Dylan Larkin named the 37th captain of the Detroit Red Wings

Being named captain of a team is an honor. It is an honor that only comes with sacrifice, dedication, hard work and leadership. Dylan Larkin a local Michigan resident from birth who played his college hockey at the University of Michigan, was drafted by the hometown Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Yesterday, Larkin took his place along some of the greatest names in NHL history and was named captain of the Detroit Red Wings.

In the rafters at Little Caesars Area are not only Championship banners but also retired jersey numbers of Red Wings legends. Ted Lindsay,  Alex Delvecchio, Sid Abel, Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom are some of the players who’s numbers are retired. They also have a common theme, those five former Red Wing players all wore the captain’s “C” .

Steve Yzerman, who is now the Red Wings general manager, yesterday announced Dylan Larkin will be the next captain of the fabled franchise. When asked what stood out to him about Larkin Yzerman stated “He stands out as a leader in his work ethic, his competitiveness, his commitment, his inner drive to be really good, to win.”

Yzerman knows first hand what is means to be captain in Detroit and for the Red Wings, he severed over 20 years as the organizations captain. As soon as he was drafted by Detroit, Dylan Larkin had been the center of much speculation that he would indeed one day be named captain.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Larkin said in a Zoom interview with media, “I understand the significance of this role. I’ve seen it, been around it, I’ve been a fan and been to games. I can’t be more honored. I try to be myself every day and I have a great support system. It doesn’t stop here. I don’t change who I am. It means so much to me.”

Dylan Larkin, becomes the first Michigander to be named captain. He follows Henrik Zetterberg as Red Wings captain. The Red Wings made the announcement on social media with a very effective picture.

 

The Detroit Red Wings are giving Anthony Mantha more responsibility

In order to stay on the ice more this season Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha has vowed to stop dropping the gloves. Mantha will not fight anymore, unless a situation calls for it. The narrative on Mantha has been if he could stay healthy, he would score 40 goals. The Detroit Red Wings also know Mantha needs to be on the ice and not the trainers room. So now after swearing off fighting the Red Wings are giving Mantha more responsibility.

At 6 foot 5 inch, 234 lb, Anthony Mantha is an imposing player. Gifted with elite speed and an elite wrist shot, Mantha is a gifted player. The Detroit Red Wings want more from Mantha, they need more from him.

The Detroit Red Wings are asking Mantha to stop goals on special teams. The Red Wings penalty kill has been lacking and they feel with the big Mantha on the ice he has the size, speed and ability to stop/block shots.

BUFFALO, NY – FEBRUARY 11: Anthony Mantha #39 of the Detroit Red Wings during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on February 11, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Anthony Mantha said he has not been asked to work on shot blocking since his days in junior hockey seven years ago. So far in training camp Mantha has embraced his new position on the team.

Speaking of training camp, a big chunk of it is spent on special teams. Power play/penalty kill. It is the time coach’s and general managers weed out and carve who will be where with an eye on improvement over the previous season. It is that way for all hockey teams.

For the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings, it is important to identify those players early as some may find a permanent home on one of the two units or perhaps both. Anthony Mantha has been on the Red Wings power play now he will be on the ice for both special teams.

Playing on special teams means more ice time, that is good news, when factoring in Mantha’s goals scoring ability.

Detroit Red Wings Michael Rasmussen has a newly found confidence

Michael Rasmussen, was the Detroit Red Wings 2017 first-round draft pick. Playing the 2018-19 NHL season in Detroit, because the only other option was playing junior hockey. Rasmussen, struggled that season in Detroit. He would have been better off playing in Grand Rapids with the Griffins if that was in the cards.

Last season due to the pandemic, Michael Rasmussen played just 35 games for the Griffins, as did every AHL player. Sitting idle for long periods of time is not ideal for young players.  Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman lent the young center to a team in Austria this past fall.

It was in Austria that Rasmussen flashed the talent he is projected to have in the NHL. In 18 games played, Michael Rasmussen had 5 goals and 18 points. Along the way to becoming a point a game player at least in Austria, Rasmussen found his confidence.

Now in the mix for a roster spot with the Red Wings, Rasmussen entered training camp in the best shape of his career to date. Adding a little muscle, the young Red Wings prospect said he feels like he is in game shape and credits playing in Austria as the primary reason why.

Since being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, fans want Michael Rasmussen’s development to happen at a faster rate, forgetting he is only 21 years old. Rasmussen is a big piece in the Red Wings future.

