The Malik Report
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
The Detroit Red Wings were bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the Boston Bruins, but they have also made the postseason every year since 1990.
Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Wings team that has been rejuvenated with youth, but has a small window of time to capitalize on the talent of team leaders Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
The Wings have a bit of an interesting mix, with aging vets combined with young players who were thrust into bigger roles when those older players got hurt last year.
While the Wings can be, at times, too patient with their prospects, those that were called upon last year -- including Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco, among others -- were ready to play and contribute and that does provide reason for optimism going forward.
"I think there's this perception that July 1 free agents, there's this hockey store, there's this fantasy hockey league that I'm running, playing in, and that we can go get superstars," GM Ken Holland told Detroit's CBS Affiliate. "Those days are over. That was a bit of the league prior to 2005. Those days are over. This is a league now where you've got to draft, you've got to develop, we've got to make people better."
Beware, an auto-play highlight clip lurks within!
I'm running on fumes after covering a full month's worth of post-playoff-elimination hockey, but I was looking around yesterday afternoon wondering, "Okay, what comes next for the Red Wings?" when I found an article in which the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran discussed the Toronto Maple Leafs' strategy for the NHL's draft combine.
Now that the Memorial Cup and World Championship have concluded, the Red Wings and every other team's front office is spending this week in Toronto, watching fitness testing (cue the barf bucket footage, soon!) and interviewing at least a ten of over 100 potential draftees at what's become an annual pre-draft event. NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale sets the stage for the combine...
I've been covering 2-to-5 hockey games every day for the past five weeks, so I'm supposed to be resting, but enough Wings-related news has popped up that I'd feel guilty, and wouldn't rest very well, if I didn't put up some sort of digest-style entry summarizing the news I've found.
I didn't post all that much from the Guelph Storm's 6-3 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings in Sunday's Memorial Cup Final, but if you're interested in highlights, the Edmonton Oilers website's superb recap posted a non-geo-blocked highlight clip...
The NHL Play of the Year Showdown resumes today with an incredible goal and an incredible save. The latest quarterfinal match-up features Detroit Red Wings' Gustav Nyquist taking on Colorado Avalanche netminder Reto Berra.
Nyquist breaks in one-on-one against Matt Carle and the Lightning defender appears initially to do enough to prevent a goal, drawing a penalty in the process. However, Nyquist shakes Carle's grip and pounces on the puck he just lost. From behind the goal line, he still has the presence of mind to corral the puck and toss it under a recovering Ben Bishop.
Berra, meanwhile, easily gets top marks for distance.
Ansar Khan of Mlive answered some questions regarding the Wings' prospects...
Q. How likely is Anthony Mantha to see NHL games next season? What is Andreas Athanasiou's ceiling? Are we more likely to see more of Ryan Sproul or Alexei Marchenko as an NHL defenseman next year? Is Brian Lashoff destined to be a journeyman? Could Petr Mrazek replace Jimmy (Howard) as a starter in the near future? What do you think Calle Jarnkrok's ceiling will be after his solid half-season in Nashville?
A. The Mantha question comes up a lot, not surprisingly. I think he'll spend most or all of next season in Grand Rapids, getting accustomed to playing against professionals. How he fares there will determine when he is called up. I think he'll end up playing some games with the Red Wings.
Athanasiou is a promising prospect with a good combination of speed, skill and size. By many accounts, he has a high ceiling.
More of Sproul or Marchenko? It depends on who's playing better in Grand Rapids and what type of defenseman the Red Wings need when it's time for a recall. Marchenko was higher than Sproul in the pecking order before his season-ending ankle injury in late February. I think that's because he's further along defensively (General manager Ken Holland likened him to Brad Stuart). But I'm sure many fans would like to see what Sproul could do at the point on the second power-play unit with his booming right-handed shot.
Xavier Ouellet appears to be the next defenseman ready to make the jump from the AHL on a permanent basis. I expect that to happen next season....
Q. What are the chances that they only look within for their defensive needs and promote (Sproul) to the big club? Otherwise, I am afraid that they will spend excessive amounts of cap space on a free agent.
