The Malik Report
We can talk all we want about Jimmy Howard needing to take a little refresher course on rebound control or the fact that the Red Wings can’t rely on one person to step up and fill the leadership voids left by Brian Rafalski, Kris Draper and Chris Osgood, but of all the players that the Free Press’s Helene St. James has focused upon as potential difference-makers (Jiri Hudler, Niklas Kronwall, Danny Cleary, Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White and Johan Franzen), I’d argue that three players will determine whether the Wings eventually need to acquire assistance at the trade deadline, and they might not be the players you’re thinking of.
Updated 4.5x with Stanley Cup appearance news at 4:52 PM: August must translate to “multiple personality disorder” in the hockey dictionary, because this morning we were talking about Ian White the x-factor and whether the Red Wings’ new team plane can fly to San Jose without refueling (answer:
[edit: See below, because the answer is apparently yes!]) and this afternoon, the Red Wings’ “Operation Bobblehead” campaign and fan voting takes a strange turn as Todd Bertuzzi’s sent some jabs at Danny Cleary’s via the Wings’ Twitter account, and Jake Duhaime posted an interview Kris Draper conducted with 95.5’s Mojo in the Morning which revealed the following:
1. Chris Osgood will essentially be known as the team’s assistant goalie coach;
2. Draper will “share an office” with Chris Chelios as Draper begins his managerial career;
3. These guys are making sure that they take maximum enjoyment out of razzing the hell out of each other:
The first player to wear #18 for the Red Wings since Kirk Maltby hung up his skates is the sixth subject of the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ off-season spotlights (with Jiri Hudler, Niklas Kronwall, Danny Cleary, Jonathan Ericsson and Johan Franzen as players previously profiled), and as St. James notes, the well-traveled White settled for a slightly below-market value salary for the sake of planting some roots in Detroit, where the Wings hope that he can grow into a top-four role while at least partially offsetting Brian Rafalski’s loss in terms of point production:
White, who finished the season with the Sharks, signed for two years and $5.75 million. Those are good financial terms for the Wings, as it’ll allow them the flexibility to retain both Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart, who are both in the last years of their contracts. It’s a good deal for White, too, as he gets a chance to make a name for himself and aim for a bigger contract when he’d still only be 29.
White could be a nice fit among the top four, helping to offset some of the offense lost with the retirement of Brian Rafalski. Rafalski was in a class of his own when it came to making passes, but he was so hampered by injuries last season that he wasn’t very effective. White will add a fresh look to the back end. He’s a thicker, bigger and younger body than Rafalski.
Updated 4x at 4:16 PM with aviation news: I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to say about the fact that, according to Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski, the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper and many others, former Red Wings defenseman Brett Lebda went from boasting that he was playing in the “real” Hockeytown and would prove his doubters wrong while establishing himself as a top-four defenseman in Toronto to becoming a now bought-out punchline within the span of a year.
Let’s go with, “Ouch” and leave it at that, because he earned $1.5 million last year (with a $1.45 million cap hit) and will be paid, per Wyshynski and Hockey Night in Nashville, another $478,500 for the next two years to go away, and even in August, I can state the obvious:
NHL.com’s “30 teams in 30 days” feature focuses on the Red Wings this morning, with some very familiar themes dotting Dan Rosen’s preview—injuries and age supposedly catching up to the Wings in a big way—but Rosen believes that the Wings have a secret weapon of sorts with which to shore up a roster ever-so-slightly in flux thanks to the retirements of Brian Rafalski, Kris Draper and Chris Osgood:
Detroit remains deep and versatile up front, skilled and big on the blue line. [Jimmy] Howard is coming into his prime years as a No. 1 goalie and with [Ty] Conklin riding shotgun, the Wings could have one of the League’s best goaltending duos. Conklin is used to playing between 20-30 games a season, which seems like the appropriate amount of work to keep Howard fresh into the spring.
If injuries become an issue, Detroit might have to dip into a pool of unproven yet promising players like Cory Emmerton, Tomas Tatar and Jan Mursak, who have a combined 30 games of NHL experience.
However, unlike in previous years, Holland still has plenty of wiggle room below the salary cap to make some in-season moves. According to capgeek.com, the Red Wings are $5.845 million under the cap even with a full 23-man roster. There are 12 teams in the NHL that currently have higher payrolls than the Wings, who spent to the cap last season. If they keep that cushion through the winter, Detroit might be a major player at the trade deadline to beef up in time for another run at the Stanley Cup.
