Detroit Red Wings: Lineup decisions continue to raise questions

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings and head coach Jeff Blashill continue to shift their mindset regarding forward Michael Rasmussen and a plethora of other young Red Wing prospects.

Two years ago, the Detroit Red Wings made the tough decision to keep Rasmussen in Detroit, forgoing his final year of eligibility at the junior level.  At the time, the decision was ultimately made by the former general manager (GM) Ken Holland.

It’s an odd rule and somewhat unfortunate.  Rasmussen had clearly outgrown junior hockey, and the rules won’t allow for a player with junior eligibility to be placed in the American Hockey League (AHL).  It’s NHL or junior.  If said player plays 10 or more NHL games, the player’s entry-level contract’s first year gets burnt up.

I can only predict current GM Steve Yzerman would have taken a different approach.  It’s apparent Yzerman is in this for the long haul and is willing to let these youthful Red Wing prospect marinate in the AHL rather than rush them up to the NHL level

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When you think about it, it’s a complete 180 from the Holland philosophy.  This won’t be a Holland-bashing article by any means, but there is a significant contrast in rebuild methods between the two.

Holland tried to rebuild on the fly; it didn’t work.

Yzerman is unquestionably willing to tear this down to studs and start over.  In this case, I don’t even think it’s comparable to gutting a house and working with the shell; Yzerman is bringing in a wrecking ball and committed to a complete new build.

The Detroit Red Wings are choosing to leave Michael Rasmussen in Grand Rapids.

After leaving Rasmussen in Detroit for the 2018-19 season, where he’d score eight goals and totaled 18 points in 62 games, the organization in Yzerman’s first year as GM primarily re-assigned Rasmussen to Grand Rapids the following year.

It’s been the same method in 2021.

The Red Wings are fielding a lineup that includes Adam Erne, Frans Nielsen, and Valtteri Filppula rather than Taro Hirose, Givani Smith, and Rasmussen.  Also, rookie forward Mathias Brome has yet to record a point despite playing on Detroit’s top line while Tyler Bertuzzi continues to nurse an injury.

The Red Wings are clearly just deploying their high-priced veteran players with little to no offensive upside trying to save their young player’s entry-level contract by leaving them in the minors.

Here is what Blashill recently said on the subject in an article published by the Detroit News;

"“You can’t just come in and fit in, ultimately, you have to show you’re making us better,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s not good enough to show, ‘I can kind of come in and play and help us lose.’ That’s not what we’re looking for.“We’re looking for our young players to grow to a level where they come in and help us win. That’s what good players do.”“We feel like if he can become a center that can play the other team’s best and can shut the other team’s better players down,” Blashill said. “Similar to what (Carolina center) Jordan Staal does, who is a heck of a player in the league and that’s a mouthful to ask, but if he can become that kind of model, that’s a huge asset.“He’s not there yet in the NHL, and the NHL is not a place to learn. It’s a real hard league, You’re way better off learning in the American League.”"

It’s odd for Blashill to say only because if you went back two years ago, you would find the head coach defending the Rasmussen decision to ‘take his lumps’ at the NHL level.

As you can see, I highlighted something specific in Blashill’s latest comments.  ‘Detroit is looking for players who can help us win; that’s what good players do.’

I find it interesting understanding the trio of Hirose (2), Rasmussen (3), and Smith (4) have accounted for nine points this season compared to Erne (1), Nielsen (2), and Filppula’s (2) five total points thus far in 2021.

Next. Head coach Jeff Blashill is out of lifelines. dark

It’s one thing to embrace a tank, but Blashill needs to hire a personal PR person to help him create better excuses to use during his interviews.