WN Roundtable: What can the Red Wings really gain by making the playoffs this year?

The last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs, most of the staff here at Wings Nation wasn’t even born. There’s a lot of other ways you could put the fact of them missing the playoffs in context as to how unusual it’d be, but there’s one you probably haven’t thought of yet.

Our own Sam Blazer tasked us with the question, “What can the Red Wings really gain by making the playoffs this year?” Without further ado, here’s a bevy of takes both hot and cold about what use it would be for the Wings to barely sneak in this year.

Brock Seguin

I don’t like the notion of the Red Wings missing the playoffs being a wake-up call for management. Over the 24-year playoff streak, this team has seen first-hand that all you have to do is get into the playoffs and you can make a difference. In 1994, 2001, 2003 and 2006 the Red Wings entered the playoffs as the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and were upset by the No. 7 or No. 8 seed. In each of those seasons, Detroit had over 100 points and were overwhelming First Round favourites. Missing the playoffs will maybe get us the 14th overall pick, but making the playoffs, you’ve earned a shot to win the Stanley Cup and if you get bounced early you might pick one spot later.

If they squeak in and get the Washington Capitals, there’s no doubt they’d be in deep, but it looks like third in the Atlantic might be the most likely landing spot, which would pair us up with either the Florida Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning. We saw last year, we can hang with the Lightning and the Panthers are a young team with little-to-no playoff experience. The playoffs are a totally different beast and if we qualify, I think the Red Wings have a lot to gain. If nothing else, some of the younger players will gain playoff experience vital to their young careers.

Kyle Krische

I believe the benefits to a 25th straight appearance are far more internal and psychological. Sure, the streak is incredible and near impossible to recreate in today’s cap-controlled league but this group needs more than numbers right now. They have a decent possession game, they were getting great numbers for most of the year from their goaltenders, and rookies are producing up and down the line up. But this, more importantly, is an opportunity to unite a team that has seemed fragmented over the last month. Zetterberg’s ten points in the Wings final four games of the 2013 season comes to mind now. That playoff berth led to a massive upset over Anaheim in the first round followed up by taking the eventual champs, Chicago, to seven games.

The best playoff run the Wings have had since their consecutive cup finals appearances came off the back of a situation not unlike the one they find themselves in now. The question is who is going to step up to make this happen. Who can turn what we know is a talented group on paper, into a cohesive unit? If Zetterberg has done his job properly, which I think he has, it shouldn’t be him again. I feel confident he’ll play an important role but it’s time for someone else to bring their game to the next level and give the group something to rally behind together while taking some individual responsibility.

This rally is just as important behind the bench as it is on the ice. Babs is gone. Granato seems to be next. For Blashill’s own confidence as a new NHL head coach, I think the group needs to get this done. I love Blash, I love what he did in the AHL, I love that he’s getting more of those kids at a time when the league is transitioning into a speed/skill game. I’d hate for that rain cloud to follow him into next season as the guy behind the bench when that streak ended.

In a mediocre draft year, I see no benefit to this team sitting on the outside looking in, nor do I hope anyone in the organization would value that pick over a shot to play for the game’s greatest trophy.

Adam Laskaris

The end goal for every organization should always, always, be to win the Stanley Cup. If not this year, then the year after that, or the year after that.

And I don’t see the Wings making the playoffs this year help push them towards that goal. It’s pretty clear that this team isn’t winning the Stanley Cup this year, unless Petr Mrazek goes all voodoo and Dylan Larkin scores three points a game from here on out. Detroit’s definitely not a terrible team, but statistically there’s a very low chance they’ll be able to win four playoff series in a row. This is true for most teams, but from the outside looking in at this point, the chances of a parade coming up look like virtually zero.

Playoffs are awesome, don’t get me wrong. They’re a lot more awesome when your team is involved. But that being said, it’s already been eight years since this team last won the Cup, and seven since they were in the Finals. The last time this team won the Cup, George Bush was in office. It’s not a real drought, by any means, but this team isn’t exactly loaded with pieces that makes you think of them as an immediate contender. There’s definitely some solid young pieces and some seasoned veterans who’ve done it before, but there’s a reason this team’s on the bubble and not near the top of the league.

