Is Lilja on the trading block?
Thanks to George @ Snapshots, I was able to read the transcript of the WDFN interview with GM Ken Holland. While the entire interview makes for an interesting read, the most intriguing part is below:
Mike Stone: You mention defense, I was kind of surprised that you re-signed Lilja. Not that I think that he’s bad or anything like that, but, with the three young kids, Meech, Quincey, and Ericsson, I really thought this was going to be the year they’d really get to play a lot, and I was kind of surprised. Talk about the reason you decided to re-up with Anders…
Ken Holland: Well… (pauses) Um, we like the kids; are they ready to go? You know, our feeling is, we’re gonna go to camp; we’ve really got ten defensemen that we think can play, now, are gonna be NHL defensemen. We’ve got four kids on the back end, Lebda, Quincey, Meech, and Ericsson, Kindl’s probably a year away…
Lilja’s an insurance policy. If they’re not quite ready, he can play; if they are ready, then we’ll have to make some decisions on, everybody’s looking for defense. We’re not gonna have any problem if we want to make a trade in training camp. You know, on the defense, we’re talking about, they all make, you know, Lilja’s the highest-paid player at a million-and-a-quarter, everybody and lower, I don’t see that we’re going to have any problem making a deal. Let’s get to training camp, let’s evaluate where we’re at with those kids, and we’re basically, I guess, we’ve deferred to make that decision in September instead of in June.
I must say that Holland’s remarks make me feel better. I must admit I was surprised when Lilja was signed before the first day of free agency, but if we had been unable to re-sign Brad Stuart it would have been important to lock him up. I’m just relieved that Holland sees Lilja as an insurance policy and that there is a strong possibility for a younger player like Ericsson to make the squad allowing Holland to put Lilja on the trading block.
As Holland did with the signing of Ty Conklin, he likes to see the players earn their roster spot by signing on someone to act as their competition. The Wings are fortunate in that they can allow players to take their time developing in their respective leagues so there’s no rushing players up to the big league.
I wonder why I ever doubt Holland. The man is a genius and his reasoning of late certainly has proven sound. It wouldn’t surprise me if he could get Hossa locked up for long-term as a Hockey News columnist would suggest.
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