Monthly Archives: June 2014

Wings set to sign McCollum; make offers to restricted free agents; part ways with Emmerton

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings feel goalie Tom McCollum might have finally found his game.

The team will resign McCollum, who Detroit selected with its top pick (30th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, to a one-year, two-way NHL contract.

After struggling for three straight seasons within the organization, McCollum is coming off his best season in the American Hockey League, going 24-12-4 with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

“He has made strides and is developing into the prospect we hoped he would be,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s a little slower than we thought, but he’s become a real solid goaltender in the (AHL). Some players bloom a little later.”

In McCollum’s lone appearance in the NHL he gave up three goals in 15 minutes before being pulled.

McCollum, 24, will again backup Petr Mrazek with the Griffins.

The other two goalies in the system are Jared Coreau and Jake Paterson.

The team also made qualifying offers to seven of its restricted free agents – Danny DeKeyser, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Landon Ferraro, Mitch Callahan, Adam Almquist and Andrej Nestrasil – to retain their rights.

Almquist signed a two-year deal in the KHL with Severestal Cherepovets.

The Wings didn’t make offers to Cory Emmerton, Trevor Parkes, Willie Coetzee, Gleason Fournier and Max Nicastro, thus relinquishing their rights.

Emmerton, who was the Wings’ top pick (41st overall) in 2006, played most of last season in Grand Rapids after being waived. He’s signed to play with the Sochi Leopards of the KHL next season.

Availability of Ehrhoff sweetens free agent pool; Boyle still seems likely fit

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ chances of landing a top-four defenseman through free agency just got better.

The very limited pool of top four unrestricted free agent defensemen got a bit bigger Sunday when the Buffalo Sabres decided to use a compliance buyout on Christian Ehrhoff, who still had seven years left on a 10-year deal with an average salary cap hit of $4 million.

That’ll make Ehrhoff, who turns 32 on July 6, an unrestricted free agent so he can sign with any team beginning at noon on July 1.

Detroit had interest in Ehrhoff in 2011 when Brian Rafalski decided to retire, leaving a huge hole on the blue line, but didn’t want to overpay him.

The teams have also had decisions a couple of times about a possibly trading Ehrhoff, but Buffalo decided to hang onto him.

Even though the Wings would like to land a right-hand defenseman, the left-handed Ehrhoff (6-2, 196) has the offensive abilities they’re looking for.

He’s a premier skater, who logs a ton of minutes, can move the puck and likes to join the rush. He can also quarterback the power play.

“We’ve got seven left-hand D,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I love it but how do you get (a righty)? It’s great to have this fantasy, like Kenny Holland would tell you, there’s no tree. I’ve been all over him but there’s no tree to grab them off of, so we’ll get what we get.”

Ehrhoff, who’ll get $12 million over the next 14 years, had six goals and 27 assists in 79 games last season. He however was a -27. In 692 career regular season games he has 69 goals and 244 assists. In the playoffs he’s totaled seven goals and 27 assists in 73 games.

“I just think it’s so much easier when you have a right and lefty on every pair,” Babcock added. “All you’ve got to do is look at LA, a right and lefty on every pair. It makes it easier to get through the neutral zone. It’s easier off D-zone faceoffs to execute, you have the puck more. You can get it off the wall and shoot it ion the offensive zone. To me it just makes sense.”

The free agent pool for right-handed defensemen is thin and the asking price via a trade – Buffalo’s Tyler Myers or Arizona’s Keith Yandle – is quite steep – Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco.

The Wings, along with numerous other teams, met with the agents for right-handed defensemen Dan Boyle (New York Islanders) and Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) Thursday in Philadelphia.

Niskanen, 27, is most likely looking for a lengthy deal, probably a maximum seven years and possibly upwards of $6 million a season to sign.

The Wings would be OK with the length, but they’re not going to break the bank to get him. They may not want to pay him much more annually than what Niklas Kronwall ($4.75 million) is making.

