Talking ‘rebuilds’ with THN

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.

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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.

8 thoughts on “Talking ‘rebuilds’ with THN”

  1. Fully agree with this article. I don’t see anyone on our roster or in our system that has 1C or 1D potential. Larkin is proving to be a 2C. Mantha and AA are support wingers. People are high on Rasmussen and Cholowski but their production in the CHL is a noticeable step below elite talents. Maybe they surprise. But my money is on Rasmussen being a 2C/3C, or maybe converted to a winger. Cholowski being a 3/4D. Same with Hronek. None will ever win a trophy. Find me a Cup winner that didn’t have a Norris nominee, or a top 5-10 scorer. Often you need multiple players of that calibre. We have zero.

  2. I think the wings have a serviceable prospect pool, we definitely produce decent quality NHL players out of every draft. But in terms of elite prospects ready to take this team over in the next few years and lead us back to the playoffs, I don’t see any. I see mainly secondary scoring or 3-5 level d-men. Hope I am wrong but if we had an elite player(s) they should be ripping it up in their current leagues.

    1. Exactly Big Daddy. Take Cholowski. He has a point-per-game. Sounds like a 1D, high scoring d-man. But there are other d-men scoring much more than that. Kale Clague was drafted well after Cholowski and is scoring 1.43 points per game in the same league. And Clague generates more offense at even-strength, whereas Cholowski has racked up 50% of his points on the PP. What happens when he gets to the NHL and doesn’t run a PP. His offense disappears. See Jakub Kindl’s CHL stats and what happened to him.

      Rasmussen is getting 1.29 points per game. Sounds like a superstar…until you see other forwards getting 2 points per game. Gabe Villardi has 1.87 points per game, in a lower-scoring league. Despite being a giant, Rasmussen has 11 even-strength goals this season. That’s it. 11. Some guys have 40 at even-strength.

      I hope both guys become superstars, but I’m not seeing anything too special here…

  3. Even if we do have elite talent in the pipeline, it’s going to be some time before they make the big club with the albatross contract logjam. I just hope that, now that The Streak is over, the focus shifts from “get in the playoffs and anything can happen” to a real life rebuild. It is encouraging that Kenny (who I 100% expect to come back as GM) didn’t sign any overpriced veterans for a “playoff run” this year. Unconscionable that he couldn’t move Green, but he got a fantastic return for Tatar, so that’s kind of a wash in my book. Hope he sees where this is going and keeps the rebuild hopes alive.

    The Wings fanbase are smart enough to know that rebuilds take time and are not super fun. What they don’t like is being strung along and told the team is fine, when it’s painfully obvious that it isn’t.

    1. In addition to accumulating draft picks, I’d also like to see trades used as a method to add talent. Vatanen was available all summer and eventually moved for Henrique. I know Anaheim was desperate for a centre at that moment, but during the summer their priority had been a scoring winger. Nyquist for Vatanen might have worked, before his NTC kicked in. Lots of other Swedes in Anaheim. Add a draft pick if you need to. But that’s the kind of player that can help us for many years. AA for Faulk is another idea. Chicago added Duclair for nothing. So don’t just add picks…explore trades.

  4. I think everyone will know draft order when trade season opens again. The chance of seducing a 1st pick from a potential playoff hopeful who is actually a lottery ticket owner… is gone…

    Florida? Colorado? Calgary? Carolina? St.Lous? All looking for mature talent and a trade should have been force fed here. Even if pundits say that Mr. Holland just lost that trade. Protect our top 3 futures and start getting spins at the wheel IN THE TOP 10!

    Notice AA not mentioned as a future here. Maybe a draft table decision will get us a shot at an elite complete player?

  5. I am expecting 5 years before this team is an actual dangerous playoff team. We have a couple of nice pieces but not a single elite player or prospect. That will take time to fix.

    Short answer is rangers will be back before we are.

    1. Rebuilds are hard…especially when you give away a 26-year old goalie to keep a 34-year old injury prone one. And fail to trade a pending UFA d-man who has been noted all year as a top target. Maybe we should sign Joe Thornton to a 3-year deal and then play hardball with our RFAs again?

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