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.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman speaks

He does not do it often, yet when he does fans and media tend to stop and listen. Steve Yzerman general manager of the Detroit Red Wings seldom offers glimpses into how he runs his team. He prefers to just do it. This past week Yzerman sat down for a ZOOM  call and actually laid out some of his vision for the future of the Red Wings as well as how he and his staff will approach the 2020 NHL draft.

This is one of the busiest times for NHL GM’s. The 2020 draft is next Tuesday with free agency to follow October 9. Through it all Steve Yzerman is not going to alter how he approaches building the Red Wings back into a playoff contender.

“Our plan right now is to draft and try accumulate, or add, additional picks along the way. Draft, be patient, and hopefully we draft well,” Yzerman said. The Detroit Red Wings GM is looking to build a solid nucleus around some of the young Red Wings talent already in Detroit.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 17: Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings poses for his official headshot for the 2019-2020 season at Little Caesars Arena on September 17, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Red Wings in the middle of a rebuild, they are not targeting specific position groups in the draft. At this point, they simply want to add the best prospects available.

The Red Wings were the worst team in the NHL last season and the organizations reward is the fourth overall first round draft pick, due to a faulty NHL lottery system that needs overhauled.

Even picking fourth, there is a fairly deep pool of talented prospects available in top half of the first round, the Red Wings will likely get a player who eventually will help them at No. 4 overall. Be it a year or five years.

Cole Perfetti, Marco Rossi and Lucas Raymond, and defensemen Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson all have been linked to the Detroit hockey team. This is how Yzerman will draft and how he runs his team during a rebuild. Collect as many draft picks as you can. Detroit has three second round draft picks this year.

Collect talent and hope you strike gold on some of them. Steve Yzerman has a history of striking gold with later draft picks.

The Detroit Red Wings could be in position to be buyers

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has never had a problem working the phone when it comes to upgrading the teams he has been in charge of. The Red Wings with $43 million in cap space available and the NHL salary cap expected to stay at $81.5 million Yzerman could look to make a deal or two.

With only Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha needing new deals, the Detroit Red Wings will have enough money to sign a player or two to help begin to bring the Red Wings play back to a more respectable level.

NHL teams such as the Washington Capitols, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues who were beaten in the NHL playoffs and some others could look to to moves players in an attempt to shake up current rosters.

There is little doubt as Yzerman and the rest of the Red Wings organization waits for prospects to develop, he will be looking to upgrade the roster to help the continued growth of Dylan Larkin, Matha, Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek and a couple of others.

Bringing in savvy veterans be it by trade or free agent signings, will go a long way to help the Detroit Red Wings rebuild. Yzerman, has typically been able to get players to sign for reasonable deals in both term and length. That said it is possible the Detroit GM looks for a player who will be around longer than one to two years.

While the Red Wings rebuild presses on, steps need to be taken to ensure it is done properly. Steve Yzerman understands this and will make his off season to-do list with the intention of being smart with the cap space while improving the roster with an eye on the future. Even if that is to sign a player for three or four years.

This is a big off season for the Detroit Red Wings. It is time to begin to add a player or two, perhaps more to keep the Red Wings moving forward. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

Steve Yzerman relied on patience his first year as Detroit Red Wings general manager

Embed from Getty Images It has been exactly one year since Stevie Y. came home. Home to both the city he played in and the city his family is firmly planted in Detroit. Nobody, not media, not fans, not even Steve Yzerman himself thought the job of rebuilding the Detroit Red Wings would be easy.

Before COVID-19 put the NHL on pause, the Detroit Red Wings were 17-49-5, to put it differently, the Red Wings had lost 54 of 71 games. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that is woefully bad.

39 points earned by the Red Wings is still 23 points behind the Ottawa Senators and their 62 points. with 145 goals the Detroit hockey team is proud owners of fewest goals scored in the league. While the 267 goals the porous Red Wings defense let in is good for most goals allowed.

With all the bad, Steve Yzerman said he was not surprised by the task at hand. The Detroit Red Wings are the only NHL team already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Steve Yzerman said ” I knew what I was getting into, I think I have a general idea what it takes to build a team.” The same day Yzerman said that he also said “Patience is very difficult to sell.”

Yzerman wanted and demanded to see growth in player development in players and prospects. That has happened. The good news is while players have taken steps forward the Red Wings are in good position for the first pick in the 2020 NHL draft.

The plan is to get as many draft picks as you can, not just draft picks but high picks to increase the odds a player or players will turn into something special. That is the lot of a rebuilding team.

What remains to be seen is the fate of current Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill. Yzerman has supported the coach throughout the season. The Red Wings hold a team option for the coach. But this summer there will be several big name coaches available, Yzerman could bring in his guy.

