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Reminder: Joe Kocur Foundation’s annual charity softball game scheduled for August 26th

The Milford News posted a superb reminder that the Joe Kocur Foundation's annual charity softball game will take place in Highland Township, MI next Saturday, August 26th (with tickets available online for $10):

The Joe Kocur Foundation for Children announced its 2017 Celebrity Softball Series will take place Saturday, Aug. 26, at Duck Lake Pines Park in Highland.

Gates open for parking and early seating at 11 a.m. Bleacher space will fill up quick, so it is recommended attendees also bring lawn chairs. The event will consist of three five-inning softball games, which are currently scheduled for 12:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., and 4:15 p.m.

Previous participants have included Detroit Red Wings Alumni and others such as Joe Kocur, Dylan Larkin, Chris Osgood, Darren McCarty, Dino Ciccarelli, Manny Legace, Todd Bertuzzi, Mickey Redmond, Brian Smolinski, Steve Avery, John Ogrodnick, Dave Lewis, Dave Rozema, Eric Hipple, Jason Woolley, Jiri Fischer, Kevin Miller, Pat Peake, Kris Draper, Scott Lusader, Al Iafrate, Mike Knuble and Kirk Maltby.

Among this year's participants are the following alumni and active Wings players:

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Questions For Ansar Khan

Ansar Khan of Mlive is the answer man today...

Q: Do you think they would waive Jonathan Ericsson over Ryan Sproul if they have to waive a player as (general manager Ken) Holland has said they will only carry seven defensemen?

A: No. I think they would waive Sproul before Ericsson, even if it means losing a young defenseman for nothing. You can make a case for waiving Ericsson instead because it’s highly unlikely any team would claim him with three years remaining at a $4.25 million cap hit. If he was taken it would clear up significant cap space.

But as much as Ericsson has struggled and drawn the wrath of fans, the organization believes he is better than many make him out to be. They have a track record for favoring veterans over inexperienced players. They also have concerns about Sproul's defensive play. Waiving Ericsson would trim only $1.025 million in cap space, which still might be enough to solve their issue.

Q: The Wings should play (Xavier) Ouellet, create openings for Sproul, (Robbie) Russo, forwards (Tyler) Bertuzzi and (Evgeny) Svechnikov, (Luke Witkowski on defense). (Trevor) Daley, another 34-year-old, added, so it would appear Ericsson should be the odd-man out. Or put (Niklas) Kronwall on LTIR. The Wings “best options” not getting the job done, so how can they bust the clog on defense? And why do the Wings insist their development players must be better than guys on the downward slope, now overpriced? The cap imposes value judgments, and the Wings are not getting adequate value for the cap squeeze they are in.

read on for the answer and questions about Mrazek and McIlrath...

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The overnight report: Kulfan’s questions, prospect talk, Tweets of note and fundraising

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes that the opening of training camp takes place four weeks from Friday, and as such, Kulfan has nine questions for the Wings in the final full month before the preseason opens. Among them:

Will there be a spot for Tyler Bertuzzi or Evgeny Svechnikov? Depending on how the salary-cap situation evolves, there might be a spot for Bertuzzi, but it’s far from certain.

Luke Witkowski can play either forward or defense, which is a huge plus given the current salary cap crisis.

If the Red Wings keep only 22 players, and all eight defensemen are healthy, there isn’t any room for Bertuzzi (unless a forward is injured).

As for Svechnikov, he’s an exciting prospect, but he’s not quite ready for the NHL.

Kulfan continues at length...

