The Free Press’s Helene St. James filed a mailbag article this morning. St. James answered a question about the pesky issue of player development (among others):
Does team realize level of dissatisfaction with team construction and player development? Looking at others questions in this thread show hardcore fans very angry. We accept losing. We do not accept lies.
— Kevin Movius (@kmovius) July 24, 2018
HSJ: When he was asked about the state of the team as he announced general manager Ken Holland’s two-year extension in April, team owner Chris Ilitch said “we are all going to need patience. …. We are going to be as aggressive as possible in building a team that can qualify for the playoffs and ultimately compete for a Stanley Cup championship.”
In March, I interviewed Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman and Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill about forging their respective teams into Stanley Cup contenders. This was Yzerman’s perspective: “To build a team, it takes years. Our approach has been that we try to hang on to our draft picks and develop players. It’s my eighth year and I was fortunate to come in when we had our first-overall and second-overall picks in Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, so I got a running start. Eight years later we have a contender, but we haven’t won a Cup.”
Nill said, “It’s not going to happen overnight. And you have to get a little bit lucky. … People want overnight change and it doesn’t happen that way.”
The Wings have held onto their first-round draft picks since 2013, which has netted Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, Evgeny Svechnikov, Dennis Cholowski, Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina, plus Joe Veleno (via Vegas). All those are key pieces as the Wings rebuild. None are considered generational players, like Edmonton landed in 2015 in Connor McDavid, Toronto landed in 2016 in Auston Matthews, and Buffalo landed in 2018 in Rasmus Dahlin.
The Oilers, in fact, also drafted first overall in 2010, 2011 and 2012, drafted seventh overall in 2013, and third overall in 2014. They’ve missed the playoffs 11 times the past 12 seasons. The Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs 10 of the past 13 seasons, and haven’t won a playoff series since 2004. In addition to Dahlin at first overall, the Sabres have, over the past six years, drafted second overall twice, and eighth overall three times. They haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2011.
Then there’s the Coyotes franchise: They have drafted inside the top 10 six times since 2004-05, and have missed the playoffs 10 times, including the past six years.
I know it’s frustrating watching the Wings try to regain competitiveness, but as is shown around the league, it takes time.