Granted, we are a month away from the NHL Draft, it felt right to do a mild outlook for the Red Wings again. The team has two first round picks, and seven in the first three rounds. No matter how you interpret this class, it’s a rebuild done right. Not all picks are going to be perennial all stars, but stockpiling picks is the right way to proceed in a rebuild.
Ken Holland is back, and while there are those who are skeptical of his return, it’s probably for the best. Ken Holland isn’t the world’s best GM by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s never been asked to rebuild a team. Holland deserves a chance to rebuild and work more of his magic in trades to bring this team back to contention. As we all know, he’s not the greatest at the contracts and salary cap manipulation, the Abdelkader and Ericsson contracts come to mind immediately. However, there is still time to get a better hold of the team’s cap, and even potentially dump a few of the contracts that really bind the team.
The only puzzling move in my eyes that the Red Wings have made thus far is the decision to bring Jeff Blashill back for at least another season. Blashill leaves a lot to be desired with his coaching, specifically in the development of the younger players in the NHL. Players like Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, and even Tyler Bertuzzi were given outrageously short leashes. On the flip side, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, and even Henrik Zetterberg from time to time, were given outrageously long leashes because they’ve earned the right to screw up, sort of in Blashill’s own words as I don’t remember the exact phrasing and can’t be asked to find it right now. That’s neither here nor there. Blashill being brought back may be in part to a lack of quality head coaches available currently–keep in mind I’m not the most knowledgeable about hockey coaching and am trying to teach myself more and more about the sport as I go. But hey, Gerard Gallant was on the streets, so to speak, and now Vegas is in the Stanley Cup Final, so you never really know.
Detroit’s draft situation is a very intriguing one, with two first rounders, and seven total in the first three rounds. With their own pick, Adam Boqvist, Quinn Hughes, and Evan Bouchard are all possibilities. Even Brady Tkachuk has been falling on mock drafts and boards recently, so he’s a potential pick. At the end of the day though, defense is Detroit’s glaring need right now. With Mike Green’s contract expiring, and Trevor Daley aging as their only other generally competent defenseman, there’s little doubt Detroit takes a long, hard look at the defensive class this year. Quinn Hughes is a good skater, and played really well at the world hockey championship in Denmark, showing he could play on one of the biggest stages in the world. Evan Bouchard is an offensive contributor in every sense of the phrase, from the blueline, with 87 points in 62 games, and he’s very agile for his size. Adam Boqvist is widely viewed as one of the best players in the draft, and epitomizes a Swedish defenseman, he’s a good skater and confident with the puck under his control.
Detroit still has a long, long way to go. Ken Holland has got to draft well for the next two to three years, and bank on at least a few picks from the last two years pan out as well. More importantly though, he has to stop giving out, for lack of better phrasing, stupid contracts because loyalty is both a blessing and a curse for him. He must find a way to get out from the stupid contracts he’s already handed out as well, and a team attempting to reach the cap floor is ideal for that.
In a few words, Detroit’s near future isn’t promising, but hitting on both of this year’s first round picks will be a start.
Couldn’t find photographer for featured image, but it can be found here