Krupa: Wings have missed opportunities this week

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Michael Rasmussen shakes hands with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after being selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the NHL draft Friday.

Another day and more evidence the Red Wings will take likely take significant time to rebuild.

Ken Holland and the Red Wings completed no trades to bolster their flagging corps of defensemen or to move up in the NHL draft.

A raft of draft choices remained unspoiled, for this year and next, and Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek were both the property of the Wings by the end of the day Friday.

Hope spiked late last season, when Holland signaled he had fired a booster rocket in the club’s five-season long “rebuild on the fly,” at the trading deadline and became sellers for the first time in a quarter century, after missing the playoffs.

Maybe the draft picks he assembled could be bundled with some pieces of a roster that underperformed for two seasons, especially one of the goalies, to make a big move.

Perhaps a defenseman could be procured, to make next season, the first in the new building, more hopeful. Perhaps their highest pick since Martin Lapointe in 1991 would yield a player who will have an impact, soon. None of that has happened.

With disappointment reigning after the Red Wings missed the playoffs, one would have hoped for considerably more improvement.

There is one more day in the draft, but it feels like a week of missed opportunity.

No help soon

Some teams were able to make trades before the expansion or entry drafts this week, but they all had something in common. They could offer more than the Red Wings.

With their highest pick in a generation, they selected the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Michael Rasmussen of the Western Hockey League in Canada.

Rasmussen is likely to return to the WHL this season, and could be expected, perhaps, to join Grand Rapids, if it makes another playoff run, next spring.

Holland spoke of the size of the 18-year-old. The Red Wings have been trying to get bigger. Holland vouched for his character.

But Rasmussen does not move all that well. He plays a lot of his game inside near the goal crease.

A striking proportion of his goals come on the power play, as opposed to five-on-five, suggesting work is needed on his offensive game. The analytics tend to bear that out.

He will not be elevating the Red Wings’ play this coming season, or likely the season after that. But if Rasmussen’s development works out, the Wings might have a new offensive weapon in three or four seasons. Happy?

Draft day 2017. Another day when the Red Wings’ circumstances, unusual across most of three decades, became even more apparent.

The Wings might still pull off a trade, and acquire some defensemen to bolster the club before heading into the season. But even then, the likelihood is they have a considerable journey to complete to restore the mantle of perennial contender that became a rite of winter in Detroit a long time ago.

Patience is required.

Holland entered the offseason saying change was necessary and he hoped he could accomplish some now and a lot later. None of it has happened, yet.

But in Holland’s defense, it is true that not much of it has happened around the NHL this week.

The “just make a trade” crowd will not get any farther with him than the fans and some of the paid observers who want the rebuild to start with the foundation.

Prices are high

On Friday, the Red Wings pressed for a valued defenseman from the Islanders — Travis Hamonic.

But whose value? Darren Dreger of TSN reported Islanders GM Garth Snow wanted two first round picks.

Hamonic is likely not worth one, plus a current prospect.

The problems for Holland and the Red Wings are mostly deep-rooted and long-developing. As is, by now, overly familiar, a long run that included four Stanley Cups in 11 years is diminished by the failure to keep the roster restocked.

Some of it is only the logic of so much winning for so long. Some of it is a series of personnel mistakes on the NHL level and not scouting as well as they once did in the more crowded rinks of Europe and across Russia.

Time will tell if they made another mistake Friday.

They chose Rasmussen with some highly-ranked defensemen still unselected, Juuso Valimaki, Callan Foote and Nicolas Hague.

There were some good forwards, too, including a local favorite — Gabriel Vilardi of the Windsor Spirfires — and Owen Tippett.

Could the Red Wings have done better? Time will tell. Lots of time.

And after some mounting years of disappointment in the off-season, too many, that is a disturbing prospect.