Red Wings general manager Ken Holland talks with the media about the timing of Petr Mrazek's trade to the Philadelphia Flyers late Monday night. Ted Kulfan, Detroit News
Detroit — The Red Wings are definitely open for business leading into Monday’s trade deadline.
To what extent, and how much will they do, remains in question.
General manager Ken Holland was clear Tuesday morning, after having traded goaltender Petr Mrazek to the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of conditional draft picks, he wants to accumulate draft picks.
Defenseman Mike Green, a potential unrestricted free agent, is surely going to be traded before Monday. There are several other players — such as Gustav Nyquist, Luke Glendening, Xavier Ouellet — that are firmly in the rumor mill.
But Holland isn’t going to make a trade, simply to make a trade.
“I’m open for business,” Holland said. “I also believe it’s important to have a team that is competitive.
“What’s driving me is I want us to be a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup. We’re competitive, but we’re not quite where we need to be in order to be where we want to be. I have to acquire draft picks and we need to hit on those draft picks.
“The more draft picks I can acquire, or young players through trades, is a better chance we’re going to wake up three or four or five years from now, or two years from now, and start to see young players coming on to the team and have an impact.”
The Red Wings (24-25-9, 57 points) opened Tuesday seven points behind Carolina, which is in the final wild card spot, with four teams between.
Holland admitted this particular roster wasn’t likely to reach the playoffs.
“We’re not quite good enough right now,” Holland said. “We’re not far away, but you look at the standings, we have a big road to hoe. It’ll probably take 90-plus points to make the playoffs, and we’ll have to play eight or 10 games over .500 to qualify for the playoffs.
“For me, it’s trying to acquire pieces that will impact this team three or four years down the road in order to build a team that is a playoff team, that has a young foundation, and that’s the goal.”
The Red Wings weren’t going to qualify Mrazek, a restricted free agent, at his $4 million salary this summer, which would have made Mrazek an unrestricted free agent.
Given that, and the fact he could acquire draft picks for Mrazek, Holland was quick to make a deal.
“That’s what motivated me to do this deal,” Holland said. “We’re competitive. I’m hoping we can go on a run here these next six weeks and play our way into a fight for a playoff spot.
“But the reality is I needed to make a decision yesterday (whether to trade Mrazek), and I made the decision.
“There’s going to be some pain along the way. Some decisions I have to make for the future will take one or two steps backward in hopes to take three or four steps forward. This was one of those decisions and there may be more coming in the next few days. If they don’t they’ll come at the draft.”
Holland has been opposed to a massive rebuild, tearing the roster completely down and rebuilding through high draft picks, because there’s no guarantee or formula that the process works.
Though wanting to acquire draft picks and building through the draft, Holland reiterated Tuesday he wants to remain competitive.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland talks with reporters about the NHL as a "draft pick" league in terms of rebuilding in Detroit, following Monday night's trade. Ted Kulfan, Detroit News
“I don’t believe in massive rebuilds,” Holland said. “I believe the wheel is going to turn. We have to move young players on to our team but there has to be veterans to teach those players how to play, how to be competitive.
“I believe in life you’re going to be the best when you’re challenged every day, whether it be by yourself or your coach, or challenged by a teammate in order for ice time. That’s how you maximize your ability, not when someone keeps handing you a plate of 18 minutes (of ice time) and you go on the ice for the power play because you’re young, and supposed to have potential and supposed to be good.”
If by Monday’s trade deadline Holland doesn’t get what he specifically is looking for, he made clear Tuesday he’ll wait until the Entry Draft in June to make deals, or next year’s trade deadline, in order to move out older players and move in younger ones.
“I’m open for business over the next year or two,” Holland said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to make moves that will impact this team down the road. Am I open for business? Yes. I’ve talked to lots of teams.
“But over the next year or two, we need to acquire more futures and we need those futures to get better. We have a lot of young kids in the next year or two to work their way on to Grand Rapids, and we have to try to continue to funnel them from the draft table through Grand Rapids and on to the Detroit Red Wings.”