Lilja Expects to Sign With SJ, Agent Won’t Confirm

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Andreas Lilja  of the San Jose Sharks is chased by Corey Perry  of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center on September 22, 2010 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It appears that Andreas Lilja believes he has found an NHL home, although confirmation from San Jose and Lilja’s agent is still pending. Expressen (H/T to @georgemalik) is reporting that Lilja has told them he will be signing a contract to play in San Jose this season:

“‘Yes, I had a meeting with club director after the game and he said they want to keep me, so I asked him to talk to my agent during the Thursday morning, ‘ said Lilja to HockeyExpressen.se.”

Today’s news comes on the heels of a two point (1 G, 1 A) evening for Lilja against the Vancouver Canucks.

Lilja’s agent, Todd Diamond, would not confirm that a contract was done, however:

“No news to report at this time. He will make he trip to Europe with the Sharks.”

The Sharks are heading over to Germany for a preseason tilt against Adler Mannheim, before kicking off the regular season against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Stockholm, Sweden on October 8th.

Tatar Among Five Headed Back to Grand Rapids

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 29: Tomas Tatar  of the Detroit Red Wings skates in warmups prior to his game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on September 29, 2010 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Red Wings 5-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Another day, another set of Red Wings prospects headed back down to Grand Rapids. Tomas Tatar, Brent Raedeke, Jordan Pearce, Jamie Johnson and Francis Pare all received word today that they are headed back to the AHL club to start the season, and all are expected to be in the lineup in a couple of hours when the Griffins host a closed scrimmage against the Lake Erie Monsters at Joe Louis Arena.

With five more on the move, the Wings roster now stands at 35 players by my count:

G (3)
Howard, Osgood, MacDonald

D (11)
Lidstrom, Kronwall, Rafalski, Stuart, Ericsson, Salei, Kindl, Meech, Smith, Lashoff, Janik

F (21)
Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Eaves, Miller, Hudler, Draper, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Modano, Franzen, Holmstrom, Ritola, Owens, Maltby, Mursak, Minard, Emmerton, Andersson

Still no clarity on the Minard injury situation, so for the time being he’ll hang out on the “roster.”

As for the Wings tilt tomorrow against Toronto, the lineups have been released and here’s how it all shakes out:

Forwards
Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Franzen-V. Filppula-Bertuzzi
Hudler-Modano-Cleary
Maltby/Ritola-Emmerton-Mursak

Defensemen
Lidstrom-Kindl
Stuart-Rafalski
Lashoff-Kronwall

Goalies
MacDonald
McCollum

Apparently, Babbles was going to start Chris Osgood in tomorrow’s tilt, but will instead platoon the Grand Rapids tandem. Let’s hope it goes better than the stink-fest against NY yesterday.

Downey released, Filppula the Lesser demoted

Per a James Mirtle (@mirtle) tweet, the Red Wings have re-assigned several players, including Aaron Downey — who has been released from his tryout — and Ilari Filppula — who we all knew didn’t really have much of a shot at the big club:

Red Wings release Aaron Downey from his pro tryout and assign Ilari Filppula (among others) to the minors.

The Free Press continues the story — saying that ten have been trimmed:

Willie Coetzee, F
Ilari Filppula, F
Jamie Tardif, F
Travis Ehrhardt, D
Sergei Kolosov, D
Sebastien Piche, D
Logan Pyett, D
Thomas McCollum, G

In addition, Greg Amadio — who is on a Griffins-only contract — was sent West. Earlier in the day, Jamie Johnson was put on waivers.

By my count, there are 39 players remaining in Red Wings camp (excluding Johnson, who has yet to clear waivers).

G (4)
Howard, Osgood, MacDonald, Pearce

D (11)
Lidstrom, Kronwall, Rafalski, Stuart, Ericsson, Salei, Kindl, Meech, Smith, Lashoff, Janik

F (24)
Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk, Eaves, Miller, Hudler, Draper, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Modano, Franzen, Holmstrom, Ritola, Owens, Maltby, Tatar, Mursak, Minard, Raedeke, Emmerton, Pare, Andersson

Of Note…

Willie Coetzee going to Grand Rapids instead of back to Juniors says a little bit about where the organization thinks his development is…

Jordan Owens getting a much longer look than anyone would have assumed he would…

Brian Lashoff, despite his atrocious pre-season performance last week, looks to have leap-frogged Kolosov and Pyett on the depth chart…

Jordan Pearce still in camp, but McCollum isn’t. Just sayin’…

I’m pretty sure Chris Minard is injured — which means he CAN’T be demoted until he’s healthy. Otherwise, I doubt he’s on this top 40 list.

