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Abel to Yzerman

Building The Foundation And Who To Keep

from Nate Brown of Detroit Hockey Now,

Going all the way back to the 1996-97 team that snapped a 42-year Stanley Cup drought, the Red Wings were buoyed by five foundational players that the other players were built around. The five?

Steve Yzerman (drafted 4th overall in 1983)
Sergei Fedorov (drafted 74th overall in 1989)
Nicklas Lidstrom (drafted 53rd overall in 1989)
Brendan Shanahan (acquired via trade from Hartford in 1996).
Vladimir Konstantinov (drafted 221st overall in 1989)...

When looking at the 2007-08 Red Wings, several names come to mind as foundational pieces:

Henrik Zetterberg (drafted 210th overall in 1999)
Pavel Datsyuk  (drafted 171st overall in 1998)...

Larkin, Seider, and Raymond are Foundational Players
With Moritz Seider on the cusp of winning the Calder, and Lucas Raymond likely right behind him in voting, it doesn’t seem preordained to peg both as foundational pieces. They’re exactly what any organization hopes to snag with high picks in the draft.


from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Yzerman has several decisions to make on pending restricted and unrestricted free agents. Here is a breakdown of how the rebuild would be best served by the players not under contract:

F Sam Gagner (UFA)

At the start of the season it seemed unlikely Gagner would be extended, but 13 goals and 18 assists is a really nice return on an $850,000 contract. Gagner scored nine goals in the second half, when games were more intense. He'll be 33 in August, but his durability showed in playing 81 games in 2021-22. He's a good mentor, knowing the pressure of coming into the NHL with sky-high expectations  — he was the No. 6 overall pick in 2007. He provided a right-shot option, too, where the Wings don't have much depth. For the same deal, he's worth considering keeping.

D Marc Staal (UFA)

He turned 35 in January, but he still played 71 games. (He missed the Wings' final two games after testing positive for COVID-19.) Staal brings size (6-4, 208 pounds) and plays a smart game — as bad as the Wings were defensively in the second half, Staal finished a respectable minus-1. He's a great mentor for young defensemen and has been vocal about how much he likes playing in Detroit. On a similar deal (one year, $2 million), he's a keeper.

F Filip Zadina (RFA)

In the years since he was drafted at No. 6 overall in 2018 on the basis of his excellent shot, Zadina has 25 goals in 160 games. (Raymond, the No. 4 overall pick in 2020, already has 23 goals in 82 games). It's not for lack of opportunity — Zadina saw time on the first and second lines and was a regular on the power play. He's 22, so there's certainly hope he figures things out, and maybe a new coach will help. But it's been a disappointing return on a guy who was expected to play a key role in the rebuild. A qualifying offer is warranted, but he hasn't earned a long-term deal.

more names ($$$)

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink


Paul's avatar

from Max Bultman of The Athletic,

Should be back, but could draw trade interest

Tyler Bertuzzi

The Red Wings would get worse by trading Bertuzzi. He is one of their best players, and the jubilant reaction to his 30th goal with seconds remaining in the season finale showed how his teammates feel about him, too. So, why is his name here and not one (or two) tiers above It’s the convergence of his contract status (one year remaining until UFA), age (27), position (winger) and potential market value (teams would love to add a hard-nosed scorer like Bertuzzi). And then there’s the fact Bertuzzi’s name has been involved in lots of speculation over the past year.

Bertuzzi has made clear his preference is to stay in Detroit. That matters. But all the above factors — along with the fact that players who go to an arbitration hearing don’t usually stay in place long term — mean there’s still going to be buzz around his future unless, or until, an extension gets done.

Filip Hronek

A year ago, Hronek was the Red Wings’ best defenseman at 23 years old, wish equates to extreme security in the NHL. A year later, he’s still just 24, but he’s no longer atop Detroit’s defensive hierarchy, and his true long-term value is at least up for debate after an up-and-down year. The production was still there — you can set your watch to Hronek putting up right around a half-point per game — despite diminished (though still meaningful) power-play usage. But he also was healthy-scratched early in the year, and had rocky underlying numbers defensively (which, to be fair, was true of the Detroit blue line as a whole). The guess is he’s back on Detroit’s second pair next season, but the value for a productive 24-year-old right-shot ‘D’ could be meaningful and worth exploring.

Filip Zadina

Zadina didn’t have the breakout year many hoped for, and for that reason, there will be curiosity over a potential change of scenery for the 2018 No. 6 pick. My guess, though, is the Red Wings will at least get a look at him under a new coach, with a short-term bridge deal making sense for the pending RFA.

more ($$$) from Bultman in a who stays, who goes column…


Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 05/06/22 at 08:42 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

I wonder if there is a way to coordinate a 3 team trade or just flip around all the assets and pieces from a series of trades where Stevie moves Bert and Hronek and gets Chychrun back. He’s young fits the window and would instantly make this team competitive along with Ev joining next season.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Window Seat on the Captain's Ship on 05/06/22 at 08:59 AM ET

WingDingy's avatar

With respect to Zadina, I say, “Move along…nothing to see here.”  The fewer reminders there are of Ken Holland’s last few years in Detroit, the better.

