“Am I as fast as Larkin or McDavid? Not even close,” Vanek said. “I never was and never will be. But I can read the game, I have hockey IQ — which, to me, is something that is leaving the game a little.”
The Red Wings have started 6-2-0, in large part because of veterans Vanek and Green. It’s important to note that while their even-strength save percentage and shooting percentage are near the top of the league, that won’t continue. Detroit controls only 45.6 percent Brandon Saad Jersey of its even-strength shot attempts, a rate that has to improve for it to keep winning. So, despite the early success, there are red flags for the Red Wings.
“There’s now a lottery. The first four picks are Cam Atkinson Jersey lottery picks. You can be the worst team in the league and get the fifth pick in the draft,” Holland said. “Each year, we go forward, it becomes more and more a parity league. Why is that? Players come out of the entry level and they go from entry-level contracts to $5-$6 million.”
The Red Wings signed Steve Ott, 34, to a one-year, $800,000 deal on July 1 in the hopes that the veteran would bring personality and spark to Detroit’s dressing room.
This isn’t the same system that that Penguins and Blackhawks had to navigate on the way to landing elite players — and neither are the contract structures.
The Red Wings have considered all that as they march forward. Their solution is to keep doing what they’ve always done: just keep winning. Draft well from the position in which you’re placed and make the kids earn the playing time.
Detroit signed Green last year, and he has seven points in eight games this season. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Green’s teammates are learning how to play to his strengths more, to take advantage of his skating.
Green said it took him half a season to get comfortable on a new team. Now, here he is.
“We’ve changed up a few things, but mostly it’s a confidence thing,” Green said. “We are detailed in our assignments, and it has shown this season.”
Both Holland and Blashill phoned Vanek when he was a free agent and made their pitch to get him to Detroit. They wanted him playing in front of the net. They loved the idea of another right-handed shot. They realize he’s not a guy who needs 18 minutes per game to put up points. Right now, he’s averaging 13:11, the lowest of his career. He has eight points in seven games. It’s been a great fit.