Detroit could make the playoffs and they could  win a few games or even a round, but the only thing I really see as a gain for doing so, is some fan optimism and happiness with continuing the get-into-the-playoffs streak. But at the end of the day, championships are what matters. You don’t get your name on the Stanley Cup just for participating.Maybe the difference between say, the 13th and the 18th pick, isn’t massive in the long run with some good scouting, but drafting higher is usually better value than drafting lower. At the very least, a higher draft pick can be used as trade leverage. Playoff experience is valuable for the future, even if it’s probably overrated. It’s also more valuable to have playoff experience with a really good team. The Wings this year are just pretty average. It’s not a bad thing to make the playoffs this year, for sure, but I don’t see it helping the Wings organization much moving forward.

Ryan Hana

I’m a firm believer in doing anything and everything possible to make the playoffs every single year. If you’re a team with the personnel and ability to compete for the Stanley Cup, you do it. That’s the goal. Anything else, like tanking for a better pick, is all done with aforementioned long-term goal in mind.

Detroit is in a fairly atypical spot from their fans’ perspective. The 24-year playoff streak is on the line, and there has been a growing divide on whether or not the playoffs would be as meaningful for the team as we’ve made them out to be. I’m going to go on the record in saying that even if Detroit makes the postseason cut (which I doubt more and more every day), I don’t see them winning more than 1 or 2 games before being ousted. This team is plagued with a plethora of issues that seem to pop up (like some sort of twisted whack-a-mole) every game. However, even knowing this, I would still much rather see Detroit take that 1% chance of winning the Cup than the 1% chance of winning the Auston Matthews lottery. If you have a shot at the main prize, you take it. The playoffs are a different beast, and anything can happen. I don’t think things are quite likely to change (in the sense that Detroit’s defense will most likely not start playing defense), but, as a fan and an analyst, I would much rather see the team go out swinging and keep the streak alive. If that’s the only solace that can be drawn from the season, so be it.

Sam Blazer

I may be in the minority on this but I don’t think much value would come with the Red Wings making the playoffs this year. Their collective slump down the stretch has been disconcerting on multiple levels and shows a real lack of vision from a front office point of view. The rookies are beginning to show up and take over while the veterans at times have been sputtering along. Will Ken Holland dramatically change philosophies after one playoff miss? No but he should at least look at his lineup and point out the places where they are failing miserably? Yes.  I get that a first round loss vs. missing the playoffs will effect the lore around the Red Wings but half of the league makes the playoffs every year. Maybe a wake up call of sorts is needed to shake up what may be a stagnant core. The team needs to stop holding onto the past and look towards the future because they may have a legitimate shot of retooling without missing a beat.

Scott Maxwell

 There is certainly no shortage of pros for the Wings making the playoffs this year. They’ll keep the historic streak alive, the young guys like Larkin, Mantha, and Athanasiou get some playoff experience, and who knows, with a couple lucky match ups, you could win a round or two.

However, it’s tough to see them get past the powerhouses in the East, like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, or Washington, and even if they do, it would be even less likely that they beat the best team in the West. Now, I’m not an advocator of tanking for a pick (unless that was the goal at the beginning of the season, which in the Wings case, it wasn’t), but I think the Wings could benefit from missing this year. Not so much for a chance at Auston Matthews, but I think it would act as a wake up call for management to make a big change, like acquiring actual defensemen. Not that they wouldn’t do it if they made the playoffs, but if the streak ends, the magic of this team goes away, and suddenly management will realize this isn’t an all-star team, like earlier years, or this team isn’t playing under an all-star coach, like recent years (not to criticize Blashill for his job, he’s done excellent with what he has, but Babcock has the ability to make a trash can look like an antique), and then management will make big changes through trade, instead of just looking at free agency.

So sure, the team could definitely benefit from making the playoffs, as experience never hurt anyone, but we all know that this team isn’t the Wings that built this streak, and making the playoffs would just hide that for another year.