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We’ve got ourselves a youth movement going on in Detroit

Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika penned this in last night's "Three Periods" column, but given that Ian White may very well be out of a job, and Carlo Colaiacovo may or may not join him as the suddenly-healthy Red Wings' defense consists of Niklas Kronwall and a cast of under-30 players in Jonathan Ericsson, Brian Lashoff, Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith, I thought this was particularly pertinent:

Already thinned by personnel losses, the Wings have been thinned further by injuries. They have lost more than 120 man-games even though they have played only 20 games. Divide 120 by 20. That’s six players out of the lineup per game.

As a result, they have played six rookies – and that doesn’t count Damien Brunner, who came over from Switzerland and had never played a pro game in North America at any level, even in the preseason. He has 10 goals but is ineligible for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year because he turned 26 before Sept. 15, the cutoff date.

“Obviously, the Detroit Red Wings at this time in our existence, we’re in a bit of a transition,” said Wings GM Ken Holland.

Holland talked about how Scotty Bowman loved veterans as a coach because he knew what they would do. He listed players like Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios. He could have gone on and on.

“Well, those days are gone,” Holland said.

The Wings still have Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, but they’re also playing Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson.

“We still think that we’ve got the potential to be a good hockey team, but with all the injuries that we’ve had, we’ve been forced to probably play a lot more kids than we had planned,” Holland said. “They’re going to make mistakes. That’s a part of being a young player. We’re prepared to live with their mistakes.

“We think that most of them can develop into good, solid NHL players, but they’re going to make mistakes along the way. That’s just part of developing players. We believe we’re going to wake up down the road and we’re going to be a better team because of the adversity and because of the experiences these players are getting.”

Cotsonika duly notes that the Wings dearly miss Todd Bertuzzi's size, Darren Helm's grit and jam and possibly Mikael Samuelsson's shot--as Cotsonika suggests, the Red Wings' "real team" has yet to appear due to injuries, and a Mule with his sea legs under him and Colaiacovo's puck-moving poise wouldn't hurt...

But I get the feeling that, barring a signifcant upgrade on defense and/or a top nine forward with size and strength, the younger Wings may be given the opportunity to strut their stuff and show what they've got, with the Wings waiting until summer and a round of amnesty buyouts to truly address the issues that this year's trades may not be able to address without selling the horse for a top-pair defenseman and big, bruising top-six forward.

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Comments

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Wings aren’t looking like a bad team with what we’ve got.  New guys have to have adversity to gain experience on handling it, bottom line.  All our last group had their time with it.  This group needs it to, to appreciate being on top and staying there.  Coli’s could get a decent haul, especially paired with White?  That’s a decent upgrade on defense for the right team.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/01/13 at 04:26 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

But I get the feeling that, barring a signifcant upgrade on defense and/or a top nine forward with size and strength, the younger Wings may be given the opportunity to strut their stuff and show what they’ve got,.

Yeah, I fear we are just in evaluation mode from here on out. 

a round of amnesty buyouts to truly address the issues that this year’s trades may not be able to address

Just as long as Mule is first in line.  I’m done with him.  The fire went out about 2 year ago.

Posted by MoreShoot on 03/01/13 at 04:28 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I don’t know if I’m watching a different team than Babs and everyone else, but I’m really not too convinced with our D.  I could only see bits and pieces of the game last night, but what I saw was bad passes in our own zone, giveaways, and weak play. 

Am I missing something here?  Don’t get me wrong - I’m happy with the youth on the team and the future, but I’m a bit concerned with us right now.  Our D is pathetic looking while being forechecked.

Posted by TreKronor on 03/01/13 at 04:53 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...with all the injuries that we’ve had, we’ve been forced to probably play a lot more kids than we had planned,” Holland said. “They’re going to make mistakes.

It seems to me that the “kids” have made fewer mistakes than some of the “vets” (cough*Quincey*cough*Franzen*cough*Filppula*cough). Brunner is far more responsible defensively than I thought he’d be. And Lashoff plays incredibly well for a guy they once looked at as a possible #6 or #7 guy. Even Tatar and Andersson have been pretty sound defensively.