Boyle, who’ll turn 38 next month, and could be had for a two-deal at around $5.5 million a season.

Detroit, which wants its young right-handed defensemen to start the season in Grand Rapids, also could settle on Anton Stralman (Rangers), Stephane Robidas (Anaheim) or Tom Gilbert (Florida).

Detroit has $54.2 million tied up in 18 players for next season and still need to sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan.

With the salary cap at $69 million for next season that’ll leave the Wings close to $10 million to spend on other free agents.

Defenseman Kyle Quincey, who’s unrestricted, is expected to hit the open market.

Daniel Alfredsson and Daniel Cleary, who was promised a possible extension after signing a one-year deal on the first day of training camp, could both re-signed as well.

Ehrhoff, who Wings were interested in 2011, being bought out by Sabres

In 2011 when Brian Rafalski told the Wings he was suddenly retiring it left a huge hole on their blue line.

One player they were looking at in free agency, but wouldn’t overpay for, was Christian Ehrhoff.

Well it appears Ehrhoff is back to being available.

TSN.ca’s Bob McKenzie reported Sunday morning that Ehrhoff is being bought out by the Sabres.

If he is that’ll make him an unrestricted free agent and he can sign with any team on July 1.

Ehrhoff still had seven years left on a 10-year deal with an average salary cap hit of $4 million.

He’s the offensive defenseman the Wings are in need of but he shoots left.

Ehrhoff had six goals and 27 assists in 79 games last season. He however was a -27.

In 692 career regular season games he has 69 goals and 244 assists. In the playoffs he’s totaled seven goals and 27 assists in 73 games.

Bloodline factors in as Wings add more depth at center

If the Detroit Red Wings were drafting bloodlines on the second day of the NHL Entry Draft they may have nailed it with their first pick.

The Wings moved up in the third round to pick center Dominic Turgeon of the Portland Winter Hawks (WHL) Saturday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

His father, Pierre, who was selected first overall by Buffalo in the 1987 NHL Draft, totaled 515 goals and 812 assists in 1,294 career NHL games.

“It plays into it a lot,” Detroit’s new director of amateur scouting said Tyler Wright when asked how does a bloodline factor in when selecting a player. “You can tell by the way he plays, he’s got great hockey sense.

“It’s a hard league to play in and it’s a hard league to excel in, and when you’re surrounded your whole life with a sport that is your ultimate thing, which means a lot to the family, it’s all about winning at the end of the day,” Wright continued. “We want guys who want to win. We don’t just want to be content with being a player in the NHL. Let’s be a good player and at the end of the day let’s win.”

Detroit traded up with Columbus, sending pick No. 76 and a third-round pick in 2015 to the Blue Jackets to select the two-way center.

Dominic’s uncle, Sylvain, played 12 seasons in the NHL.

“I guess we’re pretty different,” Dominic said when asked to compare his game to his father. “He was a highly offensive player in the NHL. I feel that right now my game is very strong defensively. But I feel as time goes on my offensive game is going to really jump.”

Dominic had 10 goals, 21 assists and was a plus-18 rating in 65 games with Portland last season. He had two goals and six assists in the playoffs leading his team to the WHL final before losing in seven games to the Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

“I’m going to be a two-way forward,” Dominic said. “I’m going to be a very strong defensive player but I’m also going to be able to produce a lot of offense in my game.”

Dominic was one of five centers the Wings drafted out of their seven picks. They also nabbed a goalie and winger.

Detroit also selected centers Christoffer Ehn (Frolunda Jr., Sweden, 106th), Axel Holmstrom (Skelleftea Jr., Sweden, 196th) and Alexander Kadeykin (Mytischi, Russia, 201st).

With their first pick on Friday, 15th overall, they nabbed Waterford native Dylan Larkin.

