Four years later, where are the Detroit Red Wings with the “Yzerplan”?

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Although he may not have coined the term, Steve Yzerman has been viewed with a microscope regarding every single move he has made with the Detroit Red Wings ever since he was appointed as the General Manager position in April 2019. The “Yzerplan” gave the city hope for the return of a dynasty on the ice.

Yzerman’s success in Tampa Bay has created an unwavering trust in the personnel decisions he has made in his tenure in the front office. Since accepting the job from the Illitch family, Yzerman has made it clear that rebuilding would take time and, more importantly, patience. So, four years later, what does the future of the Detroit Red Wings look like?

The long-term success of an NHL franchise requires a few things, one of which is acquiring young talent and building around that talent. With draft picks Lucas Raymond, Jonatan Berggren, and Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider solidifying the top defenseman role. The foundation began to take form. Talents like Simon Edvinsson, Marco Kasper, Albert Johansson, and Carter Mazur are coming up the pipeline to add to that foundation.

The odds of all those prospects panning out to their full potential are unlikely. Most fans of the sport understand that. However, Yzerman has been taking the steps necessary to build a team that can compete for a sustained period of time rather than buying rental veterans to have a ‘flash in the pan’ one off-season.

Where are the Detroit Red Wings in the Yzerplan?

That is not to say a portion of the fanbase has not questioned a few signings made in the past few years, most notably Ben Chiarot, with an AAV of $4.75 million on the contract he signed this off-season. The price tag seemed higher than most expected, but the Red Wings did not have the luxury of gaining the attention of unrestricted free agents without enticing them with a nice dollar figure.

Unfortunately, a player like Chiarot was needed for a roster lacking physical defense last season. The cap hit was a price that Yzerman was willing to pay to help the development of his young stars. The lack of production has done little to sway some opinions about whether the signing was justified; however, I believe he is on the roster for his intangibles and what he can teach the younger prospects moving forward.

The Red Wings have not had a rock-solid number-one goaltender to put between the pipes since Jimmy Howard. With his time in Tampa Bay, Yzerman prioritized finding a stud to man the net because, without one, it becomes a harder mountain to climb when competing in the playoffs. The results? Andrei Vasilevskiy is quite arguably the greatest goaltender of his generation. After taking control of the Red Wings, Yzerman was tasked with finding another gem in net. Sebastian Cossa ( 6’6″ and 210 lbs) was drafted 15th overall in the 2021 NHL entry draft.

Traditionally, goaltenders take much longer to develop than any other position when it comes to translating to the NHL game. Cossa has shown some flashes and some concerning struggles in the ECHL and AHL with the Toledo Walleye and Grand Rapids Griffins, respectively. Fortunately, management in Detroit has preached patience since Day 1.

I would not expect to see Cossa in the winged wheel for at least another two years, giving the rest of the up-and-coming talent time to break into form. If all goes to plan and his development ascends to consistent play above league average, we could be looking at a legitimate contender for the next decade.

It is still relatively early to decide whether or not players that are expected to be the team’s future will be exactly that, but it is clear that Yzerman has a plan and is following it without wavering. The building blocks are all there. Will he build the kingdom? The “Yzerplan” will be clear in the very near future.

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