The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/22/11 at 03:13 AM ET
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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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.