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The Malik Report

The overnight report: As we wait locker room clean-out day, the ‘go lean’ theory persists

According to the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa, the Red Wings' players, coach and GM will make their final comments to the media during locker room clean-out day on Monday.

Until then, and I'm certain after that, the beat writers and national media types will weigh in with their views as to how the Red Wings must shape their roster going forward, the sports talk radio types will have their final say before moving on, and both the realists, passionate fans and conspiracy theorists will weigh in as well.

I doubt that what's said on Monday will change your or my opinion as to what needs to be done during the off-season, but perhaps it will give us some context for the eventual moves actually made by the team.

For the present moment, this is what we've got:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James "goes Capgeek" on us and lists the roster players' respective contract statuses;

2. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan posted a photo gallery in which he suggests whether players are "staying" or "going";

3. USA Today's Kevin Allen separated the roster into segments and discussed the Wings' forwards, defense, goaltending and Datsyuk's situation...

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Prospect playoff news: Griffins open playofs with win over Milwaukee; Walleye down 3-2 to Reading

Of prospect-related playoff note:

There will be "more to come" on this front, but for now, the AHL's recap will have to do: the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 3-1 thanks to 2 goals from Tyler Bertuzzi, two assists from Ryan Sproul, a goal and two assists from Martin Frk and 32 saves from Tom McCollum.

The Griffins' 5-game series with the Admirals continues on Saturday, and here's the AHL's recap:

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St. James: Athanasiou, Svechnikov to join Griffins for playoffs

From the Free Press's Helene St. James:

The Detroit Red Wings’ playoff loss means a gain for the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou, who had one playoff goal and nine regular-season goals, has been reassigned to the AHL farm team. He has been granted a few days off for personal reasons before he’ll join the Griffins in their first-round series against Milwaukee.

Forward Evgeny Svechnikov, the 19th overall pick from last year’s draft, is turning pro and also joining the Griffins.

“Our scouts like him,” Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press on Friday afternoon. “He’s a good prospect. We need him to show up in the NHL down the road. He’s big and strong and competes hard. We’re sending him to Grand Rapids for the experience.”

Svechnikov, who at 19 already is 6-feet-3 and tops 200 pounds, can play in the AHL playoffs, but his entry-level contract doesn’t kick in until next season.

Continued, and it isn't clear whether Svechnikov is turning pro for good or headed back to Cape Breton for another year....

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Ken Holland makes his first post-season comments

Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with the Associated Press's Larry Lage on Friday, addressing the Red Wings' very brief playoff showing and the Pavel Datsyuk situation...

“It was a very disappointing season,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said Friday night in a telephone interview. “We had higher hopes.”

Now, the Red Wings will have to hope Pavel Datsyuk changes his mind about retiring from the NHL or that they’re able to trade the last year of his $7.5 million salary to a team looking to inflate its salary cap to the league minimum without having to pay him.

If Datsyuk goes back to Russia and he counts against the Red Wings’ cap, Holland acknowledged it would put the franchisee in a tough spot.

“But I’ll deal with it,” Holland said. “That’s my job.”

Suggesting that Datsyuk's decision-making process won't be rushed:

“I don’t need to know what he’s going to do for a month,” Holland said. “With big decisions in life, sometimes people change their minds. Sometimes time changes your mind, and sometime it doesn’t.”

Holland was very blunt with Lage about the buck stopping with him...

“We’re all accountable for sputtering down the stretch for a second straight year,” Holland said. “I’m accountable and so are Blashill and the players. I don’t know how you would break up the percentages, but we didn’t get the job done as a team and we’ll spend time asking questions as an organization to find solutions and make changes.”

And Lage continues...

Holland continued with the Free Press's Helene St. James

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Jake Chelios signs a 2-way contract with Carolina

This isn't Red Wings-related news per se, but it's good news for a member of the Red Wings' extended family:


Led Checkers in games played in 2015-16 and ranked second in blueline scoring

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Jake Chelios on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Chelios $575,000 at the NHL level, or $70,000 on the American Hockey League (AHL) level in 2016-17.

“Jake was a steady presence for Charlotte last season in his first full season playing defense,” said Francis. “He showed that he can contribute offensively and, at 25, he fits in well with our organization’s young defensemen.”

Chelios, 25, led the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, in games played in 2015-16, skating in 73 of the team’s 76 games. He ranked second among team defensemen in assists (24) and points (31), and tied for second among Checkers blueliners in goals (7). In 118 career AHL regular-season games, Chelios has scored eight goals and earned 39 assists (47 points) with Charlotte and the Chicago Wolves.

The 2015-16 season marked the second full professional campaign for Chelios (6’2”, 185 lbs.) after splitting 2014-15 between the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) and Chicago (AHL). Prior to turning professional, the Chicago native played four seasons at Michigan State University, earning 54 points (17g, 37a) in 154 career games with the Spartans, including 21 points (2g, 19a) to lead team defensemen in his senior season. Chelios is the son of Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman and current Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Chris Chelios. Jake Chelios’ career statistics are below.

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Afternoon news: On trading Datsyuk’s contract and Tweets of note

From TSN's Frank Seravalli:

Since he signed his three-year, $22.5-million deal after his 35th birthday, Datsyuk’s contract will not wash away if he decides to retire. The NHL bargained for the over-35 contract rule as a way to prevent teams from signing aging stars to long-term, big-money deals that artificially shrink the cap hit because the player has no intention to play the full term of the deal. In other words, Datsyuk’s $7.5-million cap hit will still count for more than 10 per cent of the team’s overall spending ability.

