The Malik Report
This morning's Red Wings-related story comes from the Free Press's Helene St. James, who follows MLive's Ansar Khan's lead in examining Jimmy Howard's possibility and/or probability of winning the battle to start in the Wings' crease:
LOOKING AHEAD: There are worse situations for a team than having two goaltenders spending their summers determined to be No. 1, as is the case with Howard and Mrazek. Fortunately for the Wings, there’s no financial pressure to trade Howard, because the combined salary-cap hit for Howard and Mrazek is only $6 million. It would be risky to move Howard, too, because Mrazek has only 40 NHL games to his credit — that’s not much to base a judgment on.
Howard, 31, undoubtedly will come to camp ready to show the second half of last season was an aberration. That makes the exhibition season especially important for him — time to show his mental toughness. Mrazek will be pushing for the starter’s role, and it’s up to Howard to fend off that challenge and reclaim the starter’s role.
This isn't necessarily Red Wings-related (save the presence of one Dylan Larkin), but the NHLPA has released the names of the players taking part in its "Rookie Showcase," and if you're interested in knowing who exactly will be adorning Upper Deck's cards (once they make their NHL debut, anyway), here's the list:
MEDIA ADVISORY: 2015 NHLPA ROOKIE SHOWCASE
TORONTO, ON (August 19, 2015) – Forty of the top NHL® prospects and rookies will gather in Toronto at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (site of the former Maple Leaf Gardens) on Tuesday, September 1st for the 2015 NHLPA Rookie Showcase. Now in its seventh year, this unique event provides Upper Deck – the official trading card partner of the NHLPA and the NHL – with a unique opportunity to photograph and film many of the game’s top young prospects and rookies in their official NHL team uniforms. The content collected will be used for upcoming Upper Deck trading card and memorabilia products and digital video posts.
ESPN's Uni Watch's Paul Lukas penned a set of the "20 best-dressed sports cities" in the U.S., and Detroit received a middling ranking:
8. Detroit (6.63 [out of 10]
The Motor City may have its problems, but sports aesthetics isn't one of them (well, except for the Lions, who really need to ditch all the black trim, go back to a conventional number font and get rid of Ford Field's roof). If a crazy quilt of rotating designs is your thing, then Motown isn't the place for you -- the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings currently have zero alternate uniforms among them. But it will do you just fine if you're in the market for a solid-looking sports town.
UNI WATCH SCORE: Tigers: 9 [out of 10], Lions: 3, Pistons: 6.5, Red Wings: 9, Intangibles: Minus points for Ford Field's dome (-2). Bonus point for the fist of Joe Louis, arguably the world's coolest sports sculpture (1). UNI: 6.63
ESPN's Corey Pronman and NHL.com have issued Red Wings "Top Prospects" lists of late, and the trend continues this evening (via RedWingsFeed) as Hockey's Future's Ryan Womeldorf has posited his Top 20 Wings prospect list. Neither you nor I are very familiar with this player...
20. (NR) Robbie Russo, D, 6.5 D
Signed as free agent, August 2015
A late addition to the Top 20, Russo brings offensive punch to the back end. He was a standout for Notre Dame, flashing good offensive potential before finally exploding for 41 points in 40 games during his senior season with the Fighting Irish. This progress, coupled with the reality of a crowded New York Islanders depth chart, led to the decision to pursue free agency. Russo certainly offers some upside, as well as another right-handed presence who fits the cluster at just 22 years old.
Despite some academic issues that kept him off the ice for part of the 2013-14 season, Russo is considered a hard worker and shows leadership qualities. Though he doesn’t shy away from the physical game, he’s more of an offensive defenseman in nature and will make his name that way. He’ll fight for time with Grand Rapids of the AHL for the 2015-16 campaign and will need to work on fine-tuning his defensive game if he hopes to progress further.
And this player keeps sliding down the rankings...
Alexey Marchenko gave an interview to NHL.ru recently, and KK member George Maslennikov was kind enough to translate it into English:
NHL.com/ru : What kind of effect will Babcock's departure have on the Red Wings?
Marchenko: Hard to say. We'll see what happens. Balshill is also a good coach. They are very similar, they preach the same system, and during the season they were constantly in touch, every day. They seem to understand the game the same way. We'll see what Blashill can do. Babcock is of course one of the best coaches in the world, so we'll see what Blashill can bring to the team.
NHL: You said Babcock and Blashill are very similar, but what are the differences between them?
Marchenko: Not sure. I guess maybe because Blashill is younger he is closer with the players. I mean, he is only 40+ years old. Babcock is not old, but Blashill is younger.
Update: There's also a superb interview that Jiri Fischer gave Hokej.cz that requires more nuanced translation that I can give it...Shoot me an email at georgemalik @ kuklaskorner dot com if you're willing to lend a hand.
Boy, this is a pickle. I kept on reading Russian websites like Sports.ru referring to an interview with Alexey Marchenko on NHL.com, but I couldn't find it as part of the "30 in 30" series.
It turns out that Marchenko conducted an interview with NHL.ru, but this puppy is so very colloquial that I'm afraid that I'm going to screw up the translation in a major way. If there are any Russian-speakers out there who are willing to clarify the sticky wickets, I'd be greatful for your assistance, and in the interim, here's the Google translation of the interview:
From DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose, Ken Kal and the Wings:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
2015-16 outlook: Andersson entered the season feeling quicker and more energized after being hampered by an illness the second half of 2013-14. But it didn't translate into success on the ice, especially early on when he was a frequent scratch.
After showing some promise as a rookie in 2013, Andersson's role essentially has been taken by the more abrasive Luke Glendening the past two seasons. Andersson has the size and defensive instincts suitable for a fourth-line center, and he's a good penalty killer, but he lacks physicality and grit. He had 51 hits and blocked shots combined in 68 games last season, compared to 220 hits and blocked shots combined in 82 games for Glendening.
Depending on injuries and how coach Jeff Blashill arranges his lines, Andersson could still start the season as the fourth-line center, or play on the wing, as he did much of last season. He could be competing with the speedier Landon Ferraro for a spot in the lineup.
With several young forwards poised to make the leap from Grand Rapids to Detroit in the next couple of seasons (including Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi), Andersson's future here remains in doubt.
Key question: Does Andersson have a future with this organization?
NHL.com's "30 in 30" series focuses on the Red Wings this morning, and in addition to a video spotlighting the team...
We begin with the obvious in NHL.com's Paul Harris' discussion of Jeff Blashill's hiring as Mike Babcock's replacement, as well as the signings of Mike Green and Brad Richards to shore up the Wings' defensive corps and center ice, respectively:
Two items of Red Wings-related note are available as of midnight (there's more to come).
First, the Free Press's Helene St. James poffers a scouting report of Darren Helm that, well, yields something I never thought I'd say--by this time next summer, if they continue to have "career years," Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm might be taking up $8+ million in salary cap space, and they might be worth it.
LOOKING AHEAD: This is a big season for Helm — he’ll be eligible to get his first shot at the unrestricted free-agent market. It’s doubtful it ever gets that far, though, as the Wings will want to re-sign him because fast forwards with size and scoring ability are rare. Somewhere in the $4-million range should work.
Helm has worked his way up from bottom-six to top-six forward and should enter this season brimming with confidence after a productive and healthy year. He could find himself starting the year next to newcomer Brad Richards, which should allow for ample scoring opportunities. Helm is entering what is considered a hockey player’s prime, and few players aren’t a little bit more motivated when there’s a new contract at play, too.
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.