Help Others. Enjoy Cheap Hockey.

With hockey just around the corner, it’s time for us as hockey fans to step up to the plate and start dong everything we can to win the favor of the hockey gods. For those of you in the Grand Rapids area, the Griffins (Hi Kyle!) are doing their part by giving you the opportunity to step up to the plate and earn some major positive juju points (and help out those in need, of course.) Here’s the particulars, direct from Randy Cleves, Senior Director of PR for the Griffins:

GRIFFINS AND FOX MOTORS TEAM UP FOR COAT DRIVE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins and Fox Motors are collecting new and gently used coats and blankets, along with new hats, gloves and scarves, from now until Oct. 15 for Guiding Light Mission.

For every new coat donated during this time, donors will receive a voucher to purchase up to four Griffins tickets at $10 apiece for the Friday, Oct. 22 game versus Milwaukee. Donations will be accepted during business hours at the Griffins’ office at Van Andel Arena and all 18 Fox Motors dealership locations, including Delta Imports, Fox Acura, Fox Ford Mazda, Fox Honda, Fox Hyundai Kia, Fox Nissan, Fox Pontiac Buick GMC, Fox Saab and Fox Yamaha in the Grand Rapids area.

“We are excited for our first community event utilizing all of our affiliate locations.” stated Dan DeVos, DP Fox Ventures president and CEO. “We believe that the community will come together and help keep Michigan warm this winter.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the community to share their blessings with others. What better way than to make sure everyone stays warm this winter,” said Stuart Ray, Guiding Light Mission’s executive director.

For more details about the coat drive, please click here.

Contact:
Randy Cleves, Senior Director of Public Relations (616-774-4585 x3046)
Randy Rice, Public Relations Manager (616-774-4585 x3026)

Winter is just around the corner and staying warm is something that everyone can relate to. So get over there, drop off a coat and cheer on the Wings young guns on the cheap for your troubles. Heck, you could even drop off your OWN coat since it’ll only take a few brews at the game before the liquid long-johns kick in, right?

One More Nod to Summer Girls, for the Lyte Funky Ones

Hilfiger. Nice touch.

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
The Red Wings play their second game of the pre-season, taking on the defending (redacted) Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. The puck drops at the new Joe Louis (LOUIS!) start time: 7pm.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. Coming off a straight-up ass-whomping at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Wings should want to get back on the right foot.
2. Unlike Wednesday, tonight’s game is televised. You can check it out on NHL Network.
3. New Blackhawk netminder (haw haw) Marty Turco will not be playing in tonight’s game. But unlike Red Wings goalies, who spend their off-nights charting faceoffs, Turco will be in the Joe’s rafters looking for his jock strap. BOOYAH.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The last game between the two Norris Division rivals was the final game of the 09-10 regular season. The Wings were 3-2 overtime winners.

OH, HI AGAIN
Slovak lovers Tomas Kopecky and Marian Hossa are members of the Hawks, each finding different ways to shaft that salary cap situation.

MEMBA ME?!
As we all know, Dan “Loins” Cleary was a first round pick of Chicago back in the day.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Dustin Byfuglien. What’s that? Oh right… Akim Aliu. Oops, nevermind… Kris Verste–DAMMIT…

THEIR LAST GAMES
One team won their last game — the other lost theirs. Speaking of which, it’s an old sports saying that “the goal is to win your final game,” but that’s not entirely true. I’m sure ONE of the fourteen teams that didn’t make the playoffs won their last game, right?

