It has been a rough stretch in Motown. It is reminiscent of “Casey at the Bat”, a favorite childhood story. Casey could never strike out. He gets cocky and then boom, “There is no joy in Mudville, mighty Casey has struck out”. In relevant terms to Wings fans, “There is no joy in Motown, the (once) mighty Red Wings have struck out”. For the first time in decades, the Detroit Red Wings have missed the post season for consecutive years. Cue Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a changin’” and settle in.
Reload turns into rebuild. Rebuilding in a new building. A huge building that shows a lot of empty red seats. Change them to black and keep going. It is painful. I know a few “old guard” fans that still think we can trade ourselves back into contention. When Zadina didn’t automatically become a full time wing and score 25 first year goals, I heard “trade him”. That has led to the curious title for this, my first and hopefully not last post.
Our “best” drafted forwards starting from 2008 were Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. Both now gone. They were exciting, but their development was slow and steady. Tatar, drafted in 2008, didn’t play his first full season with the Wings until 2013. He had 18 games in 11-12 and 9 games in 10-11. That would put him at about 23 when he really “became” an NHL regular. Similarly, Nyquist (drafted in 09) played 57 games in 13-14 and then 82 in 14-15. I’ll give him the 57 as his career start so around 22. That was the formula. Overripe we used to say
Zadina, at 18, came close. He ultimate played 59 games in Grand Rapids scoring 16 goals and 19 assists. He will likely be a Red Wing next year, at 19. Similar to Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen, development has sped up. Way up. Before the irate fan base calls anyone a “bust”, i may suggest a 4 to 5 year waiting period. Larkin in his 3rd year scored 32 goals. For a team that hasn’t had a 30 goal scorer in a decade that’s pretty exciting. Rasmussen, well, he needs to keep working. But, i do believe the year in Detroit was more beneficial than going back to Jr.
Finally, the question mark. Will someone break through and be a first year pro? It will be hard to do. Most off these kids do so much growing from 18 to 19. Joe Veleno was fairly dominant last year and is ready for either AHL or NHL time. There is a fascinating outlook for Moritz Seider right now. You wonder if he could break through and be a first year pro. In the past, no way. Especially a defenseman needs more time. But Yzerman really likes this kid. It’s starting to be exciting again. Veleno, Zadina, Cholowski, Seider, a couple of college signings in Hirose and Kuffner. Athanasiou, Mantha, Larkin, Bertuzzi. This is starting to head in the right direction. Svechnikov? The jury is still out.
These kids are learning the game at the highest level in a franchise that didn’t let kids sit at the table. It’s going to be another bumpy year while veteran contracts expire and kids learn the ropes. But, there is light on the horizon.