Tag Archives: nhl

Oleksy signs with Penguins because it was his ‘best opportunity’ to make an NHL roster

DETROIT >> Steve Oleksy has already been on a roster with one of the current greats – Alex Ovechkin – in the NHL.

He can add another one to that list – Sidney Crosby.

The unrestricted free agent defenseman inked a one-year, two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

“It’s incredible,” said Oleksy, who had offers from other teams. “I think I’m only going to one of a couple players to get a chance to be in the same locker room with both of those guys. They’re two of the best players in the world. To learn what I have from Ovechkin and now to get a chance to learn from Sid and his approach to the game that’s something I’m going to take with me long after my playing career.”

Oleksy, 29, will make $575,000 when he’s in the NHL and $250,000 in the American Hockey League.

He’s guaranteed $325,000.

It’s a nice raise for the L’Anse Creuse North graduate, whose average AHL salary over the last three seasons was roughly $107,000. His NHL salary was $525,000.

“It’s always nice to have a couple options,” Oleksy said. “The biggest reason I signed with them was the opportunity. Everything I’ve looked at and weighing all the options I had I felt Pittsburgh was my best opportunity.

“The organization has a strong passion to win and that was very attractive as well,” Oleksy continued. “They’re continually trying to get better and are constantly in the mix as a contender.”

Oleksy, a L’Anse Creuse North graduate, had spent the last three seasons in the Washington Capitals’ organization, appearing in 62 regular-season games scoring three goals to go with 16 assists. He was also a plus-15 and 86 penalty minutes.

The right-handed blue liner also appeared in seven playoff game registering just an assist and a minus-1 rating.

Oleksy, who has also played in the East Coast Hockey League and International Hockey League, is a rugged defenseman that isn’t afraid to drop the gloves.

Oleksy totaled seven fighting majors in the AHL last season according to hockeyfights.com.

He’s got six fighting majors in the NHL during the regular season and four more during the preseason.

Oleksy went undrafted out of Lake Superior State University in 2009.

After minor pro stints that took him to Las Vegas, Port Huron, Toledo, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, Oleksy played in his first NHL game on March 5, 2013, and registered an assist in just over 10 minutes of ice time against the Boston Bruins.

(Drew) Miller nearly gets one by (Ryan) Miller

DETROIT >> Drew Miller is still looking to score his first goal in the NHL on his older brother, Ryan.

Sunday he had his best opportunity to do so.

Late in the third period, Drew chipped a puck out of the Wings’ zone and raced onto it. Vancouver defenseman Luca Sbisa harassed him after crossing center ice and he wasn’t able to get off a quality shot he wanted on his brother, the Canucks netminder.

“I was just trying to beat their defenseman and the puck was rolling,” Drew said. “By the time I got there I really didn’t think I’d get a chance to make a move so I just tried to take a shot and get it on net. I don’t know, it was a good chance.”

Drew, who wound up with two shots on goal, is also looking to record his first NHL point on Ryan.

“It’s a fun game, had a couple of good shifts against him in the offensive zone,” Drew said. “I heard they showed (my parents on TV) right after, so I’m sure they were pretty funny reactions.”

Despite not scoring, Drew did run his record to 7-1-0 all-time against his older brother after Detroit’s 5-3 win. Six of those wins have come as a member of the Wings.

“It’s not something that I hold over his head, but he knows it’s there,” Drew said. “When the game’s over you’re still brothers. You don’t get to see each other that much.”

Datsyuk to miss first season opener since joining Wings

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings will have to deal with a hole in their lineup they haven’t had to deal with in the last 13 seasons … not having Pavel Datsyuk.

Datsyuk ruled himself out for Thursday’s season opener against the Boston Bruins after practice Wednesday.

Datsyuk, who is on short-term injured reserve, separated his right shoulder on Sept. 22, which was slated to sideline him four weeks.

He began skating with the team this week, but has not taken part in many drills and has yet to be cleared for contact.

It appears rookie Andrej Nestrasil will make NHL debut on Thursday, but Wings coach Mike Babcock wouldn’t make it official after doing so earlier in his press conference after practice Wednesday.

“Why don’t we just announce the lineup (Thursday), so if anything changes I don’t have to change my mind,” Babcock said.

Nestrasil is just trying to enjoy the moment after making the 23-man roster on Tuesday.

“The fact that I’m on the 23-man roster doesn’t really guarantee me anything, it’s still day to day,” Nestrasil said. “I just go with the flow and see what happens tomorrow.

“Everyone wants to play in the NHL, but on the other hand it’s not totally up to me,” Nestrasil continued. “I know if I play well it’ll give me a better chance to be here. We’ll see if I play (Thursday) and the other upcoming games.”

Nestrasil, who has come on of late after a slow start to his professional career, seemed like a longshot make the team out of camp.

