The Malik Report
I'm sensing a bit of a theme here, if not a little "intelligence" reporting, from the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson here. The night before the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers, Matheson said this about a potential Wings free agent target...
One team that will go hard to sign UFA Troy Brouwer this summer is Detroit. Other than Justin Abdelkader, they are painfully small up front. “Detroit’s got skilled forwards but they’re small and not that fast,” said one Eastern-based pro scout. Detroit needs help on defence, too, because Niklas Kronwall’s body is beat up. UFA Alex Goligoski (Dallas) is a possibility.
And on Thursday night, Matheson said this:
Winger Troy Brouwer is doing a nice job driving up his free-agent price July 1 with his playoff work for the Blues. The Red Wings badly need Brouwer’s size to give Justin Abdelkader some added muscle on a second line.
It's one source twice, and that's exactly one third of the way toward the, "Three sources, minimum, for confirmation" rule, but it IS one well-connected and highly-esteemed columnist we're talking about. So take this for what you will.
Brouwer is 30 going on 31, 6'3" and 215 pounds, and he made $3.75 million this past season for St. Louis, registering 18 goals and 39 points in 82 NHL games. He's a 30-to-40-point guy who is big and relatively mean when necessary. It's an interesting thought at least.
For those of you who aren't aware, the World Championship begins today in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, and 5 Red Wings are taking part in the tournament: Dylan Larkin for Team USA, Teemu Pulkkinen for Finland, Pavel Datsyuk and Alexey Marchenko for Russia and Tomas Jurco for Slovakia.
NBCSN and/or its "Live Sports XTra" app will be airing the vast majority of Team USA's games, and as "Team USA's" website's Paul D. Bowker notes, Team USA's game against Canada will air at 9:15 AM EDT on NBCSN in the U.S. and TSN in Canada:
The U.S. Men’s National Team begins play against a familiar rival Friday when the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship begins in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Team USA will face Canada in its opening game Friday in St. Petersburg, followed by games against Belarus on Saturday and Finland on Monday, both in St. Petersburg.
The tournament, which features 16 nations, is split into two groups of eight teams each. After preliminary round play finishes on May 17, the top four teams from each group will advance to the May 19 quarterfinal round. The medal round is May 22.
Matt Hendricks, a forward with the Edmonton Oilers, is team captain. Hendricks was captain of the 2015 U.S. team that won the bronze medal at the world championships. Alternate captains are Nick Foligno, a Columbus Blue Jackets forward, and Connor Murphy, a defenseman with the Arizona Coyotes.
The U.S. team also includes Dylan Larkin, a Detroit Red Wings forward who was a teammate of Hendricks on the 2015 national team; Brady Skjei, a New York Rangers defenseman who won a world championship gold medal with the U18 team in 2012; Frank Vatrano, a forward with the Boston Bruins who also won a gold medal with the 2012 U18 squad; David Warsofsky, a New Jersey Devils defenseman who won a gold medal at the 2010 world junior championship; and Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko, a two-time national junior team member.
Goaltenders Keith Kinkaid of the New Jersey Devils and Mike Condon of the Montreal Canadiens combined for 25 saves in an exhibition game Tuesday against Finland, but Team USA lost 3-2 in overtime.
By the time that Pavel Datsyuk and Russia take to the ice in Moscow, hosting the Czechs at 1:15 PM EDT (no legal TV in the U.S., but there are always quasi-legal streams available), I'm pretty sure that Datsyuk will be named Russia's captain for the tournament.
The Nyquist the Horse stories are coming in fast and furious, and I've tried to be judicious regarding the perusal thereof, but the Free Press's Jeff Seidel allows for a break in the blockade via a superb story about the people behind the horse with the hockey player's name. This definitely qualifies as, "Optional reading," but it's a very, very good read:
Nyquist, the horse, was discovered last year at an auction by Dennis O’Neill, who grew up in Dearborn and has an uncommon knack for spotting champions. O’Neill saw something special in Nyquist — a fast efficiency on the track and a quiet calm in the stable.
“Dennis is a savant that way; he’s not brilliant in any other way,” Nyquist’s owner Paul Reddam said, laughing. “I would say that to his face, teasing him. It’s kind of a weird thing. It’s intuition, really. It’s phenomenal.”
On O’Neill’s recommendation, Reddam bought Nyquist last spring for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton sale, which a combination of the NFL draft and free agency for horses.
Reddam grew up in Windsor and is a die-hard Detroit Red Wings fan. He was in the locker room in Joe Louis Arena after the Wings won the 2002 Stanley Cup, acting like he belonged there, even though he didn’t really, celebrating with the players and drinking out of the Cup, right next to Sergei Ferdorov, who was still wearing a sweat-soaked T-shirt.
