Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman appeared on yesterday’s episode of “The Word on Woodward,” engaging in a short Q and A session…
And Yzerman’s comments were annotated by MLive’s Ansar Khan…
“Ideally, us along with the other non-playoff teams would love and prefer to start a little bit early, get more time in together,” Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said in an interview on DetroitRedWings.com. “We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to work something out with the National Hockey League and the players association.”
Training camps for all 31 teams are scheduled to begin on Nov. 17 with the 2020-21 season tentatively slated for a Dec. 1 start. The Red Wings have not skated as a team since March 11, the day before the season was paused due to COVID-19.
Yzerman, appearing on “The Word on Woodward,” talked about the difficulty of assessing prospects and younger players without a normal off-season, which would have included development camp in late June and a prospects tournament in early September.
“The later start will affect every team, more so the teams that weren’t in the playoffs or played very few playoff games, and the fact we’ve been out since March, a little bit of unpredictability as to what to expect from our team,” Yzerman said. “There will be changes in our lineup. Are some of our younger players ready? Ultimately, we don’t really know because we won’t have a normal preseason, we won’t have had an opportunity to really assess them. Decisions will be made over a short period of time, so I think it makes it a little bit more difficult to know what to expect from our team starting off.”
As well as the Detroit News’s Matt Charboneau…
[It’s] a later start than usual and puts a team like the Red Wings – an organization firmly in the middle of a rebuild – in a tough spot when it’s trying to put together its roster for the upcoming season. With so many young players vying for a spot in Detroit, the shutdown has likely stunted development for some while making it difficult to project if a player is ready to play in the NHL.
“The later start will I think affect every team, but more so the teams that weren’t in the playoffs or played very few playoff games,” Yzerman said. “The fact we’ve been out since March, (there is) a little bit of unpredictability as to what to expect from our team. There will be changes in our lineup. Are some of our younger players ready? Ultimately, we don’t really know because we won’t have a normal preseason, we won’t have had an opportunity to really assess them. So the decision will be made over a short period of time, so I think it makes it a little bit more difficult as the know what to expect from our team.”
Who some of those younger players might be remains to be seen. Yzerman referenced a handful of familiar names when talking about who could end up in Detroit next season, including first-round picks Moritz Seider, Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno and Michael Rasmussen, while also mentioning the likes of Gustav Lindstrom and Givani Smith, a pair of second-round picks.
Their seasons were all cut short last season, too, but Yzerman doesn’t sound like he’s rushing any of them along, stressing they need to be able to contribute at the NHL level before securing a spot in Detroit.
“We haven’t seen them since March, so I’m curious to see once we get into playing where they’re at, but all these guys aren’t far off,” Yzerman said. “They were all really excelling as the year went on, and I mentioned those names just because they’re the closest (to reaching the NHL). They are in Grand Rapids, playing in the American League, and potentially some of those say, one or two or more could push for a spot on our team.
“But again, our decision would be come down to for these younger guys, if they’re playing in Detroit we want them playing regular, and if they’re not going to play regular, I’d rather I prefer them playing whether it’s American League or back in junior for that matter or in their European leagues.”
The AHL has announced it will begin the season no earlier than Dec. 4 but that is not set in stone.
It’s a league that depends on attendance and the COVID-19 pandemic might not permit many, if any, fans.
“There’s a lot of factors that go into the AHL returning to play next season,” Yzerman said. “Obviously, we as an entire league in the NHL, it’s our main development, it is our main source of all of our call-ups, our players close to playing are in Grand Rapids playing for us, so we’re hopeful that we’re in a position to restart and then we can make it work. Again, here we are in early September, working through, just like the NHL is working through – every league for that matter is working through all the complications that go with trying to restart in this pandemic. We’re hopeful we can get it done but there’s a lot of work to be done and some of the things are really out of our hands, like a lot of industries.”
The main thing Yzerman is looking forward to is getting the Red Wings back on the ice together as soon as possible.
“Our season ended abruptly, the NHL season ended abruptly,” Yzerman said. “Had a chance to watch the playoffs on television. I’ve really enjoyed watching the hockey, the level of play has been outstanding. So it just makes you yearn for wanting to get back to playing.
“For myself, it’s my second year as general manager, we want to take a step forward and I’m anxious to continue with our rebuilding of our team and get back to playing.”
Quick update: WXYZ’s Brad Galli posted a clip summarizing Yzerman’s comments as well: