MLive’s Ansar Khan wrote an article discussing the Red Wings’ rebuild some 10 years after the Wings last won a Stanley Cup and 21 years to the day the team ended its 42-year Cup drought by winning the 1997 Stanley Cup championship:
Building from the ground up through the draft is the strategy. They made several trades to accumulate 11 picks this year, including seven in the first three rounds. They have nine selections in 2019, including an extra second-rounder.
“That’s the blueprint for our future,” [Christopher] Ilitch said on April 7, when announcing [GM Ken] Holland’s two-year contract extension. “It’s going to be a process, we’re all going to need patience, but (Holland) has the skill and the experience to lead us through that process again.”
Holland said they’re not starting from scratch. They have a good core of young forwards in Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi. They’re high on 2015 top pick Evgeny Svechnikov. They believe 2017 top pick Michael Rasmussen can make the leap from juniors to the NHL next season.
More than anything, they need to upgrade their defense, if not with a star, at least with one or two stronger top-four, mobile, puck-moving defensemen. They hope 2016 top pick Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek, their top defenseman this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, are ready to move up in the next year or two.
They also need a goaltender. Jimmy Howard is 34 and has one year remaining on his contract. If he’s re-signed for a year or two, it would be more of a stopgap measure until they can identify their next franchise goalie, whether it’s someone in their system, someone they’ve yet to draft or someone they’ll acquire through trade.
Khan continues, mostly reiterating the concept that the Red Wings’ attempt to rebuild without completely tanking is going to be difficult and probably long.
Roster-wise, I would suggest that the Red Wings have a few prospects who could develop into stars on defense and in goal, but player development is key in that department, and that’s where Daniel Cleary, Shawn Horcoff, Griffins coach Ben Simon and Toledo Walleye coach Dan Watson come into play. The Red Wings rather desperately need a couple of prospects to jump the developmental curve, and that’s up to both the players and their mentors.