2025 Detroit Team Profile

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Analyzing Success
Development of a Dynasty

Detroit Free Press
April 2nd, 2025

Coming off their third Gold Championship in four seasons, the talk of a dynasty is certainly beginning to make its rounds in the PBDL. Is the talk premature? Maybe…but with 2025 Red Wings roster returning essentially the exact same group of players from last season, somehow we doubt that the Detroit market has seen their last Gold Championship.

When glancing over the Wings roster page, one quickly realizes why the team is successful. Core players such as Justin Webster, Carlos Perez, Raul Cuevas, Jose Gurri and Bubba Page have been around for quite some time and have put up consistently solid seasons for the Wings. It’s no surprise that a good team needs good players, but the more interesting realization is that there is a tremendous diversity in how these players were acquired and thus how the team was built. To quote Nick Genova, “…we leveraged every aspect we could in order to gain an advantage on the competition.”

Looking at just the players listed above, Justin Webster and Raul Cuevas were acquired in trades with the Islanders and Capitals, respectively; Carlos Perez and Jose Gurri were signed as minor league free agents before developing into stars and Bubba Page was signed as a free agent to a massive 8 year, $12.8 million deal. In fact, one of the most surprising aspects of this Wings club is just how few starting roster players were drafted by the team. Of the opening day roster in 2024, only a handful were originally drafted by the Wings and none of them would be considered part of the core high caliber talent that has been so instrumental in the team’s success.

Or maybe the lack of high end draft talent isn’t that surprising after all. In a candid revelation, Genova states, “Drafting has never been my strongest suit, in order to build a winner I have to rely on a multitude of other avenues to gain an edge.” Drafting is also made more difficult when the team consistently finishes in the top half of the league, in fact, the team has drafted 8th overall a total of 5 times and 7th overall another 3 times. These lowly draft rankings certainly lead to a much lower available talent pool to choose from making the drafting task increasingly difficult.

Trading has provided a huge boost and has been instrumental in filling critical holes in the team’s lineup. Three noteworthy players acquired in trade include Justin Webster, Raul Cuevas and SS Erik Wechsler. GM Genova takes a different tact than many other GM’s when it comes to trading, stating “When we see a hole, we do whatever it takes to fill it…we’ll use the league database to run player screens in order to find the type of player we are looking for and then we reach out to the teams with offers ready to see if we can acquire them, even if the player isn’t listed on the trading block.” This highly targeted approach increases the likelihood of being able to acquire a needed player and insures that it is the type of player that fits the Red Wing’s system, style of play and home park. Commenting on the Wechsler acquisition, “this acquisition was particularly painstaking but probably the most critical of the bunch as we desperately needed a strong defensive shortstop given our mix of groundball pitchers…it took us 2.5 seasons before we finally consummated a deal with New York Rangers…we probably reached out to over a half a dozen teams during that span with targeted offers.” In other words, persistency pays off. The acquisition of Wechsler didn’t come cheap though as the Wings had to part ways with the younger, cheaper OF Pedro Perez who has put up very strong offensive numbers in his time with the Rangers.

Other aspects that Genova will point to as critical mechanisms to success are minor league free agent signings, aggressive contract negotiation and a little bit of luck. The Wings picked up both Carlos Perez and Jose Gurri in the free agent pool for little to no money. “Every once in a while there will be gems that pop up in the free agent pool or on the waiver wire, you never know what you are going to find,” states Genova. By keeping minors stocked with young talent rather than aging vets with no future, a team can get lucky by uncovering a hidden gem and future rising star. And that’s where the luck part comes in. When the Wings picked up Carlos Perez in 2013, he projected to be a halfway decent third baseman, but ended up developing into a superstar. Of course, it’s not all luck. The team invested heavily in player development expenses during the late 10’s and early 20’s before eventually cutting back the budget in order to be able to sign key free agents and make critical contract extensions. “Resources are limited, deciding where and how to spend cash is critically important,” states Genova emphatically. When asked if international amateur free agency is a key component to the team’s go forward strategy Genova replied, “We’ve dabbled in it, but are more focused on winning now and thus divert most of our resources to that objective.”

Success and trading away young talent has taken a toll on the Wings farm system, which currently ranks 7th in the Gold League. And every season the roster adds another year of age on to its veteran group. Many of the team’s core players are now in their early to mid 30’s and age does eventually catch up to all of us. But fans of Detroit hope that this group has at least another championship or two in them before they head into a rebuild phase, or as Genova likes to call it, a “retooling.” If past history is any indication, Red Wing “retoolings” are short, sweet and effective.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 August 2014 12:12