Red Wings Organization Grade: Yzerman and Blashill

Steve Yzerman. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Steve Yzerman. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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There were actually a few quality examples of development this season. Michael Rasmussen is probably the most obvious, as he finally looks comfortable at an NHL level. His skating has improved, and he’s learning to use his large frame to affect the game – setting screens in front of the net and winning puck battles.

Filip Zadina development is a bit more hidden, but it was certainly there. In 2019 he had 15 points in 28 games, while this year he only had 19 points in 21 additional games), but the eye test shows a player improving his two-way game. It’s a classic (and sometimes annoying) hockey saying, but Zadina really is becoming a two way player. Billed as a goal scorer, Zadina showed that he can utilize his skillset to keep offensive possession, steal pucks and stay safe defensively. While Zadina’s shooting percentage regressed heavily (From 13.3 percent last year to 6.2 this year), it looks like most of his other skills are improved as well.

However, there was a glaring example of regression this year: Dylan Larkin. After receiving the title of team captain, Larkin scored just 23 points – the worst in his NHL career (Points per game, it’s slightly better than his 2016-17 sophomore season). Larkin attempted to round out his defensive skillset at the cost of a large chunk of his offense.

While Larkin’s season was pretty rough, for the most part, the rest of the team took steps forward. Rasmussen and Zadina were just the most obvious examples, Givani Smith and Gustav Lindstrom also took steps forward as NHL players in their short stints on the main roster. The team as a whole improved defensively, and you saw that reflect in the development of the players. Despite what fans might feel about Blashill’s defensive system, there is no arguing that it is improving the defensive toolkit of a large part of the roster.. . Detroit Red Wings. PLAYER DEVELOPMENT . B

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