The Detroit Red Wings continue to move through uncharted waters.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in 25 seasons last year, Detroit won three fewer games, earned six fewer points in 2017-18 and finished 27th overall. It’s the first time this organization missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 1981-82 and 1982-83.
Due to Carolina’s move up the draft order at the lottery in April, Detroit fell back a spot and holds the sixth overall pick. After adding Michael Rasmussen, a six-foot-six power forward from Tri-City in the WHL, at last year’s draft, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is in place to add another highly regarded prospect for the future.
But there’s another option on the table for Holland, and that is to trade the pick.
“I’m open to possibly move,” Holland told Craig Custance of The Athletic.
“I’ve started to talk to some teams about a lot. As you work your way toward Dallas at the draft, draft movement possibilities, I think at this stage in the game, everybody is kicking tires as to what might be out there.”
According to Custance, Detroit is looking for a defenceman or a centre, either of which could be available with the sixth overall pick.
The Red Wings have a total of 11 picks in this draft, among the most. Aside from their own first-rounder, they also have Vegas’s first-round pick — which will be 30th or 31st — plus two early second-rounders between their own selection and Ottawa’s.
So it’s also possible Detroit not only keeps the No. 6 pick, but also tries to move up in the first-round by packaging other selections.
“If somebody on your list starts to slide, then you start to work the phone,” Holland said. “We like a lot of players in that range, in that 30-35 range. We think there’s some pretty good players. Do you package two of those picks and try to move up? Possibly, if somebody high on our lists starts to slide and starts to fall.”
One thing the Red Wings GM has always vocally been against is the kind of burn-it-down rebuild we’ve seen in the recent past from teams such as Toronto and Buffalo. While one is a great example of that process working (so far), the other is a cautionary tale in how hard it can be to return to a winning culture when losing becomes an acceptable practice.
“I’m a general manager and as long as I’m a general manager I want us to be the very best we can be,” Holland said in March of 2017. “I don’t believe in tear downs and massive rebuilds because I don’t believe you can just guarantee the end result is going to turn out to be Stanley Cups and dynasties. You could go in the wilderness.
“I look around professional sports and there’s other teams in other sports that were great teams for a long time and now it’s three, four, five years, they can’t get the culture back. Once you lose it, you’re chasing.”
Holland has held the position of general manager for the Red Wings since 1997 and has won multiple Cups with the team. There was plenty of speculation about his future all season, but on April 7 signed a contract extension with Detroit to remain in his position for at least another two years.