Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. MLive’s Ansar Khan filed a mailbag feature this morning, and Khan suggests that the Red Wings will probably import a top-four defenseman after spending their first three draft picks on forwards at this past weekend’s draft:
Q. By taking two forwards in the first round, does this pave the way to trade a winger like Athanasiou or Svechnikov for a defenseman? – Margaret
A. I think so. Athanasiou remains the most likely candidate and might just be a matter of when. I think they’ll give him one more season (or most of it) to show he can be more engaged on a consistent basis before looking to move him. It would be risky, since it’s not easy to find someone with his combination of blazing speed and finishing ability.
Some might suggest moving Svechnikov to Carolina where he can play with his brother, Andrei, selected second overall on Friday, but I highly doubt the organization is ready to give up on him after a bad second season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk is rumored to be on the trading block. He’s 26, has two years remaining on his contract at a $4.8 million cap hit and shoots right. The Hurricanes, however, have only five defensemen on their roster and four of them shoot right. It’s a weak free-agent class on defense, so if Carolina moves Faulk they might want a left-shooting defenseman in return.
In any event, I think Zadina will make the team in the fall. Since they were able to land Zadina, I don’t think they’ll purse Thomas Vanek in free agency, which they planned to do if they had selected a defenseman at No. 6 (Evan Bouchard would have been their choice if Zadina had been off the board).
2. In the charitable news vein, WHMI 93.5 FM reports that the Jimmy Howard Foundation’s home run derby in Brighton this past weekend went well:
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard held his first Howie’s Home Run Derby at the Legacy Center Friday. The event benefits the Jimmy Howard Foundation, which supports research of treatment and cures for disease including, but not limited to, cancer and arthritis.
Those participating in the derby tried to hit as many home runs as possible, as the winner of each of the four age groups received two game tickets and a meet and greet with Howard. The winner of the 8-11 year old age group was 10-year-old Neko Hall of Howell with four home runs. Speaking to his winnings he says, “I’m very excited that my hard work paid off. I can now go see professional hockey players at the new arena.”
Red Wings players Luke Glendening, Dylan Larkin, Danny Dekeyser, Luke Witkowski and Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks supported Howard by joining him at the derby. The players warmed up by hitting some baseballs themselves, then tried their hand at catching while participants took their swings.
The idea to hold a home run derby benefit was dreamed up over a year ago, as Howard says he and his wife wanted to give back to the city that’s given so much to them. His foundation will work with children’s hospitals throughout the Detroit area and the Arthritis Foundation. Howard says the Arthritis Foundation has a special place in his heart, as his 20-year-old cousin with arthritis took his own life due to the pain he experienced. Howard feels no child or parent should have to suffer through those conditions and wants to help in any way he and his family can.
3. DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji also happens to have reviewed Howard’s 2017-18 season “numbers” this morning:
60 — Howard made 60 appearances in the 2017-18 season, the most since appearing in 63 games in both 2009-10 and 2010-11, his first two seasons in the league.
200 — When the Wings played their first regular season game at Little Caesars Arena on Oct. 5, a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild, it marked Howard’s 200th career victory. He made 37 saves and earned second start of the game honors.
450 — On March 4 at Minnesota, Howard played in his 450th career NHL game, a 4-1 loss. He had 23 saves.
4. And in alumni news, TSN reports that the Philadelphia Flyers are allowing Petr Mrazek to test the unrestricted free agent marketplace, via a Tweet from TSN’s Ken Campbell:
I’ve been told the Philadelphia Flyers will definitely not be offering goalie Petr Mrazek a qualifying offer tomorrow, which will make the 26-year-old an unrestricted free agent. Should be significant interest at a lower price than the $4 million cap hit he currently has.
— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) June 24, 2018
Here’s TSN’s take on the news:
Mrazek split last season between the Flyers and Detroit Red Wings after a trade deadline day deal sent him to Philadelphia for conditional third and fourth round draft picks.
Mrazek struggled with the Flyers, posting a .891 save percentage and 3.22 goals against average in 15 starts. Mrazek’s numbers for the full season were better, finishing with a .902 save percentage and 3.03 goals against average.
The 26-year-old has played in parts of six seasons in the NHL, compiling a .911 save percentage and 2.66 goals against average.