“Well, some of them play the wing but we took a lot of forwards, guys who are interchangeable,” Wright said. “But Larkin and Turgeon are both centermen. Dominic Turgeon is a guy that we targeted really high. If we would have had our second (round pick) we would have taken him there. So it prompted us to make a move. He was a guy that we thought if we could get him in the second and he fell into the third we didn’t want to risk that chance by waiting a couple of more picks. We wanted him and he’s got good blood lines.”

After center Calle Jarnkrok was included as part of the deal to land David Legwand prior to the trade deadline it depleted Detroit’s depth chart up the middle.

The Wings’ top centers in the organization are Andreas Athanasiou, Mattias Janmark and Landon Ferraro, who is out of AHL options.

They also added center Tomas Nosek, of the Czech Republic, who’ll compete for a job at training camp.

“We have a bunch of guys that if one pans out, we might have a centerman for (Anthony) Mantha one day,” said Hakan Andersson, the Wings’ long-time director of European scouting. “That’s what we’re hoping. We’ll see. Draft a bunch of guys and then hope.”

They’re a little deeper at forward with Mantha, Teemu Pulkkinen, Martin Frk, Mitch Callahan, Zach Nastasiuk and Tyler Bertuzzi.

In the fifth round the Wings took goalie Thomas (Chase) Perry (Wenatchee, NAHL, 136th) and winger Julius Vahatalo (TPS Jr., Finland, 166th) in the sixth round.

“We always take the best player,” Andersson said. “If we end up with eight defensemen, if they’re just good enough, we can trade a few of them for other assets.

“Calle Jarnkrok was a good prospect for us, we traded him because we needed urgent help,” Andersson continued. “We looked down our lineup before this draft and we were a little bit thin at center. So we did talk about it a little. It just fell that way for us. If there would have been a defenseman we liked more we would have still drafted him. As it turned out, we drafted a couple of centermen that we seriously liked.”

Wings move up to take Turgeon in the third round

The Wings continued to stockpile centers as the second day of the NHL Entry Draft go underway Saturday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Trading up to the 63rd pick in the third round, sending No. 76 and a third-round pick in 2015 to Columbus, Detroit chose Dominic Turgeon.

With the Wings’ first pick, 15th overall, on Friday nabbed Waterford native Dylan Larkin.

His father, Pierre, was selected first overall by Buffalo in the 1987 NHL Draft totaled 515 goals and 812 assists in 1,294 career NHL games with the Sabres, New York Islanders, Montreal, St. Louis, Dallas and Colorado.

Turgeon, who plays a strong two-way game, had 10 goals, 21 assists and was a plus-18 rating in 65 games with Portland in the Western Hockey League last season. He had two goals and six assists in the playoffs for the Winterhawks, who advanced to the WHL final for the fourth straight year, losing in seven games to the Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

Soon-to-be Wolverine Larkin in the place he wanted to be after getting drafted 15th overall by Wings

DETROIT >> Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told Dylan Larkin he would be in good spot at the University of Michigan under the watchful eye of Red Berenson.

After that the Waterford native can focus on cracking the Wings’ lineup.

“This is the place I wanted to be,” said Larkin, who was taken 15th overall Friday by Detroit in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. “I’m happy with the result.”

Larkin, who’s enrolled at the University of Michigan this Fall, was the second-line center at the U.S. National Team Development Program and finished fourth in scoring with 31 goals and 25 assists in 60 games.

“I’m looking to improve on my strength,” said Larkin, who was drafted by Erie in the 2012 Ontario Hockey League. “To play at the next level, even in college, you’ve got to be strong. It’s important to get in the gym and spend time on my body and nutrition.

“School has always been important to my family,” Larkin continued. “There were other college options, even Michigan coaches said go around to different campuses, see what you like. You got to find what fits for you.”

Larkin is considered more of a shooter than a passer and has a potent slap shot.

He’s also a strong technical skater that can build up speed quick and isn’t afraid to go hard to the net.

“I think I play all 200-feet on the ice,” Larkin said. “I’m a strong skater. I get around the ice well because of my skating. I think the game, I go to areas most people don’t want to go to score goals and find a way to produce.”

