Being objective would be looking at the entire situation. Suter and Parise wanted to play in Minnesota. They have ties to the area. Same with Vanek. Boyle has family in New York and requested to play there for less since the Rangers were against the cap. Players will do what it takes to go somewhere they want to go. When Dekeyser chose to come to Detroit, and the contracts were the same no matter where he went, did you give credit to Holland for this?
Absolutely. I don't disagree with you on the points you're making, but they don't have much to do with the point I was making.
Too many people go on and on about how lucky we are to have Holland as a GM because he doesn't sign these guys to big deals, in the process criticizing the other teams for the deals that are made. But in reality, Holland is chasing these guys and oftentimes throwing out the same money if not more. The only reason he's not signing them is because he's getting rejected. It doesn't really matter why he was rejected given the point that they are making. You can't give the guy credit for not making big deals when he's trying hard to make big deals and is just getting rejected. That is, simply put, an absurd argument.
That said, again, I agree with what you're saying, and I probably hold a lot less against Holland than some, as I never have gotten worked up about any of those deals you mentioned, because there were other factors involved. I'm much less nitpicky about the individual deals and much more concerned with the overall pattern we've seen for five years now. He can't seem to strike a balance in the way he pursues guys. He goes for the big players, who realistically probably are too much money, and year after year, we're rejected for one reason or another and are then too late to target perhaps more accessible mid-level talent. I still am nitpicky and bitter about him letting Hossa go, and like most at this point, I think many of the deals he makes for longtime Wings or former Wings are just abysmal and utterly and completely lacking in good sense at times.
But at the end of the day, I really don't think Holland is a bad GM so much as he's just lost the ability to be an effective GM here. We're in a transition period whether we like it or not at this point, and Holland seems to lack the ability to build a team for a new direction. He brings in and keeps signing old parts that don't work, all the while holding back some of our younger players from moving up when they clearly should be in the NHL at this point. The last couple years in particular, you look at the team that ultimately got us to the playoffs, and it wasn't the team that Holland envisioned at the start of the season. Holland's vision was failing early on, then the injuries hit, thankfully almost in some cases, and we've got a deep stable in Grand Rapids that has helped us at least in the regular season.
He talks about the importance of the draft and the youth, but holds the youth back and trades draft picks at odd times for odd people and doesn't trade them at other times when it seemingly makes more sense. He keeps chasing people that at this point we can pretty much assume are unattainable. He keeps signing older players that can't crack the lineup or stay healthy. There's just no sort of "good" consistency outside of the draft, and you can't just build a team with the draft. You have to be able to sign and trade for outside talent to plug holes when needed. And truthfully, I'd be a lot more content with Holland not landing some of the guys he's chased if not for the countless utterly terrible reactionary signings, and again, it's a five year pattern now.
But more than anything, I just don't think Holland's playing to his strengths anymore. I think he stumbled pretty hard when he started having to really deal with the cap, and he's never really recovered, and he's never stopped to focus on what's worked for him and what hasn't.
Things Holland is exceptionally good at:
-Some don't want to give Holland as much credit for drafting, but no matter who deserves the most credit, while he's been GM, we've drafted ridiculously well, and we continue to draft well. This is great, but in the cap era, we need to get these guys into the NHL quicker and taking advantage not just of their youth and energy, but their cheaper RFA contracts
-Finding younger UFAs who had promising starts or a fair amount of skill but have since struggled in the NHL, signing them cheap, and plugging them into a system in which they get a fresh start and an opportunity to grow. When Holland chases guys in the $1-2 million range, he's proven that he's got a knack for getting a lot of bang for his buck, and those guys tend to become very loyal to our team.
-I think Holland knows goalies well, and I think he's generally pretty good about finding cheaper guys that give the team a chance to win, and guys that are good in the room, which is no easy feat given how crazy some goalies are. Other than 2002 with Hasek and the team that was almost certainly bound to win a Cup, he's not done so well with higher end goalies. I think it was a flash move that's surely hard to pass up at the time, but it started the Wings down a road that brought a fair amount of drama over the following five years. And while I tend to think/hope Howard bounces back, his first year with big money was pretty terrible all things considered. And while he's getting pad bigger money, I still think of him as more of a mid-level guy who's capable of getting the job done if not being great.
What do these three things have in common?
They all bring players to the team that are cheap, but offer a lot of bang for the buck.
What awesome talents to have in the cap era!
But he's seemingly turned his back on it.
There's just way too many bad signings, and way too many kids getting way too "overripe" in Grand Rapids. And clearly, at least one of them was frustrated about it, and I'm sure he's not the only one. And seriously, when you're not as strong of a team as you were and you're irritating the talent you're developing, what's going to keep them here when they become UFAs? Why wouldn't they bolt for money and/or the chance to play for a better team? That's something else we're likely going to be dealing with sooner rather than later, and it's most likely going to sting a lot worse than not signing whatever flavor of the week free agent is available.
I just don't trust that the guy has the right vision or the stomach to build a Red Wings team in the cap era. Maybe he's just been at it too long, maybe he's too close, maybe his loyalty has gotten the better of him. It doesn't matter. The reasons don't change the problems. We can't make guys sign here that don't want to sign here, but we don't have to sign nearly as much crap as we do, and we don't need to clog up the pathway between the AHL and the NHL as much as we do. You'd think after five years Holland would have woken up a bit more about some of the changes that need to be made, and would stop giving out bad contracts for the sake of giving out a contract when you didn't land the guy you wanted.
And ultimately, if Holland had a better idea of what to do with what he does have control over, where he gets to make a choice, we'd likely be in a lot better shape right now in terms of convincing outside players to make the choice to play for us.
But at this point, I think he's just too far into the downward spiral to pull it up. That's why we need a change more than anything.