A lot can change in a day. And in the Red Wings case, it did.
After being one of the worst teams in the NHL over the last 3 years, the Red Wings have pushed just about every available button so far this off-season to try to get better. Of course we will not see any on-ice product for another couple of months, but there are lots of reasons for optimism.
When you believe in your General Manager, and I feel confident in saying we all do, the next biggest singular move you can make to shake things up is to replace your Head Coach. This is exactly what Steve Yzerman elected to do, eventually replacing Jeff Blashill with Derek Lalonde.
We haven’t seen Lalonde coach this team yet, but from the resume and his comments from the introductory press conference, he seems like a guy who has proven his worth and honed his craft, and is ready for the next big step in his career. I can’t help but think that experience will be very valuable as he looks to help this young team take their next step in their development.
Then came the draft – I’m not sure whether it was because it was the first in-person draft in years, because it was in Montreal, because of the flat-cap crunch, or some combination thereof, but there was a lot happening in the year’s draft, particularly the first round. Not only did the Red Wings nab another great prospect in Marco Kasper, but they dealt a third-round pick to pick up, then sign, goaltender Ville Husso to really solidify the position. Yzerman also mentioned that there were “some other things” he had wanted to get done on draft night that did not materialize.
So before we had even arrived at free agency, we had already ticked a few major “rebuilding action item” boxes: replace head coach, check. Get another NHL goalie on the cheap (in a tight goalie market, by the way), check. Execute another draft, check.
Then came the opening of free agency this past Wednesday at noon, which turned out to be even more hectic and frenzied than the draft. And it should be no surprise that the Red Wings were no exception, as they continued to pursue every avenue to become a better team. In the first 24 hours of free agency, the Red Wings signed three forwards and three defensemen, and spent a whopping $20.7M in annual cap space to do so.
So what did we get for all that dough? And has it made the Red Wings a tangibly better team? It’s time for us to continue the exercise we started earlier to see how Yzerman has upgraded not only the roster, but the ever-important asset base we have to work with moving forward.
Once again, all praise and honor to CapFriendly for the details in this article and all week long.