In the aftermath of free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise having spurned an offer from the Red Wings to sign with the Minnesota Wild (and shortly thereafter, supposed Wings' Plan B Matt Carle signing with Steve Yzerman's Tampa Bay Lightning), we're hearing a lot about how Detroit should rebuild from within rather than signing free agents to replace their summer losses.
Red Wings' GM Ken Holland himself has pushed that line of thinking. I've already touched on his line of "There's also got to be an opportunity for some of our kids and the guys we've just signed to play."
That's an idea that's been espoused for some time by many fans. With the constant idea that the Wings are too old and slow, there's always a call to "just play the kids" and we're seeing that again now.
There's a problem with that idea this time around, though.
I'm not against playing the kids. I want to see what Gustav Nyquist could do in a top-six role and I want to know whether or not Tomas Tatar is ready. With Detroit's current lineup, though, Nyquist and Tatar are going to start the season in Grand Rapids.
There are simply too many forwards on the Wings' roster right now. Up front is not where the kids will be given a chance.
It's Detroit's blueline that has holes. Decimated by the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, the Wings' defense is where there's room for someone to step up and take a bigger role. The problem? The Wings have no defensive prospects to do that.
Brendan Smith will make the full-time jump to the big club next year but that was virtually a given at the end of last season. Aside from him, there are no NHL-ready defensemen in the Red Wings' system.
Gleason Fournier? Spent most of last year (his first in the pros) in the ECHL. Ryan Sproul? Has yet to play a pro game. Same for Xavier Ouellet. Adam Almqvist has played all of three AHL games. Max Nicastro will make his pro debut this season. Travis Ehrhardt is an unrestricted free agent on his way out of the organization, as is Logan Pyett. Brian Lashoff is entering his third pro season but I've heard exactly no one say he's ready.
So there are no kids for the Wings to rely on here. It's a bigger role for Smith or Kyle Quincey or Jonathan Ericsson or Jakub Kindl. Or all of them. As of right now, two of those four will be in the Red Wings' top four.
A trade could always happen that shakes things up. As things are right now, however, "just play the kids" is not a solution to the Wings' problems.
Credit: Clark Rasmussen