The Malik Report
ESPN's Craig Custance ranks all 30 NHL teams by the quality of their forward lineup, and I'm pleasantly surprised to say that the Red Wings finished in the top third of Custance's list:
8. Detroit Red Wings
Forward cap charge: $38.3 million, 53.3 percent of the cap payroll
Pavel Datsyuk's injury could mean playing time in the top six for talented rookie Dylan Larkin to start the season, and this forward group has the potential to get better as the season progresses. Larkin has had a big training camp and is forcing the Red Wings' hand a bit, but the best path may still be time in the AHL, followed by a productive IIHF World Junior Championship tournament, and then permanent playing time in the NHL in the second half. This group has veteran stars Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, along with young talent in Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan. Sheahan, in particular, is better than people realize. Luke Glendening is the perfect fourth-line center.
Sportsnet's John Shannon issued "one nice thought" for each and every one of the NHL's 30 teams...
If I may be blunt, I'm not sure how big of a victory Dylan Larin's presence on the roster is given that Daniel Cleary is still on the roster, and especially given that Larkin is most likely headed back to Grand Rapids when Darren Helm returns from his separated shoulder.
It's certainly exciting to know that a 19-year-old has made the team and will play on the top line for the present moment, and it certainly speaks to the Wings having a coach who believes that the best players (for the most part) should be on the roster, but this feels like a temporary win, not a long-term one, unless Larkin steals a job and manages to play on an every-night basis--and that's up to Dylan Larkin to prove, not you or me.
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa weighs in on the situation, and he suggests that Jeff Blashill staked his territory as a coach fully in charge of his own team's roster as much as anything else:
[T]he fact that the move occurred is significant of something else important: Blashill, the second-youngest coach in the NHL, new to the league except for one season as an assistant and the replacement for perhaps the best in the game, is firmly in control of his new gig.
"If he didn't grab the job, the easier thing to do would have been to put him in GR to see where we're at and see how his play goes," Blashill said. "We just felt – I, specifically, really felt – that he makes us better, and to such an exponential amount that we felt it was that important that he start on the team. You could ask around the league and a lot of people would say that the safer thing to do would be to put him in GR. But we just feel like he's in that spot."
That Blashill discerned the circumstances and made sure his decision became THE decision is a mark of a good coach. It is critical, several days before the start of his first season, in the shadow of a master, that Blashill had the confidence and self-possession to see it through.
It is a new day for the Red Wings in a variety of ways.In Mike Green and Brad Richards, two significant free agents finally arrived this summer. With Larkin, a young player is instilling the belief the franchise is on the rise, once again, and maybe in ways that can be significant, sooner than anticipated.
And the new coach? Blashill seems eminently in control and it already shows. Dylan Larkin is on the roster.
Krupa believes that Larkin will spend the year with the big club. I'm not so sure about that, but I will readily admit that it's good to see that the new coach is indeed "in charge."
MLive's Ansar Khan reports that as Jakub Kindl is on the IR due to an eye infection, the Red Wings are officially down to 23 players on their active roster ahead of Tuesday's 5 PM deadline to be 23-man roster and salary cap compliant, but the roster could change by Friday's home opener vs. Toronto:
Helm, out since Sept. 18 with a separated shoulder and concussion, has skated briefly the past few days but hasn't practiced, so it's highly unlikely he'll be available for the weekend.
Kindl (eye infection) and Marchenko (groin) returned to practice today.
"We're not sure (if Helm will be ready for opener)," Blashill said. "We have a few that weren't able to play last week due to injuries; we'll judge them day to day and see if they're ready to go or not. Same with Marchenko, same with Kindl."
Brad Richards didn't skate today because he was in Chicago to pick up his Stanley Cup ring.
Here are the lines they skated with:
Justin Abdelkader-Henrik Zetterberg-Dylan Larkin
Tomas Tatar-Luke Glendening-Gustav Nyquist
Johan Franzen-Riley Sheahan-Tomas Jurco/Teemu Pulkkinen
Drew Miller-Joakim Andersson-Landon Ferraro/Daniel Cleary
Blashill said he'll likely keep that first line intact. Glendening certainly was holding Richards' spot on the second line. So Glendening will either move to the wing on the third line, where he's played all preseason, or center the fourth line.
Khan continues, reporting that Xavier Ouellet and Brendan Smith are likely to form the third defensive pairing...
Consider this part one of two...With part two coming in about 7 minutes, when we find whether Andy Miele, Mitch Callahan or Brian Lashoff has been claimed...
