Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg were all late round picks who panned out for the Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
What goes up, must come down.
And what is true in physics must also be true in the salary-capped NHL.
Players get good, team gets good. Good players’ contracts expire, team must let (some) good players go. Team not so good anymore.
It’s inevitable, right?
Not if you’re the Detroit Red Wings, who, partially through shrewd signings – including Tuesday’s pact with Dan Cleary - and especially via superb drafting, continue to be competitive year after year, cap be damned.
In addition to their current stable of late-round pick pan-outs (Pavel Datsyuk, 171st overall in ’98; Valtteri Filppula, 95th in ’02; Johan Franzen 97th in ’04; Tomas Holmstrom, 257th in ’94; Henrik Zetterberg, 210th in ‘99), Detroit’s prospect list features five players in The Hockey News’ Future Watch 2008 top 75, the most of any team in the NHL.
In addition, the Red Wings’ crop of prospects ranks 14th in the league; no small feat considering their average first draft pick position is No. 54 over the past 10 years.
So even with the Blackhawks, Blues, Blue Jackets, Coyotes and Kings all appearing ready to crash the Western playoff party in the near future, don’t expect the Wings to be the ones who get replaced among the top eight.
THE MORE THE MERRIER
Late last week, thehockeynews.com launched our newest feature, Team and League Blogs, to complement our THN.com and Insider bloggers.
Our cast of characters features a variety of talent in several NHL cities, a longtime follower of the American League, and a Russian hockey expert.
The roster has yet to be filled out, so if your favorite team is missing, don’t fret. Think of it as a beta version as we continue to recruit.
Eventually, expect to see someone dedicated to each NHL club, minor pro leagues, the college and junior ranks, and each of the major European hockey countries.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog appears Thursdays.
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