Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman hasn’t had a lot of time to rest since the Stanley Cup Final ended. Between the Expansion Draft, the Entry Draft, and then free agency, he’s been working on aligning the team into his vision. After two and a half weeks of work, here’s how things stand.
Red Wings Welcome New Faces, Bid Adeiu to Familiar Ones
Pius Suter, Mitchell Stephens, and Jordan Oesterle were brought in via free agency. Luke Glendening and Darren Helm exited. Alex Nedeljkovic and Nick Leddy were added via trade. He re-signed players from last season, too–namely Tyler Bertuzzi who re-upped for two years on Saturday. The new faces coming in reveal another step in the direction of where Yzerman is taking this team.
It’s his third offseason as the manager of the club, and it feels as if it will be the last where Detroit is in flux. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the Wings need to continue to show improvement, but also stay in a position where they qualify for the lottery.
It seems silly to even write that–but that’s the reality of the NHL right now–endorsing the idea of fanbases enduring years of losing in the hope of finally having a chance to win the Stanley Cup. The problem is that not every losing team wins equally when it comes to the draft–and Detroit fans can relate to this.
Regardless, Yzerman addressed this in his press conference this week. Instead of bemoaning the unfairness, he believes it possible to win without ever getting a top two pick in the draft. In a recent article, the Athletic’s Max Bultman quoted Yzerman as saying this:
The way I look at it now is, as much as we’d love to get a first or second overall pick, the way I hope to get it now is through the lottery. It doesn’t mean we’re giving up on the rebuild or trying to expedite it and sign a bunch of free agents and trade picks to move up. We’re going to stick with the process, we’re going to have to find a great player at 6, whether it’s Simon Edvinsson or Moritz Seider, somewhere as we improve we’re going to hopefully start to pick (later and later) and get a good young player.
Often, fanbases and organizations get lost in the bad luck that plays.a role in sports. Yzerman simply calls it as he sees it: keep plugging away, stick to the plan, and ultimately what happens, happens.
Red Wings Prospects Have a Chance
Yzerman was also very honest when it came to the younger players, having to earn their spot and not just have opportunities handed to them. This is another glimmer of hope as it means the future is closer to becoming to the present. Moritz Seider seems like a lock to make the team, but imagine if the likes of Joe Veleno, Jonatan Berggren, and/or Lucas Raymond break camp.
Obviously, the odds are against it. The acquisition of Stephens puts more pressure on Veleno to earn that spot, but this is the beauty of Yzerman’s system. The tie doesn’t go to the veteran anymore. It’s a wide open competition for the best player to make the roster.
Regardless of how it turns out, at least those aforementioned players will be on North American ice this season. Not only will they be closer in proximity in miles, but it speaks also to how much closer the rebuild is to rising to the next level.