The Detroit Red Wings haven’t found a ton of success this season, but they’re not blaming the coaching staff. The rebuilding team is expected to begin extension negotiations with head coach Jeff Blashill at some point, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN, as the front office is happy with the job he has done during the rebuilding year.
Blashill took over the Red Wings for the 2015-16 season after former head coach Mike Babcock left for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he took them to a playoff appearance in his first year. After being eliminated in the first round in 2016, the team has now missed for three straight seasons while saying goodbye to franchise icons like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. With those legendary forwards out of the picture this season, the team has turned to a youth movement led by 22-year old Dylan Larkin. Larkin has taken over as the face of the Detroit franchise and is in the midst of a career season at both ends of the rink. His 62 points in 65 games easily leads the club, with second-place Gustav Nyquist sold off at the trade deadline.
In fact, the Red Wings were active once again at the deadline as they look toward the future. Nyquist and Nick Jensen were both flipped for substantial assets, giving the Red Wings a loaded basket of draft picks and young players to build around. Blashill will be credited for getting the best out of Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, and he will be tasked with the same shepherding of prospects like Michael Rasmussen, Filip Zadina and eventually Joe Veleno.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been bumps along the road. The Red Wings currently sit 30th in the league and have gone 1-9-3 in their last 13 games. While that may give them a better chance at the draft lottery next month, it certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence in this group for next season. While Blashill may be credited with getting the best out of his young players in losing seasons, there will come a point where he must get some success in the standings as well.
CapFriendly lists Blashill as earning just $800K this season, the final of a four-year deal he signed in the summer of 2015. While he’ll likely get a raise from that if the Red Wings do reach an extension, it will be interesting to see just how long of a leash they give him this time around.