Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman Sticking To “Yzerplan”

Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings had seen better days on the ice. The team had gone through many years of making the playoffs, regular season success, and Stanley Cups.

Then it all vanished in a matter of time. The playoff record was gone. The team was at the bottom of the league standings, and the Stanley Cup was no longer within reach.  The Red Wings had fallen on hard times and needed a new voice, a new direction, and a rebuild to bring back a winning culture.

Enter long-time captain Steve Yzerman. Yzerman was a member of the Detroit Red Wings for his entire playing career, and his career started like this. The team was awful, with no hopes of a playoff berth. Then, Yzerman brought everyone together, and the Red Wings formed one of the better long-term runs in league history. Exactly what he wants to build with this version of the Red Wings.

Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman Sticking To “Yzerplan”

Detroit needed to move on from then-general manager Ken Holland, who made several questionable moves. Enter Steve Yzerman. Since Yzerman has taken the general manager position in Detroit, he has begun to remove those big contracts and build a winning franchise, as he did with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

One of his first moves was to buy out the contracts of forwards Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen. Although Abdelkader and Nielson were not bad, the contracts signed by them under Holland handcuffed the organization.

Yzerman was not having it, and both Abdelkader and Nielson were issued their walking papers. Goaltender Jimmy Howard was also not re-signed, to the surprise of some. As this got the ball rolling, it freed up some cap space and got Detroit going in the right direction. With that being taken care of, Yzerman and his scouts wanted to draft strong and draft for depth, which they did.

Yzerman and his scouting team first drafted stud defenseman Moritz Seider in 2019 with the sixth pick in the first round.

In 2020, the Red Wings drafted promising young forward Lucas Raymond fourth overall. Both of whom had outstanding rookie campaigns. In 2021, Detroit drafted future top-pairing defenseman Simon Edvinsson with the sixth overall pick. In the same draft, he also picked up highly-touted goaltender Sebastian Cossa 15th overall.

Yzerman has reloaded the prospect pool in Detroit. He has a future top pairing of Seider and Edvinsson, a future NHL goal-scoring leader in Raymond, and a future NHL starter in Cossa. This is how you build a winner, as he has prospects a the most critical positions. Detroit has one of the best prospect pools in the league in terms of depth. Yzerman does not like to rush prospects, instead letting them develop at their speed.

Yzerman has bought out contracts and drafted well, but this year made bold moves in free agency to make Detroit competitive. This offseason, he signed forwards Andrew Copp, David Perron, Dominik Kubalik, Matt Luff, and defensemen Ben Chiarot, and Olli Matta. Goaltender Ville Husso, through a sign and trade, was brought in.

Yzerman admitted this rebuild could take a while under his guidance. Detroit may not be a contender this year, but they are going in the right direction. Although Tampa Bay had defenseman Victor Hedman and center Steven Stamkos, they were not Stanley Cup contenders right away as it took time to mold the team into a successful franchise. Yzerman is taking the right approach and doing it the right way. He is doing it his way, and as seen before, this has led to championships.