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Calder Cup win, bounty of picks show pluses of Red Wings rebuild

AHL: MAR 18 Grand Rapids Griffins at Chicago Wolves

ROSEMONT, IL - MARCH 18: Grand Rapids Griffins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (39) looks on during an AHL hockey game between the Chicago Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins on March 18, 2017, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL. Griffins won 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This post is part of Red Wings Day on PHT…

When you consider their investments in veteran players and the fact that they’re spending right about to the cap ceiling, there are certain signs that maybe the Detroit Red Wings aren’t fully committed to a rebuild.

There are plenty of indications that GM Ken Holland thinks he can have his cake and eat it too, which someone might deem a “reload” rather than a rebuild.

(Check out this poll regarding the Red Wings’ rebuild to delve deeper into that debate.)

While some elements of this gameplan seem dubious - to the point that fans are losing faith in Holland & Co. - there are at least a few reasons to feel a little better about other facets of how the organization is trying to turn things around.

Some pluses in the slow-building approach

Red Wings fans might, at times, be frustrated with the patient way this franchise brings prospects along. Anthony Mantha stands as an example of the sort of prospects many believe deserved more recent NHL reps rather than longer runs in the AHL.

That said, at least there are some signs that this development mindset isn’t all bad.

While it’s dangerous to put too much emphasis on this ... hey, the Grand Rapids Griffins did win the AHL’s Calder Cup last season, doing so for the second time in five seasons. McDonald’s celebrations were had and good dogs enjoyed moments with the trophy.

Oh yeah, and Tyler Bertuzzi blew up with 19 points in as many AHL playoff games, while Evgeny Svechnikov and Martin Frk both showed signs of possibly being ready to make the jump (or ... the leap?) in the near future.

As the former coach of their AHL team, Jeff Blashill likely already has some relationships with these players too, which could conceivably dull the learning curve if these guys make it through training camp.

It remains to be seen if one or more of those top guys can become difference-makers for the Red Wings proper, but it never hurts to see your prospects collecting hard-earned hardware.

A bounty of picks

It’s been noted at PHT and the Detroit News, among other places, that some rated the Red Wings as “losers” of the 2017 NHL Draft. Red Wings SBNation blog Winging it in Motown gave them a D+.

Even some of the kinder reviews seemed a bit muted at times.

Here’s the thing, though: drafts are comically difficult to rate in the moment, and the 2017 edition might be one of the more difficult ones to prognosticate.

Beyond lottery-type picks, it’s not that outrageous to view draft picks as “dart throws,” and the Red Wings ended up sending 11 at the board, which tied them with the New Jersey Devils as the second-most of this past year. Detroit also has an additional second-round pick heading into 2018, and could build those reserves up some more.

If you believe that the Red Wings still rank in the upper-crust as far as development goes, then they might just make the most of what could be called a “quantity over quality” crop.

Look, there are still a lot of reasons to cringe at the Red Wings’ long-term outlook, especially when it comes to contracts that will stay on the books for far too long. The consensus is that Detroit should either make some significant tweaks or blow things up altogether.

Even so, it’s not like the Red Wings are making nothing but mistakes. There might still be some hope for this franchise yet, although you have to dig deeper to find silver linings after a couple decades of brilliant hockey.