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Bad ‘Timing’

from Justin Bourne of The Score,

I believe that teams have the most success when their best players are in their prime producing years, and in the case of true superstars (think Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews), that’s a lot younger than most people think. Incidentally, that’s why I say seasonist, not just ageist - true stars who've been in the league for four seasons at 22 are different from 24-year-old rookies.

All this brings me to the Detroit Red Wings. Watching them this post-season, I can’t help but feel like they have a terrific roster with messed up ages. If their young guys were older and their old guys younger, they might be Cup contenders. But as it goes in hockey, timing is everything, and this year it isn’t on their side....

I’m looking strictly at forwards because I believe scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in the playoffs when everyone doubles down on defensive responsibility, and it’s part of the reason the Red Wings won’t be able to upset Boston.

Here’s the Red Wings group:

Ages 24 & under - on the come-up

Five young players who’ve all seen consistent ice in the post-season. Not the youngest, but as inexperienced as you can get.

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Comments

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Pretty fair assessment honestly.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 04/25/14 at 11:37 AM ET

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I’ve thought this for a long time.

Posted by captaineclectic on 04/25/14 at 11:44 AM ET

silversailer's avatar

Same here. I’ve always thought they were about 1 year behind schedule getting these young guys in a Wings jersey, and by that time everyone else is getting to be too old. This shows in might be even worse than that. This is where giving guys like Cleary, Bert, Sammy… the roster spots that younger guys should be getting and growing into really comes back to haunt you.

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 12:17 PM ET

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Now, I think it can be overcome, but we need to count on at least the following:

—Datsyuk being an pretty darn late-30s player.  That can happen.  Training is better now than it has been, he’s a late bloomer, and he’s got a bit less mileage on him than some other guys.  No one is Lidstrom, but he could have a long slow decline like Lidstrom did.

—Zetterberg being a slightly atypical mid-30s player.  That probably WILL happen if he stays healthy, both because he was excellent the first half of this season and for the reasons expressed for Datsyuk.  He’s also got shorter odds to beat.

—Nyquist hitting and sustaining a peak.

—Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyer improving toward a peak.

—We also need another young forward to emerge as a 20-goal threat.  It doesn’t really matter if it’s Mantha, Jurco, Pulkkinnen—it just has to happen.  We can’t backfill scoring depth on the UFA market.

I think Franzen’s sort of a lost cause to be an atypical 35-year old, and his overall game will continue to decline, but if the other stuff works out, and if we make the necessary other moves, we can win another Cup.  I think the window might be two more seasons, with Datsyuk likely the limiting factor.

Posted by captaineclectic on 04/25/14 at 12:24 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Same here. I’ve always thought they were about 1 year behind schedule getting these young guys in a Wings jersey, and by that time everyone else is getting to be too old. This shows in might be even worse than that. This is where giving guys like Cleary, Bert, Sammy… the roster spots that younger guys should be getting and growing into really comes back to haunt you.

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 12:17 PM ET

You didn’t actually read and understand the article, did you?

Posted by SK77 on 04/25/14 at 12:24 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

You didn’t actually read and understand the article, did you?

Posted by SK77 on 04/25/14 at 12:24 PM ET

Umm yeah, I did. Whats the problem?

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 12:48 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Umm yeah, I did. Whats the problem?

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 12:48 PM ET

Heh, sorry ... but you said that giving roster spots to guys like Cleary, etc., is coming back to haunt the Wings right now. What Bourne is saying is that Detroit’s youngsters are too young in age right now. They’re not going to hit their peak and prime for a few years yet, doesn’t matter whether or not someone like Bertuzzi got to play or not.

If their young guys were older and their old guys younger, they might be Cup contenders. But as it goes in hockey, timing is everything, and this year it isn’t on their side.

Posted by SK77 on 04/25/14 at 12:52 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

No he isn’t. He’s saying they are not the same players they would be if they had been in the league earlier and that our roster is made up of too many guys who are on the decline with too many guys before their prime. I’ll even quote the artical for you.

true stars who’ve been in the league for four seasons at 22 are different from 24-year-old rookies.

