The NHL trade deadline has come and gone and the Red Wings remained relatively quiet in the waning hours. After moving on from Gustav Nyquist and Nick Jensen, general manager Ken Holland spent the remainder of his time fielding calls, later indicating a handful of teams were “tire kicking” on veteran defensemen Niklas Kronwall.
As you would expect, any inquiries on Kronwall didn’t materialize into much. It would have taken quite the offer of futures to pry away the long time Red Wing in a trade. His experience and leadership this season is worth much more than a late round pick, which realistically is all he would have fetched. Also, of course, out of respect for all he has done for the franchise in his 15 year career, which included a Stanley Cup Championship in 2008. All the while, still pushing strong at age 38.
While allowing Kronwall to finish out his career in Detroit was the appropriate move, talks of him signing a one year extension, as he is set to become an unrestricted free-agent on July 1st, conveys the side of Holland that doomed this team in the final years of the Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg era.
Being too loyal to his players has plagued Holland’s rebuilding efforts, swaying him to hold on to the likes of Darren Helm, Luke Glendening, Justin Abdelkader, among others, for too much for too long. Its clogged the youth in the system from reaching the next level as they scrambled to open up one, maybe two roster spots a season.
Niklas Kronwall has hinted at the possibility of playing one more season for the Red Wings. Ken Holland can not allow loyalty to decide his fate. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Kronwall is the latest case of the Red Wings being to attached to the past and keeping a “winning” culture. With reports saying that if he wants to play another year, Holland will grant his wish.
Kronwall has undoubtedly been a positive influence on the locker-room, and his peers clearly admire their elder statesman. But when push comes to shove how can it make sense to re-up the Stockholm, Sweden native solely for what he did a decade ago? The margin for error in today’s NHL is razor-thin, and to instate that much power into your players will not bode well. The general manager has the ability to put his foot down and do whats best for his team. I don’t get the sense Holland has much to reason with other than referring to him as a “legacy player.”
Does a Kronwall reunion mean the Red Wings will completely stagnate for the 2019-20 season? No, of course not. At this point in his career he isn’t much of a needle mover. I don’t have a problem with seeing another season of 55 if the belief is there is an organizational need to bring him back. With the contracts of three other Red Wings defensemen in Mike Green, Trevor Daley, and Jonathan Ericsson expiring, there is reason to believe having another experienced body will have a positive impact on the ice, if one or more of the aforementioned names are traded.
The ripple effect’s implications may be limited, but I advise management to ruminate on this decision. They need a change of perspective and get away from their normal thinking. If there isn’t an on-ice need for Kronwall next season in their mind, they can’t rightfully bring him back. Create some accountability.
It’s a tough business and sometimes tough decisions have to be made.