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The Malik Report

A bit about the Wings’ signing of Libor Sulak

DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland about the signing of defenseman Libor Sulak to a 2-year contract:

This past week the team signed Czech defenseman Libor Sulak to a two-year entry-level contract, a player general manager Ken Holland saw at the recent IIHF men's world championship in Europe.

"Jiri Fischer was involved with the Czech team and there was two or three players that we were looking at on that team," Holland said during the first intermission of the Grand Rapids Griffins-San Jose Barracuda game Friday at Van Andel Arena. "He's 23 years of age. He's a real good skater. He's already signed a contract to play in Finland.

"We're going to bring him over to the development camp in July and then we'll assess whether we want to bring him over to the main camp or to let him go to Finland and have another year of development. But Fisch and I think he's a player that has a chance to be an NHL defenseman. He needs more time, more experience to learn to play his position."

Sulak has spent the last two seasons with Orli Znojmo, a Czech team that competes in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, the top professional league in Austria. Sulak was the rookie of the year in 2016, collecting six goals among 18 points in 62 games.

This past season, Sulak was fourth on the team with 28 points (10-18-28) and had a team-best plus-19 rating.

Wakiji continues...

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Khan clarifies the ‘Mrazek rumor’

MLive's Ansar Khan clarifies a bone of contention:

Holland denied telling Grand Rapids Griffins radio announcer Bob Kaser that he intends to trade Mrazek. A clip of their interview is making the rounds on the Internet (and posted below). Kaser, while off the air, asks Holland about trading Mrazek. Kaser didn't realize his microphone was on.

"When the radio interview ended, he said to me, 'I'm hearing a rumor you're trying to trade Petr Mrazek,' " Holland said. "I didn't say anything. I didn't respond."

Kaser said likewise.

"Kenny didn't say a word, plus his microphone wasn't even on," Kaser said. "Even if he would have said something you wouldn't have heard it.

"I asked him, 'Is there any truth to the rumor you're going to trade Petr Mrazek?' He had no response, which I didn't expect him to. My relationship with him is good enough to where I felt comfortable asking him that, but it was more to get a reaction out of him. He wouldn't have answered anyway, certainly not in that setting.

"I listened to it, too, and I could see where people would hear it and think, 'Maybe there's something going on here.' But there's nothing to it at all."

Khan continues...

Update: Here's a bit more from the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:

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‘Two Things’: Griffins post Game-Day Preview; AHL offers Griffins-Barracuda notes

Of prospect-related note this afternoon...

1. The Grand Rapids Griffins posted their Game-Day Preview ahead of tonight's game against the San Jose Barracuda (7 PM EDT on ESPN 96.1 and the AHL Live)...

2. And the AHL posted a "Morning Skate's" worth of notes regarding the Griffins-Barracuda series:

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St. James speaks with Jeff Blashill regarding the Worlds, Wings’ top prospects

The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill regarding the World Championship and the performances of the Wings' top prospects playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins:

On playing Dylan Larkin at center throughout the [World Championship] tournament: “Dylan played very well at center with the Wings the last month of the season, so it made sense for him to continue playing that position at the World Championship. He did excellent. He was very good in the defensive zone, played against the other team’s best payers and won the matchups. It was an excellent tournament for him, I think it will be a real positive leading into next year. He’s an important piece for us. He learned valuable lessons. He was great on face-offs, played power play, penalty kill. He was one of our top forwards. I coach him, so it’s one thing for me to think that, but that was universal among the coaching staff.”


On seeing how well Wings prospects Tomas Nosek, Tyler Bertuzzi and Evgeny Svechnikov are doing in the AHL playoffs: “I don’t know what all the pieces will be for us next season, but certainly Nosek made us confident he can be an effective NHL player. Bertuzzi and Svechnikov, they are making a statement as well. They are becoming elite players in the AHL playoffs, and those are statements you want to make. We’ll look at them in camp and make our decisions based on who is going to make us better.”

St. James continues...

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Griffins want to ‘take care of business’ vs. Barracuda

The Grand Rapids Griffins spent last night's post-game media availability suggesting much more than, "The fourth win is the hardest" when addressing the state of their foes, the San Jose Barracuda, ahead of tonight's possibly Western Conference Final-clinching game.

Instead, the Griffins insisted that the Barracuda were still a force to be reckoned with, and as a result, the Griffins are heading into tonight's Game 5 (7 PM at Van Andel Arena, on ESPN 96.1 FM and the AHL Live) with a bit of desperation to close out a series that would shift cross-country if the Griffins lose. DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji and Art Regner took note of the Griffins' comments to that end:

"Our mindset all along was to try and take care of business at home," said Eric Tangradi, who had a goal and two assists Friday. "We put together a good 40-minute effort so I think that's somewhere we can grow. They're a desperate hockey team, they're playing for their season (tonight) so we got to make sure we're ready to rock when the puck drops."

