from John Niyo of the Detroit News,
Up front, there’s a legitimate top six for the first time in years, with the trio of Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond now backed by a second line that could feature Copp centering Perron and Jakub Vrana. Lalonde and his staff can juggle those names however they see fit, and Wednesday’s overlooked signing of winger Dominik Kubalik, who scored 30 goals for Chicago as a rookie a few years ago, adds another scoring-line option and power-play threat as well. (At some point, Robby Fabbri also will be ready to play coming off ACL surgery.)
All of that pushes others down in the lineup, or in some cases out of it altogether. Filip Zadina, a restricted free agent, will have to prove he belongs in the top nine or possibly get shipped out. Pius Suter won’t be asked to play an outsized second-line role anymore. Michael Rasmussen can settle in likewise. And players like Oskar Sundqvist, Adam Erne and Givani Smith will force prospects Joe Veleno and Jonattan Berggren to either earn a roster spot in the preseason or head back to Grand Rapids.
That, in turn, gives the team depth to deal with injuries, something the Wings haven’t had in a while. It also gives Yzerman some protection if he wants to swing another deal this summer or later this fall. (“I don’t have a blockbuster in the works or anything like that for you all,” he said Thursday, with a wry smile.) The Wings still have about $10 million in cap space, too, though some of that likely is earmarked for Larkin’s looming contract extension, and possibly Bertuzzi’s as well. And Yzerman remains open for business if another cap-strapped team needs to unload a problematic contract before the regular season and is willing to attach a draft pick or two.
“I’m pretty content right now to go into training camp with the group that we have,” he said. “But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t exploring if there are any other opportunities out there.”
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