Imitating Ken Holland

Jonathan Willis
September 30 2010 12:28AM

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 22:  Jim Nill (L) and Ken Holland (R) of the Detroit Red Wings share a laugh during the 2003 NHL Entry Draft at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on June 22, 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images/NHLI)

Aside from the Lou Lamoriello diehards, most people would agree that the best general manager in the NHL over the last decade or so is Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings. And while every year broadcasters, fans, and even NHL teams talk about adopting the model of the latest Stanley Cup winner, there’s been a persistent desire to emulate the Red Wings because of their success.

Fortunately for us, Red Wings G.M. Ken Holland has explained time and again different facets of his strategy, seemingly unafraid that people are going to start taking his advice to heart. And much of what he says is relevant for this year’s edition of the Oilers.

Amid the misery of the last four seasons, fans and broadcasters alike have clamored for the Oilers to imitate the Red Wings’ success. It’s even reached the front office; when John MacKinnon compared the Oilers’ brain-trust to that in Detroit, Steve Tambellini agreed with him. Of course, his biggest signing to date ignores the Red Wings patented ‘build a team, skimp on goalies’ strategy, but that’s a digression for another day.

Instead, I wanted to focus on some comments Ken Holland made in an interview with the website Hockey’s Future, comments that are directly relevant to this season’s Oilers.

On Introducing Prospects To The NHL…

I think we like skills, we don't draft projects. Also, because we have a good team, we don't have to rush anybody, we let the players develop at their own pace. We can afford to be patient with the prospects. We believe it is better to let the players develop correctly, to complete their junior level and eventually play in the AHL or with their European team before playing with the Red Wings. For example, [Henrik] Zetterberg was a very good hockey player, he was 5'10 and only 165 lbs and then grew up a little bit. He was the Rookie of the year in the Swedish League. We left him there one more year, he won the MVP Award there and played at the Olympics.”

Tyler Dellow talked about the Red Wings’ patience in his oft-criticized post on Hall and Paajarvi-Svensson the other day, and in rebuttal Jason Gregor correctly pointed out that because Detroit hasn’t had the luxury of top-10 draft picks. It was a good point, but I think a direct comparison can be made between Zetterberg and Paajarvi-Svensson despite the difference in draft pedigree.

In the summer of 2001, Holland had a choice to make on the soon to be 21-year old Zetterberg. The Swedish prospect was coming off a season that had won him Rookie of the Year honours in the SEL, and in which he had scored 46 points in 47 games. He was far and away the best player on his SEL team – the next leading scorer had just 30 points in 50 games, and while the team was a collective minus-20, Zetterberg was a very respectable minus-2. Despite that, Holland made the decision to leave Zetterberg in the SEL for another season (Zetterberg went on to win player of the year honours and compete in the Olympics, so it’s difficult to argue he wasn’t NHL-ready at that point in time).

It’s worth noting that Zetterberg’s achievements at that point in his career in the SEL are well beyond those of Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, impressive though they are. It’s also worth noting that Zetterberg was a year and a half older than Paajarvi-Svensson when Holland made the decision to leave him in the SEL, for developmental purposes. Given the choice Holland made with Zetterberg, does anyone here really believe that as Oilers’ G.M. he would have cleared off a roster spot for Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson on this year’s team?

I’ve seen the poll on the sidebar, and I realize the course of action I’m pointing too is deeply unpopular among readers of the Nation. But looking at the choices and statements Holland has made, I firmly believe he would have left Paajarvi-Svensson in the SEL for another season, both for development purposes and to stretch the value gained from his entry-level contract. Speaking of which…

On Stretching A Dollar

"In the new world of hockey, you have to rely on the draft and to develop your players. Everybody is now able to spend money on four, five or six players, the rest of the team you either get them out of the draft or you need to find cheap players that nobody else wants. We got some guys that way, like Daniel Cleary, for example.

Holland here points to the value of entry-level contracts in a salary cap world, but his second point – on “cheap players that nobody else wants” – is the one I really want to point to.

By virtue of their last place finish, the Oilers have waiver priority, meaning that they get first pick of any players waived during NHL training camps. Scott Reynolds pointed to this the other day, and suggested it afforded the Oilers a good opportunity to pick up some quality players that couldn’t make deeper lineups.

Again, Holland has never had the advantage of waiver priority, but it’s hard to imagine him not taking advantage of it – especially if he were at the helm of a team as relatively weak as the Oilers. Does it make more sense to keep a guy like Liam Reddox or Jason Strudwick on the roster over some of the players that may yet become available? Obviously, it depends on the list, but I’m hoping that Oilers management is keeping their minds open to the possibility of dropping one of their guys if an attractive reclamation project comes along.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Muji 狗
September 30 2010, 12:46AM
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Holland's done a good job, but a lot of it has been luck too. In hindsight, they did the right things. But I personally feel that there's too many variables, too many ways to build a successful team.

Tamby and co. can certainly learn a thing from Holland (& other successful GMs), but I don't feel that he can (nor should) emulate another franchise verbatim.

In conclusion, fist.

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#2 Rogue
September 30 2010, 12:55AM
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Let me be numero uno to say good article. I am not sure if the Oiler faithful have the patience that the Red wing fans have. To many rabid fans here. And I hope ST would be looking at improving this team, at any time.

ah, numero two oh

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#3 dsr
September 30 2010, 12:58AM
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It`s easy to let prospects develop when your team finishes with 111 points. The Oil have plenty of room in the top 9 to let their top prospects play.

