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Nightfall

Why the Detroit Red Wings are headed for a fall

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I was looking around on ESPN's website and I found a very interesting article. I do have to agree with the assessment, but at the same time the staff that acquires young talent have really found some gems late in the draft. I think that scouting staff really does an excellent job and this talk of the Wings "falling down" is just talk until it happens. Your thoughts?

http://insider.espn.go.com/nhl/blog?name=nhl_draft&id=6528260

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At some point, the current Detroit Red Wings core will get old.

We'll be reminded when Nicklas Lidstrom talks about retirement soon, when Pavel Datsyuk turns 33 in July and when Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall both push past 30 next season.

Of course, there's one big reason Detroit fans shouldn't worry: The Red Wings have survived this before. In the early 2000s, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov & Co. said their farewells, but the Wings' management team had the next generation of core players ready to go.

However, Detroit's turnaround this time might not be as quick as it was last time.

The luck

The Red Wings' scouting staff is brilliant -- let's get that out of the way. But it got a bit lucky in past years.

Most contenders built their clubs around a few great players -- and those guys typically are found at the top of the first round.

The Vancouver Canucks selected Daniel and Henrik Sedin in the top three. The Washington Capitals drafted Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom at No. 1 and No. 4, respectively. The San Jose Sharks took Patrick Marleau at No. 2 and traded for Dany Heatley (a former No. 2) and Joe Thornton (a former No. 1). The Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Evgeni Malkin (No. 2), Sidney Crosby (No. 1) and Jordan Staal (No. 2) in consecutive years. And the list goes on ...

But Detroit found two of the biggest draft steals of the past 20 years -- Datsyuk and Zetterberg -- and found key players like Johan Franzen and Kronwall with mediocre draft positions. Around these guys, it built a championship team. So, yes, the Red Wings deserve credit for the selections, especially Datsyuk and Zetterberg. But can they repeat them? Statistically, it's unlikely.

The value of high draft picks

The Wings have made the playoffs every year since 1990. Since then, their average first-round slot has been No. 23, and that doesn't count the eight years they traded away their first-rounder.

For two decades, they maintained success without high first-round picks because of great drafts in the 1980s, smart trades and key free-agent signings. In addition, they could keep their talent because they were consistently one of the highest-spending teams in the NHL.

But since the salary cap was instituted in 2005, it has become absolutely crucial to draft your own key players. That's because young players have limited leverage in free agency, so teams get the most bang for their buck early on. And that's why high draft picks are so valuable: They get to the league quickly, become stars soon thereafter and are great financial values for a handful of years.

Detroit, however, has relied on high draft picks even less since 2005. The Wings traded away their first-round pick twice, so on average, their first walk to the podium was at No. 28 -- lowest in the league. At No. 28, forwards average about 0.3 points per game, defensemen average 0.18 points per game and the average GVT is about 1.6. In other words, it's very hard to find stars players in the late-first round.

Currently, the Red Wings' model is to draft players for long-term potential. It shows in their results, as they are extremely judicious with their promotions and are one of the most patient teams in the league. But the question is: Can the Wings' scouting, development and management make up for their poor draft positions? Can it supply the same amount of talent as a team that is rebuilding around a handful of high-first-rounders?

The new era

If the Wings can strike gold once more without a high-first-round pick, we might have to stop calling it luck. But, for now, we can't expect them to do it again. Even considering their great scouting staff, it's statistically improbable that they'll find another pair like Zetterberg and Datsyuk or a replacement for Lidstrom without having a top-five pick.

That means Detroit will have to look to free agency and trades. But that will cost the team a lot of money, and in the salary-cap era, it means they won't get as much value on the dollar. So eventually, the great Red Wings might fall.

Ultimately, this is a test of whether a team can maintain long-term championship-level success in the salary-cap era. The numbers say it will be tough. The draft system is designed to create parity and a cycle of success. But if Detroit can keep winning, it will be even more impressive than what it did the past 20 years.

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The Detroit Red Wings aren't really on a decline.

