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Abel to Yzerman

Brian Burke On The Recent Moves By Steve Yzerman

from Mark Falkner of the Detroit News,

While on his book tour last week to promote "Burke's Law: A Life in Hockey," the 65-year-old Burke said Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is fast becoming the NHL's Mr. Fix-It after a last-place 17-49-5 season.

"He's MacGyver," Burke said of Yzerman, who signed free-agent forwards Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov, defensemen Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher and goalie Thomas Greiss last week. The week before, he acquired defenseman Marc Staal and a 2021 second-round draft pick for future considerations.

"He's overhauled that team completely all on short-term deals," Burke continued. "No headlines, just solid signings. Bobby Ryan, who I drafted. Jon Merrill, who we tried to draft but he hit the gap on us. Stecher is a really good right-shot defenseman. Bringing back (Sam) Gagner, Namestnikov who I love. Greiss, Staal. In my mind, they are dramatically better than a year ago. It's sheer genius."

read on ($$$)

added 3:02pm, if you are interested in the sweater numbers for the new players...

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Faith In The GM

from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,

“It’s a good young team,” Greiss said after signing with the Wings. “They have a very good future, and I trust Steve Yzerman that he is going to do a great job.”

Greiss isn’t alone.

The Wings signed five free agents — Greiss, forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Bobby Ryan, and defensemen Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher, along with trading for defenseman Marc Staal — and there was a consensus among them about where the Red Wings are in their rebuild.

Yes, the Wings have been through difficult times and still may not be a playoff team. But the base for a turnaround is there. And players are excited about expediting the turnaround and still view Detroit as an attractive option, in no small part because of Yzerman.

“I want to be part of the rebuild, want to be part of the Red Wings,” said Namestnikov, who lives in Commerce in the off-season and has longstanding ties to the Wings’ organization. “I’m going to come in here and try to help the team as much as possible.”


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Positive Projection

from Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic,

Here’s how much each team has changed this offseason, from highest value added to most value subtracted.

Detroit Red Wings

Wins Added: 5.9 wins

Salary Added: $14.9 million

In: Marc Staal, Thomas Greiss, Vladislav Namestnikov, Troy Stecher, Bobby Ryan, Jon Merrill

Out: Jonathan Ericsson, Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Madison Bowey, Christoffer Ehn

The worst team in hockey has only one way to go next season: up. That’s especially true with the offseason they had. No, they didn’t sign any big names that moved the needle — but they did replace serious drags with actual NHL calibre talent. Every player on the way out was a negative value player last season, worth a combined minus-4.6 wins. That’s where most of the team’s added value comes from: addition by subtraction.

Aside from Marc Staal, who is comparable in value to the players on the way out, everyone else is projected to bring positive value. It may be small, but at least it’s on the right side of the ledger and not actively hurting the team. It may not make sense for a bad team like Detroit to sign all these players, but it helps create a less toxic environment of losing. There’s a difference between playing at a 45-point pace and one closer to 70. It still sucks but it’s a lot less demoralizing.

read on (paid subscription) for more teams...

The Wings did rank #1 in this category.

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An Early Camp For The Wings

from Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News,

It appears the Sharks and six other teams that did not qualify for the NHL’s postseason earlier this year will be allowed to have extra time to train and practice together before the start of any main training camp.

This summer, general managers from the seven teams asked the NHL if they could get an extended training camp — possibly as long as two weeks — before the start of the 2020-21 regular season. The GMs were seeking the same chance to skate the 24 other teams got during Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return to Play before the start of the postseason.

In an email to this newspaper, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote the league and the NHL Players’ Association have a general agreement on the structure of extra pre-camp workouts for those seven teams, but have not yet finalized any details.


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Video- Bobby Ryan On The Word On Woodward

from The Malik Report,

New Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan spoke with DetroitRedWings.com’s Art Regner today on “The Word on Woodward.” The interview starts at the 1:20 mark and goes for about 15 minutes, and Ryan is surprisingly forthright and up-front regarding his career trajectory while speaking with Regner. Give it a watch if you’re able to do so:

watch at TMR or below.

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Contracts Still Needed For Tyler Bertuzzi And Anthony Mantha

Luke Fox of Sportsnet takes a look at the top RFAs...

8. Tyler Bertuzzi
Age: 25
Position: Left wing
2019-20 salary cap hit: $1.4 million
Arbitration rights: Yes — and filed
Bargaining chips: Made first All-Star Game appearance. Back-to-back 21-goal, 47-point seasons. Skates nearly 20 minutes a night. Organization has invested seven years developing him into a first-line threat.

The latest: One of the few bright spots on a sad-sack Red Wings, Bertuzzi has over-delivered on his two-year, $2.8-million bridge pact signed back in 2018 and deserves a nice pay bump.

Of the three pending RFA forwards GM Steve Yzerman still must make decisions on, Bertuzzi is the most essential. Yzerman has been busy rebuilding his roster through smart, low-risk UFA signings, while clearing out veterans through buyout (Justin Abdelkader) or simply letting them walk (Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson).

Bertuzzi has 30-goal potential, brings grit to his game, and should be seen as a building block for a rebuild that needs as many as it can get.

