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The Malik Report

Discussing Mike Green’s pluses and minuses

The Free Press's Helene St. James continues her examination of the Red Wings' roster by discussing Mike Green's pluses and minuses:

Looking back: Green was signed last summer to answer the need for an offensive defenseman who shoots right-handed, an element missing since Brian Rafalski retired in 2011. Green produced, leading the defense in points, with five power-play goals and 20 power-play points (tying Pavel Datsyuk for second overall on the team). And Green was second on the team overall with two playoff points. Green was second among team defensemen with 106 hits. He played well with numerous partners, having especially good chemistry with Brendan Smith. The Green-Alexey Marchenko pairing also worked well, as Marchenko is a safe defender to have back, freeing Green to jump into the play.

Looking ahead: The Wings knew what they were getting in Green — a defenseman who likes to have the puck. The giveaways (40, second on the team behind Jonathan Ericsson’s 61) are part of the risk of having Green jump up into the play. Green will be 31 on Oct. 12, so he’s right in the prime of his career. It will be interesting to see if Green can be more productive under new defense coach Doug Houda and with new assistant coach John Torchetti running the power play.

St. James continues, and I believe that the Wings only got the "real Mike Green's" production toward the very end of the regular season, when he was posting at a 50-point clip, so I'm optimistic that Green will help reinvigorate the power play this season.

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A bit more about Axel Holmstrom’s recovery process

Friday's news that Axel Holmstrom will remain in Sweden for the upcoming season was met with mixed reactions from fans, but it's hard to remember sometimes that Holmstrom is all of 20 and under contract to the Red Wings. As Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive's Ansar Khan, the Wings signed off on Holmstrom's decision to rehab his torn ACL at home, and today, Martin spoke with the Windsor Star's Bob Duff regarding Holmstrom's recovery process:

“We were considering having him come over to play the prospect tournament prior to his playing in Sweden but I don’t think that’s a realistic goal to go from summer recovery of this type of injury to jumping into a prospect tournament at a high competitive level,” Martin said. “I don’t think that’s the best thing for him.”

“Probably somewhere in that Sept. 15 to early October range is what they’re shooting for now (as Holmstrom’s return to the ice). I think that (the Sept. 16-20 NHL prospects tournament) would be the four-month mark, that would be a bit aggressive and ambitious to expect him to be able to play games by then.”

Continue Reading »

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A familiar name surfaces in the trade rumor mill

The Hockey News's Jared Clinton has posted several articles discussing the Wings' cap and arbitration situations, and they were a little uncertain of the Wings' cap space due to the team's LTIR situation...

This one sort of "spitballs" trade scenarios by which the Vancouver Canucks could add a "proven scorer." I don't believe that there's any smoke to this scenario, but I'm going to note it:

One potential trade parter could be Detroit, where Red Wings GM Ken Holland has made it clear he’s got an excess of forwards and he’s willing to make a move.

Maybe nothing jumps off the page on the grit side of things, but as far as proven scorers, the Canucks could do a lot worse than adding Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar to their ranks. The only issue, though, would be what Vancouver would have to give up. Holland has made it clear that if he’s moving out NHL-ready talent, he’s going to want a defenseman that can man the Red Wings’ blueline in return.

There has been off-and-on rumblings about the possibility the Canucks could consider moving Alexander Edler at some point, but the 30-year-old rearguard makes $5 million per season and is a top-pairing defenseman in Vancouver. The money is a problem for the Red Wings, and losing Edler could be an issue for the Canucks.

That may make the deal a tough one to swing for either side, which might leave Benning looking elsewhere, like, say, the Columbus Blue Jackets and winger Scott Hartnell.

Clinton continues, and I would argue that this seems familiar simply because Edler's been linked to the Red Wings for such a very long period of time simply because the Wings wanted to draft him in 2004, and nothing has come to fruition as of yet. I don't see the Canucks trading Edler straight-up for Nyquist or Tatar, either, but that's my take.

