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Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman hints at further signings as he recaps free-agency

Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has had a busy offseason thus far, continuing to put his mark on the team as he enters his third season on the GM since taking over for Ken Holland in 2019.

And after his work in the recently completed 2021 NHL Draft, he turned his attention to free-agency. There are several new faces aboard in the Motor City, and among those include highly touted center Pius Suter, whom the Chicago Blackhawks elected not to re-sign. Following the departure of veteran Luke Glendening to the Dallas Stars, Yzerman was quick to swoop in and lock up Suter to a two-year deal.

“A few things to look at – when he wasn’t qualified by Chicago at age 25, he fits in the same age group of our core and as we try to transition younger players onto the team,” Yzerman said of Suter. “He fits in with the core group with Dylan (Larkin), Tyler (Bertuzzi), and Robby Fabbri. And the other obvious is a center, can offensive minded counterman which was a need for our team.”

Of course, being a former member of the Blackhawks, Detroit got an up-close and personal look at Suter this past season. Suter even scored a hat trick against Detroit at United Center for good measure.

“We got to watch him first hand eight times and he had success against us,” Yzerman said. “Doesn’t put it over the top, but he filled a need for us.”

“We had a big hole in the center position for an offensive minded playmaker, but watching him eight times last year over a relatively short period of time, you get a good feel for what their strengths are and what the do well on the ice and the kind of player that they are. It made us comfortable to reach out and sign him.”

Among Yzerman’s signings include Dearborn native Jordan Oesterle and former Red Wings enforcer Luke Witkowski, who returns to Detroit for a second tour of duty.

“We like his versatility,” Yzerman explained of Oesterle. “He was used in Arizona in all situations, PP PK, even on even strength. He’s a good starter, sop we think that’s important when you get into 4×4 and 3×3 OT, but we like his versatility.”

Not one to shy away from versatile players, Yzerman also explained that was a factor in electing to bring back Witkowski.

“His versatility – he can who up and play the right wing,” he said. “He’s rugged, hard nosed, a great person and leader. He gives us depth to player ere and in GM and gives the fleixitybity to play at two positions, and he’s tough as nails.

I’m not going to sign a player that we don’t think is a fit and can help us, but we’re still looking at a few things – not necessarily on the back end or in goal, but up front.”

Could Yzerman still have a few tricks left up his sleeve? Only time will tell, but he hinted that further signings up front could be in the near future.

“I’m not going to sign a player that we don’t think is a fit and can help us, but we’re still looking at a few things – not necessarily on the back end or in goal, but up front,” he said.

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