Stuck in the middle with Ken

Red Wings fans have made their distaste for the team’s inability to make more than one trade deadline deal quite plain today, and fans have yelled at each other as much as they’e yelled about the fact that Mike Green is still a Red Wing.

I’ve been up and working for the last…it’s been a while since I slept and a longer time since I slept soundly, let’s put it that way, and this afternoon, when all was said and done, I posted the Tweets from and MSM reaction to Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s conference call with Detroit’s Wings scribes.

I spent the time doing so because I wanted you to hear and read the GM’s take for yourselves, and I spent the time doing so because I felt that it was necessary to allow the GM to explain himself.

Now that he’s explained that Mike Green’s neck injury did scare off suitors who had better alternatives (see: Ryan McDonagh, who did get traded, and Erik Karlsson, who did not), he’s explained that Gustav Nyquist did not garner any trade interest, and he’s told the media that he’s trying to balance opening up some room for future prospects with keeping the Wings’ roster together for the sakes of both continuity and leadership (his words, not mine, go ahead and listen to the presser)…

I’m comfortable suggesting that Holland was, as ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski suggests, both a deadline winner and a deadline loser.

Ideally, the Red Wings would have moved more than Petr Mrazek and Tomas Tatar. Ideally, Green would be gone, perhaps Nyquist would have garnered some interest, and maybe even Holland could have off-loaded one of the many albatross contracts which ensure that we won’t see a very different roster on this team for another 2-5 years (as CBS Sports’ Kevin Skriver suggested, the Wings are kind of stuck with their roster for the next couple of seasons, and that’s understandably troubling to the fan base).

None of the “maybes” on that list happened, and instead, the Red Wings shipped a disgruntled goaltender to Philadelphia and a life-long Red Wings fan to Las Vegas so that they may have 11 opportunities to draft prospects at the NHL draft this June.

Red Wings fans are, for better or worse, stuck with a team that is going to find itself on the fringes of the playoff pack for a little while yet, a team that is crossing its fingers that a slow and steady influx of younger players (see: Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov, Tyler Bertuzzi, Dominic Turgeon, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Vili Saarijarvi, Dennis Cholowski, etc.) will yield a couple of top-line players who can accentuate the core of Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha.

I’m not thrilled with the fact that Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen may constitute the most expensive third line in hockey, that Danny DeKeyser and Jonathan Ericsson make the money that they do, or that it certainly appears that Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill are going to keep their jobs.

I do still believe in these Red Wings, as mediocre as they may be, and I am not going to abandon them simply because their roster has been built and continues to be built as it is.

I don’t think Ken Holland did a great job today, and I don’t think he did terrible–like his team’s roster, he did a mediocre job with his assets, and mediocrity appears to be the standard while we wait for this “rebuild on the fly” to get to the “building” part.

So go ahead and be angry. Promise that you’re going to root for Las Vegas or Tampa Bay (if you hold onto the faint hope that Steve Yzerman may return after he wins a Cup with the Bolts). Get your butt to some Griffins and Walleye games if you can, because they give me hope for the future.

If you’re particularly pissed about the way today unfolded, vent to whom you are able to vent, throw something soft at something hard, issue a thoughtful lament, or simply shake your fist at the sky.

But don’t trade in your Red Wings jersey just yet. As the GM himself noted, the future is coming, and the Red Wings already have prospects playing on as many as 26 developmental teams, with 11 more to come into the pipeline. Sooner or later, by dumb luck as much as anything else, some of the Rasmussens and Cholowskis and Machovskys are going to develop into good players at an accelerated rate.

And maybe we’ll have something to hope for regarding our hockey team next spring, or the one after that.

For now, things are mediocre (and overpriced, starting with parking at LCA), but it won’t stay that way forever, because Henrik Zetterberg and company will continue to receive reinforcements, and as haphazardly and mediocrely as he runs the team, Ken Holland’s team of amateur scouts is starting to hit in the drafting and developing department.

Trades are hard, perhaps even too hard for you or I to have much solace today, but if I may use a baseball metaphor, Holland hit a solid single, and he hasn’t done that in ages.

Now we can move on and be worried as to whether the Wings have mismanaged Mike Green’s neck injury, and get ready to hear what the players have to say at practice tomorrow. Hockey is a day-to-day process, an everyday business, and we are in the middle of the “rebuild on the fly,” just far enough along to start seeing some flashes of tangible progress.

I think the general manager did the best he could with the assets he had given the constraints of the deadline. I’m not a fan of the general manager, but I am a fan of the team, and I understand that the general manager’s goal today was to make the team better tomorrow.