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#4 westy
September 30 2010, 01:11AM
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"But looking at the choices and statements Holland has made, I firmly believe he would have left Paajarvi-Svensson in the SEL for another season, both for development purposes and to stretch the value gained from his entry-level contract."

Right, Holland would do that with Paajarvi if he were adding him to the 2001 Detroit Red Wings team, "because we have a good team, we don't have to rush anybody, we let the players develop at their own pace." But, would he let the clearly NHL ready Zetterberg sit in the SEL for another year if his team had missed the playoffs 4 consecutive years and had just finished dead last in the league by a country mile? I doubt it. Having a winning team, loaded with talent affords you the luxury of being patient with your prospects.

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#5 Muji 狗
September 30 2010, 01:24AM
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It's a bit of a chicken & egg scenario. You need a successful team to afford patience. You need patience to breed a successful team. How do the Oilers, a team that's stuck in unsuccessful mediocrity, make the jump?

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#6 GSC
September 30 2010, 01:56AM
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Of course Dellow disagrees with Oiler management, that's his M.O. and will continue to be for God knows how long...

When it comes to deciding between a general manager who has the experience as a player and league executive, knows how scouting works, and has a ton of eyes and ears feeding him every piece of information possible on a prospect, and a blogger who has never set foot on the ice in his life and only does this kind of stuff as a hobby, I wonder who I'm going to side with?

Dellow's entitled to his opinion, but it's always from the same angle: he's right, Oilers brass is wrong. There's no in between, no room for discussion.

Yawn...

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#7 Etownhockey
September 30 2010, 03:30AM
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The players drafted by Detroit of recent years aren't players who were drafted first overall (Hall), a steal at 10th overall (Paajarvi) and another steal at 22nd overall (Eberle). Detroit hasn't had a high draft pick in years. Completely different prospects being compared.

The Detroit Red Wings of recent years haven't been icing pathetic teams that were in need of an immediate uplift.

They also weren't facing a PR crisis where they were in a position of trying to coax a city into backing up a down town arena.

Many variables exist between both clubs and there isn't one way to run a franchise.

However, having said that, I wouldn't be objective to Hall being sent down for one more year. I think there is enough changes, enough rookies, and enough of a log jam to warrant another year for Hall. As far as the other 2, it shouldn't even be open for discussion - they belong with the big club.

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#8 magisterrex
September 30 2010, 05:32AM
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GSC wrote:

Of course Dellow disagrees with Oiler management, that's his M.O. and will continue to be for God knows how long...

When it comes to deciding between a general manager who has the experience as a player and league executive, knows how scouting works, and has a ton of eyes and ears feeding him every piece of information possible on a prospect, and a blogger who has never set foot on the ice in his life and only does this kind of stuff as a hobby, I wonder who I'm going to side with?

Dellow's entitled to his opinion, but it's always from the same angle: he's right, Oilers brass is wrong. There's no in between, no room for discussion.

Yawn...

I agree with this 100%. So many armchair GMs out there seem to think that they know it all, but have absolutely 0% experience in asset management. It's always easy when you play fantasy league manager; things get a little more dicey when the buck stops at your desk.

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#9 knee deep in it
September 30 2010, 06:02AM
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in 2001, you had the rights to a player until age 30. Now that it down to 27. Would Holland have made a different decision today?

He let Zetterberg develop and then had 8 years of his rights in the nhl. Today, that would be 5 years before ufa.

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#10 magisterrex
September 30 2010, 06:07AM
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knee deep in it wrote:

in 2001, you had the rights to a player until age 30. Now that it down to 27. Would Holland have made a different decision today?

He let Zetterberg develop and then had 8 years of his rights in the nhl. Today, that would be 5 years before ufa.

Shhh...don't let the facts get in the way of a good Oilers management bash...

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#11 The Real Scuba Steve
September 30 2010, 06:15AM
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magisterrex wrote:

I agree with this 100%. So many armchair GMs out there seem to think that they know it all, but have absolutely 0% experience in asset management. It's always easy when you play fantasy league manager; things get a little more dicey when the buck stops at your desk.

You described Kevin Lowe to a T.

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#12 Jonathan Willis
September 30 2010, 06:29AM
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GSC wrote:

When it comes to deciding between a general manager who has the experience as a player and league executive, knows how scouting works, and has a ton of eyes and ears feeding him every piece of information possible on a prospect, and a blogger who has never set foot on the ice in his life and only does this kind of stuff as a hobby, I wonder who I'm going to side with?

The guy who signed Khabibulin?

That may have been a bit of a cheap shot, but Oilers management the last few years really hasn't given any indication they know what they're doing, so that particular appeal to authority doesn't work for me.

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#13 CM
September 30 2010, 06:34AM
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I think its a completely different senario in detroit than edmonton. In 2001 you could make the argument that zetterburg would be in tough being a top 6 player on that detroit team. It is very hard to make that argument about hall or pajaarvi on the 2010 Oilers.

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#14 Jonathan Willis
September 30 2010, 06:35AM
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knee deep in it wrote:

in 2001, you had the rights to a player until age 30. Now that it down to 27. Would Holland have made a different decision today? He let Zetterberg develop and then had 8 years of his rights in the nhl. Today, that would be 5 years before ufa.

magisterrex wrote:

Shhh...don't let the facts get in the way of a good Oilers management bash...

This was actually a really good point - as it applies to Zetterberg - and under the current system it's true that Holland might have brought Zetterberg over faster.