Update: And it's all good on the waiver wire:
From a Fox Sports Detroit press release:
The Detroit Red Wings' home opener will air on FOX Sports Detroit and be simulcast on FOX 2 on Friday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
"We are excited our partners at FOX Sports Detroit have agreed to simulcast our home opener with FOX 2 to bring the game into the living rooms of more Red Wings fans throughout the Metro Detroit area," said Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. "We look forward to a great game on the ice between a pair of Original Six rivals, and excellent analysis and storytelling from the broadcast duo of Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond."
Opening night will start at 6:30 p.m. with a special one-hour Red Wings LIVE, featuring an interview with new Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill and their former bench boss, Mike Babcock.
FOX 2 will join the FOX Sports Detroit coverage at 7 p.m. with the second half of Red Wings LIVE.
Updated 7x at 11:43 AM: Among the post-practice Tweets today:
From MLive's Ansar Khan:
Larkin made the roster Blashill said
Blashill said Larkin will start on line with Zetterberg and Abdelkader in all likelihood.
The Free Press's Helene St. James...
Dylan Larkin has made opening roster for #RedWings, per Jeff Blashill.
Dylan Larkin could start on line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. #RedWings
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
Jeff Blashill said that Dylan Larkin has made the #RedWings opening night roster.
And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:
Larkin on roster!
Blashill says Larkin may well play with abdelkader and zetterberg. Welcome to nhl young man!
This is probably temporary with Helm and Datsyuk out, but still...Now we wait to find out what happens with Cleary.
Update #1: From Khan:
I guess this is going to be the theme of the pre-regular season. TSN's Frank Seravalli makes "30 bold team predictions," including the following:
11. The Detroit Red Wings will miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 seasons. Mike Babcock is gone. Pavel Datsyuk, Danny DeKeyser and Darren Helm are all already out to start the season. And the Wings have all sorts of questions in goal, with Jimmy Howard on the hot seat after being overtaken by Petr Mrazek in the playoffs. It’s unlikely the Atlantic gets four teams through this year, making tough sledding for Jeff Blashill.
via Khan tweet, Quincey skating with Green.
More will be added to this post as needed.
added 9:25am, via Khan tweets,
Larkin skating with Zetterberg and Abdelkader.
Of prospect-related note:
In the QMJHL the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles won a 5-2 decision over the Gatineau Olympiques minus Evgeny Svechnikov's services as Svechnikov got a major penalty for checking from behind on Saturday;
In the OHL, Vili Saarijarvi registered an assist, a +1 and 2 shots in the Flint Firebirds' 2-1 win over Mississauga;
Also in the OHL, Hamilton's AM 900 CHML reports that Wings prospect tournament participant Justin Lemcke has been named the captain of the fledgling Hamilton Bulldogs' OHL franchise;
And in the WHL, after Joe Hicketts set a record for the most assists by any Victoria Royals defenseman on Saturday, Hicketts gave a lengthy interview to several journalists, and Victoria Sports News's Christopher Kelsall posted a YouTube clip of Hicketts' media availability. If you aren't impressed with Hicketts' maturity and energy by the end of the interview, check your pulse:
The overnight report: On the complicated situation that is Larkin’s status and Ouellet’s status, too
As MLive's Ansar Khan notes, many Wings fans are questioning whether Dylan Larkin has made the Wings' final roster, but with Darren Helm and Pavel Datsyuk out due to short and longer-term injuries, respectively, and Andy Miele and Mitch Callahan on waivers, the situation up front is a fluid one...
"We got to get to practice (Monday) and see who's healthy," general manager Ken Holland said. "Once I get that information then I'll talk to (coach) Jeff Blashill and based on the people we think are going to be healthy we'll look at possible scenarios."
The Red Wings trimmed their roster to 27 on Sunday. That includes three players who were waived (Brian Lashoff, Andy Miele and Mitch Callahan) but not four players on injured reserve, two of whom (Darren Helm, Alexey Marchenko) remain possible for the season opener Friday against Toronto.
Helm has been out since Sept. 18 with a separated shoulder and concussion and has only skated lightly a couple of times. Unless he starts practicing full-out on Monday, he's not likely to be ready for the opener.
That won't necessarily get Larkin on the team. The Red Wings have 15 healthy forwards, one more than they intend to carry, and Larkin is the only one of the group that can be sent to Grand Rapids without going through waivers.
And as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes, Jeff Blashill's been very blunt about Larkin's status:
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.