EXPECTED LINEUP
Datsyuk — Zetterberg — Holmstrom
Ritola — Modano — Cleary
Maltby — Helm — Eaves
Owens — Emmerton — Mursak

Lidstrom — Kronwall
Ericsson — Salei
Janik — Smith

Howard (two periods)
MacDonald

In memoriam… rest in peace, Rich Cronin.
BIG LEAGUE SCRATCHES
Jakub “New Kids On The Block Had a Bunch of Hits” Kindl
Chris “Chinese Food Makes Me Sick” Osgood
Valtteri “It’s Fly When Girls Stop By For the Summer” Filppula
Justin “I Like Girls That Wear Abercrombie and Fitch” Abdelkader
Brian “Hip Hop Marmalade Spic and Span” Rafalski
Brad “I Like Kevin Bacon But I Hate Footloose” Stuart
Derek “Wrote a Bunch of Sonnets” Meech
Drew “Love Fun Dip and Cherry Coke” Miller
Todd “I’ll Steal Your Honey Like I Stole Your Bike” Bertuzzi

INJURIES
Kris “The Great Larry Bird Jersey 33” Draper (groin)
Johan “Shake and Wiggle” Franzen (charley mule)

Honorable Mention
Jason “Willy Whistle Cuz I Can’t Speak” Williams
Michael “J. Fox was Alex P.” Babcock
Aaron “Krown to Act Wild and Make a Girl Smile” Downey

QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Brendan Smith makes his Red Wings debut, and has been much hyped leading up to his first pro season. Can’t be worse than Derek Meech and Brian Lashoff, amiright?!
2. Chris Osgood didn’t have a strong performance in his pre-season debut against a stacked Penguins squad, and behind a weak defense. Let’s hope for a better effort on all parts in front of Jimmy Howard
3. Johan Franzen took a knee to the thigh, but has been walking and doesn’t seem like he’ll miss any time. Thank the Mule Gods.

Alright, Let’s Do This… LEEEEEEEEEEEEEROYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

***UPDATE***
Jiri Hudler will not play tonight, he’s day-to-day with a bruised foot after blocking a shot on Tuesday. He will be replaced in the lineup by Ilari Filppula.

Well, Red Wings fans. The time has come. It’s been a long, cold (read: hot) summer and it’s just about time to rev up the TPL Machine (I call it the General Jailsexlee) and do the damn thing. Your boys in red and white take to the ice tonight for a pre-season tilt, the first game ever played at the Penguins new rink. I was going to look up the name of it, but frankly — I don’t give a shit.

Is it too early to hate the Pittsburgh Penguins? The answer, of course, is “no, who the hell are you?” I can’t promise that the pre-games will maintain this format for the 2010-11 season, but for nostalgia’s sake (ya know… of a few months ago), I present you with the very first TPL Pre-Game in its new home.

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
The Red Wings get up, dust themselves off, and start their 2010-11 campaign, meeting the Penguins in their Temple of Doom.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
1. There isn’t one, really. It’s a primer for the real games — which start soon enough. The Wings are dressing a lineup full of probables and a find maybes, and the Pens are doing the same.
2. Pre-season or not, let’s get a win here. Last season started a little lax and it’s time to show the world they can take their “too old” talk and shove it right up their bootay.
3. Chris Osgood is starting and playing two periods tonight. He has looked solid in camp, from what they tell me (they being you) and that’s good because he sucked donkey nard last season. If I’m being a smart-ass (I am), I’d ask how many seconds will go by before he allows one, since — ya know — he had a habit of letting pucks by him ON THE REGULAR in the opening minutes of games.

NOW WHERE WERE WE?
The last time these two clubs met was March 22nd. You may remember it fondly as a 3-1 victory. But we don’t kid ourselves around here. We remember it because Jimmy Howard beat the crap out of Sidney Crosby and permanently tattooed his chubby ass cheeks on our hearts.

OH, HI AGAIN.
No former Wings playing in tonight’s tilt.

MEMBA ME?!
As is tradition, the Red Wings stole some Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the off-season. Neither are playing tonight, but Chris Minard and Jamie Johnson are now Griffins. So take that, lovely part of the country where I was married in August!

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Marc Letestu

THEIR LAST GAMES
They both lost in the playoffs — and for the first time since 2007, it wasn’t to one another.
PENGUINS YOU SHOULD KNOW
They’re playing with nearly a complete lineup, so get ready for some Thid, Malkin, Orpik, Fleury. You know… guys you don’t really care for. What, no Jagr?

