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Takeaways from Steve Yzerman’s Pre-Draft Press Conference

Steve Yzerman’s pre-draft press conference is in the books, and there were a number of interesting takeaways from what he said. We’ll lay out some of the biggest topics in this column, but please, watch the press conference if you have the time. A lot of noise on social media is making it seem like the team is doomed due to the situation they’re in with contracts and salary cap status, but I could not disagree more after listening to Yzerman speak. Yes, there are some obstacles ahead, but it seems like Detroit’s front office has a good understanding of how they will tackle/address those challenges.

Dylan Larkin had offseason surgery

Perhaps the biggest news out of Steve Yzerman’s press conference was related to Dylan Larkin. Larkin was battling an upper-body injury late in the season, and turns out that injury required surgery. Yzerman said Larkin is training, but not skating/shooting just yet. A little concerning, however, the team expects the captain to be 100% for training camp.

Update on Lucas Raymond & Moritz Seider contract talks

Depending on who you ask, the contract negotiation situations with Seider and Raymond aren’t ideal. Not because there’s concern the duo of young stars won’t get signed, but because Yzerman doesn’t believe they will be signed before July 1st. That means free agency will be a little tricky, again depending on who you ask. Most would prefer the contracts to be wrapped up before free agency opens, so that the team has a definitive understanding of what their salary cap situation is. Reading a lot of reaction on social media, there is concern from some fans that this could mean no big free agent splashes.

Here is my slightly-nuanced opinion: Stop worrying so much about the cap situation. We see teams wiggle their way out of tight spots every season, even when it seems like they are completely hogtied. Seider and Raymond will get paid and Detroit will be active but selective with free agent signings. I fully believe that the front office has a great understanding of what it will cost to get Mo and Lucas re-signed — it is their job after all. If they find themselves in cap hell a month from now, they’ll need to get creative… But there is time to figure all of that out and I’m confident the front office can navigate that. It’s a long offseason. Lots can happen. I’ll worry about this whole situation if we’re going into training camp without Seider and/or Raymond signed.

Staying with pick 15

It doesn’t sound like Yzerman is terribly interested in moving the 15th pick, BUT, he did say that moving up/down in the Draft is something that happens at the Draft. So, reading between the lines, I believe they will make a trade happen if they see a player they like slide closer to them. Yzerman said that the team is still in the phase of taking the best player available.

Goalies Galore

Sounds like Yzerman wants to get a “number three” goaltender that won’t necessarily be on the NHL roster full-time. Sebastian Cossa is poised for a bigger role in Grand Rapids (which is the right decision), and with so much uncertainty regarding Ville Husso and his ability to handle a heavy workload, sounds like a depth signing/acquisition is on the cards.

There were a lot of interesting topics discussed in the press conference, another reason for you to take the time and watch it, but I will say that the contrast between the presser itself and the comments on social media are startling. Yzerman was calm, but reiterated that this will be a challenging offseason to navigate due to contracts, salary cap, and such a condensed schedule of events (SCF, Draft, free agency, etc.) In fact, Yzerman touched on the offseason schedule a bit — saying that he would like to see it spread out more so that teams have more time to plan. I’m sure that will be a big topic at the GM meetings.

The 2024 NHL Draft is set for June 28-29, then it’s a one-day break before NHL free agency opens on July 1. After that, the real offseason slog begins. The key takeaways from Steve Yzerman after this press conference are that Raymond and Seider’s deals will get done, the team will be active (but selective) in free agency, and any draft pick swapping will happen on the Draft floor in Las Vegas.

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