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Game #45 – Red Wings vs. Hawks: Q&A With JJ From Kansas

For ten seasons now, when we’ve needed Red Wings info, we’ve been forced to travel to a local swamp and rap on the door of a dilapidated shack where social outcast and deranged gnome JJ From Kansas lives. You can follow him on Twitter @JJFromKansas and read his work on WingingItFromMowtown.com, if you really feel the need to mentally injure yourself. 

Let’s start here: The Wings are a capped out team, and they aren’t any good. While they lose Mike Green’s salary after the season, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, and Anthony Mantha all need new contracts after the year. So basically… why does Ken Holland still have a job?
Ken Holland still has a job for the same reason Stan Bowman will still be with the Hawks through iteration #4 of “We just need this NEW large pile of also-ran nobodies to give overwhelming value on their low-cost deals because we can’t afford to fit the proper supporting players under the weight of the contracts for Kane, Toews, and Brent Seabrook.” Winning cups buys a lot more leeway than it ought to, even as we approach the end of the 10th year since Holland’s crew last lifted one. Fortunately, the increases to the cap and the other deals falling off should make more than enough space for Larkin and Mantha (with the hope they come to their senses on Athanasiou and don’t end up trading him), but yeah it shouldn’t be Ken Holland’s ring-heavy hand pushing those deals across the table to the only reasons to tune in and watch Detroit these days.
Dylan Larkin had 23 goals his rookie year. That dropped to 17 last year with the move to the middle. He’s only got six so far this year. What’s the deal?
Eh, I’m not so worried about Dylan Larkin the goalscorer as long as he continues to be Dylan Larkin the growing-up capable two-way playmaking center. The 23-goal rookie season was a lot of him being fed by Henrik Zetterberg and defenders not having enough of a concept of how quick he can turn a corner on you. The 17-goal output last season taught him that defenses adjust to one-trick ponies really well. He’s currently on pace to put up 23 more points than in his rookie season and, while I’d like it more of them were goals just because goals are more fun to watch than assists, I can rest well knowing he’s playing better now than he has at any other point in his still very-young NHL career.
Will the Red Wings trade Mike Green, and possibly Gustav Nyquist, before the deadline?
Mike Green seems like such a no-brainer trade that it makes me irrationally angry thinking about how it’s still entirely possible the team holds onto him for some dumb reason. Bob McKenzie seems pretty confident Holland won’t do the dumb thing and hold onto Green, but I need to see it before I can relax. I don’t think Nyquist moving is all that likely though. He had his NTC kick in this year and there really hasn’t been a lot of chatter about moving him out, even though the team absolutely ought to be doing that. Honesty, it might surprise me less if they traded away newly-signed Tomas Tatar this season before his no-trade clause kicks in over the summer.
They wouldn’t really get rid of Athanasiou either during this season or in the summer, would they?
This team once gave up a first-round pick for Kyle Quincey.
 
What gives you hope about where the Wings might be in two or three years?
There’s already a lot of promise in Larkin and Mantha with more promise to come. While the team doesn’t have that real franchise cornerstone piece, it seems the organization has finally gotten the hint that they’re not going to get two of those out of the 6th and 7th round again and that they haven’t yet re-upped Ken Holland to another deal. The rest of Detroit’s division outside of Tampa and Toronto is also wheel-spinning stuck-in-the-mud trash, so that should give them plenty of opportunity to gain traction first and get back to those actually-useful trips to the postseason where you can come out of losses saying at least the kids who are going to lead us in the future learned something valuable. I’m just not sure that two or three years is the realistic timeline for this kind of optimism though. Maybe three or four?

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