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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Ken Holland: Late season surge more important than draft lottery odds

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Michael Whitaker
Always at the front lines of Detroit Sports.

The Detroit Red Wings are winners in seven of their past 10 games despite having already been eliminated from having any chance at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Head coach Jeff Blashill is well aware that some fans might be frustrated with the wins lowering their chances of earning a top overall draft pick, saying that he hopes the fans see the play of the team’s young players and feel better about their immediate impact rather than the potential impact of someone who hasn’t been drafted yet.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland also addressed the situation during the press conference announcing the two-year contract extension for Blashill.

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“I think the most important thing is that we play to the finish line,” Holland said. “We’ve won seven out of eight and I think that’s been a good thing. … I like that we’re winning off the backs of the young players, which provides hope for the future of this franchise. It’s not like the veteran players have kind of caught a second wind and we’re winning games off them.

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“We’re winning games off the young people. Jeff is putting all those young people on the ice in important situations — on the power play, on the penalty kill, four on four. I think that’s the most important thing. And whether you have the fourth lottery odds or the fifth lottery odds, we’re talking one or two percent (difference) going into the draft.”

Currently, the top three teams in the lottery are the Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, and New Jersey Devils. While the Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres are tied for the same number of points, Detroit has more overtime/shootout wins.

“Let’s hope on Tuesday night we get lucky in the lottery,” Holland said. “Let’s hope that like these other teams I’ve just mentioned, our ball gets picked. And if not, we’re going to get a good player, no matter where we pick in the draft. We’re going to pick in the top seven or eight, I would think, as we sit here today. We’re getting a good player.

“Certainly if you get up there to No. 1 or No. 2 you’re getting a really, really good player. But in order to get one or two, even if you have the worst record in the league, you only get an 18.5 percent chance at the first pick.”

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