Many people wondered whether the Wings were going to do anything to bolster their team. Ken Holland told the world that he wouldn't be dealing for depth players, believing that only impact players should be targeted. However, after watching Jaromir Jagr go to Boston and Jay Bouwmeester head to St. Louis, Wednesday was a quiet one in Detroit as Holland chose to dance with the ones that brought him.
Naturally, there's been quite a bit of anger from the fanbase regarding the lack of moves. Criticisms seem to be fall into one of two categories:
Why didn't the Wings try harder to acquire one of those "impact players" (i.e. Keith Yandle, Bouwmeester, Marian Gaborik)?
Why didn't the Wings trade away some of the players who don't appear to fit in with the team's long-term plans (i.e. Ian White, Valtteri Filppula)?
The first point is easy to answer: the price was too high. Bouwmeester would have cost the Red Wings their 1st round draft pick, something they were not willing to give up. Yandle's reported asking price was a 1st round pick plus two high impact forwards, Gaborik's return would have been comparable to Filppula, Jordin Tootoo and Danny DeKeyser, and Jason Pominville was worth the equivalent of Petr Mrazek, Tomas Tatar, a 1st and a 2nd.
None of the players moved yesterday were ones that were going to significantly make the Wings better and worth the price they would have paid. Of all the players moved at the deadline, only Bouwmeester was one that would have fit in the Wings' long-term plans, but taking his salary on would have meant some tough decisions concerning other players on the roster, especially with the salary cap going down next year. Given that the team is several pieces away from being a contender, overpaying for non-superstars is a wise course of action.
The second point is a little tougher to explain, because we saw the Sharks able to move some players out without weakening their team and gaining some draft picks at the same time.
Two players were mentioned as possible trading chips: White and Filppula. White has been a healthy scratch a number of times, he's a right-handed shot who can play on the power play, and defensemen always seem to be coveted at the deadline. Watching Douglas Murray, Scott Hannan, and Jordan Leopold get moved for picks and knowing that White is better than all of them makes people wonder whether the Wings could have gotten something for a player who is a UFA at the end of the season and not likely to be re-signed.
Filppula is a strong two-way forward who is going to become a UFA and is reportedly looking for a significant raise next season. He could have been an attractive piece in a package to land a better player or he could have been moved to obtain prospects and picks to a team needing his services for the rest of the season.
However, no one was moved out, no one was brought in, and the Red Wings team that opened the season against St. Louis will be the same one that ends the season in Dallas.
Personally, I'm not that concerned about the lack of trades made by Detroit. I would have liked to have seen some moves made, but only if they were going to benefit the team both now and in the future. Getting a rental player like Jaromir Jagr might help for this year, but he would not and should not be a part of the Wings next year or the year after.
I'm looking at a quote that Holland gave yesterday and storing it away in the back of my mind. When questioned about the lack of moves, here's what he said:
"We’re trying to compete, we’re trying to rebuild, reload,'' Holland said. "You look at the moment in time. I can’t look at the moment in time. I have to look at what we’ve got and where I think we can go over the next few years, the age of the roster, who’s going to be here for a while.''
Then he said this:
"You need your players,'' Holland said. "We’re happy with Jakub Kindl, we’re happy with Brian Lashoff, we’re happy with Brendan Smith. We’re happy with the way the kids have played. We don’t want to trade them away.''
"If we need forwards, Riley Sheahan deserves a chance, Landon Ferraro, we’ve got Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Damien Brunner, certainly on defense with the signing of Danny DeKeyser and the play of Lashoff and Kindl we think the young kids could be real good depth players for us.''
It's the first acknowledgment of the youth movement that is coming, which means that it's time to dust off the "rebuild" word because we could be seeing it a lot. And that's not a bad thing. But what I'm watching for is this off-season when free agents need to be signed and players need to be drafted.
Because this off-season is where we see whether the Wings are truly committed to a youth movement or whether we're going to see a team similar to this year's, with re-treads and past-their-prime veterans occupying the important spots on this team. I think this team still has a ways to go to incorporate the younger players into the lineup, but this year has been a start and the results have been better than expected.
Therefore I'm not judging Holland's lack of moves yet, because this looks like it's part of a bigger plan. But if that plan involve the same kind of moves that we've seen the last couple of years, yesterday's inaction is going to look like a glaring mistake.