A. They'll look outside first, either free agency or a trade, for a right-handed shooting defenseman. Not sure of your definition of "excessive amounts of money," but I don't think they'll go there. I don't think they'll get into a bidding war for Matt Niskanen, who'll command the biggest contract among UFA defensemen. A lower-cost, shorter-term option like Dan Boyle is more realistic. Sproul, I believe, will spend another season in Grand Rapids.
The way the announcers and press played up the rest-vs-exhaustion theme prior to the Edmonton Oil Kings' Memorial Cup-clinching 6-3 win over Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm, you'd think that the Oil Kings would have no chance given that they defeated Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs via a 3-OT decision on Friday, while the Storm, who won three five-game series while capturing their OHL Championship, hadn't played since this past Tuesday...
But the reality of the situation regarding the Memorial Cup is that it's a single-game elimination situation, and Henrik Samuelsson (2 goals and 3 assists) and the Oil Kings out-skated, out-worked, out-hustled and ground down a Guelph Storm team whose coach, Scott Walker, seemed to believe that the best way to utilize his team's leading tournament goal-scorer in Tyler Bertuzzi was to demote Bertuzzi and his linemates to very, very limited action as a 4th line.
Tyler Bertuzzi and the Guelph Storm will battle the Edmonton Oil Kings for the Memorial Cup today at 4 PM EDT (on the NHL Network, TSN and TVA Sports), and if you'd like to weigh in on the game, you may do so here.
Prior to the Bronze Medal game, former Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, forward Steve Yzerman (in absentia; Hockey Canada's Bob Nicholson accepted the honor on Yzerman's behalf) and former Wing Ruslan Salei were inducted into the IIHF's Hall of Fame. IIHF.com's John Sanful took note of Lidstrom's remarks about the honor bestowed upon him...
Niklas Lidstrom was introduced as a player with the “presence, mind, shot and touch” and someone who was among the greatest defenceman in history, if not the greatest. Lidstrom remembers growing up in Sweden he aspired to play for the national team and that through hard work, persistence and dedication he was able to do so on multiple occasions and lead Tre Kronor to gold.
“I didn’t play that many World Championships. I played three of them, and one I came in late in the tournament. I played in four Olympics, and we had both ups and downs in those events. Being a Red Wing for 20 years is hard to top, but any time you get to represent your country, that means so much, especially winning a gold medal for Team Sweden in 2006. That was one of the top moments in my career.”
He also thanked his parents for their sacrifice in helping him to obtain his dream and current Swedish head coach Per Marts whom he said was instrumental in his development from the ages of 16 to 21.
As well as the fact that Salei was inducted in his hometown:
The Czechs checked the hell out of Gustav Nyquist and his linemates today, but that didn't prevent Sweden from earning a bronze medal at the World Championships today. Sweden's secondary scorers delivered (Joakim Lindstrom had a goal and 2 assists), their special teams play was superb, and the Swedes received an MVP goaltending performance from Anders Nilsson (a 24-save shutout) en route to a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic on Sunday.
Nyquist was relatively quiet, other than getting stoned on a fantastic individual rush (via @myregularface) on Twitter and really starting to threaten in the third period...
Today's Red Wings-related stories mostly involve four players who might go home with trophies, but only one who hopes to skate away with the one he wanted to win.
Gustav Nyquist's Swedes will battle Jakub Kindl's Czechs for the World Championship's Bronze Medal today at 9:30 AM EDT (on NBC Sports' Live Extra website and TSN2), but Nyquist told the Associated Foreign Press that he was disappointed with Sweden's 3-1 loss to Russia yesterday, not excited about playing for bronze:
"It's a very frustrating defeat," Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said.
At the Memorial Cup, Tyler Bertuzzi and his Guelph Storm will battle the Edmonton Oil Kings for the Memorial Cup at 4 PM EDT (on the NHL Network and Sportsnet). Anthony Mantha earned some consolation for his fantastic 2013-2014 season with the Val-d'Or Foreurs, winning the Canadian Hockey League's Player of the Year award, and the Val-d'Or Foreurs' Facebook page posted a picture of Mantha posing with a trophy half as tall as he is:
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.