Monthly Archives: June 2011

Bieksa off market

One of this year’s top unrestricted defensemen won’t hit the open market.

TSN.ca is reporting that the Vancouver Canucks have inked Kevin Bieksa to five-year, $23 million contract. The deal will pay him an average salary of $4.6 million per season. The deal also includes a no-trade clause.

Bieksa, who has spent all six of his NHL seasons with the Canucks, would have become an unrestricted free agent on Friday if a deal had not been reached.

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Wings now turn focus to their unrestricted free agents

DETROIT – With the NHL Entry Draft behind them, the Detroit Red Wings will now focus on their unrestricted free agents, namely forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

“We’ve talked to all of their agents,” Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “We’ll probably get more done next week.”

The Wings have made offers to all three.

“This week we focused on the draft,” Nill said. “We’ll get working more on that next week and hopefully get them all signed up.”

The Wings are believed to have offered Ericsson a multi-year deal worth just over $2 million a season.

“We’re in the same ballpark,” Wings GM Ken Holland said Friday.

Holland is waiting to hear back from the agents for Eaves and Miller.

“If they have interest, they’ll get back to us,” Holland said.

All three of those players can become unrestricted free agents Friday.

Wings draft strategy works perfectly

DETROIT – With the 24th pick in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft Friday night, the Detroit Red Wings felt it better served them to trade out of the slot for more picks later.

Their plan worked perfectly.

With those two second round picks the Wings got from the Ottawa Senators, Detroit drafted right wing Tomas Jurco and defenseman Xavier Ouellet Saturday morning at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

“It’s different if you’re picking in the top 15 or 20,” Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said in a phone interview Saturday afternoon. “You know someone is going to drop to you. When you’re picking in the bottom third of the first round, that doesn’t happen.”

It’s the third time in the last six seasons Detroit has traded out of the first round.

“We got to the point in the draft and there were still 20 or so players that we liked that were all kind of the same,” Nill said. “We felt it would be better to get two or three of those rather than one. It worked out well. We got two of them that we wanted.”

Nill compared Jurco to former Wing Marian Hossa.

“We just like his combination of size and skill,” Nill said. “He’s got high-end potential to his game.”

Jurco, who represented Slovakia at the 2011 World Junior Championships, helped lead Saint John’s to the 2011 Memorial Cup with a tournament-tying four goals in four games and was the 20th player ranked by NHL Central Scouting.

“He’s a very good skater with size and excellent puck skills. He has all the tools of a first-round draft pick,” NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Bordeleau said.

His coach and former Wing Gerard Gallant said, “He does different things at practice some guys would view as being cocky, but Tomas does it because he wants to score a goal doing it. I just tell him to do what he feels comfortable doing. We’re not here to show up anybody, but if that’s the move you think you could score a goal with, do it. He’s a big-bodied guy with a great skill level and competes really hard.”

Ouellet played for Montreal of the QMJHL last season where he had eight goals and 35 assists in 67 games. His NHL Central Scouting ranking slipped from 39th at the midterm to 60th.

“(Ouellet is a) smooth skating, real good puck moving, solid defenseman,” Nill continued. “He had a very strong season and put up good points. He’s one of those guys that can play all night.”

The Wings also selected defenseman Ryan Sproul with their third second round pick, 55th overall.

“He’s got good size and is a good skater,” Nill said. “He really came on strong at the end of the year.”

Sproul, who had 14 goals and 19 assists with Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL last season, shot up the NHL Central Scouting rankings. His final ranking was 54th after having a midterm rank of 124th.

TSN scout Grant McGagg said that Sproul posses a heavy slap shot, that sees the ice well and finds shooting lanes.

“We like the way things fell,” Nill said. “We moved down to get the extra picks and we ended up getting a couple of guys that we wanted. That worked out pretty well.

“I think we did a good job adding some size to our team,” Nill added. “We got some good sized defensemen. We’re happy with what we’ve got.”

The Wings rounded out their draft by selecting center Alan Quine of Peterborough (OHL) in the third round (85th overall); right wing Marek Tvrdon of Vancouver (WHL) in the fourth round (115th overall); center/right wing Philippe Hudon (145th overall) and defenseman Mattias Backman (146th overall) in the fifth round and defenseman Richard Nedomlel in the sixth round (175th overall).

