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Samuelssen, Krupa weigh in on the Wings’ decision to protect Howard over Mrazek

The Red Wings' decision to protect Jimmy Howard over Petr Mrazek in the expansion draft has led to significant discord among Wings fans and pundits alike, with many questions as to the soundness, sanity or strategy of said decision left unanswered by Ken Holland and the Red Wings' management.

As such, the Free Press's Jamie Samuelssen offers three reasons as to why he believes the Red Wings' decision to protect Howard over Mrazek at least "makes sense"...

The first and most obvious thing is that Howard was better than Mrazek was last year. Much better. You could easily argue that Howard was the Red Wings' MVP. He was superior to Mrazek in virtually every category including goals-against average (2.10 to 3.04) and save percentage (.927 to .901). He was outstanding for the U.S. team at the World Championship. And as this team looks to rebuild, it helps to move into a new era (not to mention a new building) knowing that you have a strength in goal as opposed to simply a question mark.

Second, you have the stories that have emerged in the last day or two that Mrazek was not only bad on the ice, he was bad off it. A report has surfaced that Mrazek’s ego began to balloon to a point last season that he became difficult to coach. When the Red Wings stared Jared Coreau in the outdoor game in Toronto, it was a clear sign that they weren’t happy with Mrazek’s attitude or work ethic.


The third possibility is simply this -- Holland wants to lessen the financial grip that his goaltenders have on his payroll and he’s looking for any means possible to do so. He knows that Howard is a no-go for the Knights, so why not roll the dice with Mrazek? If the Knights bite, the Wings lose a promising young talent, but they also free up $4 million from a player that they forecast to be a backup goaltender in the upcoming season. You may think that Howard is overpaid, but if he stays healthy and performs the way he’s shown capable, he makes more financial sense than paying Mrazek $4 million to be the backup.

Samuelssen continues, suggesting that, at this point, Ken Holland no longer deserves "benefit of the doubt" status...

And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa suggests that Jimmy Howard may in fact have earned his protected status over the course of the past calendar year, offering quite the story to lead off a customarily in-depth column:

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Custance: Wings angling for Spencer Foo

From the Athletic's Craig Custance:

The Red Wings are looking to collect young talent and may be closing in on a promising college free agent. An NHL source confirmed with The Athletic that top college free-agent forward Spencer Foo has narrowed down his list and the Detroit Red Wings are part of a “small handful” of teams still in the running.

According to a source close to Foo, the Red Wings made an impressive pitch described as “first-class” that put them in the mix to land the free agent, a pitch combined with multiple meetings and conversations with Jiri Fischer, the Red Wings director of player evaluation, that has kept Detroit in the conversation.

Foo (6-0, 180) had a big year in his third season at Union College, putting up 62 points in 38 games and the 23-year-old attracted major interest from NHL teams.

According to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, the Oilers are also one of four teams still in contention to sign Foo, an Edmonton, Alberta native. Vegas and Philadelphia have also been mentioned as potential destinations for Foo.


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Lawsuit seeking to derail Pistons’ move downtown denied

Detroit area "community activist" (a.k.a. lawsuit filer) Robert Davis had brought forth a lawsuit that could have stalled or completely derailed the Detroit Pistons' move downtown to share Little Caesars Arena with the Red Wings, but Crain's Detroit Business's Chad Livengood reports that the lawsuit's main thrust has been deined:

A federal judge on Monday denied a request to block Detroit City Council from approving $34.5 million in bonds tied to the Detroit Pistons moving downtown into the new Little Caesars Arena.

Litigious community activist Robert Davis and City Clerk candidate D. Etta Wilcoxon had asked U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith to issue a temporary restraining order barring the use of tax-increment financing to back the bonds slated to pay for upgrades to the new arena to accommodate the Pistons.

In an opinion issued late Monday night, Goldsmith said Davis and Wilcoxon had failed to prove that an injunction was necessary as their lawsuit hinges on an argument that the diversion of education and parks taxes for the arena project should have been approved by Detroit voters.

“Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the right to vote guaranteed by the United States Constitution is somehow abridged by the violation of state laws regulating government financing that is subject to voter approval,” Goldsmith wrote.

Goldsmith issued the ruling after holding an early afternoon hearing on Davis and Wilcoxon’s request for a restraining order.

During the hearing, an attorney for the City of Detroit warned that an injunction stopping the flow of tax dollars toward subsidizing the Detroit Pistons' move to downtown Detroit could cause the basketball team to stay put at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Continued, and MLive's Gus Burns, the Free Press's Katrease Stafford, the Free Press's Editorial Board and the Detroit News all weigh in.

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Should the Wings give Thomas Vanek another shot?

We've known for some time that the Red Wings have some interest in bringing Thomas Vanek back to the organization if he's available as a free agent, and the Free Press's Helene St. James confirms the team's interest:

The Wings wil give Vanek another look, as he did very well in Detroit – he had 15 goals and 23 assists in 48 games, a .79 points-per-game average that ranks second on the team. Vanek and Nielsen had terrific chemistry.

Vanek also turned out to be the key to what was the hottest line for the Wings at the start of last season: Gustav Nyquist, Helm and Vanek. Nyquist had eight points the first seven games. Helm had six points (including four of the eight goals he’d end up scoring). When Vanek spent 11 games injured from late October into November, Nyquist and Helm got very quiet offensively.

I feel very conflicted about the concept of bringing the 33-year-old Vanek back, even if he returns at an affordable cost. While Vanek posted 38 points (15 goals and 23 assists) over the course of 48 games played with the Red Wings this past season, his departure coincided with the late-season blossoming of Anthony Mantha, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist...

