Wings' Holland adds more picks at deadline, considers rebuild on schedule
Detroit GM encouraged by youngsters, not concerned with own futureby Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com
DETROIT -- Unlike last year, the Detroit Red Wings were done early on trade deadline day -- very early.
Just after midnight, the Wings traded forward Gustav Nyquist to the San Jose Sharks for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 Draft.
The deal came just a few hours after Nyquist scored in the Wings' 5-3 loss to the Sharks at Little Caesars Arena.
Wings general manager Ken Holland said he had discussions with San Jose general manager Doug Wilson before and after the game, finalizing the deal around 11 p.m. as the Sharks flew to Boston.
It followed Friday afternoon's trade of defenseman Nick Jensen and a fifth-round pick in the 2019 Draft to the Washington Capitals for defenseman Madison Bowey, 23, and a second-round pick in the 2020 Draft.
While Holland fielded a few more calls throughout the day Monday, nothing serious materialized.
Last year, the Wings traded Tomas Tatar to the Vegas Golden Knights just before the 3 p.m. deadline hit.
"I'm happy in the last two days we've acquired two second-round picks, one for Jensen, one for Nyquist, we got a third that could be a second if they go to the finals," Holland said in the Wings dressing room a half-hour after the deadline passed. "We got a young defenseman, Bowey. You're adding that to the Tatar deal a year ago, which was a first, a second and a third.
"At the end of he day, to rebuild, going with youth, has got to be done through the draft, has got to be done through multiple picks and I think we're trying to acquire multiple picks. Would I have liked to acquire more picks? Yeah, I'd love to have acquired more picks but the marketplace speaks."
Holland said there was not much of a market for goaltenders, which is why Jimmy Howard remains with the Wings.
Howard's contract expires after the season so he and Holland agreed to wait until after the trade deadline before discussing an extension.
There were some rumors that teams had inquired about veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall, 38, whose contract also ends after the season.
"I met with Kronner about two weeks ago," Holland said. "I would say over the last 2-3 days there were 2-3 teams that were tire-kicking, didn't make an offer. What he's meant to this franchise and what he means to this franchise now in terms of leadership in this locker room and with the young players, if somebody would have stepped up big-time, and I don't know what big-time means, I probably would have had a conversation with Kronner, but that didn't happen."
Kronwall's contract included a modified no-trade clause, meaning he could have provided a list of 10 teams he would have been willing to go to.
After missing the first three games of the season with a lower-body injury unrelated to his chronic knee issues, Kronwall has played in every game and has said he has felt way better physically than he had in previous seasons.
"I think he has another season in him if he wants to have another season in him," Holland said. "As I've dealt with older players through the years, a lot about it is about the fire they've got. Is he going to work all summer in the gym? He's got to work twice as hard to maintain, you're not gaining ground, obviously Father Time is banging away, so I'll talk to him at the end of the year and see what he's thinking."
Kronwall was a big part of some of the most successful teams the Wings had throughout the mid-2000s until the 25-year run of making the playoffs ended three years ago.
Being a seller at this time of year is not where Holland and the Red Wings want to be but rebuilding is the reality for now.
"Twenty-five years in a row here we were in the playoffs. It's the most exciting time of the year. We've got the greatest fans in the world," Holland said. "Trying to do this as fast as possible because we want to be part of it. It's no fun to be at the deadline three years in a row and trading away people and talking about draft picks and future. Our fans want to talk about what additions we made and the potential for our team to go on a playoff run. As you look around, certainly it's an exciting time for lots of franchises around the league that were able to add players today. Lots of teams added lots of good players, so it's shaping up for an exciting Stanley Cup Playoffs. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we're going to be part of it."
The Wings are currently 23-31-9 and sit seventh in the Atlantic Division with 55 points, 15th in the Eastern Conference.
Although Holland hoped the Wings could contend for a playoff spot this season, injuries took their toll early when they could least afford them.
"We get within four points of a playoff spot and within a week, we lose (Danny) DeKeyser and (Mike) Green for six weeks and I think we won two of our next 15 and the season's sort of gone," Holland said. "It's a small margin for error. We need to build our franchise where we're deeper and when you do have injuries, it doesn't affect you to that degree."
Having been through this before when the Red Wings went from being the Dead Wings in the mid-1980s to Stanley Cup champions in the late 1990s, Holland is also realistic about the Wings' chances of going on a long playoff run in the near future.
"To win a Cup, to go on a long playoff run, it's a while," Holland said. "Just got to look around the league, some teams are real good teams and haven't gone on long playoff runs yet. They've been building for a while. I think we have to build a foundation. We're in the process of building a foundation. I think some of those young players are on our team. There's some players in our system that can play in that foundation and hopefully some of these draft picks in the next 2-3 years can play in that foundation.
"Then at some point, we need to get into the free-agent market to add or you trade some of these young players or some of these futures to acquire somebody when your team gets better and sign that player to a long-term contract. But in the short-term, we have to build lots of assets, lots of young players, through draft picks."
Among those young players that are expected to be part of the foundation are defensemen Filip Hronek and forward Filip Zadina, who had to be assigned to Grand Rapids on paper before 3 p.m. in order to be eligible for the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs. The Wings also got approval to have injured forward Evgeny Svechnikov join the Griffins for the playoffs when he is healthy.
Zadina played in his first NHL game Sunday and can remain with the Wings for up to nine games without triggering the first year of his entry-level contract.
"We're gonna give Zadina some games here to see what the NHL's all about," Holland said. "And we're trying to do some things to educate our young players as to what we think they need to improve to get to pro careers. That's how we're gonna get better. That's how the Detroit Red Wings are gonna get better. Now somewhere along the line, we're gonna make a trade, but a trade to add a player that's going to impact your team or a free agent, we're trying to build so that we've got lots of assets. I think we're starting to have lots of assets.
"We have lots of players in our organization who've had really good years. Joe Veleno's having a great year in Quebec. He's leading the Quebec League in scoring after being away for a month at the world junior. Jared McIsaac's having a really good year. He's one of the top leading defensemen scorers in the Quebec Junior League as a second-round pick. He's got another year of junior. Those are just two young players but we have to continue to build."
Holland signed a two-year contract that runs through the 2019-20 season and was asked whether he expects to be here when the Wings are ready to make that long playoff run.
"To tell you the honest truth, I understand where you guys are worried about it. I don't really worry about it," Holland said. "I'm in a good place with my career, with my life. I've been here since 1983. All I'm concerned about is making moves. I want this franchise to win another Stanley Cup, or to compete, to be banging away. And I think things that we've done last year, things that we've done this year, are going to be pieces of that puzzle. But there's more pieces of that puzzle that need to happen.
"I'm not worried about my future. I'm sure my wife's not worried about my future. I'm in a good place, no matter what happens."