from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic,
After speaking to sources around the NHL this week, we take a look at all 31 teams one month before the trade deadline:
One thing to keep in mind with Steve Yzerman in his first year as GM in Detroit, we are far from seeing even the middle point of where this rebuild is headed, in my mind. If you look at Yzerman’s work in Tampa Bay and the massive overhaul there years ago, I think you can bank on something similar with the Wings. There is lots of work to be done. And I don’t know how much of it can be done at the trade deadline, to be quite honest. Sure Yzerman’s got pending UFAs he can flip for picks but goalie Jimmy Howard ($5.1 million cap hit) has struggled this season, veteran blueliner Mike Green ($5.375 million cap hit) has eight points in 41 games, and I don’t know how much Trevor Daley ($3.16 million cap hit) has left in the tank.
So I’m really not convinced those UFAs, who carry sizeable cap hits, are going to generate much unless Howard gets going after the break and convinces contending teams looking for goalie insurance he’s back to form. The real question is whether other teams entice Yzerman in the type of hockey deal he might examine come the offseason. Can Yzerman more forcibly start re-shaping the roster in February instead of waiting until June? Would he listen on RFAs such as Andreas Athanasiou? I don’t have the answer to that. But Yzerman has got eight RFAs on his NHL roster right now and you have to ask the question whether it makes sense that all eight are back next year given how things have gone. Let’s not kid ourselves here, the best way to kickstart a rebuild is to finally pick in top three. They haven’t drafted top 3 since 1990 when they took Keith Primeau third overall; they haven’t picked first overall since Joe Murphy in 1986. It’s a franchise in need of it.
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