But for Paajarvi, essentially it's another element against him. If the Oilers didn't have him in the NHL this season, he'd be UFA eligible at the age of 27; by bringing him to the NHL this season they reduce that age to 26. Is Paajarvi going to be better at 19 or at 27?

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#15 CM
September 30 2010, 06:35AM
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I think its a completely different senario in detroit than edmonton. In 2001 you could make the argument that zetterburg would be in tough being a top 6 player on that detroit team. It is very hard to make that argument about hall or pajaarvi on the 2010 Oilers.

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#16 Jonathan Willis
September 30 2010, 06:38AM
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@ CM:

That's very true, but if the Oilers want another high pick this year anyway... then does it matter?

I'm entering this season viewing it as another rebuilding year, and I think management (and the majority of fans) have a similar perspective. In that case, on-ice results this season become secondary to the long-term plan, yes?

It's not really a fun thought - I'm a fan of the best 12 players getting the top 12 spots - but one that I think makes sense for the team long-term.

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#17 Eric Johnson
September 30 2010, 07:02AM
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With Detroit being a stanley cup winning and president trophy winning team. Zetterberg would have been 4th line. Hecwould have rotted away at the bottom of the roster, stunting his development.

MP will be on the top two lines seeing lots of action and would thusly develops faster.

You have to ice the best team you can or you scuttle the hearts of the players that want to win. Self sabotage is a quick way to make good soldiers want a change of scenery.

I really don't think this debate has any merit when you look past the dollars of it. And if all the kids get huge raises that's champagne problems.

I remember people saying the same thing about gagner and cogs. If only that would have been the case.

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#18 Etownhockey
September 30 2010, 07:04AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

knee deep in it wrote:

in 2001, you had the rights to a player until age 30. Now that it down to 27. Would Holland have made a different decision today? He let Zetterberg develop and then had 8 years of his rights in the nhl. Today, that would be 5 years before ufa.

magisterrex wrote:

Shhh...don't let the facts get in the way of a good Oilers management bash...

This was actually a really good point - as it applies to Zetterberg - and under the current system it's true that Holland might have brought Zetterberg over faster.

But for Paajarvi, essentially it's another element against him. If the Oilers didn't have him in the NHL this season, he'd be UFA eligible at the age of 27; by bringing him to the NHL this season they reduce that age to 26. Is Paajarvi going to be better at 19 or at 27?

Why does it matter if he becomes UFA eligible at 26 or 27. Are we that scared that our players will run away as soon as their UFA eligibility kicks in, and we are so hard pressed to keep them that extra year?

Another argument that also doesn't make sense is their RFA status. If we held out on someone like Paajarvi for another year or two, that is giving him another year or two to get better. Yes? Ok, that's what you want...but with that in mind, the better he becomes the higher dollars he will want on his next contract. Get him in early, have his contract expire at 22 and he won't demand the top dollars. IE Gagner and Cogliano!

Have Paajarvi come in at age 21, and he re-ups at 24...I bet that contract is going to be smoking high!

SO in the end, what is the difference if you start him earlier? The arguments really aren't strong here.

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#19 Jonathan Willis
September 30 2010, 07:06AM
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Erik Johnson wrote:

You have to ice the best team you can or you scuttle the hearts of the players that want to win. Self sabotage is a quick way to make good soldiers want a change of scenery.

And that's a point I can agree with. I don't think the Oilers can send MPS out now, after what he's demonstrated in camp. Dellow and I disagree on that point.

However, this summer, when Steve Tambellini was talking about having too many forwards, he might have put together a more competitive roster and left MPS in Sweden. By doing so he might have saved a spot for a guy like Owen Nolan - currently hoping to get another NHL job - to come in as a veteran leader, someone who can help the team rebuild and provide positive leadership for an incredibly young forward group.

Instead, the decision this summer was to bring all three in and hand them roster spots. The decision's been made and I think it's too late to change it; I just think it was the wrong decision. (Digression: and wasn't it not that long ago that Tambellini was talking about an end to handing prospects roster spots?)

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#20 etownhockey
September 30 2010, 07:11AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ CM:

That's very true, but if the Oilers want another high pick this year anyway... then does it matter?

I'm entering this season viewing it as another rebuilding year, and I think management (and the majority of fans) have a similar perspective. In that case, on-ice results this season become secondary to the long-term plan, yes?

It's not really a fun thought - I'm a fan of the best 12 players getting the top 12 spots - but one that I think makes sense for the team long-term.

So you are trying to convince us that these players may not be ready for NHL action. But at the same time, you are telling us the Oilers should hold these kids back to keep them from improving the Oilers to such a great deal that it would eliminate a high draft pick.

So if these kids are so damn good, that they alone will greatly improve this team and ruin our chances for a good draft pick....WHY WOULD YOU KEEP THEM OUT OF THE NHL?

Not getting your argument here at all...

On another note, the sole purpose of the Oilers is for entertainment value. We all forget this, for whatever reason. I expect to be entertained this year. My need for entertainment this year will be just as high as any year in the future. So why ruin the entertainment value this year, just to hold out on entertainment value for another year?

Raine Snow www.etownhockey.com

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#21 oilersev
September 30 2010, 07:11AM
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You will notice Holland also said , 'you either get them out of the draft...'...just in there case no player had the ability or skill set to be able to crack the roster at 18 or 19. In a cap world, having a great team and winning the Stanley you want to have some 18-20 yr olds who can outright play. It means less money paid out for high end talent. Of course that doesn't last long.

