Things I will give Ken Holland full credit for:
-Restocking the prospect shelves. Let's face it, the drafting was pretty hit and miss during the early to mid 2000's. Kenny doesn't get full credit here, but he was part of turning around the prospect pool.
-Being smart with prospect progression. I know a lot of people hate the whole overripe thing, but Nyquist and Tatar are examples of players who have greatly benefited from gaining experience in the minors.
-Signing younger players to solid deals. I think his "bridge deals" are a real positive. Guys like Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall all got them, now it's guys like Tatar and most likely Nyquist next year. He seems to be good with the younger player's deals.
-Rebuilding on the fly. Most teams need to tank, sell off their assets and completely alter their team. Detroit's managed to keep their superstars, and nearly all of their promising young players while staying competitive. Whatever your definition of competitive is, Detroit hasn't been a basement dweller - that's a plus in my eyes.
Things I don't think are Ken Holland's fault:
-Missing out on big name free agents. The salary cap has changed the playing field in the NHL, but I also think that the attitudes of players have changed. It's almost as if they want teams to chase them. The whole Suter thing was mind-boggling to me. You're a GM and you get on a plane to go talk to a player? Guys wanting to play in their hometowns, with their best friends, etc. is out of Ken's hands, I think. Does he need to change his approach, perhaps? It's a situation now where players want three things: comfort, comradery and cap hit. The one thing Kenny can control is giving out money, so luring players here is going to be a matter of over payment, I think.
Things I want to slap Ken Holland for:
-Misguided loyalty to veteran players. The list of players could go on and on, but we know the deal here.
-Bringing back familiar talent. I think you can also accuse Kenny of playing it "too safe" here. Bringing back talent to take the places of prospects he feels aren't ready yet. It's kind of a double-edged sword, but at times I think Kenny holds guys back too much. It was great for Gus and Tatar to stay down, but then the team also had that mess at the beginning of the year with Bert, Sammy and Cleary taking up spots.
-Poor judgement with trades and contracts. The Quincey and Legwand trades still bother me. Giving out 3 million dollar, NTC contracts to 35+ year-old vets, and a 4.25 million dollar contract to a pylon.
All things considered, I don't think there's another guy for the job right now, but that doesn't mean I think Kenny is totally effective in his post. He's done a lot of great things for this team, and recently some not-so-great things. If he could just alter his approach to trading, I think he would be totally set.
This team is entering a situation where the star players will be done in a few seasons, and there's quite a bit of talent waiting in the wings to take their place. The question is, which guys are going to become legitimate superstars, and what is Kenny going to do with the excess talent? I think Nyquist, Mantha, Jurco and Tatar all have potential to be star forwards on this team, DeKeyser, Ouellet and Sproul strike me as the future of the blueline, but who knows what will happen when they're not insulated anymore. Kenny's going to have some big decisions to make with the talent on this team, and they're going to determine if this entire "rebuild on the fly" process was really effective or not.