Monthly Archives: June 2013

Per norm in draft Wings looking for best available, but skilled forward with size would be nice

DETROIT – Like many of the other drafts before it for the Detroit Red Wings, they’re going to look at the best available player at the time of their pick.

But this year they’re leaning a bit in one direction … a skilled forward with decent size.

“The only difference this year is we’d really like to get a forward, unless there’s a defenseman that’s too good to pass up,” said Joe McDonnell, the team’s director of amateur scouting. “When it comes to our pick, if we feel there’s two players that are even we’ll lean toward the forward.”

This goes against many of the mock drafts that have Detroit taking a blue liner with its first pick.

“Every team’s almost in the same boat,” McDonnell said. “It’s just the way the game has evolved. It’s a big man’s game. I’m not saying there’s no room for smaller guys, but if you can get a big, skilled guy, you go that route. Still take small guys if we have to. But we’re looking to get bigger. We have bigger guys coming up in (Tomas) Jurco and (Riley) Sheahan.”

The draft, which is one day this year, begins at 3 p.m. on Sunday with the Wings having the 18th pick, which is their highest pick since 1991.

“We’re excited, at 18, we know we’ll get someone we really like,” McDonnell said. “The draft in general is strong, in the first round and even into the second round. It’s deep at the top end of the draft and then it peters out. There will be guys we like even in the seventh round. But the high-end part of the draft is good. At 18, we’ll get a quality player.”

The Wings have selected forwards with their top picks in each of the last three drafts – Martin Frk (2012), Tomas Jurco (2011) and Riley Sheahan (2010).

“It’s always the best player,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We feel like we’ve got some good prospects on defense and some good prospects up front. We’d like to add a few more. We’re hoping to look back in six years and we’ve got two NHL players out of this draft. If you have a great, great day maybe you have three.”

The Wings have a number of defensemen coming up through the ranks, including Brian Lashoff, Ryan Sproul, Xavier Oullette and Mattias Backman.

“We have a lot of good, young defensemen,” McDonnell said. “We think we have a number of good ones. If we can add a little size up front, it would be beneficial.”

One position the Wings won’t be looking at highly is goaltending where they’re well-stocked.

Petr Mrazek just got done leading the Grand Rapids Griffins to the Calder Cup as a rookie. They’ve also got Jake Paterson, who the Wings drafted in the third round a year ago, and free agent signee Jared Coreau out of Northern Michigan.

“It’s not a high priority for us,” McDonnell said. “We’re happy with Mrazek. Paterson is a high-end kid. We’re not pressed to take a goalie, but if there’s one rated highly we’ll take him. Not in the top three rounds, though.”

Holland added that the Wings probably won’t be trading up in this draft, but like in year’s past they’re willing to listen to offers to move down.

“You deal in percentages and hopefully we come down the road and we have some NHL players,” Holland said. “As we’ve all seen it’s a very patient process. You’re dealing with 18-year-old kids and most of them, other than the top end of the draft, there’s a developing process they have to go through.

“It starts on draft day by holding onto your picks, making selections and then working their way through juniors, college and then to Grand Rapids,” Holland continued. “Some funnel up to Detroit and some drop by the wayside. We have number of prospects within our organization and we’d just like to our pool of prospects.”

The Wings have picks in all seven rounds – 48th, 79th, 109th, 139th, 169th and 199th overall.

“In the salary-cap era (the draft is) everything,” McDonnell said. “If you don’t draft well and develop your players you don’t have any hope. If you’re going to be a good organization you better draft. It’s the lifeline of an organization.”

This is McDonnell’s first year of making the final decision on players, replacing Jim Nill, who was hired as the Dallas Stars’ general manager on April 29.

“Jim and I were sitting there the past 18 years, the only weird thing is I’ll look to my left and no Jim Nill, it’ll be Ken Holland,” said McDonnell, whose first draft with the Wings was in 1995. “Jim taught me a lot in those early years.”