The Detroit Red Wings have struggled in year one of Steve Yzerman’s return. They may not be a whole lot better next season. But that is okay. Remember, draft picks are what is on the horizon this season and next.

Steve Yzerman built the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings to lose, and that’s okay

Embed from Getty Images With some nice prospects in the pipeline but more needed, Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman felt the quickest way for a turn around was icing a bad hockey team. So a tanking by design has worked well in this suspended NHL season. When the season picks back up and closes the Red Wings will know their draft lottery slot.

Quinton Byfield, Alexander Holt, Lucas Raymond, Alexis Lafreniere, there is a really good chance one of the prized prospects will be wearing a Winged Wheel after the NHL draft in June (or whatever will be the draft makeup date or month.)

Steve Yzerman was not lying when he said the Detroit Red Wings would not tank. He is dead against it. However, Yzerman did not say he would field a team (except for the young core players of Dylan Larkin, Filip Hronek, Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha) that were just not good.  In other words this seasons version of “The Yzer-plan”  was to let it sink naturally. Check.

The Red Wings and their general manager hold nine draft picks including six picks by the third round. Steve Yzerman wants to add talented young prospects and is armed to do so.

It is safe to say the Detroit Red Wings will be improved after the draft. They also will have a lot of much needed salary cap space. For a rebuilding team it is not wise to spend big money on big names. First the core players need to be identified then players can be added to give support or help the team make a playoff push.

It is a process that can seem long. That said, the Red Wings do have talent, a couple lottery drafts and they will be right back where fans expect them to be, the NHL playoffs. Yzerman said he understands what is expected in Detroit “playoffs and Stanley Cups.”

There is little doubt he will deliver. The right now is not fun. But it is fixing to be fun again. This years draft will set the tone for when the Red Wings pull out of the rebuild and begin to ascend to the top again.

After the Detroit Red Wings season concludes, the rebuild is on the shoulders of Steve Yzerman

Embed from Getty Images When he took over as the Detroit Red Wings general manager, Steve Yzerman said he needed time to evaluate the roster. That is what he has been doing this season. The organization began to rebuild before Yzerman took over. When the 2019-20 season ends, the rebuild will be on the franchises former 20 year captain. That is good news.

The Detroit Red Wings are on pace for one of the worst seasons in franchise history. The only good to come from this season is the team has really good odds of winning the NHL draft lottery.

With the Red Wings a shell of their former glory, it is time for Yzerman to get to work. The shaky roster needs a lot of tweaking. from unstable goaltending, to porous defense to a team in desperate need of forwards. Steve Yzerman has a lot of work to do. Work that can not be done all at one.

Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Robbie Fabbri, Anthony Mantha, Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek and 18 year old Moritz  Seider are players to build around. Bertuzzi and Mantha are restricted free agents and need, and will get new contracts. Robbie Fabbri who came over from a trade with the St. Louis Blues has resurrected his career and in my opinion should be brought back.

While Yzerman has given support to head coach Jeff Blashill, he also said they will review everything at the end of the season. With former Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant (also a former teammate and good friend of Yzerman’s) sitting without a job, it is worth watching.

Yzerman who by his own account is not a patient person, more than likely is chomping at the bit to get moving. He is know as a very aggressive general manager throughout the NHL.

There is a very good chance the Detroit Red Wings (except the core players already listed) will look very different next season. Also, it is likely Yzerman will place either or both Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen on waivers. Both players have bad contracts and have not contributed much to the team. Both players will not be claimed. But Yzerman could send them down to the minor leagues and open roster spots for prospects who could help more than the two veterans.

As the curtain is about to come down on a very bad Detroit Red Wings season the curtain is about to go up and the spotlight will be on the former captain/ current GM Yzerman. Red Wings fans are excited to see what he does.

The Yzerman effect on the Detroit Red Wings

Embed from Getty Images Do not believe it. Since taking over as Detroit Red Wings general manager, Steve Yzerman has repeatedly said he can not put a time frame on rebuilding the Red Wings into a playoff contender. Do not believe because while he is not willing to publicly say, Yzerman has a time frame. That is something you can believe in.

Steve Yzerman’s first season as Detroit Red Wings general manager has been about observing the team and the minor league teams. He even delayed naming a captain and has kept the coaching staff intact throughout a woeful Red Wings season.

While Yzerman has been true to his word about acquiring more draft picks in order to speed up the rebuild while making the Red Wings a younger team, he is also know the team has contracts coming off the books that will allow him to spend on free agents at some point and time.

Much like his time in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, Yzerman has had a busy season, he has traveled across North America and to Europe to scout players who may be able to help the Red Wings. When Yzerman has been at home, he watches Red Wings games and practices at Little Caesars Arena.

In a bad season, players know they are being judged. Much like his playing days as 20 year captain of the Detroit Red Wings, Yzerman is still holding  guys accountable. It has to be somewhat unnerving for the players, none of the current Red Wings team was drafted by Yzerman.

