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Ken Holland believes Red Wings’ roster is ‘ready to go’

As Paul posted earlier this evening, Red Wings GM Ken Holland apparently did take a look at at least two top-six forwards who signed elsewhere (Tomas Fleischmann and Scotty Upshall) during free agency, but he also informed the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker that all things being equal, Holland’s satisfied with his summertime moves:

“I think, if we had to go to training camp next week, we’re ready to go,” Holland said. “We’re still a good team and we can compete with teams perceived to be the best in the Western Conference.”

Holland was happy with what he accomplished in free agency, adding defencemen Ian White and Mike Commodore.

“White can play the power play and we can play him regularly,” Holland said. “Commodore gives us some size and can play on the penalty kill and gives us a presence back there.”

While the Wings might want to utilize their salary cap space to address any needs—be them at forward, on defense or in goal—down the line, for the moment, Holland believes that the Wings should expect significant improvement from within, with the re-signed Jonathan Ericsson, Patrick Eaves and a Justin Abdelkader who progressed forward by leaps and bounds in the playoffs providing a necessary internal push…

“(Ericsson) is just coming into his prime,” Holland said. “Abdelkader and Eaves provide us with depth and, if there are injuries, can move up and play bigger roles.”
...
“You need to continue to work more young people onto the team,” Holland said. “You have to draft, develop and stick to the plan. Our plan is to slowly move more younger players onto the team. I always hear about the old Red Wings and how we have older players. We’re not the old Red Wings. Justin Abdelkader is 24, Patrick Eaves is 27, Valtteri Filppula is 27, Darren Helm is 24, Drew Miller is 27, Jimmy Howard is 27 and Jonathan Ericsson, who we just signed for three years, is 27. You don’t do it in one summer. Two years ago, we transitioned from Chris Osgood to Jimmy Howard. You’re starting to see the seeds of that. We’ve got some really high-end NHL players in the prime of their career. You need to peck away. It’s a move at a time, but we think we have pretty good depth.”

And “pecking away” might be a key going “forward” as Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi inch toward the end of the line, Nicklas Lidstrom’s not going to be around forever and Kris Draper seems all but destined to retire very specifically because the Wings can no longer afford to keep him at the expense of their youth movement:

“We have to take a look at some guys up front,” Holland said. “We want to look at Jan Mursak as well as Cory Emmerton and maybe a Tomas Tatar. Jakub Kindl (on defence) has developed and we hope he can push these guys for a spot. Brendan Smith will be given every chance in camp to show what he can do. Brendan Smith will either be in the opening lineup or in Grand Rapids. We won’t keep him as a seventh defenceman.” We want an older element to our team. If you want to contend for the Stanley Cup, there has to be an older element (but) there will always be change. It’s necessary. It’s good.”

Tatar and Smith have another year to go before they’ll have to clear waivers, and the same’s true, depending on the number of games they play, for Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce, so there are definitely jobs to be won or lost, if not a pecking order in terms of call-ups to be established (especially now that the team’s re-signed Joey MacDonald and added Chris Conner and Garnet Exelby to the Griffins’ lineup) in the fall.

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Comments

awould's avatar

I am satisfied with the team. The White signing sort of compensates for paying too much for Ericsson, who is apparently entering his “prime”, and I think Commodore will be a good addition too, whatever number he chooses to wear. And best of all, there is a ton of cap space and that will come in very handy at trade deadline or, more likely, in the next few seasons with a new CBA. Holland is still the best GM in the league and the Wings remain the class of the NHL.

Posted by awould on 07/22/11 at 04:16 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

This poses an interesting question to those who want to keep looking backwards and comparing the current roster to previous teams that apparently they didn’t feel were any better than 2nd-round fodder.

Would you rather have the roster we have now, or would you rather that Holland had overspent on changing up the roster?

Fleischmann and Upshall got overp… got paid more than they were worth to a contender.

Brad Richards was a pipe-dream.

The Wings went looking for a trading partner for Hudler and apparently came up empty. No team wanted to give proper value. For the people who say that dumping him for a pick or two would be addition by subtraction, all I can do is disagree with that. I don’t think future draft picks would make the Wings more likely to win the cup in 2012 than having Jiri Hudler would.

To answer the question posed by Garth yesterday, I don’t think the Wings roster right now is better on paper than they were going into last season. However, I think the Wings roster right now is better than it would be than with an overpaid addition or a lopsided short-term subtraction.

I rest easy knowing two things:

1. The calendar has yet to click to August.
2. Cups aren’t won on paper.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 11:10 AM ET

SnLO's avatar

I don’t think future draft picks would make the Wings more likely to win the cup in 2012 than having Jiri Hudler would.

