The Detroit Red Wings rebuild seemed to pivot this week. Not only did general manager Steve Yzerman trade a member of the core in a move that shocked insiders, he also offered an entry level deal to a player who should solidify the new core for years to come. Never mind that Anthony Mantha had been pegged as a foundational piece of the team–in spite of inconsistencies. The Yzerplan lifted that stone, flung it down the hill, and plunked another one down named Lucas Raymond. Along with Moritz Seider, it’s becoming a very real possibility that two of the biggest pieces of Yzerman’s managerial career will be skating in Detroit next season.
The Detroit Red Wings are officially Yzerman’s Team
After the trade on Monday, Yzerman all but brought out a bullhorn and announced to the league that the Yzerplan was now in full throttle. As the deal showed, no one is safe, no matter how high they were drafted, how much their contract is, or what they’ve done in the past for Detroit. Yzerman has upwards of $50 million in cap room heading into the offseason and this only increases the chances that more of “his” guys will be brought into supplant the grinders Ken Holland filled nearly three full lines with. Jakub Vrana encapsulates the type of player Yzerman covets: speedy, skilled, and responsible on both ends of the ice. Heck, even Richard Panik is an upgrade over Frans Nielsen, and Darren Helm, Without consulting statistics, Panik is far more of a scoring threat than the aging forwards.
Nielsen, and Helm, were all threats in their given day, but they embody the issue that kept the Wings jammed into neutral for nearly a decade. I also want to make it crystal clear that Helm is one of my favorite Red Wings of this generation. But even I balked at a $3.85M AAV hit when Holland re-signed him in 2016. I love seeing him out there, but the skill level doesn’t match the cap hit. It just doesn’t.
Yzerman is remedying that. He’s clearing out players (Justin Abdelkader) whose cost doesn’t fit production and he’s bringing players aboard with reasonable price and term. This will continue in the offseason and beyond.
Red Wings Looked Better before the Week Ahead
The team looked better after beating Carolina on Monday to sweep the two game series before splitting with Chicago. The second loss to Chicago, however, was not Detroit’s best look. Between going 0 for 6 on the powerplay, to some pretty questionable lineup decisions by Blashill, it sent that three game winning streak into a resounding thud.
The week ahead is a four game series against Dallas, which honest to God, is the closest Detroit has come to playing in a playoff setup in nearly five years. Dallas is fighting for its playoff lives right now and can’t afford to take any less than two games.
But if you want a good laugh: If Detroit would manage to take three out of four, they’d be just four points behind the Stars. This is again, where the fan base diverges. Winning out and not making the playoffs damages Detroit’s chances at getting that high pick. Everyone knows they desperately need to be choosing high to turn the corner anytime soon. In that same breath though, whether it’s first or tenth, Yzerman picking makes it more likely that the Wings make the right choice.
Truth be told, Detroit needs the best odds they can to rebuild quicker.
Monday – at Stars 8:30 pm
Tuesday – at Stars 7:30 pm
Thursday – vs Stars 7:30 pm
Saturday – vs Stars 7:00 pm