Evening news: On Todd Nelson’s future, the Joe, Larkin at the Worlds and prospect (flippin’) progress

Of Grand Rapids Griffins and Detroit Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. WOOD TV 8, Fox 17 and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan took note of Griffins coach Todd Nelson’s uncertain future, with WOOD TV filing a video report

Fox 17 filing a video report

And Kulfan filing a column regarding Nelson’s post-game comments on Monday night:

“I’m not thinking too far ahead right now,” Nelson told reporters on griffinshockey.com after Monday’s 5-1 Game 5 first-round series loss to Manitoba. “I have to process what just happened. We have exit interviews with players, I’m sure I’ll get feedback from management to see where myself and the coaching staff is at. Once that’s done, we’ll see what happens.”

But Nelson, who was an interim coach in Edmonton in 2014-15 and drew positive reviews, would like another opportunity to coach in the NHL.

“Obviously that’s a goal of mine,” said Nelson, who has a year left on his contract with the Wings’ organization. “But if it doesn’t happen, this is a great place of work. The Grand Rapids organization is fantastic to work with, fantastic people. The Wings are fantastic to work with. I’m just going to process this.”

2. As already noted, Olympia Entertainment is selling off seats from Joe Louis Arena, first to Red Wings season-ticket holders, and then to the general public starting on May 12th. The Detroit News and WDIV posted stories regarding the sale, and the Detroit News’s David Guralnick posted both a photo gallery and video of the state of the Joe, which ain’t great:

3. According to Team USA’s website, Dylan Larkin scored a goal in Team USA’s 3-2 win over Denmark in exhibition play at the World Championship, and Team USA’s website posted a highlight clip from the game:

4. In the prospect department, part 1: I happen to believe that what Givani Smith did to earn a suspension for Game 7 of the Kitchener Rangers-Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds series was stupid, but the Hockey News’s Ryan Kennedy does a good job of summarizing what character assumptions one should make when a 20-year-old flips off the opposition bench:

Lessons have definitely been learned along the way. Kitchener Rangers power forward Givani Smith found that out the hard way. The Detroit Red Wings pick flipped off the Sault Ste. Marie bench after a thrilling OT win in Game 6 and that act got him suspended two games, including the pivotal Game 7 that the Soo ended up winning in double OT. Was it a crass move by Smith? Sure. Did he feel horrible, not being able to help his team in a crucial game? I’m sure he did. And while a lot of folks were upset with Smith, let’s not forget that he just turned 20; he’s still a very young man. No doubt he will move on, as should we.

Stupid? You bet. Does a suspension in a deciding game of a playoff series send home the message that one needs to grow up? Uh uh.

5. And I’m going to get a little creative here and combine some narratives.

The Free Press’s Helene St. James took note of the fact that the Griffins, Smith and Michael Rasmussen’s respective playoff runs ended on Monday night, and St. James had this to say about Rasmussen:

What happened: The Tri-City Americans lost 6-5 in overtime in Game 7 of a third-round series against Everett in the WHL. It wasn’t for lack of production from Rasmussen. The team captain had 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 14 playoff games games. Among WHL league leaders, he ranked first with seven power play goals, second in points, third in goals and fourth in assists.

What’s next: Time in the gym to add more strength to his 6-foot-6, 221 pound body. Development camp with other Wings prospects in June. From people I talk to in the Wings organization, Rasmussen is penciled onto next season’s squad. He can’t play in Grand Rapids because he has a year left of junior eligibility, so it’s Detroit or Tri-City. But Rasmussen impressed with his mature play last September, and now he’ll come to camp with the confidence of having dominated at the junior level.

I’m sure that some Wings fans are discounting Rasmussen’s playoff production with the same words of caution that followed Anthony Mantha’s playoff run, and that’s fair: while the WHL isn’t as high-scoring a league as the QMJHL is, Rasmussen’s team lost because they were letting in as many goals as they surrendered, and Rasmussen’s +/- of 8 on a 33-points-in-14-games effort could easily seen as a caution flag [see also: power play production, which was the reason some draft experts thought Rasmussen was a dud a year ago at this time].

