For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.
Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.
Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.
Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.
Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.
Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.
Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.
Daley – 33
Girardi – 33
Hainsey – 36
Campbell – 38
In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.
As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.
When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.
Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.
At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.
Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.