Simply put, even the Wings don’t need to press the Panic Button quite yet. Goddamn they’re close, and Ken Holland has the button three-quarters of the way down, but someone needs to walk into that front office and slap Holland. Wings fans, I know you hate Holland, I’m not a huge fan of him myself, but he’s a smart man that knows what it takes to win.
First off, the Griffins just won the freaking Calder Cup. With forward prospects on that team like Tyler Bertuzzi, Evgeny Svechnikov, Martin Frk, and so many others, the future is bright for Detroit. With the changing of guard, if you will, on the horizon, those three, along with Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Andreas Athanasiou should make for some lethal top lines in the future. With at least three of them able to learn from Henrik Zetterberg and a little from Pavel Datsyuk, they should have gotten phenomenal lessons and guidance and wisdom from the Euro Twins. Assuming Holland stops with the unfortunate tradition of handing out bad contracts and manages to offload a few, if the Wings can put veteran leadership with these young forwards, we could see a Stanley Cup return to Detroit in the next five years.
And then you have the defenseman. Young defenseman like Dylan McIlrath, Dan Renouf, Joe Hicketts, Robbie Russo, and Filip Hronek could all one day play for the Red Wings, though it’s highly unlikely. With Ryan Sproul, Nick Jensen, and Xavier Ouellet all being competent NHL D-men with the potential to be great, there’s only room for 3 more, and at most one more righty in that group. I wish I could include Danny DeKeyser in this group, but I think he’s unfortunately part of that poor tradition of bad contracts by Ken Holland. Again, with a solid veteran signing, and offloading a bad contract or two, the defense could help bring a Stanley Cup back to Detroit in the next five years.
As previously mentioned, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Andreas Athanasiou all have massive upside. But I think it’s only right to dedicate an entire paragraph to them. I honestly feel Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou have potential to be some of the best players in the NHL one day. Not Dylan Larkin. Larkin is a very good hockey player, but not one that I feel can be a star, and I genuinely hope he proves me wrong. However, Larkin suffered a sophomore slump. While that isn’t uncommon in sports, some of the best NHL players didn’t experience one. Guys like Sidney Crosby, who led the league in scoring in his sophomore year mind you, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Jaromir Jagr, Henrik Zetterberg, and Evgeni Malkin just to name a few, didn’t have one. Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou were two of Detroit’s better players this year, and they’re still young as can be as both are just 22. Larkin is 2 years younger and still has his whole career ahead of him, but right now, it would be hard to convince me that he has star potential.
To make the playoffs this upcoming season, Detroit needs to learn how to score on the power play, and when there’s even slightly a chance, throw the puck at the net and see what happens. This team has a bright future, and can learn many things from the veteran leadership they do have, unlike many of the younger teams in the league.