Not getting all the affection for Joe Louis Arena.
It's the place where our team plays and has played for a long time. I've never been, but it holds sentimental value and then some for me, simply by virtue of its association with the Wings and my devotion to them.
I like where your head is at with Mantha on the third with Tatar and Sheahan. I don't know if Jurco is ready for the top 6, but if we're doing a ten game experiment with Cleary, why not not see if Jurco can pull the piano for Datsyuk? I also like the idea of Jurco, Sheahan, Mantha, as a third line, just because of the size on that line. I don't know where Tatar would go, though.
I dunno, I feel like if Z and D are his linemates and his job is mostly to create space and drive the net, Jurco would be just fine on the top line. That's the thing, though - I'd want him with at least one of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. I wouldn't put him with, say, Franzen and Weiss.
I think I'd take Tatar-Sheahan-Mantha over Jurco with Shahan and Mantha because 1) Jurco and Mantha are both best suited for the right side while Tatar is best suited for the left, and 2) Tatar is the possession driver that makes the whole thing (keeping the puck in the o-zone) work. Jurco's size and strength might make things easier for Mantha, though, and I like the idea of Tatar in the top six, as long as he's with at least one of Datsyuk and Zetterberg.
Of course, this is all probably moot. Mantha is likely spending most of the season on the farm (a good call) and Cleary's a lock for the first line and Hall of Fame (duh).
"I think we need to let our young people grow. We signed enough players to buy our kids time in the minors. We have four d-men who are going to play here eventually and probably be upgrades on our roster. How much time do they need? We don’t know the answer. [ . . . . ] I didn’t like us in the playoffs last year against Boston, but we like what we have coming. And we like our kids. So the biggest thing is not to rush it. We could really use some puck-moving D. Well, we just happen to have some puck-moving D in the minors. Big guys that can skate. When are they ready? We’re sure not going to rush them, but if they’re capable of taking jobs they’re getting the jobs." - Babcock, from the interview
Let's be honest - the Wings aren't in really bad shape. We've spent the past few seasons "retooling" in the sense that we've kept our core intact and kept the streak alive while also building up a very impressive stable of very promising young players like Nyquist and DeKeyser and Mantha and Mrazek and Sproul and Ouellet and Jurco and Athanasiou. The "youth movement" we've been waiting for is already happening; it's a slow drip rather than one great big swell. We're not rebuilding, not looking to tear everything down and ice a roster with 20 kids. We want what every Cup contender boasts these days: quality veteran leadership (with at least two elite franchise players at the top of the totem pole) and a small army of young studs on early, affordable contracts. And we're in a position to have that very soon.
I hate the Quincey and Cleary re-signings. I hated that we brought back Samuelsson. I hated that Nyquist was stuck in Grand Rapids at the start of last season and that Jurco's going to get the same treatment this coming season. But, all things considered, this stuff isn't a big deal. What's important is that we're steadily building up to that kind of roster that can truly compete for the Cup. Again, I think that roster is within reach, we just have to be patient and not do anything really, genuinely, hugely, dangerously stupid. For example, as much as I want a Mike Green on this team, I do feel that moving, say, Nyquist for him would be really, genuinely, hugely, dangerously stupid, or at least close to it. Even if he were to have a great season, do you suppose he re-ups with us? I wouldn't be surprised if he were to re-sign with the Caps, giving them both Nyquist and Green.
But I digress. Point is, it's going to be ok, maybe. I'm generally extremely cynical about the state of the Wings, but if I'm being objective, I like us, and I think we're only going to get better over the next two or three years. Mantha will save us all.
That piece I linked to also mentions Tatar, and that he's a possession monster. That's what makes him so valuable - the kid lives to own the puck and drive the attack and make stuff happen. Granted, he faced relatively weak competition and sheltered usage for a high-end forward (and probably for good reason, i.e. his shortcomings on the D side of the puck), but, if we're going to be the kind of team I think we want to be, one that owns the puck and is always on the attack, then Tatar's golden. I don't believe he's going to be a prissy, entitled holdout, but even if negotations go that way, he's worth slightly overpaying. If we weren't struggling to attract top-end talent, it might be a different story.
DeKeyser is a poor mans Stuart right now. We all hope develops into something even better. But that's what he is right now
That's a little harsh. Stuart was good for us, but he played for some powerhouse versions of our roster that would've made almost anyone in the 4D spot look good. He was a heavy hitter, but he definitely had his faults and limitations in terms of his all-around ability. DeKeyser's still very young for a top-four defenseman, and he spent most of last season paired with Quincey. He hasn't proven a ton, and yet, he has. Pretty good puck mover, good frame, good mobility, good head for the game, reads plays exceptionally well, has a slightly Lidstrom-esque sense of how to use his body efficiently and effectively - he's a top-four defenseman who plays smart, steady, elegant hockey, and he's only going to get better. We're very lucky (or, if you prefer, fortunate) to have landed him.
The biggest knock on DeKeyser is, I suppose, his possession numbers. This piece gives our D corp's Corsi numbers, which reveal that Brendan Smith is actually a pretty strong possession player. Of course, DeKeyser was always facing pretty tough matchups, pretty tough usage, and, again, he was stuck with Quincey. I think if DeKeyser can get a better partner and Smith can get some power play time and the confidence boost that'd come with the point production, that alone would do wonders for our blue line.
There's really nothing to defend here. It's not the end of the world, true, but Cleary doesn't need defending or "Can you really blame him for ___"ing, and certainly Holland doesn't need any more people slobbering over his inflated legacy and ego. The guy didn't build the '97 team (wasn't even GM), didn't build the '98 team, bought the '02 team (though, credit where it's due), and miiiiiight have been the chief architect of the '08 team (but Bowman and Nill were still around and pieces from previous teams - e.g. '97 - were still on the roster). Holland's really done nothing recently to prove that he's a top GM. We could praise the fact that he doesn't make moves for the sake of making moves, but, actually, he does. We could say some quality kids were drafted by his regime, but I give the bulk of the credit to the scouting and development people.
Ken Holland is a myth. I don't want that to be true. I want to believe he's a genius and that he's 300 steps ahead of everyone. But, really, he just re-signs guys he knows and keeps the kids down as long as possible, hoping it all adds up to another postseason appearance. That's The Ken Holland Plan.