GDB 67.0: Patience pays off

Ken Holland spent eight years as a scout, then three as a assistant general manager before getting the GM job in July of 1997. Early in his tenure he had the luxury of spending big money on free agents and veteran players so his young players could develop in the minors or pro leagues in Europe. However, since the salary cap was put in place, Holland and the entire Red Wings organization still maintain a high level of patience with young prospects.

They don’t rush them into the NHL.

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A few years ago Holland admitted on my radio show that if he had a top-five pick, they likely would be playing in Detroit right away or within a few seasons, however, the major difference between the Oilers and Red Wings is how they develop players taken outside of the top-15 picks.

The Oilers have too often rushed those players to the NHL or even to the AHL. One major exception to that rule was Oscar Klefbom, I wrote that here, but in too many other situations the Oilers have rushed players at the pro level.

The organization, fans and even some who cover the Oilers need to realize the importance of patience and inheriting an organizational standard and belief when it comes to developing players or hiring people.

Here is a quick look at Red Wings draft picks currently on their roster, where they were drafted and at what age they became a regular in the NHL.

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Pavel Datsuyk: 171st overall in 1998. Regular at 23 years old.

Henrik Zetterberg: 210th in 1999. Regular in NHL at 22.

Johan Franzen: 97th  in 2004, (drafted at 24). Regular at 26.

Justin Abdelkader: 42nd in 2005. Regular in 2009 at 22.

Darren Helm: 132nd in 2005. Regular in 2009 at 22.

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Joakim Andersson: 88th in 2007. Regular in 2013 at 24.

Gustav Nyquist: 121st  in 2008. Regular in 2013 at 24.

Tomas Tatar: 60th in 2009. Regular in 2013 at 23.

Riley Sheahan: 21st in 2010. Regular in 2013 at 21.

Tomas Jurco: 35th in 2011. Regular in 2014 at 22.


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Niklas Kronwall: 29th overall in 2000. Regular in 2005 at 24.

Jonathan Ericsson: 291st in 2002. Regular in 2009 at 25.

Kyle Quincey: 132nd in 2003. Regular in 2008 at 23. (With LA, was in Det system until 22.)

Jakub Kindl: 19th in 2005. Regular in 2010 at 23.

Brendan Smith: 27th in 2007. Regular in 2012 at 23.

Xavier Ouellet: 48th in 2011. Not a regular yet, but has played 20 games this year.


Jimmy Howard: 64th in 2003. Regular in 2009 at 25.

Petr Mrazek: 141st in 2010. He has started 18 games this year, due to injuries to Howard and Gustavsson. He is 23 and was just recalled yesterday again, after Gustavsson was injured yesterday in Boston.

The Wings have been patient with picks in the first round picks as much as picks later on. They don’t rush their players. Many of the aforementioned players did play a few NHL games in previous seasons, 5-30 games, but often they’d return to the AHL and keep developing.

The Oilers organization must do the same with their prospects, and they need to develop patience with all of their players, even first round picks.  It takes time to develop, and you’d rather they come to the NHL ready to contribute rather than during their developmental years.

Of course there are exceptions. Taylor Hall was ready. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had the skills to play here, but he had an obvious strength disadvantage, but overall more development will not harm the players. It has also been proven that one exceptional player won’t make enough of an impact to improve the team, so rushing him rarely pays dividends for teams.


I’ve mentioned this in passing a few times, but I believe it needs to be discussed more openly now. The Oilers must create a new standard within the organization when it comes to hiring management and coaches.

They must have a proper interviewing process.

It is a different sport, but the premise and theory fits for hockey. When Edmonton Eskimos GM, Ed Hervey, went looking for a new head coach he had a well devised plan. He outlined it with me after he had hired Chris Jones.

“I compiled a list of seven people I wanted to talk to about the job,” he said. This was after he had received more than 20 emails/phone calls from people interested in the job. After speaking to those seven people and gauging their interest, he decided to interview four people.

