Stevie Y’s Red Wings Rebuild Is Really Underway
Steve Yzerman came home to Detroit last year. He said when he was hired he was going to observe, and not make a rash judgements. That and the NHL's Covid shutdown had given the Red Wings' GM over a year to observe, decide and now, act on his plan to return the team to hockey glory. No added pressure, but the team he built in Tampa just won the Stanley Cup.
But fast forward to about a month ago. First, Yzerman decided not to bring back longtime goalie Jimmy Howard, who had a bad season, but played behind a pretty bad team. Then, Detroit bought out Justin Abdelkader's contract. They took verteran Marc Staahl off of the New York Rangers hands. They also decided not bring back younger players Madison Bowey, Brendan Perlini and Christoffer Ehn. Some might call that addition by subtraction. Then, the focus turned to the future.
It began with Tuesday night's NHL Draft, where the Red Wings drafted Swedish forward Lucas Raymond. Hockey people expect him to be an elite player worthy of his 4th overall pick in the draft. Detroit's second round pick, William Wallinder, is a 6'4" defenseman. Size and skill are always welcome. Plus, don't forget, last year's sixth overall pick Moritz Seider is also a 6'4" defenseman.
And you have to remember, the team's cupboard isn;t completely bare. There is a young core that is expected to mature in the next few years into a pretty good team. You've got Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, and Michael Rasmussen in the wings, plus veteran (former Bronco) Dan DeKeyser returning from injury and Dylan Larkin who has grown into a very good player.
NHL Free Agency season began Friday and the Red Wings signed former Ottawa Senator Bobby Smith to a one year contract. No long term commitment and if Smith pans out, they get a pretty good player on the tail end of his career trying to prove he can still play. And a veteran presence on a young team could be very beneficial.