Yzerman got his hands on his bag of tricks moments before the Dallas Stars picked 15th overall, agreeing to trade the team’s first round (23rd overall), second round (48th overall) and a fifth round (138th in total) in exchange for selection rights No. 15. And with the hope of a better goalkeeper Jesper Wallstedt always available, the hockey world expected to hear his name.
As he did so often during his tenure as general manager of the Red Wings, Yzerman surprised the masses.
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The bigger question in all of this isn’t necessarily about Cossa’s selection over Wallstedt, as either goalkeeper is likely to have a long-term impact with their respective club. The question that remains is why the Red Wings decided to trade, given that it is possible (although it can never be certain) that Cossa would have been available without moving.
The answer is not easy, and there is a lot to consider.
There was massive interest in Sebastian Cossa
One thing needs to be clarified up front: None of us have a clue of the conversations that took place behind closed doors, and to assert the painfully obvious truth, we may never know what led to the direction of Detroit to seek a higher choice. The impact of that won’t be known for years to come, but examining goalie Cossa’s caliber helps to understand why the Red Wings were eager to catch the 18-year-old.
For starters, Cossa is revered as an incredibly mature goaltender with a strong hockey sense, and at 6ft 6in tall and 212lb has a frame that takes up most of the net, even when he’s in the butterfly. . He is athletic, a proven winner, and it is generally believed that he will become an NHL goalie. His talent speaks for itself, and his stunning 17-1-1 record, 1.57 goals-against average (GAA) and .941 save percentage last season is enough to whet the appetite for any general manager.
Having said that, why go to the draft of a goalie who might still have been available? Put simply, the Red Wings made the decision to make sure they could get the player they wanted and had no assurances that Cossa would remain available. In fact, recent reports had even suggested that Cossa had overtaken Wallstedt on several scoreboards.
The fact that Detroit let Wallstedt down is irrelevant, as Yzerman has shown time and time again he’s not afraid to break rank. In addition, the Red Wings really didn’t give up much to begin with. The first-round picks cancel each other out, so essentially all of the Detroit’s lost in that deal were picks 48 and 138.
Small price to pay – especially when you already have a well-stocked wardrobe – for getting what many perceive to be the lifeblood of a franchise.
The addition of Alex Nedeljkovic is not enough to bet on
One final lingering question concerns the recent addition of Alex Nedeljkovic and why the team would be so keen on adding a goalie after they’ve just traded (and signed) the Calder Trophy finalist.
This one is easy – there are no guarantees. The 25-year-old has a two-year contract and has yet to prove himself in the scheme of things. While the trade is a good bet for Yzerman considering both GAA of 2.17 and Nedeljkovic’s .920 save percentage in last season’s playoffs (and it was even better in 23 games of regular season), it was also clear that the Carolina Hurricanes had moved on.
Whether or not Nedeljkovic works in the long run shouldn’t even be considered at this point, as it’s irrelevant. By selecting their precious goalie prospect now, the Red Wings will allow Cossa to develop his game for a few seasons, instead of rushing him through the ranks.
It’s also worth noting that the Minnesota Wild, who traded to select at No.20, ultimately nabbed Wallstedt, so there’s no guarantee there would have been any goalies for the Red Wings to make a few picks later. .
The timing was right, the pieces were in place and the team made the conscious decision to go find their future goalie, before someone else did.
The answer is blatant
It’s clear that Yzerman had at least some sort of idea that Cossa was in danger of being selected by another team, so he leapt up, although the most important thing to remember is that he has followed this plan before. .
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Yzerman drafted goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy 19th overall in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the following season goaltender Ben Bishop made his first appearance with the team. Four seasons later, Bishop was set to come out and Vasilevskiy stepped into the starting role.
Four years later, with a Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, and back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships under his belt, Vasilevskiy is proof that Yzerman’s method of team building is effective, to say the least, and he’s trying to recreate that culminates in the Motor City.
Time will tell us.
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