Also what you never hear about detroit is players sign there for less then they can make in other markets. They are a original six and almost any player out there they can attract, and not just because they are well run and a good team. So truth be known, you couldn't compare they way the can run a organization to Edmonton in any way. Different market (fan and media wise and less patience), Different climate, less travel, one a original six team, one not, one a american team, one not. One who never gets top 10 draft picks anymore. And...I might add, put (Steve Yzerman into the NHL at age 18.GP 80 G 39 A 48 PTS 87. But dont gorget about Sergei Federov at 19 GP 77 G 31 A 48 PTS 79) These guys played because they were needed and...they were just that good. I realize it was not Holland but bottom line was he would have done the same.

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#22 dtam23
September 30 2010, 07:19AM
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I find it funny how people selectively look at Detroit's magical scouting. If they had such foresight why did they pick Zetterberg so late? Couldn't have been dumb luck cause they're the Red Wings.

Now maybe if we compared a similar player between both orginizations we could see what the similarities or differences were. I look at Johan Franzen chosen with the 97th pick in 2004. Using the logic above he should have stayed in the SEL for a few seasons since he only had 14 pts. in 2004-5. Nope, he went to the Wings in 2005-6 and promptly scored 16 pts in 80 games. Looks like the almighty rushed this player. Scored 30pts, 38pts, then broke for 59 pts 2008-09. My guess is he was physically mature enough and had nothing to gain by playing in the SEL one more season.

The Red Wings are a great orginization and know better than most on how to run a hockey team. I just find it funny how people selectively choose their stats and history when making an argument. If the wings had Hall, Paajarvi, and Eberle (who is on his 3rd training camp btw) I'm sure they would find room for at least 2 of them.

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#23 Lowetide
September 30 2010, 07:28AM
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One of the main reasons Z was brought along slowly had to do with his size. He was a very thin prospect on draft day.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:p2KD_pamO6kJ:redwings.nhl.com/club/news.htm%3Fid%3D468186+henrik+zetterberg+skinny&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca

From the article:

"I was 5-11, but I was only about 165 pounds when I was drafted," Zetterberg laughed.

He wasn’t even thinking about the draft in June 1999, when he slipped all the way to the seventh round.

”I was on vacation with my parents on the island of Cyprus," Zetterberg said. "I knew the Red Wings were interested and that I wouldn’t be picked early. When my dad picked up the phone and told me it was (Red Wings European scout) Hakan Andersson, the vacation that was pretty good already turned great."

"I remember thinking that Zetterberg was too skinny, too frail to take the pounding he'd receive in the NHL," said former Calgary Flames General Manager Craig Button. "You have to give the Wings credit for is sticking to their guns and drafting for skill and talent up and down the draft."

"He wasn't even on our list," former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke told me.

I don't think Zetterberg is a reasonable comp for the Hall or MPS career path.

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#24 magisterrex
September 30 2010, 07:39AM
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Lowetide wrote:

One of the main reasons Z was brought along slowly had to do with his size. He was a very thin prospect on draft day.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:p2KD_pamO6kJ:redwings.nhl.com/club/news.htm%3Fid%3D468186+henrik+zetterberg+skinny&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca

From the article:

"I was 5-11, but I was only about 165 pounds when I was drafted," Zetterberg laughed.

He wasn’t even thinking about the draft in June 1999, when he slipped all the way to the seventh round.

”I was on vacation with my parents on the island of Cyprus," Zetterberg said. "I knew the Red Wings were interested and that I wouldn’t be picked early. When my dad picked up the phone and told me it was (Red Wings European scout) Hakan Andersson, the vacation that was pretty good already turned great."

"I remember thinking that Zetterberg was too skinny, too frail to take the pounding he'd receive in the NHL," said former Calgary Flames General Manager Craig Button. "You have to give the Wings credit for is sticking to their guns and drafting for skill and talent up and down the draft."

"He wasn't even on our list," former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke told me.

I don't think Zetterberg is a reasonable comp for the Hall or MPS career path.

Another good point. This is the problem with proceeding from a pre-determined conclusion when looking at data, ie. "Oilers management sucks!" I think we've seen one too many of these anti-management diatribes lately; how about a little perspective?

BTW, the Khabi signing wasn't all that bad. They needed a vet who could mentor, and Khabi had that rep coming in. Add that to the face that when Khabi is on his game he's world-class, and I see a decent signing. (PS. The goalie market only collapsed AFTER the signing. Trying to predict the free agency market is like trying to herd cats: you can make all the predictions you want, but in the end, chaos theory wins).

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#25 dawgbone
September 30 2010, 07:48AM
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I think Jonathan's point was that with all the talk over the past few years about "Following the Detroit model", few people are actually interested in doing it.

The Detroit model involves replacing more expensive veterans with younger players who have demonstrated that they are ready to contribute at the NHL level.

Contributing doesn't just mean being able to score 20 goals. Contributing means being able to play both ends of the ice.

They do not use the NHL as a developmental league at all.

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#26 dawgbone
September 30 2010, 07:55AM
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magisterrex wrote:

Another good point. This is the problem with proceeding from a pre-determined conclusion when looking at data, ie. "Oilers management sucks!" I think we've seen one too many of these anti-management diatribes lately; how about a little perspective?