Wings could be targeting second-line center once free agency opens

DETROIT – There is indeed a method to the Detroit Red Wings’ line of thinking as free agency approaches.

Detroit seems to be in a holding pattern for now with the NHL Entry Draft taking place Sunday and free agency set to begin on July 5.

“I think there are always trade talks but more often than not they don’t lead to anything,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said earlier in the week. “There’s always a feeling out processes. This is the weekend that teams are motivated and we are motivated to make a move or two between now and unrestricted free agency that we think will make our team a little bit better.

“I think a lot of what’s going on with our team right now are kids,” Holland added. “You watched it during the season, you watched it in Grand Rapids, you watched it in the early 90s, you watched it in the early 2000s, if you’re going anywhere and building anything that’s going to have some sustainability to it it’s got to come through the draft.”

The Wings are set between the pipes with Jimmy Howard as the starter and Jonas Gustavsson serving as his backup.

On defense, seven are signed for next season and one, Brendan Smith is a restricted free agent, will get a deal done bringing the total to eight on the blue line heading to training camp.

Detroit would look at a possible upgrade on defense or it may trim one of its eight on the roster, but there is little depth on the blue line in Grand Rapids so that seems unlikely.

Forward is where things are bit more murky.

The Wings currently have 12 players under contract and two others that are restricted free agents – Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist – will be signed sometime in the near future to bring the numbers up front to 14.

There are still three unrestricted free agents – Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner – that could find their way back on the roster, but those deals may not happen until the hours leading up to the start of free agency.

If the Wings are unable to sign Filppula they may try and trade his rights to a team so they could try exclusively to negotiate a deal with the center before he hits the open market.

“I haven’t thought about (leaving Detroit), but obviously it’s possible that could happen,” Filppula said during the Wings’ end-of-season locker cleanout. “It’d be tough. It’s been a really great place to be. I’ve been so happy here. We’ll see if we go … if that’s what’s going to happen.”

The Wings did make offers to Filppula in August and September before talks broke down.

Filppula, who made $3 million last season, is believed to be asking for about a $2 million raise a year.

The Wings do have interest in new unrestricted free agent Vincent Lecavalier, who was bought out by Tampa Bay on Thursday.

There is some concern of the pace of Lecavalier’s game at this point of his career.

Detroit is in the midst of building a team that likes to get up-and-down the ice.

There would be interest in the 33-year-old center, who is still good down low around the net. They would jump at a one-year deal for the right price.

“(The Wings are) a team I grew up idolizing,” Lecavalier said during a conference call Thursday. “(Detroit) and Montreal were my favorite teams. Steve Yzerman was my favorite player.”

Yzerman, who spent his entire career with the Wings, is the Lightning’s general manager.

Centers Stephen Weiss, Matt Cullen and Patrik Elias could also garner some interest from Detroit along with wingers Jarome Iginla, David Clarkson and Nathan Horton.

There is also a chance the Wings could decide to use one or two of their allotted contract buyouts, but would need to do so by July 3 since that player or players has to go on waivers.

Teams are permitted two amnesty buyouts that can be used this summer or next summer. They would be able to buy out a player at two-thirds of their remaining value of the contract and not have any of the salary count against the salary cap.

Wings have waited some time for Kindl to finally grab a piece of it, now he’s getting paid for it

DETROIT – Each and every season defenseman Jakub Kindl somehow finds a way to work his way out of the lineup.

Those days appear to be over.

The Wings have inked the soon-to-be restricted free agent to a four-year extension worth $9.6 million.

Kindl, 26, had four goals and nine assists in 41 games last season and was a plus-15, second only to Pavel Datsyuk (plus-21) on the team.

Kindl got a considerable raise after making $1.05 million last season. His average salary over the next four seasons is $2.4 million.

This past season, he found himself a healthy scratch behind rookie Brian Lashoff early on.

