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Audio from Monday’s practice at the Red Wings’ prospect tournament ‘16

The Detroit Red Wings' prospects battle the St. Louis Blues' prospects tonight at 7 PM EDT (on Fox Sports Go and DetroitRedWings.com), and the Wings engaged in a spirited and brisk practice this morning.

It looks like Mathew Caito will get into the lineup tonight, replacing Dylan Coghlan, but the lineup looks to be remain otherwise intact from the team that lost to Chicago on Saturday.

After practice, Givani Smith was descended upon by the Hockey News, DetroitRedWings.com's Joshua Berenter, the Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook and myself. Smith answered some general questions before I was able to ask him how his comfort level is at the tournament (thus far he's been a bit subdued in terms of his instigating nature), what he thinks about tonight's game against the Blues and what he's learning here:

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From Detroit’s Informal Skate Today

Ansar Khan tweets,

Teemu Pulkkinen joins #RedWings for informal skate. Not cleared for contact but looks ahead of schedule (shoulder).

Ryan Sproul has joined #RedWings for informal skate at Joe Louis Arena. Expected to sign one-year deal this week.



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A bit more about Shawn Horcoff’s role with the Red Wings

From DetroitRedWings.com's Jousha Berenter, via RedWingsFeed:

Shawn Horcoff has dedicated his life to the game of hockey as an NHL player for 15 seasons. But now, Horcoff’s focus has changed as he shifts into the Detroit Red Wings’ front office.

Just before the Red Wings’ first game in the 2016 NHL Prospect Tournament, the organization announced that Horcoff was hired as the new director of player development, succeeding Jiri Fischer, who is transitioning to a new role in player evaluation.

Horcoff played 1,008 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars and most recently, the Anaheim Ducks. The Trail, British Columbia native spent most of his career in Edmonton, helping lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 and serving as team captain from 2010-13.

Although he never played in Detroit, Horcoff has Michigan ties, playing collegiately at Michigan State University from 1996-00. Horcoff helped lead the Spartans to CCHA championships in 1998 and 2000, and finished his college career by winning the CCHA Player of the Year and Best Defensive Forward Award in 1999-00.

The hiring was a welcomed early birthday present for Horcoff, who turned 38 on Saturday. The Wings’ new director of player development has lived in Birmingham, Mich., for almost 10 years, and said because of his familiarity with the organization, moving into his new role has been an easy transition.

“The pro team are all pretty close friends,” Horcoff said Saturday at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City. “I know them pretty well. I know Kenny from being around and I’m pretty close with (Kris) Draper. I’ve played against him, obviously, and we trained together. I’m really familiar with the organization. And the nice thing is we already live here, so it’s easy for my family. For me, it was a perfect situation.”




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Morning news: On the prospect tournament, the World Cup and Shawn Horcoff’s hiring

Of brief Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. From Ken Kal:

2. At the World Cup of Hockey, it's going to be a busy day for Red Wings players. Petr Mrazek will start for the Czech Republic as they battle Frans Nielsen, Tomas Tatar, Thomas Vanek and Team Europe at 3 PM EDT on ESPN and Sportsnet; Alexey Marchenko and Team Russia will battle team North America at 8 PM EDT on ESPN2 and Sportsnet.

3. Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano made quite the declaration to Sportsnet's Mark Spector:

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Questions For Khan

Ansar Khan of Mlive answers some emails...

Q: On several occasions I have heard you mention that Xavier Ouellet is assured of a roster spot this season. Are you inferring this from his call-ups the last couple of seasons (over Ryan Sproul, Robbie Russo and Nick Jensen) or do you have other sources that cause you to report as much. It sounds as if there is no real competition for that seventh spot on the blue line. It seems that this has become a trend within the Wings organization. While (general manager Ken) Holland likes to talk about competition for jobs, should Wings fans truly believe that jobs may be won in camp and the preseason? I have a hard time believing that (Thomas) Vanek or (Steve) Ott will be immediately waived if significantly outplayed by anyone in Grand Rapids capable of filling a similar role.

A: Ouellet will be on the season-opening roster, it's safe to assume. He has more NHL experience (30 games, compared to one combined for the other three), he has been ahead of the others in the pecking order for call-ups and the organization believes he's further along defensively. I don't see that changing during camp and the preseason.

So, in that sense, I think you're right in stating there is no "real" competition for the seventh spot.