BTW, the Khabi signing wasn't all that bad. They needed a vet who could mentor, and Khabi had that rep coming in. Add that to the face that when Khabi is on his game he's world-class, and I see a decent signing. (PS. The goalie market only collapsed AFTER the signing. Trying to predict the free agency market is like trying to herd cats: you can make all the predictions you want, but in the end, chaos theory wins).

The Khabibulin signing was terrible.

Firstly, he's been injury prone since the lockout (we've now already experienced that).

Secondly, he's had one quality season since the lockout (in a season he only started 40 or so games).

And no, the goalie market didn't crash after the signing. Going into Free Agency there were more goalies available than spots. The only reason it looked like it happened after the Khabibulin signing is because the Oilers rushed right in and signed the guy to a dollar amount twice as high and to a length twice as long as any other goalie contract handed out.

The Oilers completely screwed up when they read the market. If you want some reference, Jonathan himself wrote about the goaltender market a dozen times himself well before July 1st last year.

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#27 magisterrex
September 30 2010, 07:56AM
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dawgbone wrote:

I think Jonathan's point was that with all the talk over the past few years about "Following the Detroit model", few people are actually interested in doing it.

The Detroit model involves replacing more expensive veterans with younger players who have demonstrated that they are ready to contribute at the NHL level.

Contributing doesn't just mean being able to score 20 goals. Contributing means being able to play both ends of the ice.

They do not use the NHL as a developmental league at all.

That would be great, if the original premise was valid. But it's not. Let's have a look at what Detroit looked like BEFORE they became champions, when they had a Top 4 draft pick, some guy named Steve Yzerman:

Standing 5'11" and weighing just 160 pounds, the Red Wings were prepared to send Yzerman back to Peterborough for another year, but "after one (training camp) season, you knew he was a tremendous hockey player," said Ken Holland, the current Red Wings general manager who was a minor league goaltender for the Wings during Yzerman's rookie training camp.[7] Yzerman tallied 39 goals and 87 points in his rookie season, and finished second in Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) voting.[8] That season, Yzerman also became the youngest player in an All-Star Game at the age of 18.[9] SOURCE

Wikipedia is not always right, but when properly collaborated it's not usually wrong.

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#28 SumOil
September 30 2010, 07:57AM
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etownhockey wrote:

So you are trying to convince us that these players may not be ready for NHL action. But at the same time, you are telling us the Oilers should hold these kids back to keep them from improving the Oilers to such a great deal that it would eliminate a high draft pick.

So if these kids are so damn good, that they alone will greatly improve this team and ruin our chances for a good draft pick....WHY WOULD YOU KEEP THEM OUT OF THE NHL?

Not getting your argument here at all...

On another note, the sole purpose of the Oilers is for entertainment value. We all forget this, for whatever reason. I expect to be entertained this year. My need for entertainment this year will be just as high as any year in the future. So why ruin the entertainment value this year, just to hold out on entertainment value for another year?

Raine Snow www.etownhockey.com

NO all he is saying is that ready for NHL or not, It would have been better to let someone like MPS to stay in SEL. I kind of agree with that. Let the kid dominate SEL and then come over to the NHL. he had 29 points. that is very good, but he did not dominate there. Another season and he maybe puts up 40 points, then we know he has gotten better and is absolutely ready to play in the NHL

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#29 Robin Brownlee
September 30 2010, 07:58AM
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@Lowetide

You're absolutely right. Zetterberg isn't a reasonable comp to MPS. I still remember being struck by how slight he was the first time I saw him in the dressing room at Joe Louis, and that was as a 21-year-old.

Likewise, the Red Wings of the era in question aren't a reasonable comp to the Oilers of Paajarvi's era. Detroit's points totals for the seasons from 1998-99 (when they drafted Zetterberg) until his first season in 2002-03 were 93, 108, 111 and 116, when they won the Stanley Cup. The Oilers, er, four straight years out of the playoffs and 30th place last season . . .

Also, as has been pointed out, there's the significant matter of different rules regarding eligibility for free agency. Then, there's the fact that teams could be more patient with young prospects because they could simply spend as much as they wanted on stop-gap free agents to fill in holes in the interim because there was no salary cap. The Red Wings, as we know, spent plenty.

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#30 magisterrex
September 30 2010, 07:58AM
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dawgbone wrote:

The Khabibulin signing was terrible.

Firstly, he's been injury prone since the lockout (we've now already experienced that).

Secondly, he's had one quality season since the lockout (in a season he only started 40 or so games).

And no, the goalie market didn't crash after the signing. Going into Free Agency there were more goalies available than spots. The only reason it looked like it happened after the Khabibulin signing is because the Oilers rushed right in and signed the guy to a dollar amount twice as high and to a length twice as long as any other goalie contract handed out.

The Oilers completely screwed up when they read the market. If you want some reference, Jonathan himself wrote about the goaltender market a dozen times himself well before July 1st last year.

Um...you do realize the trouble with using Jonathan's past opinion pieces to validate his current ones, right?

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#31 rubbertrout
September 30 2010, 07:59AM
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@etownhockey

On another note, the sole purpose of the Oilers is for entertainment value. We all forget this, for whatever reason. I expect to be entertained this year. My need for entertainment this year will be just as high as any year in the future. So why ruin the entertainment value this year, just to hold out on entertainment value for another year?

There is a big difference between "entertainment value" and putting a team together to win. Sure people want to watch entertaining hockey but they also want to see a winner. Would I pass up on some level of "entertainment value" this year if it meant the team would be better next year and better 3-4 years down the road? You bet. Of course I also watched most of the games last year and they were far from "entertaining" at times.

