Ken Holland wasn’t going to come out and explain, in detail, the Red Wings’ plans for this summer.
But he did give a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen.
First off, shoot down the notion of a full scale rebuild. Despite three straight first round playoff exits and Pavel Datsyuk‘s looming departure, it’s not going to happen with this group. Not going to happen on Holland’s watch. Not going to happen with the team heading into a new arena next season.
So, what about free agency?
Holland was unenthusiastic, and that’s probably a combination of two factors: 1) an underwhelming UFA class, and 2) shifting views on free agency in general.
Despite the fact Steven Stamkos might be out there and the Wings are rumored to be an interested suitor, Holland’s take — that this class is filled with complimentary players, not franchise ones — suggests veteran patchwork moves like last summer’s (Brad Richards, Mike Green) are more likely than a big splash.
What does that leave, then?
Trades make the most sense for Holland, because he’s got assets to move. Detroit has a glut of forwards, and it’s feasible the likes of Gustav Nyquist and/or Tomas Tatar — 20-25 goal guys (yes, I know Nyquist had 17) on affordable contracts — could be dealt. They’d probably net good returns.
Of course, Holland could also move a young guy.
In speaking with TSN 1040 over the weekend, NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika suggested that for a trade of significance to occur, Holland would likely need to accept calls on guys rival GMs would be making calls on. Recent first-round picks. Prospects on entry-level deals. Dylan Larkin, even though Holland ain’t moving Dylan Larkin.
Speaking of trades, there’s the Jimmy Howard situation.
Howard told the Free Press he’d be okay with being dealt, coming off a year in which he lost the starting gig to Petr Mrazek, won it back, then lost it again in the playoffs. Howard’s play suggested he’s still a capable No. 1, but that doesn’t mean an awful lot when there are few starting gigs available across the league.
It also doesn’t mean much with Howard making as much money as he is ($5.29M through 2019). Put it all together, and the odds of a Howard trade returning anything significant are slim.
At the end of the day, though, Detroit still looks primed to shake things up in Buffalo in late June. The draft could also provide an opportunity to move Datsyuk’s contract, should that need to occur (remember, Chris Pronger got traded in Florida last June!)
Finally, it’s worth noting Detroit has close to a full slate of picks at its disposal, which only adds to Holland’s trade potential.