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St. James discusses Dylan Larkin’s pluses

The Free Press's Helene St. James continues her off-season Wings profiles with a discussion of Dylan Larkin's pluses (no minuses):

Looking back: Larkin had so good an exhibition season he made the team at 19. He backed that up with a two-point debut and led the Wings with 23 goals. Fifteen goals came during the first half, with Larkin showing some signs of how hard it is to adjust to an 82-game NHL pace during the second half. He spent much of the season playing with Henrik Zetterberg, which suited both as Larkin benefitted from Zetterberg’s puck-management skills and Zetterberg benefitted from Larkin’s speed. After being unhappy with how he played in his first playoff game, Larkin responded by scoring in his second game — that’s the kind of player he is, intensely driven from within. Made his second appearance for the U.S. at the World Championship, producing nine points in 10 games.

Looking ahead: Larkin, who turns 20 on July 30, has said he wants to spend the summer focusing on how he can be better next season, especially regarding consistency. Again, an example of why he’s such a special player — no one pushes him as much as he pushes himself. With Pavel Datsyuk gone and Zetterberg slowing down, it would make sense to have Larkin at center (he mostly played wing last season) and fully utilize his incredible speed. With a year of NHL experience, Larkin can handle the extra responsibilities of that position. He figures to be the centerpiece for years to come as the Wings seek new leaders from within to take over for the aging generation, just as Datsyuk and Zetterberg when they were young players.

St. James continues...

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Krupa dishes a top 10 prospect list

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa has returned from the Red Wings' summer development camp with a revised list of the Red Wings' top 10 prospects. Krupa provides an introduction for his list in an article posted this evening...

GM Ken Holland says he believes it. So does Jeff Blashill, the coach. The Red Wings’ greatest potential for improvement is to develop from within.

Introducing Dylan Larkin, Alexey Marchenko and Andreas Athanasiou to the lineup last season and making Petr Mrazek the No. 1 goaltender is likely to be followed by playing time for more prospects beginning in October and beyond.

Some fans are impatient, yearning for bigger roles for “the kids.” But the Red Wings’ brass say young players must take jobs from veterans, as Larkin did last year.

In measuring the value of the current crop of prospects, some get a boost from their growing terms of service in AHL.

Others are notable for because their skill set, when fully developed, may help fill the Wings’ need for puck-moving defensemen and forwards with advanced goal-scoring skill.

In others, so much hope is invested that, despite being teenagers, their potential value is already considerable.

And Krupa offers in-depth analyses over the couse of a 10-image gallery. Among his top 10 prospects, Tyler Bertuzzi (3) Evgeny Svechnikov (4), Dennis Cholowski (6), Dylan Sadowy (7) and Vili Saarijarvi (9)  took part in the summer development camp, with Cholowski and Sadowy making their Red Wings debuts last week.

As hard as I tried to evaluate the Wings' prospects at the summer development camp, I tried to keep my mental list static. Cholowski and Sadowy certainly proved exceptions to the rule--especially as Cholowski won't be able to take part in the fall prospect tournament due to his NCAA-playing status--but it is the fall tournament upon which jobs are generally won and lost. If you want a list, I can make one, but it'll change come September.

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Dylan Larkin to participate in ‘Eastisde Elite Hockey League’ All-Star Game July 23rd

From the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:

If there was any time to have an all-star game for the Eastside Elite Hockey League it was this year. And that’s just what founder Steve Oleksy of the EEHL is going to do.

“We have a lot of high-end guys this year and I thought it’d be a unique way to draw some attention to the league as well as raise some funds for the Mount Clemens Hockey Club,” Oleksy said. “All the proceeds are going back to the kids in the organization.

“I think it was a win-win situation,” Oleksy continued. “Guys are really excited about it and it gives guys a little something extra to play for in the league.”

The game will take place Saturday [July 23rd] at 5:30 p.m. at Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

This is the eighth season Oleksy, who was a member of the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins this past season, has run the league.


Detroit Red Wing Dylan Larkin has also committed to play and a few others are trying to arrange their schedules to do so as well along with a couple of the Red Wing alumni players.

“Guys are really amped up and it’s kind of a cool feeling for me to be the guy to tell them they made the team,” Oleksy said. “They’re really taking is serious so how they have to play better to make it. It’s cool that they feel this way about it.”

Continued with information regarding attending the game...