As a GM in today's NHL you need to manage the cap in order to ice the best team possible. Very little that Tambellini has done in the past suggests he has a handle on this (see the Heatley debacle and Khabby's contract).

I think they should play if they are good enough but something tells me that having all three of them here has more to do with other factors than their ability to play. For example, the fact that the team has stunk for four years in a row and Katz needs to cultivate some buzz around the team to generate interest in his new stadium. The fact that Tambo wants to draw attention away from his failures as a GM (which he has been improving to some extent I'll admit) so he can hang onto a job.

There's a lot to be said for the team's motivation in playing the kids. Everyone is focussing on the bright and shiny new toys without keeping a mind for the future. This isn't a good thing.

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#32 dawgbone
September 30 2010, 08:02AM
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magisterrex wrote:

That would be great, if the original premise was valid. But it's not. Let's have a look at what Detroit looked like BEFORE they became champions, when they had a Top 4 draft pick, some guy named Steve Yzerman:

Standing 5'11" and weighing just 160 pounds, the Red Wings were prepared to send Yzerman back to Peterborough for another year, but "after one (training camp) season, you knew he was a tremendous hockey player," said Ken Holland, the current Red Wings general manager who was a minor league goaltender for the Wings during Yzerman's rookie training camp.[7] Yzerman tallied 39 goals and 87 points in his rookie season, and finished second in Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) voting.[8] That season, Yzerman also became the youngest player in an All-Star Game at the age of 18.[9] SOURCE

Wikipedia is not always right, but when properly collaborated it's not usually wrong.

How much input did Ken Holland have on the Wings keeping Yzerman in his rookie season?

Can you really compare how Detroit operates under a different GM over 20 years later?

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#33 Petr's Jofa
September 30 2010, 08:06AM
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How much of it was Holland being brilliant, letting Zetterberg develop and delay his RFA/UFA status and how much was that Zetterburg just wasn't good enough to crack Detroit's 2001-2001 line-up? Here are the Forwards he was competing with:

Sergei Fedorov

Steve Yzerman

Igor Larionov

Pavel Datsyuk

Kris Draper

Boyd Devereaux

Brendan Shanahan

Luc Robitaille

Tomas Holmstrom

Kirk Maltby

Brett Hull

Mathieu Dandenault

Maybe we will look back in 8 years and talk about what a brilliant man Tambellini was for not rushing Omark if he doesn't make the team out of camp.

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#34 dawgbone
September 30 2010, 08:07AM
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magisterrex wrote:

Um...you do realize the trouble with using Jonathan's past opinion pieces to validate his current ones, right?

Not in this instance.

He pointed it out before hand that the goalie market was going to be a buyers market.

We now see that it was in fact a buyers market.

I don't see the conflict here.

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#35 magisterrex
September 30 2010, 08:07AM
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dawgbone wrote:

How much input did Ken Holland have on the Wings keeping Yzerman in his rookie season?

Can you really compare how Detroit operates under a different GM over 20 years later?

Are you seriously suggesting that Yzerman could have done with another year of seasoning outside of the Show? Really? Thanks for the chuckle.

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#36 rubbertrout
September 30 2010, 08:12AM
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@magisterrex

Lots of people were talking about the availability of a plethora of cheap goalies before this signing. They could have resigned Roli for 2 years instead of Khabby for a million. This signing was dumb from day one.

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#37 Alex Hemsky
September 30 2010, 08:13AM
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GSC wrote:

Of course Dellow disagrees with Oiler management, that's his M.O. and will continue to be for God knows how long...

When it comes to deciding between a general manager who has the experience as a player and league executive, knows how scouting works, and has a ton of eyes and ears feeding him every piece of information possible on a prospect, and a blogger who has never set foot on the ice in his life and only does this kind of stuff as a hobby, I wonder who I'm going to side with?

Dellow's entitled to his opinion, but it's always from the same angle: he's right, Oilers brass is wrong. There's no in between, no room for discussion.

Yawn...

Dellow's point isn't about how to play the game or how to scout. It's about understanding contracts & using them to the oilers advantage.

When Dellow isn't eating cheezies in his basement he deals with these kind of problems for a living.

I'm personnaly going with him on this over the guy who seemingly couldn't figure out Brule's waiver status.

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#38 dawgbone
September 30 2010, 08:17AM
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magisterrex wrote:

Are you seriously suggesting that Yzerman could have done with another year of seasoning outside of the Show? Really? Thanks for the chuckle.

This train went off the track in a hurry here didn't it?

You brought up Yzerman as a rookie as some sort of evidence that Detroit doesn't even follow the Ken Holland Detroit model.

What does bringing up Steve Yzerman have to do with Ken Holland's philosophy on running a hockey team? Ken Holland was not in charge of the Red Wings that year (he was their minor league goalie) so how can you possibly introduce this as some sort of counter point to the original premise?

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#39 oilerev
September 30 2010, 08:25AM
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regarding leaving the rookies at home. (Hall and Paajarvi... If we were to be a lottery pick (because of having possible lesser talent to work with this year)who is to say the pick we get is not a bust? No, I have no problem being a bad team cause prospects are not ready, but you can't hold better talent out just to get maybe talent. For many of you who believe we would be better to leave the rookies in SEL and OHL I am pretty sure you would be ticked off at Tamby for holding the two rookies back when we could have gotten them a year of experience in the big leagues if that tanked draft pick turned into a dud, or 3rd line player at best.

