Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Rebuilding? No Thanks

Want to know the part that frustrates them all the most? The Wings have done this without having to sacrifice a single thing.  It's killing GMs, coaches and, oh especially, fans from every other city and every other team.  23 is a nice number, but blink an eye and it's going to be 30.

Chicago, St. Louis, Denver...all the teams we point to as having built through the draft? They paid their dues. Severely. The Wings paid in the 80's, but then the dividends started paying off in '91.  And they haven't stopped.

Denver is a nice, young, fast team.  They'll be competitive for years.  They've got three top five picks playing tonite.  A 1 (McKinnon), a 2 (Landeskog) and a 3 (Duchene).  Of the 11 players on their roster who were drafted by the team, their average pick comes out to 42. I only have so much energy, so I'm not going to get the numbers for the Pens, Hawks, Blues, or any others. But I'd bet their average is close to that, too.

Naturally, Denver fans (all those who have stuck by them, and I'm sure that number's in the hundreds of thousands of millions, right?) had to suffer to get where they are now.  And we know the other "powerhouses" across the league took their lumps, drafting high, sucking, waiting. But hey, sufferage means eventual success, right?

The Wings?

13 players skating tomorrow were drafted by Detroit. Kindl is the highest pick at 19. Sheahan at 21.  Of the remaining 11? None under 30.  The average? 87.  

Helm at 132. Nyquist at 121.  Even Quincey at 132. Franzen at 97, Tatar at 60. Howard at 64.  And we're all well aware of Zetterberg falling to a respectable 210, preceded by Datsyuk's draft position of 171.

I started thinking about this last night.  Even if they lose this series in 5, the future is unbelievably good and that is just highly irritating for the teams who've had to almost deliberately suck (again, Denver, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh) in order to get where they are. 

This Wing team is a Holland/Babcock original. We've never seen anything like it, really.  There is literally no limit to the expectations you should have in coming years, and yet they haven't had to take a single step back in order to get there.  Yes, the summers have been difficult--Suter and Parise signing in Walnut Grove was a crusher. Hossa's departure hurt.

But, holy Hell, is Ken Holland looking like a genius right now. 

And we haven't mentioned DeKeyser (who could have gone anywhere, you'll remember) and Glendening (Uncle Mike's favorite player).  

They're fearless, fast and seasoned. But young.  This process, this system, it's unprecedented.  Drafting low, finding nuggets, keeping them in Grand Rapids until they're "over ready", teaching them the system there, bringing them up and not losing quality.  No one has done it. Not for this long, not like this.  No one has done it without sacrificing the now for the later.  

No matter what happens over the next ten days or so?  This organ-I-zation deserves all the kudos it should be getting right now.  

Amazing.

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Comments

SYF's avatar

This process, this system, it’s unprecedented.  Drafting low, finding nuggets, keeping them in Grand Rapids until they’re “over ready”, teaching them the system there, bringing them up and not losing quality.  No one has done it. Not for this long, not like this.  No one has done it without sacrificing the now for the later.

Let’s not underestimate what Balls Hill has done in GR.  He spent a year under Babcock absorbing, assimilating, and then coaching the Griffins the Red Wings Way as Babcock called it.  Top to bottom perfect structure for sustained excellence.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 04/19/14 at 12:14 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

He spent a year under Babcock absorbing, assimilating, and then coaching the Griffins the Red Wings Way as Babcock called it.

It’s almost as if it was planned that way.  I’d never really thought of it, but that’s what they did.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 04/19/14 at 12:16 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

“Amazing.”

amen

I really like our team.

L.G.R.W.

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 04/19/14 at 12:18 PM ET

SYF's avatar

It’s almost as if it was planned that way.  I’d never really thought of it, but that’s what they did.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 04/19/14 at 01:16 PM ET

I think Balls Hill even got Babcock’s speaking cadence and tone down to an art.  Swear, those two guys sound way too alike.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 04/19/14 at 12:30 PM ET

SK77's avatar

I know it’s been said a hundred thousand million times, but it’s frickin’ great having your truculent brilliance back in action.

Posted by SK77 on 04/19/14 at 12:30 PM ET

perfection's avatar

holy hell it’s nice to read this!!

after 11 months of reading on KK what a bumbling idiot Kenny Holland is because he DARED to re-sign last year’s top playoff performer and a loyal vet to an incredibly hometown discounted, risk-free one year contract, it’s nice to see the bandwagon filling up again - LIKE IT DOES EVERY YEAR AT THIS TIME

I know he’ll be a fool who’s ruining the organization again come June, but it’s good to see the big picture being recognized explicitly. Of course, some contracts work out and some don’t. Some draft picks work out and some don’t. Some trades work out and some don’t. It’s all calculated gambles. The team signs more players than they need because they KNOW some things won’t pan out.

