With training camp opening up for the Detroit Red Wings this week, general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman had his pre-camp press conference on Tuesday and spoke on a few different topics. What are some of the biggest takeaways from the press conference?
The word patience has been one that Yzerman has used throughout his time as Red Wings GM and that has not changed. He mentioned that patience will need to be had in regard to prospects and younger players making the jump to the NHL this season or in the near future. If a player is not ready in the eyes of the team and will not be able to contribute to the team winning, Yzerman has no plans to force any of the young players into the lineup. He also feels that doing so not only hurts the team, but also the player themself. This could put a damper on some fans who have been hoping to see an influx of prospects joining the Red Wings lineup for the season.
When asked if this season is viewed as “playoffs or bust” the word patience was also a key part of his response. Fans want to see the team in the playoffs but Yzerman does not want to do so at the expense of the future (i.e. draft picks, prospects) if the team is not at the level for it to make sense.
Roster Spots Earned, Not Given
Going hand-in-hand with being patient, Yzerman also made it clear that no player will be just given a spot on the roster, no matter if they were drafted in the first round or seventh round, that roster spots will be earned. While there are a few younger players in the organization’s prospect pool that many would like to see on the roster, it may not happen out of camp.
When asked if the prospects had been crowded out by the new acquisitions this offseason, Yzerman said, “If a player is ready to play and contribute, we will figure it out.” He mentioned the fact that in 2021 the team had not planned on having Lucas Raymond on the NHL roster but was able to force their hand and ended up on the opening night roster due to a good training camp.
There is hope that one of the young prospects the team currently has can replicate what Raymond did in 2021, but once again, will not be forced into a position that they are not 100 percent ready for. This should make for a competitive camp with the young players in attendance pushing the veterans and possibly forcing management’s hand on some roster decisions.
High Hopes for Husso and Veleno
While a GM is always going to have high hopes for their entire team, Yzerman was asked about both goaltender Ville Husso and forward Joe Veleno.
When asked about Husso, he mentioned that Husso fought injuries in the latter portion of last season. With a healthy offseason, there are hopes that he can bounce back to how many feel he can play. Yzerman also is counting on both newly-acquired goalies James Reimer and Alex Lyon to help lessen the load that Husso will have to take this season, leading to keeping him fresh and healthier than last season.
Latest News & Highlights
If Husso is able to bounce back this season, he could be the X-factor in helping the Red Wings be in contention for a playoff spot come the end of the regular season.
With Veleno, there is hope that he can push the coaching staff to give him more opportunities and roles on the roster, including special teams and crunch-time minutes. But this is another situation where it will not just be given to him, it will have to be earned and warranted. Yzerman also has high hopes that Veleno’s production stat-wise will take another jump this season.
Veleno was brought back on a one-year deal as a restricted free agent this offseason and is viewed by many as someone who could be on the way out of Detroit if he is unable to make the jump that Yzerman and the rest of the Red Wings organization are hoping for this season.
Key Health Updates on Edvinsson, Mazur and Rasmussen
On the injury front, Yzerman provided updates on three players. Defenseman Simon Edvinsson is close to being able to get back on the ice in a full-contact aspect, which will make many fans happy and excited to see what he is able to do in his second full professional season and one of full health. He is one of the prospects the team has that could make a push for a roster spot at some point this season.
Michael Rasmussen has been taken off injured reserve after being placed on it to end his season last year with a leg injury. He is expected to play an important role for the team once again this season and is a player that many are hoping can take the next step in his development and production as well.
The one negative on the injury front was on prospect Carter Mazur who suffered a leg injury during the first game of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. He will not be able to participate in training camp and there is no further timeline on when he will be ready to go according to Yzerman. If the injury keeps him out for an extended time, it will be a disappointment for the organization and fans as there have been high hopes and expectations for him coming into what will be his first full professional season.
While Yzerman did not divulge too much (as he normally doesn’t), his press conference leading up to training camp was able to give Red Wings fans a little bit of insight on what are manageable expectations and hopes for the 2023-24 season. Here’s to NHL hockey being right around the corner.