SpezDispenser wrote: Both my opinion and my expertise.
certainly no expert, but here's my response to your response.
The Red Wings had defensive issues last year, and they were NOT simply a case of Ozzy not being 'The Wizard'. But more on Chris in a moment.
Both Lidstrom and Rafalski were coming off a 100+ game season, and they are no longer young men. They have now played a second consecutive 100+ game season. Over 35 years of age, the injury factor becomes more likely; and both Lidstrom and Rafalski played hurt in the post season.
Brad Stuart now appears to be less than an elite d-man. I don't know Lebda's work enough to judge him; but Derek Meech and Kyle Quincey might have well been just as good as either one or both.
Kronwall, whose play has significantly emerged, and Ericsson--who I tabbed correctly as a rising star, a comment which was dismissed by you BTW--were consistently the best Wings on D, as was Lilja before he was injured. Kronwall and Ericsson now appear to be ones who will take over for Lids and Rafalski.
Mike Babc0ck was very vocal in his season-long concerns about the Wings getting away from playing 'their' game. Detroit being a team that relies on 'The System', gaps in execution can be exposed when key members go down and there is no one to step in.
The Wings System was strong enough to ensure their status as the dominant team in the Central, but that dominance is not a foregone conclusion. The embarassing one-sided shutout losses in the regular season to teams like the Jackets and Predators were alarm bells, and Babc0ck made no bones about that.
The Wings have talent in their pipeline, but IMHO several factors contributed to Detroit running 'out of steam', or whatever you want to call it, in the Finals.
The Red Wings did not rotate that new talent in early enough. Keeping Maltby and Draper took away roster spots that could have been used by Helm, Leino and/or Abdelkader.
Signing Marian Hossa did NOT make them a better team--though Hossa had an excellent season--as the Wings declined statistically in several areas, including wins, points, final standing, PK and GA.
You can't use injuries as an excuse. All teams have injuries, and that's why depth is so critical.
Had Holland NOT signed Hossa, and perhaps packaged someone in a trade for either a 1a goalie (rather than signing UFA Conklin) or say, another experienced d-man, for example, the Wings might have actually been a better team
. At the same time, Holland would have had money to spend.
Osgood is, on occasion, a 'money' goalie. But evidently, at this point in his career, he is relying on his positional skill and knowledge rather than reflexes. His shutouts against the Jackets in the playoffs may have skewed his numbers to look better, and while he played some excellent games, he simply wasn't as good last year, as he was the year before. But he's NOT the reason the team
was worse defensively.
Again, these are simply my observations.
The facts are conclusive however. As the 2009-10 season approaches, the Wings still have the same concerns on defense and in goal as last season, and now, a few others offensively. Yet, they have, as Devellano says, not much cash to address those.
Given the resourcefulness of the organization, however, it would be a mistake to underestimate the Wings' ability to configure a solution.
The signing of d-man Jakub Kindl may be one of those elements in the solution, but it remains to be seen what happens next.