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – SEPTEMBER 12: Michael Rasmussen #27 of the Detroit Red Wings poses for his official headshot for the 2019-2020 season at Center Ice Arena on September 12, 2019 in Traverse City, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Rasmussen is a  6 foot 6 inch, 220 lbs center who is strong around the net and understands how to use his size and strength, for a young player he is not afraid to block shots as well.

Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill believes Rasmussen can be a shutdown center. Meaning he can face other teams best and hold his own. That is critical for the Red Wings moving forward to have a trusted center.

Early injuries  impacted Rasmussen at the junior and pro level. He is now mentally stronger and has overcome injuries, that is a big part of player development.

The Detroit Red Wings are looking and need more scoring depth. With a newly found confidence, Michael Rasmussen could provide the team what is sorely needs.

Detroit Red Wings prospect Jonatan Berggren is stepping up his game

For any rebuild to be deemed a success a lot of draft picks are needed but more important, players selected in the drafts must pan out. It is a given not every player drafted will make it to the NHL. The Detroit Red Wings, Jonatan Berggren is a player that being drafted buy the organization in 2018 is a case of a prospect taking the next step which should prove good for the Red Wings.

At just 5 feet 11 inches there is a lot of hockey in Jonatan Berggren small frame. Who’s scouting report indicated a solid player was in there and just needed time to come out. Coupled with a few injuries it took perhaps a tad bit longer to show why the Red Wings drafted him, yet Berggren is now showing it on a more consistent basis.

PLYMOUTH, MI – FEBRUARY 15: Jonatan Berggren #17 of the Sweden Nationals skates up ice with the puck against the Finland Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 15, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. Finland defeated Sweden 5-3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)*** Local Caption *** Jonatan Berggren

Currently playing in the Swedish Hockey League, Jonatan Berggren is playing at a better than a point a game clip. In 17 games played Berggren has four goals and 15 assists. 

When the Detroit Red Wings drafted Jonatan Berggren it was for his well known ability to be a a play-maker. The smallish forward’s game is well rounded. His combo of speed and skill makes him dangerous in the offensive zone while Berggren’s defense is solid as well.

Given the growth Berggren’s game has seen, it is very possible the Red Wings will bring him back to Detroit in time for training camp whenever the NHL figures out the logistics of how the 2020-21 season will be played.

“Playing in the NHL is something I’ve been thinking about, and dreaming of since I started playing,” Jonatan Berggren said recently. “And now I’m closer to realizing that dream than ever. It’s all about that final push. And if I think about all the work I’ve put in to be able to try to make that push. It has all been worth it.”

The work Jonatan Berggren has put in is about to pay off for him and the Detroit Red Wings will be the beneficiaries of the young forwards improved play.

Detroit Red Wings Filip Zadina heating up in the Czech Republic league

When the Detroit Red Wings then general manager Ken Holland drafted Filip Zadina two years ago it was widely known Zadina was a pure goal scorer. Detroit lent Zadina to the Czech Republic hockey team during the AHL/NHL shutdown due to COVID-19. In just three games played, Filip Zadina is heating up.

Four-goals, one assist in three games played. Filip Zadina is showing why he is one of the Detroit Red Wings top prospects and why he is an important part of the organizations future post-rebuild.

At just 21 years old Zadina, was playing well for the Red Wings during the shortened NHL season. After having a rough training camp in which Zadina was assigned to the minor leagues, the young forward found his footing and his scoring touch leading to a November call-up.

Filip Zadina has the offensive firepower the Detroit Red Wings need. His play last season saw Zadina move into a true top-six forward pairing player. One other aspect of his game that has grown by leaps and bounds is Zadina has become much more patient with the puck.  The talented prospect no longer forces the puck into the mix, he clearly is seeing the ice better and it is safe to say the game has slowed down for him.

DETROIT, MI – FEBRUARY 24: Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina, of the Czech Republic, (11) skates during a regular season NHL hockey game between the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings on February 24, 2019. at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Now a very good puck mover as well as a sniper shot, Filip Zadina has shown he has upped his game and will need to continue to up his game as NHL defenses will surely play the young forward more aggressively next season.

The word on Filip Zadina pre-draft was his projection as a top-line, play-driving winger. Which is why he sits at or near the top of the Red Wings prospect list due directly to his potential.

Heading into training camp for a rumored January start up date for the 2021 NHL season, Filip Zadina will have many eyes on his as the Red Wings front office, coaching staff and teammates will expect to see his take the next step.

Given Filip Zadina’s track record, he will indeed take those steps.