“I came into camp in really good shape which obviously gives you plus points from the management point of view, but that’s not everything,” Nestrasil said. “You still have to perform on the ice. I feel the second half of last season gave me a lot of confidence. I brought that into the camp. I didn’t have high expectations, but I tried hard every day and it worked out.”

Nestrasil appears to have leapfrogged veterans Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary.

DeKeyser will be in camp on time after getting two-year deal with Wings

DETROIT >> Restricted free agent defensemen Danny DeKeyser will report to camp on time after receiving a two-year deal with an average salary-cap hit of $2.187 million a season.

Training camp opens in Traverse City on Friday.

DeKeyser will be a restricted free agent after the deal is done.

In 76 games, DeKeyser has four goals, 20 assists and is a plus-14.

The main sticking point in getting a deal done according to Wings general manager Ken Holland is finding “comparable” deals.

DeKeyser, who just completed his first full season in the NHL after the Wings beat out several teams to land the much-sought-after defenseman, made $925,000 a season on his two-year, entry-level deal.

The Wings offered DeKeyser, who had injuries lasting a least a month or longer in each of his first two seasons, a long-term deal back in June which his camp wasn’t receptive to.

DeKeyser, 24, is represented by Pat Morris, who’s the same agent that represents Kyle Quincey, who signed a two-deal this offseason worth $4.25 a season.
The Wings have just over $3 million in cap space left.

DeKeyser was one of the NHL’s most sought-after free agents last year before deciding to stay at Western Michigan University.

In three seasons at WMU, DeKeyser, who was undrafted, appeared in 118 games and had 12 goals, 37 assists and 107 penalty minutes.

Over that summer the Wings made pitches for a number of prized free agent defenseman including Ryan Suter.

Brian Rafalski’s former coach Jeff Sauer: “He was a player that always was involved in the play.”

DETROIT >> When former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski announced his retirement from professional hockey following the 2010-2011 season with one year and $6 million left on a contract, it came as quite a shock.

Conversely, the announcement made Wednesday was no surprise.

Rafalski was among four people elected to the class of 2014 of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

“He was a player that always was involved in the play,” said his former coach at Wisconsin Jeff Sauer, who was also named as part of the class of 2014. “He was a guy that you could count on in all situations and circumstances along the way. He was the type of player that you looked down the bench and who’s the next guy that you need out there to kill a penalty or work the power play or be out there in a critical situation in a game? He certainly was the first guy you would pick.”

Rafalski ranks 10th all-time amongst American-born NHL defenseman with 515 points (79 goals, 436 assists) in 833 regular season games, while totaling 29 goals and 71 assists in 165 playoff games.

“I remember him telling us you come to college as a boy and you want to leave as a man,” Rafalski said of his former coach. “He gave you responsibility to grow up and learn what it took to be a professional athlete. You come to the rink every day, work the 3-4 hours and when you came out of there, you were ready to work hard and try to make a career out of hockey if you wanted to. It really allowed us to grow up and to go on to better things in our lives. It was something all the guys appreciated.”

Rafalski also finished in the top 10 in voting for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s best defenseman, three times, twice with the Wings.

Rafalski, who reached the playoffs all 11 seasons of his career, played in three Olympic Games, winning silver medals in 2002 and 2010, where he was named the best defenseman at the Vancouver Games.

“For me it was just that I got the chance to play with a lot of guys I grew up watching,” Rafalski said of playing in the 2002 Games. “It was a very high-profile team, a lot of great players. It was a great opportunity for us to perform well on home soil. Getting the opportunity to play for Herb Brooks was a great honor, something that I’ll cherish and remember. It’s a fond memory for me.”

In 2007, Rafalski, a Dearborn native, signed a five-year, $30 million free-agent contract to come to Detroit as the Wings lost Mathieu Schneider after he signed with Anaheim.

“I remember growing up in the 80s when the Wings were in the Norris Division and they had no chance of winning,” said Rafalski, who also won a bronze medal at the 1992 world juniors. “You’d get into Joe Louis (Arena) no problem and sit wherever you wanted. They really changed through the late 1980s and 90s with Steve Yzerman and Nick Lidstrom. They developed a great program there through great ownership with the Ilitches.

Rafalski won three Stanley Cups in his career, two with the New Jersey Devils and one in Detroit (2008).

“It was great to play in front of family and friends and have the opportunity to play with other great defensemen like Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios,” Rafalski said. “Throughout my whole career I had the opportunity to be coached and play with some of the best defensemen of all-time, going to back to Slava Fetisov, Larry Robinson, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko in New Jersey.

“Going to Detroit, there was Mark Howe and Larry Murphy,” Rafalski continued. “Just being around the locker room when those guys would come through and playing with Chelios and Lidstrom, I’ve had so many different influences and people to learn from. I just tried to absorb all that.”

Rafalski, who played four seasons in Europe after four years at Wisconsin, attempted a comeback last season with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades which didn’t last long.

