Hockey / Sports

Red Wings GM Ken Holland won't rush prospects

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland understands why some are critical of decisions he made last season and this offseason.

Some fans have begun to tire of Holland's philosophy of having players be "over-ripe" before they earn regular shifts wearing the Winged Wheel.

"Certainly when you're a general manager and you make decisions, especially in this world today, we're open for people to judge our decisions," Holland said. "I'm OK with it. But I'm going to do what is in the best interest of the Red Wings. At the same time, I'm going to do what's in the best interest of our young players. I'm not rushing young players."

Though young players such as Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Danny DeKeyser, Joakim Andersson and Tomas Jurco, among others, were needed to help the Wings extend their playoff streak to 23 consecutive seasons last season. But those players combined to net zero points in the playoffs.

"The expectations in Detroit that we've created is that we're going to compete for a playoff spot," Holland said. "We're going to compete for a playoff run. Our goal is to try (to) win another Stanley Cup, and in order to get there, our young people need to be brought along properly. When I make the decisions that I make, I rely on guys like Kris Draper, like Kirk Maltby, like Mark Howe, like Mike Babcock, like Glenn Merkosky, Bruce Haralson, Ryan Martin. So, I'm relying on people that have been in the game 20, 30 years."

The salary cap has leveled the playing field in the NHL. That has made it tougher on GMs such as Holland, who previously benefitted from an owner with deep pockets and a burning desire to pay whatever was necessary to win the Stanley Cup.

Holland understands that fans want to see new faces. And if those faces aren't established stars acquired through trades or free agency, then they expect young players in the system to be given a chance to shine.

Though there's a lot of buzz about several of the young prospects the Wings have in their system, including forward Anthony Mantha and defensemen Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet, don't expect Holland to alter his philosophy.

Those players are going to have to beat out veterans for jobs in training camp, or they'll start the season with Grand Rapids in the American Hockey League.

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