The only thing that really worries me is the thought that Holland may trade away some of the “kids” for a rental vet in hopes of a longer playoff run this year. It’s time for the organ-I-zation to look farther ahead than three months. Please.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 03/01/13 at 05:05 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Two comments:

1. Franzen is NOT going to be bought out. Yes, he’s frustrating, but the Wings just don’t have anyone remotely NHL ready that can provide the kind of size, strength and occasional streaky goal-scoring he does. I know he looked gassed in his first two games back, but he was doing a wonderful job of going to the net before he got hurt, and I fully believe that he’ll reprise that role shortly.

Possible buy-outs for Samuelsson, Colaiacovo, etc.? Sure. But Franzen’s going to annoy us for a long time to come.

2. I’m not exactly thrilled with the concept that the bottom two pairings are Quincey-Smith and Kindl -Lashoff. White may very well be an upgrade over Kindl, and the same could be said for Colaiacovo…

I guess that’s where we start wondering whether the Wings will attempt to get that “top four defenseman” who’d be worth sacrificing one of the “top nine,” a draft pick and a middling prospect to acquire.

Ideally, someone with an expiring contract would become available from an Eastern Conference team—think Sergei Gonchar from Ottawa, or Mark Streit or Lubomir Visnovsky from the Islanders—but if the price is too high, as we already know, the Wings don’t believe in overpaying to simply add a player to add a player.

I hope the Wings can find another top-four guy, because Smith and Lashoff will be a fine second pair a year or two from now, and Quincey’s salvaging his career in a big way, but this team needs another cannon from the point and another heavy-duty puck mover pretty badly.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/01/13 at 05:24 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

I hope the Wings can find another top-four guy

I look around the league and think of Lubomir V, Yandle and Danny Boyle (is he still considered on the block?).  Yandle clearly the best of that lot, but is he the right fit?  Would you put him with E and move Kronner down a line with someone?

 

Posted by MoreShoot on 03/01/13 at 05:31 PM ET

SYF's avatar

I’ve seen Visnovsky with the Kings and I’ve wished for him in a Wings sweater moreso than Yandle.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 03/01/13 at 05:39 PM ET

Avatar

-Buying out Franzen is a really dumb idea.  I mean, really, really dumb.  I understand there are people who have chosen to dislike him, but the smart outlet for that fetish is to demand he be traded, not bought out.  A buyout would involve Franzen on the Wings cap in some form or another through the year 2027.

-The Wings defense isn’t a top pair as much as it is a top 1, a middle 3 and a bottom 2.  The thing with Detroit’s D is that it’s a whole lot different in style than it used to be.  IMO there aren’t two above average puck movers on the whole blueline.  In seasons past there’d be 3 or 4 guys who were strong with the puck, and two of those guys were elite-level talents there.  So now when we see the blueline play we see them lacking in ‘skill’ and we assume that as a group they are playing less well.  IMO they aren’t playing appreciably worse than bluelines of years past (when healthy), it’s just that they have a different style.

-Lashoff isn’t a second pair guy, I don’t think.  He’s been pressed into that duty now and then, but I just don’t see the game there with him.  He’s more of a minute-sponge kind of player than he is a positive difference maker out there on the ice.  Honestly, the closest comparison I can draw to Lashoff is Quincey.  Big kid, young, can play minutes like a horse… but what’s he really doing out there?  He doesn’t bleep all over himself, which is fine, but is he making positive plays?  Not so much.

-Quincey has exactly one more NHL point this year than I do.  ‘Salvaging his career’ is a spectacularly overstrong statement.  What he’s turning into is Andreas Lilja 2.0.  I liked Lilja, but he was a career third liner with a pretty definable (and low) overall ceiling as far as utility.  I see this with Quincey, too.

-I can’t recall Holland trading away a young player who has shown anything substantive at the NHL level.  He moved Fleischmann and a #1 for Lang, but that was 3 years before the kid really broke through in the NHL.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/01/13 at 05:59 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

In seasons past there’d be 3 or 4 guys who were strong with the puck, and two of those guys were elite-level talents there

Well no doubt there has been a downgrade in talent, but it’s hard to judge absolutely how good we could be moving pucke fast and long out of our zone a, because of the position in which we frequently are fielding the puck, and, b, Babcock has restructured the gaps so that we’re mostly not trying the long pass.

