Red Wings, Yzerman fail to improve roster at trade deadline

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The 2024 NHL trade deadline has come and gone with the Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman making one small move. That's it. No moves to upgrade the defense or add a quality backup to give Alex Lyon a night off. One has to wonder what Yzerman was thinking.

Heading into the trade deadline, the Detroit defense needed an upgrade, or at the very least to send a contract away from the back end. Neither of those happened. Lyon has been playing a tremendous amount of hockey and the workload is starting to get to him. No move to add a goaltender.

The only trade Yzerman made was sending forward Kim Klostin to the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Radek Simek and a 7th-round pick in 2024. Simek was immediately sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL).

During Yzerman's press conference after the deadline was over, he was questioned about the lack of moves. He reasoned that he liked the progression of the prospects in Grand Rapids and stated that if they needed help they would rely on the young talent with the Griffins to fill any voids.

The Detroit Red Wings didn't make any big moves this trade deadline season

He also stated he was not going to pay a hefty price on a rental and send good prospects packing for someone who may leave in a short time after the season.

First, the Red Wings were on the brink of a playoff spot for the first time in years. Players around the league, good players, were dealt without much of a return.

Yzerman has the picks, prospects, and players with expiring contracts that could have moved for a quality piece. Detroit is a move or two away from solidifying this roster into playoff contention but, according to Yzerman, moves were not necessary.

Second, when he mentioned that he would call up players from Grand Rapids if there were a void in the main roster, was he telling the truth as to why he did not make a move?

This season, the same players with the Griffins had played a total of 31 games with Detroit spread across five players.

Defenseman Simon Edvinsson (2 games), forward Zach Aston-Reese (1 game), goaltender Michael Hutchinson (1 game), forward Jonatan Berggren (9 games), and forward Austin Czarnik (18 games) have been in the AHL all season and have barely had a sniff with the Red Wings.

If the talent in the AHL was so good, why are they still in Grand Rapids? Why have they not got more than a game or two if he liked what he saw? Edvinsson is the next big star for Detroit and has greatly improved his game yet played two in Detroit.

Berggren has produced when in the Red Wings lineup but sits frustrated in Grand Rapids. So if they were that good, why didn't Yzerman trade away expiring contracts and call up these young guns in the minors? This makes no sense.

This was a huge missed opportunity for Yzerman to improve a playoff-worthy team with assets to fill voids. Defenseman Joel Edmundson, Matt Dumba, and Ilya Lyubushkin were all moved for pennies that Detroit could have added for nothing.

Goaltenders Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen were also moved and players who would have been crucial to the playoff push in the last month of the season.

When one looks at the missed opportunities, we also have to look at the teams around the Red Wings in the standings and how they improved on Friday, March 8th.

The Florida Panthers added Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo. the Toronto Maple Leafs added Edmundson, Lyubushkin, and Connor Dewar, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, now ahead of Detroit for a wild card spot, added Matt Dumba and Anthony Duclair. Meanwhile, Detroit added a depth defenseman who was sent to Grand Rapids.

This trade deadline did not make sense, nor did Yzerman's reasoning for making no moves to improve the roster or moving contracts to give them more cap space. Teams around them had holes to fill and they filled them with trades.

This lack of movement by the Red Wings may have sealed their fate in their search for a playoff spot. Detroit needed help, especially with the injury to Dylan Larkin, at every position and they made the smallest of moves that does not impact the current roster.

Detroit has fallen in the standings due to a five-game losing streak and there seems to be no turning this around soon. Detroit and Yzerman may have sealed their fate and hopes of playing into April with the lack of moves. If they do not acquire a playoff spot, this off-season is going to be massive for Yzerman.