Any Detroit Red Wings outlet–whether traditional media, blog, or podcast, trumpeted the same message: Steve Yzerman has a ton of options this offseason to improve the Red Wings. Whether it’s buyouts, weaponizing the Cap, acquiring more picks or grabbing more talent via free agency and the draft, changes are coming.
For the first time in three years, it feels like the Red Wings are about to take a step forward. How large that step will be remains to be seen but Yzerman’s first offseason was figuring out who fit and who didn’t. The last offseason was about putting pieces here and there to see what works. Now, it’s filling the gaps with foundational pieces and building around them.
That first foundational piece will be Moritz Seider.
Seider Will Launch the Yzerplan into its next Phase
The gasps and shock when he was taken sixth overall by Yzerman have evolved into oohs and ahhs as the young German defenseman dominated the SHL this year. If anything was evident this short season, it’s that Seider is ready for the NHL. Whether he sticks is one thing, but if there’s anyone who gives Yzerman a strong foundational piece to start building upon, it’s him.
Seider’s arrival, along with Joe Veleno having a successful stint of games in Detroit which resulted in his first NHL goal reveals that the slow treacherous trudge out of the rebuild begins now. Though Yzerman has preached patience–and it will still be necessary–next season appears to have the most potential to pivot out of a tank-or-bust mentality.
As it stands, the Red Wings won’t be picking any higher than six unless they get luck, which as a jaded fanbase well knows, is not likely to happen. According to Tankathon’s projections, Detroit has a 15.3% chance of getting into the top two and just an 8.5% chance of winning the lottery.
I’m not holding my breath.
There are other factors to consider as Detroit will head back into the Atlantic Division, which will make things much tougher on them. But if seeing improvement is the end result now, will Yzerman aggressively grab better talent this offseason to supplement Seider, Veleno, Lucas Raymond (who I think has a great chance of making it) and Jonatan Berggren?
The Red Wings Did Improve–but they’re still on the Outside Looking In
The 19-27-10 finish exceeded what appeared to be another long season when the Red Wings banged out another eight game losing streak earlier this year. Injuries ravaged Detroit down the stretch, and the power play was downright abysmal for most of the season. Yzerman has the chance to add his guys as contracts shed and faster, more skilled players can be moved in.
Hanging over all of this is Jeff Blashill, who will meet with Yzerman sometime soon to discuss his future. One thing to ponder: Does Blashill have the stomach for this? It’s no secret that the
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fanbase has been vocal about their thoughts regarding his job status and Blashill has suffered an awful lot of losing in the last four years–which was not his fault as the roster was flawed.
With Yzerman, Blashill knew the roster would be leaner and he’s done better than most others would with what he was given. There are concerns I’ve previously covered: Dylan Larkin‘s regression, a lack of scoring, and the powerplay. But Yzerman has repeatedly stated that he’s judging him not on wins and losses, but on improvement and development.
It seems like a pretty good chance Blashill is back. But does he want it, too?
Lots of Highlights
Jakub Vrana took all of one game to endear himself to fans when he scored a beauty on a breakaway and then followed it up games later with a four-goal performance. Yzerman won that deal by a mile for Anthony Mantha, which was another highlight of the season.
Robby Fabbri, before injury, showed that he was a solid pickup while Filip Zadina took a magnificent leap forward in his development. Surround him with some more weapons and my goodness, could it get interesting. The goaltending–especially in the last month–was a rock for this team. Thomas Greiss played significantly better down the stretch while Jonathan Bernier made an argument to be the team’s MVP.
Final Thoughts on the Red Wings Season
It wasn’t glitzy or glamorous and the final game of the season was a microcosm of things. But there’s momentum and the future is looking brighter.
Now we all play the waiting game and see what Yzerman does next–which might be the most exciting part of all for the fans.