I'm encouraged by and enjoying the debate on this thread, which for a while looked like it might just turn into the mindlessly negative few repeating the same anti-Holland, anti-Babcock, anti-veteran mantras.
Agree that the crunch of the impact of the salary cap era is finally catching up, and that we may not be far from a re-build, but I don't think we are there yet. The problem we have is that even if we attempted to venture into firesale mode, the only pieces that would worth a lot in terms of rebuild assets are the ones we don't want to lose.
Perhaps Mrazek might make Howard expendable, but really, how much would this team get in terms of prospects or picks for anyone not named Kronwall, Zetterburg, Dats or Dekeyser? Sure Ericsson would have some value but he's JUST re-signed and is the kind of Dman our roster and prospect pool is too short of. Franzen's value is the lowest it has been and being out with concussion doesn't help. Helm won't garner much while there are still question marks over fitness, and a fit helm is more valuable to us than most other teams out there. I'd be loathe to lose Tatar or Nyquist unless we get something great in return, as not only would be vital for a re-build in the short term, but also with the kids we have on the farm mostly having decent size, we can actually afford to dress some skilled small guys going forwards.
I also think that unless we really burn it down, this team will still be too good to finish low enough to get a top pick....maybe in really deep draft year it wouldn't matter, but this year ain't judging by scouting, and next is uncertain. Our core and our coaching are too good and too proud to completely bomb.
I think despite the difficulty of re-tooling, the composition of our roster and prospect pool actually makes it easier to spend the next couple years on the bubble and then improve than it would be to bomb and re-build. I feel if we go down the fire sale route, it may take longer to come back. That said, much depends on things that will become much clearer by the middle of next season.
Can Z & D stay healthy and motivated?
Can helm get fit and stay fit?
Can Mule get fit enough to continue to frustrate but still justify his salary? He drives us mad, but when he's hot he wins games in bunches.
Can Weiss at least contribute decent two-way play when fit?
Can Smith continue his recent up-turn in play?
Has Howie settled down now?
Will Alfie want to return?
Will Mantha continue his amazing trajectory?
Can 2 of Marchenko, Almquist, Ferraro, Sheahan, Callahan or Jurco show that they are ready for regular NHL duty on the lines they are projected for next year?
If its yes to them all, we find ourselves backing Holland keeping on this path.
If its yes to more than it is no, then we'll continue to be a playoff team but will need to become a little more adventurous in the trade market.
If its no to considerably more than it is yes then its time bring the petrol and firelighters.
This season is too early to judge, not just because of the injuries meaning we have barely seen an approximation of a full roster, but also because New Conference, influx of kids or couple of FAs and probably most importantly, most of the deadwood can be got rid of this summer, giving us far more flexibility. If we lose Sammy, Quincey, Cleary, Eaves & Bert and any of those on the farm out of waiver options can cement a place on the big team, we suddenly have 7-10m to spend on 1 or 2 FAs even after RFA signings and bringing back Alfie. If the latter leaves we have 10-13m for 2 or 3 slots, with the core of the team still in place.
Just looking at the new CBA, our contract commitments (some due to mistakes by Holland), and the timing of our successful draft picks coming to fruition, this was always going to be the worst year for the Red Wings out of the last 20+ . If most of my above questions can be answered in the affirmative this time nest year, the wings will be in a really strong position.
This season will continue to be painful, and the playoff streak might end...but this summer we will be in a position to re-invigorate the roster with youth and better quality FAs (even if it does mean overpaying slightly), and Detroit will still be an attractive destination while the main men are here, particularly as everyone can see the farm starting to produce going forwards.