All this brings me to the Detroit Red Wings. Watching them this post-season, I can’t help but feel like they have a terrific roster with messed up ages. If their young guys were older and their old guys younger, they might be Cup contenders…..

Between 25 and 29 years old - prime time

Three players, none of which have averaged above 16 minutes of ice in the post-season. Joakin Andersson has dressed once in the post-season.

Darren Helm (27, above-average player)

Justin Abdelkader ( 27, good role player)

Joakin Andersson (25, generally not that effective)

Not exactly Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, is it?

If your going to call someone out for not understanding something, then maybe you should make sure that you actually understand it first!

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 01:01 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

The point is we don’t have any good point producers in their primes. We have some up and comer goal scorers, we have some slightly over the hill goal scorers, but the only people in their prime on this roster is Darren ‘stone-hands’ Helm & Justin ‘I-hope-it-hits-me’ Abdelkader. That’s it. People wonder why the Wings haven’t been scoring many goals. This is why.

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 01:11 PM ET

SK77's avatar

If your going to call someone out for not understanding something, then maybe you should make sure that you actually understand it first!

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 01:01 PM ET

I completely agree with you on that point.

So, to reiterate, Bourne broke the Wings’ roster down into 3 groups: “on the come-up”, “prime time”, and “in decline”.

Right now the Wings’ roster is heavily weighted towards “in decline” and “on the come-up”, when Cup-winning teams need their best players to be in the “prime time” category.

Samuelsson playing last season didn’t prevent Tatar, Sheahan, Nyquist, Jurco, and Glendening, from aging. Did it?

Posted by SK77 on 04/25/14 at 01:15 PM ET

SK77's avatar

The point is we don’t have any good point producers in their primes. We have some up and comer goal scorers, we have some slightly over the hill goal scorers, but the only people in their prime on this roster is Darren ‘stone-hands’ Helm & Justin ‘I-hope-it-hits-me’ Abdelkader. That’s it. People wonder why the Wings haven’t been scoring many goals. This is why.

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 01:11 PM ET

Then, getting back to your first comment, why are you saying that “giving guys like Cleary, Bert, Sammy ... really comes back to haunt you”?

Posted by SK77 on 04/25/14 at 01:16 PM ET

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Then, getting back to your first comment, why are you saying that “giving guys like Cleary, Bert, Sammy ... really comes back to haunt you”?

Well, if part of the problem is that they have too many guys who are past their prime then certainly the fact that they’ve recently signed several guys who are in that bracket is a problem and is indeed coming back to haunt them.

Posted by Garth on 04/25/14 at 01:32 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

If you look at the graph he posted, it indicates that 21-27 yr old players produce the most. Even on the early end of that (at 21), they are already up to 80%. The guys above 33 yrs old have already slipped to 60% and going down. Now add in the fact that these over 33 players like Cleary, Bert, Sammy, ect. were never really huge point producers.

So instead of having a 21-24 year old goal-scorer/playmaker producing at 80%, we have older ‘vets’, who are admittedly not huge point producers to begin with, who will only produce at 60% tops. Probably even less than considering who they are. A like Alfie who was great during his prime, is still going to put up decent numbers even if he only produces at 40%.

As indicated, most players produce the most for their club during their 21-29 year range giving you 8 great years. The Wings on the other hand, because they just have to have that underproducing vet taking the roster spot from anybody under the age of 24, systematically cut that range to only 5 years. That is how it comes back to haunt us!

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 01:38 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I totally agree with this overall assessment as well.

Regarding the argument that if the kids all played in the NHL last year, they would be significantly closer to their “primes” than they are now (which is what you are saying silversailer), I think the obvious counter argument is that the Calder Cup run last year developed these kids far more than playing small minutes in the big leagues could have. I don’t think most of them as “rookies” last year would have looked anywhere near how they looked like as “rookies” this year. Hell, it was only the beginning of last season when Sheahan was getting arrested in his teletubby outfit! Their experience in playing “meaningful” pro games at the end of last year gave them the composure to help us actually make the playoffs this season.