But people are so quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater. While focusing on the occasional duds, they’ve totally missed the fact that the BIG RED MACHINE has been working as usual.

I mean, I still think one of the final developmental hurdles the team uses is taking an overripe prospect and telling him he needs to EARN a spot and he needs to take it from a veteran. That is so key. That’s why you NEED to sign guys like Sammy, Cleary, etc. So Tatar and Gus can rip those jobs away from them.

J.J. said it best in the comments last night… “there are no kids on this team”. This is a huge reason why.

Our future really does look bright. This is just the first wave too. When you throw in the Dmen in our pipeline plus Pulkkinen and Mantha. It’s just beginning.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/19/14 at 12:47 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

The red wings are the perfect example that nurture is more indicative of a successful organ-I-zation than nature. I admit I was expecting a lean year with the losses of players that were unreplacible. Wrong answer ghost rider.  This series is far from over but I like this team regardless of the outcome. LGRW

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 04/19/14 at 01:45 PM ET

pgoody's avatar

Lucic was fined… ya thatll show em

Posted by pgoody on 04/19/14 at 01:57 PM ET

awould's avatar

I still think Samuelsson was a huge mistake, and Cleary a lesser one. The kids took spots because of a nearly unprecedented rash of injuries and it all worked out because they were more than ready. The system works, but it would’ve still worked if they’d kept Nyquist on the roster from day 1 of this season.

That said, the entire foundation of the Chief’s post is entirely correct and well put. No team has done what the Wings continue to do, and the system is set up to continue rolling like a flywheel that’s big enough and fast enough to absorb small missteps and keep moving forward.

And I can’t wait to see what Mantha can add when he’s ready, and I am very interested to see how the process on how he moves up, because he’s seeming like a really special player right now.

Posted by awould on 04/19/14 at 02:09 PM ET

awould's avatar

btw,.. this is the best post I’ve read on this site in a long, long time. I will bookmark it and shove it down throats in Chicago.

Posted by awould on 04/19/14 at 02:25 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I actually think one of the best parts about this youth movement is that Mantha won’t get rushed. It’s sure tempting after his year but i think it’s quite obvious that overriping him is the way to go. I mean can we really question that philosophy at this point?

But I imagine we’ll see him a season earlier than the rest. Maybe in two seasons? He’ll prob get at least a callup next year and it will be fun to watch. But I want to see him tear up the AHL first. One step at a time.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/19/14 at 02:26 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

It never occurred to me before either, that Blashill’s season in Detroit was part of a grand plan. What a plan it was. Brilliant.

Yep, Chief, it’s head-spinning remarkable how the Wings are transitioning into the post-Lidstrom era without a crash. The other teams, their coaches, and their fans must HATE it. Isn’t it wonderful?

I really do like our team. And I love the organ-I-zation that built it. And I hope Babcock keeps coaching in Detroit forever.

LGRW!!!!!

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 04/19/14 at 02:39 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I really still don’t like to talk about how they’re transitioning successfully post-Lidstrom.  Until they get another legit 1st pairing d-man somehow, they haven’t.  There really is an amount of witchcraft this year and last to keep them going, and that can’t continue.

It does frustrate other teams and fans though.  What they don’t realize is that the Wings were awful for about 15-17 years there in a row prior to the run.

Posted by Primis on 04/19/14 at 02:45 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I still think Samuelsson was a huge mistake, and Cleary a lesser one. The kids took spots because of a nearly unprecedented rash of injuries and it all worked out because they were more than ready. The system works, but it would’ve still worked if they’d kept Nyquist on the roster from day 1 of this season.

Sure, the Sammy signing was a mistake, though a relatively fair one as it was in the context of losing Suter and Parise. I’d say the Tootoo contract could be called a mistake as well and the Weiss contract is looking a bit questionable too. But again, this is micro-analayzing. There were mistakes during the prime from 97-02 as well. But thats the nature of the game. You can’t KNOW these signings won’t pan out just like you can’t KNOW that our mid-drafted prospects are ALL going to pan out the way they have. Hell, they would have been drafted a lot earlier if they were sure things. There’s a lot of hedging of bets. I think Gus was going to be on this playoff roster regardless. No doubt. I also don’t think Cleary took his spot, despite being the last guy signed. I think both Cleary and Gus were supposed to start the season on the roster and Holland said if Gus didn’t crack the top-6, he’d be sent down. Well, a top-6 guy in Alfredsson fell in our laps out of nowhere. I think HE technically took Gus’ top-6 spot. But this is all moot now.

My main point is that the team works very hard to balance youth development and veteran respect. To me, it’s crucial Babs says “tie goes to the veteran” at the beginning of the season. Why? So when and if they get waived and have to play in the minors, they are good soldiers who feel like they got their shot and understand that they were beaten out. It’s also why guys like Hossa, Modano, Alfie, etc. just keep on signing. While we continue to bust out these overachieving kids, it’s important to maintain the reputation as a team that respects veterans so that other guys continue to come sign for their last couple years (Dan Boyle could be next?). I think this is all part of the Red Wing machine.