Steve Yzerman said before the season started he was not going to name a captain. Just last week he said he will name a captain before next season. So there is a time frame for that.

Yzerman, said something of interest last week shortly after the 2020 NHL trade deadline, he said he put this years team together knowing they would not succeed. Why would he do that, you might be asking yourself? First the team would not have to tank, they would be bad enough to finish dead last. Second, The Detroit Red Wings core players Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha and Filip Hornek have suffered though this season, yet it could be be design. Yzerman has said he wants players with a “high compete level.”

What better way to find compete levels, than on a team destined to fail.

Steve Yzerman has a time frame for when he wants his hockey team to be rebuilt by. Even if he is not saying right now.

 

The Detroit Red Wings trade Mike Green and Andreas Athanasiou for draft picks

Embed from Getty Images Not to long ago Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman was asked about the prospects he had. After giving an overview Yzerman said “we need more.” Last night Steve Yzerman took a step at adding more prospects and then again this afternoon at the NHL trade deadline.

Last night Steve Yzerman sent veteran defensman Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers for a fourth round draft pick. Not bad when you figure in that Green is in the worst season of his NHL career.

Then came this afternoon when Yzerman traded forward Andreas Athanasiou also to the Oilers. Yzerman said that several teams had inquired or expressed a serious interest in Athanasiou. The trade that was made gives the Red Wings two second round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. For the 2020 draft the Red Wings now look like this:

1- 1st round

3- 2nd round

2- 3rd round

1- fourth round

1-5th round

1-6th round

1- 7th round

It should be noted again that former Detroit Red Wings general manager who used to fill the chair that now seats Yzerman in Detroit, Ken Holland is now calling the shots in Edmonton. Holland knows both Green and Athanasiou well from his Detroit days. Yzerman said it was not intentional to make two trades to the same team. He was simply looking for the best return for players.

The fact Steve Yzerman deemed two second round picks more valuable to the Detroit Red Wings rebuild than the 25 year old Andreas Athanasiou speaks volumes as to what Yzerman likes in his players. Athanasiou has unworldly speed, and great hands. Yet, Athanasiou does not play defense well or at all at times and has lapses offensively.

Trying to add draft picks and prospects is the foundation of any rebuild. Yzerman said several NHL teams, expressed interest in Athanasiou. He has 10 goals and 14 assists and an NHL worst minus 45 rating in 46 games this season.

Was it an eye popping deadline? No, but it was part of Yzerman’s plan to rebuild the franchise he so dearly loves. Will the Red Wings hit on all of their draft picks? That is highly doubtful. However, the more picks he has the numbers increase that the Detroit Red Wings will walk away with enough talent to add to the core players and begin to turn the Red Wings into a playoff contender again.

 

Detroit Red Wings: Steve Yzerman speaks

Embed from Getty Images Yesterday, Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman made his one and only comments about the state of the Wings. Back in April, Yzerman told the fans, media and hockey world he only speaks one time in-season, because of a busy schedule. Steve Yzerman in not only general manager, but he actively scouts at home and abroad.

In giving his near mid-season team evaluation with legendary Detroit Red Wings radio play-by-play announcer Ken Kal, Yzerman did not hold back. He gave the good, the bad, the ugly.

On the Trade Deadline Steve Yzerman said he is looking to acquire more draft picks. There is an one problem, there are some impending unrestricted free agents who are have bad seasons, driving down asking price, making it more difficult to move.

“My plan isn’t passive,” Yzerman started with, “I’m looking for ways to build for the future and trying to acquire draft picks or prospects or young players that can come into the organization sooner or later.”

On Top Prospects: Yzerman hinted Moritz Seider, Joe Veleno, Gustav Lindstrom will likely get a nine game look (so their entry level contract does not kick in) later in the season.

“I don’t have anything set in stone but that’s definitely something in the back of our mind” Yzerman said, “Do we bring up the Velenos and Seiders and give them a feel for the NHL? I won’t say absolutely you’re going to see this player or that player here, but I think it’s safe to assume that at some point some of those guys will get up here and play some games as the season winds down.”

On coach Jeff Blashill’s future: Steve Yzerman said it is unfair to pin the team’s record on the coaching staff because of injuries. The Detroit Red Wings have been without defenseman Danny DeKeyer, as well ask key forwards Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou for some time now.

On Tanking: Red Wings fans know one thing about the teams former 20 year captain now general manager, Steve Yzerman is ultra competitive. Anything that resembles losing weather just a bad team, or intentional to gain draft picks, Yzerman shoots down.

“Every player is looking to use the second half to improve and they will be expected to improve and will be held to a standard to improve and gradually become a better hockey team.”

Fans of the Detroit Red Wings can rest easy. Yzerman will do his job and do it well. He needs time.