Negotiations with Yzerman have begun as the sides try to work out a deal prior to arbitration Oct. 25.

more players, including Anthony Mantha at #11...

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Ranking The Detroit Organization

from Corey Pronman of The Athletic,

...this updated version of the 2020-21 organizational rankings includes all players from the 2016 to 2020 NHL drafts who were first-year eligible at their draft.

In addition to ranking all the organizations from 1 to 31 based on this group of players, I’ve updated the ranking for each team’s players who are projected as legit NHLers or better.

13. Detroit Red Wings

Pre-draft org ranking: No. 18
2020 NHL Draft grade: A-

Things are getting better in Detroit. There’s still a lot of work to do given the Red Wings won 17 games last season. In terms of young players, they still need a lot more, particularly of the top of the lineup variety, but things are moving in the right direction. Their No. 4 pick Lucas Raymond has the potential to be one of the keys to ending the tough times.

1. Lucas Raymond, LW
2. Moritz Seider, D
3. Filip Hronek, D
4. Filip Zadina, RW
5. Joe Veleno, C
6. Jared McIsaac, D
7. Michael Rasmussen, C
8. William Wallinder, D
9. Dennis Cholowski, D
10. Jonatan Berggren, RW

the other ($$$) teams

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Talking Lines Today

from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,

So where, and with whom, will the new guys play?

Left wing – center – right wing

Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Anthony Mantha

This line isn’t expected to be broken apart at this point, and why should it?...

Vladislav Namestnikov – Robby Fabbri – Filip Zadina

A caveat here is the possibility of simply flipping Fabbri and Namestnikov....

LLeft defense – right defense

Danny DeKeyser – Filip Hronek

This is assuming DeKeyser is healthy after missing the majority of last season to a herniated disc.

But the Wings are confident DeKeyser will be able to play, and if he is, it’ll give the Wings a formidable top defensive pairing....

Marc Staal – Troy Stecher

The two offseason additions should help stabilize the defense.

Both Staal and Stecher had good defensive metrics last season and form a competitive shutdown pairing.

a bit more (paid) on each of the above and other combos...

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Thoughts On The Wings

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Yzerman’s progress is remarkable, even for a man who was known as a great competitor during his playing days.

Here are 18 thoughts on his first 18 months in office.

Depth charge
Only having one effective line on offense was among the many things that hurt the Wings in 2019-20. Injuries to Mantha (28 games), Andreas Athanasiou (17) and Filip Zadina (17) limited coach Jeff Blashill’s options because the Wings had no depth. Yzerman addressed the dearth of effective forwards by signing Vladislav Namestnikov (2 years, $4 million) and Bobby Ryan (1 year, $1 million). Those two, along with Mantha, Bertuzzi, Fabbri, Zadina and Dylan Larkin give the Wings good options for the top six and beyond.

Cleaning house
Since Yzerman took over as GM two weeks after the end of the 2018-19 season, 13 NHL regulars are no longer part of the roster. In addition to buying out Abdelkader and trading de la Rose, Yzerman opted not to re-sign Howard, Thomas Vanek, Luke Witkowski, Trevor Daley, and Jonathan Ericsson, did not make qualifying offers to Martin Frk, Madison Bowey and Christoffer Ehn, and traded Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green at the 2020 deadline.  That's 12.

more ($$$0

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Flashback To The Yzerman Trade Rumors

The following is an excerpt from "The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings," written by Free Press sports writer Helene St. James and published by Triumph Books. The book is available online and in bookstores.

Steve Yzerman wearing another NHL team’s uniform? It boggles the mind. The Wings did talk to teams about trading The Captain. The first time was in 1992. Jimmy Devellano had been pushed upstairs to a senior vice president role, and owner Mike Ilitch brought in Bryan Murray as general manager and coach. Ten years had passed since Ilitch purchased the Wings, and there was still no Stanley Cup championship. Pat LaFontaine—the Waterford native the Wings really wanted to draft in 1983—had forced the Islanders to trade him in October 1991. He put up 46 goals in 1991–92, his first season with the Buffalo Sabres.

“There was talk between Buffalo and Detroit about LaFontaine for Yzerman even up,” Devellano said in 2019. “There were talks. We didn’t make it happen. But it was considered.” Ultimately, Ilitch nixed the trade.

The second time the Wings explored trading Yzerman was 1995. Scotty Bowman was in charge. Ken Holland was the assistant general manager. The Ottawa Senators were newly minted and having a terrible time; they weren’t competitive and they weren’t a draw. Their arena at that time, the Ottawa Civic Centre, only seated 9,500 —and still there were often more empty seats than filled ones....

When Yzerman found out his name had come up in trade talks, he fumed to reporters about how much it bothered him.

“I can’t say I’m upset about the possibility of being traded,” he said. “I just expected to be treated like an adult. I would have thought that at some time somebody would have come to me and said, ‘Here’s what we’re thinking. Here’s why we’re doing this.’ I guess they’re not adult enough to do that. I thought I knew people in the organization well enough. I’ve always tried to be upfront and honest and I thought I deserved that in return—the good or the bad. I love this city and I love this hockey team. But life goes on. Hockey goes on. Careers go on. We’ll just wait and see what happens.”


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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com


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