Kukla's Korner

Bob Probert Ride draws 1,200

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

AM 800 CKLW's Gord Bacon reports that this year's annual Bob Probert Ride was a smashing success:

An astounding 1200 plus riders hit the road for the seventh annual Bob Probert Ride.

Probert passed away in 2010 from a massive heart attack.

More than $100,000 in proceeds donated this year will go towards cardiac wellness programs throughout Windsor-Essex in his honour.

Riders gathered at Thunder Road Harley Davidson on Huron Church Rd. Sunday morning to begin a tour through Windsor-Essex ending at the Caboto Club on Tecumseh Rd. E. for food and refreshments.

Former NHL tough guy Dave Hutchison captained the ride and he says it was a privilege lead the event in memory of his friend.

"To follow the footsteps, or at least the road tracks, of guys like Chris Chelios and Ryan Vandenbush, looking forward to it," says Hutchison. "Just being apart of this is wonderful. Bob was a good friend and we have a real tight NHL alumni family, we all support each other, this is just another one of the things we do."

Continued

Update: The Windsor Star's Tamar Harris also reported in from the Probert Ride:

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The Athletic: Dylan Larkin, goal-scoring winger?

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Athletic's Jack Han questions whether the Red Wings are utilizing Dylan Larkin in a proper role as a 2-way center as opposed to a scoring winger:

The adjustments made to his game this past season related to playing center may have caused his even-strength scoring to dry up as well as adjustments made by opposing teams that have picked up on Larkin's tendencies in the offensive zone. Larkin’s defensive impact in high-danger areas remains significantly worse than team-average, and he has only won 44.5 percent of 532 faceoffs taken since 2015. However, Larkin has scored 10 more goals than Kessel two years into his NHL career and remains in the same class as Jack Eichel, Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews as the most productive American teenagers in recent memory.

This begs the question: If this is the opportunity cost of Larkin playing exclusively down the middle, would the Red Wings even want him to play there? Why not put him on a line with Sheahan, Frans Nielsen or Darren Helm, and let them do the heavy lifting so that Larkin can maximize his finishing ability?

If I were Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, I’d give this plan serious thought. Every NHL team can use a 20-year-old Phil Kessel.

Han explains his rationale...

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Matheson: Arizona Coyotes will ‘talk’ to Todd Nelson

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Via Pro Hockey Talk's Adam Gretz, the Grand Rapids Griffins know that coach Todd Nelson will be highly sought-after by any NHL teams with head coaching vacancies this summer, and while I was busy with the Red Wings' draft on Saturday afternoon, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson Tweeted this:

Matheson had previously Tweeted that the Coyotes might give precidence to associate coach Jim Playfair...

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After Teemu Selanne, Who Else Gets In The Hockey Hall Of Fame

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

Teemu Selanne, the 15th highest score in league history with a batch of trophies, is considered a lock to be announced in his first year, one of four spots open in the player category, including up to two female candidates. Of 14 skaters joining the waiting list this year with a common link of  1,000 NHL regular season games, 300 goals, 400 assists or 700 points, three besides Selanne have improved chances as winners of a Cup or Olympic gold medal, Daniel Alfredsson, Alex Kovalev and Ray Whitney. Among goalies, Nikolai Khabibulin comes in with 333 wins, 46 shutouts and a Cup and Olympic gold.

Beyond Selanne, there aren’t any sure-fire picks, perhaps opening a crack for a lengthy list of players that go back to the Original Six. Many arguments have been heard through the years on behalf of multi-Cup winners Claude Provost (nine), Jean-Guy Talbot (seven) and Ralph Backstrom, Larry Hillman and Kevin Lowe (six each). It follows the narrative that not just points make a player Hall-worthy.

It’s believed one of the strongest pushes behind the scenes this year was for four-time champion Butch Goring. The veteran centre of 16 seasons as the two-way demon for the Islanders dynasty, 

more

FYI, the announcement comes tomorrow.

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  Tags: teemu+selanne

Coach Blashill On Martin Frk And Detroit’s Power Play

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

“Marty Frk has done a great job of scoring goals,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said at the NHL draft in Chicago on Saturday. “He is a really good shooter. He plays his best hockey when he is confident. Can he continue into the NHL? It just depends. He plays more minutes in the American league than he will play in the NHL when he gets his chance, or if he gets his chance, and the hard part in that is maintaining that confidence to be able to play at the same level when you are not playing as many minutes."...

