Detroit Red Wings’ Steve Yzerman on Marc Staal trade: We added a future asset

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
 
| Detroit Free Press

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The appeal of the trade was easy: Add a second-round pick by taking on an expiring contract.

Steve Yzerman has made it a focus of the Detroit Red Wings’ rebuild to add draft picks since taking over as general manager in April 2019. He acquired one from the New York Rangers on Saturday, in addition to veteran defenseman Marc Staal. Staal plugs a hole in the lineup, and he has one year left on a deal with a $5.7 million cap hit.

That puts the Wings at 20 picks over the next two drafts.

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“The trade accomplishes a couple things,” Yzerman said during an evening Zoom call. “One, as part of our rebuilding process, we’re trying to add draft picks, prospects, young players — future assets, really, to help us down the line. That’s where we are. In this trade, we get a second-round pick in the 2021 draft.

“But also we have to ice a team. We’re trying to improve at the same time. In this deal, not only do we get a defenseman that will go right into our lineup, we add future assets as well.” 

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The Wings owe the Rangers future considerations, trade-speak for a late-round draft pick. 

Staal, 33, is a former first-round pick, All-Star and veteran of 892 NHL games with the Rangers. The 6-4, 209-pound defender slots onto the left side with Danny DeKeyser and Patrik Nemeth. The Wings had cap and roster room to add Staal with the departures of, among others, Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson. 

“Marc fits in nicely,” Yzerman said. “He’s a good, solid defender. Nice size. He’s been in the league a long time.” 

The Wings still have around $27 million in cap space, though part of that will be eaten up with extensions for restricted free agents Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi. 

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Yzerman didn’t rule out more trades with teams looking for salary cap relief.

“We’re still in a position to do that,” he said. “We have roster spots to fill. But we have to be careful — you can get to the cap very quickly. But we are in a position to potentially do future deals like this if they come along.”

With the 2019-20 season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, the salary cap ceiling for 2020-21 is staying at $81.5 million. Teams that are looking for relief include the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, Arizona Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues.

“There’s so much uncertainty in the league right now,” Yzerman said. “We’re heading into the draft, we’re heading into free agency. We don’t really know when we’re starting, what the landscape is going to look like next year. So we’re all really in uncharted waters. But the Red Wings are in position that we do have cap space. I hope to use it wisely.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments that made the Detroit Red Wings will be published in October by Triumph Books. To preorder, go to Amazon.

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