Ken Holland's mettle will be tested this offseason

By Mike Suggs

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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