It’s Make Or Break For The Front Office!
As we preview the Detroit Red Wings this coming season, the one area of this team will heavily be under a microscope this year and it won’t be guys who are on the ice. The front office has been under fire for quite some time with the mismanagement of younger players, bad signings, and more. This coming season could be huge in terms of how they handle the team especially for Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. While the focus and questions are with the team and coaches, you can’t help but to wonder if this is Ken Holland’s last year with the team or if the Red Wings will give him another chance.
Last season we saw the Red Wings turn into sellers for the first time in 26 years, stating that the team don’t see themselves making the playoffs and obtaining draft picks to start the rebuilding phase. Players like Brendan Smith, Thomas Vanek, and Steve Ott were dealt away for draft picks. The team called up a number of young players such as Anthony Mantha, Robbie Russo, Ryan Sproul, Nick Jensen, Jared Coreau, and Evgeny Svechnikov to get some NHL experience. It appeared that the team was going rebuild for the future now that their playoff streak had ended. Heading into the off-season, the Red Wings had some things that needed to be taken care of in terms of their cap space and contract situations.
First thing was the expansion draft, Many believed that the Red Wings would force the Golden Knights to take a bad contract, however when the unprotected lists came out Goaltender Petr Mrazek was on the list which left many asking a lot of questions to why. When the expansion draft came, it was center Tomas Nosek name called to play for the new Las Vegas team. The Entry Draft was another situation where the front office received more heat. Many felt that the team reached for their picks instead of trading back or selecting better projected draft picks.
Free agency wasn’t very interesting this season, however that didn’t stop the Red Wings from looking. Detroit’s most notable signing veteran defenseman Trevor Daly, who is coming off back to back Stanley Cups with the Penguins, to a 3 year deal. However the team landed themselves in more cap space issue. With the amount of bad contracts that the team has, the team ignored the buyout window to free them from a bad contract (i.e. Jonathan Ericsson) and got themselves in a contract situation with Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou. This was where the errors of the front office showed and caught up with the team. Tatar filed for arbitration and made it known that if he was awarded a 1 year contract, then he would likely hit free agency. After long negotiations the Red Wings and Tatar managed to come to a deal. 4 years worth $21.2 million which is a solid deal for Tatar, however it put the team over the cap. Right now Andreas Athanasiou could bolt for the KHL and talks for a new contract with the Red Wings have not been going too well. In order to make room for the speedy forward, Ken Holland will have to make a trade to clear up cap space. This situation has only heated up the hot seat for Ken Holland and the front office.
This season will dictate what happens with Ken Holland and others in the front office. There is little to no room for error if you’re Ken Holland due to the bad contracts that he has signed over the years and the mismanagement of younger players. This past off-season was a hit or miss for the front office. The signing of Daly was solid and in some way avoided disaster with Tatar, however they didn’t free some of the cap space by using their buyout window and currently in a bad situation with one of their more talented forwards in Athanasiou. The expectations are low on this team this season, however internally you have to think that ownership is keeping a close eye on Ken Holland and the rest of the front office. If this team performs to a low standard and Holland mismanages the team lets say by the trade deadline, then it’s good bye to Ken Holland. Right now he is like a free agent, performing on the last year of his contract. As stated in previous articles, this has to be the season where ownership does the best thing for the team and let Ken Holland go. I’ll go further and saying that the rest of the front office has to be evaluated, especially if the team severely underperforms. Time will tell if the front office has made the right moves, but it’s time to move on come the end of the season.