The Griffins are expecting the Barracuda to play their best game of the series tonight.

"We know how good they are," Griffins coach Todd Nelson said. "They're so dangerous. (Tonight) we have to come out and play hard and try to put doubt in their minds. But I don't think it's going to be the case at all. They're a very proud group over there, they're very good and they're very dangerous so it's going to be a battle."

Van Andel Arena has certainly been the friendly confines for the Griffins as they have won a new franchise record six straight playoff games there and are looking to extend that streak.

"We've taken a lot of pride in defending our home ice," Tangradi said. "The people that have come out here, the crowds, the energy, it's been amazing. It's very important to us to make sure that whenever the puck drops in the the Van Andel, we're ready to go and it's straight business."

Wakiji and Regner continue, discussing both the Griffins' desire to "take care of business" tonight and the presence of Dylan McIlrath as an intimidating presence in the Griffins' lineup...

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Holland on the Griffins’ playoff run

Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with the media during last night's Grand Rapids Griffins game (Grand Rapids defeated the San Jose Barracuda 6-2, and the Griffins can advance to the AHL Final tonight), addressing a broad variety of topics over the course of a 12-minute interview...

And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner took note of Holland's comments as they pertained to the Griffins:

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Prospect news: Sambrook’s Otters beat Saint John, advance to Memorial Cup Final

Of prospect-related note:

At the Memorial Cup, Jordan Sambrook finished even with 1 shot as his Erie Otters defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 6-3, advancing to Sunday's Memorial Cup Final vs. Windsor (7 PM on Sportsnet, and possibly the NHL Network).

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Prospect news: Grand Rapids Griffins win 6-2 over San Jose, take 3-1 series lead in AHL WCF

Updated 4x at 12:36 AM: Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL's Western Conference Final, the Grand Rapids Griffins rode a 4-goal second period to a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Barracuda, taking a 3-1 lead in the AHL's WCF.

Tyler Bertuzzi, Eric Tangradi, Martin Frk, Tomas Nosek (all in the 2nd period), Ben Street and Evgeny Svechnikov scored for Grand Rapids, who peppered Troy Grosenick with 36 shots.

Grand Rapids has earned the opportunity to advance to the Calder Cup Final with a win in Saturday's Game 5 (7 PM on ESPN 96.1 FM and on the AHL Live), and it'd be a fun game to attend if you can come out and enjoy what's been the best hockey I've seen in a month.

Much more to come as this post is updated. Gotta go down to the locker room first!

Update: Here's the AHL's website's recap...

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Audio: Ken Holland speaks with the media at the Griffins-Barracuda game

Ken Holland spoke with the media attending tonight's Grand Rapids Griffins-San Jose Barracuda game, discussing a multitude of topics, and as I am in the middle of covering the game, I'm going to present the audio of Holland's scrum to you without much comment:

Update: The Windsor Star's Bob Duff partially transcripted the interview:

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Questions For Ansar Khan

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Several players who finished 2015-16 with the Grand Rapids Griffins or started 2016-17 with the AHL club made an impact with the Detroit Red Wings or got an opportunity.

Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul were no longer waiver exempt and spent the whole season in Detroit. Anthony Mantha was called up early and Nick Jensen brought up mid-season and both played well.

Jared Coreau, Robbie Russo and Tomas Nosek were up for an extended period. Evgeny Svechnikov, Mitch Callahan, Ben Street, Dan Renouf, Brian Lashoff and Matt Lorito got brief looks.

The Griffins are making another playoff run with their third trip to the conference finals in five seasons.

How many will be with the Detroit Red Wings in 2017-18? Who has the best chance? Those were among the questions MLive readers asked this week.

QWith (Drew) Miller and (Steve) Ott not coming back, does this clear a roster spot for Tyler Bertuzzi next season? He’s come up big in the playoffs and deserves a better look.

A: Bertuzzi has a knack for stepping up in the playoffs. He has 19 goals and 31 points in 34 career AHL playoff games; 25 goals and 68 points in 121 career regular season games.

He’s averaged 0.91 points per game in the playoffs and 0.56 points per game in the regular season. Here’s an interesting stat: Bertuzzi’s career shooting percentage in the regular season is 9.3 percent; in the playoffs, it’s 27.5 percent.

Bertuzzi had no points in seven games with the Red Wings last season, a stint that ended after he suffered a high-ankle sprain Nov. 26. He is waiver-exempt for one more season but he’ll have an opportunity to make the Red Wings roster in training camp and the preseason. Several factors come into play: Will they lose a forward in the expansion draft? Will they sign a veteran fourth-line forward? Will an injury or two create a roster spot?

Like all waiver-exempt players, Bertuzzi will only be on the roster if he’s in the lineup. Otherwise he’ll be playing regularly in Grand Rapids.

read on for more questions and answers...

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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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