What a whiplash.
That’s kinda how the opening of NHL free agency went for me. Steve Yzerman clearly came into this period of the offseason with the intention of giving his roster a violent shove into the next steps of his rebuild. It was a signing frenzy, which at first I was wary about but as the day went along.. I started to digest it all and it made more sense to me.
It started with the signing of Andrew Copp, 28 and a Michigan native. Yzerman gave him five years — that’s where the whiplash happens. I was expecting a few signings but fully expected Yzerman to keep the terms low, like he has the past few signing periods. Then came the signing of LHD Ben Chiarot. At 31, he seemed like the perfect “one-and-done” type deal but he got four years. I did not like the signing at first and I’m still not crazy about it, but he will no doubt toughen up this pillow-soft backend. They also added Olli Maatta, who is an ok player. Another tough, rugged LHD. I get it.
Then came the offense.
After adding players like David Perron and Dominik Kubalik, you start to get a better understanding of what’s going on. It’s clear that Steve Yzerman is building his defense in the trenches while adding some low-risk offensive weapons. Kubalik has scored 30 goals before... and Perron’s numbers on the power play speak for themselves: 26 PP points last season. The only Red Wing who scored over 20 was Moritz Seider (21) and among forwards, Lucas Raymond led the way with 18 PP points.
Another one! The biggest question is, will we be neighbors in Detroit too?? https://t.co/1DFpAvzS3K— Oskar Sundqvist (@sundqvist32) July 13, 2022
I also notice the abundance of former St. Louis Blues on this team. There’s something to be said about that but I can’t quite put it into words. Yet.
So you’ve added:
- Andrew Copp - Solidifying the 2nd line
- David Perron - A special teams weapon
- Dominik Kubalik - A third-line scorer
- Ben Chiarot - Sandpaper on the blue line
- Olli Maatta - Low-risk size at the bottom of your D pairings
Other notable additions: Austin Czarnik, Matt Luff
To me, it looks like Steve Yzerman is starting to position his team for the post-rebuild phase. It’s really not clear what an NHL team coached by Derek Lalonde will look like but it’s very clear they want to make the offense more potent and add some size to the defense. The terms of the contracts are what they are. The NHL is trending toward a major-shift in how important contract terms really are. The reality: The league has no problem when teams circumvent the cap. When you add that with the revolving-door that is rebuilding teams, you can usually find someone to help you with an ugly contract. That’s today’s NHL.
It’s far-from-clear what the opening night roster will look like. Trades could still happen and maybe a player like Simon Edvinsson forces Steve Yzerman’s hand for a roster spot. Either way, what is very clear is that it seems like there’s an evolving shift in approach for the front office. It seems an awful lot like the expectation of clinching a postseason isn’t too far away.
With all that being said, my friends... Never forget:
Steve Yzerman sums up Steve Yzerman: “I wouldn’t really read into anything I do.”— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 1, 2020