Larkin is good, he might be great in a couple years. That doesn't change the fact that there are no good defense prospects in the system, just some guys who might be solid second pair guys some day. Dekeyser is at best a decent #2/excellent 3rd pairing guy, not even close to elite.
Who else has had what the Wings have had in the last decade? Chicago, LA, Boston, Pittsburgh have all been better by quite a bit.
The Wings are 2 points out of second place. The Isles are also 2 points behind the Wings with 2 games in hand, knocking Detroit out of the playoffs entirely. It goes back to the "good enough" mentality.
This team is not good. It struggles to score. There's no chemistry and little structure. The defense is mediocre at best, the stars are aging, the support players aren't good enough, and Larkin and Mrazek are probably the only things keeping them from being well out of the playoffs right now.
Holland has lost whatever trust he built up with the Cups. He's handed out terrible contracts, signed a string of duds in free agency, and has been paralyzed with fear of trading the next great player who comes out of nowhere, but then doesn't want to give the prospects a shot until he has no other choice. There was zero need to sign Richards with Larkin, AA, and Mantha in the system, but he's so overcommitted to "over ripe," which used to be just a phrase meaning we have a lot of good vets, that he's incapable of trusting the very kids he refuses to trade.
The problems you site aren't problems that can be fixed by trading. At least not nearly as easily as you make it seem.
I think you are so convinced that the rest of the league is beating down Kenny's door trying to give us their best players for our prospects that you can only explain the lack of trades on "fear". Even if you ignore the three prospects and three picks he's traded in the last two years, that's pure conjecture.
The only prospect that was credibly rumored to be untouchable in recent history was Smith. Maybe Mantha before last year. In hindsight you can say Smith was a mistake, but considering we were on the brink of losing most of our defense, it's hard to argue that we shouldn't have been trying to hang on to our top D prospect at the time. Nyquist and Tatar were both rumored to be in trade offers. Pulkkinen has never had the trade value some here think he does/did. Nor have any of our D prospects. Given who we have traded, I can't see why you'd think he'd be too shy about trading any of them.
There may not have been any need to sign Richards, but there was also no real need not to. I don't believe having AA or Mantha in his place changes where we are now. With Richards, we get a more or less guaranteed level of performance, plus we still have the option of bringing up AA or Mantha.
I disagree that Holland has handed out terrible contracts or signed a string of duds. He hasn't been able to land the impact players people have wanted, and had to settle mostly for depth guys. I don't think that makes them duds. Just seems that way relative to what was hoped for. Weiss didn't work, but other than that most have done what could be reasonably expected.
I also disagree that our support players aren't good enough. Very few teams have 4th-6th forwards as good as Tatar, Nyquist, and Abby. Bottom 6 hasn't been great this year, but it's a good group. Bottom 4 defensemen, whichever 4 we want to consider the bottom, is probably above average.
Our issues are at the top, not the middle or bottom.
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