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Former Red Wing Chris Osgood tells ESPN’s Katie Strang that the Wings in ‘transition

ESPN's been positing sets of off-season assessments of NHL teams as viewed through the eyes of notable alumni, and today, Katie Strang spoke with former Wings goaltender and Fox Sports Detroit commentator Chris Osgood about the Wings' status.

Osgood tells Strang that he fully believes the Wings are "reloading"...

“They’re not rebuilding like people say,” Osgood told ESPN.com in a recent telephone conversation, instead insisting, “I think it’s a nice transition.”

The luxury of having that core group of veterans (which could also include Daniel Alfredsson, should his health allow him to play this season) and such a strong crop of prospects is what has made the Red Wings such a model franchise.

And he discusses the Wings' depth in terms of prospects, as well as what Anthony Mantha needs to do to make the team...

“That he has a complete game. That he can play in his own end. If he’s not scoring that he can still be productive -- that means still playing good defense. Knowing how to play in Babcock's system,” Osgood said.

Traditionally, the Wings have erred on the side of caution when it comes to development, opting for more seasoning rather than expediting the process. Last season was a bit of an anomaly given the club’s injury-ravaged lineup, but Osgood will be interested to see what approach they take with Mantha in particular.

“Don’t forget that in this organization it is instilled that they like bring guys along slow. They’re not gonna be in any rush unless he blows them away,” Osgood said. “They know he’s gonna be a great player. You don’t want to start him too quickly and have him struggle. He’s going to need to play with confidence.”

And he has this to say regarding Jimmy Howard's difficult 2013-14 campaign;

“For Jimmy Howard, he signed that contract and maybe put a little too much pressure on himself, plus his knee was bothering him,” Osgood said. “I think he just needs a healthy, consistent year where he doesn’t have to worry about anything more than stopping the puck.”

Osgood and Strang continue at length, discussing both prospects and the possibility of Daniel Alfredsson returning to the team.

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WingedRider's avatar

I think the reloading is a bit of a stretch but rebuilding is not quite right either? Something i between.

Howie stepping up this year worries me for many reasons but good luck to him!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 09/02/14 at 02:38 PM ET


I’m not so worried about Howie because there are 2 good options behind him. I don’t think Babcock will tolerate a performance like last year.

Posted by evileye on 09/02/14 at 03:08 PM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

I’m not so worried about Howie because there are 2 good options behind him.

Personally, I think that’s a large part of why he struggled.  He was trying to do too much last year instead of playing his game.  Too worried about the guys behind him breathing down his neck.  Hopefully that changes this year.

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 09/03/14 at 10:06 AM ET

Jaromir Blogger's avatar

I don’t think they’re rebuilding, as they aren’t unloading notable quantities of players (hell, even Dan Cleary gets to stick around wink ) and are sticking with basically all the veterans who would be moved in such a scenario. I agree with Osgood’s implication that they’re in the midst of a “transition” period - particularly given the huge number of young guys knocking on the door.

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 09/04/14 at 09:58 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Wings’ coach and GM like to say that they’re “rebuilding on the fly.” The concept has always been—since Jim Nill explained it to me back in the day—that the Wings believe disassembling the Big Red Machine and then drafting poorly = you’re suddenly the Atlanta Thrashers, Phoenix Coyotes or New York Islanders for years on end.

Nobody’s really done this. All the teams that have won Cups recently have truly and thoroughly tanked for half a decade to accumulate masses of high picks and prospects. This is a different way of doing it and we won’t know whether it works for another year or two.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/04/14 at 10:10 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.