“I wanted them to come to me with their vision and plan for the team. Who would they hire as assistant coaches. How would they use players on our current roster, and what was their overall plan for success,” Hervey explained.

“I learned a lot from all the candidates, and once I choose coach Jones we talked about some of the ideas the other coaches had presented. It allowed me to get a significant amount of information from football men that I respected,” finished Hervey.

This is why the Oilers should conduct a proper search for their next head coach. This is no slight to Todd Nelson, I like him as a coach, but why not sit down and speak with three or four other candidates and glean as much information as you can about players in your organization?

If, after speaking with the other candidates, the Oilers feel Nelson is the best man for the job, then they can hire him, but removing the interim tag on Nelson before conducting a thorough search would be a mistake.


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The Oilers didn’t have a morning skate today, but Anton Lander will return to the lineup, meaning Matt Hendricks can slide back to the wing on Gordon’s line.

Pouliot will be a game time decision. If he can play, he will slot back in on the top line. Matt Fraser saw the most time with RNH/Eberle out of those who rotated on that line, but I haven’t been impressed with his play. If Pouliot can go, I’d take Fraser out of the lineup, slot Hendricks/Gordon/Klinkhammer and put Lander with Ryan Hamilton and Luke Gazdic. Gazdic has created much more than Fraser.

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Oesterle only dressed because Pouliot was injured. Either he or Aulie will be paired with Ference on the 3rd pairing.

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Scrivens gets the start.


From Winging It In Motown

Here come the Oilers, the 29th team in the NHL, the team that never seems to get better, the organization who’s in perma “rebuilding” mode, who has 7 1st round picks on the active roster, and who have become the butt of jokes about sucking around the entire league. Does that make me feel confident we’ll spank them tonight? Not at all. There’s something about the Wings that’s bothering me right now, and it’s a big part of why I’m nervous that this game will be closer than it should be.

Here’s what’s bothering me the most right now:

  1. Tomas Jurco is a healthy scratch and this is stupid
  2. Luke Glendening is on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk and this is a joke
  3. Teemu Pulkkinen had 0 Power play time last game despite this being an area he specializes in.

I disagree with the way Mike Babcock is currently using players (based on the last game and assumed same lines for tonight) and I think it’s hurting the team and we’re wasting potential and points if we continue like this. Tomas Jurco has been good, despite shitty offensive line mates and crap for ice time and no power play time. Has he scored all the goals he should have? No, and that’s what a shockingly low 2.6% shooting percentage gets you, crap for goals despite the effort. Glendening tries real hard and I give him full credit for everything he does, but he’s not a top line forward and putting him there instead of Jurco right now is laughable. I have no idea why Teemu Pulkkinen didn’t get a single second of power play time yesterday afternoon, but it doesn’t make any sense, we sure could use him on it. All of these things add up to not getting the most out of the players you have at your disposal, and I think it contributed to how awful the Wings played against Boston.



GAME DAY PREDICTION: Both teams are playing their third game in four nights, and both have lost the previous two. The Oilers played great in Chicago and the first 29 minutes in Carolina, before falling apart. The Wings have allowed 10 goals in their previous two games, and will be looking to clamp down tonight. Wings win 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Stephen Weiss will not serve up two horrible turnovers on the PP tonight like he did yesterday in Boston. I’m certain Babcock had those cued up during video session today.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Wings have an NHL-low six fighting majors. Smith and Ericsson lead the team with two each. Smith and Hendricks engage in a spirited tilt after Hendricks takes a hard run at Zetterberg.

Recently by Jason Gregor:         


  • Lofty

    Mr. Gregor, you are stretching some numbers to fit your argument. Datsyuk,Zetterberg,Franzen and Dekeyser never played one game in the AHL and Abdelkater played a whopping 35 games. Ken Holland himself said that if he was drafting early in the first round his picks would have played right away.

    I agree that later picks and prospects would benefit from a solid developmental system and maybe we are seeing a bit of that with currents prospects.

