Will the Detroit Red Wings preferred player type help or hurt them in the future?

It's no secret that Steve Yzerman and company have a type when drafting players and signing free agents. Will their unwillingness to move away from this type of player help or hurt them in the end?
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

With the 2024 NHL Entry Draft officially concluded, it's once again that time where everybody talks about Steve Yzerman and company's fixation on drafting the same exact type of player nearly every season.

Steve Yzerman has been the general manager (GM) for the Detroit Red Wings for 5 seasons and now has 6 drafts under his belt. He has taken 3 Defensemen, 4 Forwards and 1 goalie in the first round and nearly all of them fit the same exact mold for the respective positions.

Free agency has been more of the same thing for Yzerman's tenure. Bringing players like Andrew Copp, J.T. Compher, and Ben Chiarot all fit the same exact mold that Steve likes in players in their respective positions.

A lot of criticism has befallen Yzerman for his apparent inability to move on from the same type of player leaving a lot of fans asking if this will hurt or help the team when the time comes to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Does Steve Yzerman need to move on from the same player mold during the draft?

Steve has a type, It's well known that Steve has a player type. The 2024 NHL Entry Draft was the most clear example of that. It was the worst kept secret in the NHL that the Red Wings were going to take Michael Brandsegg-Nygård, add on top of that 2 of his last three 1st round picks being Nate Danielson and Marco Kasper. What do all three have in common? They're all 200ft, High compete forwards with a High floor and unknown offensive ceiling.

On Defense he drafted Moritz Seider and Simon Edvinsson in the first round. What do both of them have in common? They're 6ft+ 2-way Defensemen with high Ceilings. In fact, Axel Sandin-Pellikka was the only defenseman Yzerman has drafted in any round to break that mold, being 5'11 and a primarily offensive defenseman.

Red Wings fans have voiced their displeasure with Yzerman's unwillingness to take a player with known high offensive talent in the first round but is it really an issue? Personally, I would rather draft 3-4 players who are more likely to translate into the NHL, can score 25-30 goals and are good at all parts of the ice over 1-2 players who score 40-50 but are pretty 1 dimensional.

Free Agency is a bit more of a mixed bag, but he still has his preferences

When it comes to free agency Red Wings fans have had mixed feelings for a lot of Yzerman's signings and they're not entirely wrong. He's had a tendency to overpay for players who likely aren't going to live up to that contract.

The big contracts people like to bring up are the contracts of Compher, Copp, Chiarot and most recently Justin Holl. Guess what they all have in common? That's right Compher and Copp are 200ft high compete forwards, while Chiarot and Holl fit the mold of 6ft+ hard hitting Defensemen. All of which were overpays likely due to Yzerman needing to entice players to a rebuilding team.

I can't help but ask, why would you give some of these players 3, 4, even 5 year contracts for $3.4 million-$5.6 Million a year for guys who likely wont play any role on the team when they're ready to compete for a Stanley cup is an...interesting strategy. However, I can see why he would make these moves.

Will Yzerman's stubbornness help or hamper the team's success in the future?

This is the question everybody has thought at least once during Yzerman's tenure as GM. Can you win a Stanley Cup without a star goal scorer? Well the answer I'll give you is yes, you can.

When the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2021-22 they didn't have a single player score 40 goals but had 6 players who scored 25+ goals and 4 who had 80+ points in the regular season. During the playoffs, those of those 6 players who had scored 25+ goals, 4 of them were a point per game in the playoffs and only 2 of them score double digit goals.

Another example would be the 2022-23 Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup run. They didn't have a single player hit 30 goals in the regular season and nobody hit the 70-point mark, yet the built their team with big, 2-way forwards and defensemen who were able to not only suffocate attacking players, but also we able to physically wear down their opponents.

This last season, Detroit had 2 players (Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond) to hit 30+ goals, with 2 more players (Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat) both hit 20+ goals. There were 3 players (Raymond, Larkin & DeBrincat) who also hit 60+ points this season. Not to mention they had 13 players on the team to hit 10+ goals this season.

While they're still a little ways off from being the Vegas Golden Knights or the Colorado Avalanche, the foundation for a well rounded team with several potential 25+ goal scorers and a few really well-rounded defensemen still in the organization's prospect pool, I personally believe that the team Yzerman is currently building doesn't require a top 10-goal scorer. Though, it will require nearly every single first round pick and even some second to seventh round picks to hit their mark.