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Team Reset

Red Wings turn to Yzerman to help team in transition

New GM in place, Detroit using veterans to fill roles while young players develop

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Detroit Red Wings:

Steve Yzerman played 22 seasons for the Detroit Red Wings, so you can understand why as their new general manager he is taking a patient, long-term approach.

Despite missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a third straight season after qualifying for 25 straight, the Red Wings this offseason added three free agents -- center Valtteri Filppula, defenseman Patrik Nemeth and goalie Calvin Pickard -- each on a two-year contract.

The short terms were by design.

"Obviously, being new to the organization, I want to proceed somewhat slowly and kind of get to know really what we have within the organization," said Yzerman, who was hired April 19. "I think I have a good handle on the NHL team, but the prospects we have coming, the players we have in Grand Rapids (in the American Hockey League), I wanted to give us the flexibility of providing opportunity for our young players but also trying to help the Detroit Red Wings immediately as much as possible."


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Yzerman said the Red Wings could add a right wing or defenseman if the right player and contract comes along.

Forward Michael Rasmussen, 20, the No. 9 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, who played last season in the NHL because the Red Wings felt it was better for his development than the junior level, and defenseman Dennis Cholowski, 21, a first-round pick (No. 20) in 2016, who played 52 games in the NHL before going to the AHL last season, will have to win jobs. The Red Wings want them playing meaningful minutes, if not in the NHL, then in the AHL.

Here is what the Red Wings look like today:


Key arrivals

Steve Yzerman, GM: The Hall of Fame center and three-time Stanley Cup champion for the Red Wings was the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lighting from May 25, 2010 until Sept. 11, 2018, when he became an adviser to Tampa Bay GM Julien BriseBois. Yzerman replaced Ken Holland, who was promoted to senior vice president when Yzerman was hired but then left to become the GM of the Edmonton Oilers on May 7. ... Valtteri Filppula, F: The 35-year-old center will allow Andreas Athanasiou to play wing, his natural position. Though Filppula's production has declined, he scored 17 goals last season for the New York Islanders and can play in all situations. The Red Wings selected him in the third round (No. 95) in the 2002 NHL Draft and he played for Detroit from 2005-13. … Patrik Nemeth, D: The 27-year-old gives the Red Wings a big body (6-foot-3, 219 pounds) who defends well and kills penalties. He is slated to play on the left side with a right-handed offensive defenseman, either Mike Green or Filip Hronek. … Calvin Pickard, G: The 27-year-old gives the Red Wings insurance in case of injury to Jimmy Howard or Jonathan Bernier. Pickard also can mentor Filip Larsson, their top goalie prospect, who is expected to start the season in the AHL.

Video: NYI@WSH: Toews sets up Filppula's breakaway goal


Key departures

Niklas Kronwall, D: The 38-year-old has not decided on retirement, but the Red Wings are proceeding as if he won't return. He averaged 19:57 of ice time last season, but if he retires, he will leave a larger void in the locker room at this stage. He has played his entire 15-season NHL career for Detroit and, as a mentor and vocal leader, shown younger players what it means to be a member of the Red Wings. … Thomas Vanek, F: The 35-year-old had 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 64 games last season. He is an unrestricted free agent. … Martin Frk, F: The 25-year-old had six points (one goal, five assists) in 30 games last season. He agreed to a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent July 1. ... Ken Holland, GM: Left the Red Wings after 22 seasons as general manager and is in that role with Oilers. 


On the cusp

Taro Hirose, F: Pencil the 23-year-old onto the opening roster. After tying for the NCAA Division I scoring lead with 50 points (15 goals, 35 assists) for Michigan State last season, he signed with the Red Wings as a free agent March 12 and had seven points (one goal, six assists) in 10 NHL games. … Oliwer Kaski D: The 23-year-old will compete for a roster spot after signing as a free agent May 28. He has size (6-3, 190) and ranked sixth in scoring in Finland's top professional league with 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists) in 59 games for Lahti. He had two assists in 10 games to help Finland win the 2019 IIHF World Championship. … Filip Zadina, F: The Red Wings have high hopes for Zadina, the No. 6 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, but he likely will start in the AHL for a second straight season. He had 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 59 games for Grand Rapids and three points (one goal, two assists) in nine games for Detroit.

Video: DET@COL: Zadina blasts home first NHL goal


What they still need

Difference-makers. Now that Yzerman is back in Detroit as the GM, he needs to find the next … well, Yzerman. The Red Wings kept their window open for so long because they replaced Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg at center while they still had defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, and they built around them. They have to draft and develop the next generation of stars.


Fantasy focus

The status of veteran defenseman Green (virus) remains uncertain, but Hronek is poised to build upon his strong finish to the season. Hronek had seven points (two goals, five assists) in his final six NHL games and then led the defensemen at the 2019 IIHF World Championship with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 10 games for the Czech Republic. If Hronek gets first power-play exposure to Red Wings center Dylan Larkin for anything close to a full season, he could be one of the biggest fantasy steals among defensemen. -- Pete Jensen


Projected lineup

Tyler Bertuzzi -- Dylan Larkin -- Anthony Mantha

Andreas Athanasiou -- Valtteri Filppula -- Taro Hirose

Justin Abdelkader -- Luke Glendening -- Darren Helm

Jacob de La Rose -- Frans Nielsen -- Christoffer Ehn

Danny DeKeyser -- Filip Hronek

Patrik Nemeth -- Mike Green

Jonathan Ericsson -- Madison Bowey

Jimmy Howard

Jonathan Bernier


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