The Score’s John Matisz offers six “Free Agency Thoughts” this morning, and one of his points of emphasis involves the Detroit Red Wings:
Suddenly Sunny in Detroit
While being unveiled as the Detroit Red Wings’ GM last April, Steve Yzerman repeatedly said, “There’s a lot of work to be done.” The 2019-20 season hammered that point home; the Wings lost 54 of 71 games and finished with a stunning minus-122 goal differential.
Conversely, the past couple of weeks have been awfully encouraging for the franchise. First, the Yzerman-built Lightning won the Stanley Cup, which is a confidence booster. A few days later, Detroit received glowing reviews after taking Swedes Lucas Raymond and William Wallinder fourth and 32nd overall, respectively, in a 12-pick showing at the NHL draft.
Yzerman then made some shrewd moves over the weekend, signing middle-six forwards Vladislav Namestnikov (two years, $2 million per season) and Bobby Ryan (one year, $1 million) to beef up the Wings’ attack. The blue line has been reinforced, too, with UFAs Troy Stecher (two years, $1.7 million per season) and Jon Merrill (one year, $925,000) brought into the fold alongside veteran Marc Staal, who Detroit acquired via trade last month.
Toss in new starting goalie Greiss (two years, $3.6 million per season) and re-signed forward Sam Gagner (one year, $850,000), and you have a ton of short-term, low-cost, low-profile pickups. That’s exactly what the Wings need in abundance right now as the franchise evolves from a miserable tanking team to a semi-competitive rebuilding club.
Former GM Ken Holland left Yzerman a mess to clean up – bloated contracts, a lackluster prospect pipeline, no hope – but the ex-captain is starting to leave his mark.