By Jeff Moss
July 1, 2016
July 1st used to be my favorite date on the calendar. It was the day that Red Wings fans used to get to open their free-agency presents not unlike a child on Christmas Day.
Luc Robitaille, Marian Hossa, Brian Rafalski and even Steve Duchesne were all nice gifts that gave Detroit hockey fans hope for the coming NHL season.
But in recent years, July 1st has become an actual nightmare and instead of being anticipated, Wings GM Ken Holland has turned it into the equivalent of March 21st in the “Purge” movies.
And once this city’s incompetent GM traded away Pavel Datsyuk’s dead cap space last weekend, we all knew what would be coming today. The man who hasn’t made a quality free-agent signing in years justified our dread.
The first shoe to drop was Darren Helm re-signing to the tune of $3.85 million a year for five seasons. Almost $20 million dollars for a dude who has NEVER even come close to TWENTY goals in a season.
And this is how bad Holland has been during the salary cap era. I was almost relieved at this stupid contract because it wasn’t as horrific as the Justin Abdkelkader deal. Yes, Holland has lowered expectations so much that offering five years in term at almost $4 million per for a player like Helm is viewed as a bullet dodged.
The team currently has about 27 forwards either on the roster or in the pipeline and you give 20 mill to a replaceable asset? Ummmm, ok. But this was mere child’s play when compared to the next shoe to drop. And when I say child’s play, I mean Chucky stabbing some douche bag in the throat.
In a totally predictable Ken Holland move, he gave a 32-year-old center a SIX year contract with an AAV of $5.25 million in the person of Frans Nielsen. And while Nielsen is a nice two-way player with positive advanced stats, he just received a contract that is going to pay him until he is 38!!!
When will this moron learn that centers don’t age well when they hit their mid-thirties?!?!!?! It’s not like he hasn’t witnessed the careers of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. All of them, to varying degrees, hit a wall when they turned 34.
Just take a look at Yzerman’s and Fedorov’s numbers when their primes ended ….
Playing the center position in the NHL and Father Time isa toxic mix. Instead of learning his lesson, Holland has agreed to pay Nielsen (who shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as any of the players listed above) a premium amount for those declining years.
Will Nielsen be a pretty good player for the next couple of years? Probably (although based on the Stephen Weiss signing a couple years back, I will take nothing for granted).
But at what price? This teams isn’t anywhere close to being a threat in those seasons and making these financial commitments has given the franchise zero flexibility moving forward.
When you couple the above signings with the Drew Miller deal earlier this week, the contract with the recently bought out Thomas Vanek (a good move if viewed in a vacuum, but sports don’t work that way), and the completely ASININE acquisition of known cunt Steve Ott, the Wings have signed FIVE forwards this week — a position at which there was already had a backlog — and have done nothing to address their primary issue ….
What Holland did over the last few days is basically the equivalent of being diagnosed with hepatitis and treating it with a mani-pedi.
This man who was only competent when he had Mike Ilitch‘s blank checkbook approach to free-agency during the pre-salary cap era should be forced to show up to work every day wearing a god damn Willie Mays New York Mets jersey.
I mean, check out the organization’s 2017-18 available cap space over at CapFriendly.com and try not to set yourself on fire.
If the goal of this franchise is to compete for a Stanley Cup, today was an unmitigated disaster. Of course, we all know the true aspiration of this current administration is to extend the meaningless 25-season playoff streak.
All I have to say to that is ….
Holland has thrived at walking that fine line of qualifying for the postseason — failing to earn a Top 5 draft selection –while remaining as fangless as possible during the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s quite a balancing act, if you ask me.
Want some more bad news? Not only has Holland sacrificed the future for this playoff wheel-spinning that has been going on all decade (putting up a blockade for the youth by signing over-the-hill free-agents), but now the Datsyuk deal to Arizona can only be considered a disaster as well.
In an effort to clear space for Nielsen’s SIX-year contract, Helm’s superfluous deal, Miller, Ott (the signing that will always be remembered as our Building 7 collapse) and Vanek, Holland sacrificed the ability to draft Jakob Chychrun.
And instead of selecting potentially the best defenseman available in the 2016 Entry Draft — a kid who might be ready for the NHL next season — Holland picked a project who probably should have been selected in the second round and who, by Holland’s OWN ADMISSION, won’t be ready until 2021!!!!
I warned you people not to throw a parade for that trade because only handing Darren McCarty your credit card at a casino is more dangerous than giving Holland cap space in a market where only Steven Stamkos is worth signing for the kind of money and term demanded.
Oh, and a word about Stamkos: I was told by a source today that the Red Wings were under the delusion that they had a chance at Stamkos, which is hilarious for a variety of reasons.
But it actually gets worse. I was told that the meetings Montreal, Buffalo, Toronto and a mystery team received with Stamkos were just a dog and pony show. That it was a badly kept secret that Stamkos was ALWAYS going back to Tampa and that he actually wanted to re-sign months ago — to avoid all of the Maple Leafs speculation — but the NHLPA ordered Newport Management to delay the inevitable.
Because the union didn’t want to risk Stamkos’ deal somehow setting the market when he was giving the Lightning a hometown discount. The Red Wings brass supposedly found out about this earlier today.
Oh and how about Tampa and their General Manager, Stevie Y.? In the last 72 hours, the Red Wing Hall of Famer re-signed Stamkos to a team-friendly deal, extended the contract of all-world defenseman Victor Hedman, and locked up goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
His former boss was adding forwards like a hoarder on an A & E reality program while Yzerman was making great deal after great deal that would make Donald Trump stand up and applaud.
And I hope you enjoyed this Tweet as much as I did ….
Yep, Ilitch desperately wanted to keep Yzerman in the fold and approached Holland, telling Ken that he should accept a “promotion” upstairs and name Yzerman the GM. Make no mistake about it, Mike Ilitch didn’t want the golden child to flee to Florida.
But Holland told Ilitch that that move wouldn’t be fair to Jim Nill and he refused to do it. But that was a bunch of bullshit. Holland simply didn’t want to give up final say over player personnel decisions. So now we have neither Nill nor Yzerman and we are stuck with one of the five worst GM’s in the entire league.
And we are ALL now paying for Holland’s selfish act.
Considering how the Wings could basically assemble two full teams of forwards, I am sure Holland is in the market to deal Gus Nyquist, Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco or some other forward.
And I am not sure is there is anything more reassuring than knowing Ken Holland is on the verge of an ass-raping by one of the other 29 general managers in the NHL.
And while Purge: Election Year is currently in theaters, I am thinking Universal Studios already has the script written for the next sequel in their horror franchise.
I am sure Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo would be willing to play themselves.
When I am God, Everyone Dies.
(You can follow the writer of this piece on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. Also, you can join in on the discussion of this article on Facebook by clicking here.)