Mixed Messages Being Sent in Detroit Red Wings Rebuild

Ken Holland
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland (L) and Detroit Red Wings Senior Vice President Jim Devellano speak during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings rebuild is something management finally embraced this year. Detroit is a team trying to stockpile talent to enjoy another lengthy playoff streak like the 25-year one that ended in 2016-17.

General manager Ken Holland knows that every move is going to be scrutinized by a fan base that wants to get back to the postseason. Red Wings management has done a great job of getting assets.

Holland has decided to add some experience. Detroit brought back free agent defenceman Mike Green and forward Thomas Vanek. They also added goalie Jonathan Bernier to compete for time in between the pipes.

However, are these signings going to help or hinder the rebuilding effort?

Adding Veterans

Good teams usually have a mix of veteran leadership fostering the younger talent. Hence this is why Green, Vanek and Bernier were added after July 1. Players like Henrik Zetterberg are proven locker room leaders and that’s apparently rubbed off on younger skaters like Dylan Larkin.

However, Detroit was the oldest team in the league last season and both Green and Vanek are on the downslope of their respective careers. Bernier will turn 30 on August 7.

Both Green and Vanek still have some scoring punch left in their game. Green was the top-scoring defenceman for the Wings with 33 points and Vanek is a consistent 20-goal scorer. The return of Green was likely spurred on by the defence group being weak.

When will the Youth Movement Begin

However, Detroit has a lot of young depth waiting in Grand Rapids for a chance to hit the big club. Prospects like Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski are a couple of defenders itching for a chance.

Hronek had a very good first professional season with 11 goals and 28 assists for 39 points. Cholowski generated 14 goals and 52 assists as he split time between the Prince George Cougars and Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

The forward group also shows plenty of promise with Michael Rasmussen posting 59 points in 47 games with the Tri-City Americans. Players like Tyler Bertuzzi will hopefully integrate more into the regular lineup.

Detroit added some very capable forwards in the recent NHL draft. Filip Zadina has already captured the fan base’s imagination with his dazzling speed and scoring touch and Joe Veleno could be another steady two-way option. Jonatan Berggren could be another steal after being taken early in the second round.

The Future of the Detroit Red Wings Rebuild

However, this will be all pointless if these players aren’t given a chance to shine. Holland does stress that players need to earn their ice time and that’s a great point, but there comes a time when the players have to get the chance to figure it out. They need to be given the opportunity to sink or swim on their own.

Holland has done a great job in picking up assets and the future looks bright. He’s made some great moves in the past and made some questionable ones as well. He did have one of his best drafts in recent years just a few weeks ago.

However, mixed messages are being sent by adding the trio of veterans. These older players could be spun into further draft picks down the way, but the biggest question is when will the youth movement start in Hockeytown.

The future is now for the Detroit Red Wings.


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