Posted by WingDingy on 05/06/22 at 10:17 AM ET


Staal - keep for 1 more year, leadership matters and decent player
Gagnec - keep for 1 more year, see Staal
Bert - yes to 4 year deal, no to 6-7 year deals. Trade if the return is good.
Hronek - trade, return should be decent or wait to see him with a new coach
Zadina - keep, the return will be minimal. There is a chance he scores 25 goals with the new coach
Fabbri - trade if we can get a second rounder back,  too injury prone and too turnover prone
DK and Greise should be gone although DK on a 1 year deal is 6-7th dman will not be a tragedy

Posted by VPalmer on 05/06/22 at 01:00 PM ET

Paul's avatar

from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,

Detroit Red Wings goalie of the future Sebastian Cossa posted an 18-save shutout to pace the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-0 triumph against the Red Deer Rebels in the opening game of their Western Hockey League playoff series.

It was Cossa’s second shutout of this postseason. He is 4-0 in the playoffs with a 1.20 goals-against average and .942 save percentage.

The Red Wings drafted him 15th overall in the 2021 draft. Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman reconfirmed recently he won’t rush Cossa.

“He’s had a pretty good year,” Yzerman said earlier this week. “Is he ready to play in the NHL next year? I would say today I’d have to say no. I think he’s a ways away. To manage the expectation of him, he’s on a very good team in Edmonton in the western league. I’m following their playoffs closely, for the most part he’s had a pretty good year. He’s had a pretty good start to the playoffs. Selfishly, I’m hoping his team goes very far, that would be great for him, great experience for him.”


Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 05/06/22 at 01:10 PM ET

d ca's avatar

Rather than list decisions, work backwards. The Wings have massive cap room (36.5M) to spend on and their only qualifying offers needed are for Zadina and Walman. Plus a decision to make on Stephens. This should allow the Wings to overpay an UFA rather than commit to longer term to bring them here. The Wings could use help at the centre position and 1st pairing LHD.

As far as trades, the Wings have too many wingers 1) Raymond, 2) Vrana, 3) ‘lil Bert, 4) Fabbri, 5) Rasmussen, 6) Zadina, 7) Berggen, 8) Erne, 9) Smith—so naturally any trade would have to involve at least one of these players.

Next lets look at lines (without trades—-but again one at least has to be coming):
Raymond, Larkin, Bertuzz
Vrana, UFA hopefully, Rasmussen
Fabbri, Suter, Berggren
Zadina, Veleno, Sundqvist
Erne, Smith

Fabbri’s injury is going into the season; so, Zadina slides upward and Erne slides in to start the year. But the above chart makes things easy on the Wings’ UFA’s:

Gagner—late August decision (training camp invite)- frankly, only if Berggren fails to make the team and is clearly not ready rather than needs a few games in the AHL (OR trades allow a roster spot).

If you don’t get that 2nd line centre, then basically you are repeating ‘21-‘22 with a new coach and might essentially be trading a healthy Vrana for an injured Fabbri to start the year.

UFA (more likely trade for a) LHD, Seider
Edvinsson, Hronek
Oesterle, Lindstrom

UFA LHD—very thin market…but selling a player on playing with Seider should help—-Olli Maatta would be my choice (vet with 80 playoff game experience) 

...but, but Edvinsson….stop it…a rookie taking the reins on this like Seider did—that’s why Seider is winning the Calder—it’s rare even for a top draft pick. Let Edvinsson take 2nd pair mins and go from there.

Again the chart makes the Wings’ UFA for them:

Staal -mid-August decision. SY tells him he will get back to him late in the summer and see if there is a fit then. Expect Staal to sign closer to home on a contender for less money—so it shouldn’t even matter.

DDK buh bye

1A) Nedeljkovic, 1B) UFA

Greiss buh bye. Brought back 1 year too long. He hit the proverbial goalie age wall. Luckily for the Wings the contract is up.

Magnus Hellberg if he’s willing to become the next Calvin Pickard fine bring him back—but if he wants to only play in the NHL—there are better options in UFA.

Contract extensions in July. Everyone assumes these will be easy. But the opposite is true. NHL’s financial strife is still active in terms of the cap. For this reason alone contracts may cost more upfront and be shorter unlike a few years from now when teams will have a better understanding of when the cap begins increasing again. But regardless…the Wings’

1st priority: Larkin. Larkin’s exceptional year means he shouldn’t wait out his current contract before extending. SY should seek a max term contract (8 yrs) to bring down the cap hit as much as possible.

