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#LGRW Daily: Steve Yzerman details Detroit's trade deadline moves

Red Wings GM discusses the trade deadline, free agency and much more

by Jennifer Rogers @DetroitRedWings /

DETROIT -- As the trade deadline loomed large on Monday afternoon, the Detroit Red Wings announced a significant move that landed left wing Jakub Vrana, right wing Richard Panik, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and a second-round selection in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft from Washington, in exchange for right wing Anthony Mantha.

Red Wings Executive Vice President & General Manager Steve Yzerman sat down with the media to discuss all things trade deadline, free agency and much more. Portions of the press conference have been edited for length.


On the details of the trade for Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik

In this case, as we're getting to the trade deadline, we're talking to teams around the league and to try and to see if there's a fit in what we're trying to do. It really comes more about in conversations with other teams. This is a chance for us to get a similar-age player. Jakub [Vrana] has two years to free agency, so we have a little bit of flexibility there. Again, we felt like we could get a replacement for Anthony [Mantha] and add players, add prospects and picks as well. I think Anthony is a very talented hockey player and I hope he does well, and I expect him to do well in Washington, but ultimately, we thought this trade makes sense for us in the near term and moving forward.


On the timing of the trade discussions with Washington …

I'm not sure exactly when we talked, but we talked about a few other things, really a smaller type of deal early and things just grew as we had a conversation. As we work our way around the league near the trade deadline, you have these discussions with teams and what they're trying to do, what they're hoping to do, and you see if there's a fit. So, we talked a little bit maybe a week ago, I'm not sure of the exact day. And then just stayed in touch over the last few days.

Video: Red Wings EVP and GM Steve Yzerman on Trade Deadline


On the opportunity to add Vrana to the Red Wings' young core …

Again, we're trying to take steps forward and we all love to get draft picks and whatnot, and they're important, you need them, but we also need to put a team on the ice. And I think it's important. Our core of our team is still relatively young. With Dylan Larkin, with Filip Hronek, and now you see the Zadina's and Rasmussen's and other players coming along, we want to surround them with players that help them grow and develop as well. I guess it's an easy thing to do to just trade out all your good players and get draft picks and all that, but you still have to play. So, I think it was important. We looked at some different things, going through the deadline here and we thought it was a good fit. We get a player that goes into our lineup that can play a similar role and still accomplish what we were trying to do. And that's add to the pipeline, so to speak.


On goals accomplished during the trade deadline period …

You know, it was very strange, you all know that we had a number of unrestricted free agents going into this. Generally, teams in our position, you're for the most part, looking to move as many free agents as you can. It was a stranger year than others, we keep saying that about everything. The market was a little bit different and I have my own thoughts on why, but every team is different in what they want to do and the reasons for doing it. So to say I accomplished everything, I think I accomplished everything that I could, that really made sense for us. Would I like to have done more or done different things? Maybe. But you do what you can do. With our players that we had, I'm pleased with the trades that we did make, and we move forward from here.


On the process of taking on players' salaries in addition to draft picks when finalizing trades …

Yeah, another way to acquire for us, it's another way to get a draft pick. For the top clubs and in this one in particular, Tampa, all the top teams for the most part, I think, have cap issues. Trying to navigate the cap and at this time of year, they are trying to add to their teams. Leading up to the deadline, we were approached by teams to get a sense of, is this something that you would consider? Using some of your cap space and cash, for that matter, to help in a trade and for that, obviously you get some form of compensation and for us, every draft pick has some value.

We all have an opinion on what, cash wise, a draft pick is worth. And I don't know that there's really a right or wrong, it's what you're comfortable in assuming, and how badly we want these picks. I thought it was a relatively reasonable way of acquiring a fourth-round pick. We have a lot of cap space, so it wasn't that big of a deal this year to do it.


On the combination of acquiring draft picks and adding an established NHL player like Vrana …

Again, we liked the idea of acquiring more draft picks and prospects. We talked about different things in the deal what to do. Ultimately, we liked the combination of adding future assets and adding a player to the lineup as well. You know we still have to play games. We want to be ready next season. We want to be trying to improve our team again next season. So just a combination of the two, I thought it was a good fit for us.


On the Red Wings' pending unrestricted free agents …

I'm not sure that I've talked to all of our pending UFA's, but my plan right now is to wait. I have some interest in potentially trying to renegotiate or sign new contracts with some of our free agents. I can't say that that's all of them or which ones at this point. I'm going to wait, we'll wait until the end of the season and reevaluate where we're at. Part of the issue is we've got an expansion draft to consider as well, and who we protect and who we make available for that. I think at this time, with a month to go in the season, the best thing we can do is just sit tight on all of our free agents and we'll make decisions closer to, I want to say July 1.

Video: DET@NSH: Bernier makes amazing save on Duchene


On the scouting process during the pandemic …

It's been an interesting year as far as scouting. We don't know what next year is going to look like either right now. Kris Draper and I talk a lot and I ask him about this year's draft, and next year's draft. It's funny, next year's draft, we haven't even seen those kids yet. At least they're watching the majority of the kids for this year's draft, or they watched them last year. The ones that have played this year, with technology now, if you can't get there, you can see it on video, and you do the best you can. Some kids didn't play, there's nothing we can do about that. Either you don't pick those kids, or you rely on what you saw last year.

