The Malik Report
As has been the case on every Monday this offseason, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose or Dana Wakiji have examined the 2015-16 campaigns of Red Wings players "by the numbers." This morning, Wakiji frames Riley Sheahan's 15-16 campaign as follows:
Sheahan played a lot of roles this season, from top-six center to defensive winger to penalty killer to net-front presence on the power play. Sheahan found more offense later in the season, scoring seven goals in his last 22 games after scoring seven in his first 59 games. Sheahan is just 24 years old and still has room to grow offensively.
"With Sheahan, he's somebody that's real accountable as well, so I think it takes some time for that," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said late in the season. "Part of it is that he hasn't spent hardly any time on the power play this year either, so that's a difficult thing, to produce points without that. He's definitely got it in him. He's got lots of offensive ability in him."
81 | Sheahan played in all but one game during the regular season. He missed the Feb. 3 game at Tampa Bay due to illness. Sheahan's roommate, Luke Glendening, and Tomas Tatar were the other two players who missed just one game. Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist played in all 82.
200 | Sheahan reached the 200-game milestone on April 1 at Minnesota. He joined Glendening, Tatar, Nyquist and Brendan Smith as players who reached that mark during this past season. Sheahan finished the season with 204 regular-season games.
Wakiji continues, noting that Sheahan's late-season surge was indeed impressive...
From the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Looking back: After using the 2013-14 season to gain a foothold as a regular thanks to hard work and relentless defense, Glendening used 2014-15 to show he also can contribute offensively with a dozen goals among 18 points. He wasn’t quite as good last season — while his overall production did rise slightly, it took until the second half before Glendening showed the energy that makes him so effective (he did finish second on the team with 143 hits). Was hampered late in the season by a foot/ankle injury that also forced him to withdraw from competing for the U.S. at the Word Championship.
Looking ahead: The Wings locked up Glendening, 27, with a four-year extension a summer before he could have been an unrestricted free agent. Why? Because the Pittsburgh Penguins just demonstrated the importance of speed as they were first across the finish line in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Glendening has it in spades, and it’s why he was such a favorite of former coach Mike Babcock. Glendening is a very capable defender because of the way he can limit an opponent’s space, and he has a pesky side, too. Just coming into his prime, so he should be able to take a step forward.
Glendening needs to take a step forward if he is to graduate from a fine fourth-line center to an ultra-reliable 3rd line match-up guy. He's been used in the latter role by the Wings' coaching staff with mixed results.
From the Macomb Daily's Adam Rickert:
There is only one way to describe Saturday afternoon’s first Eastside Elite Hockey League All Star Game at Mount Clemens Ice Arena: an overwhelming success.
“It was unbelievable to get the response and to get the kids involved,” said league founder Steve Oleksy, who won the Stanley Cup this past season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “I had some great people working with me too. My parents helped me a lot, Matt Williams was incredible and a lot of other people helped make this run so smoothly.”
Over 400 fans attended the game to watch the EEHL’s top players square off in a fundraising event to help support the Mount Clemens Hockey Club, to which all the proceeds were donated.
“I think it’s special not only to raise money, but to draw awareness to the league and Michigan hockey in general,” Oleksy said. “Michigan is known as one of the hockey hotbeds and this shines a light on how many players actually come from Michigan.”
[Dylan] Larkin, who made a name for himself by putting together one of the greatest rookie seasons in Red Wings history last year, did not play in the EEHL but was brought in to add more excitement and star power to the event.
“Getting to know Dylan over the past couple weeks and for him to help volunteer his time just shows what kind of kid he is,” said Oleksy. “For him to take time and give back to kids and participate in this event really put it over the edge and made the event that it was.”
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The Wings need a solid, veteran center to fill the void left by Datsyuk. Nielsen is good at both ends of the ice, and comes highly recommended by Wings director of pro scouting, Mark Howe, who chiefly eyeballs NHL games in the New York area. Howe described Nielsen as very consistent, adept in all situations, and willing to do what it takes to achieve success. This would be a nice change for the Wings, whose last two attempts at acquiring second-line centers (Stephen Weiss and Brad Richards) disappointed. If last year’s line of Dylan Larkin, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader reforms, Nielsen could form a line with Gustav Nyquist and maybe Darren Helm (for his speed), or maybe Thomas Vanek (consistently scores in 20-goal range, shoots right). Nielsen is also good insurance in case of an injury to Larkin or Zetterberg. Six years is hefty term to give a 32-year-old, but that’s the cost of doing business on the free agent market.
1. Vili Saarijarvi - Flint Firebirds (now with the Mississauga Steelheads): There were some very impressive components to Saarijarvi's game this year, but there were also some very unimpressive ones. Saarijarvi is an absolute offensive wizard. His skating ability gives him fantastic separation ability off the rush and allows him to gain entry into the offensive zone with ease. He also runs the powerplay very well, showcasing a great point shot and vision when moving the puck. Defensively though, he's a major work in progress. Flint struggled as a team defensively, but Saarijarvi was definitely one of the guys at the root of that. He needs to play with more jam in his own end, as he can tend to get pushed around and his defensive awareness (tends to chase the puck) also needs seasoning. Saarijarvi can also take unnecessary liberties with the puck and can be turnover prone. He needs to pick his spots better. But the potential is very, very high. After an offseason trade, Saarijarvi will be playing for Mississauga next year. The Steelheads should have a fantastic team next year and they've got some quality defenders to insulate him. I expect big things. A 60 point season (which would put him near the top of defensive scoring) is possible.
from James Hawkins of the Detroit News,
For Rick Robertson, the timing seems as good as ever.
