Zach Parise is getting linked to the Red Wings, the Wild, the Kings, the Rangers, the Moscow Dynamo and the Portland Winterhawks. Ryan Suter’s negotiating rights are being placed on the trading block, taken off, then placed back on again.
I see what’s going on here. Everybody is having hockey withdraw and an acute case of unfounded hope as the free agent period starts in 19 days. As we approach what should be an interesting summer after last year’s Brad-Richards-and-no-one-else fiasco, I can see the glint in Red Wings fans’ eyes from 500 miles away. They’re expecting something big.
The old foundation is crumbling. While Ken Holland doesn’t have to move to a different plot and rebuild, the renovations will be under way shortly. And as much as it will hurt tear down old walls and get rid of the old players, it’s going to happen. Tomas Holmstrom is going to be out in the pile by the dumpster with all boards with the exposed nails.
Ken Holland said as much, preferring a wait-and-see-what-happens in free agency approach. In other words, “If you don’t sign with anyone and we don’t have anyone to replace you, You can be a healthy scratch for a third of the games as you rotate in and out of the fourth line.”
After 15 years, Holmstrom probably earned a swan song. If this was another era, one without a salary cap and the Red Wings oozing scoring, he probably would have gotten it.
But Detroit needs changes. It needs speed and scoring. Holmstrom was never a burner and not really a scorer, but in recent years he it’s gotten worse. He became a strictly front-of-the-net specialist.
There’s no denying Holmstrom’s skills, his uncanny front-of-the-net ability boosted the power play. Last season he netted 10 power play goals. Remove him and the Red Wings lose a certain amount of net presence. With that being said, the presence wouldn’t be gone completely. As long as the NHL continues to give out six and seven figure contracts, there will be a man willing to stand with his face exposed in front of a piece of vulcanized rubber heading upwards of 90 miles an hour directly at him.
This man will get rebounds and tip in pucks almost as much as Holmstrom did. Heck, Todd Bertuzzi did a pretty fine job this year. And this man will also have some skills outside of Holmstrom’s office. He’ll be able to handle the puck, maybe penalty kill, and have a little scoring pop, all things Holmstrom either never had or can’t do any more.
The numbers tell a harrowing story. Holmstrom scored 11 goals this season, 10 on the power play. In the past three years 61 percent of his goals have come with the man advantage. In the three years before that, 55 percent came on the power play. In years seven to ten of his career, from age 29-33 (remember, everybody missed a year with the lockout) roughly the prime of a career, he scored just 44 percent of his goals on the power play.
To make matters worse, Holmstrom’s scoring in the past three years has gone in a steady decline: 25, 18, 11. As have his points: 45, 37, 24. And his plus-minus: 5, -6, -9.
Lidstrom retiring was a blow because he could still play at a high level in a position where there wasn’t much depth. I can’t say the same for Holmstrom. Gustav Nyquist, possibly Riley Sheahan and a couple of other European dudes with last names I can’t pronounce are coming through the system. As much as Holmstrom has used the Hustle Stick well, it’s time it ceremoniously pass it on.
Out with the old Swedes, in with new.
What do the Hustler’s think? Agree? Disagree?
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