A wind of optimism blows over Detroit

Steve Yzerman has generated almost as much optimism in the past three weeks as when he was appointed chief training officer on April 19, 2019.

He has the passion, the patience and a plan, and while the Red Wings are still in the early stages of their rebuilding process, you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel as a result of the draft and market acquisitions. autonomous players and on that of transactions.

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Let’s start with the exchange that allowed them to acquire Marc Staal and a New York Rangers second-round pick in return for future considerations on September 26.

The Red Wings had the space on the payroll, the Rangers needed to make it. Yzerman jumped on the ball to fill a need in his roster and get his hands on one more card in his game. Staal still has a year to go on his contract, so the Wings are not tied and they could even use it as bait at the trade deadline.

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup on September 28. Yzerman played an important role in building the team, he who was General Manager from 2010 to 2018, and who was adviser to Julien BriseBois, his successor, in 2018-19.

Yzerman certainly inherited a stronger foundation when he arrived in Tampa Bay than in Detroit, when he was already relying on Steven Stamkos and on the defender Victor Hedman, in addition to veteran attackers Martin St-Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.

Still, he rebuilt the lineup around Stamkos and Hedman with the help of draft, free agents, and trades. The Red Wings hope it’s kind of a taste.

It should be noted here that while Hedman won the Conn-Smythe Trophy, awarded to the playoffs MVP, Stamkos only played just under three minutes in the playoffs due to injury. Other candidates for the Conn-Smythe were Brayden Point, a third-round pick in 2014 (79th overall), and Nikita Kucherov, a second-round pick in 2011 (58th overall).

The Red Wings need players who can make a difference, and the easiest way to do that is to draft them and develop them.

They selected forward Lucas Raymond with the fourth pick in the last draft. He’s the most hasty pick they’ve gotten in three decades, since deciding on Keith Primeau at the third rung in 1990, in fact. We want Raymond and defenseman Moritz Seider, the 2019 auction’s sixth pick and Yzerman’s first with the Wings, to become the building blocks.

Since former CEO Ken Holland admitted the team’s 25-game playoff streak was about to end in 2016-17, the Red Wings have racked up the draft picks. After selecting ten players in Rounds 2-7 last year, they added 11 in the most recent session. They also have three picks in the second round and two more in the third round next year. Could a few of these choices ever become stars?

Meanwhile, the Red Wings need to improve in all positions and become more competitive for their fans, and for the development of the players they already have on hand.

Yzerman cannot attract free agents that do not hold out for them the chance to win the Stanley Cup. The Wings were 17-49-5 last season. They amassed 23 points less than the second-worst team in the league, the Ottawa Senators. Their .275 win percentage was the worst in the NHL since the salary cap was introduced in 2005-06.

What he can sell, however, is the opportunity that presents itself in Detroit. He improved his team by finding free agents who wanted a chance to play more, prove themselves, or play for their childhood team.

Better yet, he gave them all a short-term, relatively low-cost contract, taking advantage of the unique situation of the salary cap freeze at $ 81.5 million for the next season, and the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Look at the Guardian’s contracts Thomas Greiss (two years, $ 3.6 million annually); defenders Jon Merrill (one year, $ 925,000) and Troy Stecher (two years, $ 1.7 million); and forwards Bobby Ryan (one year, $ 1 million) and Vladislav Namestnikov (two years, $ 2 million).

Yzerman has given himself the flexibility and the potential to complete more trades as the next trade deadline dawns. In the short term, he gives prospects time to develop in the minor ranks and doesn’t necessarily prevent them from earning a position in Detroit.

“If a player is ready and can help the team, we’ll keep him,” he said. But at this time, we have filled the positions that needed to be filled in the formation. It’s not set in stone after all.

“It would be fantastic if a young player was just too good to be sent back to the AHL, Europe or the junior ranks. It would be a great problem to have. “

In Detroit, that would be fantastic to hear.

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