And bringing Vanek back would eliminate what little wiggle room there is on a crowded forward roster to accommodate someone other than Tomas Nosek who impresses during training camp. That would mean that a Tyler Bertuzzi or Evgeni Svechnikov would remain in Grand Rapids to start the 17-18 season, and at this point, I'd lean heavily toward accommodating young players, even over Vanek's proven scoring.

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The Athletic: one NHL executive suggests that Detroit ‘strip it down to the floorboards’

The Athletic's Frank Provenzano asked a former NHL executive how he would rebuild the Detroit Red Wings, and the executive is not a believer in Ken Holland's "Rebuild on the Fly" plan:

From my standpoint, the lower-risk rebuild-on-the-fly strategy makes sense for a franchise in a non-traditional hockey market where a full-on tank will devastate the organization’s revenues and where simply making the playoffs will resonate with the fan base. That is not Hockeytown as we have come to know it.

If I were running the Red Wings (which admittedly I am not), I would opt for the higher risk-higher return strategy of stripping the team down and doing a total rebuild through the draft lottery. This is never a fun discussion in the executive suite (particularly with a new building opening for the 2017-18 season) but I would argue that the timing of the opening of the Little Caesars Arena will serve to soften the economic blow of stripping the roster down competitively.

The Red Wings simply don’t have the young horses you need to build around in order to compete at the elite level in the modern NHL, and I think they need to have a table at the front of the draft floor for a few years in order to acquire them. Moreover, they have a fan base with a high hockey IQ that will both understand and support the rationale behind a full-blown rebuild. Playing an extra few home games in April will simply not cut it in a sophisticated hockey market that both understands what it takes and expects to win championships.

The Detroit Red Wings did not manufacture one of the longest periods of competitive excellence by being risk-averse. Now is not the time to start.

Provenzano continues...

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Custance on Ken Holland’s ‘rebuild on the fly’

The Athletic's Craig Custance kicks off his Red Wings coverage with an examination of Ken Holland's attempt to rebuild the Red Wings "on the fly":

Holland has been busy shaping what the next era looks like, even if there’s no guarantee he’s part of it beyond this season. He understands there are some fans who feel he should not. After decades running one of the most successful organizations in all of sports, he’s entering the final year of his contract. At this point, it’s not his call what his job looks like after this season.

Maybe he gets an extension to keep going in his current position as Red Wings general manager. Maybe a new voice is brought in, with Holland’s years of work rewarded with a move upstairs that would provide a paycheck but not the day-to-day decision-making he still seems to love. Or perhaps the contract expires after the coming season and the two sides part ways, with a mutual understanding that it might be best for everyone involved.

That’s all still to be decided.

How these next few weeks play out may factor in to that decision, a pressure Holland really hasn’t faced in his years running the Red Wings. That pressure heightened on Sunday when it was announced that the Red Wings protected 33-year-old goalie Jimmy Howard over 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek in the middle of a rebuild. (It's a decision we'll examine later this week.)

Custance continues, and his article is worth your time...

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‘Three Things’: One more Adidas jersey tease; Khan on the ‘unprotected’ and Jensen’s ‘numbers’

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. The Wings posted one final Adidas jersey tease ahead of tomorrow's league-wide revealing of the NHL's new jerseys:

2. MLive's Ansar Khan examined the Wings' unprotected expansion draft players as they may appeal to the Vegas Golden Knights:

Petr Mrazek

Why he’d appeal to Vegas: Despite struggling the past year-and-a-half, he has shown the ability to excel and has enticing upside at age 25. Could also be used as a trade chip.

Why he wouldn’t: Recent performance has raised red flags. There are better starting options available (namely Marc-Andre Fleury of Pittsburgh) and $4 million is too much to pay for a back-up. Trading him could prove difficult in a tough goalie market.

3. And DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji looked back at Nick Jensen's 2016-17 season "By the Numbers":

2 - Jensen was second to Mike Green in scoring among Wings defensemen. Green had 14 goals and 22 assists in 72 games. Jensen finished with four goals and nine assists.

49 - Although he didn't join the team until December, Jensen finished with 49 games and ended the season on the top pair with Danny DeKeyser.

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Griffins place a championship sticker on Van Andel Arena

The Grand Rapids Griffins placed a massive Calder Cup championship sticker on Van Andel Arena today, per WOOD TV8:


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Headed To Vegas Or Not?

from Mlive,

Here is a look at some of the Red Wings available and why or why not Vegas would select them. It does not include players such as Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, who are certain not to be taken due to several reasons (age, contract, declining performance).

Riley Sheaha

Why he’d appeal to Vegas: He’s big (6-3, 222), young (25), has a manageable contract (one year remaining at $2.075 million) and remains under club control in 2018 as a restricted free agent. He went 79 games without a goal before scoring twice in the season finale, but it might just be a fluke, since he was productive for a third-line player the previous three seasons.

Why he wouldn’t: Not physical for his size, consistency issues, limited offensive upside.

Darren Helm

Why he’d appeal to Vegas: Tremendous speed and versatility (can play top-six or bottom-six roles, power play, penalty kill, center or wing). He can score 12-to-15 goals a season.

Why he wouldn’t: Contract and health concerns. He is 30 and has four years remaining at a $3.85 million cap hit. He has missed many games during his career with a variety of injuries, including a dislocated shoulder that idled him for a large chunk of 2016-17. The only way Vegas would select him is if another team is interested and they have a deal in place.


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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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