Your Call: Is it time for the Red Wings to rebuild? Staff

5/13/2011 2:10:37 PM

For two decades now, the Detroit Red Wings have been known as one of the NHL's model franchises.

A winning culture and amazing consistency leave little doubt about it - with 20 consecutive playoff appearances, six trips to the Stanley Cup final, and four championship banners at Joe Louis Arena to the Wings' credit.

And while teams around them have re-stocked and rebuilt in the last decade with top picks like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby - and more recently, Steven Stamkos and Patrick Kane - the Red Wings have managed to maintain their success without the benefit of a single top pick. The last time Detroit drafted in the top five was 1990, when they chose Keith Primeau third overall.

But now, in the wake of a second-round playoff loss to the San Jose Sharks, Detroit may be at a crossroads with an aging roster that could be due for an overhaul.

Are the Red Wings done as an NHL powerhouse, and is it time for them to rebuild?

First and foremost, we may have seen the last of 41-year-old defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom. The future Hall of Famer and team captain is an unrestricted free agent and Detroit may well spend a second straight summer waiting while Lidstrom ponders retirement against his desire to play another season. In the meantime, the quality of Lidstrom's play has not slipped as he has been nominated for a seventh Norris Trophy.

Detroit's roster has a number of other veteran players who could be moving on or are nearing the end of their careers. Long-time Detroit stalwarts Kris Draper (age 39) and Tomas Holmstrom (38), are joined by Mike Modano (40), Todd Bertuzzi (37), Brian Rafalski (37), and Ruslan Salei (36), as elder Wings who may not figure into the club's short or long-term plans.

Even present stars Pavel Datsyuk (32), Henrik Zetterberg (30) and Johan Franzen (31) have all edged into the 30-something club and have been with the team for most of a decade.

One of Detroit's long-time strengths - offence - was exposed as a weakness by the Sharks this spring. The regular season saw Datsyuk miss 36 games due to injury and finish with 23 goals, and his absence ensured that Detroit finished the year without a 30-goal scorer.

Detroit followed their most recent title in 2008 with a seven-game finals loss in 2009, and now consecutive second-round ousters at the hands of the Sharks in 2010 and 2011.

They captured the Central Division this year with 104 points, but fell well short in the post-season as Vancouver and San Jose emerged as the class of the conference.

So what do you think? Are Detroit's days among the league's elite over for the time being? Should the Wings start rebuilding sooner rather than later?

As always, it's Your! Call.