The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/23/11 at 10:38 PM ET
According to the Associated Press’s Larry Lage, the first thing Red Wings GM Ken Holland wants to do regarding their 2011 NHL Entry Draft class-to-be is to remind fans that, given the Wings’ drafting position, they won’t be picking players who are expected to jump into the lineup:
“Whomever we pick, he’s going to be three to five years away from realistically helping us on the NHL level,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s not like we have one of the top picks. There’s a reason a player is still available at 24. We think we’re going to get a good prospect, but he’s going to need to develop quite a bit. Hopefully a few years from now, we’ll find out we found a player in the draft.”
Holland plans to take the best available player whether he’s a goaltender, defenceman or forward.
“We don’t have any idea what our needs will be down the road, so we’ll rely on our scouts,” Holland said.
As usual, the Wings plan on embracing the old, “We’ll see them in five-to-seven years” philosophy regarding allowing their prospects to mature until they’r ready…
The Red Wings are just starting to get contributions from a player they took first in 2005. Defenceman Jakub Kindl, drafted 19th overall six years ago, got his first extended shot to play in Detroit last season. Defenceman Brendan Smith, taken 27th overall in 2007, might get his first chance to play for the Red Wings next season.
“We believe in a process of development,” Holland said.
And assistant GM Jim Nill, who’s working the draft table, says that it will in fact be much harder for the Wings to swipe a “sleeper pick” given the fact that the entire prospect pool has gotten more…professional:
“I think the biggest surprise at the (NHL) combines is that there’s no surprises anymore,” Nill said. “I can’t believe how worldly these kids are now. They’re 17, 18 and all grown up.”
In the case of scouting, more information seems to be making it harder to differentiate players. It used to be that under prodding, scouts and GM’s could unearth the cracks and weaknesses in a player that were evident in watching him play.
“It’s made it a lot harder,” Nill said. “They’re all very polished and well schooled. They all know what the combines are. The world is so big, yet it (hockey world) seems so small now. No walks in and you say, ‘Oh, boy.’ They’ve all got great stories.”
Nill said it would be easy to say player agents are behind this evolution, but this change goes beyond an agent just prepping his client for the combines and draft. Instead, Nill feels there have been structural changes in the sport that have affected players more dramatically.
“More kids are leaving home to play at 13, 14, 15,” Nill said. “They’re forced to grow up fast, to look after themselves at a younger age.”
“The game has grown worldwide,” Nill said. “All these kids have gone to play in Europe in high level games at a younger age. It used to be you didn’t do that until you were 17 or 18 and the world juniors. The Europeans, by the time they get to the combines, have all played four or five times in North America too. They know what it’s like here, seen games. They’ve adapted to pressure sooner. We know more about these kids, but it makes drafting harder. It’s harder to differentiate between them all.”
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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.