The Detroit Red Wings are two weeks out from the start of training camp, their ice time booked for Traverse City as has been tradition since 1997.
They weren’t able to go in 2020, of course, because of COVID-19. This year’s event runs about a week later than normal, with a golf outing Sept. 22 and practices/scrimmages Sept. 23-28. Their exhibition season begins Sept. 29 with a game at the Chicago Blackhawks and runs through Oct. 9. The home opener is Oct. 14 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
This will be the third season under general manager Steve Yzerman. When training began in September 2019, players noted most of them weren’t “his,” meaning they were on the roster when Yzerman was named GM five months earlier.
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Now, nearly every player on the roster bears Yzerman’s endorsement. Gone from the squad that finished the 2018-19 season are: forwards Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Darren Helm, Luke Glendening, Justin Abdelkader, Christoffer Ehn and Jacob de la Rose; defensemen Niklas Kronwall (who retired and joined the front office), Trevor Daley, Madison Bowey and Jonathan Ericsson; and goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier. In addition, defenseman Dennis Cholowski, a first-round pick from 2016, was lost in the Seattle expansion draft, and forward Evgeny Svechnikov, a first-round pick from 2017, was not tendered a qualifying offer this summer.
Nielsen was the last player of the group Yzerman inherited to be cut, bought out in August when a window to do so was triggered after the Wings came to terms with forward Adam Erne before an arbitration date.
Erne was one of the first players Yzerman added to the roster, in August 2019. Over the past two years, Yzerman has brought in new faces in forwards Jakub Vrana, Pius Suter, Robby Fabbri, Vladislav Namestnikov, Sam Gagner, Mitchell Stephens and Carter Rowney; defensemen Nick Leddy, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher, Jordan Oesterle, and goaltenders Thomas Greiss and Alex Nedeljkovic. Rowney and Stephens and swingman Luke Witkowski add further depth.
This summer, Yzerman re-signed multiple players he inherited: Tyler Bertuzzi (two years, $4.75 million average annual value), Michael Rasmussen (three years, $1.46 million AAV), Filip Hronek (three years, $4.4 million AAV) and Gustav Lindstrom (two years, $850,000 AAV). Givani Smith, a restricted free agent, has yet to be re-signed.
The only NHL regulars Yzerman hasn’t either acquired or re-signed are Dylan Larkin and Danny DeKeyser. DeKeyser was placed on waivers last season and is in the last year of his deal, so his future with the team is limited, but Yzerman tagged Larkin to serve as captain.
In addition, Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno, first-round picks from 2018, are still on their entry-level contracts. Moritz Seider, Yzerman’s first-round pick in 2019, is expected to start the first year of his entry-level contract this fall.
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The many new faces coupled with a return to Traverse City should spike the energy at training camp.
It was a somewhat nervous group that assembled in September 2019, with Nielsen noting that most of the Wings were “not his guys,” meaning Yzerman’s. Now most are, and there will be increased competition for minutes and special-teams assignments.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.