    I guess what you are saying is draft europeans and let them develop over in Europe and bring them over when they are ready.

    • james_dean


      Abdelkader played a whopping 109 games in the AHL, not 35.

      Abdelkader was drafted in 2005, played three full seasons at Michigan State, then a season and a half in the AHL before he became a full-time NHL player. During this time he also played 4 NHL games total In two NHL seasons. If that made him an “NHL regular”, the criteria in Gregor’s article, then Darnell Nurse is already an NHL regular.

      Stuff like this is very easy to check online.

  • CMG30

    Wait a minute. Let me get this straight:

    You’re saying that the Oilers should let their picks develop in a place that’s actually appropriate to their abilities?

    That the NHL is not a developmental league?

    That rushing players to the NHL before they’re ready to play at an elite level can be detrimental to their career and increases their chance to bust as a pick?

    That having players learn the game in the NHL means that the team suffers through the learning curve along with the player?

    That management and the fans may sour on a player going through the aforementioned learning curve and flush/run him out of town for peanuts only to see the receiving team reap the benefits of a now developed player?

    That successful teams in the NHL don’t do this?

    As a certified ‘Smartest Guy In The Room’ I reject your argument BECAUSE OILERS!!!!!

  • james_dean

    Woah is this real? I never thought I would be saying “thankfully Anton Lander is back in the lineup”!!Now we just need to wait for Petry to come back and wait NVM…

  • james_dean

    “Let me be clear,” said Lowe, “we’re not where they should be right now and that is unacceptable. And we need to get better immediately. That starts today.”

    “Because careers are short and opportunities for achievement don’t come along very often, we feel strongly that it was important we make some changes right now.”

    That was 2 years ago

    “It’s not about yesterday. What matters is what I do tomorrow to make this organization better. Tomorrow is about getting our bootstraps on and getting the pieces together to make us great.” MacT. Also 2 years ago

    Tomorrows come and gone. I agree with Lowe, careers are short and opportunities for achievment don’t come along very often. I feel strongly that it’s important we make some changes in management immediately.

    • The Soup Fascist

      What is criminal is that these jokers continue to fritter away year after year of high draft picks and what should be value contracts, by refusing to surround them with able veterans. They do business with all the effectiveness of a one legged man at a butt-kicking contest.

      The day MacT said he was comfortable with the core of the defense in Edmonton was the day he should have been fired for incompetence or sent for a psych evaluation. How could he say that with a straight face unless he believes it – which truly boggles the mind?

      Katz is loyal (read, a jock sniffer) and will never fire these two. My only hope is they have a shread of honour left and resign at the end of this year….

      ….. yeah, I know. Sigh.

      The fans of this team deserve better – and I think finally almost every one of them has had enough.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    I wish we had been patient. We could have had eberle,nuge,hall,yakupov and every other young guy playing in junior or the AHL.

    While theyre developing we sign some solid free agents and overpay if we have to. Line it up so that our young guys ELC expire when the overpaid guys do. Then you have a team of solid vets, Young stars who wouldnt be making much and we would be one of the deepest teams around.

    Instead we traded anyone who had value for nothing and rushed the young guys hoping they would be stars who could lead the team. Then we figured out the you need to surround the young guys with solid players to be good.

    Was there ever actually a plan in place?

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      Yeah there was a plan, unfortunately it was K. Lowe’s plan.

      Get the fans to commit to a full blown rebuild. With the damage Lowe had already done to the team it was really our only option and it will also buy Lowe another five years at the helm. Drive the team into the ground and collect some high draft picks. Secure a new Arena. Hire your friends and cronies.

      The problem is there is more to a rebuild than tanking and collecting picks. It’s obvious there was no clear cut plan. It’s obvious that this organization has no intention of bringing in fresh blood or looking outside to find the BEST possible person for the job. This organization has no plan for long term development of players. Their drafting and scouting sucks. The few drafts that they develop like Petry walk away for majic Beans. They overvalue their assets constantly. They cannot evaluate free agents and overpay them. Those same free agents come into camp out of shape with no consequences. This organization cannot even nail down the coaching job properly. The best coach that they have set up is an interim coach that is only in his position because they screwed up so badly that they had to fire Eakins mid season and replaced him with their only option, this after having their GM step behind the bench for a short stint.