I disagree with this. The roster absent Hudler would open a spot for Draper. I think Draper has more value than Hudler. On paper, Hudler may be better in offensive stats and ability to play in the top six, but (last season) history has proven Hudler is more of a defensive liability and a physical threat to his own team. The Wings were one Hudler check and a goal from winning game 7. All kidding aside, given a choice, I think this team is better with Draper than Hudler.

I think the Wings roster right now is better than it would be than with an overpaid addition

I agree with this. It seems there were no reasonable trades available and the FA’s took the money. That’s fine, that’s their choice. Overpaying would upset the team salary structure. Patience is the best road forward in this regard. Time and money are assets in acquiring a top six forward.

I agree with Garth in his sentiment: I’m just saying, it would be nice if we could say that the team starting in October is demonstrably better than the one that skated off the ice after Game 7 against the Sharks.
This is the second year in a row that I’ve felt this team has not done anything to improve. Well, actually I need to correct that because I feel this years coaching changes will improve the quality on the ice. I hate to wish time away, but you’re correct: 1. The calendar has yet to click to August.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 07/22/11 at 11:48 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 09:10 AM ET


FOAL!

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 07/22/11 at 12:16 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I disagree with this. The roster absent Hudler would open a spot for Draper. I think Draper has more value than Hudler.

Draper had a better season this last year with limited ice time than he did in the previous season with a lot of time, but I don’t think he brings more tangible benefit.  I have trouble directly comparing the two because dumping Hudler gets rid of a guy who can play top-six (although he’s a middle-six forward) while Draper is definitely bottom-six. I hate to say that Hudler would provide more depth than Draper, because that’s not entirely accurate, but I would say he provides more of the specific kind of depth we need (as oxymoronic as that sounds).

This is the second year in a row that I’ve felt this team has not done anything to improve

Even with hindsight, I’m not sure what I would have had Holland do differently last summer. Modano could have turned into a hell of a signing if not for bad luck.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 12:24 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

I have trouble directly comparing the two

Right, and I wouldn’t. I’m looking at it from a flexibility and intangibles perspective. By eliminating Hudler and adding Draper, the bottom six is over-stocked, but it allows top six time (and a rotation based on the hot hand) for players such as Eaves, Abdelkader, Mursak, Emmerton, or whoever. Hudler cannot effectively rotate down into the bottom six because he is too much of a liability whereas in the top six there is enough talent and ethic to compensate for his deficiencies. So, rather than making a direct comparison, I take more of a strategy perspective on deploying personnel and line combos. The team really needs another bona fide top six forward though.

Modano could have turned into a hell of a signing if not for bad luck.

lol Just to prove how much of a dud that was, I completely forgot about that. Now I can remember feeling that 2010-11 was going to be the year. I was confusing last year with the prior year. I am still having trouble adjusting to post lock-out Wings. Each off season (YOH excepting) has seemed to have been pretty anti-climatic in hind-sight. This off season is holding true to that form mostly because of the absence of that one trade or FA signing to get excited about.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 07/22/11 at 12:49 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Admittedly, I am intrigued by the perspective of there being some room for those developing talents to get a little chunk of playing time on the top six just to see if one of them can go apeshit on the scoreboard.  Like you, I’d rather the team bring in another top six guy.  However, I’m confident going into the season that it’s not a make-or-break the playoff contention thing. 

That’s really all I’m looking for out of this roster.  Can this group of guys make the playoffs?  I believe so and, as a result, I wouldn’t consider it a terrible thing to go into the season with this bunch.  I’ll worry about how well they’ll be able to do in the postseason after the trade deadline.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 12:55 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

I’ll worry about how well they’ll be able to do in the postseason after the trade deadline.

Good point.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 07/22/11 at 12:57 PM ET

awould's avatar

I’m not optimistic about the Wings Cup chances this year, as it stands. But JJ’s point about the FA market getting ridiculous is what makes me satisfied with the current roster. I do think a top 6 F would drastically improve our chances, especially if it comes in trade somehow for Hudler, and I look forward to an interesting trade deadline. However, if they stay healthy, this current roster could win a Cup.  Right now, some oddsmaker has the Wings chances at 7th in the league, tied with Tampa. I’d put them in that 5-7th range, which ain’t a bad place to be.

Franzen needs to step back up. Howard needs to keep doing what he does. Ericsson needs to earn his money. And at least one young guy needs to surprise us in a good way and earn a lot of ice time.

Posted by awould on 07/22/11 at 01:46 PM ET

Avatar

Honestly, the last time I remember being excited about an off-season signing was when Hossa signed.

But I do believe this team is built well to content this year. Say what you will about White vs. Rafi, but reality is that Rafi was a shell of his former self last year and oftentimes a liability on the ice. Frankly, the best hockey Rafi played in the last two seasons when during the Olympics. Can White play at least as well as Rafi was last year? I believe so, yes. I wouldn’t be shocked if he does better. I also think Kronner will up his game with the opportunity to do so (health permitting).

