Six minutes with Ken Holland
GM discusses Mursak, PTO invitees, and Filppula on the wing
Mursak, who was expected to make the Wings’ opening night roster, suffered a fractured left ankle in the second period of Sunday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Holland also talked about the difficult decision that he and the coaching staff will have when it's time to trim the Wings' roster to 23 players in less than a week.
Here is Holland’s six-minute discussion:
Do you have a more precise timetable on Jan Mursak?
“I think it’s closer to three months, which is what we’re looking at.”
Does he need surgery?
“They have to wait two or three days; wait for the swelling to go down, and access him. He’s obviously got a broken ankle. He’s got some other broken bones, stretched ligaments. So we’re going to wait for the swelling to go down, and then access. I don’t think he needs surgery. Everyone thinks that nothing is displaced. But they are going to see if they will need to put pins in or anything. We’ll know more in, say, a week.”
Is this why you bring (PTO) guys to camp?
“Yeah, it’s obviously disappointing. He’s a young kid who played 19 games last year and played well with a lot of speed. We thought he was going to bring some energy and give us some good depth. But obviously with Ryan Johnson and (Cory) Emmerton and (Fabian) Brunnstrom and (Tomas) Tatar, we have some guys who can continue to push.
“I’m disappointed for Jan because it’s really his first chance. Now you get a half a year behind in your first year (as) pro, it’s tough catching up. Fortunately, he’s got great speed and he’ll come back with a lot of energy, but it will take him awhile to get up and running once he gets healthy.”
Who has impressed you most in these first few (exhibition) games?
“I think Brunnstrom, (Gustav) Nyquist have played well. I think that (Valtteri) Filppula has played well.
“One of the things that we talked about in training camp, on the first night, was that we don’t have top five picks in the draft. We’re a team that picks late. And our players, because they’re late-round picks, obviously, they’re not impact players right off the bat. We think that they can be good players, but it’s a process.
“So when you look at our team, with the loss of (Brian) Rafalski, the loss of (Mike) Modano, (Chris) Osgood, (Kris) Draper, it’s an opportunity for the 20-somethings that have been patient. Nik Kronwall has been patient behind Rafalski. Val Filppula and (Jonathan) Ericsson and (Jakub) Kindl and (Jiri) Hudler have been patient. I think Hudler has had a real nice camp. He came into camp in real good shape, so I think there’s an opportunity there for the 20-somethings to take a little bit of a bigger step.
“Now it’s impossible for everybody to take a step; there’s not enough time-ice. But in the early going, I think that Hudler has had a good camp, Filppula has had a good camp. I think Ericsson has had a real good camp. I think Kindl has had a real good camp. Brunnstrom has had a nice camp, and Nyquist has had a good camp. Brendan Smith has done a lot of good things. Am I missing anybody?
“We’re half way through, and the teams that we’ll play now are going to be better teams. Obviously, the Chicago team we played last night was with a lot of their kids. But the last four games – the deeper you get into the preseason – your opponents are better, and you get a better read. So we’re going to have the home-and-home with Toronto and I’m sure we’ll get the good Chicago team on Wednesday, and we’ll have a pretty good Pittsburgh lineup in here on Sunday.
Are the tryout guys pushing hard and making decisions tougher for the front office?
“Yeah. I think Brunnstrom and Johnson both have played well. Both are different types of players. Johnson, we know has been around the league. He kills penalties, brings speed, brings energy, he’s a shot-blocker, and good on draws. Those are some of the areas that we weren’t very good on last year, on penalty-killing draws.
Brunnstrom is a 26-year-old player, who we pursued hard three years ago. He had 17 goals in the NHL one year when he was 24 or 25. So I think he’s played well. … We’re going to make a decision on whether we’re going to sign him. I think so far, in the early going, the guys coming in here have stated their case pretty good.”
Will you wait until after the weekend’s preseason games to make a decision on whether to offer Brunnstrom or Johnson a contract?
Can you envision Filppula being a regular winger? And do you have the centers behind him to fill in?
“Good players, and Fil is a good player, they can play anywhere. I think Dan Cleary could play left wing or right wing, and he’s played center. So I think Fil could play all three forward positions. … I think we have lots of guys who can play center and wing. But it allows the coach a lot of different options.”
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