But he seemed ill prepared for what was obviously going to be the biggest transition the team faced under his tenure. Uncharacteristic is the word that keeps coming to mind because he's usually three moves ahead of everyone else.
When Yzerman left he was a third liner and we had Datsyuk and Zetterberg, whereas Lidstrom was still our #1 d-man. Holland seemed surprisingly unprepared for what should have been something the franchise was planning for years in advance.
It's certainly easier written than done. Holland has an incredibly hard job, but has done it very well for so long. As I said above, I was just surprised how unprepared he seemed for something that was inevitable. Lidstrom's retirement was second only to the implementation of the salary cap in terms of its impact on the team.
I'm glad he drafted those players but it kind of supports my case. That's way too late to expect those guys to contribute to the lineup in Lidstrom's absence, especially with defensemen. It's almost like Holland was in as much denial as the rest of us that Lids would ever retire.
I think it's pretty clear that Holland had no idea that Rafalski was retiring. While everyone looks back now and thinks it was highly obvious that Lidstrom was retiring, he conceivably could have played another 3 or 4 years. Not true to say he did nothing to plan for Stuart's departure. He acquired Quincey in anticipation. Say what you will about him, but at the time, he had put together some good years with the Kings and Avs and Holland had been criticized for letting him walk.
Yeah, he could have had a Plan B if the Suter thing didn't work out, but I think he and Parise kind of threw a last minute monkey wrench into the process by selling themselves as a pair. He also signed DeKeyser, who was coveted by Yzerman and every other NHL team.
I agree with Playmaker, that only with hindsight is Lidstrom's retiring when he did, clear. I believe if it wasn't for the lockout being clearly on the horizon, that he would of played at least another season, maybe more. And I think all of us can agree that even being a few years older he still would of been amongst the best Defensemen in the league. If he had stayed those drafted D-men that Harold mentioned above would be much further along. Some would of been on the team already and the others could of been moved for something.
I think that the strategy to over developed prospects will remain in place until Holland is not the GM. I believe he want's to leave a full cupboard to his successor (Yzerman) when he does step down. I also think and that Illitch and Co are more focused on the Tigers and happy enough with the playoff streak and an outside chance of winning at the moment.
Once Z and Dats retire and (hopefully) Yzerman takes over, I think you will see a move away from the over ripe idea. Some big moves will be made with some of our, highly valued, NHL ready, prospects to rebuild the team with the Captains vision in mind and the beginning of a new era so to speak.