Inside the Article:
With two selections within the top 20 of the NHL Draft, the Detroit Red Wings and general manager Steve Yzerman had ample opportunity to dangle one (or even both) of the picks from last night's opening night of the NHL Draft to use as trade bait in exchange for offensive help. It didn't happen.
Steve Yzerman once again played it safe
This isn't to impugn the skills or character of the two selections that the Red Wings made on Wednesday night. By all accounts, Canadian-born forward Nate Danielson and Swedish-born defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka are talented youngsters whom Yzerman clearly envisions playing a role in the future success of the franchise.
But as most of us have been wondering, why wasn't there a deal swung to bring in a bonafide offensive threat?
Alex DeBrincat remains an Ottawa Senator – for now
The most obvious name at the forefront of fans minds is Ottawa Senators forward Alex DeBrincat, who just so happens to be from the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills. By all accounts, he'd be open to coming home to play for Detroit, and has been predicted by many top NHL analysts as ultimately landing with his hometown team.
But when news broke earlier on Wednesday that Senators general manager Pierre Dorian stating that the team wasn't close to a trade of DeBrincat, you can be excused if you let out a bit of a frustrated groan. Forwards in the NHL who have broken the 40 goal plateau not once but twice in their careers and are still under the age of 26 don't grow on trees, and despite his smaller stature at just 5'7, there's no reason to believe that he wouldn't add an immediate offensive punch to the Red Wings who desperately need help scoring goals.
DeBrincat hasn't been the only offensive talent linked to the Red Wings. There have been reports that Detroit has shown interest in Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny (31G, 30 A last season in 61 games), while there have been those clamoring to see Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor (another metro-Detroit native and former Michigan Wolverine) come home as part of what is expected to be a Jets fire sale this summer.
When is this Detroit Red Wings rebuild finally going to pick up some serious steam?
This is the question from Red Wings fans that has begun to grow from a faint whisper to a much louder register – how much longer until they are competing for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (and eventually, the Cup itself) again?
Yes, Yzerman inherited an absolute mess from Ken Holland, and he was sure to preach a message of patience after formally returning to Detroit in April of 2019. Had it not been for Yzerman's return, there's a very real possibility that fans would have still had to see Frans Nielsen and Justin Abdelkader still playing through the end of 2021-22 thanks to Holland's gross mismanagement in his later years on the job.
There have been multiple trades and free-agent signings by Yzerman, with the most new players that he's brought aboard having arrived last summer. While the newest Red Wings provided a boost, it still wasn't enough to get them over the hump last season. Their playoff drought is now at seven years, the longest in team history since the 1970s and the 2nd longest active streak in the NHL today behind only the Buffalo Sabres, who haven't qualified since 2011.
Fans are beginning to get restless
The fact that Yzerman said that he doesn't feel pressure to accelerate the rebuild earlier this month sent a shudder through a great many in the fan base. Outspoken 97.1 The Ticket host Mike Valenti stated not long after those comments that if a major move wasn't forthcoming and that Yzerman was indeed telling the truth when he said he planned on using both Round 1 picks, that he was officially questioning the so-called “Yzerplan” as it has come to be known by fans.
Frankly, I can't blame him for feeling that way, because at some point, this rebuild needs to gain some serious steam. While the selections of both Danielson and Sandin Pellikka may ultimately prove successful down the road, there isn't any reason why more of an effort shouldn't have been made to use one of those two picks as a trade piece to acquire an established player who is ready to play immediately – not someone whom fans will have to wait another two to three years to see in the NHL.
- The Red Wings stood pat on Day 1 of the 2023 NHL Draft with zero trade
- Detroit is already in desperate need of offensive help
- A trade for the Michigan-born Alex DeBrincat didn't materialize (as of yet)
- Fans are beginning to get restless with the slow rebuild
Bottom Line: Trust the Yzerplan – but can we get moving?
We all want to see the Red Wings back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where literally anything can happen. Yzerman is a brilliant and methodical hockey mind, but it's not out of line for fans to begin to wonder when a major move is coming that will really help accelerate the rebuilding process, or if at all. That being said, there's still plenty of time between now and the start of next season. For all we know, Yzerman could be preparing to drop an atomic bomb on us all in the form of an earth-shattering acquisition that would immediately propel them into an instant postseason team.
We'll wait and see – but as the late Tom Petty reminded us all, the waiting really is the hardest part.