The Detroit Red Wings parted ways with Tomas Jurco, Brendan Smith, Steve Ott, and Thomas Vanek leading up to the NHL's Trade Deadline, and general manager Ken Holland defended the moves that he made for the team. This is certainly an unfamiliar position for the Red Wings to be in, but Holland insisted that he did the best job that he could.
“I worked the phones, I got the most that I can,” he said in an interview. “Every deal I made over the last week, that is the best I could do, the best that was out there.”
“We’ve been either stand-pat or buyers this time of year. This year, given where we are in the standings, we had a number of unrestricted free agents, and we decided to get as many picks as possible.”
The Red Wings received a bevy of draft picks in exchange for the four players, including 2017 third-round draft picks, and two in 2018. They also received depth defenseman, Dylan McIlrath.
However, despite the changes, Holland is still optimistic about the team's future and doesn't sound like he's committed to a full-scale rebuild, but rather is set to get right back to competing next season.
“We cashed in our unrestricted for picks this year,” Holland said. “Our plan this summer is to make some tweaks and be back in the mix next year. We have some good pieces, some good players, but our record at this point is disappointing.”
The Red Wings are currently sit in last place in the Atlantic Division and are all but officially eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in 26 seasons. Holland acknowledged the fact that his team will most likely won't earn a postseason berth, but that he's still looking toward the future.
“We’ve got lots of picks now, and that gives us an opportunity to either select players in the draft, and it gives us opportunities on the trade front. People say not a great draft, but there are always players in every draft who find their way to NHL. It’s better options.”
This year's NHL draft doesn't feature any world-class talents like Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, or other early round picks from years past. But if any team has demonstrated an ability to find gems later down the line in the drafts, it's the Red Wings.