File this one under, “I respect his point of view, but could not disagree more regarding his assessment of the Wings’ prospects.”
The Hockey News’s Matt Larkin was asked whether the Red Wings or Rangers are better-prepared for a “rebuild,” and here’s what Larkin had to say:
The Rangers are much better equipped for a rebuild in my opinion. First of all, while Detroit has started building a young group to get excited about in Dylan Larkin (no relation to me, by the way; Dylan and I and his uncle had a discussion about it at the 2016 All-Star Game and traced our lineage and there is no close family connection), Anthony Mantha, Michael Rasmussen and Dennis Cholowski. But none of those players is a Mittelstadt or an Eeli Tolvanen or an Elias Pettersson. In other words, the Red Wings don’t have any elite-ceiling prospects in my opinion. On top of that, they are saddled with just so many prohibitive contracts: Frans Nielsen, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley and so on.
It’s telling that Holland had to deal a pretty good player in Tatar to get what he wanted. No one is taking those other overpriced veterans since they all have so many darned years left on their deals. That’s why I’ve been saying for a long time that the Red Wings will try their fan base’s patience as much as any team over the next few years. They’re stuck with those contracts, and it’s not like they can buy out everyone. The Leafs, by comparison, have loaded up their farm system in part because they added so many veterans on one-year deals when they were struggling and could flip them for picks every year. At least Detroit has two picks in each of the first four rounds at the 2018 draft, though. That was a coup for Holland.
The Rangers, meanwhile, moved two useful expiring assets in Michael Grabner and Rick Nash to haul in picks and prospects while also cashing in Ryan McDonagh while his value was still nice and high. General manager Jeff Gorton has added legitimately promising young players in Libor Hajek, Brett Howden and Ryan Lindgren, and the Rangers have three picks in the first round this year, plus two in the second and third rounds. On top of that, they have some higher-ceiling prospects ready to make an NHL impact as soon as next year in centers Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil, plus they have one of the best goaltending prospects in hockey in Igor Shesterkin.
So the Rangers to me look like a team that could reverse course in a hurry and become competitive again in a season or two. The Wings will take longer.
I don’t disagree regarding the Wings’ bloated contracts, but I believe that their prospect pool is better than it’s given credit for. Time will tell.