Ken Holland’s mettle will be tested this offseason

Beyond the glitz and glamor of scoring goals and winning championships, there is also a business side to the game of hockey, and it seems to staring the Detroit Red Wings square in the face.  It has been well publicized from various media outlets, that Ken Holland is going to have some tough decisions to make this summer, especially regarding veterans Kris Draper and Chris Osgood.

Both have been vocal about wanting to stay and play another season in Detroit, but equally as vocal has been the play of younger options, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller.  Ken Holland has expressed interest in keeping them both, and should that happen, there simply won’t be room for Draper on the roster.

In Osgood’s case, it’s more about health and consistency.  Osgood hasn’t played a lot of hockey over the last two seasons because of those very reasons.  Last year, Jimmy Howard outplayed Ozzie for the starting job in goal, and this year Ozzie was just injured for long stretches of time.  Although Osgood is reportedly healthy right now, Holland may feel it’s just time to move on.

Draper and Osgood have been absolutely essential to the Red Wings’ success over the past twenty years.  This team would not have been the same without them, but this is where business may outweigh loyalty.

Fans and players alike will be looking to Ken Holland to make the right decisions here for the team.  The Wings have now been ousted by the Sharks in the second round two years in a row, and many feel there is a need for some fresh blood.

Even with Draper’s possible departure, there will still be more players than roster spots in Detroit.  Prospects Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton are both out of options in Grand Rapids, because should they not earn full time spots next year, they would have to clear waivers.  The probability of both Mursak and Emmerton clearing waivers is highly unlikely, especially for Mursak.

Holland has gone on record, and basically already given a roster spot to Mursak next season, but what does that mean for Eaves and Miller?  These three forwards, and even Justin Abdelkader may have to go through another fourth line rotation, with someone being a healthy scratch every night.

Would they be willing to do that, or might Eaves and Miller seek a more stable role elsewhere?  Both have said they would love to stay in Detroit, but is the price to steep?

Emmerton will be given the opportunity to make the team during training camp, but has he shown enough improvement to wrestle away a roster spot from more established players?  Or will he follow in Mattias Ritola’s footsteps, and be claimed by another team off of the waiver wire?

Also, what about the somewhat underplayed situation surrounding Detroit’s back up goaltending situation?  Joey MacDonald filled in admirably when both Howard and Osgood suffered injuries this past season, but is he really ready for a full season as back up?  If not, there are a lot of options on the market.

The likes of Ty Conklin, J.S. Giguere, Brian Boucher, and Jose Theodore are all UFA’s, and the Wings could get them for a good price.

The Red Wings face a lot of questions this summer, and appear to be in the midst of somewhat of an identity shift.  With veterans on the verge of retirement, and youngsters champing at the bit, the Wings will have to make some tough personnel choices, and that will mean saying goodbye to some friends along the way.

However, despite the seemingly never ending barrage of questions, if there is anyone who can answer these queries, it is Mr. Ken Holland.  He has proved time and again why he is probably the best GM in the league, and it’s time for him to do it once again.

I have full confidence that when he does sit down to make these decisions, he will do so professionally, with that resounding Red Wings attitude, “we will not go away.”

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  • brandon

    First off, it’s CHAMPING at the bit, not chomping. You write for a living for Pete’s sake!

    Now on to hockey. Ozzie should retire from playing and coach. He’s been instrumental in Howard’s development & has shown interest in the role. Draper is in the same boat, and with coaching positions opening in the organization it might be a good time to transition. Mursak and Emmerton need to stay with the club, but so do Miller and Eaves.

    I think the real question is what does Holland do with Hudler and Filpula? Hudler needs to go – but his salary is WAY too high. Detroit would have to eat some of it. Filpula has great size, but he didn’t really make the most of his ice time last year. If he can solve the riddle of these 2 players, the forwards sort out quickly. The defense is where he’s going to have issues. What is Lidstrom doing? I bet retirement, but we’ll see in a couple weeks. That would leave 2 openings for top-tier defensemen – and $12M to fill the holes. But who are the right guys?

    • Mike Suggs

      Thanks for reading! You’re right I’m sorry. I’ve seen it spelled “chomping” on quite a few other sites, but I was mistaken. Thanks for pointing that out.

      Personally I think Emmerton will be a victim of the “too many forwards” scenario. There just won’t be enough room for him, and he will probably get taken off waivers. I’ve also heard the idea, that should the Wings trade Hudler, Emmerton would be packaged into it. Eaves and Miller seem like must signs to me.

      I don’t think Hudler should be traded. I’m just uncomfortable with writing him off for one bad year. He only has one year left on his contract anyways, so I feel we should just let him play it out. Let him try to regain form next season, and if he doesn’t, let him walk at seasons’ end. Filppula continues to show flashes of brilliance, but can’t seem to have that breakthrough season, as he keeps getting injured. I like what he brings though. We should keep him.

      I feel like Lidstrom will come back for one more year. Especially since Rafalski retired. I think he will come back for one more year to guide us through that transition. I actually wrote an article about who the Wings could get on defense not too long ago, just check the archives here on the site, and you should find it. My three main guys were James Wisniewski, Christian Ehrhoff, and Kevin Bieksa. Since then though, I’ve warmed up to Joni Pitkanen, and MAYBE Jovonavski.

  • arizonawingnut

    I think the offense will kind of sort itself out. Plus it seems that the Wings have had more than their share of injuries the past few years. Maybe Drapes could take coach MacCleans spot, since he’s off to Ottawa.

    I kind of wonder if somebody could transition into playing defense. Eaves perhaps, Emmerton? Both are pretty scrappy. That seemed to be the problem, too soft in their own zone & too many turnovers. Especially now with Rafalski retiring and hopefully Ericsson getting traded (bundled with Hudler?).

    Ozzie over Joey all day long. Nothing against Joey, but Ozzie is all class and the skill to back it up. It would be a shame to just release him