Jiri Fischer might be a dark horse candidate. He was worked with our young d-men and seems to be rising through the org. But that said, I'd prefer a career coach type, and I think that's the direction Babs will go.
If there was a "local boy" available right now who was a 21-year-old free agent and as good as Nosek apparently is, then the Wings could be criticized. Clearly, however, there isn't any such player available.
Kindl is obviously expendable, but those suggesting that Almqvist is more valuable than Smith and Lashoff are guilty, IMO, of overvaluing potential and the unknown. He can't kill penalties, which Lashoff does quite well. By all accounts Almqvist is below at least three other defencemen in Grand Rapids, in terms of NHL potential. If he turns into Rafalski, I will be stunned.
Val D'or's goalie (Bibaud -- a Leafs sixth-rounder) was unconsciously good. Mantha was the best skater on the ice -- a superb goal, a rocket off the post and he got stoned by the goalie in tight on a partial breakaway.
To make this tournament work financially, tickets have to be sold far in advance. Only way you can guarantee that is to give the home team automatic entry. Fortunately, host clubs have historically loaded up and been strong contenders -- and in some cases earned their way in by winning the league championship. London lost out a month ago, but to Guelph. London was arguably the second-best team in the O all season so they're not likely to fall flat on their faces even though they "backed in."
Mantha also scored five goals in six games at world juniors, so he has 86 goals in 87 games so far. Hopefully he puts up at least one more goal than games played in the tournament. Ninety-two total goals for the year would be a nice, Gretzky-esque stat.
He has already done as well as it is possible to do at every elite level -- NHL, Olympics, world championships. He may not feel he has anything left to prove.
He could make a lot of money at Michigan, get job security that is unimaginable in pro hockey, live in his current house and face an entirely new set of challenges. I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility in the least.
This is why I always laugh when, every time the Wings re-sign any of their RFA types, letsgowings blows up with "we overpaid!" It happened with Ericsson and Kronwall, and it has happened with others. Invariably those "overpaid" contracts start looking pretty darned good later when other teams pay more for lesser players. Not saying Holland has never made a mistake, obviously, but for most of the in-house guys who would be considered core players, he has locked them up for less than the market soon became.
I'm liking Smith more and more. Yes, he makes some mistakes (as do all of our defencemen) but he seems to have fantastic offensive instincts -- he knows when to move up on the rush and when to attack the net. I think he would bring way more to the power play than DeKeyser does at this point, altho DD's slapshot seems harder.
For those saying we should have tried some of these young defencemen sooner, how would you have done it cap- and roster-wise? The roster has space for only 23 active players. If we were going to give a young d-man a 20-game trial, wouldn't we have needed fewer defencemen than we actually had? I'm sure some will say it's all Holland's fault for signing Cleary and Bertuzzi and Samuelsson, but those guys are irrelevant when it comes to giving defencemen NHL tryouts. I believe if we were to try waiving Lashoff or Kindl and banishing one of them to the minors, there's a good chance they'd get snapped up as NHL-experienced depth guys with manageable cap hits. Then we would have lost our own depth and been forced to ride 20- or 21-year-old defencemen on a playoff push. Doesn't make sense to me and it obviously wouldn't make sense to Holland or Babcock.
For some reason I can't get Quotes to work, but Dabura is correct about what I meant. There was post early in this thread asserting that this year proved the Wings are stupid to leave the kids in GR as long as they do. I am arguing the opposite -- that this year proves the strategy works. We were decimated by injuries and forced to use kids from the farm, and lo and behold most of them were ready. To me that proves success, not failure.
In today's NHL, every roster needs useful players who are cheap and provide roster flexibility. Glendening provides all of that. His less than $700k per year for three years means we will have more money to spend elsewhere and a guy who can pick up valuable minutes checking, winning d-zone faceoffs and killing penalties.