EXPECTED LINEUP
(Big time hat tip to @mserven for getting the lineups to me in a crunch)
Franzen — Flip — Shetuzzi
I. Filppula Scuttles — Modano — Cleary
Ritola — Helm — Eaves
Miller — Abdelkader — Downey

Stuart — Kindl
Ericsson — Salei
Meech — Lashoff
Osgood
McCollum

INJURIES
Kris “We Gon’ FIND You” Draper

BIG LEAGUE SCRATCHES
Jimmy “We Got Yo’ T-Shirt!” Howard
Nicklas “You Done Left Fingerprints” Lidstrom
Brian “Snatchin’ Yo People Up” Rafalski
Tomas “You Don’t Have to Come and Confess” Holmstrom
Niklas “We Lookin’ For You” Kronwall
Henrik “Ferreal…” Zetterberg

Pavel “Run and Tell” DATsyuk

Honorable Mention
Todd “Hide Yo’ Kids, Hide Yo’ Wife” Bertuzzi

QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Start it off right.

WHAT WE LEARNED THIS OFF-SEASON
It’s long when you’re not winning the Cup. Let’s not do that again.

PENGUIN WE COVET (JJ Special)

Red Beats White 5-3, Questions Linger Before Preseason

TRAVERSE CITY, MI - SEPTEMBER 11: Brendan Smith  of the Detroit Red Wings turns up ice with the puck during NHL Prospects Tournament on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

The Red Wings put the final touches on training camp today, holding their annual Red/White scrimmage up in Traverse City. With a packed house and full radio/streaming video broadcast, the Wings battled amongst themselves to decide who gets bragging rights in the locker room and who gets to pick up the first road trip dinner bill. The game was split into two 25 minute periods, and yours truly took in the action thanks to the great live feed from FOX Detroit. Here’s a few (HA!) thoughts from the scrimmage to tide you over until the Wings do battle with the Penguins tomorrow night in Pittsburgh.

First Period Thoughts

  • Brendan Smith was all over the place and was definitely out there trying to earn himself some games with the big club at some point this season. He scored the opening goal on Jimmah, and had two more excellent scoring chances, including one where he pinched in on a two-on-one and forced Howard to make an tough save. He blazed all over the ice and showed some physicality as well. The best part? He was defensively responsible for the most part. Very impressive and easily the most impressive player in the first period.
  • Cory Emmerton also looked strong, generating a pair of scoring chances that he wasn’t able to convert on. From the sounds of things, Emmerton has really stepped up his play during this training camp and could finally be ready to emerge as a legitimate AHL scoring threat.
  • Not a bad period from Jimmah, but not a great one either. Looked like he was having some trouble dealing with the screens out front, which was a problem we heard about throughout most of camp. Smith’s goal was through some legs, which causes a little discomfort in terms of Jimmah’s ability to play through the screens, but I’m sure Bedard and Co. will be quick to correct during film review. In terms of lateral movement, Howard looked solid, keeping movements to a relative minimum and corralling most of the rebounds he gave up.
  • If I had to pick the better looking goaltender in the first period, it would have to be Chris Osgood, who looked sharp for most of the opening 25 minutes, despite giving up a soft goal to Jan Mursak. Granted, the puck was a fluky redirection over the shoulder of Ozzie, but it’s still one of those goals that probably gets added to the “wish he could have it back” list.
  • If he can stay healthy, Ruslan Salei looks like he has the potential to be one of the most underrated signings of the Wings offseason. He’s exactly what Jonathan Ericsson needs in terms of a defensive partner: responsible, cool, calm, collected and physical. Very solid first period for Salei. Ericsson’s performance, however, was best summed up by this Ken Kal comment during the broadcast: “Ericsson looked like he tripped over the blue line there.” Confidence: We haz it.
  • Nick Lidstrom looked like his usual composed self in the opening frame, although he did get traffic-coned on a good rush bb Valtteri Filppula. I know there was concern about his positioning in one-on-one situations late last season and his effort against Filppula wasn’t very inspiring. That said, it is ONLY camp so let’s hope that gets worked out during the exhibition season and the first few weeks of regular season play. Otherwise, always good to see TPH playing his smooth, confident game in the Winged Wheel.
  • Lots of Dan Cleary mentions in the first period as he seemed to be healthy and all over the ice with a ton of energy. Not alot of mentions for linemates Mike Modano and Jiri Hudler however.