The point of the matter (to me) is that Rasmussen recovered from wrist surgery to play really damn well, and he played really damn well in front of the Red Wings’ brass as everyone from Cleary and Horcoff to Holland and Blashill took trips out to Kennewick, Washington to watch Rasmussen skate in games.

6. The same is true of the progress made by Filip Hronek, whose conditioning makes him a little less NHL-ready (as does the Wings’ relative depth on defense, at least in terms of contracts at the position).

As Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff noted, Hronek had a superb rookie professional season, and Griffins coach Todd Nelson spoke wisely regarding Hronek’s ability to make an impact in the AHL and/or NHL next season:

Hronek, 20, picked 53rd by Detroit in the 2016 NHL entry draft, led all Grand Rapids defensemen with 11-28-39 totals. The six foot, 178-pound Hronek also posted a team-best plus-24 rating. No other Grand Rapids player was better than plus-12.

“He exceeded my expectations,” Grand Rapids coach Todd Nelson told Detroitredwings.com. “I knew he was going to be good, but I didn’t think he’d develop as quick as he has.”

Only seven AHL defensemen scored more goals than Hronek and just eight accumulated more points.

“It was a tremendous first season for him,” Nelson said. “He really put himself on the map with the organization. (Detroit coach) Jeff Blashill’s been here, (GM) Ken (Holland), (assistant GM) Ryan (Martin), they’ve been watching a lot of our games and he’s putting himself in a good opportunity to play some National Hockey League games next year. It’ll be up to him at training camp to see where he’s at.”

As Duff noted, Hronek will be able to earn more confidence as he plays for the Czechs at the World Championship, and from there, it’s up to Rasmussen, Hronek and the rest of the Wings’ top prospects to train with a purpose this summer, play well at next fall’s prospect tournament, and then have a good showing in training camp.

You and I both know by this time that the Red Wings don’t hand young players opportunities unless the players have earned them, and training camp and the exhibition season have a way of sorting out who’s ready and who’s not.

If you’re panicking or yelling about a player’s potential as you deem it to be defined forever and ever as of early May? Take a chill pill, my friend, and remember that there has been time with which the Red Wings have evaluated these players, and there will be more time with which to make as-they-play evaluations going forward.

Published by

George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

25 thoughts on “Evening news: On Todd Nelson’s future, the Joe, Larkin at the Worlds and prospect (flippin’) progress”

  1. “From people I talk to in the Wings organization, Rasmussen is penciled onto next season’s squad.”

    Yesssss yessssss yessssss….

  2. George, isn’t being ultra patient with every prospect, hoping they will figure it out just as dangerous as declaring someone a bust? Because we watched this organization sit on its hands thinking Smith, Kindl, Sproul, Ouellet was our future top 4. Jurco was the next Hossa. Pulkinnen the next sniper. On and on. Sometimes you have to come to a conclusion faster and flip these guys for assets before their value is zero. You exploit the fact that other GMs don’t pay as close attention.

    So for example, I think Svech is a bust. Other GMs may still believe he can be a top 6 scorer. So take a chance and flip him for a 2nd right now. Maybe he becomes a top 6 scorer and you look stupid. But maybe he ends up in the KHL one day and you get nothing. It’s so conservative to sit on every single prospect, you know, in case this guy is just a late bloomer. Yawn. You have to be bold sometimes, including making faster decisions with your own assets.

    1. “Maybe he becomes a top 6 scorer and you look stupid.” and then fatty complains about you for it every day until he dies. wait that happens no matter what he does

      1. Something tells me the complaining won’t necessarily be tied to Svech’s career.

    2. “….hoping they will figure it out just as dangerous as declaring someone a bust?”