Quine (5-11, 178 pounds) had 26 goals and 27 assists for 53 points in 69 games last season.

Tvrdon is 6-2, 210-pounds and a native of Nitra, Slovakia. He had six goals and five assists in 12 games for the Giants.

Hudon (6-0, 190) went to Choate-Rosemary High School in Connecticut and will attend Cornell University.

Backman (6-2, 169) played for Linkoping Juniors in Sweden. He had two goals and 18 assists in 27 games a year ago.

Nedomlel, a native of Prague, Czech Republic, plays for Swift Current (WHL). He had no goals, 10 assists and 107 penalty minutes in 66 games last season.

With their final pick, 205th overall, the Wings took defenseman Alexei Marchenko (6-2, 183) from CSKA in Russia.

Marchenko went undrafted last season despite being highly ranked.

“He’ll be one of the top defensemen on Russia’s World Junior team,” Nill said. “He’s one of the better young defensemen in Russia.

“Our Russian scouts know him well and he says he wants to come out in a year,” Nill added. “So we feel we have the ability to get him (in the NHL) if we need to.”

In total, Detroit drafted four forwards and five defensemen.

“Every team has pressure to win,” Nill said. “We’re all in the same business and it’s become equal. Everyone has the same money, so the system has leveled out.

“There has only been two teams since the lockout to make the playoffs every year, us and San Jose,” Nill added. “We want that trend to continue. If we continue doing that it means we’re doing something right.”

Wings take Russian defenseman with final pick

The Wings ended the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by selecting defenseman Alexei Marchenko out of Russia in the 7th round, 205th overall.

Marchenko is 6-2 and weighs 183.

Wings add Nedomlel in sixth round

With their second to last pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the Wings took defenseman Richard Nedomlel, who played last season with Swift Current in the WHL.

Nedomlel, who was born in Prague, Czech Republic, shoots left, stands 6-4 and weighs 204.

He had no goals, 10 assists and 107 penalty minutes in 66 games last year.

Hudon, Backman selected back-to-back in fifth round

With back-to-back picks in the fifth round, the Wings selected forward Philippe Hudon and defenseman Mattias Backman.

Hudon, who just graduated from high school, was ranked by NHL Scouting 31st at the midterm and slipped to 74th.

Hudon, who was born in Montreal, is listed as a right wing/center, shoots rights, stands 6-0 and weighs 190.

Unlike Hudon, Backman, who was born in Linkoping, Sweden, shot up the rankings finishing 39th after having a midterm rank of 95th.

Backman shoots left, stands 6-2 and weights 169.

Here are more tidbits on Hudon from nhl.com:

• He will attend Cornell University in the fall of 2011.

• Hudon helped Choate to a 15-9-1 record in 2010-11, recording 20 points (10-10–20) in 22 games as one of 13 seniors on the roster. In 2009-10, he helped lead Choate to the New England Large Prep Championship with a 21-6-1 record.

• He was the only sophomore named to the All New England Division West All-Star Team, despite missing six games playing for Team Quebec at 2010 World Under-17 Challenge.

• His great, great uncle, Albert “Battleship” Leduc, played defense for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Ottawa Senators between 1925 and 1937 – he won two Stanley Cups (1930, 1931) with Montreal.

FAVORITES

NHL team: Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche
NHL player: Joe Sakic and Alexander Ovechkin
Shootout move: “Secret”
Goal celebration: “Something humble”
Video game: NHL 2009 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Movie: Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights and Cop Out
TV show: CSI: Miami
Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio
Website: NHL.com and RDS.ca
Book: The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck
Pump-up song: “We Ready” by Archie Eversole
Home-cooked meal: Veal scallops
Activity away from the rink: Golf, soccer and video games

UPDATE: Wings nab second Slovak player

The Wings selected winger Marek Tvrdon in the fourth round with the 115th overall pick.

Tvrdon, of Slovakia, played with Vancouver of the WHL last season. He’s 6-2, weighs 210 and shoots left.

He had six goals and five assists in 12 games last season.

His season ended with a dislocated shoulder that required surgery.

Tvrdon, who was born on January 31, 1993, was one of only three underage players on Slovakia’s Under-18 team last year and was third on the team in scoring.