Steve Yzerman is Detroit Red Wings’ big draw with Thomas Greiss: ‘I trust Stevie’

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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As poorly as the Detroit Red Wings have performed in recent years, a phone call from Steve Yzerman has a way of swaying free agents.

Goalie Thomas Greiss joined the effort to help the Wings top their 17 victories from last season, agreeing to a two year, $7.2 million deal Saturday. Yzerman was busy as free agency opened, also adding right-shot defenseman Troy Stecher, a day after signing forward Bobby Ryan and defensemen Jon Merrill.

Greiss, 34, most recently played for the New York Islanders. He was in net for the Islanders when the Wings lost, 8-2, there last January.

[Why Bobby Ryan may be Yzerman’s best signing yet for Red Wings]

The Wings’ 2019-20 struggles to score and defend do not daunt Greiss.

“I think it’s a good young team,” he said Saturday. “I think they have a very good future and I trust Stevie Yzerman, that he is going to do a great job.”

Greiss has appeared in 282 NHL games with the Sharks (who drafted Greiss at No. 94 in 2004), the Coyotes, Penguins and Islanders, posting a 2.63 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

He’ll share the net with Jonathan Bernier, who is entering the last year of his contract.

The Wings needed a goaltender after parting ways with Jimmy Howard, who won just two games last season. 

Merrill adds depth on the left-side defense, joining Patrik Nemeth, Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal. Though DeKeyser is expected to be ready when 2020-21 starts — the latest target date has shifted to Jan. 1 — there is some concern about his health because he will have missed more than a year, having undergone surgery after injuring his back last October. 

[ Grading Wings’ 2020 draft class: Lucas Raymond should be pillar of rebuild ]

Stecher, 26, has been with the Vancouver Canucks the entirety of his four-season NHL career, recording 75 points in 286 games. He sees a chance to grow his game on a team seeking stability.

“The opportunity that presented to myself as a player and the opportunity of where the organization is going in the current state just appealed to me,” Stecher said. “I couldn’t be more excited to join this organization.”

[ The story behind Yzerman’s smile when the Wings won the 1997 Stanley Cup ]

Stecher (5-foot-10, 186 pounds) was partnered with Alex Edler in Vancouver, where Wings defenseman Alex Biega was once a teammate. Stecher described himself as a someone who “tries to create a spark for my teammates. I rely on my work ethic and my skating, but there are areas that I need to improve on, like boxing out in front.” 

Contact Helene St. James at 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 Detroit Red Wings will be published October 13 by Triumph Books. To order, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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