And while injuries definitely gave some unexpected guys shots to steal jobs, Jurco being probably the one who the team would have wanted to stay down most, Kenny showed very early that he was creating depth in the system to prepare for any circumstances (including injury, which while this season may have been unprecedented, some injuries are inevitable) and stated the “best players would play” and waived veterans many times early in the year to prove it. I think even if there weren’t any injuries, we still probably would have ended up with almost exactly the same lineup we have now (except maybe Andersson instead of Jurco, no Legwand and obviously Z). But that’s all speculation of course.

Anyway, you win some and you lose some in terms of signings, but you just can’t argue with 23 straight playoffs. Obviously Kenny and Babs are doing something right

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/19/14 at 02:46 PM ET

Avatar

It will be interesting to see what Mantha can do, but I’m also looking forward to seeing the speed of Anathawhatshisname aswell

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 04/19/14 at 02:46 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Bert’s, Sammy’s, Cleary’ deals all have now expired ( end of regular season) . Tootoo’s deal has a year left, but I suspect they use the buyout they couldn’t use on Sammy because of his injury, on Tootoo.

So, in addition to rebuilding on the fly, Kenny has survived his questionable signings and will have money to spend with an expanding cap come this Summer.

Also, the organization has been very quiet on the Mantha front ( unlike Sparky calling gib by the next Mickey Mantle) you gotta believe they are salivating at the prospect of this 6’ 5” scoring machine in the lineup within a year or so?

Posted by Down River Dan on 04/19/14 at 03:03 PM ET

perfection's avatar

but yet with all of those expiring questionable contracts and the Tootoo buyout, the Weiss contract still looms heavy. a lot of term with no ability to move him. here’s hoping he gets healthy and looks like the guy we hoped we were signing. because it seems like Alfie will want and should get one more year. Legwand has done his part and helped us make the playoffs, but it just doesn’t seem like there’s room for him despite having cap space.

I’m reserving judgment on Mantha. Lots of guys tear up the Q (of course most not as much as him) but can’t take it to higher levels. Also, while he’s 6’5, he’s a kid amongst kids. We need to see how his frame holds up against men. Also, he’s only +34 with 120 pts. I’m sure a lot have been on the PP, but I also have seen a lot of box scores through the year where Mantha has 3 goals and is a -1 for the game. I know he’s been working on his D and his work ethic all year (now that he’s part of the Big Red Machine), but again, we need to see it translate to a mens league. I think part of why the team is quiet is not to set any unrealistic expectations. While he totally could tear up the AHL and be on our roster by next year’s playoffs, I could also see him playing two full seasons on the Griffs, learning the system, and coming up a seasoned, composed man rather than the cocky kid who’s tearing up Jrs. A path a lot like our last first round big power forward, Sheahan.

I’m just glad our glut of young forward talent means we don’t even have to risk bringing him up too early. He’ll make the team when he should. That’s what it’s all about for us. 

(with all that said, here’s hoping he has at least a season or two overlap with Pav. could be a hell of a linemate once he matures)

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/19/14 at 03:42 PM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

he just scored for the Griffins.

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/19/14 at 07:19 PM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

It will be interesting to see what Mantha can do, but I’m also looking forward to seeing the speed of Anathawhatshisname aswell

he just scored for the Griffins

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/19/14 at 07:20 PM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

Bob Kayzer calls him something like ” and a we’ll see you”

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/19/14 at 07:26 PM ET

pgoody's avatar

Holy crap I forgot Weiss was even on this team….........................

Posted by pgoody on 04/19/14 at 07:38 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

they have the second lowest regular season point total of the teams in the playoffs, and shut out the president’s trophy winner in their own building.

babbles and kenny are *#$%@& geniuses.

btw here’s a really cool web site that breaks down stats for all sorts of scenarios.  according to this, a team in the quarterfinals who wins game 1 on the road, has won the series almost 60% of the time.

http://www.whowins.com

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/19/14 at 08:04 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

The “rebuilding on the fly” thing has worked out pretty well to this point. But i’ve mentioned this before, I’ll admit I’m a bit concerned how that’s gonna look 4-6 years from now with Jim Nill gone. He ran the draft and was a huge part of the braintrust. Maybe we’ll be fine yet, especially with GR being so in step with the parent club now, but thank Gord we’ve still got Hakan Andersson.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 04/19/14 at 10:23 PM ET

pgoody's avatar

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/19/14 at 09:04 PM ET

Woah… what a website design… nice find anyway! Unless its 99.9% I never like percentages… 60% that it will, just means there is 40% that it won’t…

Posted by pgoody on 04/20/14 at 09:57 AM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com