“He’s got to move the puck,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said at the time he reinstated Kindl back in the lineup over Lashoff. “He’s a skilled guy on the back. He’s got to shoot the puck. The big thing is he’s got to grab a piece of the action. That’s up to him. That’s what these opportunities are for. You’ve got to reach out and grab hold of something and then make it your own. If you don’t, you’re not in the lineup.”

Kindl’s game improved from that point.

“Whenever I get the chance I just have to show I can play,” Kindl said last season.

Kindl, who has seven goals, 23 assists and a plus-14 in 147 career games, has always had to battle for ice time.

Two years ago it was veteran Mike Commodore he was in competition with for a spot on the Wings’ third pairing.

Three years ago, Kindl was unable to beat out Ruslan Salei in training camp and therefore found himself as the Wings’ seventh defenseman.

“It’s never been about skill level with him, it’s been about competition level,” Babcock said two years ago. “He needs to have the confidence to compete at the highest level. When he does he can move the puck and he knows how to play. We expect big things out of him.”

Kindl was projected to be a highly skilled, puck-moving top-four defenseman when the Wings selected him 19th overall in 2005.

In his first season in Grand Rapids he was prone to turnovers and made bad decisions with the puck. He finished that year a minus-34 rating and had just 17 points. The next year he finished with 33 points and improved to a minus-14. In his final year with the Griffins, he had another 33-point season and saw his plus/minus go to a minus-4 rating.

Kindl gets four-year extension to remain in Detroit

DETROIT – Each and every season defenseman Jakub Kindl somehow works his way out of the lineup.

Those days seem to be over.

The Wings have inked the soon-to-be restricted free agent to a four-year extension worth $9.6 million.

Kindl, 26, had four goals and nine assists in 41 games last season and was a plus-15.

More details to follow.

Lecavalier would be good fit in Detroit; center says he hasn’t thought much about his options

DETROIT – With the NHL free agency period a week away, the pool of players the Wings may be interested grew by one.

And it was one they’re going to be very interested in once July 5 rolls around.

The Tampa Bay Lightning used one of their compliance buyout on center Vincent Lecavalier.

“I’m so motivated to go somewhere else and prove I can play at a high level,” Lecavalier said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. “I believe in myself and what I can bring to a team. I want to win.”

Even with the free agency period a week away Lecavalier said he hasn’t put much thought into where he’d like to play next season, but that the Wings will get some consideration.

“I haven’t really thought about that,” Lecavalier said. “(Detroit’s) actually a team I grew up idolizing. Them and Montreal were my favorite teams. Steve Yzerman was my favorite player.”

Yzerman is the Lightning’s general manager and spent his entire career with the Wings.

“My door’s open to everything, but I haven’t made a list yet,” Lecavalier said. “I’m really open to anything. I haven’t pinpointed anything.”

The Wings seem to be a good fit for both parties since they could be in need of a second-line center if they’re unable to come to terms with unrestricted free agent Valtteri Filppula.

When Filppula was asked if he thought he’d be back with the team when the Wings conducted their locker cleanout he said, “I don’t know. It’s too early to say right now. I just have to wait a little longer and see what happens.

“I haven’t thought about that too much, but obviously it’s a possibility that could happen,” Filppula added. “It’d be tough. It’s been a really great place to be. I’ve been so happy here. We’ll see if we go … if that’s what’s going to happen.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland said at the time the Wings made Filppula an offer in August and September before talks broke down.

Filppula made $3 million last season and is believed to be asking for about a $2 million raise a year.

Lecavalier’s addition would more than likely allow the Wings to rejoin Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the top line alongside Justin Abdelkader.

“They’re probably one of the best duos in the league,” Lecavalier said of the Wings tandem. “They made the playoffs the last 20 years. It’s a great team, a great organization. It’s definitely a place I would consider.”

Lecavalier could center Johan Franzen and either Gustav Nyquist or another free agent, possibly Damien Brunner if he re-signs with Detroit.