Other teams have just caught up, partially with a salary cap in place to help out and how standings wins/losses/ties etc. are determined. Which I'm fine with overall, I like the competition.

Not getting into the ZOMG ESPN schtick as that is beyond old and outdated in here, sorry.

And pretty much in agreement with #2 of hooon.

commadore183 likes this

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1. Its ESPN.

2. I've heard this same crap for nearly 20 straight years.

1. I agree

2. The salary cap hasn't been in place for 20 straight years though. The salary cap era has changed things thats for sure.

So you don't agree with the article? I am in the same boat, but there are valid points to be made. Its very hard to maintain a team at the top for this long in a salary cap era nonetheless. Look at powerhouse teams like New Jersey and Colorado back then and today. The Wings haven't struck gold in the draft since Dats, Zetterberg, and the mule. I hope the next gems in the late rounds of the draft start coming soon.

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1. Everything goes in circles. It's called life. Eventually everything that is on the top goes around and spends time on the lower end. It's a natural occurrence - so it's bound to happen sometime. That doesn't mean we're gonna force the issue.

2. We're smarter than a lot of people give us credit for. And patient. I have no doubt that things will be fine. Yeah, we may hit a rough spot or two, but it's not anything that is going to be long lasting. I mean, good Lord, we're not the Islanders or Edmonton.

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I cannot believe how lazy ESPN's writers are. This article could basically be rehashed for the last 10 years or more, just replace the names mentioned. It's nearly impossible (knock on wood) for the Red Wings to "fall." Should their young talent not be good enough, there are these crazy things called trades and free agent signings to tide them over for a year or two until the next crop of young talent.

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I don't think it is all doom and gloom but I do think that Ken Holland and Company will have some tough decisions on the horizon with future prospects. We have to strike gold somewhere. I trust the Wings scouting Department here.

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Tomas Jurco everybody. Mark my words. This kid is going to be a SUPERSTAR. Watching him in interviews and on the ice, you can see that he has an INCREDIBLE amount of skill, but he has an enormous work ethic as well, and he continually says in his interviews that he's going to try as hard as he can to become better and better. Can't wait to see this guy in a couple years.

Hockeymom1960 likes this

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That article isn't too unreasonable.

Agreed.

Can't be top dog all the time, and with the cap it does create a form of parity...We'll see what happens in a few years, but my guess is we'll still continue to be a playoff team with a shot at the :stanley:

T.Low likes this

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I've heard the same thing since I was able to hear things about the Red Wings. It is ESPN and the article does have some validity behind it but I'm not gonna stay up at night wondering if the Red Wings are going to decline. We are always picking up guys out of the draft and other places to continue to bring top stars to the NHL.

I don't see us not making the playoffs and all you have to do is make the playoffs and you get a shot at the cup. The Red Wings organization is NOT on a decline. The writers were probably just bored with nothing to write about so they went with something that they knew would draw some attention.

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ESPN doesn't know the name of players who are playing, let alone the prospects.

We have a strong farm with a ton of players with upside, and the ability to sign big name players.

I don't think there will be a huge fall. I do think ESPN is the worst sports journalism in existence.

I think they are tabloids. Just saying, they make stories and run them into the ground, the definition of a tabloid. They are a tabloid.

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This is starting to be like a running gag now. I remember reading an article like this before the 05-06 season, saying how the cap was going to destroy us and all of our old guys were moving on, etc. 58 wins and a Presidents trophy later, people shut up. Articles predicting the Wings demise is like the status quo now.

Also, wasn't it ESPN that reported Jagr signed with the Penguins, 1 year, $2 mil? Whoops.

Edited by xtrememachine1

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As other posters have noted, everything goes through cycles. However, what all of these articles that predict or warn of a fall or dismantling or rebuild that is in store for the Red Wings, sooner or later, fail to ever talk about is the extent of these 'falls'. The Colorado Avalanche are an extreme example of a team that was on top for a period and has since fallen of dramatically. However, the ebs and flows for different franchises won't necessarily be to the same extent.

