As a Red Wings fan watching the 2016 draft, I was getting excited as highly ranked defenseman Jakob Chychrun began to fall. Once rated as one of the top players available in this draft, it started to look like he might drop to 16th where the Wings were drafting. Each team that passed him by, I got a little more excited. When the Islanders passed on him at 15, I got up from my seat, raised my hands in the air, and rejoiced! Finally, a defenseman with the possible upside of being a top pair guy. I was expecting Ken Holland to waste no time, race up to the podium, and scoop him up with a loving embrace. Though soon it became clear that Holland wasn't running anywhere. He had a giant smirk on his face and simply appeared to be waiting for something. It turned out that he was waiting for a trade to be announced.
When Gary Bettman went to the podium to announce a trade, my heart sank. They traded the last year of Datsyuk's contract to swap picks with Phoenix. Then of course the Coyotes selected Chychrun, and my dream was crushed. Datsyuk really screwed the Wings by leaving the NHL before his contract expired, and the need to dump the dead money was great. I get it. The Coyotes likely don't make that trade unless Chychrun was available, in which case the Wings might still be stuck with Datsyuk's contract.
The news that the contract had been expunged certainly had to be well received by fans, but it did come at a cost. At the 20th spot, Detroit drafted tier 2 junior defenseman Dennis Cholowski, a long term project bound for the NCAA who could be 4 years away from turning pro. Chychrun could very well have 100 NHL games under his belt before Cholowski plays his first. More specifically, Chychrun has an 18% chance of playing 100 NHL games by age 21. Cholowski has a 0% chance. He might end up being good, but the time frame is way longer. Detroit needs a top pair defenseman NOW! The sooner the better. These players are hard to find on July 1st or by trade.
Ironically Cholowski is a local player in the Vancouver area where I live. I even worked at a hockey rink in Langley while this kid was playing minor hockey in Langley. I never heard anyone mention his name and I certainly never saw any players I thought were heading to the NHL. Last week I heard his coach on the Team 1040 radio and they asked him what advantages there were to drafting his player. His response was that the kid has a long window, that he won't play pro for a while. Right because that should be a huge selling point, that he's going to take a long time.
Ken Holland must have been listening, because they love big windows. There is no evidence however that leaving players in the minors too long produces better hockey players. People think that Detroit's consistent playoff status is proof this works. What it does is drive down the price of the 2nd contract, which frees up more space for free agency. Ken Holland has maybe started drinking too much of his own Koolaid if he's started targeting players BECAUSE they are going to take a long time to develop. Granted, I don't know that Holland wanted Cholowski over Chychrun. Maybe he would have drafted Chychrun had the Phoenix offer not materialized, and maybe it was his best trade to dump the Datsyuk contract.
Maybe I should wait to see what Holland does with that $7M, because the trade might be Datsyuk and Chychrun for Cholowski and