Wings in rebuilding mode
APR 03, 2013 4:27p ET
Their philosophy has shifted from loading up their roster with talent to just making the playoffs and seeing how their youngsters develop.
It was bound to happen.
Especially during this contracted season, when there have been so many three-point games, the Western Conference standings are a logjam. On any given night -- depending on whether you win or lose, in regulation or overtime -- you can elevate to near the top of the heap or tumble right out of the playoffs.
With so many teams still believing the playoffs are within reach, few were "sellers," and the asking price for marginal talent, in some cases, skyrocketed.
The Wings aren't in a position to give up on any young players, draft picks or unproven prospects because their current roster needs an overhaul.
Since most teams are locking up their star players to long-term deals, free agency will not be the elixir for the Wings or anybody else, either. In short, the NHL has morphed into a league where the draft is the way to build your team’s foundation for success.
The Wings were successful in drafting some diamonds in the rough in the past, but those days are long gone. The talent pool is spread out all over the league because of advances in scouting and the salary cap.
Worse yet for the Wings, their best players are either getting old, still refining their NHL games (i.e. Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist) or developing in various leagues throughout the world.
Smith and Nyquist aren't going anywhere, and they're likely the players most teams would demand if the Wings wanted to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal.
That's why they're in rebuild mode. The NHL is a league of parity now.
There are some teams that have a stockpile of talent or a slew of draft picks and can circumvent the system to a point; however, most of those teams (i.e. Chicago and Pittsburgh) bottomed out at some point, drafted high and hired terrific front-office personnel.
The Wings have been on an amazing run for so long, they were able sustain their excellence only through deep pockets, astute drafting and a winning tradition -- which attracted star veterans who wanted one last kick at the championship can.
Today, the Wings need to hold onto their young talent and hope they're the bedrock of a solid foundation -- one that will maintain their standing as a playoff team.
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