And with all that said, maybe a big part of the reason they suddenly look like “kids” is that we drew arguably the best team in the NHL? It’s fair to say even with a team that’s too young and too old, we would have looked a lot closer to just about every other team in the East other than Boston. So I think it’s probably time to stop blaming Cleary, Bert, and Sammy. If none of them had been signed and Sheahan, Jurco and Glendening all came up then instead, we’d STILL be likely getting stomped by the Bruins. So it’s kind of a moot argument.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/25/14 at 01:54 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

Right on! its not a perfect indicator of everything that needs to be considered. But we’ve been having a hard time scoring goals all season and this gives a pretty good (again not perfect) indication of why that’s been happening. When other teams have guys like Kopitar, Kane, Toews, ect (the list goes on!) producing near their peak, and the only guys we have in that range are the likes Helm and Abdelkader and Andersson, its easy to see why we have trouble producing goals.

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

SK77's avatar

Yeah, I think we’re all on the same page. I think what I was focusing on is that the Wings have some good scoring talent that unfortunately is weighted towards the young side, whereas if they were in the same age demographic as the Helms, Abdelkaders, and Anderssons, the Wings would be stronger.

Wings drafting and development has been downright solid lately and once the current core of “young kids” like Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco, are in the middle range and producing at their peak, the Wings are going to have “young kids” like Mantha, Pulkkinen, Athanasiou, Janmark, and Bertuzzi the Junior, plus a substantially better homegrown defensive corp, and Mrazek.

Sign or trade for a few key veterans and whatever other holes there might be, and the Wings timing in just a few years looks like it might be just right.

Posted by SK77 on 04/25/14 at 03:15 PM ET

perfection's avatar

Agreed. We won a cup in ‘08 and should have won one in ‘09 when Pav and Z were in their primes. We will have a big fat window again in a few years when Gus, Tats, Sheahan, etc. are in their primes. Will Pav and Z still be around the way Lids was in ‘08 and Stevie was in ‘02? That’s a good question. Can we expedite this window through free agency or trade to ensure they are? That’s another good question.

I know Franzen has a big target on him these days, but in terms of cap, he really doesn’t hurt us all that much. He still produces relatively fairly for what he’s paid. It’s the Weiss contract that looms large for me. I really wonder if he’s going to ever provide a fraction of the value of that contract. And he’s old too. Of course our final compliance buyout can’t be use on Weiss but I guess in theory it could be used on Mule. That just seems extreme. Despite his knack of disappearing, his production at his cost would have to be appealing to SOME team… even just for a draft pick no?

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/25/14 at 04:22 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

Glad we were all able to get on the same page, I know that’s hard to do when you’re trying to express these ideas in just a paragraph or two! I know we have a bunch of talent coming up soon, but that’s my biggest concern with this situation.
How Soon?
Are these young guys gonna get a chance while our older players (who will be even older by then) are still able to be productive and contributing? Or are we gonna be in this same situation again of being stuck in between with no real ‘Prime’ players?

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather squeak into the playoffs with an in between team than not get in at all with a more traditional rebuild. Getting into the playoffs during these ‘off years’ is still great as once you get in anything can happen. And being able to retool on the fly and still make the postseason is a great accomplishment.

But anything can happen is not equal to anything will happen.

I’ve been trying to express these ideas for a couple of months now on LGW and wasn’t quite able to get my thoughts together like Justin did here. The graphs were a nice help too. I wish I had some computer skills so I could make a graph comparing the one here (showing the whole league of players) to one with just the Wings players. You would very easily see the difference.

Thanks for the thoughtful and constructive conversation guys!

Posted by silversailer on 04/25/14 at 05:11 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.