Now, I took the long way through the team. There is was a reason(s) for it. First, I am not one that goes around and says "trade him" everytime someone makes a mistake. Nor do I beleive everyone is a HOFer just becasue they had 1 or 2 good games. There is far more to things than that. So let's talk about how we can fill the holes on the team.
For the 2013/2014 season I see 4 holes. 2 forwards and 2 Dmen. Some may argue for keeping Datsyuk and Ericsson. if we do, we have 2 fewer holes that is true. But at that point we have nothing to trade of value. There are no other combinations of player/players that we can put together, without creating more holes and get something back in return of value. Some also would argue draft and build through the draft. That is a good idea for 3 years down the road. I have already brought up the only close to NHL ready prospects we have. Smith, lashoff, sheahan, and nyquist are on the team. There is nothing else at GR or in our system ready and talented enough to be in Detroit next fall. So that really isn't an option. That only leaves 2 options left: trades and FA. So what happens if we hang onto Datsyuk and Ericsson, and none of the big name FA's sign with us? We still have 2 holes. Ok, keep Franzen. if we do that, we don't have enough money to go into the FA market in the first place. At this point we are talking about having the same team in 2013/2014 that we have now! I don't know about most of you, but that scares me.
Ok so we stand pat for one more year. hang onto Franzen, Datsyuk and Ericsson. That brings us to the summer of 2014 when Ericsson and datsyuk are both UFA's. Plus bert, sammy, and colo (good thing) all leave. Now we are faced with 3 holes in the forward line (assuming we still have franzen and missed the chance to buy him out) and 2 on the blue line. Ok fill from within! Sorry but it ain't happening. baring some great unforseen developments, there isn't going to be much ready to step in as top 6 forwards or top 4 Dmen for next season either. There just isn't much in terms of high skilled fully developed prospects in our system. yes i am sure there will be a pleasant surprise. But 5 of those? No going to happen.
Now for 2014 we still would have some money to spend on UFA's. Dat-6.7 million, Big E-3.2 million, Colo-2.5 million, Sammy-3 million, bert-2 million. That is about 15 million or so. A nice little sum to be sure. But again, we then find ourselves in a positions of hoping someone (s) choose to play for us. To try and fill 5 major needs all through FA is risky as hell. 1 hole per year-ok that makes sense. But 5 all at one time? No way. Well then resign datsyuk and Ericsson. Ok we could. That reduces the number of holes by 2, but it will also eat up almost all of the money for FA's. Does anyone expect either of those guys to come back for the same or less money? I don't. Datsyuk will get at least 7-if he has anytype of decent year next year, and if E also plays well he will get 5 million. That just ate up 12 of the 15, leaving about 3 million left to spend. Not enough to get any difference maker in FA.
The point of that is/was, we may not have a choice but to trade datsyuk and Ericsson as well as buyout Franzen and Q. If we do not do so, we are going to be stuck with the same basic team for 2.5 more seasons. Now if we do that, we will not become a 25 win team. we will stay in the 7th-10th spot in the western confernce each year. Just good enough to keep things interesting and maybe our playoff streak alive, but not good enough to draft the true difference makers available via the draft each year.
Now maybe we have a hidden gem or 2. Could be. No one knows how any of our prospects will turn out. They could all flame out or we could have some studs. For most it is far to early to really know one way or the other. But only trying to build via the draft is in many ways riskier than doing it through FA. At least with FA's you know they can produce. You have a resonable expectation of numbers and performence. With propects it is nothing more than hope. You can put together the worlds best development system, have the best scouts, and have great support, but none of that makes any prospect a sure thing.
So after Sheahan and Nyquist come up to stay, we may very well have a 2-4 year gap before the next wave of guys are ready. This is the price we are going to pay for all the trades we made to stay at the top for so long of a time. That was a good thing. But it is also the past.
All of that being said, it leads me to beleive we don't have much choice in what to do. We have to move datsyuk and ericsson, and we have to bugy out franzen and Q, while the chance to do so is still there.
The way I look at things that means we have 7 holes to fill between the next 2 off seasons. 4 this year and 3 next. If we can land 1 good FA each summer, that fills 2 holes leaving 5 to fill. Let's hope we have a surprise or 2 on the development side. That leaves 3 or 4 holes open, with 2 guys to trade.
One of the major advantages to trading a guy like datsyuk is, he is good enough to get 2 or 3 top line young players. Guys that have made it to the NHL and could be solid players if not stars in 2-3 years from now. Ericsson should be able to get at least 1 good young player, maybe 2. There also is one or 2 guys at GR that could be added to a package to improve things. We have 2 decent young goalies, that are largely blocked if Howard is resigned. Almquist could have some value and maybe tatar.