Connect with us

Detroit Red Wings

Quiet July 1 Could be Blessing in Disguise For Red Wings

Only 10 forwards currently on Detroit’s NHL roster



Jonatan Berggren, Red Wings
Jonatan Berggren figures to be playing for the Red Wings next season. Will other prospects be joining him?

July 1 is a national holiday in Canada and the Detroit Red Wings were joining the celebration by taking much of the day off.

While NHL teams were spending a record $1 billion on unrestricted free agents, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman was going with more of an Ernie Harwell approach to the day. He was standing by the side of the road, watching it all go by.

Yzerman was opting to be frugal with his spending and you know what? That might not turn out to be a bad thing.

The excitement that NHL teams and their fanbases are feeling following the July 1 activity often gives way to sober second thoughts of desperation and regret.

Red Wings Develop Prospects Slowly

Perhaps Yzerman’s calm, measured approach may end up leading to a change in philosophy as far as the club’s approach to developing young players. In the past, Yzerman has proven to be a disciple of his predecessor when discussing prospects.

Ken Holland was of the opinion that you allow young players to ripen on the vine before allowing them the chance to blossom on an NHL roster. Yzerman clearly agrees with that sentiment.

It’s why forward Jonatan Berggren and defenseman Albert Johansson, both out of waiver-exempt options, figure to be on the Detroit roster this season, even though no one can truly say either is a sure-fire NHLer.

Factoring in Berggren and unsigned restricted free agents Lucas Raymond and Joe Veleno, the Red Wings currently only have 10 forwards on the NHL roster. Does that mean there are going to be opening for the likes of Marco Kasper, Carter Mazur, Elmer Soderblom, or Nate Danielson to right their way on to the roster?

Possibly, but not probably it would seem.

“Today I wouldn’t want to say to any of these kids that they don’t have a chance to make it,” Yzerman said, before adding his usual caveat. “But they’re gonna have to push somebody out.”

This has proven to be the Red Wings blueprint for decades, but here’s the thing – you could operate in that manner when the playoffs were a given and Cup contention was an annual event.

This is a team that’s missed the playoffs seven seasons in succession. Maybe it’s time to rethink the blueprint.

Many Goals Departing

The Red Wings really have taken a hit since the end of the season in terms of depth, especially scoring depth. Gone are David Perron (17 goals), Daniel Sprong (18), Shayne Gostisbehere (10) and Jake Walman (12). That’s 57 goals exiting.

Regression for a team that missed the playoffs by a point last season would appear quite possible. While the Red Wings have patchworked the past couple of years with journeymen veterans, teams like Philadelphia, Buffalo and Ottawa were opting to run out their kids and take some lumps while they were learning.

Will their kids be a step ahead of Detroit’s youngsters on the NHL learning curve because of that?

Who knows what other plans the Red Wings might have cooking right now on the back burner. Yzerman isn’t one for entering the sharing circle when it comes to discussing his plans for his team.

Following the weekend’s NHL draft, he certainly didn’t seem at all concerned about not signing any A-list free agents.

“If we can get somebody at the right number, we’ll do it,” Yzerman said at the time. “If not, we’ll wait. We’re confident we’ll fill our roster out one way or another.”

Will Red Wings Give Youth A Chance?

Regardless, it doesn’t sound as though the Red Wings are considering a change in philosophy when it comes to how their grow their prospect pool. Although, Yzerman is leaving the door open a crack to that possbility.

“At this stage I’m not prepared to leave a roster spot open, maybe not in the top nine, for one of these kids yet,” Yzerman said. “They’re gonna have to really take a step and that’s possible, if they have a good summer and a good preseason. But we anticipate most of those kids at least starting in GR.

“Again I don’t have a hard and fast guideline. If we’re in camp and they look like they’re gonna play, we’ll find a spot for them.”