Sproul, who should sign a one-year deal this week, is intriguing because of his size (6-4, 206) and offensive ability. Like Ouellet, Sproul no longer is exempt from waivers. I think he would be claimed if waived. Maybe they'll start the season with eight defensemen if another forward or two is banged up.

The only way Jensen or Russo make the roster is if there are multiple injuries. I think Jensen would clear waivers, Russo is exempt.

Up front, I think there could be some competition for a spot since Tomas Jurco (back surgery) is more than a month away, Teemu Pulkkinen (shoulder) might not be ready for the start of the season and Henrik Zetterberg (knee) might not be skating in camp, though he is expected to be ready for the season opener.

I would expect Martin Frk, their top pick in 2012, to get a good, long look in preseason. He's no longer exempt from waivers, so the organization has to decide whether to keep him on the roster or risk losing him for nothing.

Andreas Athanasiou will try to show he deserves to be in the lineup and not in Grand Rapids, since he's waiver-exempt. I don't think Anthony Mantha will be on the season-opening roster unless he has a great preseason and injuries create an opening among their top nine forwards.

So a few things need to be sorted out, but you're correct in asserting veterans like Vanek and Ott are assured of jobs, at least at the start of the season.

more Q & A...

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Red Wings at the World Cup: Larkin earns assist in Team North America win

At the World Cup of Hockey, Dylan Larkin had an assist on Johnny Gaudreau's 2-0 goal, he took 5 shots, dished out 2 hits, had a giveaway and a takeaway over the course of Team North America's 5-1 win over Finland, playing 14:18. Larkin also got rocked by Patrik Laine, and tried to get in a fight, earning a 2-minute minor for roughing instead.

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Duff: Wings’ prospect tournament serves as a teaching and evaluation tool

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff had an intriguing conversation with Red Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin regarding the importance of the Wings' prospect tournament as a teaching tournament for players and an evaluation tournament for the team's front office:

“What we’re looking for in this is . . . everybody, speaking of our team, is on a different career path,” Martin said. “We’ve got players in this tournament that have a year of American League experience and in a couple of cases, they’re pressing to make the Red Wings, or at least get on the radar to be called up during the season.

Martin cited players such as forward Tyler Bertuzzi and defenseman Robbie Russo as guys who are on the cusp of NHL status.

“There’s other players who’ve just been drafted by us, like (2006 selections defenseman) Filip Hronek or (forward) Givani Smith that we think are really good prospects but they’re just starting out their junior career, and going back to play junior. This is an exposure for them at a high level and it’s great for us to see how they stack up against seven other organizations’ high-end prospects.

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Evening news: World Cup and prospect notes; on Svechnikov and the LCA

Updated 3x at 12:03 AM: Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. At the World Cup of Hockey, Alexey Marchenko took a shot, blocked 2 shots and had 2 giveaways in Team Russia's 2-1 loss to Sweden, playing 18:31;

2. In the prospect department, overseas:

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Open post: Team North America vs. Team Finland

Team North America is battling Team Finland tonight at 8 PM EDT on ESPN2 and Sportnset. Here's an open post to suit your needs.

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Thomas Vanek Knows He Can Still Score

from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,

"I know I can still play the game and score goals. For me the biggest thing was Minnesota just wasn't a good fit," said Vanek, 32. "It is what it is. There's no rhyme or reason for it. It didn't work out. I think being back in the East is going to help me and the way Detroit plays with smaller skilled guys, I think I can get to the front of the net and go to where I'm good at.

"It's always easy to look back and I say I should have done this or that. I knew going into it that it wasn't going to be easy but I didn't care. I wanted the challenge. I wanted to see if it could work. It's a place that's close to my heart. The only championship I've ever was in my college days there and to win another one there would have been awesome. It just didn't work out."

Vanek and former Buffalo co-captain Steve Ott both signed with the Red Wings in the offseason and are living near each other in the suburbs. They will be part of plenty of ceremonies this season as the Red Wings play their final campaign in 38-year-old Joe Louis Arena.

"It's awesome. When I was in Buffalo, we played in Detroit a lot obviously and I always enjoyed it. I like old buildings," Vanek said. "They have a great atmosphere. I love the history of the league and for that part, it will be cool to play for a franchise with a history like that. We moved down in the middle of August and it reminded us of Buffalo. The neighborhoods are beautiful just like Buffalo. It felt like home really quickly."

more, mostly World Cup talk...

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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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