Also elected were Karen Bye Dietz and Lou Vairo. The induction ceremony will take place Dec. 4 at the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame in Minnesota.

Ferraro knows he’ll have to excel on the PK if he has any chance to make Wings

DETROIT >> Landon Ferraro got an opportunity last season with the Detroit Red Wings.

The young center will get another opportunity to stick in the NHL this year, signing a one-year contract on Friday.

It’s a two-way contract. He’ll make $550,000 if he plays in the NHL and $85,000 if he’s assigned to the American Hockey League.

Since he’s out of minor league options, Ferraro will have to make the club out of camp or he’ll have to clear waivers in order to be assigned to Grand Rapids.

Due to an abundance of injuries Ferraro, 22, was just one of a number of forwards that made their NHL debuts last season with Detroit.

He had no points in four games. He had two shots on goal and two penalty minutes.

Once restricted free agent Tomas Tatar is signed the Wings will have 14 forwards, the number they want to carry into the season, on one-way deals.

They could also add Daniel Alfredsson prior to training camp.

Ferraro, who was taken in the second round (32nd overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, knows his only chance of making the team will how well he can kill penalties.

“(Penalty kill is) where I’m going to have to try and make this team,” Ferraro said after a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. “And be solid five-on-five and then being really good on the PK. That’s where I’m going to have to try and earn my ice time and earn a spot.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock liked what he saw in his brief audition.

“He did a real good job (on the penalty kill),” Babcock said. “I like his speed. He’s got to get stronger, but he’s quick.”

In three seasons with the Griffins, Ferraro, who’s the son of long-time NHLer Ray, has 38 goals and 60 assists.

He scored a career-high 24 goals two years ago.

The Wings still have restricted free agent Danny DeKeyser to get a deal down with prior to training camp.

Anthony Mantha has a job with the Detroit Red Wings, if he can take it

DETROIT >> For Anthony Mantha it comes down to one thing: If he wants to make the Detroit Red Wings’ roster this season, he has to beat someone out.

“He’s going to have to beat someone out,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “I think everybody has potential, some have more than others. If you don’t live up to that potential it really doesn’t matter.”

And it’s not just one of the 12 forwards Detroit dresses on a nightly basis, but one that’s slotted to be in the top six.

“When we open with Boston (on Oct. 9) and the coach says to me he wants Mantha in the lineup he’s in the lineup,” Holland said. “If he’s in the lineup it’s because basically we think he’s going to be a top six forward. I don’t know we’d put him on the fourth line and play him eight minutes.”

With Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as locks on one of the top two lines, the skaters he’ll have to beat out to make the jump from juniors to the NHL are the likes of Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.

“And does he do something special, bring some ingredients that complement the Zetterbergs and Datsyuks that the coach says to me that we need him to win the first game against Boston and I want him in the lineup,” Holland said. “If that’s not the case, he goes to Grand Rapids and we’ll go through the development process and develop him into that guy.”

Mantha, who’ll turn pro this season, has done all that he could in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League totaling 107 goals and 102 assists over the last two regular seasons, while adding 29 goals and 21 assists in the playoffs.

He also received the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL MVP this past season.

“It appears he can score,” Holland said. “You don’t score as much as he has over the last couple of years. Not many can score as he’s scored in his tier group and he’s produced at the world juniors.”

But playing at that level is much different than playing in the NHL.

“Lots of times in those leagues scores are 5-4 or 6-5, while we play a lot 2-1 and 3-2 games,” Holland said. “So if you don’t score what else do you bring to the table? If you don’t score can you kill a penalty, are you good defensively, can you win physical battles, can you protect the puck down low, can you forecheck and force the defense to make mistakes.

“It’s more than just can you score,” Holland continued. “Unless you can score 80 goals, and nobody scores 80 goals let alone 50 goals.”

The Wings appear ready to give Mantha, won’t turn 20 until September, every opportunity to make the team out of camp.

“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” said Holland, who selected Mantha 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. “We have eight exhibition games and I know we want him to play five or six. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.”

Mantha is in Traverse City attending his second development camp that runs through Tuesday.

“They gave us the message to be every-dayers starting last year and that’s what I’m trying to do this year,” Mantha said. “It’s just about being calm, coming out here and doing what I should be doing here. If I’m doing the right things then I’ll get my chance. I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself.”

And he continues exude that level of confidence he did at last year’s training camp.

“I came here last year with that mentality and I’ll go to the main camp with the same mentality because you want to be an NHLer one day in your life, and as soon as that can come I will make every little step that I can do get there,” Mantha said.

Last year, Babcock didn’t take long to burst Mantha’s bubble of making the team out of training camp.

“I don’t want to break the news to him but he ain’t making the team,” Babcock said last training camp. “He’s got to go back to juniors and learn to be an every-dayer. When you compete every day and when you compete on every puck, get strong enough, live it every day and one day you get to play here; in the meantime you get to play juniors or the American League.”