The Malik Report
from Michael Traikos at the Toronto Sun,
As training camps come to a close, the dominating story around the league is about all the players who could be jumping straight from the draft floor to the NHL. There is, of course, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Buffalo’s Jack Eichel. But from Carolina’s Noah Hanifin to New Jersey’s Lawson Crouse and even Pittsburgh second-round pick Daniel Sprong, top-end teenagers are getting ready to make their debuts everywhere you look.
Everywhere, it seems, including Detroit.
While the Red Wings have already returned 2015 first-round pick Evgeny Svechnikov to his junior team in Quebec, last year’s No. 15 pick Dylan Larkin (three goals and one assist in five games) is on the cusp of heading straight from college to the NHL.
For a team that had Tomas Tatar spend four years in the AHL, this is a bit unprecedented. The "Detroit Way" is to let prospects mature in the minors. Unless your name is Datsyuk or Zetterberg, the path to the NHL has been long and tiresome. In fact, you have to go back 25 years, when Keith Primeau was the No. 3 pick, to find the last draft pick who went straight to the NHL.
But with an aging roster and a new head coach, the way Detroit does things could be changing.
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS MAKE ROSTER MOVES
… Four Players Placed on Injured Reserve; Roster Reduced to 27…
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today assigned forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Louis-Marc Aubry, Tyler Bertuzzi, Colin Campbell, Anthony Mantha, Zach Nastasiuk, Tomas Nosek and Eric Tangradi and defensemen Nick Jensen, Robbie Russo and Ryan Sproul to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins and assigned goaltender Jake Paterson to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. The club also released forward Mark Zengerle and defenseman Scott Czarnowczan from their tryout agreements.
Additionally, the Red Wings placed Pavel Datsyuk, Danny DeKeyser (retroactive to Sept. 30), Darren Helm (retroactive to Sept. 18) and Alexey Marchenko (retroactive to Sept. 28) on seven-day injured reserve.
The Red Wings’ active roster currently stands at 27 players.
Larkin, Cleary, Ferraro, Pulkkinen and Ouellet are all still on the Wings' roster.
Per TSN's Bob McKenzie:
Joe Hicketts had three assists, with the first of those historic. The Detroit Red Wings-signed 2015 world junior championships gold medallist broke the franchise record for most assists by a defenceman and has 94 in 170 games. Hicketts overtook Brandon Manning, who had 91 assists in 200 games when the franchise was located in Chilliwack.
Hicketts (118) is now stalking Manning (136) for the franchise record for most points by a blueliner. Manning, who graduated from junior in 2010-11, the season before the franchise moved to the Island, has played 21 NHL games for Philadelphia but has spent most of his post-Chilliwack career in the Flyers minor-pro system.
“This has been a real fun start,” said Hicketts, who is a native of Kamloops.
“I don’t think about the personal accolades. I’ve been able to adapt to Dave’s [Lowry] system. It’s more getting off to this start that keeps this so enjoyable. With a lot of new guys in the line-up this season, we’re trying to keep it simple. We have a real team concept. There’s not the age separation as in the last couple of years.”
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins dropped a 4-2 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters in the second half of the teams' back-to-back preseason games, probably giving Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde a fairer view of would-be Walleye players than showing Todd Richards what he can expect from his Grand Rapids Griffins. Grand Rapids opens the 2014-15 season next Friday in Bakersfield, CA:
The Red Wings' kids played very strongly over the course of the team's 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, closing out the preseason with a 6-0-and-2 record, but the Wings wouldn't have escaped the Air Canada Centre with the win had Petr Mrazek not been making saves like this all night long:
Andreas Athanasiou (1 goal and 1 assist), Tyler Bertuzzi (1 assist) and Anthony Mantha (1 goal, 1 assist, 1 fight, if you can call it a fight) had a helluva game, too, with Mantha scoring what was eventually the game-winner:
The Detroit Red Wings dressed a green lineup, the Detroit Red Wings were out-shot 29-15 and out-attempted 72-27, Detroit was out-territorially-played and Detroit had a lovely performance from Petr Mrazek, Detroit blocked 25 shots and Andreas Athanasiou had a MONSTER game as Athanasiou registered a goal an an assist, Anthony Mantha registered a goal and an assist and Mrazek stopped 28 of 29 en route to a 2-1 win over the Leafs, sweeping the preseason series.
Now the Wings will take Sunday off, most likely, and then prepare for Friday's home opener against Toronto and a month in which Detroit plays 7 times in 23 nights.
Mostly, a very, very young Red Wings roster played rope-a-dope hockey that worked against a veteran-laden Leafs team, and mostly, the Wings' younger players served notice that they are far, far closer to NHL-ready status than anybody expected prior to the preseason.
The Red Wings are going with a very young lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7 PM EDT on the NHL Network U.S./Sportnset One), wrapping up the regular season against a veteran-heavy Maple Leaf lineup.
The respective teams practiced in Detroit and Toronto this morning, and Detroit flew in to Toronto around 3:30 PM for the game. According to MLive's Ansar Khan, the Wings will dress the following lineup...
Of pre-game Red Wings-related note:
1. The Free Press's Helene St. James penned a column discussing Dylan Larkin's immediate future with the Wings...
Larkin is up against a numbers crunch. Darren Helm appears on track to return next weekend. So then the forward group would number Helm, Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Brad Richards, Tomas Tatar, Johan Franzen, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening, Drew Miller, Joakim Andersson and Tomas Jurco. Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro both need waivers to be sent down, and the Wings do not want to risk losing either. That is 14 forwards right there. Andy Miele and Mitch Callahan also need waivers.
From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
With the way the schedule shapes up, with six back-to-back sets of games before Thanksgiving and a relatively busy schedule beginning the later part of October, both [Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek] will get a good share of playing time. There's no need to anoint one a No. 1 goalie. For Blashill, it has been good to see both goalies play as well as they have during this exhibition season.
"Over the long term of the (training) camp, both guys have been real good," Blashill said. "Every single day, whether it's been games, or practices, or small games we've played (during practice). So it's like I've said -- it's better to have real good players at very every position, and goaltending is included in that, especially with the schedule we have to start the season."
Howard is 3-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .942 save percentage during the preseason, while Mrazek (who was scheduled to start Saturday night in Toronto) is 1-0-1 with a 2.38 GAA and .929 SVS.
"We're going to need both guys no matter what the situation is," said Howard, talking about the competition between the two. "Petr and I are good friends. We get along great. We want the best for each other. It's one of those friendly competitions where we'll be pushing each other and it's only going to make our team better."
Kulfan continues, speaking with Dylan Larkin regarding his chances of making the roster and Teemu Pulkkinen about returning from a rib injury...
added 3:25pm, Dana Wakiji on Teemu Pilkkinen and more...
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.