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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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A Deadspin article that raises intriguing concerns—if you believe the ‘anonymous source’

I would describe Deadspin's reporting style as "unique," and things get really unique in Deadspin's Bill Bradley's article about "The Dynasty that Ate Itself." Mr. Bradley speaks to both Ken Holland and a former Ilitch organization employee who remains nameless for fear of retribution, and the former employee suggests that:

1. Holland doesn't have a rebuilding strategy...

Some who have seen Holland work believe he simply doesn’t have any other strategy besides win now.

“If Holland was competent enough to figure out that the rebuild is going to take more than a year, then maybe they could possibly trust him with all of his years of experience and all of his connections,” said one person who used to work for the Ilitches and requested anonymity for fear of retribution. “Maybe he could do a good job of having a turnaround in three to five years. But he is absolutely against it. He wants, like, a one-year turnaround. Which means he’s probably going to go and blow money on old veteran players and his usual crap. So I just, I think it’s one of those things where they know he’s not going to change and he hasn’t really been forced to change in the past.”

2. And Bradley suggests that hiring Steve Yzerman as GM could be the Wings' only hope going forward with an "incompetent" GM, but...

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Frozen Four Coming To LCA In 2020

via Max White of WXYZ,

Detroit and Little Caesars Arena will be the host of the 2020 Men's NCAA Frozen Four hockey championships, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

Michigan State and the Detroit Sports Commissions will be the hosts for the championships on April 9-11, 2020.

It was originally reported that Detroit would host the 2019 Frozen Four but that is going to Buffalo.

The new arena is also hosting first and second round games for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 2021.

It will also host first and second round NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games from March 16-18, 2018.

added 5:47pm, Press release is below...

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Savage on personnel changes the ‘last time the Wings missed the playoffs’

MLive's Brendan Savage examines some of the personnel moves the Red Wings made the last time they missed the playoffs, in 1990:

The last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the Stanley Cup playoffs, they came back with a roster that featured lots of new faces in 1990-91.

Several were youngsters who were either rookies or in their first full season as NHL regulars.

The youth movement helped trigger a stretch of unprecedented success for the franchise as the Red Wings didn't miss the playoffs again until this season.

General manager Bryan Murray, in his first season with the Red Wings, retooled the 1990-91 roster and brought in no less than nine players who had significant roles in getting the Red Wings back into the postseason.

If current GM Ken Holland can do the same thing with his bloated payroll - and that isn't going to be easy by any stretch - Holland will be an early favorite to be the 2017-18 GM of the Year.

Savage continues, and there's no way in hell that the Wings are going to be able to add 9 players in a salary cap-strapped situation, but they can still make 3 or 4 moves to help bolster the organization's ranks.

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‘Two Things,’ Griffins version: On Tangradi and Bertuzzi’s returns and Ehn joins GR

Of Grand Rapids Griffins-related note this morning:

1. WZZM's Jamal Spencer discusses Eric Tangradi and Tyler Bertuzzi's respective returns from injuries to bolster the Griffins' playoff lineup...

2. And Red Wings prospects on Twitter reports that Christoffer Ehn is going to join the Griffins' Black Aces:

FYI:

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On Frans Nielsen’s belief that simpler, harder hockey will solve the Wings’ problems

MLive's Ansar Khan revisits Frans Nielsen's Locker Room Clean-Out Day comments this morning, noting that Nielsen believes that the Red Wings' current personnel can return to playoff form if they play simpler, harder hockey:

"It's been disappointing absolutely, but I think there are some really good pieces in here, so I think it's not like I feel like I'm going to come back after the summer and we're going to go through this again," Nielsen said. "I really believe this group can do something. We've just got to learn from this and figure it out. I think for the most part, some nights we basically got outworked, and that just can't happen in this league."

The prevailing sentiment from one of the team's veterans: They need more grit.

"We just got to bring a little more mean attitude and play harder and do it a little more simple sometimes," Nielsen said. "I know they always had a tradition of playing a lot of nice hockey here with skill guys, but I think we got to learn how to play the other side of it, too. ... It's a tough league and you have to pay the price every night. ... You can't skill your way through this league today. It's too hard."

Khan and Nielsen continue...

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‘Two Things’: On Mantha’s consistency and Caputo on metrics of assessment

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an article regarding Anthony Mantha's desire to become a more consistent NHL player...

Mantha had 17 goals and 36 points in 60 games and had the team’s second-best plus-minus rating at plus-10. He said he wasn’t explicitly told he needed to be better and more consistent. In fact, he said he inherently knew when his game wasn’t up to par.

“I just know it,” he said. “I know the way I play. I know my best games what they are. I know my bad games what they are. So for me, it’s just something I need to focus on and always have good or great games.”

Mantha also figured out it was good he decided to watch older players — and one in particular — and copy their good habits.

“It’s to look at the veterans and see how they show up every day,” he said. “That’s what you learn the most as a young kid. For me, this year I watched (Henrik) Zetterberg practice and play and he’s always at the same level, he’s always competing, even in practices. So I’ll try to get that mentality for next year.”

2. And the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo says that the Wings need to embrace statistical metrics to "be honest with themselves" regarding the offseason moves necessary to

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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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