This morning, fantasy hockey expert Darryl Dobbs suggested that Ty Conklin will acquit himself well in his second stint with the Wings, and today, Dobbs offers an assessment of the Wings’ prospects,’ well, prospects, from a fantasy hockey-focused perspective, via the Hockey News:
Red Wings fans who aren’t able to attend the team’s prospect tournament and training camp in Traverse City will receive quite the consolation prize, per DetroitRedWings.com’s Rick Bouwness:
RED WINGS 2011 HOCKEYFEST TICKETS NOW ON SALE … Fun-Filled Event Scheduled to Take Place September 10 at Joe Louis Arena …
Detroit, MI… HockeyFest returns to Joe Louis Arena with a vengeance on Saturday, September 10 (11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.), providing Red Wings fans with an unforgettable day of hockey-related activities as well as the chance to meet their favorite players. Tickets to this family-friendly event are now on sale, with general admission adult tickets priced at $25 apiece and kids (12 & under) tickets available for $15 each.
In addition to an all-day autograph session featuring members of the 2011-12 Red Wings and your favorite Hockeytown alumni, this year’s HockeyFest will be highlighted by several interactive fun zones, an exclusive tour of the Red Wings’ locker room, photo opportunities with Detroit’s 2008 Stanley Cup banner and the official JLA Zamboni, Q&A sessions with players, staff, and alumni, a live DJ, a historical memorabilia exhibition and contests/prizes galore. Fans wishing to acquire a general admission ticket to HockeyFest are invited visit the JLA Box Office (313-396-7575) or any Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) location. Tickets can also be obtained by logging on to DetroitRedWings.com.
On a very rainy Tuesday morning, we already know that nobody wants Brett Lebda and that the Red Wings’ re-signing of Jonathan Ericsson to a 3-year deal averaging $3.25 million per season might be Ken Holland’s least popular move in, well, a really long time, but just as this summer’s wacky unrestricted free agent market proved Holland’s estimation of Ericsson’s asking price right, the Free Press’s Helene St. James believes that Ericsson can live up to greater expectations by living up to his nickname, “Big E”:
By salary alone Ericsson should be propelled into a larger role in 2011-12, but a spot in the top four next to Lidstrom, Stuart and Kronwall isn’t a given. Newcomer Ian White is going to challenge, and possibly Brendan Smith, whom officials are eager to see force them to keep him in Detroit rather than send him down.
The key for Ericsson will be to use his 6-foot-4, 220-pound size: clear the crease, force forwards to the outside, play with an edge. He’s a big body and needs to play like it. He’d benefit from playing with Lidstrom because Lidstrom is a great safety net, but Ericsson also could thrive playing 20 minutes a game anchoring the third pairing and killing penalties.
If it wasn’t from Crain’s Detroit Business’s Bill Shea, who’s doggedly pursued any leads regarding the Wings’ lease on Joe Louis Arena (which has lapsed; technically speaking, the Wings are at Joe Louis Arena via a gentlemen’s agreement with the City of Detroit) and the location and/or funding of an all but inevitable follow-on rink, I’d dismiss this report out of hand…But Shea’s been reading the tea leaves’ worth of a trail left by Ilitch Holdings’ business moves for an extended period of time, and Shea believes that one of the stops on the partially Ilitch-backed M1 Rail line hints at the probable location of the Wings’ new rink:
The recent inclusion of a Temple Street stop—an otherwise low-key location near condos and vacant lots—as part of Detroit’s Woodward Avenue light-rail project strongly suggests adjacent vacant land will be the site of a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings.
The location near I-75 and Woodward has been speculated about for some time as a potential location for a replacement for Joe Louis Arena, and adding it to the rail project is expected to increase rail construction costs. Temple Street is among four stops added by the Detroit Department of Transportation to the nine-mile route plan at the request of private-sector consortium known as M1 Rail that has pledged money to the project, the city’s lead contractor on the effort said.
Red Wings overnight report: The race to Thanksgiving, Datsyukian hate and grooming Homer’s successor
As of 6 AM this morning [edit: make it 7:15 as this took an hour and change], I haven’t been able to find much information as to what transpired during Joey Kocur and the Red Wings Alumni Association’s charity softball game in Highland, MI, save a few pictures from the Wings’ Twitter account and an instant classic from Jamie Favreau, who posted a picture of Darren McCarty rocking a kilt which apparently included a Detroit Tigers logo...
But the Vernon Morning Star’s Lisa VanderVerde ensures that this Sunday is anything but “slow” in the news category by offering an interview with Wings GM Ken Holland from his off-season home in Vernon, BC. Holland recently held a charity event of his own in a charity golf tournament, but he wasn’t too busy to engage in a cursory discourse regarding Detroit’s lateral free agency moves and his belief that the Wings must get off to a strong start to ensure that they’re playoff-bound by American Thanksgiving:
“Middle of July until the end of August is slow in our industry. Most teams spend their money in the early few days of July, and if you don’t spend your money, then the players are picked over. We like our team. We added a couple of defencemen, we added a back-up goalie. I think a lot of our team is really coming into their prime. We’ve got an older component to our team, but that’s by design.”
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.