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It’s Been A Struggle For The Wings

from Damien Cox of the the Spin at the Toronto Star,

Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have had to shoulder more of the burden than ever before. Detroit's dearth of high-end young talent after years of drafting either poorly or out of range of the best kids has finally began to impact its lineup. Injuries have hurt. Damien Brunner got hot and then he cooled. Jonas Gustavsson hasn't been the answer as a backup. Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler are missed.

Johan Franzen has nine goals. Val Filpulla, theoretically in a contract drive, has fallen off the face of the earth offensively. Kids like Cory Emmerton, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyqvist and Riley Sheahan haven't made an impact.

Detroit beat everyone to the punch on collegiate defencemen Danny DeKeyser, and now have to hope he'll have a greater impact than most NCAA free agents do. That's a card the Maple Leafs played frequently when they were desperate for talent - Tyler Bozak, Ben Scrivens, Brayden Irwin, Christian Hanson etc. - and its a hit-and-miss proposition.

The Wings aren't awful by any means, but they've lost more than they've won and have scored fewer than they've allowed.

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Comments

Red Winger's avatar

“years of drafting either poorly”

Really??

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 04/15/13 at 09:54 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Some of the Wings draft choices have been head-scratchers. For example, picking Sheahan over Tinordi seemed like a bad idea.
I still think Carter Ashton has a better chance of being an effective pro than Landon Ferraro.

But it’s not just draft picks, but how we always seem to trade down or give our pics away.
It’s kind of happening in SJ right now too. They dealt a lot of prospects and picks away in order to win the Cup and now they’re starting to look old and not possess as much depth as the once did.

With the wealth the Wings have, I think they could have done more to bridge the gap between Lidstrom retiring and Zetts and Dats getting older.
The young kids like Tatar, Kindl, Smith and Nyquist certainly aren’t ready to step in the way Zetts and Dats did once Shanny and Yzerman retired or moved on.

I would have liked for the Wings to put out offers for guys like Subban, Neal, O’Reilly and others.
I know that’s against the unwritten rules, but if you have the money and picks to do it, then that’s what needed to be done.
Instead, we sat on our hands and when we did make a deal, we deal away 1st rounders for Kyle Quincey.

I think it’s fair to say we’re not even close to winning the Cup. I would hope Holland knows this as well. So we should have looked at dealing Filpulla and maybe even Franzen.
If Erat can fetch Filip Forsberg, maybe Franzen could have done the same?

I like Holland. He’s smart, calm and has a steady hand. But he needs to take more risks.
And I think it’s about time we stopped relying on Hakan Andersson to find Datsyuk’s and Lidstrom’s every year.

Posted by Hank1974 on 04/15/13 at 10:34 AM ET

SnLO's avatar

And I think it’s about time we stopped relying on Hakan Andersson to find Datsyuk’s and Lidstrom’s every year.

very astute observation

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 04/15/13 at 10:42 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

The young kids like Tatar, Kindl, Smith and Nyquist certainly aren’t ready to step in the way Zetts and Dats did once Shanny and Yzerman retired or moved on.

True, but they didnt have Brett Hull and Nick Lidstrom training wheels like Dats and Z did, either.

Posted by Hootinani on 04/15/13 at 11:14 AM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Val Filpulla, theoretically in a contract drive, has fallen off the face of the earth offensively.

Amen, preacherman.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/15/13 at 11:21 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Hard to disagree with much in the article, but Tatar and Nyquist have made impacts, and certainly look to be good pieces for the future. Admittedly, they won’t be what this team needs them to be for another year or two, but I think they are good prospects.

Heck, arguably the best stretch of hockey the team has played this year coincided with Tatar being with the big club and putting up points.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 04/15/13 at 11:27 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

And I think it’s about time we stopped relying on Hakan Andersson to find Datsyuk’s and Lidstrom’s every year.

the difference between now and then is that now all the other teams are scouting Europe just as hard as the Wings were.  it’s easy to steal Lidstroms, Holmstroms, Zetterbergs, etc in later rounds when nobody else is paying attention to them.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/15/13 at 11:28 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The *Red Wings* don’t expect to snag a Datsyuk or Zetterberg every year. They hope to land 1-2 NHL players out of their 7 picks, and they don’t expect to land a star every year.

I’ve talked to the Wings’ braintrust about this, and their honest assessment is that, even with the hundreds and hundreds of hours they put into scouting, drafting players involves a significant amount of luck and involves putting tons of trust in the *players* developing from 18-year-old kids into men that are willing to put in the time, energy and effort involved in becoming a pro hockey player.

The reality of the situation is that the majority of the Wings’ prospects—of any team’s prospects—won’t become NHL stars, and when you’re drafting in the back end of every round, every year, most of your “plan A” players are going to be gone.

