Detroit Offseason Rewind

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - APRIL 15: Jakub Vrana #15 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his second period goal in front of Kevin Lankinen #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks at Little Caesars Arena on April 15, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

A lot has happened this offseason for the Red Wings, Trades, Expansion Draft, Real Draft, Free Agency all have come and passed for Detroit. Today we are going to try and fast forward and recap the off season the Wings have enjoyed thus far. We can all take a look at what has progressed thus far with Detroit and most of us would say we are thrilled. A Future top defenseman will make his appearance. Players who we thought may need another year now have a real opportunity to make the roster and shine. Yzerman has constructed a true top six, something this team has lacked the last four seasons or more. The future is bright, there is no doubt about that, but only time will tell if the correct moves have been made to have a long lasting contender for years to come. 

Yzerman might just have the best instincts of any General Manager in the league. The man is simply able to take teams to the cleaners when it comes to the trade market. A couple of quick examples being most recently the acquisition of Jakub Vrana from Washington and Nedeljkovic from Carolina. Vrana was acquired as well as Richard Panik, and first round pick for Anthony Mantha toward the end of last season and all the young Czech forward has done is score. Panik has since been moved by the Wings and the first round pick was used to trade up and grab a goaltender of the future. Mantha shined for a short while once he arrived in Washington, however has since fallen off once the team reached the playoffs, accumulating only two assists and 15 shots. Vrana on the other hand averaged a point a game with eight goals since joining Detroit. Vrana went on to sign a 3 year deal with the Red Wings for a AAV of 5.25 million as of August 10th. 

Alex Nedeljkovic also known as “Ned” was acquired by Yzerman via a 3rd round pick in the 2021 draft as well as Jonathan Bernier who has yet to sign with the Hurricanes. The Wings were quick to re-sign Ned for 2 years at 3 million AAV. A win for Detroit once again in my opinion. I will say this, Carolina was in a hell of a spot with three goaltenders on the roster, including Nedeljkovic. The team also had Peter Mrazek who was hurt a majority of the year and James Reimer who showed some great moments during the regular season. It had to be tough with Alex being in the Hurricanes system for six years and watching him be traded out of town for a third round pick essentially. However, once again Yzerman saw an opportunity to capitalize on some good young talent and he did not miss. Ned finished 3rd in Calder voting last year and really showed some great potential as a future starter in the league for years to come. 

Detroit also made a minor trade acquiring Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lighting in exchange for a 6th round pick in the 2022 draft. Stephens has a gritty type of style and is a good faceoff guy where he hopes to replace Luke Glendening. Detroit will be missing the staple at center in Glendening as he moved on the Dallas Stars this offseason. 

The Expansion Draft has come and gone and the Seattle Kraken decided to take Dennis Cholowski from Detroit. When the protection list was first released all of the Detroit faithful had to feel the Kraken would take Troy Stecher. Yzerman decided to protect Leddy, Hronek, and Gustav Lindstrom with his three defensemen picks instead. Stecher had just come off a strong showing at the World Championships as well as a high graded regular season with Detroit. Cholowski ended up being the pick for Seattle and I assume he sees more of an opportunity with the Kraken than he had in Detroit the last few seasons. The former first round draft pick by Ken Holland had one strong year with Detroit back in the 2018-19 season playing 52 games and tallying 16 points. 

The NHL Draft turned out to be one of the more exciting things this offseason for the Red Wings. Steve Yzerman and his scouting staff did their research and traded up twice throughout the big night. The biggest move of them all was Detroit using the first round from Washington to trade up and grab goaltender Sebastian Cossa. This young goaltender stands 6’ 6” and is only 18 years of age. Yzerman pulled a fast one on everyone including myself by taking Cossa instead of Jesper Wallstedt.

The Minnesota Wild eventually took the other young netminder and it will be fun to see their careers in comparison. We can not forget Detroit also had the #6 overall pick as well and they took defenseman Simon Edvinsson. This large individual stands 6’ 5” himself and is also only 18 years of age. Edvinsson will play in the SHL for Frolunda HC. Imagine coming across the blue line come 2024 with Edvinsson and Seider staring you down at the line, “Thanks, but no thanks”. 

Lastly I wanted to touch base on the Free Agency period that is currently going on. Detroit has already made some great deals including re-signing players like Bertuzzi, Vrana, and Gagner. The Wings also may have brought in their future second line center. Detroit signed Pius Suter to a two year 3.25 million AAV contract in hopes he will be able to join his former teammates Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri on the second line. The three players once played on a line for Guelph Storm of the OHL. Suter had some fantastic games against the Red Wings while wearing a Blackhawks jersey including his first career hat trick. Detroit also brought in defensemen Nick Leddy, on a one year deal at  5.5 million AAV contract.

The hope is with veterans like Staal, Leddy, and Stecher it will help the progression of Moritz Seider when he joins the Wings this upcoming season. Lastly the Wings signed defenseman Jordan Oesterle, a former Arizona Coyote to a two year, 1.35 million AAV contract to secure the back end of the defensive group. 

We can all start the process of picturing lines together and who will be paired with who on the blueline, but the truth of the matter is all of us will be wrong in one way or another. Yzerman is the running the casino and always has all the cards, He has been an unpredictable General Manager at times and I truly believe that’s all part of the fun. The Red Wings have a development camp in Traverse City, Michigan coming up with a Prospect Tournament September 16th – 20th and the main training camp occurring September 23rd – 28th. Look for players like Lucas Raymond and Jonatan Berggren to do everything they came to make the roster and create more difficult decisions for the organization.

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