Red Wings: Breaking Down “The Yzerplan”

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has a plan, and here’s what it looks like.

There’s a method to “The Yzerplan,” if you haven’t noticed.

It may not look like it right now, but Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is methodically rebuilding Hockeytown similarly to how you most likely do (or did) when playing a sports video game.

Or maybe this is just how I’ve always built teams on EA Sports’ NHL video game franchise mode, but it’s not about huge contracts or loyalty, cough, cough, Ken Holland.

This is a business, and the organizations who best realize this typically are up there as the most successful in their respective sport.

Yzerman is doing/must continue to do three main things: Sign short-term deals early on, trade any and all players who don’t fit the future for draft picks, and finally, and most importantly, draft well.

So far, so good.

The Red Wings currently have 14 restricted/unrestricted free agents on their roster, according to, and that’s not a mistake. Yzerman has signed or traded for many of these short-term deals, aiming to clean up the Holland mess and his long-term contract debacles better known as Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. All but Datsyuk’s contract is still on the books, yet only one of them is on the roster (barely, cough, cough, Abdelkader).

Check: Sign short-term deals

Yzerman has also been active on the phones, making deals to receive those short-term contracts or acquire future draft picks to stockpile for the future.

Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings /

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings have 19 draft picks the next two years, 13 of which are in the first four rounds.

Check: Acquire draft picks

Most importantly, Yzerman needs to hit on more than less of these draft picks, especially given how many are front-loaded to the top or mid portions of the draft.

He’s shown promise with his drafting – not only from his Tampa Bay days – but with last year’s first round pick defenseman Mortiz Seider. And although he’s struggling with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Grand Rapids Griffins, Joe Veleno should get adjusted to the professional game and turn the corner.

TBD: Draft well

And there you have it. Avoid bad contracts, pay the core and continue to chip away at the Holland leftovers with short-term deals, trades and quality drafting.

This is called, “The Yzerplan.”