      This whole team is a train wreck. A freakshow jock sniffing owner, his smug and arrogant POHO, and his buddy and rookie GM.

      This organization has accomplished one amazing feat. It has taken a once proud team and ran it into the ground. It has taken a loyal fan base and alienated themselves from it. It has given us other and better options as to how we spend our time. It is truly sickening what this organization has become and if somebody at the top doesn’t wake up it will be too late if it isn’t already.

      Enjoy your new Empty Hockey Rink.

      A holes

      • Dwayne Roloson 35

        I personally think the future is bright but i dont think it should have taken almost a decade. Building from just the draft is really hard but we could have signed some decent players to help out. We should have had a complete bottom 6 by now and some decent d-men.

        Our only good signings have been gordon and pouliot. We should have had 3 or 4 other decent signings at least to surround the core with quality.

        Instead we’ve done the ahl player experiments hoping someone would come out of nowhere so it could be a good story.

        Who knows about the new rink. Im sure it will be filled or at least sold out most nights just because this is edmonton.

        But yeah management has been brutal. The eakins era and mac-t saying dumb stuff. He seems like a smart guy but he just continues to say dumb stuff. The nikitin signing is brutal but its not that long so i wont hold it against mac-t. I just dont like how he said nikitin is a top 4 d-man and the stuff about playing into shape.

        I will continue to follow them though. Not by choice but only because im stuck with them. im loyal to my city and the first team i ever cheered for.

        • The Soup Fascist

          God love ya.

          If you have not turned on the morons running this organization yet, you never will.

          If you also cheer for the Cubbies and Cleveland Browns I will honestly put you forward for Sainthood.

          This team does not deserve a fan like you.

          • Dwayne Roloson 35

            I hate how this team has been run to be honest. I would be fine with seeing management go. I just mean we’re getting pretty stacked with prospects who i think could turn this team around eventually.

            I think Hall,nuge,ebs,yakupov,klefbom,marincin, Draisaitl and nurse can all get better and be stars. Throw in other young guys like yakimov,slepshev,simpson,oesterle,lander, pakarainin and some more draft picks this year and thats why i think the future is bright. Plus we have a coach who gets the best out of his players.

            Management can mess it all up though. I dont have faith. Nelson could go and we could make some brutal trades.

            We just look good on paper.

            Im not an oilers fan im an oilers follower. I cant be a fan of this but im stuck with them.

          • SSB1963

            From your reply I deduce that you have had many a turned ankle from jumping on and off the bandwagon. Really fans stick with their teams even with idiots at the helm.

  • The Soup Fascist

    On a POSITIVE note the OKC Barons added Akim ALIU and Brad WINCHESTER to their line up recently! When KESSEY , PINNiZOTTO and LAIN return from IR there is going to be some serious TRUCULENCE on this squad! No wonder they are the top team in the AHL!

  • vetinari

    The only acceptable conclusion to this season is for Lowe, Mac T, Nelson and the entire coaching staff to be terminated. Start at the top and allow quality hockey people to select the remaining positions and a new scouting staff. A clean slate with a fresh view of the organization is the only thing that will work.

    • SSB1963

      Nelson’s first season and not even a full one at that. I have seen a distinct improvement in the style of play and yet you want him gone?
      As for the scouting staff Bob Green has been put in place as the director of scouting. Changes have been made, are they the right ones I guess time will tell.

  • Torgerson

    Didn’t Eakins interview his way into the head coaching position, fit for team and experience be damned? Just sayin’.

    But yeah, I hear what you’re saying. The next GM hire can’t be a case of, “yup, we hired good ol’ **** cuz he’s one of the good guys and we knew him way back when”.