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Detroit Red Wings

Yzerman Decides: Why Rent When He Owns Quality Players in GR?



Albert Johansson/Simon Edvinsson

GM Steve Yzerman’s decision not to pay for high priced rental properties at this NHL trade deadline came down to Yzerman liking what he sees on the ice from his players.

“Ultimately, I like to think part of why we weren’t very active this year at the deadline is we like the depth we have within the organization,” Yzerman said.

Although Yzerman wouldn’t phrase it like this, he gave his team a vote of confidence by being less active. His only move was trading away Klim Kostin who couldn’t crack the lineup. Yzerman shipped him to San Jose mostly to shed his $2 million salary for next season.

Red Wings Have Help Coming

“We have some good players in Grand Rapids, players that we signed last summer,” Yzerman said. “Some of our young prospects playing there provide us good depth. So, sitting at the deadline, looking at areas that could help us ultimately giving up a first- or a second- or a third-round pick for depth, we’re better off bringing up our guys from Grand Rapids for that.”

He didn’t like what teams were asking for rentals, especially given the risk of disrupting his team chemistry.

“I think the atmosphere within the team, at least it’s my understanding and my impression as close as I can get to the locker room is we have very good team spirit,” Yzerman said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm. You hear the players talk about how much they’re enjoying playing together. So that’s encouraging and they have gotten us into a good spot.”

The Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning hold down the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference, and the New York Islanders are two points behind.  The Islanders own a five-game winning streak and their GM Lou Lamoriello decided to stand pat.

Lightning Were Aggressive

The Lightning are still in win-now mode and acquired rambunctious defenseman Matt Dumba from Arizona and forward Anthony Duclair from San Jose. The New Jersey Devils also traded for goalie Jake Allen from Montreal and they have an outside shot of catching Detroit.

It’s possible the Lightning gained an advantage with their moves, but they are not in the same position as the Red Wings.

“I balance for where we’re at – an improving team that has a chance to make the playoffs, if we can make moves that help us get into the playoffs,” Yzerman said. “But we’re trying to build. We’re not one of those top teams that’s willing to give up first-round picks and top prospects to get in on some of those rental players or high-priced free agents at the deadline.”

Yzerman said he feels like he now has players in Grand Rapids for his Plan B.  Jonatan Berggren is having an exceptional season at forward and Yzerman is also bullish on Simon Edvinsson. He likes what he sees in Grand Rapids as well.

“We’ll sit pat with our group and if we get injuries we’ll go to Grand Rapids,” Yzerman said. “We feel those players are comparable to what we were able to do unless we were willing to give up our prime assets.”