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Detroit Red Wings Free Agency in Review

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Steve Yzerman, the general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, has had a busy free-agency period thus far. This is not surprising given how much salary cap space the team has. According to Cap Friendly, the team has $20,527,777 left in salary cap space. So, the team not signing Bobby Ryan is not for a lack of salary cap space. This is something new for the Red Wings who never had salary cap space under former general manager Ken Holland. Yes, Holland did lead the franchise to three Stanley Cups in 22 years.

Steve Yzerman has signed many players to short-term contracts that will take them up to an unrestricted free agency. Jakub Vrana is the latest example of this. Tyler Bertuzzi also recently signed a two-year contract extension with the team. Bertuzzi is coming off of a season in which he played in only nine games and has already had back surgery during the offseason. These are the kinds of contracts that will put them in the best position when they are finally ready to compete for a Stanley Cup.

How will they do that? The Red Wings will have to have the various number of prospects that are currently in the minor leagues’ pan out. Most likely of those is defenseman Moritz Seider, who Steve Yzerman said will have the opportunity to be a star at the NHL level. ‘If Moritz Seider isn’t in the top six, he won’t be watching from the press box. We have experience, depth, and are in a better position today than we were a year ago.’ From being shocked that he was drafted sixth overall in the 2019 NHL entry draft to the general manager of the team that drafted him, Seider has done nothing but impress those in the hockey world.

Goaltending has been a position of concern for the Red Wings recently. Jonathan Bernier was a great goaltender for the Red Wings, even with the defense ahead of him struggling. Danny Dekeyser was forced to retire after 2020 after being buried in the AHL. Yzerman also acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic in exchange for the 94th pick in the 2021 NHL draft and the rights to Bernier. Nedeljkovic was a recent Calder Cup trophy finalist. The fact that the Carolina Hurricanes made this goalie available in trade, which is surprising, to say the least.

Could the Detroit Red Wings trade Bobby Ryan before the trade deadline during the 2021-2022 season? A veteran winger who is known as one of the best guys in “the room” could be just the player that a team contending for a Stanley Cup wants. Any draft picks that the Red Wings receive in a Bobby Ryan trade would only accelerate the rebuild. Unfortunately, for Red Wings fans, this has become all too familiar. That is not to say that the team has not improved under head coach Jeff Blashill. This is in part due to the moves that Steve Yzerman has made as general manager.

Without the signing of Bobby Ryan, the Detroit Red Wings roster is likely to struggle to score again. The team came in 30th place in goals scored during the 2020-2021 regular season. Defenseman Filip Hronek led the team with 26 points scored in 56 games played. At only 23-years-old Hronek will likely be one of the most important defensemen for the Red Wings when they contend for the Stanley Cup again. The team needs to fill out the rest of their defense. Moritz Seider will have every opportunity to be part of this defensive outfit going forward.

In addition to the free agency signings, Bobby Ryan is a free agent that signed with the Red Wings during the last off-season. Ryan scored seven goals and added seven assists in 33 games played for the team. On a team that is going to continue to struggle to score as their prospects develop toward the NHL level, ranking at or near the bottom of the league in scoring for the last five seasons, a veteran presence is needed to mentor any young players on a team’s roster. I previously wrote that after becoming a free agent in 2019, Bobby Ryan said that there was one reason that he was excited to sign with the Detroit Red Wings, that reason was Steve Yzerman.

This “success” at signing free agents comes on the heels of the Tampa Bay Lightning winning their second straight Stanley Cup. Steve Yzerman was the general manager that built the team in Tampa Bay. It remains to be seen whether or not the Detroit Red Wings will have the same kind of success.

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