While the fanbase seems to be divided on the issue, Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is expressing confidence that his July 1 moves in unrestricted free agency were filling in holes that the team desperately needed to fill.
“We (didn’t) address every need that we had, but addressed a lot of the needs we had,” Yzerman said. “Signed two goaltenders, addressed our blue line, got a right-shot defenseman (Justin Holl), which was a need, a defenseman that plays on the power play (Shane Gostisbehere), which is a real need, a right-shot centerman.
THIS JUST IN 🤭
Justin Holl's heading to Detroit on a three-year deal!
— NHL (@NHL) July 1, 2023
“Daniel Sprong addresses another right winger, right-shot winger, (who) scored some goals. Christian Fischer, (is) a good-solid checker, penalty killer, another right winger, right shot. J.T. Compher can play any of the three forward positions, (will be) very versatile for us.
“Overall, we targeted specific needs and we were able to address those. Very comfortable with the term of the all the contracts.”
In Sprong, Yzerman is adding a 20-goal scorer without being required to surrender any of his own assets. Fischer (6-foot-2, 212 pounds), Sprong (6-foot, 202 pounds), and Compher (6-foot, 190 pounds) all are adding size to a forward group that must be harder to play against.
Alex Lyon is a netminder who began the Stanley Cup playoffs as the No. 1 goalie for the Florida Panthers. James Reimer has 13 years of NHL puckstopping experience. There should be real competition for the role as backup to Ville Husso. That’s unlike last season, when Alex Nedeljkovic was fumbling away the job and then the team appeared to be genuinely reluctant to give starts to Magnus Hellberg.
Yzerman Comfortable With Compher Term
Yzerman was also drawing criticism for giving a term of five years to Compher, but he was quite content in defending that decision.
“I think he’s a very good athlete, first of all,” Yzerman said. “He’s 28 years old and has remained relatively healthy and he’s been in the league for a long time. He’s a good skater. At a five-year term, I’m comfortable with that.”
Yzerman also was relying on Compher’s friends like Dylan Larkin and Andrew Copp to get the 411 on the former Colorado Avalanche forward.
“Do they take care of themselves, do they train, what kind of lifestyle do they lead?,” Yzerman was listing as some of the background checks he performed on Compher. “We feel comfortable that a five-year term is reasonable.
“He’s a natural centerman, he’s a right-shot centerman, which we don’t have. He has played all three forward positions, he has played on the power play, he’s killed penalties. I think he’s a very versatile player for us. That ability to move around makes him very valuable.”
The Detroit GM can also see Compher helping get Larkin over the hump and back into the playoffs.
“I think he’ll be a real help for Dylan,” Yzerman said. “Dylan, he’s lived through some challenging years here. He’s been patient and he wants to win and I think a guy like J.T.’s experience can help Dylan get through this and persevere through it.”