“As a hockey player you want to win,” Lecavalier said. “I want to be happy.”
Lecavalier, 33, spent his entire 15-year career with Tampa Bay, scoring 383 goals and 874 points in 1,037 regular season games and helped lead the Lightning to their first-ever Stanley Cup victory in 2004.

Lecavalier, who helped lead the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004, had 10 goals and 22 assists in 39 games last season.

The Lightning bought out the final 11 years of his $85 million contract, paying him two-thirds of the remaining value on the deal. That frees up $7.727 million in salary-cap space for Tampa Bay.

“It is,” Lecavalier said when asked if it’s going to be odd playing for another team next season. “(Playing for Tampa Bay) is all I’ve known. The thought of wearing a different jersey is weird in my head. It’s a challenge. I’m very motivated.

“I will work very hard to be in top shape, get to training camp and work with different players in a different environment,” Lecavalier continued. “It is weird to know I’m going to be playing somewhere else. The different environment is something I’m going to have to adapt to. I have to move on.”

Wings look at possible trades and buyouts

DETROIT – With the Wings’ roster crowded on the blue line and up front, some possible moves to adjust those numbers could be coming soon.

According to a source, Detroit may look to deal defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Jordin Tootoo.

The team would still like to re-sign unrestricted free agent Valtteri Filppula, who could hit the open market once free agency starts on July 5 if he doesn’t get a new deal with the Wings.

Filppula made $3 million last season and is reportedly seeking a multi-year deal in excess of over $5 million.

If they can’t do that they will try and trade his rights and use the money they had earmarked for him to sign a second-line center once free agency opens.

The team will begin pursuing deals at Sunday’s NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey.

Detroit currently has six defensemen under contract for next season – Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff and Colaiacovo.

Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl are both restricted free agents and will be re-signed.

Tootoo may just run into a numbers crunch up front, where there just isn’t a lot of room since the team would like to keep their younger players, who would need to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, whom emerged in the playoffs.

Tootoo has two years left on a deal is signed last offseason at $1.9 million a season.

Fourth-line center Cory Emmerton may also be available.

After signing Drew Miller to a new deal this offseason, the Wings have 12 forwards under contract for next season. Two others – Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist – are restricted and will be back with the team.

The team has made qualifying offers to Andersson, Nyquist, Smith and Kindl.

There are also two other unrestricted free agent forwards – Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner – the team will more than likely wait until after free agency opens to sign, if they do at all, so their money and rosters spots are tied up.

The amount and length of contract will dictate who comes back and who doesn’t.

However, three of the forwards – Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson – under contract for next season battled through serious injuries last year and there is still some concern if they’ll be able to return.

The Wings would prefer not offer buyouts to anyone on their roster, but if it comes to that to clear a roster stop then they will look into that as an option.

Teams are permitted two amnesty buyouts that can be used this summer or next summer. They would be able to buyout a player at two-thirds of their remaining value of the contract and not have any of the salary count against the salary cap.

The buyout period begins 48 hours after the last game of the Stanley Cup finals and ends at 5 p.m. on July 4.

Samuelsson, who has one year left at $3 million on his deal, could be a candidate to be bought out, but since he never returned to play in the playoffs due to an injury it could be a dicey situation where his agent might not accept it based on those grounds.

He has been cleared to return from the strained pectoral muscle injury that finished his postseason.

Wings still have decisions to make on Cleary, Filppula and Brunner; White won’t be offered a contract

DETROIT — The Wings have a lot more decisions to make this offseason, mainly regarding unrestricted free agents Daniel Cleary, Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula.

“We have big decisions to make,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We’ve got a push of kids. We’ve got 14 forwards under contract now. We’ll only carry 14. We know we have compliance buyouts at our disposal and I’ll explore trades.”

The 14 included restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson.

“If there’s a term and number that works for us, we’ll try to fit them in,” Holland said regarding the unrestricted free agent forwards. “If not, we’ll go in a different direction. We like all these players, but sometimes if there’s a better opportunity elsewhere a player’s got to pursue it.”

Holland did tell defenseman Ian White he won’t be re-signed.