When I say we don't have much in the pipeline, I'm talking about players that are undeniably ready to hold down full-time roster spots and help us win games. Ultimately, many of the prospects we've gotten excited about in recent years haven't panned out. Now that we're rebuilding, we're getting better young players than we're used to having (we are maybe-kinda-sorta *beginning* to find our Kucherovs and our Points and our Sergachevs and our Vasilevskiys), and I'd say they've all been managed more-or-less correctly thus far. Our forward group -- and the team itself -- is now driven largely by young players. Our defense group remains old, but we all know it's going to get younger over the next several years. Hronek and Cholowski are the tip of the youth movement spear on the back end. McIsaac and Lindstrom could be the next wave. I don't know if any of our other D prospects will make it as NHLers. Maybe we sign Trouba next summer. Maybe we get Byram or Broberg in the draft (though, neither one is clearly NHL-ready).
All of this is why I suspect we're going to need a couple more strong drafts before we can start thinking about legitimately contending. It's also why I think we shouldn't be too mad at the brass for continuing to favor veterans when maybe we as fans would prefer to see them lean more on youth. We're rebuilding and our team is what a rebuilding team should look like: getting younger, but still heavily veteran, because the young talent isn't quite there yet. The youth is slowly taking over, but we're not yet at the point where there's a clear, pressing need to free up lots of spots for kids. Zadina isn't quite ready right now and he probably won't be quite ready at the start of next season. Veleno's probably gonna need a year on the farm. Rasmussen should've spent this season on the farm, so it wouldn't necessarily be wrong to start him there next season. Hronek and Cholowski should both make the team out of camp, but even if they're not both on that opening night roster, it's really not a big deal. There will be injuries.
Basically, I think Yzerman looks at our organizational depth chart and says, "I'd love for this team to get younger in a hurry, but I don't feel the talent level and NHL-readiness is high enough to force immediate and significant roster turnover. That will come with time. This is a waiting game and I'm content to wait." I honestly believe that would be his attitude and I honestly believe he's in no hurry to take over as GM for that very reason. "Great, so we got Dach/Cozens/Zegras. It's going to be at least one year before he's a full-time NHLer and it's going to be at least two years before he's a legitimate NHL centerman and it's going to be at least three years before he's pushing Larkin for prime minutes and teams are gameplanning around him. I don't know what you want me to say, Chris. This team isn't ready for takeoff yet and there really isn't much that can be done to accelerate the process."
Well, there you go.