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Kulfan speaks with Jeff Blashill regarding the Wings’ ‘depleted’ training camp roster

Updated 2x at 5:15 PM: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill regarding several training camp-related topics, including the fact that the Wings aren't going to be at full strength due to the World Cup of Hockey (see: Justin Abdelkader, Alexey Marchenko, Petr Mrazek, Tomas Tatar, Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek) and injuries (Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen)...

“We knew we’d be missing a significant number of players,” said Blashill with the Red Wings having seven players in Toronto and another four with injuries. “That part doesn’t change. We have a few extra injuries to deal with, but we had already set the structure to be a little bit different.”

Among Kulfan and Blashill's points of emphasis:

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Niklas Kronwall discusses his troublesome left knee

Updated 2x at 5:20 PM: As noted earlier this afternoon, the Free Press's Helene St. James and the Wings' beat writers spoke with Niklas Kronwall regarding his troublesome left knee, and St. James offered a text update as well...

Niklas Kronwall milled about in the Detroit Red Wings’ locker room today, unable to partake in an informal skate because of lingering pain in his left knee that has become a part of his daily life.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be pain-free, but hopefully, I’ll be able to be out there in a position where it doesn't bite as much,” Kronwall said. Similar to what he said at the end of last season, there's no real surgical option.

“The surgery that was talked about was something that probably wouldn't be the best idea if I wanted to play again,” he said.


Kronwall doesn't know when he might be ready to practice, much less play. All the coaching staff can do is wait for his signal.

“I think once he pulled out of the World Cup, our goal wasn't necessarily to have him ready for Day One of training camp,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It was have him Nik Kronwall ready to play and be a big impact in our first game. It takes build-up to get there.”

St. James continues, and she posted a video of Kronwall's comments...

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

The Red Wings' prospects took part in a spirited practice ahead of tonight's game against the St. Louis Blues (7 PM EDT on Fox Sports Go and DetroitRedWings.com), mostly focusing on breakouts and the power play two days after being shut out by the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Wings hit the ice at 11:30, and the likely scratches lingered on the ice until almost 1 PM, working on shooting drills and plain old enjoying themselves, which was good to see.

Coach Todd Nelson's drills were to-the-point today, emphasizing quickness and better structure, and the players were very receptive to the instruction they received from Nelson and Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coaches Bruce Ramsay, Ben Simon and Mike Knuble.

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Expect To See More Of Justin Abdelkader Tomorrow Night Against Canada

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St. James: Kronwall might not be ready to start the season

From the Free Press's Helene St. James:

added 1:45pm,

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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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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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