DETROIT -

Ken Holland will remain executive vice president and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings for at least another four years.

Holland signed a contract which will keep him with the organization through the 2017-18 season, the team announced Thursday.

The 58-year-old GM is considered among the top in the NHL. He's served as GM in Detroit for the past 17 seasons.

Holland has been part of the Red Wings' four most recent Stanley Cup championships (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008). In 1997 he was still an assistant general manager, but was promoted in July after the first Cup win.

Since then, the Red Wings arguably have been the most successful team in the league, keeping a 23-year playoff streak alive and making the Cup finals four times. Some fans will argue Holland doesn't deserve all the credit for the success because he took over an already well-oiled machine, but it's undeniable he's played a big role in bringing talent to Detroit, especially through draft picks.

Much of that talent is still active on the team (Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall) while others remain in development -- and unproven. Holland has his critics when it comes to keeping players in the minors for too long while signing aging veterans. The critics have become much louder over the past few years.

An offseason without a big free agent signing hasn't quieted the Holland doubters, but it's clear the Red Wings are building from the ground up. Talent from the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins (I.e.: Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar) is coming to Detroit in droves.

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The next four years could be the most important to date in Holland's tenure. For the first time in his front office career the Red Wings clearly are in a transitional period. Whether the right pieces are in place is up for debate. It will be Holland's job to make sure this young, promising group comes to fruition.

Meanwhile, coach Mike Babcock is entering the last year of his contract. That's likely to be one of Holland's biggest moves in the coming months. Holland first signed Babcock to the head coaching position in 2005.

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