Posted by RyanVM on 07/22/11 at 01:48 PM ET

Avatar

Fleischmann and Upshall got overp… got paid more than they were worth to a contender.

See, I don’t get this logic.  Yeah, they were both overpaid, but so is Hudler and they both offer different things that Hudler doesn’t.  So I guess the question is would you rather have an underperforming Hudler at $2.9 (who, by the way, is known to have been shopped) or Scottie Upshall, who had more points, is a better two-way player with some agreesion, at $3.5M?

And by the way, you’re right, it’s not yet August and I’m not really worried.  I also don’t buy for a second that Holland is done trying to make changes.  He also said he was comfortable with Osgood as the back up, and what happened there?  Holland was trying to shop Hudler and everyone knows it, so I can’t imagine he wants to deal with that come training camp time.  He’s still looking…

Posted by Garth on 07/22/11 at 01:53 PM ET

KelseyAnn's avatar

Living in Phoenix, I had a lot of opportunities to see Scottie Upshall play for those several years he was a Coyote. And just like Garth said, he’s a fantastic 2-way player with aggression (and a nose for the net), just the kind of player I would’ve loved to have in a Wings sweater. It’s too bad he chose Florida over Detroit but I guess it was the paycheck he was pursuing.

Posted by KelseyAnn from we have an NHL team here?, Arizona on 07/22/11 at 02:18 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

See, I don’t get this logic.  Yeah, they were both overpaid, but so is Hudler and they both offer different things that Hudler doesn’t.  So I guess the question is would you rather have an underperforming Hudler at $2.9 (who, by the way, is known to have been shopped) or Scottie Upshall, who had more points, is a better two-way player with some agreesion, at $3.5M?

Go with the devil you know… and the one you know whose contract expires after this season.

If I could have an overpaid Scottie Upshall at $3.5M for this year, then I would take that over Hudler in a heartbeat.  As it stands, I will not take overpaying Scottie Upshall for the next four years over an overpaid Hudler who’s playing a make-it-or-break-it contract year.

Replace Upshall and $3.5M for Fleischmann and his $4.5M and I say the exact same thing.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 02:21 PM ET

Avatar

Go with the devil you know… and the one you know whose contract expires after this season.

I would buy that if Holland made the decision, but he didn’t.  Those players chose Florida (undoubtedly because of the money or the term, obviously) over Detroit.

And yeah, you could say that Hudler’s in a make-or-break year, but isn’t that what everyone said last year, that he was under pressure to prove he was worth the contract and the BS he put Detroit through?  What makes this year any different?  He’s a multi-millionaire no matter what he does this year.

And I could also make the argument that Scottie Upshall at $3.5M isn’t really an overpayment at all compared Hudler.  And since when would it be considered a bad thing to have a solid, agressive two-way forward under contract for a couple years?

Posted by Garth on 07/22/11 at 02:36 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

“(Ericsson) is just coming into his prime,”

I’m now picturing Ericsson in a non-contract year, and the picture isn’t pretty.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/22/11 at 02:41 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I would buy that if Holland made the decision, but he didn’t.  Those players chose Florida (undoubtedly because of the money or the term, obviously) over Detroit.

Holland made the decision to not offer too much money and too much term to Scottie Upshall.  You think either of those players would have chosen Florida over Detroit for the same terms?

Ok… that actually is possible because of the previously-mentioned lack of a state income tax in Florida, but as was also previously-mentioned, I don’t want a guy who would make that kind of decision on my team in the first place.

And I could also make the argument that Scottie Upshall at $3.5M isn’t really an overpayment at all compared Hudler.

You could make a lot of odd-perspective arguments by comparing people around the league and their contracts to Hudler. That doesn’t make it a good idea. Scottie Upshall is an overpayment compared to Scottie Upshall. 

And since when would it be considered a bad thing to have a solid, agressive two-way forward under contract for a couple years?

Since you have to pay him $750K over his value to have him stuck on your roster for four years.  That’s when.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 02:48 PM ET

Crater's avatar

1. The calendar has yet to click to August.
2. Cups aren’t won on paper.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 09:10 AM ET

You forgot 3. You Don’t Win Friends With Salad

I’m now picturing Ericsson in a non-contract year, and the picture isn’t pretty.

Posted by bezukov from Wings Fan in exile: Columbus, OH on 07/22/11 at 12:41 PM ET

It could be nasty or he could play much better with the pressure off. He does have moments of very solid brilliant hockey. Maybe his original playoff level of play was just because he was too young to realize he should feel pressured and let it get to him. We will see. I’m sure he could be traded away if Holland sees it as a dead end during the season.

Posted by Crater from SoCal on 07/22/11 at 03:21 PM ET

Avatar

Scottie Upshall is an overpayment compared to Scottie Upshall.

Good to know that in your mind every contract exists in its own vaccuum.

