Detroit Red Wings: Steve Yzerman is preaching patience with rebuild

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

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman continues to preach patience and knows rebuilding can be very frustrating.

The Detroit Red Wings became sellers once again ahead of the NHL trade deadline, a reoccurring trend that many fans, quite frankly, are tired of. Yzerman sent defenseman Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks for a conditional first-round pick in 2023 and a second-round selection, a return most wouldn’t balk at. The first-round choice is from the New York Islanders and is top-12 protected this season, and will move to 2024 and be unprotected if New York finds itself in the NHL lottery. The Canucks acquired that pick from the Islanders in a deal that landed Bo Horvat. The Islanders quickly locked up the former Canucks captain and pending free agent to an eight-year contract extension that averages $8.5 million per season.

Looking back at the Hronek deal, the only gripe I have is wondering if Yzerman could have gotten Horvat from Vancouver in a deal for Hronek. Horvat, 27, has recorded 36 goals and 62 points this season in 62 games. He’s also a plus-6 with a Corsi For Percentage of 51.7 while averaging nearly 21 minutes of ice time per night. The Detroit Red Wings desperately need a top center to pair with captain Dylan Larkin before they can successfully take the next step forward; Horvat is a proven scorer and would have fit nicely as Detroit’s second center for years to come.

Detroit also traded Jakub Vrana and pending free agents Tyler Bertuzzi and Oskar Sundqvist ahead of the deadline.

General manager Steve Yzerman recently spoke about the trade deadline and the overall direction of the Detroit Red Wings.

On Monday, Yzerman joined Stoney and Jansen with Heather on Audacy’s 97.1 The Ticket to discuss the current state of the Detroit Red Wings following the NHL trade deadline. The whole interview can be heard here.

Yzerman mentioned that he’d rather be in a position to keep the team’s pending free agents and potentially extend them rather than trade them for more draft capital. Still, he acknowledged that the organization isn’t ready to compete for a Stanley Cup. Yzerman mentioned the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa Bay Lightning are all poised to make a run.

The Detroit Red Wings general manager acknowledged that he couldn’t get a contract extension done with Tyler Bertuzzi as he did with Olli Maatta, Jake Walman, and Dylan Larkin. Yzerman mentioned that the Red Wings are not in a position to let a player walk in free agency for nothing when they had a chance to secure a first-round draft pick in a trade. He said that he felt he had to make that move, and the team sputtering in Ottawa, dropping back-to-back games, and being outscored 12-3 didn’t factor into the decision.

Yzerman discussed the Jakub Vrana situation but failed to elaborate on what was happening behind the scenes between him and the organization. Yzerman cited that it was time to cut ties and move on. However, he did consider allowing Vrana to play out the remainder of the season with the Red Wings and decide in the offseason whether it was to keep him in Detroit or trade him at that time.

"Yzerman said ‘it’s my responsibility to do what is best for the Detroit Red Wings, and ultimately like it or not, I decided that this was the best decision for the Red Wings, and this wasn’t working, and I don’t have faith that it is going to work, it’s time to move on, it didn’t work, accept that, and move on.”"

Yzerman noted that rebuilding takes time and understands everyone’s frustration. He went on to say Detroit hasn’t had much draft lottery luck. The Red Wings must continue to draft well and be patient with their prospects.

He said that most teams re-sign their nucleus, and superstars rarely make it to free agency, making it difficult for teams like the Detroit Red Wings to build that way. Building through the draft will continue to be vital, adding role players in free agency and buying at the deadline when the time is right; until then, expect Yzerman to continue stockpiling capital.

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There is a chance Yzerman will be able to find a cap-stricken team or a rebuilding team this offseason and use some of that capital to trade for a proven player like Ottawa did last year when they traded for Alex DeBrincat.