Since Steve Yzerman’s appointment as general manager, the Red Wings legend has mostly kept quiet. He’s certainly not afraid of the media, but sometimes the best strategy with them is just to not say anything at all. Yzerman is a master at giving answers with lots of words, but that don’t reveal anything really. We saw more of that this afternoon, but he did address a few questions directly, especially as they pertained to some imminent NHL deadlines like the draft and the buyout period.
Here are some of the points that I found interesting from this afternoon’s press conference:
On Buyouts and Trades:
It’s no secret that there are a lot of bad contracts on this team, but Yzerman was pretty doubtful that there would be any buyouts this Summer. This may frustrate parts of the fan base, but after this upcoming season there is a parting in these clouds as Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley come off the books. Then the year after that is Frans Nielsen’s final season. Since day one, Yzerman has been preaching that this is going to take time, so why eat up cap space on a buyout when you can just wait them out?
As far as trades go, Yzerman said that he’ll explore the free agency market to fill roster holes before he trades anyone out. He’s aware that there are holes in the roster and is open to backfilling with young players, but he does need to ice an NHL team next year and if he can get some help from free agency in doing that, he will.
On Pending UFAs:
The Wings have a few pending UFAs coming off the books and Yzerman was asked directly about them. He’s been in touch with Luke Witkowski, but wouldn’t say more than that. He’s also spoken to Niklas Kronwall and said that if Kronner wants to come back, he’s welcome to. At this point, the ball is in Kronwall’s court. Lastly, there’s Thomas Vanek and Yzerman said that they haven’t spoken. I think the popular thought here is that Vanek is done, but Kronwall will be back.
On the 6th Overall Pick:
Draft day is a big one for the Red Wings organization and for the second year in a row, they’ll be drafting sixth overall. At the time of this writing, Yzerman has had no conversations on moving the 6th overall pick and has no intention to. Of course, things can always change.
He spoke briefly about the depth of this draft and how there’s a pool of about half a dozen players that they’ve zeroed in on in the top-10 and they’ll be excited about getting any of them.
On His Front Office:
Naturally, Yzerman was asked about Ken Holland’s departure and he said that he wasn’t surprised Holland left for another GM job. Yzerman and Holland remain good friends, but Yzerman did not know that Holland was going to take the job in Edmonton until informed the morning of the announcement.
Surprisingly, Yzerman tipped his hand a bit on the rest of his front office, saying there will be further changes to his staff, but wouldn’t specify how drastically.
Like I said, Stevie’s a master of talking without really saying anything. He doesn’t give away much, but he did say a few interesting things, like that there are more changes coming to his front office. I wonder if those changes are going to be his decisions or decisions of his staff that he already knows are coming.
Also, in regards to the possible Kronwall re-signing, I actually don’t mind it that much, but something has got to give somewhere else on the blue line. As of right now, Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek are the odd men out and they deserve to be on the roster every night next year. Yzerman only said that he wouldn’t be trying to fill any holes via trade, not that he is avoiding trades altogether. I wonder if he’s got something cooking to ship out a defenseman.
Finally, Yzerman was asked if the St. Louis Blues recent Cup win brought hope to how quickly this team can turn it around and become a contender again. Yzerman’s no dummy, though. He pointed out that Alex Pietrangelo was drafted in 2008 and Vladimir Tarasenko was drafted in 2010. This is going to take time. He’ll continue to preach this until the time is finally here.