the 24th member of the Brown 100-Point Club. In all, Lorito tallied 47 goals and 59 assists in 118 games at Brown University. Before playing collegiate hockey, the Oakville, Ontario, native played two seasons of junior hockey with the Villanova Knights of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, recording 160 points (60-100-160) in 91 games.
Street, 29, was limited to 15 games with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage in 2015-16, but racked up 21 points (7-14-21), a plus-16 rating and was named team captain. He also appeared in seven NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche last season. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound center has logged a total of 29 NHL games between the Avalanche and Calgary Flames, totaling two assists and eight penalty minutes. Street has recorded 237 points (98-139-237) in 293 games among four AHL clubs, posting career-highs during the 2013-14 season with the Abbotsford Heat in goals (28), assists (32) and points (60). Street started his pro career with the ECHL Wheeling Nailers where he recorded 51 points (24-27-51) in 38 games during the 2010-11 season.
From WDIV's Nick Monacelli:
Detroit Red Wings fans: Here is your chance to get a virtual tour of the team's new Little Caesars Arena.
The arena is under construction right now, but these videos released by Olympia Entertainment show what different sections of the venue will look like.
If you have access to an Oculus Rift, now is a good time to use it. These videos will take you on a virtual tour of each area of the rink.
Each of the eight videos below will show you a different section of the arena including the West Club, East Club, Players Club, East Sideline Club, West Sideline Club, Gondola view and a nice view from center ice.
Olympia spokeswoman Molly Wurdack said the Red Wings are the first NHL franchise to offer such a virtual tour of an arena. The team also is one of the first to offer such in all of sports.
"We wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to bring to life this new space," said Wurdack.
From the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe:
Each ECHL team was entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight qualified players by today's deadline.
The players on Toledo's list are goalie Jeff Lerg, forwards Kyle Bonis, Tyler Sikura, Tylor Spink, and Tyson Spink and defensemen Spencer Humphries, Jacob MacDonald, and Ralfs Freibergs.
Toledo retains the ECHL rights to those players if they don't sign with a team at the higher American Hockey League level.
However, players who had already signed a contract by June 30 did not need to receive a qualifying offer. Toledo's list most likely includes forward Shane Berschbach, the team's leading scorer last season, and several other players that were listed on the Walleye's season-ending roster.
Those signings will be announced at a later date.
Updated 7x at 7:12 PM:
Updated 10x at 8:33 PM: Of note from Red Wings GM Ken Holland's media availability subsequent to the Frans Nielsen signing and Darren Helm and Alexey Marchenko re-signings:
Updated 4x at 4:58 PM: FYI:
The Detroit Red Wings tried to address the departure of Pavel Datsyuk, agreeing with Frans Nielsen to a six-year, $31.5 million contract Friday in the opening hours of free agency.
''He's a centerman we needed after losing one in Pavel Datsyuk,'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told The Associated Press. ''We think he can play 200 feet, in all situations, including penalty killing and on the power play.''
Nielsen averaged 51 points over the last three years with the New York Islanders. The 32-year-old Nielsen, who is from Denmark, has scored 119 goals and added 230 assists over his decade in the NHL.
Forward Darren Helm and defenseman Alexey Marchenko agreed to deals with Detroit to stay with the team just before they would have been available on the market.
The Red Wings retained Helm with a five-year contract, counting $3.85 million against the salary cap each season. Helm had 13 goals and 26 points last season. He has 72 goals and 90 assists since making his debut during the 2007-08 season.
''As you watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, it re-emphasized the importance of speed, and that's something Darren has,'' Holland said. ''He's just 29 and we think he's going to have speed throughout the term of his deal. And, I'm told he took less money to stay. He's a homegrown player, a draft pick of ours, and we're glad to keep him because he's becoming a bit of a leader.''
Lage also reports that Pavel Datsyuk's agent, Dan Milstein, states that Pavel Datsyuk hasn't signed in Russia yet (as Sportsnet's John Shannon reported, that's because the Coyotes have yet to terminate Datsyuk's contract).
Update: Here's more from the Free Press's Helene St. James:
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.