The Hockey News’s Campbell weighs in on the Wings’ decision to not embrace the tank

The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell weighs in on the Wings’ decision to re-sign Mike Green and to sign Thomas Vanek and Jonathan Bernier:

As you digest the three signings the Detroit Red Wings made to kick off free agent frenzy, there are a couple of things to take into account. First, much of the direction the Red Wings will take next season depends upon the future of Henrik Zetterberg, who will apparently decide on his future after a golf outing with some of his teammates later this month. Second, as long as Ken Holland is GM in the Detroit, the Red Wings will never, ever embrace The Tank.

That much was crystal clear when the Red Wings announced their three signings – defenseman Mike Green at two years with a $5.4 million cap hit, goalie Jonathan Bernier for three year at $3 million per year and Thomas Vanek for one year at $3 million. What you have to realize is that by doing this, the Red Wings may have cost themselves a chance at getting Jack Hughes, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the 2019 entry draft, particularly if Zetterberg decides to retire and is placed on the long-term injury list. But the way the Red Wings look at it, finishing last is no guarantee of winning the draft lottery and the downside of tanking is your young players are indoctrinated into a culture where losing is acceptable.

So the rebuild is on in Detroit, perhaps not in the way that many of their fans would like, but this is a group that knows it won’t contend for at least another couple of seasons. There are different ways to do this and this is the way the Red Wings are going.

Here’s another thing about the Red Wings. Don’t be surprised if all three of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou are all signed on bridge deals. Larkin will get about $6 million a year on whatever number of years he wants, while Mantha and Athanasiou will get about half of that on shorter-term contracts. That would put the Red Wings over the cap if Zetterberg comes back and they would have to move out a body or two if that happens.

The Red Wings’ approach to sixth overall pick Filip Zadina will be the same as they took with Larkin three years ago. He’ll be in Detroit as long as he’s playing significant minutes and is not a healthy scratch. (For that matter, 30th overall pick Joe Veleno will get a long look in camp.) Otherwise, he’ll either be sent back to junior or go to the American League, an option the Red Wings have open to them with Zadina. In addition to that, center Dennis Rasmussen and defensemen Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski will push for spots, while Tyler Bertuzzi will be in the lineup for a full season.

So the Red Wings are clearly rebuilding on the fly here. It likely won’t get them Jack Hughes, but they won’t be a modern-day version of the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres or Arizona Coyotes, either.

Update: ALSO:


Published by

George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

6 thoughts on “The Hockey News’s Campbell weighs in on the Wings’ decision to not embrace the tank”

  1. I completely agree with this take and I am fine with this path. Wings have good pros playing with youngsters to show them how to play. If we struggle we have a number of pieces to move at the deadline that aren’t a barrier for acquiring teams (Nyquist, Howard, Green, Vanek, Jensen at least). I’m a. Optimist here

  2. Agreed, Stuart.

    Signing Vanek isn’t a sign that we’re pulling out the stops to make a run this season, I take it as a sign that we have limited expectations. It is relatively no-risk. Vanek has proven again and again (and again, and again) that there is always a team willing to pay a mid-round pick for him at the deadline.

    Green will play some minutes, but if anyone shows they’re capable of taking a harsher load he won’t be a barrier in their path. Our difficulty is finding someone better… we aren’t “hiding” any talent anywhere.

    Bernier? Nice.

    No problems in any of this news. Now, let’s all cross our fingers and hope all of the youngsters show further development at training camp & beyond.

  3. It is not a rebuild if your lineup never changes. Obvious that a rebuild will only start when kh has moved on.

    1. Yup, it’s not a true rebuild—we’ll see elite Cup contender status beyond my lifetime! [But, then again, I sometimes forget to realize I am 75 ! 🙂 ]

  4. I’m not mad or happy about Green, my issue is the roster space. If we can boot a dumpster fire like E or Kronwall or DDK then I’d have no issue with The Green signing.

    I feel the same about Vanek if we dump Nyquist, or Helm, or Abby (lol I know) then again I have no real issue with Vanek.

    In net I think the deal is a year too long for Bernier. There were a lot of options out there that I feel were about the same talent level as Bernier so I don’t see the need to give one of them 3 years. This deal looks better to me if we let Howard walk, or have him take a massive pay cut so we don’t continue to spend almost $9 for average tandem goaltending

  5. akwingsfan; July 1, 2018 at 1:59 PM
    “It is not a rebuild if your lineup never changes.”

    I just don’t know how to respond to this. Honestly.

    Pavel Datsyuk is gone! THAT changes the lineup and it also necessitates a rebuild.

    Our problems winning games is because we don’t have a talent at that level. X is not a problem, Y is not a problem, nothing else is a problem.

    Our problem is we don’t have a player that everyone agrees(while he is still playing) will be a 1st ballot HoF’er.

    Big deal. I’ve been a fan for decades and I enjoyed it when we were the best in the league & I can guarantee everyone I will enjoy this season as well.

    I like watching hockey. I also like the Red Wings. Most important of all it is July. I’m not willing to circle dates on the calendar months in advance so I can say, “All the plans are set to watch the Red Wings lose to the (fill-in-the-blank).”

    Iff Larkin shows similar development entering camp this season as he did last season, we will win a half-dozen more games;
    Iff Mantha shows entering camp this season that every shift is the same as every other shift than we will win buckets of games (but this is getting less and less likely after he arrives at yet another camp),
    Iff Zadina actually is, what he apparently looks like he is, well… I want to watch his career with the Red Wings from the start.
    Iff Rasmussen can play C in the NHL then there is no shortage of wingers for him to choose from to create a Line and another Line mean more wins.

    I can still see a path to the playoffs and I can still see path to a run to the Cup… pfft, it’s not even the 4th of July, yet.

Comments are closed.