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‘Three Things’: two photo galleries and a ‘Summer Street Hockey Tour’ reminder

Of relatively brief Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. MLive's Khalil AlHajal posted 5 images showing the progress made upon construction of the Wings' practice rink at Little Casears Arena;

2. CBS Detroit reminds us that the Red Wings' state-wide "summer street hockey tour" will begin on Monday:

Continue Reading »

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Examining the Wings’ ‘roster reset’

From NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika:

The Detroit Red Wings have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons. No other NHL team comes close.

The problem is, they have lost in the first round three years in a row and four times in five years. They lost a cornerstone when Pavel Datsyuk decided to return to Russia. Two remaining core players are getting older: Captain Henrik Zetterberg turns 36 on Oct. 9; defenseman Niklas Kronwall turns 36 on Jan. 12.

The Red Wings are trying to rebuild on the fly as they play their final season at Joe Louis Arena and move to a new rink in 2017-18. They overhauled their coaching staff under Jeff Blashill and signed three free agents. But the roster is in flux.

The challenge: How do you replenish your top-end talent when you haven't drafted in the top 10 since 1991? Can younger players like Dylan Larkin replace older players like Datsyuk, as younger players like Datsyuk once replaced older players like Steve Yzerman?

Can the Red Wings continue to make the playoffs and contend for the Stanley Cup again?

Here is what the Red Wings look like today:


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Discussing Jonathan Ericsson’s pluses and minuses

The Free Press's Helene St. James discusses Jonathan Ericsson's ups and downs over this past season in a profile that speaks honestly about his capabilities as a mid-to-low-pair defenseman that the Wings have over-relied upon:

Looking back: The Wings took a flier on Ericsson when they selected him last in the 2002 draft, 291st overall. After having trouble his first few seasons with turnovers, Ericsson improved and became a decent partner for Niklas Kronwall, playing a steady, stay-at-home game and killing penalties. Last season, however, Ericsson was a top-four guy who too often played like a No. 6 D-man. It didn’t help that he was partnered a good deal with Kronwall, whose play was affected by a bad knee. Ericsson led the defense with 121 hits and 61 giveaways. He logged the second-most minutes among the penalty killers, at a 2:37 average per game, but ranked sixth among the team’s defensemen with 48 blocked shots.

Looking ahead: Ericsson turned 32 in March, so if he is fully healthy, he should be able to play better. Maybe new defense coach Doug Houda can find a way to get more out of Ericsson — every now and then when he really gets fired up, he shows how he can impact a game. Ericsson does not play with the physicality possible from someone who is 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, and he’s not offensively flashy by any means, but he’s capable of better skating and defense than what he turned in last season. It’s unfortunate if the long contract has made him comfortable.

St. James makes a solid point here: the Wings will probably get more out of Ericsson and Kronwall if the team "platoons" its 3 defensive pairs instead of over-relying upon one over the other.

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Khan speaks with Ryan Martin regarding Axel Holmstrom’s decision to stay in Sweden

As notd last night, Axel Holmstrom told Norran.se's Arvid Marklund that he's staying in Sweden for one more season, and MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Red Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin regarding Holmstrom's decisoin:

Holmstrom and the Detroit Red Wings agreed that it's in the 20-year-old forward's best interest to spend another season in Sweden rather than play for the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2016-17 as originally planned.

The decision was based on Holmstrom's torn ACL, which won't be healed until late September or early October. He will return to Skelleftea AIK for his third season with the Swedish Hockey League team.

"Until Axel suffered his injury, that was certainly his expectation, to have a good year in Sweden and then set himself up to come into training camp in '16-17 and compete for a spot in Detroit and then play in Grand Rapids mostly likely," Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said. "When he suffered the injury I think because of the long recovery process he doesn't feel he's in a position to start his career in North America the way he would like to. He would prefer when he starts his North American career that he's 100 percent and ready to go.

"Everybody agreed that for his development another year in Sweden would be the most beneficial thing since he's most likely not going to be ready to start the year and play games. When he is healthy he'll start in Sweden and the hope and expectation would be at the end of the (Swedish) League season he'd come to Grand Rapids and play some games and sort of set himself up for the '17-18 season."

Khan continues, reporting that Holmstrom's ACL issue will prevent him from taking part in the fall prospect tournament....

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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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