Posted by Garth on 07/22/11 at 03:23 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Good to know that in your mind every contract exists in its own vaccuum.

Posted by Garth on 07/22/11 at 01:23 PM ET

Hahaha. 

Or was there anything else you wanted to add to the conversation?  You know, when you think about it, Brian Campbell isn’t as bad of an overpayment when you compare only this year of his deal to Jiri Hudler’s contract.

Rabble rabble.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 04:02 PM ET

awould's avatar

Ericsson is an overpayment compared to Ericsson.

Posted by awould on 07/22/11 at 04:07 PM ET

babymachine's avatar

Plain fact is Holland did his absolute best to improve Detroit this off-season. And by best, he upheld the post-lockout free agency standard in Detroit: don’t overpay for players.

The lone exception is obviously Ericsson; we would have been forced to watch Big E walk for nothing, and kudos to his agent for realizing that and taking advantage of it.

That aside, I think we’re just fine.

Posted by babymachine from Portland, Oregon by way of Macomb, Michigan on 07/22/11 at 04:24 PM ET

Avatar

Or was there anything else you wanted to add to the conversation?

No, there wasn’t because how are we even supposed to discuss this if you won’t even acknowledge that every contract is relative to another.

And give me a break with the Campbel BS, it’s not anywhere out of bounds to be comparing Hudler to Upshall.  They’re both middle-six forwards, similar ages with similar levels of experience.

Hudler got his deal based on a season very similar to what Upshall had last year.  And Ville Leino also had a similar year last year and look what he got.  Scottie Upshall’s contract doesn’t stands out among the moves that Florida made this year as a reasonable contract.  He wasn’t crazy overpaid the way Kopecky, Jovo or Fleishmann (based on his injuries last year) was.

And to actually say you’d rather NOT have Scottie Upshall, who is an obvious upgrade over Hudler, over three quarters of a million dollars, you’re not even being honest.

It was a great thing for Holland that Ian White went under the radar in the midst of the Sabres, BJs and Panthers GMs all making it rain on July 1st, but you can’t expect all signings to be like that.

And you can’t even argue the Red Wings internal salary structure because of you do use it then you have to offer Upshall more than Hudler because of him being an upgrade.

The lone exception is obviously Ericsson; 

And Rafalski is you ask a lot of people.  And Stuart if you had asked Holland when he was signed.  And Hudler.

Posted by Garth on 07/22/11 at 05:09 PM ET

babymachine's avatar

And Rafalski is you ask a lot of people.  And Stuart if you had asked Holland when he was signed.  And Hudler.

Hudler’s contract was awarded via Arbitration. Stuart took less to stay in Detroit, and Rafalski deserved every penny of his contract regardless of what all the bandwagon fans think of his play last season.

Posted by babymachine from Portland, Oregon by way of Macomb, Michigan on 07/22/11 at 05:28 PM ET

GrahamWIIM's avatar

And to actually say you’d rather NOT have Scottie Upshall, who is an obvious upgrade over Hudler, over three quarters of a million dollars, you’re not even being honest.

The only thing I’d point out here is that while Upshall may be an upgrade over Hudler, the Wings still had Hudler under contract and on the roster, and to “upgrade” the forward corps would require moving a body, which it sounds like Holland tried to do and was unsuccessful.

It’s semantics, but saying that Upshall would only be $750K more is misleading because with Hudler still on the roster (due to no one taking him), Upshall would cost the whole $3.5M, and there’s another forward spot used up. Considering the glut of players vying for ice time, it wasn’t worth it.

If Hudler was a FA, then I’d sign Upshall to that deal. But the circumstances of this offseason did not warrant a move like that.

Posted by GrahamWIIM from Chicago via Toronto on 07/22/11 at 05:44 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

And to actually say you’d rather NOT have Scottie Upshall, who is an obvious upgrade over Hudler, over three quarters of a million dollars, you’re not even being honest.

I absolutely was being honest.  Let’s revisit what I said:

If I could have an overpaid Scottie Upshall at $3.5M for this year, then I would take that over Hudler in a heartbeat.  As it stands, I will not take overpaying Scottie Upshall for the next four years over an overpaid Hudler who’s playing a make-it-or-break-it contract year.

You’re damn right I would take Scottie Upshall on a one-year, $3.5M contract over Hudler on a one-year deal with a cap hit of $2.875.  because THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I SAID.

Scottie Upshall’s four-year deal is too much to give him.  To revisit your original point (since you obviously missed the counterpoint in the first place), Scottie Upshall is just as overpaid as Jiri Hudler is.  He’s a better player, so he’s probably worth a Drew Miller’s-worth more than Jiri Hudler for one year, but he’s not worth four years. The fact that Hudler’s contract expires after this year evens the playing field for that comparison.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/22/11 at 05:51 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.