No to everything. Just no. A player cannot hold a GM or an organization hostage. The only way Sammy plays is if the Wings really want him to play. Otherwise, the team buys his ass out, keeps him on LTIR, sends him to the minors, etc etc etc to keep him off the 23 man roster and lower his cap hit as much as possible. You dont start looking to trade guys that are young and have a considerable investment of draft/time/effort/money already put in. The Wings tried to make Mursak, Kopecky, Fleischmann, and Rittola work for AGES before throwing in the towel. No way they just say "Bye' to Emmerton. Get real. My guess is they are still of the opinion Sammy and Bertuzzi can bring some value to the team.
I don't like the situation as much as you don't, but I was just looking at it from the most realistic perspective. With the new CBA, it is going to be almost impossible to clear Samuelsson and Bertuzzi from the 23 man roster without coughing up valuable cap space needed for the 23 players that would actually be ON the roster. They can't be bought out, can't be buried on LTIR (unless of course they face another longterm injury), and I doubt they would be easy to trade, even if they did waive their NTC's.
Because of the situation, Holland and Babcock are going to have to take the lemons they have and make lemonade this season.
I like Emmerton too, but it's really not hard to see that he is probably the most expendable forward they have. I doubt many teams want to give anything up for him, since the 29 other teams will probably have a couple of young guys out of minor league options, or a couple of camp tryouts that could give them what Emmerton offers without having to give up any draft picks or prospects.
I have my money on the notion that if Helm is ready to go and Holland can't find a way to unload a couple of forwards via trade, Emmerton will be first on the waiver wire. It's a crappy gamble to take given that Emmerton probably still has some upside, but when the deadline to get to 23 comes around, Holland may not have any other options. If he does get claimed, he won't be hard to replace. Capable 4th line centers are a dime a dozen and the Red Wings have two centers in GR that could probably fill Emmertons shoes on a call up if needed, in Sheahan and Ferraro. In fact, given what the organization is saying about him and the fact that he has scored one less AHL goal in 130 games than Emmerton did in 217, Ferraro is probably following in the same path that Emmerton did to the big club and may even have more upside.
Not sure what you mean about the Wings taking "ages" with all of the players you mentioned...
Mursak followed the pretty standard path to the pros. Drafted and then spent two more years in juniors, then got the standard three waiver exempt seasons in the AHL where his junior numbers failed to really convert. When his waiver exemption was up he was pretty much given a spot as a #13/14 forward on the big club in the hopes that his speed could turn him into a useful bottom-6 forward. He was given two NHL seasons to make his mark, but couldn't stay healthy and didn't seem able to handle the physical aspects of the game. Got waived and no one was interested. Now he's in the KHL. The team didn't throw in the towel, he just didn't cut it at the NHL level.
-Total time spent: 7 years
-Total effort: Same as any other player
-Total Money: Not much (in the grand scheme of things)
-Loss to the team: Minimal if none at all. Unless he has some miraculous turn around in the KHL, we have probably seem the last of Mursak in the NHL. I doubt the Wings will ever look back and say "Gee, I wish we would've waived Emmerton instead..."
Kopecky is probably the only one that fits your bill of "resources" used, but the team didn't throw in the towel. Like Mursak he got the usual two years in junior after being drafted, then got his three waiver exempt seasons in GR. His offensive game from junior didn't translate whatsoever to the AHL, and he struggled to even stay in the lineup in GR. Probably due to his projectable size, the Wings decided to give him one more shot in GR to see if they could translate his game into a physical game. He was able to turn it around playing on a line with Hudler and Filppula, scoring almost a point per game and added some size and an edge to his game. He was given a spot on the 23 man roster than was his to lose, until he missed significant time with an injury. He established himself as a useful bottom-6 forward and spent two more seasons with Detroit, before deciding to leave as a UFA to follow his friend and countryman Marian Hossa to Chicago. IIRC, the Red Wings were interested in re-signing him, but he really wanted to go with Hossa.