Hockey gods and Gord Downie in heaven, let’s hope the Wings’ organization gets this right eventually. And in the interim, let’s remain ever willing to critique, to yell and scream, perhaps even to sometimes be optimistic, and to be realistic about the concept that we’re going to have to withstand a little more mediocrity before things get better.


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.

18 thoughts on “Stuck in the middle with Ken”

  1. Kenny seems good at deadline deals (see Smith last year, Tats today), and I give him full marks for that. Still hard to believe that he couldn’t get SOMEthing for Green, even if it had serious conditionals and/or retained salary. You can always resign him in July if that’s what you really want to do.

    But it seems like July 1 is when he loses his mind. I won’t re-hash the terrible albatross deals that will hamstring this team into the next decade.

    I’m a died-in-the-wool Wings fan, and that isn’t going away anytime soon, tho. So I cheer for them from game to game, but realize that there are years of being mediocre at best ahead, and lottery picks are our best hope for the future.

  2. George, great job covering all the news these last few days and today in particular. I only had to come here for my Wings news (well, my mailbox which linked me here, and thanks for that, too). You do a phenomenal job and I and my cousin got more information than we could have ever asked for.

    It is what it is with the Wings. It looks like Holland is staying but I think he is learning how to sell at the deadline for the right price, and that matters.

    Sure I wish Holland could have put together a trade for Green involving some conditional picks but apparently this neck injury is more serious than we were led to believe and I cannot blame any team for shying away. I certainly would not have made a trade for Green under these circumstances, so I cannot be angry at Holland for not moving him.

    I have no issue re-signing Green, but I would hope it would be for 2 years at a little less to make it easier to move him to a team that needs him while he is still young enough to make an impact. He won’t be able to play long enough to make a difference here, so short term contract to trade at the next deadline or the following draft or the deadline after that is the best way to go. But I think it will be another 3 year deal and I’m not expecting a discount because Holland has a history of overpaying his loyal players.

    I fully admit I don’t think Holland understands what he needs to work out with Green, but until he signs him (if indeed Green wants to stay) we won’t know what the contract is so I don’t see a point stressing out over it.

    I’m not happy with the Mrazek return, or the trade for that matter, but the team gave up on him and the league knew that. No way Holland could get a proper guaranteed return in that situation.

    The Tatar trade was out of left field when I first heard the rumors and I’m so happy it not only happened but that Holland got a good return. This year’s 1st is probably not too high, but hopefully the 2nd and 3rd get very high. This is an A+ trade for a player with 3 more years under contract and a no trade clause kicking in this summer.

    The fact is Holland did good. The interest for Nyquist wasn’t there today, but it could be around the draft and it should be at next year’s trade deadline if he isn’t moved in the summer. I think Holland will be able to move Nyquist and I think he’ll be willing to move him if the kids keep improving and force him down the lineup the way they did with Tatar.

    All in all, the present isn’t that bad, and the future is looking a little brighter.

    Thanks again for the outstanding coverage, George.

      1. I also like everything about this comment as far as it goes. But there is a piece that I believe should be expressed–that centers on ‘fear’ of what KH might offer in future contracts. Look at Abdelkader ($4.25M AAV ’til age 36), Nielsen (5.25 ’til 38), and I also include DeKeyser (5.0M AAV) & even NyQuist (4.75M AAV), although younger. All are overpaid by at least 1M, and two will be on the edge of hockey-player-Medicare at contract completion. That’s over 4M of wasted cap!
        I conjecture albatross contracts have high likelihood of continuing unless KH is replaced.

        1. As a fear-for-future-contracts concern, I’m with you. I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be the case (we’re sort of running out of veterans who “deserve” to be rewarded). But there’s no question that these contracts are the friction in the rebuild right now. Abdelkader could be the exact player a contending team wants to pick up at the deadline, but his contract makes him immovable.

          I don’t think we’re losing much in the here-and-now by being close to the cap (it’s not like we’re $4M in contracts away from being a contender). But hopefully KH doesn’t start pre-rewarding players-who-will-someday-become-veterans.

      2. Thanks!

        I wrote another analysis of bloated contracts in the recent Krupa post about impatience with rebuild on the fly if you are interested.

  3. Great article George. You touched on my biggest disappointment as a Wings fan, this roster isn’t going to change much over the next few years. My other concern is that Holland will be returning after this season. As this “rebuild on the fly” flutters along my apathy grows.

    1. NYR decided just a few weeks ago that their team was floundering. Not a legit threat.

      So they write an honest letter to fans…changes are coming.