With a new contract extension, the Detroit Red Wings Anthony Mantha needs to stay healthy

Anthony Mantha was always part of the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings future plans. A gifted two way forward, Mantha has value to the young Red Wings core. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman handed Mantha a new contract yesterday, it is the largest deal Yzerman has handed out in his time in Detroit.

The Detroit Red Wings and Anthony Mantha reached a  four year deal with an annual average value of $5.7 million. Making Mantha the second highest paid player on the team behind center (and line mate) Dylan Larkin at $6.1 AAV.

For all of Anthony Mantha’s scoring prowess, the thing that has held Mantha back from becoming the feared  player the Red Wings believe he can be, it is the fact Mantha has been marred by injuries.

A couple of weeks ago Steve Yzerman said that he felt good about getting a deal done with Mantha who was a RFA (restricted free agent.) The deal is the first Yzerman has handed out longer than two years.

DETROIT, MI – MARCH 08: Anthony Mantha #39 of the Detroit Red Wings watches the action from the bench against the Tampa Bay Lightning during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on March 8, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Tampa Bay 5-4 in a shootout. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Anthony Mantha can score goals by the bunches. With a history of injuries knee injury, punctured lung, broken hand just to name a few that has robbed both Mantha and the Red Wings from having his full-time help on the ice.

Of the new contract Mantha said  he feels the responsibility on his shoulders, that come with a new contract which include higher expectations. Yzerman has confirmed by the deal that he fully expects Mantha to be part of the long-term plans of the Red Wings organization and he also expects Mantha will do his part to stay on the ice, as well as help young players as the arrive in Detroit while helping the team come out of the rebuild phase.

This is the right move by the Detroit front office headed by general manager Steve Yzerman. Mantha is a young player who has shown more than enough flashes of what he brings to the table.

Now Mantha has to go show that he can live up to the new deal.

 

The Detroit Red Wings are in position to make big moves next offseason

The Detroit Red Wings have just eight players under contract beyond this season. Only Red Wings center Dylan Larkin is signed through 2022-23. What does that mean for Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman? It means the Red Wings will have a blank slate, tons of cap room and a lot of time and space to make big plans after the 2020-21 season concludes.

By large the Detroit Red Wings were one of the NHL’s offseason winners via free agency. The ever savvy Yzerman spent money on solid players on short one and two year deals. Players that given their track record he can flip at the trade deadline for more assets.

With Steve Yzerman now spearheading the Detroit Red Wings rebuild, he attracts free agents. That has never been a problem for the Red Wings mind you. But now the organization can pick the best free agents with nothing on the salary cap.

When he returned to Detroit, Yzerman preached patience. Not because the GM thought it would take years, but rather because Yzerman was willing to wait until contracts either ended or became tradable or the time was right for a buyout . That was the right course of action to take. It now has the Red Wings smelling the roses.

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 09: Former Detroit Red Wing Steve Yzerman #19 enters a ceremony honoring Joe Louis Arena on April 9, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Red Wings beat the New Jersey Devils 4-1 in the last NHL game at the arena. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Something else to watch is how Yzerman views the RFA (restricted free agents) market as well. Part of the reason an offer sheet has not come the last few weeks of this offseason is a because a handful of teams that could make offers do not have the draft picks to give if an offer should be accepted. That is not an issue for Detroit who has nine draft picks next summer and will undoubtedly have more once the trade deadline comes and goes this season.

As for NHL general managers most  lack the ability to do anything. It is not so much that they would not, they simply can not due to salary cap issues. Their teams are handcuffed.

That is not the case for the Red Wings and Steve Yzerman.

Steve Yzerman is building the Detroit Red Wings through the draft

Optimism has been extremely hard to come by for Detroit sports fans lately. The Pistons, Lions, Tigers and the Red Wings have not been good to say the least. Yet, for all the misery the Red Wings have one thing the other Detroit teams do not, a proven general manager. Steve Yzerman’s play for the Red Wings is to build his team through the draft. Something the other Detroit teams should mimic.

Two years into his job, Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has had two very solid drafts. Drafts that have added to the Red Wings prospect pool. Coupled with Yzerman’s quote that “you can’t build a team through free agency,” Yzerman is using the NHL Draft to build his roster.

The Detroit Red Wings are signing low-term free agents that will help the team be a better. The catch is the players the Red Wings have signed can be flipped at the trade deadline for more draft picks. As they have value around the league.

