Author: Jason Brough

Ed Snider

Flyers will be ‘extremely patient’ with youngsters, but ‘want a winner as soon as possible’


Depending who you ask, it’s either a smart and noble strategy, one that’s been successful for a team like the Detroit Red Wings, or it’s like wanting to have your cake and eat it too, and the reason a team like the Detroit Red Wings hasn’t made a deep playoff run in a number of years.

That strategy is, of course, doing everything you can to win now, while simultaneously and patiently developing youngsters for the future.

It’s what Flyers owner Ed Snider wants to do in Philadelphia, as opposed to tearing it down and rebuilding from scratch, a la Buffalo or Edmonton.

Snider told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the plan for the Flyers is to “be extremely patient with all of the young players we have coming.” But at the same time, GM Ron Hextall is “going to do everything in his power to produce a winner as soon as possible, which means it could be trades, it could be coaching, it could be all kinds of things.”

It’s a similar story in Vancouver, where the aging Canucks “want to draft and develop well, but we want our young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment, so they learn the right way to play.”

The obvious challenge for that type of plan is drafting, because teams that are neither great nor terrible don’t get top-5 draft picks, i.e. players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Drew Doughty.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to find elite players in the middle of the first round, or even beyond. Anze Kopitar was taken 11th overall; Patrice Bergeron and Duncan Keith were second-rounders.

But the win now/win later strategy does put added pressure on the scouting staff to unearth a few “big-time” diamonds in the rough, like the Wings once did to the extreme with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom.

The Flyers have the seventh overall selection in this summer’s draft. They also have Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, wherever that may be.

Related: Hextall insists he’s ‘on the same page’ with Snider

Mantha: ‘I need to work on a lot of aspects of my play’

2013 NHL Draft

He didn’t say “very” three times to describe his disappointing AHL season, his first as a professional, but Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha did concede he has a lot of work to do in order to make his way up to the NHL.

“I need to work on my strength, for sure,” Mantha said, per MLive. “I need to work on a lot of aspects of my play, like getting quicker on my skates … I got better as the year went along but I need to keep growing for the summer.”

Yesterday, we passed along the feelings of Wings executive Jim Devellano, who called Mantha’s first season in Grand Rapids “very, very, very disappointing.”

“I think he’s going through adversity,” added GM Ken Holland. “And I think when you (face) adversity in life and learn to deal with it, you become a better person and a better player.”

Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’

Val'Dor Foreurs v Guelph Storm - Game Four

Perhaps it was a wake-up call. Perhaps it was just plain, old honesty.

Either way, it’s hard to ignore what longtime Red Wings executive Jim Devellano had to say about winger Anthony Mantha, Detroit’s first-round draft pick from 2013.

“Very, very, very disappointing,” said Devellano, per FOX Sports Detroit. “And I say that with a lot of sadness. Coming out of junior, we had such high hopes for him.”

Mantha, 20, had 15 goals in 62 games for AHL Grand Rapids during the regular season. He has just one assist in five playoff games.

On the bright side, Devellano did have some good things to say about the Wings’ young defensive prospects. Though even saying that, he was forced to lament that “none of them are the answer to Nicklas Lidstrom,” i.e. a future elite defenseman.

“That’s our problem,” he added. “The only place you get those guys is (high) in the draft. And simply because of where we draft we don’t get those guys.”

Granted, that’s not actually true, that top d-men are only available high in the draft. Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Duncan Keith are all second-rounders. Lidstrom himself was a third-rounder. The Red Wings just haven’t drafted many defensemen with their highest picks in recent years. Xavier Ouellet was taken 48th overall in 2011. Before him, you have to go back to Brendan Smith, 27th overall in 2007.

But it’s true that the Wings don’t appear to have a future elite d-man in the system, and you have to wonder how that will affect 1) their ability to compete for a Stanley Cup in the near future and 2) Mike Babcock’s willingness to remain with the club.

Related: On the difference between ‘good’ and ‘big-time’ players