Second Period Thoughts

  • I thought about covering off on all of the positives of the second period before getting to the ugly, but let’s just swallow the pill and get this over with. The story of the second period has to be the absolutely ATROCIOUS play of Ericsson. I can’t think of any instances where he did a single thing right in the period. He and Stuart stood around pretty lackadaisically and watched Jordan Owens out-hustle them en route to an unassisted goal to kick things off, only to serve up and incredibly futile encore of turnovers and poor decisions. Ericsson capped off his gawd-awful second period by attempting a Bertuzzi-esque spinning pass directly in front of his own goaltender, which was easily stolen by Darren Helm for the game-icing goal one second later. All Rig could do was throw up his hands in his trademarked “exasperated” reaction and stare at the ceiling.  Rig also struggled with his decision making around the blue line, especially when he got some time on the power play with Stuart and essentially forced his own teammate to cough up the puck because he chose to play the puck along the blue line (in the face of strong pressure) instead of alleviating and dumping down low. On a scale of 1 to 10, this period was a -589 for Ericsson. (I’m not done with Ericsson just yet…but let’s take a break.)
  • Cleary’s first-period effort continued on into the second frame, where he scored a very nice goal against Thomas McCollum after putting a sweet move on Lidstrom (gulp). If you really think about it, having a healthy Dan Cleary is essentially like adding another free agent to a team that sorely missed his 100% presence last year.
  • Good to see Jakub Kindl get himself on the scoresheet, especially since his tally came on the power play. It came from a great setup pass off the stick of Salei (!) except somehow the Traverse City crew opted to give assists to Mursak and Maltby again. Sara Schropp (@thetinnishflash) confirms via twitter that the goal announcements in TC might not have been the most accurate.
  • For those of you that were worried that none of the “stars” were scoring goals, Henrik Zetterberg picked up what you were putting down when he tallied the game-winner for the red team. Assists? TPL HERO Doug Janik and (who else) Pavel Datsyuk.
  • Pray to God we don’t see McCollum or Joey MacDonald on the big club at any point this year. Six goals allowed between them.

Final Thoughts/Rig Bashing:Part Deux

Yes, it’s only a scrimmage and yes, we’ll start to learn much more about this team as they kick off preseason play tomorrow in Pittsburgh, but there was definitely enough good and bad in today’s game to start the discussion firestorm around the Wings. Personally, I thought both sides played with alot of jump, and it was good to see the defenses for both teams play more aggressively and take some chances at the offensive zones. Even Brian Rafalski was pinching in and looking for rebounds, which is fine as long as someone is back deep to save the bacon. The fast tempo and quick plays may just be a symptom of having so much youth on the ice, but it was sure fun to watch.

The viable goaltending options both looked pretty darn good in the first period, despite some shaky moments from Jimmah and the fluky goal over Osgood’s shoulder. They made some excellent saves and both looked comfortable in the crease and making saves. I thought Osgood outplayed Howard a bit, although it wasn’t by much. At any rate, having a pair of competent and confident guys between the pipes is never a bad thing. We’ll know more as the preseason progresses, but felt good about what these guys put out there today.

But as I said, there was enough bad to go with the good and the majority of that lies on the Wings blue line. If you put a gun to my head and asked who looked the best out there on defense for the Wings today, I would have to go with Brendan Smith, even though he still needs to be more responsible on the back-end. Didn’t hear much of Brian Rafalski or Niklas Kronwall’s names being mentioned out there today, so not much to go on there. We’ve already discussed the potential issues with Lidstrom’s game, but he’s getting the hall pass for a few weeks to ramp things up and he will fine. Probably the most solid in terms of responsible defensive play was Salei, although he still had a few mistakes that will need to be ironed out. Stuart was underwhelming, at best, and looked absolutely stupid on the Owens goal. Kindl actually played a smart game and minimized his mistakes pretty well, but he’s slotted to be the #7 defenseman on the roster. Which brings us back to The Rig.

Disclaimer: As I said, it is VERY EARLY in the preseason and alot can happen, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Cool? Good. Continue…

Petrella’s told me time and again that he just doesn’t get what folks see in Jonathan Ericsson and it took me awhile to start to come around on what he was saying. Maybe I too has drank the Ericsson kool-aid after that playoff performance in ’09, but I really thought the kid might emerge into a viable NHL defenseman. No more. Like I said, it’s early, but it’s very clear to anyone who watched today’s scrimmage that Ericsson not only failed to make progress in his game this offseason, he very likely REGRESSED in terms of his play. His lack of awareness on the ice was glaring today, well before he watched Owens beat him to a goal or before he handed Helm a freebie on one of the worst turnovers I have ever seen. Offensive upside you say? The only way Ericsson is worth the defensive cost he assumes out there is if he turns into a 20-30 goal scorer from the blue line, and THAT AIN’T HAPPENING.