If we want to follow the detroit model, how about we find gems of players in the latter rounds? Now that is where you build stanley cup contenders. Just a thought...

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#40 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 30 2010, 08:35AM
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The cry to "let the kids play" from the fans is very short sighted and selfish.

That said though, I don't think theirs a "right answer".

As mentioned by others, it's not clear cut whether or not players are better off with less or more time in lower leagues (impossible to prove really).

Contractually it's also not clear cut. How much more would 23 year old MPS be worth as an RFA over 22 year old MPS?

I see merit in stretching your ELC an extra year, but then you also might be re-upping a guy for 5 million, instead of 3.5.

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#41 B.C.B.
September 30 2010, 08:46AM
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@ oilersev: Have you ever been to Detroit. Yes, they are a original six team, and, yes, they are close(r) to Toronto/NYC/etc . . . but Detroit is a steaming pile of industrial waste. I love it there but I like underground parties, urban farms, and its art scene, but do you think these things apeal to NHL players. It is an unsafe, mostly abandoned, dark city; there is no beach or cosmopolitan environment, just a dangerous underpopulated core and a hell of a lot of suburbs. Detroit has a brutal travel schedule because they play most of their games out west, as well. Players sign there cause they can win and that is about all.

To the topic at hand, I would play Paajarvi for five or six NHL games and if he is not lighting it up send him to the AAA pitching. That way the Oilers can bring him up for another couple game run, if they get into injuries or if he is lights out in the minors. It keeps the possibility of not giving him 10 games and burning a year of ELC contract, while being fair towards the player.

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#42 Nesquik
September 30 2010, 08:52AM
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I noticed a couple things about JW's article. In the first line of his quote Holland says "Also, because we have a good team...we can afford to be patient with the prospects" With this in mind, is it really "directly relevant to this season's oiler?"

Second, the throw away comment about Tambo agreeing to be like Detroit- are there other articles that give more details? I ask because in his answer Tambellini seems to be talking about number of people involved with decision making. Here is the last bit of the linked article:

"Tambellini, who worked with Detroit's Holland when Canada won the silver medal at the 2005 World Hockey Championship, believes the comparison to the Red Wings brain trust is apt. "The more people you have that can think and project at that level, if it's all about the group, then it's very powerful," Tambellini said. "If it's about the ego of the individual, then you're not going to accomplish anything. "The way I want to work is very inclusive, we're going to make decisions together. I'm very confident in the hockey people that are here." I could be misreading or seeing my own bias, but it seems like the facts are getting in the way of a good story!

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#43 ubermiguel
September 30 2010, 08:53AM
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Didn't realize Zetterberg was so puny as a draft-pick. Makes him a good example against drafting based on size.

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#44 oilersev
September 30 2010, 09:17AM
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B.C.B..... I do agree, Detroit is not a pretty city, and economically not doing well. As well I do realize at this moment they are a highly competitive franchise which is attractive to anyone who wants to win. That goes without saying, as the Oilers if highly competitive and stacked would have people wanting to come here as well.

So, I give you those kudos on your points....but Detroit is Competitive, is well managed, and scouts well. The basically find their stars from within and then add good vets for ok prices to fit the cap world. Before cap time they basically bought the stanley cup with how much money they threw around.

Anyway, most players really dont care much about economy in the city they play in because they make their money regradless, they also don't do lots of sight seeing unless they move their families there year round. They can afford to live where they choose in North America. You can't quote me on this but...if you were to ask players where they would prefer to play in detroit even if all teams had equal potential. My guess would be they would rank top 6 teams to play on, no matter if Ken Holland was there or not.

Just my opinion nonetheless

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#45 Crash
September 30 2010, 09:21AM
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As has been pointed out there are many different models to follow to the road to success. Back in the late 80's Detroit was crap. That was back before money took over the NHL and separated winning teams from losing teams.

RB makes the best point yet when he said:

"The fact that teams could be more patient with young prospects because they could simply spend as much as they wanted on stop-gap free agents to fill in holes in the interim because there was no salary cap. The Red Wings, as we know, spent plenty"

The Wings built themselves a powerhouse in this manner and are still reaping the benefits of that today. Although it is slowly starting to come to an end because now we have players walking away from Detroit rather than signing for less dollars to stay (ie: Hossa, Hudler, Samuelsson). Before too long Detroit is going to find themselves declining in the standings. It began last year. We'll see how the Detroit model makes out once Lidstrom, Rafalski, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, etc. are gone or are all past their primes. They finished 5th in the west last year. Could this be the beginning of a decline?

Plain and simple, if you have high end prospects that are ready to step into the NHL and contribute and you can afford to give them significant minutes, then the best place for them to play is in the NHL. They will develop much quicker playing in this league if they have minutes than they will playing in Junior, Europe or the AHL.

What's wrong with the Pittsburgh model? It's more recent. Did Crosby go back to junior? Did Jordan Stall go back to junior? How about even more recently, Chicago. Did they send Kane back to junior? How about Jonathan Toews? He was drafted, played one extra year in the NCAA and then came straight to the NHL. This coincides with both Eberle and Paajarvi. They both also played one extra year outside the NHL after being drafted.

I don't see the problem here. It seems that both Paajarvi and Hall belong here...now, not later. But if they show by 10 games in they don't belong, then by all means send them down. But not for any other reason.

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#46 Ender
September 30 2010, 09:24AM
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Rogue wrote:

ah, numero two oh

Oh good grief. Seriously?!