So, as I think you would agree, the draft is very unpredictable, hit and miss, it probably is more unpredictable this year. You can look at it two ways in that you just may get really lucky, or you may get really unlucky. Time will tell. We've got a lot of picks and our guys have been doing the best they can. Our scouting staff is doing the best they can to evaluate and look for prospects. The good thing is I think we were able to add a few picks for next year as well and we don't know what that'll shape up to be for next year, but we've got a balance of the two.


On the players soon to wrap up their seasons in Sweden (Joe Veleno, Albert Johansson, Jonatan Berggren, etc.) …

Joe is back in the area. He has to quarantine and then we'll figure out what our exact plan is for him after that. We'll wait and see on some of the other kids. We do have a bit of an issue with foreign kids, with visas, trying to get them visas to get into the U.S., and that can be a bit of a challenge. We're looking into that right now, if some of these kids are available, that we could potentially bring them over. But that is a bit of a stumbling block for us, a deterrent, something that may delay it. If it delays long enough, there's no point in them coming over.

We're kind of taking it a day at a time and preparing that if we can, if some of the kids become available. In [Grand Rapids], we've had Donovan Sebrango, a draft pick who missed time in the OHL to play. He's there and we've been able to take advantage of the situation and get some of our younger kids in and if we can, the kids in Europe. If we can get them over and there's enough games left, that would make sense. We'd like to bring them over.


On the contract situation for current players on the roster and cap flexibility …

We did a one-year deal with Tyler Bertuzzi, we weren't able to agree to a longer-term deal. Obviously, we're going to have to address his contract at the end of the season or at some point before our next season. With our younger players, for the most part, in my two years here, we had Anthony and Tyler, and you can add any other names in there at that point, but really negotiated two contracts.

With our younger players in all likelihood, we're probably going to do shorter-term deals and decide what we do as they get closer to free agency on doing something longer term or not. So, it's really not by design, keeping these things short but we do have cap space and that's the way it's worked out. It gives us certainly an opportunity to do things. Whether it's explore free agency, you already see some potential free agents around the league signing their contracts today. It's hard to plan for free agency because most of the guys you really like don't get there. So, we have the ability to do it in free agency. We have the ability to take on players through trades. We have draft picks and prospects and prepared to use those in the right trade with players that fit the age group moving forward. There are teams around the league that might have to move guys for cap reasons, and we are in a position to do that as well. Ultimately, we have good players. We intend to keep them here and sign them to the appropriate contracts when that time comes.

Video: CBJ@DET: Bertuzzi nets OT winner on redirection


On the growth of Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek and Michael Rasmussen

They're playing in the league. I think they're positively contributing. It's a grind for them out there every night, it's not like they're putting up big numbers, but that's okay. They're competing really hard. They are doing a lot of good things; they're growing as players. I see in all three of those guys a difference in their play from a year ago, they're having more of an impact on the ice with each shift and each situation they're in. They're not regressing their confidence.

When we watch players, you can see guys who are really assertive and feel good about themselves and are competing. Regardless of what the statistics are, they look like they're really having a positive impact. Filip [Hronek] has played a lot more games than Filip [Zadina] or Michael [Rasmussen] but all three of them are having a real positive impact and are becoming more effective players. So that's very encouraging. But what I really am pleased about is they're getting in there; they're involved and they're competing hard. I think they feel real good about themselves as far as their contribution. But it is a grind out there for them. It's a tough league and they're being asked to do a lot. I think they're just continuing to improve. I'm really pleased with their development.

Video: DET@CAR: Zadina elevates Rasmussen's set-up for PPG


On the process of scouting for both the 2021 and 2022 Draft classes …

I think most teams, you're watching for the future as well when you're scouting. A lot of the 2022 draft-eligible kids didn't play as much, they're playing more limited and you're focusing on the 2021 draft eligible. It's going to be interesting because right now, your guess is as good as mine as what the NHL or any league is going to look like next year. We will do the best we can for the 2022 kids. The guys watch when they go to games now, at the games that they can get to, or the games or watching a video, they're watching the 2022 draft eligibles as well.


On the opportunity for many of the Red Wings' prospects to gain valuable NHL experience down the stretch of the season …

Right now, we have with the team Dennis Cholowski, Gus Lindstrom, who we recalled from Grand Rapids this week, we expect to see them. We have Givani Smith who's been in and out a little bit we'll see him, potentially we might see more depending on what our roster is. You have limitations as far as recalls, those are issues we have to deal with. We're allowed four recalls, so we'll be careful with that. You'll see Cholowski, Lindstrom for sure, probably Smitty [Givani Smith] somewhat.

Is it anybody else potentially? Yeah, specifically, Joe Veleno, maybe we might, we have the ability to do that, and he's back from Europe, and we have time to decide that. In particular with Dennis, Smitty or Gustav Lindstrom is those players are: 1. Third year pros. 2. Are required to be protected and 3. We would need waivers next year. So it's a good opportunity for us to see how they're doing and make decisions on where they fit next year, where they fit in relation to the expansion draft and our roster for next year and prepare us for the offseason. They've worked hard and they're in their third years, it's giving them some opportunity here as well. There are a lot of reasons to see some of these young kids up here.


On the possible opportunity for Moritz Seider to skate for the Red Wings this season if his team is eliminated from the playoffs …

Yeah, maybe. Again, I said earlier, he's on a really good team. I think they're in the first round right now and potentially their team could go all the way. Then we've got to deal with quarantining and visa issues. We want them to win a championship over there. I want him to play, that would be great for him and his team. So I hope he goes as long as he can. If that doesn't happen and we can bring him back, we'll certainly do everything we can to bring them back for sure.

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