Abel to Yzerman

Abel to Yzerman

Storylines And A Mention Of The Playoffs

09/22/2022 at 6:43am EDT

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Will Simon Edvinsson make the team?

The sixth overall selection in 2021 is big (6-6, 207), mobile, skilled and by most accounts, NHL-ready. Can he beat out veteran Olli Maatta for a spot in the top four (joining Moritz Seider, Ben Chiarot and Filip Hronek)? If not, would the Red Wings be OK using Edvinsson on the third pairing, where his minutes would be limited? Or would they prefer to start him in Grand Rapids, where he would log a lot of ice time and play an important role in all situations? Yzerman indicated Edvinsson would need to play a significant amount and on at least one specialty team to make Detroit’s roster. Injuries to Jake Walman (due back in mid-November) and Mark Pysyk (due back in mid-January) alleviate the logjam on defense, but the Red Wings still have Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Lindstrom and Robert Hagg competing for spots on the third pairing.

Will Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi be distracted by their contract situations?

Yzerman’s offseason signing spree did not include extensions for two of his top players as Larkin and Bertuzzi head into the season in the final year of their contracts. It’s only a question of when the Red Wings lock up Larkin, who’s headed into his third season as captain and could get an eight-year deal worth more than $8 million per season. Bertuzzi’s ability to play in Canada moving forward could help progress contract talks. It could also make him a more viable trade candidate. Both are coming off 30-goal seasons and could enhance their bargaining power with strong starts.

Will a new coaching staff ignite Filip Zadina?

more

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

What about it, Steve? Can we start planning our Stanley Cup playoff parties?

“I'm not prepared to say that,” Yzerman said.

Yzerman at least admitted he saw progress from the team last season through its competitiveness against non-elite teams. But the key to making the playoffs is being competitive against better teams, which the Wings were not in the second half of the season. Surely no one has to be reminded of that 11-2 loss at Pittsburgh in late March.

“All the indicators of us were I don't think we were ready to contend last year,” he said. “In the second half, it kind of brought us back down to earth.

“So, you know, I go into this season (and) we'll see how we progress, if we can be more competitive on the road, match up a little bit better against the top teams when we go into their building. If we can win on back-to-back nights. That would give me some optimism that hey, maybe we can push for it.”

Then Yzerman said something that surprised me, something that indicated he’s clearly thinking about a path, however difficult, to the playoffs — he’s already thinking about the elite teams in the Atlantic Division.

“Today, not knowing what's going to happen, but today you'd say, you know, probably Toronto, Tampa and Florida,” he said. “There's the three teams in our division we expect to make the playoffs, and pick whichever three in the Metro.

“Then the rest of us are competing for two wild-card spots. And it's a real challenge. So I'm hoping we're there but time will tell on if I’ll be able to give you a better answer.”

Of course it’s difficult. Yzerman knows the Wings will be one of 10 teams fighting for those two wild-card spots. But it’s time for Yzerman and the Wings at least start talking about the playoffs as a goal. Because before I pestered — OK, badgered — Yzerman about the playoffs Wednesday, Moritz Seider had already started the playoff talk, back in late June after he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

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