Another trade deadline has come and gone in the National Hockey League.
While this year's date was later in the season due to the Lockout, the trade deadline in years' past has always treated the Red Wings well. They are usually buyers, looking for a final piece to ignite them to a deep playoff run.
This season, however, the plan of action was unclear. At points the Red Wings have looked like a team that is capable of making a deep playoff run. They have also looked miserable in several games and have made many mistakes that have cost them wins.
Despite all the hardship of learning to play without Brad Stuart and Nick Lidstrom, the team is still holding its own in the playoff race in the Western Conference.
As of today, the Wings are in seventh in the Western Conference standings with 41 points. With the parity of the NHL the team has found itself at points in fourth place and as low as 10th place.
Front office management is truly convinced that their sluggish start and uncertain future is a good time to play the youth that is in the minors and stand pat on the trade market.
GM Ken Holland and his staff stuck to their word and let the trade deadline pass without adding a major piece to this hockey team (h/t Mlive).
Red Wings beat writer Bill Roose only confirmed Holland's vision by posting this tweet:
...Along with Free Press writer Helene St. James.
It's official: #RedWings make no trades before today's deadline. Prices too high, management very pleased with what's in pipelines.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) April 3, 2013
The primary takeaway is that the team is comfortable having prospects like Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Martin Frk, Tomas Jurco and Petr Mrazek lead the team in the near future.
It's not that crazy to believe that all these players will be in Detroit within the next three seasons.
An active offseason will help as well. There will be roster spots cleared as Dan Cleary, Drew Miller, Ian White, Damien Brunner, Valtteri Filppula and Jimmy Howard are all unrestricted free agents. Clearly not all these players will be let go, but decisions will be made to determine how much they trust their young prospects.
More players will be left off the team in the following (13-14) year as Mikael Samuelsson, Patrick Eaves, Todd Bertuzzi and Carlo Colaiacovo are among the notables to hit free agency.
This gives the Red Wings a good position to chart their own future. While the team won't be shy to add a piece or two in the offseason and via the NHL draft, it also does not want to sell off many viable assets and start back at square one.
An approach like this can be tough for fans to endure, but the team can take a few years off making the playoffs and focus on further strengthening its prospect pool.
Having years where the Red Wings draft anywhere between 10th-15th overall won't hurt this team. Yes, the playoff streak would be over, but a streak like that has no substance if your team is ousted from the playoffs very early on an annual basis.
Plus the Red Wings have shown that they are now willing to give talented prospects a chance to play in the NHL.
The St. Louis Blues made a similar type approach in the early 2000s, and their strategy is paying off now. They rebuilt the franchise by drafting prospects like TJ Oshie, David Backes, Alex Pietrangelo, while retaining their core like Barret Jackman and Andy MacDonald. Since then the Blues are competitive annually in the Western Conference.
Going forward there will be questions about Kenny's draft choices in June and offseason signings in July. And there will also be questions moving forward into a full season in September.
Kenny Holland is under the radar now more than ever. This is more than fitting considering his recent body of work.
If the Red Wings somehow find a way to make a deep run into the playoffs, then maybe Holland's conservative thinking will come back to reward the team.
Yet the team could also come spiraling down to earth, a lengthy playoff streak would end and management would be left with too many holes and far too many problems—an issue that hasn't been seen in Hockeytown since the early 1980s.
The future is up in the air. The playoff streak is in jeopardy. And the trade deadline has passed.
Now it's a waiting game. This peculiar state of the Red Wings is leaving its loyal fanbase and its media in limbo.