Ken Holland resists express line from Griffins despite youth movement

Filip Hronek has enjoyed a wonderful rookie season, tying a team record by points by a rookie defenseman, but he is ready to jump to the Red Wings?(

GRAND RAPIDS – The youth movement with the Detroit Red Wings puts more emphasis on the development of players with the Grand Rapids Griffins, but general manager Ken Holland stressed there is no express-line ticket waiting for anyone.

Holland, on hand for the Griffins’ 6-3 loss to Manitoba on Wednesday, insisted the evaluation process from the AHL to the NHL remains the same even as the Red Wings put a premium on young talent. The Red Wings missed the playoffs for the second year in a row and have 10 picks in the first six rounds and one in the seventh in this year’s NHL draft.

"Obviously, we have a lot of draft picks so, yes, the theme of the Detroit Red Wings over the next two or three years is youth," Holland said. "That doesn’t mean it’s youth on Oct. 4 (when the season opens). Then they have to be an NHL player. And if they’re not, in short order they’ll lose their confidence and they won’t be in a lineup. That’s not productive."

The best young candidate to make the Red Wings next season is center Michael Rasmussen, the No. 9 overall pick a year ago who is still in the playoffs with his junior team, Tri-City. The already-polished 6-foot-6 center would head to Grand Rapids when WHL playoffs conclude if the Griffins are still playing.

Others who could make the Red Wings in the fall include defensemen Filip Hronek and Joe Hicketts and possibly forwards Evgeny Svechnikov and Dominic Turgeon depending on what else transpires in the offseason.

This season, six players appeared with both clubs (Tyler Bertuzzi, Evgeny Svechnikov, Hicketts, Turgeon, Brian Lashoff and goalie Jared Coreau).

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said they "all did a good job" but noted players such as Svechnikov and Hicketts were up late in the season.

"They all showed pretty well, but I also think we weren’t playing a lot of meaningful games," said Blashill, who was also at the Griffins game. "It’s a different thing come the fall. A bunch of these guys have a chance to continue to impress during the Calder Cup Playoffs and then we’ll see which guys come into camp trying to take jobs."

On the opposite side, Holland said players won’t become "overly ripe," a criticism he said is outdated.

"That was something that I had in the locker room behind closed doors with (former coach) Mike Babcock a long time ago," he said. "Dylan Larkin was not overly ripe. (Andreas) Athanasiou was here a year and a half and he went up. So, times have changed in the National Hockey League and times have changed in Detroit."

He added:

"We’re still going to try and compete. I don’t think you can throw a bunch of kids out there. I thought that we didn’t have a very good year, but I think we had 27 games by a goal. So, it’s important that the young players are in an environment where we are competitive. The young players are going to make the team if they’re going to make us better and if they’re ready to play in the NHL."

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