Everything Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said today

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman was an extremely busy man on the first day of the NHL free-agency period, signing several new players to contracts that vary in both terms and compensation.

Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings Kris Draper Axel Sandin Pellikka

He met with Detroit media representatives this afternoon at Little Caesars Arena, where he talked about the additions to the team and how they filled specific needs.

Addressing various Detroit Red Wings needs

*Note – the live stream of his remarks began after he had already begun, so a portion of what he said was missing*

“(Gostisbehere), a defenseman that plays on the power play which was a need,” Yzerman began. “A right-shot centerman – we feel Daniel Sprong adds another right-wing forward that scores goals. Christian Fischer, is a good solid penalty killer and a right-handed shot. J.T. Compher can play any of the three forward positions and is very versatile for us. Overall, we targeted specific needs and we were able to address those. With each player, we are very comfortable with the term of all the contracts

Yzerman was asked if there were any additional needs, and he responded right away with a joke.

“Sleep would be one,” he said with a chuckle.

He continued: “Our needs, we’d like to score more. How we do that, I think the general consensus is the Red Wings need to score. We need to keep the puck out of our net and be better defensively, and for our special teams to be better. I’m counting collectively on the entire group and roster we have now for everyone to chip in on the offense, which will help us. Getting Robby Fabbri back healthy, Lucas Raymond is a year older. J.T. Compher coming into the mix and chipping in.”

Collectively, I expect us to improve a little bit, but it’s probably still not where we’d all like it to be, so we’ll continue in the offseason here to see what, if anything – whether it be through some more free-agents that are still out there, or even look at potential trades.

Generally after July 1 and 2, things settle down, and teams re-evaluate where they are and what they need to do. For various reasons, we may have to make a move. We’ve all kind of settled in after July 1 and 2, kind of knowing now where we go from here, and we’ll explore some other opportunities potentially.

Lack of NHL Trades at the Draft

“At the Draft specifically, there was a lot of talk of picks moving back and forth,” Yzerman said. “There was some discussion and we kicked some tires. At the Draft, you’re mostly focused on the Draft and any potential trades on your mind, you may have some discussions but there wasn’t anything close. We talked amongst each other throughout the course of when teams’ seasons ended all the way through now, and we’ll continue that now in calling teams around the League.”

I guess I wasn’t that surprised that there weren’t a lot of moves made.”

On the Detroit Red Wings signing J.T. Compher

“I think he’s a very good athlete at 28 years old and has remained relatively healthy,” he said. “He’s been in the League a long time, six years now or so. After five or six years in the League, nobody is perfectly healthy, that’s the reality. You get bumps and bruises along the way, but at a five-year term, I’m comfortable with that. One, he’s a good skater and has remained relatively healthy.”

We try to do as much background work as we can on players. Fortunately, J.T. has some friends within our organization….we feel comfortable. Anything can happen injury-wise, but at this stage, a five-year term is reasonable. I like his versatility as a hockey player, he’s a natural centerman and a right-shot centerman which we don’t have at this time.”

“He’s been through a lot and is a professional. It’s difficult to play on a losing team, I’ve had that experience myself. We all want to play on good teams, and you benefit from the experience and he can help our players. I think he’ll be a help to Dylan, who has lived through challenging years here and has been patient and wants to win. I think a guy like J.T.’s experience can help Dylan get through his and persevere through this. Having been on a Stanley Cup team also is a real benefit.”

Addressing the salary cap

“We have a lot of flexibility, but that can change dramatically,” he explained. “We’re going to be careful about locking yourself into term and into no-movement clauses that don’t give you flexibility. We’re trying to plan for the future, but the plan changes dramatically from year to year since we don’t know where we’re drafting next year or which free agents will be out there. Some of our players, we have hope that they’re going to take steps – some will, some won’t. We kind of adjust; the plan changes every year.”

Simon Edvinsson’s outlook for this year

The Red Wings made defenseman Simon Edvinsson their 1st pick of the 2021 Draft, and he was able to get in some experience at the NHL level last season, scoring two goals in the nine games he appeared in. But in Steve Yzerman’s words, don’t expect to see him play a big role on the team – at least, not yet.

“We have high hopes for Simon, and I’m not prepared to put him on the team in a top-six role,” he said. “Certainly, I don’t think it’s beyond a possibility that Simon comes in and has an outstanding camp and preseason and simply forces his way into the lineup, that’s what every one of us fans and in the organization would like to see happen.”

If it goes, great and we’ll figure it out. But at this stage to say that we’re going to put him right in the top-six, I’m not prepared to say that. It’s unfair to him and it’s not the right thing for any of our young players.”

Addressing scoring needs

The plan isn’t necessarily that we’re going to score by committee, we need more goals. My expectation is that we’ll get a couple more out of all these guys, and that’ll increase our scoring. I think we’re going to be a collectively better defensive team, and that will help us as well. Vegas won because they had great contributions up and down the lineup; they got important goals from up and down the lineup, and that’s ultimately how you win.

If you rely on too few guys, generally teams that are winning in the NHL and going a long way, they have depth. Going all the way back to our teams when there was no salary cap, you had Kris Draper and Doug Brown scoring big goals in the playoffs. We had depth and good teams have depth.

“We all would love a couple of big-time scorers, and hopefully we’ll get that, and we’ll continue to work at that. How we go about it is a big of a challenge.”

Daniel Sprong’s addition to the Detroit Red Wings

Two years ago, he played in Washington,” he said. “He’s been around in a few organizations, he’s always been a talented player. I took notice of him two years ago, and looked like he was becoming an NHL regular. In Seattle this year, we played them twice and I watched their team and was very impressed with the speed they played with and the depth they had. Daniel looked like he had taken another step, and he wasn’t qualified by them.”

We took a look and took notice that he might be a fit for us, and we got into free agency and started to work on some things. We could use another right-shot forward and need some goals, so we thought it was a very good value signing.”

“We think he can contribute goal scoring, and potentially at a good age that he can continue to grow. I like his scoring ability and his size, and offensive abilities. It fits a need for us.”

Waiving of Filip Zadina

“Unfortunately for Filip last year, he missed a lot of time due to injury,” he said. I thought in the 30-ish games he played, I saw growth in his game. Prior to the Draft, through his agent, he had asked if he could potentially go somewhere else and look for a better opportunity and fresh start. So, I’ve tried to do that and tried to find a place for him to play, someone interested in Filip who would maybe give him that opportunity. I’ve not been able to do that, so we put him on waivers today to try and give him an opportunity to go to an organization to play more, we’ll see what happens.”

“I’m not writing off his career by any means, I think that he made significant steps. It’s been a challenge and he’s had some injuries playing in Detroit, but I think he has upside and can still be a valuable player in the NHL. He was held back last year due to injury; it happens.”

Key Points

  • Steve Yzerman was extremely active in free agency
  • He sat down to discuss his moves today at Little Caesars Arena
  • Among the topics he discussed were potentially adding more scoring, the waiving of Filip Zadina, and where Simon Edvinsson slots into this upcoming season’s team

Bottom Line: Steve Yzerman may not be done adding to the Detroit Red Wings yet

Detroit’s general manager feels that he added the right kind of pieces to the team but also left the door open for more moves.

We’ll keep our attention on any further potential moves made by the Red Wings.

Written by Paul Tyler

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