You can point to a couple of stretches over the last number of years as the Wings fall. Through 1999-2001 the Wings didn't get passed the second round. From 2003-2006 the Wings didn't get passed the second round (only making it once and losing to the Flames). Those were years when there were several question marks around this team. They were/are considered transition periods. Just because the Wings didn't fall from contenders to bottom feeders doesnt mean they didn't 'fall' like the article is implying.

After those periods the Wings transitioned and move forward in different directions which made them better.

Also, for all of you who are so angry after having lost to the Sharks for back to back seasons in the second round just look back to '99 and '00 - the Wings lost back to back second rounds against the Avs. Granted, the following year they got beat in the first round but that was followed by a cup. Maybe the only time the Wings truly make changes is after a first round exit (again, as they did after the '06 loss to Edmonton).

Dave likes this

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Okay, if we're going to continue to make the mistake of checking ESPN for anything outside of poker, then we might as well actually talk about what they're saying rather than having yet another "Eff ESPN" thread. M'kay?

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Also, for all of you who are so angry after having lost to the Sharks for back to back seasons in the second round just look back to '99 and '00 - the Wings lost back to back second rounds against the Avs. Granted, the following year they got beat in the first round but that was followed by a cup. Maybe the only time the Wings truly make changes is after a first round exit (again, as they did after the '06 loss to Edmonton).

Its funny you bring that up. Right after we lost to the Sharks, those back to back losses to the Avs in the second round came to mind and I said outloud, "I hope this doesn't mean we're gonna lose in the first round next year". lol Then again, if that means we win the Cup the year after that, I'll go for that. :thumbup:

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Its funny you bring that up. Right after we lost to the Sharks, those back to back losses to the Avs in the second round came to mind and I said outloud, "I hope this doesn't mean we're gonna lose in the first round next year". lol Then again, if that means we win the Cup the year after that, I'll go for that. :thumbup:

I know, I honestly thought the exact same thing. As painful as it would be to lose in the first round yeah I would trade a 2012 first round loss for a 2013 Stanley Cup - provided Lidstrom forced another season out. If Lidstrom isn't around then I'd have to rethink that.

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Jarnkrok and Pulu will be the next steals of the decade. Count on it. Again I think people really don't understand why Pulkkinen fell so far, but it was purely because he had two injuries that made him a huge question mark whether he would be able to come back and play at a high level. Prior to the injuries he was ranked #4 overall in the 2010 draft projections with a lot of talk of him being #1 overall. Should he continue his dominant play he will be a player that everyone will lament passing over. I mean he was top 5 in scoring as a teenager in a mens league.

Edited by Shaman464
T.Low likes this

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the red wings have been going through cycles for the past 20 years, only detroit's "ruts" are making it to the second round. despite the competetiveness of the league with the institution of the salary cap, you still just have to be better than 50% of the teams in the league to make it into the playoffs... not to mention if the wings move to the east. you don't have to be the best in your division or the wild card race. because the red wings have kept the same ownership, managment, and more recently committed to babock's coaching style, they will never have to undergo a serious rebuilding period that many teams including the powerhouses of the 90s have gone through.

Majsheppard likes this

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Jarnkrok and Pulu will be the next steals of the decade. Count on it. Again I think people really don't understand why Pulkkinen fell so far, but it was purely because he had two injuries that made him a huge question mark whether he would be able to come back and play at a high level. Prior to the injuries he was ranked #4 overall in the 2010 draft projections with a lot of talk of him being #1 overall. Should he continue his dominant play he will be a player that everyone will lament passing over. I mean he was top 5 in scoring as a teenager in a mens league.

I like Pulu, but I think his size/speed combo will limit him. We'll need some stars to come from our system to avoid a fall while Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, and Kronwall are declining, and I think Tatar, Nyquist, Smith, Jarnkrok, and Jurco have a chance to be the stars. I see Pulu as a 2nd line winger and PP weapon, not as an elite Datsyuk/Zetterberg type player.

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