John Niyo and Ted Kulfan preview the NHL Draft with TSN director of scouting Craig Button and John Wroblewski, the coach of the USNTDP U-18 team. The Detroit News
Vancouver, British Columbia – There have been a couple changes in the Red Wings’ front office since Steve Yzerman took over as general manager.
Pat Verbeek arrived from Tampa to become assistant general manager, similar to what Verbeek did in the Lightning organization, and Ken Holland departed to run the Edmonton Oilers.
Yzerman isn’t sure if he’ll make more changes in the weeks ahead.
“I don’t want to rule it out, but I don’t have any specifics,” Yzerman said. “Will there be change? Yes. To what extent? I can’t say definitively. I don’t want to change just to change. There’s good people here.
“I want to make sure things are running the way I want them to run and I have the right people in place to do that. How much, I really can’t predict at this point. If there’s some things that need to be answered or positions that need to be settled, whether that’s with people that are in place or new people, that will be determined over the summer and, really, over the course of next season, as well.”
One department to keep an eye on is amateur scouting.
Holland hired Tyler Wright as the Wings’ director of amateur scouting in 2013 and has yet to fill the position with the Oilers. Edmonton, incidentally, was the team that drafted Wright when he was a player.
Earning their spots
Just like Holland did before him, Yzerman said the Wings will not be giving NHL jobs to young players who haven’t earned them.
“Nobody is getting handed a position on the Red Wings,” Yzerman said. “I don’t care if you’re a first-round pick or a free-agent signing. You have to earn your spot. If players have that attitude – they come in and they will work hard and push themselves – whether they’re on the team at the start of the season or not, we’ll have them competing for spots because the most competitive kids are going to make our team better.”
Yzerman wants to see a high level of internal competition for roster spots.
“We’re all part of trying to get the Red Wings back into Stanley Cups and becoming a good team,” Yzerman said. “I want them (players) to push each other. They’re all in it together. Are they competing for jobs? I don’t necessarily look at it that way. I want them to push each other and be part of making us a good hockey team.
“But competition is good.”
The Red Wings will open the home portion of their 2019-20 regular season schedule on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. against the Dallas Stars.
It’s the Wings’ organization’s 94th season in the NHL.
The full regular season schedule will be released Tuesday.
Don’t be surprised if the Red Wings address the goaltending position at some point during Saturday’s portion of the draft.
The Wings have nine picks in rounds 2-7 – including three in the second round.
The Wings would like to strengthen their goaltending depth in the organization. There’s no NHL-ready talent, at this stage, beyond Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier.
The Wings hope Filip Larsson will develop into an NHL goaltender, but he will begin his pro career this season in Grand Rapids. Patrik Rybar is unsigned to return to the Griffins.
Recent draft picks Keith Petruzzelli, Joren Van Pottelberghe and Jesper Eliasson are still years away from potentially seeing the NHL.
“We have several prospects acquired through the draft, we’re hoping they evolve into NHLers at some point,” Yzerman said. “Whether we use a pick on a goaltender I couldn’t definitively say. Certainly there are some guys in the draft that we have some interest in.”
Goaltenders Hunter Jones (Peterborough/OHL), Ethan Haider (Minnesota/NAHL), Isaiah Saville (Tri-City/USHL) and Mads Sogaard (Medicine Hat/WHL) are possible second-day selections.
Yzerman has immersed himself in his job since returning to the Wings’ organization on April 19.
With the draft this weekend, the development camp next week, and start of unrestricted free agency on July 1, there’s been much to prepare for.
“It’s been very busy,” Yzerman said. “I find myself very busy every day, I’m not sure what, exactly, I’m accomplishing each day but it’s been busy. That’s how I feel at the end of every day. There’s a lot of things going on.
“We’re king of chipping away at it all. We’re going to be very prepared (for the draft and free agency). I’m not too worried about that. We’ll chip away at the other things.”
The NHL draft combine, held earlier in the month in Buffalo, doesn’t necessarily sway the team to pick one player over another, said Yzerman. But it does help Yzerman, and the rest of his staff, to know the prospects a little better.
“It’s just an opportunity to get to know them a little bit, spend a few minutes making a first impression if you’ve never met them before,” Yzerman said. “I just like to meet them and get a feel for their personality. It doesn’t really change where we have them in our order.”