A tale of two development systems Detroit vs. “The Detroit Model”
Every year it seems the big question in the NHL is if this is the year that the Detroit Red Wings will finally miss the playoffs and thus far the answer this year is no. The astonishing thing about this playoff streak is that it is longer than the existence of a fair number of NHL teams including the Ducks, Panthers, Predators, Wild, Blue Jackets and Jets 2.0 (formerly the Atlanta Thrashers). What amazes me about the Wings is they have not drafted better than 15th since the 1991 draft. They have had many a year with no first round pick at all during that time. However despite this they continue to be a playoff team year after year. Now the caveat here is that I don’t know if I have considered the Wings a true cup contender since their last appearance but the fact that this is a team that continues to draft but more importantly develop their prospects well they are not far from returning to status and have done so without needing to completely bottom out, a feat in the modern NHL.
The Sharks have often tried to emulate the Red Wings though their history without a great deal of success. Sure the Sharks have had quite a run of their own but it’s the development which is my opinion is the most important part of the Red Wings success that the Sharks have failed to replicate. For example only one player in the top ten scorers for the Red Wings wasn’t home grown (Mike Green). Further more if you look at their top 5 scoring players aside from Henrik Zetterberg (29 pts.) who leads the team in scoring the rest are younger than 30 years of age. 19 year old Dylan Larkin (27 pts.), 25 year old Tomas Tatar (25 pts.), Gustav Nyquist (23 pts.) and 28 year old Justin Abdelkader (21 pts.) round out the top five.
If you look at the Sharks top 5 scorers in Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Joel Ward only two are home grown. While Burns is 30 and Pavelski is 31 the remaining three are on at the point where they should complement a younger developed team like a Zetterberg than be relied on to be the ones to carry the team. Now obviously the Sharks do have Logan Couture who if he had not been injured would likely be a top 5 scorer for the Sharks this year and it would be misleading not to mention that. However you might be shocked to know the highest scoring home grown player on this team who is under 30 is none other than offensive dynamo Marc-Edouard Vlasic (16 pts.). That should speak volumes.
It does not just stop with player development, there are plenty of coaches and executives that have previously called Detroit home. On the executive level this includes Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay and Jim Nill in Dallas are currently the general managers for their perspective teams. Many coaches and assistant coaches got their NHL starts in Detroit but when Mike Babcock moved on to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs the Red Wings had AHL coach Jeff Blashill waiting in the wings. When have the Sharks ever promoted anyone from their AHL staff to the NHL. So while the Sharks have claimed to be trying to use the Detroit model all they have really managed to do is be a no-name knock off that has had limited success trying to imitate the real thing.
Red Wings Projected Lineup
Abdelkader – Zetterberg – Nyquist
Helm – Datsyuk – Tatar
Larkin – Sheahan – Richards
Andersson – Glendening – Miller
Kronwall – Ericsson
DeKeyser – Marchenko
Smith – Green
Sharks Projected Lineup
Karlsson – Thornton – Pavelski
Marleau – Couture – Ward
Nieto – Hertl – Wingels
Donskoi – Zubrus – Brown
Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – DeMelo