      Busts are always obvious and never need to be “declared” a bust. When players are not a bust, they get a chance. That’s not hard to figure out…..unless you’ve never been in charge of other people before.

      “Jurco was the next Hossa.”
      Was never exactly said.

      “Pulkinnen the next sniper.”
      Was never exactly said.

      “You exploit the fact that other GMs don’t pay as close attention.”
      But when your favorite team has the worst GM in the NHL every other GM knows more about your prospects, how does the worst GM begin to think he’s going to get even a 7th round pick for an obvious bust?

      “…I think Svech is a bust. Other GMs may still believe he can be a top 6 scorer.”
      If it’s obvious to you that Svech is a bust then is should be super obvious to other GM. My proof: you are not an NHL GM.

      “Yawn. You have to be bold sometimes….”
      Do you mean like making trades at the Trade Deadline that help your injured team get into the playoffs by dealing prospects that don’t fit into your system or are a bust? Kenny has never done…..oh…..he did…..

      1. This is what the Wings said about Jurco moments after drafting him. From our director of scouting:

        In regards to Jurco, Nill has been quoted in saying “He’s as skilled as anybody in the draft, He can score, he’s got good size. He’s just a good player.” Nill even elaborated by saying that “You don’t like to make comparisons, but he has Hossa-type skills.”

        So yeah, Hossa comparisons were made from day 1.

          1. Oh OK. So they proclaimed he had as much skill as anyone in the draft, and specifically compared his skills to Hossa…but what they really meant was he would be the next Kopecky.

            Moving on.

          2. “Hossa-type skills” like meaning he was the same type of player? definitely not saying hes on hossa’s level. frk has hard shot like ovechkin does not mean frk is the same as ovechkin. lol. anything to hate on everything drw.

          3. More skill than anyone in the draft, with Hossa-like skills…

            But we’re not saying he’s going to be anything like Hossa. More skills than anyone else in the draft, but his ceiling is way, way lower than Hossa.

            I guess that’s what they meant.

            Or it’s possible that our scouts really goofed on this pick. But that’s taboo around here…

          4. “…So they proclaimed he had as much skill as anyone in the draft…”

            Changing your stance now….nice evasion.

            “Moving on.”

            Don’t like the challenge so you take your ball and go home. Just like a bully.

          5. fatsavage says:
            May 2, 2018 at 1:28 PM

            I thought you were “Moving on”?

            “I guess that’s what they meant.”

            Two things here. You are guessing and you attributing your point of view as facts said by other people.

            “Or it’s possible that our scouts really goofed on this pick.”
            It is possible mistakes were made, but Jurco was thought to be a steal taken in the 2nd Round. Scouts were unsure if his YouTube videos were a real assessment of his skill set or just cool tricks like kids dribbling basketballs but being not very good at playing basketball.

            “But that’s taboo around here…”
            Awe….Victimizing yourself again….how manipulative.

          1. And Jurco did. His problem was mismanagement in my opinion just as Sheahan was mismanagement. Jurco was good and a top 9 player until all his offence and creativity was sucked out of him for a grinder role.

  3. It sounded from the video that if you buy any seats that you HAVE to be able to go pick them up. If that’s true, that’s a shame because I’d like a couple but I live in Tennessee.

  4. What 5-10 year old mistake did Kenny make that has caught the ire of the blog today?

    Yesterday it was Givani Smith. Today it’s…let me guess….jakub chick-run?

  5. Jurco is sort of still in the NHL with the Hawks, 25 yrs old, who knows (limited ice time and games).

    The odd one is Tatar who is a healthy (expensive) scratch, replaced by Perron (yikes).

    Sure didn’t take long to get in Gallants bad side. Will VGK be able to trade him for anywhere near what they paid??

    1. I think Vegas had two objectives:

      1) Tatar can slide onto a 3rd line and help right now. But he didn’t click very well and Gallant seems to prefer the chemistry of previous line combos at this late juncture of the season.

