ESPN: Red Wings a long way from Stanley Cup contention

The Detroit News
Ken Holland

How close are the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings to contending for a Stanley Cup championship again?

Not very.

That’s the estimation of ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, who identified 12 NHL teams in rebuilding mode, and ranked them based on the length of time it will take them to return to contention.

He placed the Wings eighth – the Hurricanes are first, or closest to contending – and cited a lack of direction by general manager Ken Holland as one of the reasons Detroit is so far from becoming a championship team.

“It's a roster with more players older than 34 (six) than under the age of 24 (five), so to call this a team in transition would be putting it mildly,” Wyshynski says. “It's also a team that currently has $2.828 million in cap space and has entrusted the general manager who got them in this pickle with getting them out of it.”

The Wings won 30 games and had 73 points last season, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Among those elder Red Wings are Henrik Zetterberg, 37, who still hasn’t decided if he will be healthy enough to play this coming season. He has three years left on a 12-year, $73 million contract.

“This is a team that needs to get worse before it gets better, purging the roster of veterans and cap space, and then hoping a combination of the draft and shrewd veteran acquisitions can position it as a contender,” Wyshynski says. “But the current management hasn't inspired much confidence to that end. There's way too much loyalty to veterans past their expiration date or, failing that, an overvaluing of them.”