DETROIT -- Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman wants to build the Detroit Red Wings back into a consistent Stanley Cup contender. And the process of establishing a foundation that will help Detroit achieve sustainable success, according to Yzerman, is well underway.

“I’m going to be very conservative, but I think we have a good group of young prospects,” Yzerman said last Friday during a post-trade deadline Zoom call with the media. “We have eight draft picks this year and next year, and all of ours moving forward. We’re building a nucleus of young prospects that are going to be part of this team. We’re slowly seeing some of these kids in Grand Rapids not only develop from junior, college and Europe into good American League players, they’re just slowly moving up the pipeline.”

Yzerman said he will continue utilizing patience over rushing the development of highly touted prospects like forward Jonatan Berggren and defenseman Simon Edvinsson, both of whom started this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins after making their NHL debuts in 2022-23.

“At the beginning of the year, we decided both with Jonatan and Simon, and we discussed it with them, things we wanted them to improve upon and get more ice time down there to improve in those areas,” Yzerman said. “Both of them, for that matter, have been excellent. Their attitude, work ethic and performance on the ice, they continue to get better and better.”

Yzerman said having Berggren and Edvinsson assume significant roles in Grand Rapids this season, opposed to playing limited minutes in Detroit, will benefit their long-term development.

“It’s only a matter of time before they are in the NHL and playing regularly,” Yzerman said. “So overall, I think it’s been good for our organization to have them (in Grand Rapids). Sending them to play in GR this year wasn’t necessarily about this year. It’s about the next 15-18 years.”

Berggren, who was recalled ahead of the Red Wings’ road game against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Vegas Golden Knights last Saturday, has six points (two goals, four assists) in 11 games with Detroit this season. Berggren, selected 33rd overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, also leads Grand Rapids in goals (19), assists (27) and points (46) in 43 AHL games.

As for Edvinsson, Detroit’s sixth pick in 2021, he paces all Griffins defensemen in goals (eight), assists (20) and points (28) in 51 AHL games this season.

Yzerman said Edvinsson has made significant strides defensively this season.

“He really is becoming an excellent, excellent defender,” Yzerman said about Edvinsson. “But probably our biggest thought was we want him playing a lot of minutes, touching the puck and playing on the power play. But as I watch, I think that’s probably the most important thing for a defender is to be able to play defense. He’s really improved in that area, so overall I think he’s been really, really good and worked at it.”

Yzerman also spoke highly about the growth of defensemen Antti Tuomisto and William Wallinder, and goalie Sebastian Cossa.

In his first season with the Griffins, Tuomisto has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 34 games. Wallinder, amidst his second AHL campaign, has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 50 games.

“Different players, but they’re both big,” Yzerman said. “Antti is big, strong, physical. Great shot, passes the puck really well. William probably lighter, tall, lanky guy. Really good skater.”

In 28 AHL games this season, Cossa has a 13-7-8 record with a 2.60 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and one shutout. He spent most of last season with Detroit’s ECHL-affiliate Toledo Walleye.

“He’s getting much stronger as the year’s gone on,” Yzerman said about Cossa. “He’s playing more games. He’s trending in the right direction. He’s playing a bigger role, maybe gotten more games than he has earlier in the season and he’s earned them.”

After recording a season-high 18-game point streak from Jan. 13 – March 2, the Griffins (27-17-7-4; 65 points) have pushed themselves back into the Calder Cup Playoff picture and enter Wednesday ranked second in the Central Division.

“These are great experiences for young players, so we’re really pleased with what’s gone on in Grand Rapids this year,” Yzerman said. “The veterans have been excellent, and the young players are starting to play an increased role and have a real positive impact on the record of that team.”