Detroit Red Wings fans knew Yzerman would improve the team and organization. The Red Wings GM wants to avoid long term contracts for now and focus on putting the right group veteran players around his core players  and he wants to do it being cost effective.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 06: Detroit Red Wings team personnel work on their draft set before the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft at Little Caesars World Headquarters on October 06, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. The 2020 NHL Draft was held virtually due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Dan Mannes /NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2020-21 Detroit Red Wings should be a little better than last seasons and that is just fine. The Red Wings need to continue to get top 10 draft slots and the scouting department needs to continue to do their solid work.

Steve Yzerman built a Stanley Cup-winning team in Tampa Bay. It took time, it will take time in Detroit as well. But, Detroit sports fans have more faith in Stevie Y. than they do with the other general managers in the city putting their teams together.

Building through the draft is the right move no doubt about it.

The Detroit Red Wings 2020 draft class is in, let’s take a look

 Lucas Raymond, LW, William Wallinder, D, Theodor Niederbach, C, Cross Hanas, LW, Donovan Sebrango, D, Eemil Viro, D,  Sam Stange, RW, Jan Bednar, G, Alex Cotton, D, Kyle Aucoin, D, Kienan Draper, RW, Chase Bradley, LW are now part of the Detroit Red Wings organization.

It absolutely hurt the Detroit Red Wings not having the first pick in the draft.  Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman did the best he could and pulled off some really solid draft picks. Picks that will help the brutal rebuild the Red Wings are enduring.

Yzerman did score a home-run pick when the Red Wings selected Lucas Raymond. Defensman William Wallinder was thought to be a first round player but fell into the Red Wings lap with the first pick in round 2.

For Yzerman and his scouting department they did not have any big misses and were able to get volume which is what is needed for rebuilds. Theodor Niederbach and Cross Hanas in my opinion were very good picks for the draft slot. Both players have big upsides and project well at the NHL level.

“At the top of the draft, you’d like to think you have a little bit more certainty as to what the player is going to be and who the top, top prospects are,” Yzerman said after Wednesday night concluded the 2020 NHL Draft.

KELOWNA, BC – FEBRUARY 8: Cross Hanas #71 of the Portland Winterhawks stands on the ice during warm up against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on February 8, 2020 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings second year GM sounded pleased with the draft haul, “Hopefully a few of them become NHL players.” It was not hard to identify what Yzerman and his scouting department were looking for.

Fast skaters, good hockey IQ, size with good character. As I stated before, the Red Wings did not have any real misses. The one pick I question is goalie Jan Bedar. Bedar has lacked consistency yet the 6′ 4″ netminder has the tools to be a very good NHL goalie. It seems Yzerman is banking on his developmental team to get Bedar to that level.

Now comes the fun part, watching prospects grow and reach the NHL.

 

 

The Detroit Red Wings select Lucas Raymond in the first round

How’s your mock draft? Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman does not care, neither does Director of Amateur Scouting Kris Draper. For the second year in a row Yzerman and Draper picked the player they feel can “move the needle.” Of all the names linked and mocked to the Red Wings with the No. 4 overall pick, not one person had them taking Swedish forward Lucas Raymond.

The rebuilding Detroit Red Wings have needs up and down the roster. Sure Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Hroneck and a couple others give the Red Wings good players to build around. The key word is build. Detroit GM Steve Yzerman said it will take time.

Steve Yzerman is not afraid to throw curveballs at experts. Many had the Red Wings taking other players. Until Yzerman made the pick and surprised many. One thing, the Detroit Red Wings got a player who is elite and will add offense to a team in need of it from the second line to the fourth line.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 22: (L-R) Steve Yzerman and Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings attends the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Lucas Raymond, my goodness what a player the 5′ 11″ Swedish forward is. What exactly are the Red Wings getting in Raymond? Let’s take a look. For starters Raymond is an excellent skater. Raymond has outstanding speed and fantastic acceleration.

As for Raymond’s offensive game he uses his speed very well and has very good stickhandling skills. The young forward is rarely rattled and plays with  poise beyond his years.

Lucas reads the play extremely well, He is also above average at anticipating when a teammate will be open for a scoring chance. Raymond has a good solid wrist shot and a quick release. His quick hands allow him to change the angle on his shot and fool goaltenders.

Defensively Lucas Raymond plays all three zones. His size and lack of upper body strength can at times expose some weakness. Something the Red Wings will ask him to clean up when he plays this coming season in Sweden.

This was a very good pick by Yzerman and his scouting department. Raymond is very happy to join the organization who has had it’s fair share of great Swedish hockey players over the years.