But if Datsyuk does not report for training camp, the Red Wings (or any team which acquires him) can suspend him for breach of contract, two NHL cap managers confirmed on Friday. That team would then not be responsible for paying him any of the $5.5 million due to him in actual cash.

No team, including the Red Wings, would owe him a dollar. Datsyuk’s $7.5 million salary-cap hit, a paper penalty in theory, could prove valuable to a small-market team struggling to hit the cap floor or spending minimum.

That is why the Arizona Coyotes traded for Chris Pronger’s contract last summer. Out of the league since 2011 due to injury, the team knew Pronger had no intention of ever playing again. But they paid Pronger $575,000 this season for the benefit of counting his $4.9 million salary cap hit against the floor.

Without Pronger, the Coyotes would have only exceeded the $52.8 million floor minimum by approximately $3 million this season, according to GeneralFanager.com.

In theory, trading Datsyuk’s deal may be easier than Pronger, since Datsyuk will be owed nothing in payment. Pronger is owed another $575,000 next season in the final year of his deal.

Continued, and of Twitter-related note this afternoon:

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The, ‘Let Datsyuk walk and tank’ theory

Via RedWingsFeed, I had a feeling we were going to get an article like this popping up today, but I didn't expect it to be well-thought-out. The Hockey News's Matt Larkin suggests that the Red Wings should simply let Pavel Datsyuk head back to Russia, and that they should do so because such a move will kick-start a full rebuild.

I don't agree with the concept of a full tank-and-rebuild at all, and the team doesn't, either, but there's no doubt that Datsyuk leaving would cause a sea change in terms of the organization's attempts to improve its player personnel. Here's Larkin's take:

The Wings are now a team in transition. Veterans like Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall can still play the game well but are past their primes. On the other end of the spectrum, promising center Dylan Larkin just completed his rookie season and has the looks of a long-term franchise player. Goalie Petr Mrazek is a roller coaster at times but is just 24 and owns career regular season and playoff save percentages of .920 and .931, respectively. He, too, is just beginning a promising career. Same goes for speedy dangler Andreas Athanasiou and budding goal scorers Teemu Pulkkinen and Anthony Mantha, neither of whom has settled in as a bona fide NHLer yet. Evgeny Svechknikov, last year’s first-round draft choice, hasn’t turned pro.

This is where I also disagree with the assessment of the Wings' prospects, but I'm also heading to Grand Rapids next week to take in the team's playoff run...

The Wings’ farm system graded out as the NHL’s 20th-strongest according to our scouting panel in THN Future Watch 2016, with two players in the top 50, Mantha and Svechnikov. Their blueline prospect pool ranks among the league’s weakest, topped by Xavier Ouellet, who bounces up and down between the AHL and NHL and hasn’t been able to stick, five years after he was drafted.

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Datsyuk appears to be the first Red Wing to commit to World Championship play

We're about to find out which members of the Red Wings head to St. Petersburg and Moscow for the World Championship, which starts on May 6th, and it should come as little surprise that Sport-Express's Igor Eronko reports that Pavel Datsyuk's going to join Team Russia after his year-end physical and exit interview:

According to Sport-Express, Team Russia GM Alexei Zhamnov states that Datsyuk is healthy and will inform the Russian national team when exactly he'll be able to join them as the Russians are already preparing for the Worlds.

I believe that we're going to see most of Justin Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin, Jimmy Howard (Team USA), Gustav Nyquist (Sweden), Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco (Slovakia) and Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic) play at the World Championship.

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Darren Eliot, Elliotte Friedman give radio interviews discussing the Red Wings, Datsyuk

Two radio interviews of Red Wings-related note have popped up this morning.

First, Fox Sports Detroit's Darren Eliot appeared on WDFN AM 1130 The Fan's Matt Sheppard show, reflecting upon the Red Wings-Lightning series and the Wings' future...

And Sportnset's Elliotte Friedman spoke with The Fan 590's Dean Blundell & Co., suggesting (2:30 in) that Pavel Datsyuk is still Russia-bound:

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Go with veteran free agents, or ‘stick with the kids?’

The morning after the Red Wings were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning, I find myself a Red Wings fan torn in two very different directions.

Part of me listened to the press's suggestions that the Red Wings still need another top-four defenseman (Alex Goligoski?) and top-six forward who goes to the front of the net (Troy Brouwer? Andrew Ladd?) and nodded my head and said, "Yes, if you're still the genius you used to be, Ken Holland, make the near-impossible happen! Go after free agents! Use the Datsyuk $ and Franzen $ and make some damn magic already!"

The other part of me, the realist, believes that the Red Wings' very mediocre GM and solid management team would be best-served by doing what's necessary to "play the kids." Instead of hoping that the Wings add veterans, part of me says that the Wings need to make hard decisions about Drew Miller, Darren Helm, Brad Richards and Kyle Quincey (and maybe Jonathan Ericsson, too) in order to ensure that Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet are playing regular minutes on defense, and that Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha are more than spare parts up front, and part of me even wonders whether it's time to move Jimmy Howard and sign an interim back-up until Jared Coreau's ready to step in.

Part of me wants the Wings to dazzle with a star-studded lineup; the other part wants the Wings to finally commit to the youth movement, to commit to it fully, and to only make moves where it's possible to spin some of the young talent overflow into reinforcements (see: Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul in Grand Rapids without spaces in Detroit, and Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco not seeming to fit into the Wings' long-term plans).

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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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