For what seemed like forever, the Detroit Red Wings were one of the most consistent clubs in the NHL.
This team won championships in 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008 while also losing in the Final in 1995 and 2009. Year in and year out, this team made the playoffs and had success in them and did so with strong defense, a solid offensive core, and good enough goaltending.
Fast forward to now and things are much different. This season, the Red Wings missed the playoffs for the second straight season and two years ago, missing the postseason snapped 25 straight years of making it to the postseason dance.
There is currently not a lot to like about this hockey club. For starters, this team does not have the same offensive punch that it used to.
For years, it was guys like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Tatar, Brian Rafalski, and others who popped out on the roster. While Zetterberg is still around, the rest of the team’s lineup just isn’t as exciting as it used to be.
Secondly, the Red Wings play in one of the toughest divisions (Atlantic). This season alone, the likes of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs all made the playoffs in convincing fashion. It would have been four teams in the Florida Panthers found a way to squeak in as they finished just one point behind the team that had the second wild card spot, the New Jersey Devils.
Each of the teams mentioned above are only going to get better. Their cupboards are stocked, they’ve all made strides in the last few seasons, and they all have rosters that can help a team make the playoffs, which is something the Red Wings do not have.
Speaking of the cupboards being stocked, this is something that Wings‘ general manager Ken Holland, who signed a 2-year contract extension back in April, needs to continue to work on. Because they were so good for so long, they rarely ended up with a good first round pick.
The club changed that this year when they had the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft. With the pick, they took forward Filip Zadina, who had 82 points in 57 games with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
Zadina has the potential to be an elite forward for this franchise. Scouts say that he is fast, can create offense with relative ease, and can score big goals at the right time.
In all, they ended up taking 8 skaters and 2 goalies in this year’s draft. Holland and the franchise better hope that some of these picks pan out because if it doesn’t, the team will more than likely have to go through a whole rebuild.
Times are certainly tough in Hockeytown. The team’s fans will need to be patient and realize that Holland and the rest of the team’s management staff will be doing whatever they can to build a team that can get back into the postseason in short order.
Hopefully, the Wings get their franchise back on the right track because their fans are certainly not used to missing the playoffs and competing for the Cup.