Posted by MoreShoot on 03/01/13 at 07:15 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

A buyout would involve Franzen on the Wings cap in some form or another through the year 2027.

Sorry, but that’s not true. If the Wings used one of the two “compliance” buyouts provided for in the new CBA, nothing about Franzen’s contract would count against the cap in the future. That was one of the big “concessions” the league agreed to in order to get the cap reduced next year.

 

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 03/01/13 at 08:22 PM ET

Avatar

nothing about Franzen’s contract would count against the cap in the future.

But they would still be paying tens of millions of dollars to rid themselves of a 25-30 goal scorer, and to potentially turn him into a Wing killer.

No way they do that.

Posted by Garth on 03/01/13 at 10:18 PM ET

Avatar

Sorry, but that’s not true. If the Wings used one of the two “compliance” buyouts provided for in the new CBA, nothing about Franzen’s contract would count against the cap in the future.

Maybe.  I’d bet that if he retired before the end of his contract (and I’d imagine the odds of that happening are right around 100%) the ‘Cap Advantage Recapture’ mechanism would kick in, even for compliance buyouts, and Detroit’s gotten somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 million bucks in cap advantage from the nature of his contract so far.

That point aside, the old Franzen argument remains.  For a less than 4 mil cap hit, what the bleep do people expect, anyway?  His cap number probably doesn’t even get Franzen into the top 60-70ish of NHL forwards (5 mil flat is #50 per capgeek), since getting off the 4th line he’s scored at a rate of just over 34 goals per 82 games in the regular season, his playoff production is actually higher than that (just over 35 goals per 82 playoff games), and it’s not like he’s a great sucking defensive wound out there like other goal scorers can be.

He gets hurt rather often, he’s pretty streaky, and he’s not physical.  Oh well.  Not every car can have a sunroof.  Jiri bleeping Hudler has a bigger cap hit (granted, from a team run by idiots) and we saw what that dude had in the bag, right?  I guarantee Fil would get a 4+ long term deal from somebody, and it’s not like that guy doesn’t have any warts.

That cap number gets you players with impossible to ignore imperfections.

Well no doubt there has been a downgrade in talent, but it’s hard to judge absolutely how good we could be moving pucke fast and long out of our zone a, because of the position in which we frequently are fielding the puck, and, b, Babcock has restructured the gaps so that we’re mostly not trying the long pass.

That’s a ‘chicken or the egg’ situation though.  IMO the reason Babcock doesn’t try the stretch pass is he doesn’t want Ericsson, White, Quincey or Lashoff making stretch passes.  For obvious reasons.  If you’ve only got one or two guys on the whole roster who you trust doing it, you can’t really incorporate it into the team structure of play.

And I don’t think the blue line is less ‘talented’ per se.  I think they have different areas of expertise than pretty much every Wings blueline of years past.

For instance, in 2009 the Wings had Lidstrom, Raffy, Kronwall, Stuart, Lilja and Lebda as their 6.  At least 3 of those guys are all as good or better puck-movers than the Wings best puck mover now, Kronwall.  Conversely, of Detroit’s ‘when healthy’ top 6 of Kronwall, E, White, Smith, Colaiacovo and Quincey I’d say that group is collectively much stronger defensively than the 2009 group was, and while Lidstrom then was better defensively than anyone on the current roster, I’d probably have 3 or 4 guys from this years team all listed next before I got to the second name from 2009.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/02/13 at 05:36 AM ET

klank's avatar

I’ve seen Visnovsky with the Kings and I’ve wished for him in a Wings sweater moreso than Yandle.

Yotes would defiantly ask for the farm to pry Yandle away.  But, Snow may give up Visnovsky for considerable less.  2 D men for the price of 1?  hmmmm

 

Posted by klank from the finest hot tub in Marin on 03/02/13 at 01:06 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.