General manager Ken Holland said Thursday the Red Wings will consider free agents and trades during the offseason, but the focus remains building from within. "The whole thing is: How do we become a little better, a little bigger and score a little more?" Holland said. "We're not going to suddenly become an offensive juggernaut or the biggest team in the league. "If you look at the Red Wings team from the '90s, it was built through the draft," he added, clicking off the names of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Vyachelsav Kozlov and Chris Osgood. Because of a large arena and the willingness of Red Wings owners Mike and Marion Ilitch to spend, they also were one of several teams that could spend more on players, he said. "There's no financial advantage now," Holland said. "There's no quick fix in the NHL. The process is use the draft picks, develop the players by letting them play in this league, and that means patience. "Once you draft and develop players, now you can make some trades and look to free agency. "That's how the Chicago Blackhawks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angeles Kings did it," Holland added, naming the last five winners of the Stanley Cup. It also is true the coach, Mike Babcock, says the Red Wings probably need to improve just to produce the same result next season. Despite grappling with the turmoil of retirements, a trade, injuries and acquisitions, the Red Wings made the playoffs, defeated the team with the third-best record during the regular season and lost to the team with the best record in overtime of Game 7. They arguably overachieved and got there with hard work. "I think we could be a way better team and I think we need to be better, if we want to be in this position consistently; not just by work, but by being good enough to be in this position," Babcock said, immediately after losing to the Blackhawks. "So, we've got some work to do this summer." What also encourages some belief the Red Wings may be active is that the salary cap will decline from $70 million to $64.3 million, so some teams will have to jettison players. Also, the new collective bargaining agreement provides teams with two, one-time-only compliance buyouts. So, despite what is considered a generally weak crop of unrestricted free agents, other players may be available, too. While the Red Wings may make some acquisitions, Holland said a lot of the new blood is already in place, including Joakim Andersson, Damien Brunner, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, who finished the season in Grand Rapids. The Red Wings also are pleased with a crop of developable talent, including forwards Landon Ferraro, Calle Jarnkrok, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan and defensemen Nick Jensen, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul. Asked about the unrestricted free agents Brunner, Daniel Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Drew Miller and Ian White, Holland would only say, "Obviously, we've got some free agents we want to keep. Some of it depends on the money, for both sides." The Red Wings intend to sign Brunner and Miller, and will take a good run at Filppula. But Filppula is among the best free agent forwards, and his price may inflate considerably.
Holland, Babcock get down to work of evaluation, preparation
Detroit News | May 31