Any low hopes the Detroit Red Wings had for ending their season was dashed Friday night.
It was at this point that the NHL Players’ Association essentially approved the NHL plan to return with a 24-team playoff format, with some details still to be negotiated.
The league is expected to make an official announcement in the coming days.
The Red Wings, last in the general classification, and six other teams are not in the extended playoff field.
So, as much of the NHL will prepare to return after the coronavirus break that started on March 12, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman will gradually eliminate his checklist out of season before the scheduled start of the 2020-21 season at the end of November. or early December.
Decide if you want to retain coach Jeff Blashill
One of Yzerman’s first decisions was whether to exercise the team’s option on Blashill’s contract for next season or hire another coach.
Yzerman has declared his support for Blashill several times despite the team record (the Red Wings finished 17-49-5) and the club has missed the playoffs for four straight years. He said Blashill’s performance would not be judged on the team’s balance sheet as much as by player development.
If there is a change, two former Yzerman teammates will be among the next generation – Gerard Gallant and Lane Lambert. Gallant was laid off in January by the Vegas Golden Knights. Lambert, assistant coach of the New York Islanders, has never been a head coach in the NHL.
If the lottery format is maintained, the Red Wings would have an 18.5% chance of winning the first choice and a 50.6% chance of selecting the fourth, which would be the lowest they could select.
The league had planned to change the format for this season only, taking one draw instead of three and preventing teams from climbing more than four places. This would eliminate the remote possibility of a team winning the draw and also winning the Stanley Cup due to the enlarged playoff field, which includes the league.
According to one proposal, the Red Wings would have a 57% chance of winning the lottery and would select no less than the latter.
The date of the lottery has not been set.
The NHL push to move the draft to early June for more exposure during the sports vacuum caused by the loss of vapor from Covid-19. Many general managers, including Yzerman, are opposed to maintaining the draft before the end of the playoffs.
But a final decision on when the project will take place has not been made.
Whoever chooses first seems certain to choose winger Alexis Lafrenière from Rimouski (Quebec Major Junior League). If Detroit takes second place, he will probably decide between the Quinton Byfield center in Sudbury (OHL) or the winger Tim Stuetzle of Mannheim (Germany). If the Red Wings fall to third place, they could take the one available between Byfield and Stuetzle. If they fall to fourth, defenseman Jamie Drysdale of Erie (OHL) could be an option.
The Red Wings have a total of 10 choices, including three in the second round.
Sign your own free agents
Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi are the best restricted free agents on the team. The long list includes Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne, Brendan Perlini, Evgeny Svechnikov, Christoffer Ehn, Madison Bowey, Dmytro Timashov, Taro Hirose, Dominic Turgeon and Kyle Wood.
A report in the Sport Express of Russia says that Timachov could sign with the KHL club Dinamo Riga. Perlini, after a disappointing season, may not receive an offer.
The club has five unrestricted free agents: Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley and Cody Goloubef should not be renewed. Sam Gagner may be offered a contract, but may prefer to return to Edmonton if the opportunity arises.
Explore the free agent market
The Red Wings need help at all positions, but are probably not among the few best free agents that should be available. They will look for more affordable second and third level players on short term contracts (one or two years) as stopping points during this reconstruction.
They could use a winger with scoring ability and a pair of defenders, preferably a right shooter and a left shooter. They will also need a replacement goalkeeper.
The free agency, which normally begins on July 1, cannot begin until after the playoffs.
Explore the commercial market
In addition to moving Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green to the trade deadline, Yzerman, in his first year as Red Wings GM, has made several low-risk value trades. He sought out highly reputable players – like former first-round picks Fabbri and Perlini – whose careers went through difficult times. He shifted perspectives that he believed did not match the future of the team.
He will likely continue to look for these types of trades over the next year.
More: NHLPA Authorizes New Negotiations On 24-Team Playoff Format