I had planned on writing a bit on where the Red Wings should go from here, following their first-round loss to the Nashville Predators, but over at TPL Petrella already has a nearly-perfect post up so I’m not going to waste time just repeating him.
There’s an entry in the A2Y Glossary for “The Summer of Ken.” A little bit of an ode to Detroit general manager Ken Holland. Put briefly, the summer is Holland’s time to shine. It’s when he can spend Mike Ilitch’s pizza money to plug holes in the Wings’ roster. It’s when he can wheel and deal, turning spare parts into something useful.
This summer we’re going to find out just how good Holland is at his job.
Last year the Red Wings were a little underwhelming in the offseason. They replaced Brian Rafalski with Ian White at a good price and added Mike Commodore for some grit. They retained Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller and Jonathan Ericsson. We were told that they wanted to add more scoring but none was available for the price.
That was okay. The Wings had plenty of cap space, still, and would be able to make a move at the trade deadline. It was good to wait to see who would be available as a rental.
Detroit’s lone deadline acquisition: defenseman Kyle Quincey. Even knowing the outcome, knowing he didn’t play as well as anyone had hoped down the stretch, I’m not against this move. Quincey is not a rental (he’ll either be back or be moved, as an RFA he can’t bolt for free). The first-rounder traded for him will be after all the blue-chip prospects are off the board.
Quincey didn’t fix the Wings’ scoring issues, though.
By the time the trade deadline had passed, Detroit’s forward corps remained unchanged. Holland addressed the media and seemed unhappy that he hadn’t been able to make a move, so we know he tried, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.
Now we enter an offseason where the Red Wings need to make changes. As Petrella notes, teams have the “Red Wings Way” figured out. Now Detroit needs to evolve. And I worry that Holland can do it.
Name a free agent signing that Holland has made since the salary cap was implemented that really made a splash. Ignore Marian Hossa, since everyone knew going in that it was a one-year deal and he’d be gone the next summer.
The aforementioned White? Hardly a splash no matter how well it worked out. Dominik Hasek? No one else was after him. Todd Bertuzzi?
True, Holland hasn’t been working with the same kind of cap space as he’ll have this summer, but his record does leave a bit to be desired.
Now lets look at trades. Per Petrella, the Wings have a lot of roster spots taken for next season already. One way to make room for new blood while adding the scorer the team needs could be to deal depth for talent.
Holland hasn’t made a significant trade since the 2008 deadline, when he acquired Brad Stuart from the Los Angeles Kings. That’s another piece of track record that could be concerning.
I’m not saying Holland should be fired. He’s done a fantastic job of keeping Detroit’s core together and supplementing it with parts off the scrap heap. Danny Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi? Hasek and Chris Osgood? Classic Holland moves that paid off over time for the Wings.
Right now, though, the Red Wings aren’t looking to plug holes, they’re looking to reload. They need high-profile pieces to make an immediate impact.
It’s a situation that Holland hasn’t faced, at least not in the cap era. I think it will define his career. It will probably define the Red Wings as a team for years to come.