Yes, I hear all of you saying “give him a chance to break out of it” and I agree with that sentiment. But there is absolutely no way Ericsson gets an entire season to show the improvement we’ve been waiting on for almost two years now. If he’s still struggling to play basic, fundamental defensive hockey by the All Star break, he will lose his job. What he has in NHL game experience, he lacks in talent and finesse and I fully expect Jakub Kindl to take Ericsson to the brink this season and eventually unseat him for his #6 spot in the Wings starting lineup. Raise your hand if this would break your heart (Sorry TPL Mom.) My hand is not raised.

We’ll know more once the preseason gets going, so for now, here’s how the stats and scoring broke down. As mentioned earlier, take the scoring report with a grain of salt.

Shots

  • Red: 33 (15-18)
  • White: 18 (11-7)

Red Goals

  • Brendan Smith (1) from Mattais Ritola (1)
  • Jordan Owens (1) unassisted
  • Jamie Tardif (1) from Joakim Andersson (1)
  • Henrik Zetterberg (1) from Doug Janik (1) and Pavel Datsyuk (1)
  • Darren Helm (1) unassisted

White Goals

  • Jan Mursak (1) from Brad Stuart (1) and Kirk Maltby (1)
  • Dan Cleary (1) from Trevor Parkes (1) and Logan Pyatt (1)
  • Jakub Kindl (PP) (1)  from (apparently) Jan Mursak (1) and Kirk Maltby (2)
    • SALEI FOR AN ASSIST! START THE MOVEM…right. It’s only a scrimmage.

Wings Roster vs. Pittsburgh

More thoughts on the Red/White game coming shortly, but here’s the roster for tomorrow night’s tilt in Pittsburgh:

Forwards
Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Todd Bertuzzi
Jiri Hudler-Mike Modano-Dan Cleary
Mattias Ritola-Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves
Drew Miller-Justin Abdelkader-Aaron Downey

Defensemen
Brad Stuart-Jakub Kindl
Jonathan Ericsson-Ruslan Salei
Derek Meech-Brian Lashoff

Goalies
Chris Osgood
Thomas McCollum

Training Camp Notes

Training Camp comes to an end today, as the Detroit Red Wings prepare for the grind of pre-season, which begins tomorrow against the most heinous Pittsburgh Penguins.

The traditional Red-White game will take place today at noon, and can be viewed via this stream.

FIRST CUTS
The Wings made their first round of training camp cuts on Monday — sending all but one of the junior-eligible players back to their respective clubs. The lone man standing, and one of two guys who may be signed to a contract,  is Trevor Parkes — an undrafted nineteen year old winger from Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL. Despite being somewhat hindered by a back injury, he’s been — by all accounts — impressive enough to warrant consideration for a contract. The Red Wings have made a habit of signing “bonus draft picks” in the last few years, which is how guys like Willie Coetzee and Brian Lashoff found their ways into the system.

Thanks to George James Malik, we’ve been able to read incredibly thorough reports from each day of training camp — and it sounds like another junior-eligible kid turned some heads. Defenseman Marc Zanetti, a defenseman with the Ottawa 67’s of the O, is the other guy that is in the running to put pen to paper — per GJM. Sounds like he’s a solid kid, standing over 6 feet, weighing in the 200’s and doesn’t mind dropping the mitts. Remember that name — methinks he’ll be inked.

The only player under contract that was cut was Mitchell Callahan, and he returns to the Kelowna Rockets to kick some asses. Red Wings drat picks Louis-Marc Aubry, Landon Ferraro, Brooks Macek, Andrej Nestrasil, Gleason Fournier, and Petr Mrazek also punched their tickets for Canadian Juniors.

Red Wing draft pick-turned-free agent tryout Stephen Johnston was also released, most likely ending his time on the Wings radar.

The other free agent tryouts that were released were Darren Archibald, Alex Cord, Antonin “Best Name Nominee In The Making” Honejsek, and injured Brendan Kichton — who broke some fingers on the first day of camp.

