The ‘YzerPlan’ is a familiar phrase surrounding the Detroit Red Wings since general manager Steve Yzerman re-joined the organization. The phase is simple and self-explanatory, but is the common expression growing tiresome as fans seemingly become impatient and unforgiving?
Anyone who follows the Detroit Red Wings with an open mind understands that when Yzerman took over the club in April of 2019, the legendary captain, now general manager, didn’t have much to work with. In an attempt to remain competitive and rebuild on the fly, former GM Ken Holland often mortgaged the future by trading prospects for veteran players with terrible contracts leaving the cupboards bare.
Since Yzerman has taken over, he’s made a conscious effort to restock the shelves with prospects assembling one of the more robust pipelines in the NHL. The problem with building the team’s foundation within, it takes time and patience. Patience isn’t something many people have in the year 2023. With all of the social media platforms, everyone has a voice and isn’t afraid to use it. It’s a ‘what have you done for me lately, or what can you do for me now’ world we live in. No professional GM is flawless, Yzerman included. Albeit he had his work cut out for himself when he returned to Detroit, now, in his fifth off-season at the helm, it feels like the perfect time to see a more aggressive approach to things. Yet, it’s been more of the same early on this summer.
The Detroit Red Wings seem to be stuck in neutral.
I understand that Yzerman doesn’t care what you or I think of the current state of the Detroit Red Wings and how he’s approached the rebuild, but he shouldn’t be bulletproof just because of what he’s accomplished in his past. On the ice, Yzerman was one of the best players ever to lace up the skates and nearly equally as brilliant as a general manager building a sustainable winning foundation with the Tampa Bay Lightning. With Detroit, Yzerman has had plenty of bright moments, such as drafting Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, Simon Edvinsson, and Marco Kasper. Hopefully, the same can be said about Nate Danielson. Also, trading for Ville Husso, Jake Walman, and Robby Fabbri, to name a few.
But he’s also made some very questionable decisions, like signing Andrew Copp to a five-year deal that averages $5.625 million and signing Ben Chiarot to a four-year contract that averages $4.75 million. And most recently, he handed out a three-year deal to Justin Holl that carries an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $3.4 million and added J.T. Compher, who has never achieved a 20-goal season, to a five-year deal with an AAV of $5.1 million. Yet, Yzerman failed to come to terms with a former 30-goal scorer in Tyler Bertuzzi, who recently signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $5.5 million. Also, as the team continues to seek scoring at all levels, giving up on Jakub Vrana could be another move that comes back to bite the Detroit Red Wings.
Yzerman has been able to wring out every ounce of production from middle-six-like players in recent years, such as Dominik Kubalik and veteran David Perron, and hopes to do so again with recent signees Daniel Sprong, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Klim Kostin. But it’s time the Detroit Red Wings add a bona fide star to pair with captain Dylan Larkin, Moritz Seider, and Lucas Raymond.
If Yzerman is willing and able to land a dynamic scorer such as Alex DeBrincat, William Nylander, Kyle Connor, or Mark Scheifele and add it to the depth role players recently added, the Detroit Red Wings would suddenly become a playoff threat. If Yzerman stands pat with the moves he’s made, it’s not only going to be an underwhelming summer; it’s just more of the same.
This wash, rinse, repeat method can’t continue forever. The Detroit Red Wings entered the off-season with a plethora of salary cap space yet still have not spent it on a top-line player. Detroit must find a way to pop the clutch and get this rebuild sped up.