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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oesterle only dressed because Pouliot was injured. Either he or Aulie will be paired with Ference on the 3rd pairing.
Scrivens gets the start.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
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:
- Tomas Jurco is a healthy scratch and this is stupid
- Luke Glendening is on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk and this is a joke
- 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:
- GDB 65.0: Build like the Blackhawks
- Shaping the defence
- Petry trade: Predictable
- Motivation Music
- Pouliot producing and Congrats Joey!!
- Monday Musings
- GDB 60.0: MacTavish on Petry, Klinkhammer and Roy