FREE AGENTS
Speaking of players on tryouts, only three remain in camp. Aaron Downey, the once-Wing, remains on the roster, as does the aforementioned Trevor Parkes and Grand Rapids Griffin signee Greg Amadio. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Downey sign an AHL-only contract, with the potential to be elevated to a two-way deal later in the season. But that’s just me talkin’.

THE FOURTH LINE
Possibly the most intriguing thing to watch this pre-season is the battle for icetime for the bottom half of the roster. With the top six (nay…top nine) fully etched in stone, the battle for fourth line minutes comes down to Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Mattias Ritola, and — to a much lesser extent — prospects like Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak.

Kris Draper has injured his groin and likely won’t see much action in the coming weeks. He’s not going anywhere, because he — ya know — has a No-Trade Clause, but he is by no means guaranteed a spot in the lineup each night.

Kirk Maltby has a two-way deal and is very likely to begin the season in Grand Rapids. That said, it sounds like he’s one of the most consistent and confident guys in this group.

Frankly, it’s going to come down to Drew Miller vs. Mattias Ritola — and we all know it. By the way things have played out, Miller likely has the inside track: he’s been impressive, including scoring two goals in yesterday’s scrimmage, while Ritola has been — by many accounts — invisible. Mike Babcock was sure to say that the battles don’t begin until tomorrow, but it’s hard not to think that Miller has a leg up heading into the games, especially considering he’d likely be picked up off of waivers and Ritola could possibly sneak down, thanks to his inexperience at the NHL level. Never underestimate the other 29 clubs desire to shaft the Wings, however.

Speaking of waivers, Derek Meech has looked — according to Malik — completely uninspired and resigned to the fact that he’s no longer in the Wings plans.

GOALTENDERS
Uncle Mike stated that Osgood will play two periods tomorrow, and that he and Howard will each start three of the eight pre-season games, leaving two to be split between Joey MacDonald and Thomas McCollum. For what it’s worth, Babcock has stated that MacDonald will be the emergency call-up, not McCollum, this season.

Housekeeping! (No Mint for Pillow Needed)

Yes friends, hockey is right around the corner. Before you know it, we’ll be regularly complaining about the NHL’s officiating, Rob will be rearranging furniture off of his balcony and onto his back lawn and Petrella will be wearing his Contuzzi shirt for the next 10 months straight. It’s a good thing.

As the Wings continue to tune up in Traverse City before the start of the exhibition season, TPL is also keeping busy. Between working out the kinks that come with a new home while also trying to get the site in good enough shape to endure the rigors of an 82 game season and playoff run to a 12th Stanley Cup, there’s alot still to be done…which is why the three of us wanted to take another opportunity to remind you about the asks we put forth last month, as well as provide an update on where things stand.

TP:60 Logo/Music

This one vaults to the top of the list as it’s definitely been the most asked about over the past few weeks. We’ve received a number of great submissions for the logos and a few submissions for music, so thank you for sending those in. HOWEVA, we do need to drop some bad news in regards to the logos. Since the site itself is open to advertising and potential revenue, we CANNOT use the Red Wings logo or any of their trademarked properties in any way shape or form. What this means is that we need all of you folks out there who submitted logos to re-submit them without any Red Wings logos/trademarks so that we don’t get any letters/C&D orders from the Wings. We’ve followed up with you in e-mail about this as well, so please get those in as soon as you can. If you haven’t submitted a logo/song and still want to get in on the fun, e-mail them to contact@theproductionline.us. We’ve pushed out the submission deadline until October 1st, so don’t worry about timing.

TPL Banners

Less important in the short term, but still very important to all of us at TPL, are the banners you guys have been creating. We’ve received some really good ones and they’ve been stowed away to be used throughout the season. We still plan on rotating those on a regular basis, so keep those entries coming.

The Shirtuzzi

…is most definitely coming, and the design is being finalized as I type this. We are looking into a couple of distribution systems for it right now, and once we get settled on that, we should have the Shirtuzzi ready for your personal enjoyment by the start of the regular season.

FINALLY….

TP:60: The Debut

Put in on your calendars, because The Production Hour launches/returns on Monday, October 4th. Spread the word folks, because we’ve received tons of mails and tweets asking when the show would be back, and now we have a definitive answer. We’ve got an awesome group of guests lined up for the inaugural show, and we may even blow it out into two parts just because there is so much to cover. Obviously, stay tuned to the TP:60 website for all of the details, which will be updated almost daily now.

Get ready…October is just around the corner.