The worst kept secret in the entire NHL this past year finally became public knowledge when the Detroit Red Wings introduced Steve Yzerman as the team’s next general manager earlier this month. From the moment Yzerman stepped down from his position with the Tampa Bay Lightning, fans and analysts were predicting a return to Hockeytown for the franchise icon.
Now with Yzerman at the helm and with a struggling team to overhaul, fans are beginning to wonder what exactly the plan is. Well… fear no more, Wings fans. Stevie Y is here. In an exclusive one on one interview with Craig Custance of The Athletic, Yzerman lays out his plans for the offseason and, most importantly, the upcoming 2019 NHL Entry Draft where the Red Wings will select 6th overall.
Check out some of the highlights from Custance’s article below. To read to full article, be sure to check out the link at the bottom of this article.
Custance: When you’re watching kids at this level, what are you specifically looking for?
Yzerman: I guess just guys who stand out. They can stand out for different reasons. Part of it is a projection, projecting what they’re going to be, part of it is what do they do well? How do they skate? What are their skills? How do you project that into playing in the NHL?
Custance: You guys hit in the draft with a lot of smaller players in Tampa. Has the league evolved on that front or is there still opportunity there?
Yzerman: The difference now than in previous eras, the smaller guys would get drafted later. Now they’re being drafted in the first round. Now they’re moving up in the first round. The apprehension to the really good little player has kind of gone away. You keep seeing — Doug Gilmour was a fourth-round pick. He was an awesome player. Today, he’d be a first-round pick. There was always the smaller guys who generally got picked, just later. Now, they’re moving up.
Custance: A guy like Cole Caufield has been amazing but at 5-foot-7, there’s the question about his size. What are your impressions of him?
Yzerman: I’ve watched him all year. Every game he goes to, he just scores. He’s a phenomenal scorer. He’s fast. He’s really good. I just continue to see him score. He has great hands. He has the ability to change his angle, shoot the puck. Gets open for breakaways. He’s a really good scorer. He’s very similar to Alex DeBrincat in the way he plays. Alex’s skating, it really looks like he’s really increased his speed as he’s gotten older. He’s developed. They’re similar. Really good shooters, they know where to go and they know how to get their shot off.
Custance: In Tampa, you had a fairly progressive front office in terms of varying kinds of voices and using analytics. Do you want analytics to be part of the equation in the draft process ? Is that an area you’re looking to expand in Detroit?
Yzerman: I’m open to anything that’s going to give us a better chance to win, to improve our decision-making. I’m open to listening to anything. I’m not closed-minded to anything. I’ve only been there a week now. I’m just spending my first week with the amateur scouting staff, get a chance to ask them, see what they’ve been doing, how they go through their process, to what extent they use analytics.