      2) Tatar can slide into a top 6 role if we lose UFAs like Neal or Perron this summer. So he provides some flexibility moving forward.

      While the price they paid is steep, they get a guy under cost control from age 27-30. Assuming Tatar eventually finds chemistry and becomes a standard 20-goal, 40-45 point guy, well guess what Vegas can do with him in his final year? Sell him as a rental and probably recover a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him. So you pay a late 1st, 2nd, and 3rd…to gamble that he thrives right away (fail), but also helps cushion the blow from potentially losing a couple of key UFAs…and then you have the optionality to sell a 30-year old Tatar as a rental and likely get back something like a 2nd for him. So the net price is likely a late 1st, and 3rd. So you have to put that price into context compared to a pure UFA rental. Like compare that price to kissing away a 2nd rounder for a month of Michael Grabner? Or a boatload to acquire Rick Nash who may walk as a rental. Obviously if Tatar was a rental, nobody would ever pay that price, but you get 3.5 seasons and the option to flip him later. Huge difference in dynamics.

      1. F Savage
        Thanks for the evaluation of the future of Tatar with VGK.

        VGK may have over valued Tatar’s worth?? The other 2 objectives are viable, who knows? I may be wrong but I thought Tatar played one playoff game. I really don’t think Perron brings much to the roster but he may hurt the team less?

        You mentioned Rick Nash. He looks like a pretty average player at best. As you mentioned he may be rental for the Bruins.

        I am no GM but teams spend a lot to protect against roster shortages. Nash may be different from Tatar but Nash looks a lot worse on the ice, JMO

        1. David Perron has looked fantastic with Vegas this year. Led the team with 50 assists. Had 66 points overall. And most importantly has developed excellent chemistry, mostly with Haula and Neal. There is no way I’m scratching him for Tatar right now.

          But if Perron walks as a UFA then Tatar is a natural replacement on that 2nd line. Until then, he slots into a bottom 6 role. He’s played 3 of the 7 playoff games and is apparently getting the nod for the next game. So it’s not like he’s been totally shunned. Gallant just values chemistry right now. Also must be mindblowing for Wings fans that a coach has the guts to scratch a high-priced veteran, making the GM look foolish. Because you can bet what would happen with Kenny and Blash running the show…

          1. Ah!! Yes scratching a high priced vet is not a Holland/Blashill thing.

            I must admit I have watched all of VGK games and honestly they all seemed to play the same system for a majority of the time which is a good sign. Even there PP has a unique look at times. Figures I would jump on Tatar and he gets into the lineup.

            Fun team to watch and Gallant is obviously a very good coach and MAFleury is playing lights out.

            VGK must see something in Perron that a few teams have not but that can be said about other VGK players, Impressed with W Karlsson .
            Thx for the update

    2. “Jurco is sort of still in the NHL with the Hawks, 25 yrs old, who knows…”
      I agree. Jurco still have a little time to turn his game around and be a decent contributor. Still, I reckon KH will forever get the blame for this 2nd rounder not turning into the next “Hossa”.

      A lot of what I have heard about Tatar in Vegas is Vegas plays a very fast transition game and Tatar is still playing Detroit’s slow positional game. It seems Tatar is holding the puck too much or sets up in a spot and waits. This isn’t Vegas’ style but Tatar does have the skill to play their way.

      “Sure didn’t take long to get in Gallants bad side.”
      I haven’t heard this at all. How do you know Tatar is in the Doghouse?

  6. I agree with “make as-they-play evaluations” BUT
    I don’t see where they are going to play on a roster that has players that can not be moved or KH likes?

    Is there room in the bottom 6 (Ras who may have potential to play in the top 6) or Hronek for example near the Top 4 DMen .

    Of course Blashill will do something that will go against the young prospects. Oh well will see in October (and every year for a number of years)

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