Detroit Red Wings made a clear shift in direction this offseason

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has carved out a clear direction this summer.

Heading into free agency, the Detroit Red Wings had a plethora of roster needs, not to mention a few areas that needed upgrading. Yzerman identified that Detroit had a glaring need down the middle of their lineup. The Red Wings have needed help at the center position since Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg unlaced their skates for the final time. The ultimate one-two punch down the middle turned things over to captain Dylan Larkin and none other than Frans Nielsen.

Since the failed Nielsen experiment, the Red Wings tried others such as Valtteri Filppula and Andreas Athanasiou, even elevating Luke Glendening at times. The Red Wings also tried converting Robby Fabbri from a winger to a center where he’d played growing up. Fabbri proved to be a reliable option, but once adding Pius Suter to the mix, Detroit elected to slide Fabbri back to the wing, where he appears more comfortable.

The Red Wings received some scoring stability last season, with Suter playing alongside Fabbri. That line didn’t reach its full potential with sniper Jakub Vrana sidelined for much of the season. That was followed by an ACL injury to Fabbri later in the campaign.

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With the offseason free-agent addition of Andrew Copp, the Red Wings have lengthened their lineup.

Not only will Copp help bolster Detroit’s lineup, but he also fits the mold of the player Yzerman treasures. Yzerman loves two-way hockey players. Players that are reliable in all three zones and tough to play against. This might be one of the main reasons the Red Wings elected not to pursue Johnny Gaudreau in free agency. Gaudreau is a tremendous talent coming off a career year, recording 40 goals and 115 points. But does he fit what Yzerman is looking for, and is Detroit ready to make that splash signing? Apparently not.

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Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings have determined their direction.

The addition of Copp will slide Suter down to the third line, where he should become much more effective. He seemed overmatched at times last season, playing against the opponents’ group of top six forwards. Suter is coming off a 15-goal season; that from a third-line center is respectable.

The Detroit Red Wings made it clear which direction they are headed with the types of players they brought in recently. The Red Wings have lacked depth scoring for years, and this has finally been addressed. The Red Wings added David Perron, 34, a veteran leader that is good for 25 goals. Perron is a Stanley Cup champion with the St. Louis Blues. Perron will bring stability to a youthful locker room and someone that will hold others accountable throughout the season.

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Yzerman also brought in a pair of veteran defensemen. Like Perron, Ben Chiarot wore an ‘A’ on his sweater during his time with the Montreal Canadiens. Two years ago, Chiarot was paired with Shea Weber playing every other shift during Montreal’s shocking run to the Stanley Cup finals. Chiarot not only brings leadership to Detroit but also a stable left-handed defense partner for Mortiz Seider. Detroit’s top pairing will once again be a strength of the team.

Detroit also added Olli Maatta, another veteran left-handed defender, and right-handed defenseman Mark Pysyk. Maatta most recently played in Los Angeles with the Kings and will likely fill the role Marc Staal vacated on the third unit. Pysyk may be his defense partner, who seems like he will be competing with Gustav Lindstrom, Jordan Oesterle, and Simon Edvinsson for a final spot.

Pysyk joins Detroit via Buffalo, where similar to Perron and Chiarot, he also wore an ‘A.’

Do you see a trend here?

Yzerman is focused on changing the culture among the Red Wings, bringing in high-character players. Detroit is adding leader-like players to help bridge the gap between a rebuilding franchise and one that has its sights set on the postseason again in the near future.

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