What we’re seeing now is, at least as far as the Red Wings’ time scale for drafting players is concerned, a bad run around the time of the last lockout to just prior to the Wings winning the Cup in 2008 hitting the Wings pretty hard, and you’re also seeing what happens when the a team contending for the Cup ends up letting the Kopeckys and Quiniceys (the first time around) and other support players go in order to keep the kind of veterans that don’t come around very often.

To state that none of the “kids” have helped is simply incorrect—and, as Cox is a Drew Sharp-style columnist who doesn’t watch much real hockey, it’s a typical assumption of someone who’s choosing facts very carefully to cherry-pick.

When—for better or worse—Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, the aforementioned Quincey and Brian Lashoff have constituted your defense for large chunks of the year, when Joakim Andersson’s seemingly suddenly developed into an incredibly reliable 3rd-line center, when Gustav Nyquist slowly but surely finds his offensive footing, when Tomas Tatar’s purposefully left in the AHL, swapped out for Nyquist, so that he can star in a scoring role instead of play as a grinder before making the NHL jump for good, when Cory Emmerton’s giving you 8-12 defensively solid minutes, when Justin Abdelkader’s (for better or worse) holding down a spot as an interim Tomas Holmstrom replacement, and when free agent signings like Damien Brunner and Danny DeKeyser step into the lineup and generally provide a positive punch, when a waiver pick-up in Drew Miller’s quietly but effectively playing in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th lines as needed and when Jimmy Howard’s developed into the goaltender he’s become…

By every-other-team’s standards and not Red Wings fans’ standards, especially when your prospect pipeline is starting to rebound with players like Jarnkrok, Mrazek, Sheahan, a player who’s finding himself in Ferraro, Almquist, Jurco, Aubry, Sproul, Frk, Ouellet, grinders-in-the-making in Parkes, Callahan and Nicastro, the ridiculously talented wild card that is Pulkkinen, Europeans the team’s excited about in Backman and Marchenko, the “big projects” that are McKee, Nedomlel and Tvrdon and the as-yet-unsigned Paterson, Quine, Athanasiou, Marshall and Jensen…

The Wings have an AHL team’s worth of prospects and projects, and if half a dozen of them become “everyday” NHL players, and 2 or 3 of them become stars, the Wings will be thrilled with that equation.

That’s just the reality of drafting and developing over the long haul, and while the Wings don’t have a Subban or a Stamkos in their system, the team does believe that they’ve got a full line’s worth of “everyday” talent in Tatar, Nyquist and Andersson, the team obviously believes that Smith, Lashoff, Kindl and DeKeyser are solid defensemen (and that Smith is a bigger Kronwall in-the-making), and the team expects Jarnkrok to push pretty hard for an NHL job next season, with Jarnkrok possibly being the next Zetterberg/Datsyuk-type star.

By non-Wings standards, the team’s prospect pipeline is rebounding in a big way, and over the next 3-5 years, we should see the Zetterbergs, Datsyuks, Kronwalls, Filppulas, Howards and the other soon-to-be-30-something core players receive significant reinforcements from within.

By, “Every year we expect our team to draft a Datsyuk or Zetterberg” standards, that’s not good enough, and by, “Hee hee hee, the Leafs might make the playoffs and the Wings wont’!” cherry-pick-the-facts-as-you-need-them column-writing standards, that’s woefully inadequate, but by real NHL standards, the Wings have been at least keeping up with the Joneses, and going forward, the team’s going to move ahead of the curve again.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/15/13 at 11:35 AM ET

Avatar

Hard to disagree with much in the article, but Tatar and Nyquist have made impacts

Well, Tatar should’ve made an impact, but was inexplicably sent down after only notching an apparently disappointing 7 points in 14 games while playing on the third line.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/15/13 at 12:28 PM ET

All the more reason to stop relying on Andersson.

Posted by Garth on 04/15/13 at 11:37 AM ET

SYF's avatar

To state that none of the “kids” have helped is simply incorrect—and, as Cox is a Drew Sharp-style columnist who doesn’t watch much real hockey, it’s a typical assumption of someone who’s choosing facts very carefully to cherry-pick.

This.  And he doesn’t even follow the Wings.  My guess is this article is kindling wood for next season’s hype surrounding the WC.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 04/15/13 at 12:19 PM ET

ChowYunCat's avatar

Nyquist’s attitude alone makes me more excited to watch the Wings. He has the biggest smile on his face whenever the team scores or wins. I’m willing to be he’s well-liked by his teammates.

Posted by ChowYunCat on 04/15/13 at 12:33 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

the team expects Jarnkrok to push pretty hard for an NHL job next season

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/15/13 at 12:35 PM ET

Red Wings: “We expect you to push pretty hard for an NHL job next season, Calle. We’re not going to actually give you one, of course, but we expect you to play like there’s a chance.”

