While the NHL tries to put a number on just how much money they are willing to lose while pounding a rounded version of the 2020-21 season through an increasingly square hole, its primary development league is waiting patiently for a turn at Commissioner Gary Bettman’s negotiating table.
And you can probably guess what they need to talk about.
“It’s got to make sense,” began Scott Howson, the AHL’s new president and CEO. “If we’re able to play it’s going to be more about player supply and player development this year than anything else. Without fans in the buildings, it’s certainly not going to be about any meaningful revenue. So yes, we’re going to want to know what the NHL is doing before we finalize what our plan is going to be.”
By “what the NHL is doing,” Howson means any number of things. For one, if the NHL doesn’t play, the AHL will not play either.
But Howson will also have to know how the NHL plans to support the 12 AHL teams (out of 31) that are not owned by an NHL club. What is the NHL is doing about the three Western Canadian teams with farm clubs in the U.S. — Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton in Utica, Stockton and Bakersfield, respectively — and how are they supposed to call players up with a 14-day, cross-border quarantine in place?
And while we’re asking, how can a minor league as ticket-dependent as the AHL weather a season that may pass without a single ticket being sold? Not without a lot of help from the NHL, that’s how.
Continued; remember, the Red Wings do not own the Grand Rapids Griffins, so, for the Griffins to play, the Red Wings are going to have to offer some sort of assistance…
There was only one Red Wings prospect in action today, and he came up on the short end of his game:
In the SHL, Joe Veleno finished at -1 with 1 shot, 2 penalty minutes and a 40% faceoff winning percentage in an increasing 16:46 of ice time as the Malmo Redhawks lost 3-0 to the Vaxjo Lakers. Malmo needs to gain some traction in the SHL standings fast.
What will [the NHL’s 2020-2021 season] look like?It’ll definitely be a shortened season, somewhere between 48 and 60 games, with the playoffs completed before the July Summer Olympics.
For this one season, the divisions will be realigned with a greater emphasis on geography, including an all-Canadian division because of the borders being closed.
Similar to Major League Baseball, the NHL is likely to go to a heavy, maybe exclusive, intra-division schedule, which could ignite some rivalries. And in Canada, that realignment should make fans go bonkers with excitement.
Who will be in the Wings’ division? There’s been so many guesses, so much speculation, but here’s another one.
How about the Wings in some sort of “Central Division” with Buffalo, Carolina, Columbus, Chicago, Nashville, Minnesota and Pittsburgh. Travel would be minimized, and some rivalries would be kept alive or reignited (Detroit-Chicago!).
But make no mistake: It’s going to be impossible to please every team and fan base, and difficult to evenly distribute these teams geographically.
I wrote up a little “What I’m Thankful for” spiel on Facebook, and I’m sharing it with you here because I’m writing this entry on a laptop computer that the readers of The Malik Report subsidized. I’m still blown away by the fact that Moonshot is my workstation now, and today I’m particularly grateful for the small community of readers that forms TMR.
I hope that you are celebrating American Thanksgiving as safely as possible this morning, and I hope that you’re well as possible given the situation.
You know you were born a certain distance from the U.S.-Canadian border when you involuntarily describe Thanksgivings (plural) as “American” or “Canadian”–and inform people that they must clarify whether London is in Ontario or England.— George Malik (@georgemalik) November 26, 2020
The Free Press’s Helene St. James answers a reader’s question as to which of the Red Wings’ free agent signings was most astute this morning, and St. James answers in triplicate–praising the signings of Thomas Greiss (most important), Vladislav Namestnikov (best signing) and Bobby Ryan (most underrated) in a subscriber-only article. I’m going to focus on the Ryan signing:
The most underrated signing was Ryan. For one year, $1 million, the Wings got a 33-year-old former 30-goal scorer motivated to reboot his career after a rough 2019-20 (Ryan missed three months dealing with substance abuse issues, and, after playing in just 24 games, was bought out by the Ottawa Senators). It speaks to Yzerman’s thoroughness that even for a one-year contract, he did a lot of research on Ryan, partly to make sure he’d be a good fit in a mostly young locker room. It speaks volumes about Ryan, who wasn’t exactly kicking away suitors, that he did his own research, reaching out to Dylan Larkin to get a feel for the culture and character in the Wings’ locker room.
Ryan could find a longer-term home with the Wings — or he could appeal at the trade deadline to a contender looking for scoring help, and be flipped for a draft pick. There’s no risk, just potential reward with this signing.
