Yzerman’s Best Trades as Red Wings GM

The Hockey Writers

Since returning to the Detroit Red Wings organization in April 2019, general manager Steve Yzerman has been tasked with rebuilding the team that he spent 22 seasons playing for and winning three Stanley Cups as captain. He has done this through multiple free agent signings, draft picks and trades through the four years he’s been at the helm. Let’s look at the best trades Yzerman has made in his time in Detroit.

Adding Robby Fabbri From St. Louis

In November of 2019, Yzerman pulled off a one-for-one trade with the St. Louis Blues that ended up being quite the lopsided trade in favor of the Red Wings. In this deal, Detroit moved Jacob De La Rose to the Blues for fellow forward Robby Fabbri.

Before getting traded to Detroit during the 2019-20 season, Fabbri had appeared in nine games for the Blues and produced only one point in those games. After the trade, he totaled 31 points in 52 games to finish the 2019-20 campaign. When healthy, he has had an impact in the lineup, slotting in between the top-six forwards in his time in Detroit.

Robby Fabbri Detroit Red Wings
Robby Fabbri, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The only downfall for Fabbri in his time in Detroit is that injuries have hit him a couple of times, including in the 2021-22 season, which led to him missing part of the 2022-23 season as well. In a total of 166 games played in a Winged Wheel jersey, Fabbri has posted 48 goals and 47 assists for a total of 95 points while being a solid centerman defensively and in the faceoff circle.

On the flip side, De La Rose struggled to make much of an impact in St. Louis, appearing in 34 games the rest of the 2019-20 season and recording only five points total. He would play the 2020-21 season with the Blues before failing to make it back to an NHL lineup and has yet to do so to this day.

Sending Mantha to Washington

In April of 2021, Yzerman made a swap with the Washington Capitals, sending big forward Anthony Mantha to the Capitals for a package of forwards Richard Panik, Jakub Vrana and two draft picks (2021 first and 2022 second).

At the time of the trade, Mantha was seen as a young player for the Red Wings that had a good start to his NHL career but was unable to take the next jump in his play that the organization had hoped for. He also had been riddled with injuries throughout his time in Detroit.

Related: Revisiting Capitals’ Trade for Anthony Mantha

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In his time with Washington, Mantha has struggled to make that next jump still and has only totaled 50 points in 118 games with the Capitals, leading to him being a trade candidate this offseason.

Vrana started his time in Detroit on a hot streak, tallying 11 points in 11 games before the end of the 2020-21 season and looked like a player that could be a vital piece for the organization in the future. But in 2021-22, the injury bug hit Vrana, and he was limited in playing. Then, the 2022-23 season saw him fall out of favor with the organization, leading to them trading him to St. Louis in March of 2023.

Jakub Vrana Detroit Red Wings
Jakub Vrana, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Panik, although only spending the remainder of the 2020-21 season with the Red Wings, helped the team further down the road with his trade tree, leading to players who could have quite an impact on the organization in the near future.

The major pieces of this trade that have made the Red Wings viewed as “winners” of the deal were the two draft picks that were acquired in the trade.

The 2021 first-round pick the team received was eventually traded to Dallas in a trade-up in the draft to pick number 15. With this draft choice, Yzerman picked franchise goaltender hopeful Sebastian Cossa. With the second pick acquired, the 2022 second-round pick led to the selection of Dmitri Buchelnikov, who is viewed as one of Detroit’s top-rising prospects coming into the 2023 season.

Acquiring Jake Walman From St. Louis

Another deal worked out between Detroit and St. Louis took place in March of 2022, leading to Detroit acquiring forward Oskar Sundqvist, defenseman Jake Walman and a 2023 second-round pick for defensemen Nick Leddy and Luke Witkowski.

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At the time of the trade, Walman was not seen as a top defenseman for the Blues, and Sundqvist was a bottom-six forward. But once acquired by Detroit, they were able to both make an impact. Walman eventually was paired up with Detroit’s young stud Moritz Seider on the back end of the ice and helped create a solid top pairing for the foreseeable future. Sundqvist put up 29 points in 70 games before getting traded to the Minnesota Wild last season.

Walman has been seen as the key piece of this trade, as he has turned himself into a top defenseman in the lineup and on the power play. He turned his play into a contract extension this last season with Detroit and is viewed as an underrated defenseman in the NHL in many people’s eyes.

Along with Walman, the Red Wings were able to turn the second-round pick acquired into defenseman Andrew Gibson, who is a player with a chance to be a solid defenseman in the NHL at some point.

Andrew Gibson Detroit Red Wings
Andrew Gibson, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Meanwhile, Nick Leddy had fallen out of favor in Detroit and needed a change of scenery. Leddy was originally acquired in a trade with the Islanders that sent Panik to New York from Detroit. Luke Witkowski was seen as a depth player in the Red Wings organization, being able to play forward and defense, but he never made a significant impact on the ice for the team. He has been viewed and used as that in St. Louis as well, not playing a single NHL game since being traded to the Blues.

Overall, Yzerman has been able to maneuver the trade market pretty well in his time in Detroit, with other trades possibly being able to join the list of his best trades with the Red Wings (i.e. Alex DeBrincat).

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