Half kidding. But I fully expect Jarnkrok to be the next unlucky stiff to be saddled with the dreaded quote/unquote “NHL-ready” descriptor next year.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 04/15/13 at 12:45 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

I would have loved for Kenny to have sent an offer sheet to P.K. Subban while he was mired in his RFA squabbles.  If the Canadiens don’t match, we get a hell of a D-man that likes to shoot, likes to skate and likes to give a good face-wash with a stinky glove.  If the Canadiens did match, they probably would have spent more than then wanted and it would have left them with less Cap space (and now that they’re division rivals, we want them to have some Cap struggles).

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/15/13 at 12:56 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

I think we all would’ve liked that, Figaro, but it was never going to happen and we all knew it.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 04/15/13 at 01:19 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

He didn’t even kick the tires….

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/15/13 at 01:33 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Of course he didn’t.  The Wings do not sign UFAs.  It wasn’t ever going to happen and they have always said as much.  Why did you expect otherwise?

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 04/15/13 at 01:37 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

a) He was an RFA.
B) Sorry, I didn’t put my “I’m making a funny” emoticons up for my last post.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/15/13 at 01:44 PM ET

statelouis26's avatar

I wouldn’t wipe my ass w/ this article it’s so rough.  TO can go suck on the thumb that has been stuck up the ass of Burke and JFJ.  That team will likely make the playoffs for the 1st time in the 06 post-lockout era.  That’s 6 fricken years.  Holland and co. have not been perfect, especially of late but they still draft well.  They let Hank, Pav and Lids die on the vine the past few years.  Trading a 1st for Q and drafting McCollum are both significant mistakes.  Yet the Wings have managed to draft light years ahead of teams like the leafs.  What has TO done draft wise that is so amazing?  Kadri is the only notable in the last 3 years and he was a 1st rd.  Luke Schenn, Jimmy Hayes, Gunnarsson, Komarov, Stalberg, Kulemin, Tlusty, Reimer, Holzer, Stralman, and Rask.  Rask is the only other stud player TO has drafted in recent history.  Most of the remaining players are not even with the team.  Blow it out your ass TO

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 04/15/13 at 01:53 PM ET

Avatar

If he would’ve started the rebuilding process 3 years ago or went for it all 3 years ago like he promised his captain he would instead of “We like our team” sitting on his hands doing nothing and then trading down at draft after draft, then you’d have a very strong case, GM. 

I too would love to see 2-3 stars come out of the pack of prospects, but the fact is the Wings haven’t developed star players in almost a decade and I have no confidence that Draper and Maltby and Fischer have the know-how to develop them.

Until KH stops riding the fence, the Wings will be nothing but a middling team.  If barely making the playoffs is enough for you, then I agree, there’s nothing to criticize.  Unfortunately for the cheerleading crowd, I hold this organization to higher standards.

Posted by jkm2011 on 04/15/13 at 01:54 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

I meant RFA, yeah.  And didn’t realize you were joking.  My bad.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 04/15/13 at 02:03 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

re: The quality of this article.  Can you imagine how rough it’s going to be if Toronto is actually legitimately good any time soon?  If they had a Crosby-esque player?  Or even if they had a Stamkos-caliber player that could be overrated into the “best in the game” level discussion?  Goodness, I’m glad the internet wasn’t what it currently is during the Sundin-as-a-super-talent era.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 04/15/13 at 02:11 PM ET

Avatar

Anyone that thinks the Wings have drafted badly either a) is an idiot or b) has no context upon which to comprehend what drafting actually is.

I don’t think the Wings have the best prospect system in the NHL by any means, but given where they always draft it’s really hard to have too many qualms about the overall production of the system.  Picks here and there?  Sure.  Hindsight’s 20-20 and it’s the easiest game in the world to compare pick x to any guy picked after he was.

Where Detroit’s #1’s have been for the last, oh, 20 years… getting a legit NHL player is literally a 20-30% proposition at best.  Whole years go by when 25-30th doesn’t net anyone worth a damn.

Pre-cap Detroit moved most of their high picks for veterans because the nature of a pre-cap system rewarded that behavior.  Post-cap Detroit has kept most of their ‘high’ picks because a post-cap system rewards that behavior.

Unfortunately, keeping your picks when they are 20th and later, even though that’s the most efficient way to be successful in a capped league, means that even the most efficient means isn’t effective compared to just being able to buy more guys was pre-cap.

C’est la vie.