“For him to be a good NHL player, he is going to have to be a great power-play guy. Because his shot is his weapon. When he is hitting the net, he is a good weapon on the power play. The other side of it for me is, we finished the year, the last 20-some games we were eighth in the league on the power play. I think we have a pretty good formula how to have success on that. I am not looking to switch around that formula very much. We are going to take that formula and we are going to try to hit the ground running with the momentum that it gained at the end of the season. That’s not to say other guys won’t challenge for some of those spots, but I think we’ve got a great road map to have success on it, let's continue once we start the year.”

more

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Top 25 UFAs - TSN Style

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Frank Seravalli of TSN,

In case the last week wasn’t busy enough, the NHL’s five-day courting period for teams to interview pending unrestricted free agents opened on Sunday morning.

Teams are permitted to now make contact and discuss parameters of a potential deal, but new contracts cannot be signed until Noon ET on July 1. (Wink, wink)

With the 2017-18 salary cap upper limit set at $75 million, up $2 million from last season, nearly every team except from the Blackhawks has at least $3 million in salary cap space before taking care of some of their own restricted free agents, according to CapFriendly.com. Three teams (Arizona, Carolina and Buffalo) will need to spend approximately $6 million to get to the $55.4 salary cap floor.

Who might teams want to drop dough on?...

Here is TSN Hockey’s Top 25 Free Agents ahead of Saturday’s Free Agent Frenzy:

read on for the list...

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About Detroit’s Draft Philosophy

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Craig Custance of THE ATHLETIC,

The other concern that follows the Red Wings draft is that they tended to reach in selecting their draft picks. For instance, NHL scouts were telling the Swedish coach of Detroit’s second-round pick Gustav Lindstrom they expected him to go later than where Detroit grabbed him at No. 38.

“I talked to a number of other scouts on other teams, they said he could go late in the second and for sure in the third,” said Marcus Ragnarsson during a Saturday phone conversation from Sweden. “I think because his background, he hasn’t played on the junior teams… I think he’s a bit of a late bloomer.”

So the Red Wings grabbed him. No problem with that. They rightfully concluded he wasn’t going to be there at No. 71, which was where they were picking next, and made the pick. You like scouts who believe in their players, even if it means going off the board.

But when this happens consistently throughout the draft, it suggests a missed opportunity – mostly the chance to trade down and accumulate more picks. It takes a bit of a gambler’s mentality but the payoff, as the Red Wings have seen in the past with trading down, is often worth it.

more (paid subscription and if a Wings fan, probably well worth it)...

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‘Playing GM’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Today is the last day in which NHL teams can submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents, and today also marks the first day of the "interview period" for unrestricted free agents-to-be.

The Red Wings have a fair amount of decisions to make as to which members of the Grand Rapids Griffins they wish to retain over the next six days, and the team has to qualify Tomas Tatar, Andreas Athanasiou and Xavier Ouellet today as well.

I don't like "playing GM," but if I were in charge (and I'm not), I wouldn't go after any unrestricted free agents; instead, I'd look to either repair the relationship between the team and Petr Mrazek. If that's not possible, I'd look to trade him. I'd also try to re-sign Andreas Athanasiou, Xavier Ouellet and Tomas Tatar as quickly and painlessly as possible.

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Notes Around The League

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

- It is unknown whether Joe Thornton — who underwent postseason surgery to repair the torn left MCL and ACL, through which he played the final four games of the playoffs — would have any interest in coming to New York to hook up with his buddy, and one-time Team Canada linemate, Rick Nash on a one-year commitment if he leaves San Jose after 12 seasons.

- At the end of the day, the Islanders effectively traded Travis Hamonic, Ryan Strome, Mikhail Grabovski, Jake Bischer, J-F Berube, a first-rounder this year and a fourth-rounder down the line in exchange for Jordan Eberle, a first next year, a second in two years and a net gain of $5.357 million in cap space.

Which leaves GM Garth Snow still with oodles of assets to wheel for immediate aid and comfort for John Tavares, who is proving to be one of the most loyal and patient players in pro sports.

- Safe apparently will continue to mean death in Columbus. For after acquiring world-class skill forward Artemi Panarin from Chicago in exchange for Brandon Saad, who somehow spent a fair amount of time on coach John Tortorella’s fourth line, the Jackets are expected to be all in on Kovalchuk, too.

- We’re told Bettman was needed to intervene in the discussions between owner Andrew Barroway and outgoing coach Dave Tippett, who apparently agreed to leave up to $10 million on the table to secure his exit.

more on the Rangers and Islanders plus other topics...

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Summarizing the Red Wings’ 2017 draft haul, with an emphasis on Day 2

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of Red Wings draft-related note, mostly from Day 2 of the 2017 NHL draft:

For starters, here's the Wings' official press release regarding the team's second-day-of-the-draft haul, a.k.a. Gustav Lindstrom, Kasper Kotkansalo, Lane Zablocki, Zach Gallant, Keith Petruzzelli, Malte Setkov, Cole Fraser, John "Jack" Adams, Reilly Webb and Brady Gilmour:

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