The Hockey News’s Matt Larkin chose Monday afternoon to issue a gloomy forecast for the Detroit Red Wings for both the present moment and years to come:
For now, there is no Pavel Datsyuk-caliber of forward on the horizon for Detroit. There is no Nicklas Lidstrom-quality of defender, either. That’s as much a compliment about Lidstrom and Datsyuk as it is a negative comment about the prospects Detroit has in its development system. Sure, they have bright lights such as forwards Jakub Vrana, Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri, and defensemen Moritz Seider and Filip Hronek to indicate the cupboard isn’t completely bare, but they remain a longshot at best to earn a playoff berth. And maybe that’s for the best in the bigger picture; does anyone envision them winning a playoff round this season? What they need is more high-end young skill, and you don’t get that by finishing eighth or ninth in the Eastern Conference. You have to go through more pain, and five years of pain clearly hasn’t been enough to position them as a team to keep your eye on.
Yzerman proved in Tampa Bay that he could build a champion, but the situation in Detroit isn’t nearly the same as it was when he started out his managerial career with the Bolts. He has the full confidence of Wings ownership, but all the confidence in the world doesn’t matter if you don’t have the assets to back it up. And as it stands, they don’t look capable of making that competitive jump into the mix with the bonafide Cup frontrunners. You know that has to gall Yzerman, but what can he do? He was a superhero on the ice, but that doesn’t translate to team-building. His reputation is among the best in the league, but that doesn’t mean squat through an 82-game season.