      A few weeks later…Holden, Grabner, Nash, Miller, and McDonough all moved out. 5 core players. Some were UFAs. Some had term. Almost 1/3rd of their cap. Gone! Now loaded with young players, picks, and prospects. But Kenny didn’t want to be so aggressive, you know, for reasons…

      1. Yep, gained at least a year on us.

        They also will be last next year with their roster. Lottery and a franchise player asap. Kinda jealous now…but would watch games with my hand slapping my forehead hard for a year.

        Someteam please rescue Lundquist!

  4. If Green is injured that badly how can he possibly play this weekend as the article suggested? You would think some team would have taken him with salary retained and for future considerations, depending on his health. Something just doesn’t seem right with the way this went down.

    1. That’s just it, we don’t know how bad the injury is. We don’t know if Green sat out before the deadline so he wouldn’t aggravate it and ruin the rest of his season. We don’t know for certain (I am aware of) that Green will play this weekend. He may not, especially now that he can let the injury fully heal before getting in. He’s not rushed and hopefully he comes back and doesn’t get hurt again. And maybe the Wings do go on that run with a healthy Green. But can a playoff team take that chance? Like I said, I wouldn’t.

      I’m not interested in conspiracy theories. Holland moved a player for a good return that I don’t think anyone expected to be moved. Tatar signed a terrible contract and the Wings don’t have it anymore. That’s a huge win.

      Holland didn’t stand pat, he made a move, even though that move only happened because Vegas got tired of Ottawa asking for the sun and moon for the best offensive defenseman in the league who also happens to be a black hole defensively, and in my opinion should never have been considered for, let alone won the Norris trophy.

      How the trade happened doesn’t matter. What matters is Holland got it done, and that hopefully bodes well for the future.

      I think we have something to be positive about for the rebuild, even though Holland doesn’t seem to understand it’s going to be longer than he’d like.

  5. George, I look at it this way.

    Nyquist gets another year to try to pop in 30 and increase his trade value before next deadline, when Daley will be in the Mike Green role of vet d-man you’re looking to move at the deadline to help a team with a Cup run. And yes, maybe you re-sign Athanasiou for one more year or two, and trade him at the deadline as well. And heck, if DET does re-sign Green, maybe he gets shopped around next deadline as well.

    DET will be sellers again next season, and there will be more opportunities to shed salary and acquire picks. They’re going to be in the seller position regardless. The trade deadline isn’t what it used to be thanks to the cap, so…. maybe it takes two or three deadlines to do now what you used to be able to accomplish in only one.

    1. But Primis. Look what NYR accomplished in one deadline? 5 core players (some with term) all shipped out. Almost 1/3rd of the cap. Vanished. A boatload of young assets and picks coming back to them.

      Even Chicago very quietly moved Panik, Kempny, and Hartman for Duclair, 1st, 3rd, prospects, etc…

      What I think happened with Green is that Kenny didn’t approach him early enough to get a lengthy list of teams. He had 2 teams to work with. Both went other directions on the final day. If Kenny had say 5 or 6 other teams on Green’s approved list, then you contact them in the last 5 minutes and say, “listen, we’re ready to deal. We’re asking for a 3rd rounder and we’ll eat half of his salary. If he plays less than 10 regular season and playoff games, that 3rd becomes a 7th. So that’s your insurance on his injury, which by the way you have already seen all the medical reports from a few days earlier right?”. Done. So when your plan A and plan B fall apart, you have options. But Kenny never had a plan C or D. So he quickly started spinning plans to extend Green to save face…

      1. Pointing to the NYR is not really a good idea. Their fanbase is pretty irate they gave up Miller with McDonagh regardless, and they are one of the worst-run franchises in the sport. Did you forget what they gave up just last deadline for one Brendan Smith? They’re a dumpster fire, a mess.

        How many walls o’ text are you going to write over Green though? You don’t know any more than the rest of us. You’re just wildly speculating still. The difference is, you’re doing it in long posts 282348323 times on each and every thread.

        I didn’t even talk or speculate about Green and why he wasnt moved ( I was talking about the future), but you turned it right back around to it and posted another diatribe on it.

        Dude, move on.

        1. Primy,
          I totally agree and don’t think Fatty realizes that NYR have a hole to work out of: over $4 million tied up in the AHL (until 2020), last season was the first time they had a 1st round pick since 2012, their prospects since 2013 have played 3 NHL games (12 total minutes minus one goalie game), they have only 12 players under contract for next season, 4 of the 5 players traded are 2018 UFAs, $5.7 million tied up in an aging defensive defenseman, and Shattenkirt is playing more like a Shatt-in-the-dirt. Plain and simple, the Rangers needed a boat load of draft picks because they don’t have anything in the pantry.

    2. I nominate you for GM today Primis.

      Except please keep our 1st at this draft, and trade into a another top 8 pick somehow.

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