As if the fisters with their fragile egos weren't bad enough ('Acknowledge my existence, please; this is the only thing I could ever possibly have a shot at being first in . . .'), people have now found a way to be even more desperate for attention than that?

Here's a bulletin; not only is there a big ol' #2 right next to your name that tells everyone who might care what number your post is, but most of us here (Rogue perhaps being the exception) can see which comment is second-from-the-top without needing someone to tell us.

When you type something as retarded as that, just know that it immediately discredits anything else you might have had to say. Congratulations on being pathetic.

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#47 dawgbone
September 30 2010, 09:25AM
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oilerev wrote:

regarding leaving the rookies at home. (Hall and Paajarvi... If we were to be a lottery pick (because of having possible lesser talent to work with this year)who is to say the pick we get is not a bust? No, I have no problem being a bad team cause prospects are not ready, but you can't hold better talent out just to get maybe talent. For many of you who believe we would be better to leave the rookies in SEL and OHL I am pretty sure you would be ticked off at Tamby for holding the two rookies back when we could have gotten them a year of experience in the big leagues if that tanked draft pick turned into a dud, or 3rd line player at best.

If we want to follow the detroit model, how about we find gems of players in the latter rounds? Now that is where you build stanley cup contenders. Just a thought...

And if you want to argue that, what if playing them in the NHL at 18 turns them into a Daigle or Stefan? (for the record, I don't think argument holds much water).

If they are going to tank as prospects, I don't think holding them out of the NHL this year will contribute to that.

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#48 Chris.
September 30 2010, 09:42AM
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Willis wrote:

Oilers management the last few years really hasn't given any indication they know what they're doing

When Brownlee asked Tambellini to comment on the hold-some-kids-back-so-as-to-not-burn-a-year-on-their-entry-level-contract-debate: Tambellini's answer was irrelevent and nonsensical. Instead of giving any insight; he rambled on about how there are ways to determine if a young player is ready to play in the NHL or not.

IMO, this was not a clever side step. I listened to that sound bite a dozen times, and watched the video... Tambellini simply didn't understand the question. It's not something he's even thought about. Scarey. Stupid scarey.

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#49 Calgarymikey
September 30 2010, 09:47AM
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Petr's Jofa wrote:

How much of it was Holland being brilliant, letting Zetterberg develop and delay his RFA/UFA status and how much was that Zetterburg just wasn't good enough to crack Detroit's 2001-2001 line-up? Here are the Forwards he was competing with:

Sergei Fedorov

Steve Yzerman

Igor Larionov

Pavel Datsyuk

Kris Draper

Boyd Devereaux

Brendan Shanahan

Luc Robitaille

Tomas Holmstrom

Kirk Maltby

Brett Hull

Mathieu Dandenault

Maybe we will look back in 8 years and talk about what a brilliant man Tambellini was for not rushing Omark if he doesn't make the team out of camp.

Exactly what I was going to say, it's easy to leave your prospects to develope when you're already icing a stanley cup team. Plus a player like Magnus has already played a bunch of seasons against men and is already NHL ready, why would you let a player go off somewhere else to play while the Oilers suffer and could use him.

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#50 dawgbone
September 30 2010, 09:49AM
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Crash wrote:

As has been pointed out there are many different models to follow to the road to success. Back in the late 80's Detroit was crap. That was back before money took over the NHL and separated winning teams from losing teams.

RB makes the best point yet when he said:

"The fact that teams could be more patient with young prospects because they could simply spend as much as they wanted on stop-gap free agents to fill in holes in the interim because there was no salary cap. The Red Wings, as we know, spent plenty"

The Wings built themselves a powerhouse in this manner and are still reaping the benefits of that today. Although it is slowly starting to come to an end because now we have players walking away from Detroit rather than signing for less dollars to stay (ie: Hossa, Hudler, Samuelsson). Before too long Detroit is going to find themselves declining in the standings. It began last year. We'll see how the Detroit model makes out once Lidstrom, Rafalski, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, etc. are gone or are all past their primes. They finished 5th in the west last year. Could this be the beginning of a decline?

Plain and simple, if you have high end prospects that are ready to step into the NHL and contribute and you can afford to give them significant minutes, then the best place for them to play is in the NHL. They will develop much quicker playing in this league if they have minutes than they will playing in Junior, Europe or the AHL.

What's wrong with the Pittsburgh model? It's more recent. Did Crosby go back to junior? Did Jordan Stall go back to junior? How about even more recently, Chicago. Did they send Kane back to junior? How about Jonathan Toews? He was drafted, played one extra year in the NCAA and then came straight to the NHL. This coincides with both Eberle and Paajarvi. They both also played one extra year outside the NHL after being drafted.

I don't see the problem here. It seems that both Paajarvi and Hall belong here...now, not later. But if they show by 10 games in they don't belong, then by all means send them down. But not for any other reason.

I think it's inevitable that in a cap environment that teams will eventually rise, then fall. The question is how long you can stay on top for.

One problem with your comments.

You mention how Detroit is sliding because they finished 5th in the west, yet you bring up Pittsburgh as a possible team to emulate.

Pittsburgh finished 4th in the conference last year, with less points than Detroit had.

And in either case, none of the teams you mentioned won when those players were 18 or 19.

Again, I don't think there is any evidence that suggests that players who develop in the NHL do it quicker than they would have outside the NHL. For every player who was a star at 21 (by joining the league at 18) there are those who were still struggling at 21.

Eberle has played 2 years outside the NHL, which is why no one has brought him up in this discussion.

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