Steve Yzerman says he expects Red Wings to stay course during trade deadline, free agency

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

The Red Wings are an improved hockey team over the last several seasons. You can see that by watching them or just glance at the standings.

 But don't expect general manager Steve Yzerman to attempt to accelerate the rebuild with a flurry trades or free-agent signings.

Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman says he doesn't expect the franchise to be aggressive during the trade deadline or free agency.

Yzerman expects to stay the course, no matter where the Wings stand at the March 21 trade deadline.

"Nothing has really changed," Yzerman said during Tuesday's Zoom call on the addition of Nicklas Lidstrom to the organization's front office. "I don't really have a timeline. We're just trying to improve each year, and use the draft and hopefully draft well, and definitely use the draft to increase our prospect pool. It's too unpredictable when some of these players will be ready, whether it's Year 1, or Year 2, or three years from the draft, or even five years later."

The addition of rookies Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider this season has added talent and depth to the lineup. But other younger Wings have taken a step forward and gone into bigger roles.

"We're pleased with some of the progress we've made this season," Yzerman said. "We've moved not only Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider (into the lineup), but Michael Rasmussen is playing a bigger role and Joe Veleno is starting to get an increased role, Filip Zadina and Filip Hronek, we're moving our younger players into our lineup and we'll continue to with our plan for the time being."

More: Scoring has slowed, but Wings' rookie Raymond contributing in other ways

The Wings were 16-16-4 entering Tuesday night's game at San Jose, and trailed Boston by four points (40-36) for the second and final wild-card position. But the Bruins have also played four fewer games than the Wings, and have a significantly better win percentage (.625 to .500).

Yzerman said he doesn't expect the Wings to be active at the trade deadline.

The Wings have numerous potential unrestricted free agents teams could be interested in acquiring as rentals for the playoffs in exchange for valuable draft picks — defensemen Nick Leddy, Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal, goaltender Thomas Greiss, and forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Sam Gagner, 

"Depending on where we are in the standings you have to make some decisions," Yzerman said. "But regardless, I don't see us being really aggressive at the trade deadline and in free agency (this summer). I'll take the same approach. If there's a player that can help us and might be with us in a few years and be a contributor in a few years, we'll try to spend our money and be aggressive when we think it's appropriate.

"Nothing has really changed on the aspect of what we are trying to do and we'll stick with it and try to be patient, and ultimately, try to make good decisions whether it's short-term or long-term contracts."

Larkin, Bertuzzi update

Coach Jeff Blashill said forward Dylan Larkin (upper body) would not play Tuesday in San Jose, and is considered day-to-day.

Larkin was injured Sunday in Anaheim, leaving the game after playing eight minutes in the first period.

"I would not rule him out, necessarily, for Thursday (back in Detroit, against Winnipeg)," Blashill said. "Right now, I would just say it's day to day, and as we know more (information) we'll let you know.

"I never necessarily thought it was a long-term (injury), but with injuries, you don't know. But, again, he could be available for Thursday, but we'll see."

Blashill added forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who suffered a gash when a skate blade caught his wrist during a collision, was expected to play against the Sharks.

Lidstrom addition

Blashill was excited about Lidstrom's appointment Tuesday as vice president of hockey operations.

"Nicks' an extremely intelligent person, extremely intelligent hockey guy, and an increased role only increases the resources we have," Blashill said. "As I've said a lot with Steve, Steve has been through so much and has been a great resource for me and I would say the same with Nick.  Anytime you can use those types of great resources you definitely should, and I will."

Lidstrom's achievements as a player, along with the type of person he is, will have an impact on the playing roster, Blashill said.

"When you hear from a player, from someone who was as good, one of the best defensemen of all time, it brings a ton of weight when he speaks," Blashill said. "When you get to know him and realize how good of a person he is and how smart he is, it means even more."

Twitter: @tkulfan