-Total time spent: 9 years
-Total effort: Probably no different than any other player
-Total Money: Not much
-Loss to the team: In a summer where the team also lost top 6 forwards Hossa and Samuelsson, Kopecky wasn't really a huge blow. His game has seemed to develop more and he has been more productive since his departure. I'm sure if the need and opportunity opened up, the Wings wouldn't mind getting him back, but I doubt they are beating themselves up over not making a bigger effort to re-sign him.
Tomas Fleischmann is a completely different story. He wasn't even in the Red Wings system for two years after being drafted, and hadn't even made it to the pros yet, before the Wings used to his rights to aqcuire a player that they had an immediate need for at the deadline. Robert Lang was at the time they acquired him, the leading scorer in the NHL and the team had a glaring hole at center they wanted to fill after the departure of Sergei Fedorov. Ultimately not knowing exactly what Fleischmann would bring to the club, he was a good sacrifice to make at the time.
-Total time spent: Less than 2 years
-Total effort: Not much at all
-Total money: Probably almost none
-Loss to the team: Not huge. Obviously Flieschmann has gone on to become a very good top 6 winger and Lang really never become an integral part of the team after 2.5 seasons. The Red Wings smartly made the sacrifice because they had a glut of forwards in their system and had a need to address. The blow was probably softened when two forwards in Fleischmann's draft class ended up becoming very good players for the Wings in Hudler and Filppula. Like Kopecky, I'm sure if the need and opportunity arose, I'm sure the team wouldn't mind adding Fleischmann, but I'm sure they aren't kicking themselves for trading him for a player that filled an immediate need and gave them 40g and 119pts in 159 games.
Ritola was similar to Mursak except that due to a good standing with the cap and a crowded roster, he wasn't gifted a spot on the team. Spent two more (actually real bad) years in Sweden after being drafted and then spent his three waiver exempt seasons in GR after signing his EL deal. After not really doing anything noteworthy in GR, the Red Wings still thought he might be able to add something to team in a bottom six role and signed him to a new deal after his waiver exemption was up. There was even talk from the Wings that summer that he would be given a spot as a #13/14 forward and make Drew Miller the odd man out. Ultimately Drew Miller proved to be a better option and the team also had 13 other forwards that they deemed better than Ritola. The teams only option was to waive him, where he was claimed by Tampa Bay. The Lightning gave him a spot to start the season, but he failed to impress in 5 games, so he once again him the waiver wire but went unclaimed. He actually lit it up after being assigned to the AHL with 27pts in 17 games. He was again given a spot to start with the big club the next year, but again failed to show anything substantial in 5 more games. After being waived and unclaimed again, Ritola refused to go to the AHL for a 5th season, and agreed to terminate his NHL contract to go back to Sweden, where he has been for the last two seasons.
-Time spent: A little over 5 years
-Effort spent: No more than any other player
-Money spent: Not much
-Loss to team: None whatsoever. At the time he waived, the Wings had 14 better forward on their roster. They were also compiling some pretty decent forwards in their system, and had Emmerton and Mursak ready to get looks at the NHL level. Ritolas skill never translated to the AHL or NHL game, and he ultimately never panned out. He's still relatively young at 26 and could turn his game around in Sweden and make a return to the NHL. That being said, at this point in his career, I doubt the Red Wings have any regret over waiving him when they did.
I don't think the Red Wings really put much more time and effort into players than any other team does. Unless they are a college player, you basically get five years after they are drafted to try and make them a useful player. After than five years, they run out of waiver exemption and their entry level deals will be coming to an end. Because of the 23man roster limit, 50man reserve limit, waivers, more young players entering the system every year and the need to ice a competitive roster, it's hard for teams to wait around for young players to turn into anything more than what they have become when those five years are up.
While he is still relatively young and may still have some upside, on paper and to all 29 other GM's in the league, Emmerton is nothing more than an average 4th line or #13/14 forward. There are lots of them in the league, and lots of teams have them in their systems. I like him and it'll suck to see him go, but sometimes this is how things go in this business.