Larkin is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds.

“I came in as a kid and left as a young man, physically, mentally, all areas,” Larkin said of his time in the U.S. development program that’s located in Ann Arbor. “They give you resources and it’s up to the players how much you want to use them. I feel like I used them and became a well-rounded young man.”

The Wings’ organization is in desperate need of centers.

After Calle Jarnkrok was included as part of the deal to land David Legwand prior to the trade deadline it depleted Detroit’s depth chart up the middle. The top centers in the organization are Landon Ferraro, who is out of AHL options, Andreas Athanasiou and Mattias Janmark.

“I was open-minded but in the bottom of my heart I really wanted to be in Detroit,” Larkin said. “They’ve got the new rink they’re building. It’s going to be an exciting time for the organization.”

The Wings are a little deeper at forward with Anthony Mantha, Teemu Pulkkinen, Martin Frk, Mitch Callahan, Zach Nastasiuk and Tyler Bertuzzi.

Larkin was an assistant captain on Team USA’s gold-medal winning club at this year’s Under-18 World Championship, scoring two goals and two assists, including a goal in the championship game.

He also won a bronze medal with the U.S. at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

The Wings have seven picks in this year’s draft, which concludes with round two through seven Saturday.

They traded their second round pick this year to obtain Legwand from Nashville.

Detroit does have two picks in the seventh round, one of which came from San Jose as part of the Brad Stuart trade two seasons ago.

The Wings’ selection was their highest since choosing Martin Lapointe with the 10th overall pick in 1991.

Larkin’s favorite player growing up was Steve Yzerman.

“The way he led his team,” Larkin said of the former Wings captain. “He played a two-way game. Off the ice, the way he acted, he was a true professional, a class guy.”

It’s the sixth consecutive year Detroit has taking a forward with its top pick in the draft.

Wings nab Waterford native Larkin with first pick; organization needed depth at center

DETROIT >> In desperate need of centers in their organization, the Detroit Red Wings selected Waterford native Dylan Larkin with the 15th selection in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Larkin, who’s enrolled at the University of Michigan next year, was the second-line center at the U.S. National Team Development Program and finished fourth in scoring with 31 goals and 25 assists in 60 games.

After center Calle Jarnkrok was included as part of the deal to land David Legwand prior to the trade deadline it depleted Detroit’s depth chart up the middle.

“I think center is a major piece of a building block in most organizations,” Tyler Wright, Detroit’s new director of amateur scouting said last week. “You can never have enough centers.”

The Wings’ top centers in the organization are Landon Ferraro, who is out of AHL options, Andreas Athanasiou and Mattias Janmark.

They’re a little deeper at forward with Anthony Mantha, Teemu Pulkkinen, Martin Frk, Mitch Callahan, Zach Nastasiuk and Bertuzzi.

Larkin is considered more of a shooter than a passer and has a potent slap shot.

He’s also a strong technical skater that can build up speed quick and isn’t afraid to go hard to the net.

Larkin is 6-1, 190 pounds.

In past drafts the Wings have focused on drafting players with good size, but would prefer players with good hockey sense.

“That’s what wins you games,” Wright said. “You can still have smaller players in the lineup, but you have to surround them with bigger players. Size is something we definitely will take into consideration.”

The Wings have seven picks in this year’s draft. They traded their second round pick to obtain Legwand from Nashville.

Detroit does have two picks in the seventh round, one of which from San Jose as part of the Brad Stuart trade two seasons ago.

The Wings’ selection was their highest since choosing Martin Lapointe with the 10th overall pick in 1991.

It’s the sixth consecutive year Detroit has taking a forward with its top pick in the draft.

Detroit scored big last season, trading down to snatch Mantha, who led the QMJHL in scoring and was also named the league MVP.

In the second round the Wings took forwards Nastasiuk and Tyler Bertuzzi, who have both been invited Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Development Camp.