2. On Thursday morning, we discussed ESPN's Corey Pronman's mentions of Red Wings prospects among his Top 100 NHL Prospects list, and later on Thursday, Proman penned an Insider-only take on each and every one of the NHL's 31 prospect pools. Here's his take on the Wings' 10 best:

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We Have Ice

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St. James on Mantha’s outlook

The Free Press's Helene St. James penned a 2017-18 season outlook for Anthony Mantha:

Looking ahead: Mantha, 22, seems be figuring out how to be a good pro, from diet to working out to realizing just how much effort it takes to be a factor on a regular basis in the NHL. Management and coaches have hammered home to Mantha that he needs to skate, and use his 6-foot-5, 221-pound body to be a nuisance in front of the net. Mantha saw spotty power play time last season and wasn’t on either of the units that had the power play at nearly 25% the last 30 games of the season, but if there is an injury to power play net-front men Justin Abdelkader or Riley Sheahan – or if either unit ends up needing retooling, Mantha will get a chance for special-teams minutes.

Beyond salary cap space, part of the hesitancy to re-sign Thomas Vanek, in fact, is that while Vanek has shown he’d make Andreas Athanasiou a better player (their line with Frans Nielsen had excellent chemistry), Wings management wants Mantha to play a bigger role. That means more minutes; minutes that Vanek would eat into if he were in the lineup. Mantha’s among the most intriguing Wings to watch in 2017-18 – he flirted with the 20-goal mark last season, and seems to be growing into the player the Wings hoped they’d get when they drafted Mantha 20th overall in 2013.

St. James continues, and Mantha needs to churn those legs in the direction of the opposing team's net to succeed. Thankfully, he knows that now.

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WXYZ: Octopus sighting at Little Caesars Arena

WXYZ's Max White reports that the ice is being laid down at Little Caesars Arena, and as part of the process, an octopus was tossed onto the "Hockeytown" logo:

Update: Of miscellaneous Twitter-related note this morning:

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Dylan Larkin Ready For His 3rd NHL Season

from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,

Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings third-line center.

"Right behind Henrik Zetterberg and Frans Nielsen," Larkin, 21, said.

For how long depends on Larkin's production.

That Larkin pictures himself as the Red Wings' No. 3 center behind Zetterberg and Nielsen isn't all that surprising considering he regressed in his second NHL season and has about 30 games of experience playing in the middle in the League....

Blashill said he saw signs of Larkin coming of age when he coached him in the 2017 IIHF World Championship after last season. Larkin was second on the United States with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in eight games.

"What happens when a coach is pointing out a lot of mistakes or you might be sitting out shifts because of mistakes is you lose your confidence. It's just part of the process of developing, it really is," Blashill said. "I think as last season went along, he learned to play that complete game that is going to make him successful and he regained his confidence. I really saw that at the World Championship, so I expect Dylan to hit the ground running this year."


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The Outlook For Riley Sheahan

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2017-18 outlook: Sheahan got off to a bad start which snowballed into a historically poor campaign. He had finished strong in 2015-16, when he began utilizing his big frame to go to the net and stay there, resulting in better production.

But it didn't carry over and he seemed to quickly lose confidence.

It was a puzzling season, since he was productive his first three years as a third-line center (36 goals in 202 games).

Coach Jeff Blashill continued to show faith in Sheahan, keeping him in the lineup and on the power play as a net-front presence. He should have been sat sooner and more often, and other alternatives should have been explored on an ineffective power play to which Sheahan did not contribute (one goal, two assists).

Blashill cited Sheahan's responsible defensive play, but his plus-minus rating suggests otherwise.

Was it an aberration? The Vegas Golden Knights apparently don't think so, passing on Sheahan in the expansion draft in favor of Tomas Nosek, another third-/fourth-line center, but with only 17 NHL games on his resume.


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The overnight report: Hangin’ with Mac, prospect talk, and Tweets and videos of note

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. DetroitRedWings.com's Art Regner conducted a 55-minute interview with Darren McCarty for the latest "Red and White Authority" podcast:

2. ESPN's Corey Pronman issued his team prospect rankings on Monday, and in terms of his team-by-team analyses, the rankings were a little short...

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Video- Ken Holland Was On NHL Tonight Yesterday

Update: Here's the video in conventional form:

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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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