2nd priority: Zadina. Why? because it should only be a 2 year bridge deal and will be much easier to negotiate. We think you are better than a 10 goal, 25 pt guy—but until you prove it this is what we are offering. Don’t sign it, then here’s your offer sheet. You now get to decide on a 1 year or 2 year deal.

3rd priority: Nedeljkovic. Term of 3 years taking him to age 30 would be best outcome.

4th priority: Suter—he has the look of a 3rd line centre on a playoff team. Pay him like one. If he doesn’t like it. He’s a candidate to get moved at the ‘23 trade deadline.

5th priority: ‘lil Bert—this will be a very difficult negotiation. He’s already been to arbitration. He was dared to prove his last full season wasn’t an outlier. Mantha’s trade, Raymond’s success, and Zadina’s failure (along with focusing the early recent picks on defense plus goalie) means that only Vrana can take a top line spot away internally. This means a long-term extension is more likely than just a few years ago. The real issue is to account for what ‘lil Bert will do going forward, not just what he’s done previously—the Wings do not need another Justin Abdelkader buyout. Because of his trade value it is imperative that no NTC is included in the deal. I doubt he gets resigned before ‘22-‘23 offseason.

Posted by d ca on 05/06/22 at 02:41 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I wouldn’t make any trade decisions on any player until they’ve shown what they can do under the new coach for at least two months. The only exception would be if some team made an offer that would rival the Mantha trade.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/06/22 at 03:13 PM ET


on a lighter note, have SY buy his pal Spuds a pop and grab Reeves, yeah, he’s 35, but he’s still a beast - V and Ray-Ray are gold, lets keep them healthy.

never understood why the pens let him go, they’re currently taking a beating from the blueshirts, which includes #75.

also, suggest SY gives Z another year, him and Ras are due to figure it out.

great post subject Paul.

Posted by rickytarr on 05/06/22 at 03:49 PM ET

Royal Grand Exalted PooBah's avatar

This is counting your chickens before they hatch. Basically none of the players considered core are playoff proven performers. How many smaller non physical wings forwards have disappeared in the playoffs? There is a reason Mantha was desired in Washington.

Most of the core guys listed will probably show up but who knows for sure. I am watching playoff hockey and I see guys hitting like crazy which I don’t see from the Wings.

Posted by Royal Grand Exalted PooBah from the basement of the Alamo on 05/06/22 at 04:00 PM ET


I will be very surprised if Bert is here next year, SY doesn’t like distraction or drama.

A shame, great player and fun to watch.

Posted by Ventr on 05/06/22 at 04:15 PM ET


Speaking of Mantha, it’s remarkable how much,
based on what I’ve seen of him in the playoffs so far,
he still defaults to coasting, gliding, and reaching.

Unless someone wants to give a high pick the Wings might be gradually working our way out of qualifying for, or a bigger, tougher power forward with hands, or a legit top-six center on a playoff-caliber team, or a playoff-caliber top-four defender the same age or younger, I’m not sure why Bert has to go.

Sounds like SY wants to (carefully) speed up the rebuild a bit.
Bert is such a coveted type of player (and on a Wings team that lacks grit more than most) and all he does is produce. Put him on the second line and he helps drive that line. Whatever annoyance we speculated might be developing given nine missed games in Canada, it just seems like everyone likes this player. Is SY quietly annoyed? Does he have an offer in mind he won’t pass up? Is there internal concern about Bert’s back? Do they anticipate a totally unreasonable contract ask?

We don’t have enough proven pieces on defense to likely move Hronek at current value, yet. But if at least 2/3 of Edvinsson, Johansson, and Viro are playing NHL games and looking like they fit, perhaps in that time a new coach will have helped reveal more of Hronek’s upside or ceiling.

Are Gagne and Staal comfortable with “we’ll see after training camp and preseason?” I could see Gagne maybe more than Staal. Staal is more the 5/6/7 defensive mentor. Arguably more valuable with new defensemen joining from Europe, not less. I don’t see the problem in offering him a similar deal later in July or early August.

We need more depth in goal, no matter what. Is Pickard moving on?
Even if not, and with a very raw AHL rookie in Cossa next season, and Nedeljkovic struggling some with too many games, there needs to be a more reliable number two. Maybe Hellberg is part of the solution.

Posted by lefty.30 on 05/06/22 at 05:26 PM ET


I think the biggest issue with Bert is that by the time Detroit will be competing, he will be on the other side of 30 and with the style of his game, he might not be that effective in 3-4 years. As much as I love Bert, if SY can get a 25 year old players who has 75% of Bert current value, he probably should go for it.

Posted by VPalmer on 05/06/22 at 05:48 PM ET

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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