After sputtering a few years ago, the Red Wings’ pipeline is once again flush with talent
1989-90; The last season the Detroit red Wings missed the playoffs. The subsequent 1990-91 campaign marked not only the beginning of the epic consecutive playoff appearance streak, but also the rookie season of soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer, Nicklas Lidstrom. This streak has seen a two decade Hall of Fame career play out over its lifetime and then some. Making this feat all the more unfathomable is the much documented element of almost never being able to rejuvenate the franchise's core via upper echelon picks in the draft.
The highest selection Ken Holland, Jimmy Devellano & Jim Nill ever had to work with since 1991 was 19th overall in 2005, when they took Jakub Kindl. That was their only pick inside the NHL Entry draft's top 20 picks since June 1991! Moreover, between 2000 and 2005, Detroit didn't even use one solitary first round pick whatsoever; during which they remained among the league's elite, flipping them for added veteran depth run after run.
It goes without saying that Detroit's scouting system, development philosophy, patience and aggressiveness in free agency has enabled the RedWings to beat the odds over the past two and a half decades. In fact, Hakan Andersson, the Director of European Scouting for the Winged Wheel is far and away the world's most famous hockey scout. His impeccable ability to continually find hidden gems in the bowels of Europe's top leagues and successfully project them as NHLer's such as Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen has made him a legend at his craft.
Detroit upper brass' motto has been to reload every few years rather than rebuild. However, following the 2009-10 season, two years removed from their last of successive Stanley Cup Final appearance, much ado had been made by media that the well may have finally run dry. Their top affiliate club, Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, missed the playoffs, finishing second last in the conference. Their entire roster was void of a legitimate potential star forward worthy of promotion, with the likes of Pat Rissmiller, Jeremy Williams, Mattias Ritola and Francis Pare, all among their top five scorers — None of whom projected to be future full time NHL-ers. Most were journeyman, outlining the wilting organizational depth