With construction of $627.5 million Little Caesars Arena in full swing and the Red Wings’ selection of 18-year-old forward Givani Smith in the second round of the NHL Draft, the downtown Detroit resident believes there’s plenty of hockey buzz in the city.
So in an effort to promote hockey among urban youth, Robertson is launching an outreach called the Detroit Amateur Hockey Info Table.
Its purpose is to answer questions about the sport and sign up kids of all ages in Detroit for skating lessons and hockey teams. There also are plans for hockey watch parties and providing complimentary hockey tickets.
“What we are is an introductory platform for hockey,” said Robertson, a community activist and consultant of volunteerism. “The idea is to get out there in places where you don’t find much visibility of a relationship with Detroit players, urban players, black players, players of color here in the city of Detroit.”
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Looking ahead: Sheahan, 24, can serve as a winger if needed, but he’s a natural at center. With either Henrik Zetterberg or Dylan Larkin expected to be the No. 1 center and newcomer Frans Nielsen slotted in the No. 2 spot, Sheahan could be a big asset as a third-line center. He’s good defensively (he became a key part of the penalty kill under coach Jeff Blashill), and his size makes him an ideal counterpunch, especially when the Wings face big centers. If Sheahan starts next season like he finished last season and sustains that level of play, there’s potential to have a really solid third line with possible wingers including Tomas Tatar, Thomas Vanek, Darren Helm, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and maybe Anthony Mantha.
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa feels that the recently-retired Brad Richards represents a trend of the Red Wings signing the wrong types of veteran free agents at a time when the Wings should be giving younger players greater playing opportunities:
Criticizing the decision [to sign Richards] has less to do with whether [his contract] was about $1 million to $1.5 million too rich. It is more about the Red Wings’ continuing string of disappointments in the free-agent market and whether signing and playing Richards delayed the development of young talent.
Those are questions Holland and the Red Wings continue to face, as Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott join the roster this season.
Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar still look for more ice time with top-six forwards. Andreas Athanasiou searches for more ice time anywhere. Mantha and perhaps others (Tyler Bertuzzi? Dylan Sadowy?) try to crack the lineup.
As a free agent, Richards performed better than Steven Weiss. He was healthier than Mike Modano or Erik Cole. But he did not match Daniel Alfredsson, who tied for the Wings lead in scoring with 18 goals and 31 assists in 2013-14, the last season of his outstanding career.
Alfredsson is the only free agent signed by the Red Wings in several seasons whose success approached the hopes of management.
Not a good report card.
Krupa continues, and one could argue that the Red Wings have had the most trouble trying to find a solid 2nd-line center over the past five or six seasons. Hopefully Frans Nielsen finally does the trick...
And we're at the point where any free agent class that's better than Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo and Jordin Tootoo sounds impressive.
Luke Glendening is a very good fourth-line center and utility forward, but he's tended to be in "over his head" when used as a second or third line match-up man. The eyeball test certainly confirms this, and, according to MLive's Tom Mitsos, advanced stats bear that out as well:
Last week, Michigan native Luke Glendening received a four-year, $7.2 million extension from the Detroit Red Wings.
Glendening, 27, had one year remaining on his three-year extension he signed in 2014. That cap hit was $628,333. The new deal will take him through the 2020-21 season and has a cap hit of $1.8 million that takes effect in 2017-18.
The Red Wings certainly have put a lot of value on his penalty-killing ability, defensive play and grit with the four-year deal. So, how does that compare to other NHL players with a cap hit of around $1.8 million on multiyear deals?
Mitsos continues, comparing Glendening to Eric Fehr, Trevor Lewis and Jay Beagle, and Glendening doesn't fare particularly well.
I certainly hope that Glendening continues to grow and succeed as a player, and I hope that the Red Wings see Glendening as the kind of player to build a strong fourth line around. He's not Kris Draper--and that's okay. He just needs to be utilized as his performance merits.
If he can hack it as a match-up third-line center, all the better for Glendening and the Wings, but it's still up to Glendening to prove himself as efficient in that role. That's the role the Wings appear to want to use him in, and he's got some improving to do there.
Jeff Lerg, who holds nearly every goaltending record in Toledo Walleye franchise history, has left the organization with a heavy heart but an eye on his future.
Lerg, who will play next season with a team in Denmark, continues to fight for an opportunity to play at the highest level. He signed with the team based in Rungsted, a suburb of Copenhagen.
“I loved Toledo. I enjoyed playing at home with all the fans. Everything about it was great,” Lerg said. “It’s just one of those things where I still want to play at the highest pro level. I’ve done as much as I can in the ECHL. I wanted to get rewarded for the high caliber of play. But I think it was proven I was not going to get one in the top leagues in North America.”
Lerg, a 30-year-old from Livonia, Mich., had played a prominent role in transforming the Walleye into championship-caliber organization the last two seasons.
Lerg backstopped Toledo to a Brabham Cup title for the best record in the ECHL during the 2014-15 regular season. He also led the Walleye to back-to-back Eastern Conference championships.
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.