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DETROIT – During an Ilitch Sports + Entertainment colleague gathering on Monday, Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman covered a variety of topics related to the upcoming 2023-24 NHL season in a live Q&A discussion with broadcast reporter Daniella Bruce.

Yzerman, who also answered questions from IS+E colleagues seated on the Via concourse at Little Caesars Arena, started the interactive session by expressing his optimism about Detroit’s 2023-24 roster, which will look markedly different when the club kicks off its regular-season schedule on Oct. 12 at the New Jersey Devils.

After finishing last season with its best record (35-37-10; 80 points) since 2015-16, Detroit has been active in free agency and trades this offseason, highlighted by the acquisition of forward and Farmington Hills, Mich., native Alex DeBrincat on July 9.

“We’d like to think that we’ve addressed a lot of needs,” said Yzerman, who is entering his fifth campaign as the Red Wings’ GM. “Are we perfect? No. Are we better? I’d like to think we’re better, at least when we look at the team and say this is a deeper team.”

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Quality depth can influence expectations, but Yzerman pointed out talent alone does not equate to success, especially in what has become a highly competitive Atlantic Division.

“It’s a challenge every night,” Yzerman said. “I think competitive athletes and people enjoy the challenge. You go out there, get beat and want to go back on the ice again the next night. It’s going to make us better in the long run.”

If the Red Wings are to take another step forward this season, Yzerman said Detroit’s young core must continue to develop. A key piece of that group is forward Michael Rasmussen, who recorded NHL career-highs in assists and points in 2022-23 before being placed on injured reserve on March 2.

Yzerman said he anticipates Rasmussen to be fully healthy when 2023 training camp opens on Sept. 21 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich.

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“I expect him to be 100 percent,” Yzerman said about the 24-year-old forward. “He took a slapshot off the side of his knee and fractured his kneecap, really a painful injury if you can imagine that. He trains really hard. If you’ve watched him over the last couple years, particularly his skating has gone to another level.”

Yzerman also shared a health update on defenseman prospect Simon Edvinsson, who underwent successful left shoulder surgery on May 1.

“I don’t know if he’ll be cleared for full contact next week,” Yzerman said about the 20-year-old blueliner’s chances to suit up for training camp. “But we expect him to be 100 percent by the start of this season.”

Injuries certainly hampered the Red Wings in 2022-23, so Detroit often relied on organizational depth to fill voids. And beginning Thursday, that depth will be on full display when the Red Wings’ brightest young prospects take the ice for the 2023 NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City.

Yzerman said he views the annual tournament as an opportunity to learn more about the highly touted prospects within and outside the organization.

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“We’ve got kids anywhere from 18 to 24 (years old),” Yzerman said. “It’s a huge difference. The 24-year-olds are physically developed. A majority of the 18-year-olds are young and not as strong. So we just watch to see where they’re at. We get a chance to see three other organizations’ prospects as well, so we do a little bit of scouting.”

Describing the Red Wings’ upcoming schedule in Traverse City brought back special memories for Yzerman, who spent his entire 22-year NHL career with Detroit.  

“That area is awesome,” Yzerman said about Traverse City. “Players love going up. The first time we went up was the summer of ’97, after we won the Stanley Cup. You’re done at noon or 1 o’clock, then the guys go golf, fishing or whatever they want to do. They have a lot of fun.”

Yzerman knows the importance of bonding as it relates to team success, a process he said begins each year in Hockeytown North.

“Especially on a team like ours, where we got a lot of new faces,” Yzerman said. “Our group, led by Dylan (Larkin), is really good. They get together a lot and grab the young guys. They don’t just go off and do their own thing. They do a lot together. It’s a chance for everybody to socialize a little bit and get to know the new faces.”