Pat Verbeek reunites with Steve Yzerman, Red Wings with front-office position

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Pat Verbeek is rejoining the Red Wings, and continuing his working relationship with Steve Yzerman.

The Wings announced Monday that Verbeek has been hired to become an assistant general manager in the organization.

The Red Wings announced Monday that Pat Verbeek has been hired to become an assistant general manager in the organization.

Verbeek will serve alongside current assistant general manager Ryan Martin.

The expected move comes as senior vice president Ken Holland — who was replaced by Yzerman as Wings’ general manager — reportedly will be named GM of the Edmonton Oilers in the next day or two.

Holland’s position isn’t expected to be filled. But, there could be minor reshuffling in the Wings’ front office, as some personnel follow Holland to Edmonton, while others join Yzerman from his days in Tampa Bay.

Verbeek will focus on player personnel decisions, while Martin will continue as GM of the minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.

After retiring from his playing career, Verbeek, 54,  joined the Red Wings as a professional scout, hired by Holland in 2006.

Verbeek then joined Yzerman in Tampa Bay in 2010, first getting the title of director of professional scouting before being promoted to assistant GM and director of player personnel.

“I'm very excited to return to the Red Wings,” said Verbeek, who has maintained a residence in the Metro Detroit area and was a regular as a scout at Little Caesars Arena. “I want to thank the Ilitch family, (senior vice president) Jimmy Devellano, Ken Holland and Steve Yzerman for giving me a start in scouting after my playing career and providing a strong foundation for my managerial career.

“I’d also like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning for nine tremendous years. I believe there is an exciting young core here in Detroit, and I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the hockey operations staff to get this team back into contention.”

In recent years with the Lightning, Verbeek was responsible for the team’s pro scouting operations, player recruiting, and contract negotiations, along with overall support to the hockey operations department.

“Pat Verbeek is one of the brightest minds and hardest workers in the game and has been a trusted and valued resource to me throughout my management career,” Yzerman said. “He played a pivotal role in helping build the Lightning into a Stanley Cup contender throughout his tenure with the organization. I’m very excited to have Pat on board in Detroit and look forward to continuing to work alongside him.”

Verbeek played 1,424 games in his NHL career, totaling 1,062 points (522 goals, 540 assists), and 2,095 penalty minutes, helping him earn the nickname “Little Ball of Hate." His playing career included two seasons with the Red Wings, where he collected 78 points (37 goals) from 1999-2001.

Holland’s official announcement in Edmonton could occur Tuesday, as he takes over managing the Oilers.

The Oilers have missed the playoffs for 12 of the last 13 seasons and are limited in what they can do because of salary cap restrictions.

But they do have forward Connor McDavid, one of the best players in the world, and forward Leon Draisaitl, who scored 50 goals last season.

It’ll be interesting to see who joins Holland in Edmonton in the days or weeks ahead.

Kris Draper (assistant GM), Tyler Wright (director amateur scouting), Mark Howe (director pro scouting), Shawn Horcoff (director player development) and Daniel Cleary (assistant player development) all could be intrigued by possible openings with Holland in Edmonton.

Draper has deep ties to the Detroit area, but could be offered a bigger management role in Edmonton. Wright and Howe have long relationships with Holland. Horcoff and Cleary are former Oilers players who also could see their job descriptions expanded in Edmonton, with Holland.

Then again, several prospective Tampa Bay Lightning personnel who were thought to be joining Yzerman with the Wings are staying in Tampa.

The Lightning announced a front office restructuring Monday, with Al Murray (named assistant GM-director of amateur scouting), Jamie Pushor (assistant GM-director of player personnel) and Stacy Roest (assistant GM-director of player development) staying in Tampa (Pushor and Roest are both former Wings’ players).

Starting up

The men’s world championships begin in Slovakia later this week, but Team USA opens with an exhibition game Tuesday against, and in, Germany.

Wings’ coach Jeff Blashill is coaching Team USA for the third consecutive year, with Wings’ forwards Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendening on the roster.

Heading into the tournament, Team USA has what is considered one of the deepest rosters. Blashill guided the team to a bronze medal last year.

“Russia and Finland will have great rosters, Canada always will have a great roster, it’s going to be difficult,” Blashill said. “But we have to be ready to go to work and in a very short period, come together as a group and get better every day.”

In the mix

Several Finnish news outlets reported Monday the Red Wings are close to signing undrafted free agent defenseman Oliwer Kaski.

The signing wouldn’t be official until after the world championships are completed later this month, where Kaski is playing for Finland at the tournament.

Given his age, Kaski, 23, is only eligible to sign a one-year, two-way contract.

Kaski was named MVP of the Finnish pro league, after collecting 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists) in 59 games for Pelican, good for sixth in the league but best among all defensemen in goals and points.

A right-shot defenseman, Kaski played college hockey at Western Michigan in 2015-16 with 12 points (four goals) in 31 games. Kaski played one game the next season, before returning to Finland.

Kaski has good size (6-foot-3, 187 pounds) and is dangerous offensively with a big shot. But several scouting services say his defensive game needs significant work for the NHL level.

Twitter: @tkulfan