Ex-Red Wings Still Contributing Since 2009. Kenny's Decisions.

With the Red Wings booted out of the playoff early for the first time since 2006, questions swirl around the players, coaching, and management. During the Wings’ 21 year playoff streak, they have Western Conference Championships, Presidents Trophies, six Cup Final appearances, and four Stanley Cups. Much of the credit goes to the general manager: Ken Holland. Since losing in the Cup Finals in ’09 to Pittsburgh in seven games, the Wings have played an average of just over 9 playoff games per post season. That’s not too glamorous for a team that features super stars Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Niklas Lidstrom. Have there been critical decisions made by Ken Holland that have come back to cost the Red Wings? Since 2009, it’s too early to make any judgements on his draft choices; however, we can make some inferences on his decisions to let certain players walk away to free agency (and in one player’s case – traded).

Marian Hossa

Current Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Position: Right Wing
Left Red Wings: After 2008-2009

Marian Hossa was offered a long term contract by the Red Wings after losing to Pittsburgh in 2009, but Hossa was offered a long-er term contract by the Blackhawks and was offered more money. The Wings were somewhat under a cap crunch at the time, so Holland’s hands were tied (unlike this year, where they have 21 million dollars to play with). It would have been nice to have Hossa in a Red Wing uniform, as he might have been able to score on Pekka Rinne. I’ll give Kenny Holland a pass on this one, as it would have taken a roster overhaul to try and make the Slovakian winger fit under the cap.

Mikael Samuelsson

Current Team: Florida Panthers
Position: Right Wing
Left Red Wings: After 2008-2009

It seemed all Red Wings fans were very happy that Samuelsson left after the 2008 Cup winning team. He was a glorified power play specialist whose skills were amplified playing with players like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Hossa, and Johan Franzen. Samuelsson was best known for walking in past the blue line and waking a wrister that was easily snared by the opposing goaltender (until he played for Vancouver in last year’s playoffs). Last year, I’m pretty sure some of those same Red Wings fans were upset that Samuelsson’s accuracy improved ten fold overnight. Nonetheless, I don’t think letting a third line right winger go should be a major concern when judging Kenny’s work.

Tomas Kopecky

Current Team: Florida Panthers
Position: Right Wing
Left Red Wings: After 2008-2009

He was a value depth player for the Wings when they won their cup in 2008, playing on the fourth line. He was let go by the team in 2009 and went to Chicago with Hossa. In seeing how Mike Babcock has talked about the depth lacking in the Nashville series, the Wings sure could have used the size and experience of someone like Kopecky. Although he is not a game breaker, he has won a Stanley Cup and would surely be up an upgrade over the likes of Corey Emmerton, Jan Mursak, and even Tomas Holmstrom. I’m sure if Holland could have resigned Kopecky for a manageable contract, he would have. However, Chicago offered more – and the Wings shouldn’t be willing to match that kind of offer for a 4th line player.

Villie Leino

Current Team: Buffalo Sabres
Position: Left Wing
Left Red Wings: Traded in 2009-2010

Villie Leino seemed like a promising prospect for the Red Wings and even played quite well when called up in the 2009 playoffs. He had the ability to hold onto the puck in tight spaces and see the ice well. However, it became prevalent that he didn’t mesh well with Mike Babcock and the coaches. He wasn’t skilled enough at the time to play on the top 6, and was too stubborn and soft to make any significant contributions to the bottom six. Even though Leino is now overpaid in Buffalo, Holland traded him for a bag of pucks to Philly. It would have been nice if Kenny could have sold Leino’s stock for a little higher than what was received in return.

Andreas Lilja

Current Team: Philadelphia Flyers
Position: Defense
Left Red Wings: After 2009-2010

Lilja seemed to play decent for the Red Wings on the last defensive pairing and added abrasiveness to a team that doesn’t play too physical. It seemed this year he would have certainly been an upgrade over Kyle Quincey or Jakub Kindl. Like Jonathan Ericsson, Lilja was prone to taking some penalties. He also was pretty slow, however, like Ericsson, he was a valuable penalty killer, which the Red Wings could have used for most of the regular season. If Holland places such a high price on depth defenseman (you know, like a first round pick for Kyle Quincey), than he should have re-signed Lilja and not let him walk. This first round pick would be one of our highest first round picks over the past twenty seasons. Now Tampa Bay has it. Kenny’s fault here.

Brett Lebda

Current Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Position: Defense
Left Red Wings: After 2009-2010

The worst defenseman on the worst team in the NHL. No arguments here.

What do you think about these decisions? 

 

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