The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs 22 consecutive years. They are the model NHL franchise, the pinnacle of their craft and the envy of their peers. Unlike the job of a typical GM, Ken Holland's efforts are expected to yield championships year after year. Since becoming GM in 1997, the Red Wings have won three Stanley Cups.
While the core of top-end talent was developed prior to his arrival (such as Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom), Holland has been required to matriculate top free-agent talent.
Signing free-agent talent is not without risk. Needless to say, the decisions made by Holland have serious ramifications.
The status quo for the Red Wings is higher than any other NHL franchise. They are faced with the dual task of capitalizing on a talented roster and maintaining their rich tradition. Not only is there tremendous pressure in living up to the Red Wings' history, but Holland is also engaged in win-now mode.
The Red Wings have a lot to gain by taking chances with free agents; any new acquisition could spell the finishing touch for a Cup-winning roster.
It could also mean a step backwards.
Here’s a look at Holland’s four riskiest signings