DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland is optimistic.
Holland, who is under contract with Detroit through next season, said he sees this team being built "brick-by-brick" and that he is confident fans who are patient will be rewarded "in the next couple of years."
"Right now we're going through a rebuild. There's energy in the building. I talk to lots of people that are in the building on a game-to-game basis, and even though we're a long way from a playoff spot you can feel the energy and support of the fans on a night-to-night basis," Holland said in a "message to the fans" released by the Red Wings this week.
"I think they're appreciative of the effort -- our team competes on an everynight basis -- but I also think that they can see that the team is being taken over by younger people. We've got great fans -- I'm speaking about patience. We're gonna do it right, we're gonna build it piece-by-piece, brick-by-brick, and when we build the foundation and we start to get to a point when it's looking like it has the makings of a good team we'll start to get more aggressive," he said.
Holland also sees the Red Wings being a team at the top of the salary cap.
"We're always a team that's going to be at the cap, so it's not like we're gonna go down ... we're gonna build it with our young people, we're gonna have some patience. I really believe that we're going in the right direction and our fans will be rewarded for their patience in the next couple of years," he said.
What Red Wings did at trade deadline
Forward Gustav Nyquist was traded to the San Jose Sharks for two draft picks. Nyquist waived his no-trade clause with the Sharks sending a 2019 second-round pick and conditional 2020 third-rounder to the Red Wings.
The 29-year-old Nyquist has 16 goals and 33 assists in 62 games this season in the final year of a $19 million, four-year deal. The Red Wings will reportedly retain 30 percent of Nyquist's salary to help make the deal work with the salary cap.
Defenseman Nick Jensen was sent to the Washington Capitals for defenseman Madison Bowey and a 2nd-round draft pick in 2020. Washington also will acquire a 5th-found draft pick from Detroit. That fifth round pick was originally from Buffalo.
Holland stockpiling draft picks
The Red Wings now have 13 picks in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Keep in mind there are only seven rounds in the draft. Four of the 13 picks are in the second round.
Should there be more trades in Holland's future? One can imagine the Red Wings using those second-round picks to either get an even better pick or prospect.
In 2020, the Red Wings now have 10 picks. The Tomas Tatar trade last year also secured them an extra third-round pick in 2021.
Everyone builds through the draft now, but how easy is it, really? The Red Wings have been drafting high for a couple of years already. Those draft picks need to start showing some real impact in the next few years, which is exactly what Holland is referring to with his "we're going in the right direction and our fans will be rewarded for their patience" statement. He's definitely on the clock.
There is a massive generation of Red Wings fans who might not understand what "patience" means. Remember, this was a fan base that waited nearly 30 years for a trip back to the Stanley Cup final, and then another two before actually winning the Cup.
But after four Stanley Cups during a 25-season playoff run, those lean years between the mid 1960s and the early 1990s seem like ancient history. They don't exist in the memories of fans in their 20s and 30s, who grew up expecting the Red Wings to make a championship run each year.
Patience might not be the easiest virtue to achieve this time around.
The elephant in the area code: Steve Yzerman
Patience is running very thin among so many Red Wings fans right now that they immediately named Steve Yzerman the team's next general manager after he announced he was leaving his GM job with Tampa and moving back to the Detroit area to be closer to family.
There is no real reason to believe Yzerman will take the Red Wings GM job in the near future, but this is the kind of impatience coming from the fan base. They want changes and are willing to throw away Holland's rebuild for another one.
Red Wings miss playoffs for 3rd-straight year
Meanwhile, Detroit will miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third-straight season. They are a whopping 19 points out of the final spot in the Eastern Conference as of this writing. That puts them at 29th overall in the NHL standings, and according to Tankathon that gives them an 11.5 percent chance at landing the top pick in the draft lottery. The team with the worst record -- Ottawa Senators right now -- has an 18.5 percent chance of landing the top pick in the lottery.
The draft is something to look forward to, for sure, as this Red Wings season goes from bad to worse. They fell to the Montreal Canadiens, 8-1, this week after the trade deadline, their sixth-consecutive loss.
Red Wings game results and upcoming games:
|Feb. 16, 2019||@ Philadelphia (1 p.m.)||L 5-6 (OT) | Game Recap|
|Feb. 17, 2019||vs. Philadelphia (6 p.m.)||L 1-3 | Game Recap|
|Feb. 20, 2019||vs. Chicago||L 4-5 (OT) | Game Recap|
|Feb. 22, 2019||vs. Minnesota||L 2-3|
|Feb. 24, 2019||vs. San Jose||L 3-5|
|Feb. 26, 2019||vs. Montreal||L 1-8 | Game Recap|
|March 2, 2019||@ Arizona (8 p.m.)|
|March 5, 2019||@ Colorado (9 p.m.)|
|March 7, 2019||vs. New York Rangers (7:30 p.m.)|
|March 9, 2019||@ Tampa Bay (7 p.m.)|
|March 10, 2019||@ Florida (5 p.m.)|