Continued (paywall); I’m not a big believer in stacking a rebuilding team’s roster with veterans–I prefer to “let the kids play”–but I do believe that the additions of a couple of key mentors can stabilize the team’s youthful core, and Ryan appears to be a near-perfect fit in that department, regardless of how long he spends with the organization.
NHL.com’s “31 in 31” series focuses on the Detroit Red Wings today, and NHL.com has posted five articles and a video in which Dan Rosen and Nicholas J. Cotsonika discuss the questions facing the Wings and the possible effects of the team’s offseason additions:
They are taking a patient, methodical approach to their rebuild. General manager Steve Yzerman declines to give a timeline for a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which the Red Wings have missed the past four seasons.
They need to wait for the development of top prospects like forward Lucas Raymond, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and defenseman Moritz Seider, the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
But that does not mean they were content to stand pat after last season, when they went 17-49-5, finished last in the League and had the worst points percentage (.275) since the NHL salary cap was introduced in 2005-06.
“We’ll just kind of continue to do what we’re doing,” Yzerman said. “We’ll look for ways to improve the team. The plan isn’t just to sit and not try to improve and get better from year to year. We’re going to try and get better from year to year. The reality is, you’re limited to what you can do, and you’re limited, or you’re restricted, by the time it takes for each prospect to develop. [Becoming a contender is] just not as simple as just going out and making a bunch of trades and getting really good players and signing a bunch of free agents.”
Whether I’m in Canada or the U.S., I have stayed in contact with the Wings. Dan Cleary calls me, Shawn Horcoff calls me and Ben Simon, the head coach in Grand Rapids, he calls me and we just talk. Our conversations, they’re pretty generic. With Ben Simon, we just talk about what’s new, what’s new with myself, with him, what has he heard between the ongoing season and how we’re going to start the season or anything. With Horcs and Clears, it’s just more like catching up on things and making sure I’m still doing the right program and on step to achieve my goals that I want to achieve.
During this extended break, my training, if anything I’ve been able to do it better. With all this time, I’ve learned to realize that there’s many different styles and different ways to do things, to get things done. Through all this time, I’ve been learning and spending my time wisely and just trying to get better as a person, as a player, and also just learning new skills. I also do watch what I eat. I don’t count my calories, but I watch what I put into my body because whatever I put into my body, that’s how I’m going to feel. As I said earlier, my routine is pretty routine. A typical day for me would be I’d wake up, head to training for about two to three hours and then just come back, relax and hang out with my brothers back at home, study, and then pretty much repeat the whole process.
Filip Larsson returned to Almtuna IS’s lineup on Wednesday, but he didn’t have a great outing, stopping 27 of 31 shots as Almtuna IS lost 4-2 to Kristianstads IK. Gustav Lindstrom also played 15:59, finishing at -1 [edit: and registering an assist].
William Wallinder finished at +1 with 2 shots, playing 10:34 as MODO Hockey won 7-2 over Vasby IK;
Red Wings director of player development Shawn Horcoff appears on the latest episode of “The Red & White Authority” podcast with Art Regner, speaking about the impact of the coronavirus on player development:
Detroit’s Dir. of Player Development, Shawn Horcoff, discusses the impact COVID-19 has had on player development & gives an update on #RedWings prospects playing in Europe.
“Once I get there, it’s going to be all business,” Adams said on Wednesday morning. “I’m definitely an emotional player. I think everyone knows that by now. I’m just going to go out there and try to help the team win. I know everyone’s going to be asking those kinds of questions, about how emotional it’ll be, but when the pads come on, I’m going to be really focused on the game plan and what I’m asked to do.”
Adams, 23, was supposed to be the Dutchmen’s top goal scorer this season. But Union canceled the 2020-21 season last week because of COVID-19 concerns, and he chose to transfer after having missed all of last season while recovering from a knee injury.
Adams had the option to defer two trimesters and return to play for Union next season, but that would’ve put him out of hockey for two years at a time when he’s still developing his game and has pro hockey aspirations, as a sixth-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2017.
He said that once he put his name in the NCAA transfer portal, two dozen schools contacted him. Most of the Division I is playing college hockey this season, except for ECAC Hockey, which saw Union, RPI and its six Ivy League schools cancel.
“It was absurd,” Adams said, of the wide range of schools that contacted him. “It was hard on my family and my advisor and myself, but in my heart, I always wanted to be a Friar. I’m going to a really good hockey team, a team with a chance that’s going to contend for a pretty good opportunity. I’ve got a lot to pick up, and I’ve got to earn my spot and gain the trust of my teammates and coaches.”