And Nyquist is trained by Doug O’Neill, Dennis’ brother, who also grew up in Dearborn and attended Divine Child Elementary School through the fifth grade.
Updated 3x at 11:49 PM: The Grand Rapids Griffins had a rough start to the second round after a long lay-off, scoring the game's first goal but ultimately losing 3-2 to the Lake Erie Monsters in overtime.
Grand Rapids struggled with special teams, going 0-for-4 on the PP and giving up 2 power play goals against; Andy Miele was unable to score on a last-minute-of-regulation penalty shot, and a presumptive OT winner for Grand Rapids was called back on a goal scored by Eric Tangradi's glove and not his stick or other part of his body.
The Griffins played in front of a full compliment of Red Wings coaches and management with a little more rust than the Monsters displayed, and slowly but surely, they were ground down.
The AHL posted a game recap...
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spoke with Anthony Mantha, Ryan Sproul, Mitch Callahan and Tyler Bertuzzi about their seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins and their takes on their 15-16 regular season campaigns and their hopes as they look toward next fall's training camp:
The Red Wings are no longer playing, but the Griffins are in the thick of the American Hockey League playoffs.
Heading into Game 1 of the AHL Central Division final against the Lake Erie Monsters on Thursday, players like Anthony Mantha, Ryan Sproul, Mitch Callahan and Tyler Bertuzzi are in a critical time of the season — and their careers.
Playoffs are proving grounds at any level of hockey. The action ramps up and performances must improve proportionally.
“This is very important for their growth,” said Todd Nelson, the Griffins coach. “A lot of guys are maybe knocking on the door to make the club next year. The organization wants to see how these guys do in intense situations, and see how they perform.”
In the, "You can't make this up" department, from the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek:
The Stanley Cup will be making the trip to Churchill Downs on Saturday morning, in the hopes of bringing good luck to Kentucky Derby favourite Nyquist, owned by Windsor, Ont., native J. Paul Reddam.
According to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s vice-president and curator, Phil Pritchard, the famous trophy is flying into Louisville from Toronto on Friday morning and will be in place in Nyquist’s barn by 6:30 a.m. on race day.
Reddam had invited Nyquist, the player, to attend the race as his guest, but he declined, as he is competing for Sweden at the world hockey championship in St. Petersburg, Russia, set to begin later this month.
However, Nyquist tweeted a good-luck message to his namesake this week, “Best of luck to @NyquistHorse running @KentuckyDerby this weekend.”
As per tradition, the horse will not be permitted to sip from the Stanley Cup until after the race – and only if he wins.
The Grand Rapids Griffins are playing the first game of their second-round series against the Lake Erie Monsters presently (7 PM EDT start on The AHL Live and ESPN 96.1 FM), and if you're interested in sharing your take on the game and/or share some viewing options, please do so.
Mike and Marian Ilitch, the husband and wife whose holdings includes the global Little Caesars pizza brand, the Red Wings and Tigers, MotorCity Casino Hotel and plenty of downtown Detroit property, announced a leadership succession plan Thursday.
All their business holdings will remain under family ownership and one of their sons, Christopher Ilitch, will eventually take on his parents role in overseeing their entreperneurial empire — a role he’s been growing into for years now.
“I’m pleased to say that all of our businesses, including the sports teams, will remain 100 percent Ilitch-family owned,” said Mike Ilitch, chairman of Ilitch Holdings Inc., in a statement released Thursday afternoon. Mike is 86 and Marian is 83.
Sproul, [Xavier] Ouellet and Nick Jensen are waiver-exempt starting next season, putting onus on the Wings to decide whether they are part of the future in Detroit or worth risking on waivers. Where Jensen, who will be 26 in September, is viewed more as a potential depth guy, Sproul entices with his stature (he's listed as 6-feet-4 by the NHL, 6-feet-3 by the Griffins) and offensive talent. He picked up three assists in Grand Rapids' three-game first-round series, after finishing the regular season with a career-best 12 goals and 35 points.
The Griffins next take on Lake Erie tonight. Wings brass plans to be on hand to watch.
"He was one of the most improved players from last year to this year," assistant general manager Ryan Martin told the Free Press. "He has an absolute rocket from the blue line. He's got enough going his way that we need to find out where he fits on our depth chart."
Sproul, 23, has played one game in the NHL, appearing for the Wings in a meaningless season finale April 13, 2014, at St. Louis. He's a good skater, and his top asset is his shot. As with Wings defenseman Brendan Smith, Sproul sometimes makes errors in his own zone. But on a Wings team that has just one offensive right-handed shot in Mike Green, Sproul could be an asset on the third pairing and on power plays.
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.