If yo really want the Wings to resume semi-dynasty status you shouldn’t waste time trying to get one of the top 3-5 GMs and/or top 3-5 coahces fired.  You should try and get the salary range expanded so rich teams like Detroit can spend substantially more than poor teams.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 04/15/13 at 02:25 PM ET

Avatar

Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler are missed.

Jiri Hudler is missed?

Seriously?

In all my years as a Wings fan I have missed a lot of player who have retired or went on to other teams.

I have not for one second missed Jiri Hudler.

Posted by Wings in Nashvegas on 04/15/13 at 02:31 PM ET

Avatar

You should try and get the salary range expanded so rich teams like Detroit can spend substantially more than poor teams.

Yeah, it’s not the GM’s fault, it’s everyone else’s fault for taking away the thing that made the GM ‘better’ than others who couldn’t spend what he could.

Posted by Garth on 04/15/13 at 02:35 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

  Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler are missed.

Jiri Hudler is missed?

Seriously?

In all my years as a Wings fan I have missed a lot of player who have retired or went on to other teams.

I have not for one second missed Jiri Hudler.

My wife thinks Jiri Hudler is really cute. She misses him.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/15/13 at 02:39 PM ET

Avatar

Anyone making blanket statements like,

Anyone that thinks the Wings have drafted badly either a) is an idiot or b) has no context upon which to comprehend what drafting actually is./em]

is either a) and idiot or b) has a penchant for not seeing past their own opinions.

With that said,

but given where they always draft it’s really hard to have too many qualms about the overall production of the system.

is pretty darn true. Except,

Where Detroit’s #1’s have been for the last, oh, 20 years… getting a legit NHL player is literally a 20-30% proposition at best.  Whole years go by when 25-30th doesn’t net anyone worth a damn.

is contrary to what Detroit has actually done. From 2001 to 2007 Detroit’s first pick has made it to the NHL and is a regular. In the past fifteen years only three of their first picks haven’t made the NHL. That’s, ehhmm, way higher than the 20-30% you are postulating.

Even if we look at only their first round picks over the past 20 years 10 out of 11 have played in the NHL to some degree and the 11th has one really bad NHL game. 5 of those 11 are or became regular nhl players. Still twice as much as 20-30%.

Looking back the next decade of first round picks Detroit went 8 out of 10 players into the NHL.

Since the 2004 cap, two of Detroit’s first round picks have become regulars and all four have had playing time in the NHL.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 04/15/13 at 03:36 PM ET

ChowYunCat's avatar

Have Detroit’s picks been more likely to end up in the NHL than other teams’ similarly positioned picks?

Posted by ChowYunCat on 04/15/13 at 03:39 PM ET

Avatar

Brad Stuart…(is) missed.

I miss Brad Stuart.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 04/15/13 at 03:40 PM ET

Avatar

Have Detroit’s picks been more likely to end up in the NHL than other teams’ similarly positioned picks?

Not sure. I don’t follow other teams as closely. Check out: http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/teams/

Let us know what you find out.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 04/15/13 at 03:45 PM ET

d ca's avatar

Detroit beat everyone to the punch on DeKeyserahhh…maybe if you count the previous training camp/prospect camps but everyone had a shot at him and he choose family like Rafalski and Stuart

Detroit misses Hudler
Oh hell no. Filppula filled Hudler’s role of floater that was scared to go into the corners too well Does anyone think he caught a Flames game with Hudler for comparison’s sake.

after years of drafting either poorly Okay let’s look at their recent draft picks

‘06 traded pick (Chris Summers) for Cory Emmerton and Shawn Matthias (probably going to be a mistake as Summers seem like a top 4 dman)
‘07 Brendan Smith vs Nick Petrecki or Nick Ross (Wings look okay)
‘08 McCollum instead of either Markstrom or Jake Allen (Wings made mistake)
‘09 traded pick (Carter Ashton) to move down and grab Landon Ferraro (vs Ryan O’Reilly) (mixed result)
‘10 Riley Sheahan (too soon to tell as no one around that pick has broken through, but at least he’s not staying in the KHL).
‘11 traded pick to move down and grabed Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet (Wings look okay)
‘12 traded pick for Quincey missed out on Scott Laughton (since they weren’t taking a goalie—been decent in AHL went up the NHL club and hasn’t done anything…but Wings got a top 4 dman that eats minutes)

Sorry Toronto homer, but looking back at the last 7 drafts the Wings poor drafting only showed up in 1 year. There is a huge difference between not being able to pick #1-18 for 20 years and complaining about not getting the best players through the draft.

I’ll take the 21 years of playoffs and the long Cup runs during that time than tanking for 3 or 4 seasons and rebuilding

Posted by d ca on 04/16/13 at 01:15 AM ET

Avatar

but Wings got a top 4 dman that eats minutes

When did this happen?

Posted by Garth on 04/16/13 at 07:36 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.