Posted 20 July 2011 - 10:08 PM
My grade for Holland on this off-season so far? C, maybe C-. Based largely on this: He said after the playoffs that the Wings "need to get better". (Sorry, I don't have a source or a direct quote, but I think most of you remember him saying that after losing to San Jose again.) Has this team gotten better? I say NO.
The only change at forward is Conner for Draper. Conner may not make tbe big club, so it could be Mursak or Emmerton instead. You lose a little in intangibles with Draper's expected departure (faceoffs, experience) but you do get younger. Unfortunately Mursak and Emmerton have very little experience in the NHL, but they haven't been able to bump anyone out of a spot in the lineup. Whether or not they're NHL players remains to be seen. I do like Eaves and Miller returning, both contracts are good too. No moves have been made to improve the top 2 lines, but there weren't a lot of players available. Nobody seemed to want what the Wings had to offer in a trade. So for now we're the exact same as last year up front.
Losing Rafalski apparently was a surprise (I had heard a rumor from an insider in April or May that he'd be done) and he was not truly replaced. White is nowhere near similar to Rafalski, but he is a defensive upgrade, so that's good. Re-signing Lidstrom was an absolute no-brainer and required zero effort on Holland's part, so I'm not going to gush over how great of a job he did bringing Nick back. As was already said, the choice was Lidstrom's. I was honestly pissed to see Ericsson re-signed, especially at that price. I don't think he's good at all and I think they'll regret that deal. Maybe I'll be wrong though. Commodore's a nice replacement for Salei. Kindl needs to see more time or his development will stall or regress, and I hope there's a way to get Smith in a dozen or so games with decent icetime in all situations (15-18 minutes?) After losing Rafalski, I was disappointed to see the Wings do nothing while impending free agents' rights were dealt before July 1. Yes, some of the contracts are bloated. So was the salary cap this year with the NBC/VS TV deal and the continued strength of the Canadian dollar. If Ericsson's a "value" at his money, then most of the free agents were equal values at their deals. IMO. Overall, the Wings will lose some offense from the back end, but they'll be better in their own zone, which could pick up 5 or 6 points over the course of the year. Less mistakes, less blown coverages, less turnovers... all would be nice to see.
Goaltending, Conklin's a decent backup and it really was time for Osgood to move on. I'm not sure who was Holland's first choice though... notice it was left up to Osgood to "tell Holland he couldn't guarantee he'd stay healthy" this season. So did Holland tell Ozzie he'd re-sign him if he wanted to come back, or did Holland let it seem like Osgood went out on his own terms? I can honestly see both happening. Either way, we can look at it as a noble move by one of the parties involved.
I was disappointed with the lack of activity in the days leading up to, and the first week or so of free agency. The grade can go up if a trade or moderately significant signing is pulled off... but I stand by my C/C-.