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Are you satisfied with the progress made by this year’s Red Wings team?

I asked this question on Twitter, and ahead of what may be the last Red Wings game fans like you and me witness until training camp and the exhibition season get underway in September...

If the Wings' playoff push ends tonight, and "the kids" don't quite deliver against the Ducks, will you be satisfied with the progress made by a Red Wings team enduring a transitional year and an embraced-by-necessity youth movement? Do making the playoffs despite so many self-inflicted stumbles and giving the Ducks a run for their money constitute "enough" for you?

Certainly, the Wings' lateral unrestricted free agency moves fell far short of expectations, and the team's litany of injuries nearly damned it, but given that the team was dressing 7-8 "rookies" out of its 18 skaters during its playoff run, given that the team was dressing half a roster's worth of rookies on many nights during the regular season...

And given that we're going to see the team part ways with more vets this summer to accommodate Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Damien Brunner, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff and Tomas Tatar playing on an every-night basis (though I'm sure that Todd Bertuzzi will be given every opportunity tonreturn to health and earn regular shifts,too), do you feel comfortable with the Wings sticking with their "youth movement" going forward, pursuit of a top-pair defenseman and goal-scoring forward on the cap-compliance buy-out market excluded?

Between DeKeyser becoming an every-day player, Lashoff likely to start next year as the team's #7 defenseman, Tomas Tatar joining the team, Darren Helm returning and Justin Abdelkader likely to receive more ice time on the top two lines as an interim Tomas Holmstrom replacement, and given that the vast majority of Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo, Danny Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Drew Miller and possibly Mikael Samuelsson, Jonas Gustavsson, Cory Emmerton and/or Patrick Eaves not returning, this team is going to get even "younger" by Red Wings standards over the summer.

Is that the way in which you'd like to see the team continue to evolve?

And how would you feel if the Wings don't go after that top-six, goal-scoring forward or a top-pair defenseman until next year's trade deadline to give the team's youth movement more time to solidify itself?

Tonight may be the last time we see our Wings play for four months. If the team's eliminated, a chunk of the roster will head to Stockholm and Helsinki to take part in the World Championships, some of the team's prospects will join the Grand Rapids Griffins, and by Monday, the team's locker room will be cleaned out and players will begin to take part in exit interviews with a management team that is also in transition (I'm still kind of stunned that Ken Holland, Ryan Martin and Kris Draper allowed Jim Nill to start working for the Dallas Stars before the Draft as Nill both made the final pick-calling decisions during the draft and worked as the Grand Rapids Griffins' GM).

Postmortems will be penned in a hurry, and within a couple of weeks, we'll be reading more translated Swedish, Finnish, Russian (Datsyuk and Filppula are likely to head to the Worlds, but I'm not so sure about the Wings' Swedes) and stories about off-season surgeries to come than we will about a team that may have very well mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted itself making its last-couple-weeks playoff push to the point that it has been unable to overcome mental and physical fatigue during its mistake-laden and self-inflicted-wound-marred series against Anaheim....

And that's not to say that the Wings won't be able to rally and win both tonight and Sunday--I fully believe that this team has the grit, drive, talent, determination and leadership to pull off yet another miraculous comeback--but if the chips are finally down tonight, and this is the end of the 2012 Wings, do you feel or believe that they've done enough to prove that they're at least on their way to establishing a post-Nicklas Lidstrom/Tomas Holmstrom identity, and do you believe that they're going to be a better, stronger team next season?

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Figaro's avatar

I don’t think we exceeded expectations, I think we met our expectations (Wait for explanation). By saying that, I mean that few thought we would win our division, I think the general pre-season thoughts were that we would finish in a bottom 4 Play-off spot and that we would be considered a half-way decent team that had a chance to beat really good teams if all the cylinders were firing. 

However, I think that we were able to meet expectations is very impressive considering, as mentioned several times above, a large chunk of the team should have been Griffins, our back-up goalie had some injury/confidence/sieve-related issues, and a few of the regulars (let’s just throw some names out there…how about…Cleary & Quincey) were consistently playing below “Red Wings-Standard” hockey for long stretches of a shortened season.

While I’m not overly happy with how the regular season progressed (and last I checked, we were still alive in the Post-Season) this team worked hard most nights and did secure a 22nd straight chance at The Cup.

And despite not inspiring a lot of confidence in the fan base over he last…while…Kenny Holland was able to successfully sign Danny Dekeyser.  And SixDFive (trademark pending) was THE surprise of the season.  None of us expected him to be THAT good, THA fast (or ever at all).  I was actually shocked the kid saw any ice time at all this season, let alone become an early candidate for the 2014 Calder.

Now, let’s stop reminiscing and go kick some Duck ass. (Please, I have to watch the game late on my DVR and I hate staying up really late just to watch us lose!)

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 05/10/13 at 06:22 PM ET

Bugsy's avatar

No team can stay dominant, let alone in the playoffs forever, which is what made the Wings’ streak remarkable. They had the best of both worlds with good drafts/scouting and an owner willing to spend (before the cap hit) and the coaching to pull it off. The cap has pushed teams more to develop the core and keep it and rely less on free agency. The Wings have/had to push to find out what they have in their youth in GR, so now they can move ahead. The nail biting in April was what I expected, making it in by the skin of their teeth what I hoped for. Where they are now is the ceiling of what I expected, even without the injuries.

The injuries were a blessing in disguise in that it accelerated the youth movement. I would rather have them sign a top defenseman, my hunch being it’s going to be tougher to get good defensive help this summer/next year. If they get the offensive forward this summer, it’s a bonus, but I’d almost rather have them get a tough guy with some skills to get ready for the East. They don’t have to be that much more, some of the best games I can remember the last few years were against the physical Bruins. I’ll trust/hope the forwards learn and mature enough with an entire training camp this fall as a fall back plan.

Maybe I’m too patient, but I’d rather build a long-term foundation for the next 5 years, even if that means next year isn’t much better, tilted toward youth with enough veteran leadership to guide them into more consistent play.

Only if it looks like Datsyuk’s gone after next year AND actually look like a top 2 team in the division at the trade deadline would I go all in and trade some youth for the one last EuroTwins attempt at the Cup (obvious, I know).

Posted by Bugsy on 05/10/13 at 08:19 PM ET

Avatar

I hope that the one thing Wings management now realizes that it is sometimes better to bring the kids from GR up and PLAY THEM than sign a 2nd tier free agent. How much better would Smith be if he’d had at least one season playing with Lidstrom rather than White taking that spot?

Posted by AZWinger on 05/10/13 at 10:11 PM ET

Juice in LA's avatar

Absofa-king lootly George. No question. This team will do nothing but get better from here on out. Anyone who claims to be a wings fan who has not seen the growth in our youngins, and who isn’t proud of how quickly they are learning and how amazingly they are playing should just go root for Toronto. Sure we need a seasoned Defenseman, but only so that Jimmy gets a break now and then.

How about Jimmy Howard? He does everything Ozzie, Hasek and Vernie did, but with less Blueline support. MUCH LESS. Howard for Vezina.

Sure the boys have made mistakes, but the Wings do what the wings always do best: Win when their backs are against the wall. A storied tradition of excellence that is unparallelled in modern professional sports.

In Holland we trust people, In Holland we trust.

what is not to love and be hopeful about? This team is going to destroy the East next year. NO QUESTION.

Posted by Juice in LA from Los Angeles by way of Detroit on 05/10/13 at 11:51 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.