I personally love the direction this team is going. I think the plan for a few years has been to get younger, due in part to the salary cap, as well as bigger, evident by our past few drafts. We have a lot to get excited about as fans. There is going to be a ton of talent coming up over the next few years, and a lot of these kids have the size and strength to go along with the speed and skill. Sure, we have struck out on the past 2 of 3 free agency periods, and we haven't really done anything at the trade deadline, but I do believe there is a plan in place and Kenny sees the bigger picture. Unlike most fans that are very eager for the quick fix, Ken is very patient and knows that it's going to take time to get back to the top, he know what it takes to build a contender, and doing so without ever having to tank is pretty remarkable.
I might disagree with the notion that "it has to be this way, and we just have to be patient, and that's exactly what Ken Holland is doing, being patient and keeping his eye on the big prize no matter what." I think that's true, but I also think what makes retooling so hard is, in theory, you've already got a pretty competitive team, one that's probably only a key piece or two away from being a true contender. For that reason, you don't shut the door to possible quick fixes and shots in the arm and all those temptations. If something good enough comes along, you go for it.
I'd say that's where Kenny tends to get into trouble, at least with the fans. We say, "Well, it's either win now or wait. We can't have it both ways." And Kenny himself says time and time again that free agency is no longer Where It's At. But, truth is, it's sort of fluid. It has to be. The main priority is building up an army of very good young players to surround and complement our core, but, as we're retooling and not rebuilding, we should always be open to the possibility of acquiring a big-time player and switching gears to Win Now. We should be playing both sides. That way, if we strike out in free agency, it's ok - we're still following "The Plan."
Not that this is necessarily standard protocol for a retooling team. We're in sort of a unique position: we have to rebuild in the sense that we didn't have an especially good group of futures a few years ago and that needed to be addressed, but we're still making the playoffs and we might be a solid top-four defenseman and/or a 35-goal-scorer away from making some real noise in the weak Eastern Conference.
It's a tough balancing act.
Of course...let's be completely honest. If Kenny could have his way, this youth thing probably wouldn't be happening the way it's starting to unfold. Oh, sure, we'd be building up a good pipeline, but we'd have Suter, we'd have Parise, we'd have Samuelsson and Bertuzzi and Cleary and Sami Salo and Ray Whitney. The team would be a veteran team for as long as possible. One could definitely argue that the only reason we're going young is that the universe is forcing it to happen through incredible injury woes and baffling free agency strike-outs.
I guess what I'm saying in all this is that the Wings' situation is a tricky one, and that Holland doesn't necessarily know what he's doing at all times but I don't necessarily fault him for that. Going from having been a legit contender for two straight decades to knowing 1) you kinda need to suck a little for a few years so you can get some better picks than you're used to and 2) oh, but at the same time, you're probably only a good defenseman and a good forward away from being a contender again --- that's tough. "Winning Now" is in this organization's blood. So, I do give credit to Kenny for walking that tightrope and assembling an impressive prospect pool. But I do think the universe also deserves credit for "course correcting" here and there.
About our futures and young guns - I love them. I haven't always been very kind to them, but, maybe not unlike Kenny, I know that every day gone by is another day closer to a time when they're going to be The S***. (Or, at least, that's my belief and hope.) That's largely why I posed that question about what an elite 2017 Red Wings team might look like - we're starting to get an idea of what we have and how it might unfold and where it might take us. I worry about our D corps and what we're going to do about the 1C spot when Datsyuk is just a couple years shy of 40 and Zetterberg probably isn't up to snuff. People say Larkin, but the kid's gonna be a freshman in college next year; he's not going to be our top centerman in 2017.
But, the wingers? Man, there's the potential for some crazy-good depth at wing in a few years, especially if Z and D switch over to the side.
Nyquist and Tatar are probably good for 20+ goals right now, and they're not even in their prime years. I've gotta think Mantha will good for at least 20-25 goals a couple years from now, when he'll be all of 22 years old. Pulkkinen - pure goal-scorer. Jurco - goal-scorer, maybe a power-forward in the making. Athanasiou - goal-scorer with flash and size and amazing wheels. Janmark (who would probably be moved to the wing) - goal-scorer, radioactive.
If we could maybe swing Nyquist and Smith for Evander Kane, I would cry. Then we'd have the makings of one hell of a forward corps, like what Chicago and LA have right now.
Edited by Dabura, 30 July 2014 - 12:23 PM.