from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
Now that they’re back in the Atlantic Division, the Wings aren’t close to being as competitive as the back-to-back-defending-Stanley-Cup-champion Lightning. They’re not as deep or as talented as their fellow Atlantic teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and Florida Panthers. Yes, they’re better than the Buffalo Sabres, but that’s not saying much at all. Heck, they may not even be as good as the Ottawa Senators, who have been in a painful rebuild for about as long as Detroit has.
This is not to say the Wings are bereft of talent. Certainly, center Dylan Larkin is a first-rate player. Yzerman also pulled off a minor-and-potentially-major coup when he traded to acquire former Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic this summer, and he added some veteran help on defense with a deal that brings Nick Leddy into the fold. However, the fact remains the Red Wings aren’t a deep team, and that means one or two injuries to key components this coming year could send them into a tailspin, and guarantee another bottom-of-the-pack finish.
None of this is Yzerman’s fault. He’s like the GMs of many teams – unable to land a franchise cornerstone by the good fortune of winning the entry draft lottery and winding up with an Auston Matthews-Mitch-Marner type of combination, and unwilling to take risks on larger transactions that could leave the team in worse shape than he found it. He can’t sell potential acquisitions on the weather and the income tax situation, the way he could in Tampa. He doesn’t have a head coach who can boast of being a Cup-winner, the way he did when he was a player. All these factors make it next-to-impossible for the Wings to make the leap from pretender to contender.