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May 3, 2012 | 10:15am ET
Wings look to prospects for long-term help
TheFourthPeriod.com

Although the Red Wings appear to have a shot at getting one of the top free agents on the market in New Jersey's Zach Parise or Nashville's Ryan Suter this summer, the team will also need to look internally to remain a Cup contender, the Detroit News reports.

While all-star players like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk provide great insurance for the following season, young prospects like Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist, who got a taste of the NHL this season, Petr Mrazek and Calle Jarnkrok, draft picks who've dominated at the junior level, and Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, are likely to become the successful next generation of Red Wings.

"This going and signing seven guys and all of a sudden you have 68 wins, that's unrealistic thinking," Red Wings GM Ken Holland told the News. "We'll use unrestricted free agency if there's a player that we feel can make us better. We'll pursue them. But it just can't be free agency."

Though the Wings dealt their first-round pick in June's draft to reacquire defenseman Kyle Quincey, Holland feels comfortable with the prospects currently in the pipeline and was at ease with dealing the first-round pick.

Prospects such as Smith and Nyquist are expected to be challenged during training camp to reach their potential and make the roster, but a constant progress of the franchise's draft picks and their eventual graduation onto the will also become a priority.

"In training camp (last September), we challenged our 20-somethings to take a step and I thought a lot (of that group did) take a step," Holland said. "That's part of growing a team. At the end of the day, when you look at the four teams left in the West (Conference playoffs), they've been building and growing. It's the league (right now)."

With the potential retirements of captain Nicklas Lidstrom and gritty forward Tomas Holmstrom, and the unsure returns of unrestricted free agents Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler, the future could be now for those prospects.

"As l look today at the teams playing in the West (playoffs), isn't that what they've done," Holland said. "They've drafted, they've developed and they've built and they got themselves in position where they have pretty good depth, and they have good players and now they've won a playoff round."

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