Things have gradually improved since Steve Yzerman returned to the Detroit Red Wings. The term to focus on is ‘gradually.’ I don’t believe things have progressed as quickly as many fans originally thought when the news broke that Yzerman would be taking over the reins of the organization from Ken Holland.
The term often used in sports is ‘cook’ as in let said player, coach, or manager ‘cook.’ For Yzerman, it’s more of a crock pot or slow cooker mentality. If you are hungry right now, this will not help you, but if you have some patience, this will be a great dinner in about 12 hours (or seven years). Yzerman returned to the organization to bare cupboards and a host of awful long-term contracts handed out to aging veterans, a combination that proved to take years to abolish. In addition to cleaning out the closet, Yzerman began to rebuild the Detroit Red Wings from the ground up through the draft. The legendary captain made it his mission to stay true to his vision of how he believes he could build a winner in Detroit even when things began to become a bit clouded, not that his job was ever in jeopardy. Still, fans began to wonder if this thing would actually turn around.
As Yzerman rebuilt through the draft adding high-end players such as Moritz Seider, Lucas Raymond and hopefuls such as Simon Edvinsson, Marco Kasper, Sebastian Cossa, Nate Danielson, and Axel Sandin-Pellika, he’s paired them with complete complementary veteran players. Over the past couple of years, the Red Wings have continued to add those veteran role players to keep the ship afloat, such as Olli Maatta, David Perron, Andrew Copp, and most recently, J.T. Compher, Justin Holl, and Shayne Gostisbehere. In addition to that, Yzerman made arguably his first real significant splash just a couple of weeks ago when he added star winger Alex DeBrincat in a trade with the Ottawa Senators for pennies on the dollar. DeBrincat is a bona fide goal scorer, which the organization has lacked for quite some time. So, Yzerman has made an effort to bolster the organization’s secondary scoring and finally added a top-end scorer to help shoulder the load with captain Dylan Larkin.
The Detroit Red Wings are headed in the right direction.
Suddenly when you dissect the future, the cupboards are no longer bare, but almost to the point of being unable to close correctly. In addition to the list of ‘top prospects’ mentioned above, the Red Wings also have plenty of what I refer to as tier-two prospects. This is not a knock. Not every prospect can be a top prospect or A-list prospect. Players such as Carter Mazur, Elmer Soderblom, Amadeus Lombardi, Dmitri Buchelnikov, William Wallinder, and Albert Johansson all project as depth pieces, secondary pieces, which become so valuable as the team inches closer to being a persistent threat in the Atlantic Division. This is the group that will give the organization much-needed flexibility. Flexibility on the trade market once the organization becomes buyers and flexibility in the lineup as depth contributors.
Recently, our very own Franklin Steele spoke about how Kasper’s immediate road to Detroit appears to be a bit murky. The same could be said regarding Simon Edvinsson. This goes back to the crock pot analogy described earlier. It’s such a ‘what can you do for me now’ world we live in, and fans become very impatient. Fans want to launch veterans Ben Chiarot and Andrew Copp to the moon to clear space for Kasper and Edvinsson, while Yzerman clearly knows what he wants to do with his young prospects. Yzerman will not impede a prospect from making the Detroit Red Wings out of training camp. It seems like we’re always a year ahead of ourselves as fans. Next summer, the Detroit Red Wings will see veteran players such as David Perron and Shayne Gostisbehere’s contracts expire (if they are not traded at the deadline). Plus, role players such as Daniel Sprong and Christain Fischer are on one-year deals, which leaves an opportunity for an influx of youth to arrive if warranted.
There are various examples of this, such as Lucas Raymond, Elmer Soderblom, and even Moritz Seider. So, if Kasper or Edvinsson force their way onto the Detroit Red Wings opening night roster this summer, a countermove will be made, but Yzerman also is prepared for said prospects to start the year in Grand Rapids, where they can earn their stripes before taking the leap to the NHL; and his roster of proven players suggests that this is the initial plan.