The Malik Report
Updated at 10:07 PM: From the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner:
Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson moved into an area home last week, is preparing for the NHL Prospects Tournament in less than two weeks and proclaimed "it's go-time" for the season ahead.
But first he traded conversation, and maybe a few divots, with a most interesting golf partner. Nelson was paired with Red Wings coach and former Griffins coach Jeff Blashill at Monday's Griffins Youth Foundation Golf Classic at Egypt Valley Country Club.
Nelson could have used the golf tips – he played for the first time this summer on Friday – but he expected more discussion on their co-existences as coaches and meshing of philosophies.
"We've already had dialogue with personnel, and we'll get into some of the practices and how he's going to play in Detroit and we want to mirror that," Nelson said.
Up first will be the NHL Prospects Tournament that begins Sept. 11 in Traverse City. Nelson, who was in Traverse City for the organization's development camp in early July, said it will be invaluable in evaluation talent as he leads the Red Wings' prospects.
Update: Wallner posted a video of Todd Nelson speaking at the golf tourney...
WDFN's Art Regner spoke with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill this morning, discussing the Red Wings' free agent signings, the team's goaltending and much, much more in a 24-minute interview. This is good stuff:
Updated 5x at 2:17 PM: Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
The Grand Rapids Griffins' Youth Foundation is holding its annual Golf Classic, and more than a few Red Wings alums are taking part in the tournament:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
2015-16 outlook: Richards has been in a steady decline since he averaged more than a point a game in three-plus seasons with the Dallas Stars (2008-11) and is coming off the least-productive non-lockout shortened season of his career. But he can still be a key player and fill some needs for the Red Wings because he's a creative playmaker with good hockey sense and brings Cup experience.
Coach Jeff Blashill has indicated Richards will center the top line until Pavel Datsyuk returns following off-season ankle surgery (projected to be anywhere from late October to late November). Henrik Zetterberg can handle the defensive duties and, in all likelihood, Justin Abdelkader can do the heavy lifting for that line.
When Datsyuk returns, Richards will move down to the second line.
Richards also will help a power play that ranked second in the NHL last season. He typically plays the point.
Key question: Can Richards adequately fill the top-line center spot until Datsyuk returns?
Two "good news" items have popped up from Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea:
First, Shea reports that the State of Michigan's bond sale to fund the Red Wings' follow-on rink has concluded with all bonds sold to banks...
The money to build the $532 million Detroit Red Wings arena and events center was raised, as planned, with the sale of $450 million of state bonds late last year.
The Michigan Strategic Fund divided the sale into a $250 million in Series A offering that is backed by property taxes already captured by Detroit's Downtown Development Authority. The $200 million in Series B bonds are backed by the $11.5 million Olympia Development of Michigan has agreed to pay the DDA for bond retirement.
from Dana Wakiji of DetroitRedWings.com,
As Red Wings training camp approaches, there's some extra excitement with a new man in charge.
New head coach Jeff Blashill might sound like Mike Babcock but he's not going to be a Mike Babcock clone.
Blashill spent a season as Babcock's assistant in 2011-12 before going to Grand Rapids to be the Griffins' head coach.
General manager Ken Holland spent some time in his office this past week talking about the transition from Babcock to Blashill.
"One of the things Mike Babcock said to me before he signed with Toronto and before he went through the process is, did I think his time had expired in Detroit and I said no, because we were having lots of young players, there was a turnover of players so some of these players had played for Mike for two years," Holland said. "(Tomas) Tatar, (Gustav) Nyquist and (Riley) Sheahan, they just got here. But there was a group of players that had played for Mike Babcock for 5, 6, 7 years. When you're a boss or you're in pro sports and you have structure, you make them accountable every day, sometimes change is good."
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. The Free Press's Helene St. James has posited a profile of one Teemu Pulkkinen and his 2015-16 outlook, and I have a canned commercial line to describe what Teemu Pulkkinen must become before he truly succeeds at the NHL--"ready to strike!"
During the Grand Rapids Griffins' Conference Final series against the Utica Comets, Pulkkinen (who scored 34 AHL goals in 61 regular season games and 14 goals in 16 playoff games) was effectively shut down because the Canucks' AHL'ers figured out that AHL-level Pulkkinen meanders his way toward the net, sometimes doubling back once, twice or even three times before finding a shooting angle that he's comfortable with.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
2015-16 outlook: A good skater who gained notoriety for his slick stick skills, Jurco showed much promise as a rookie during his half-season in the NH in 2013-14. But he took a step back during his second season and seemed to lose a bit of confidence offensively.
Former coach Mike Babcock wanted him to play a gritty, physical game by utilizing his size to go to the hard areas of the ice, especially the net front. The message was to be more like Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm by forechecking hard and wearing on the defense, instead of trying to beat opponents with one-on-one moves. That's the kind of game that's more suited for the third-line role that Jurco is likely to have this season.
Jurco has speed, offensive ability and size but lacks experience. He's the youngest player on the team and his game is still evolving.
Key question: Will Jurco be more of an offensive threat this season?
Evening news: Justin Abdelkader discusses his impending UFA status, and a bunch of promotional stuff
Among this evening's Red Wings-related stories:
Michigan State University's pro camp wrapped up yesterday...
And Justin Abdelkader spoke with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan about his status as going into a contract year and facing unrestricted free agency (next summer) coming off the best statistical season of his career:
from David Staples of the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,
If we go by overall save percentage, he does not rank in the Top 20 best NHL starters from 2012-15. He has an overall save percentage of just .915. He’s been average, in other words, but that’s not an average pay cheque he will be pulling down. And Detroit, it’s worth noting, allowed even a lower percentage of high-danger chances last season than New York, just 33.5 per cent of their overall shots total. For what it’s worth, Howard’s numbers are not good on high danger chances.
The final point against a team like Edmonton trading for Howard is that he’s 31 years old. Many goalies in their 30s can play strong hockey, but if you look at that list of top goalies from 2012-15, I’m only see three or four who were in their 30s. Goalies in their 20s are a better bet if you want a top starter.
Of course, Howard might play like a goalie god this year, which would make him a better bet. And despite his most promising numbers, Talbot may not pan out here. As it stands now, though, even if Talbot were to fall flat, it’s unlikely Howard would be the best answer for the Oilers. He’s an average NHL goalie, likely at or past his best before date, and he’s paid a high amount.
This isn’t to say that Howard is destined to failure. He’s not. He could defy the odds and earn every penny of his contract and then some for the Red Wings. That said, he’s not a good bet to do so.
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.