Detroit Red Wings 2019-20 season preview: The Yzerman Era begins

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Franchise icon Steve Yzerman built a juggernaut in Tampa. What are his plans for the Detroit Red Wings? Here's everything you need to know about the team heading into the 2019-20 NHL season:

The big question: How long before the Yzer-plan kicks in?

Detroit fans have been clamoring for Yzerman's return since he left for the Tampa Bay Lightning's front office. He's preached patience since replacing Ken Holland, refusing to put a timeline on Detroit's return to respectability. Which means Steve Yzerman can definitely read an organizational depth chart.

While the Wings have some established young players -- led by Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi, with Joe Veleno, Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov, Filip Zadina and Moritz Seider leading the next wave -- they're surrounded by some high-priced holdovers and veteran placeholders from the Holland era. (And, of course, Detroit goalie-for-life Jimmy Howard.) How many of these players are actually part of the Yzer-plan, as he puts his stamp on the Wings?

Offseason comings and goings, cap situation

The Wings bid adieu to some veterans like Thomas Vanek and Niklas Kronwall, the latter of whom retired. They welcomed back 35-year-old free agent center Valtteri Filppula, who was Yzerman's teammate as a rookie in Detroit. They traded for Lightning winger Adam Erne, whom Yzerman drafted for Tampa Bay. They signed defenseman Patrik Nemeth. They brought back Howard on a one-year deal.

Holland stuck Yzerman with seven players holding no-trade clauses. The Wings will have a bit more roster flexibility next summer, with six restricted free agents and three unrestricted ones, but it's going to take time for the system to pump out NHL-ready talent; the Wings were ranked 15th in our latest prospect pool review.

Bold prediction

Moritz Seider, the No. 6 overall pick this year, plays more games with the Red Wings than Filip Zadina, the No. 6 overall pick in 2018.

Breakout candidate: Filip Hronek

Remember how Dennis Cholowski was the rookie toast of the blue line last season for a minute? Well, his stock fell while that of 21-year-old Hronek surged. The Czech had 23 points in 46 games, playing 19:58 per game with a plus-4.14 percent relative Corsi. He played his way into their top four and will remain there.

Biggest strength

Patience. In the long run, that's going to pay off nicely for Yzerman and the Wings. There are enough veteran placeholders on the roster -- and in some cases, stuck on the roster due to their contracts -- that Detroit's collection of young prospects will get the time they need to ripen.

Biggest weakness

Defense. Detroit was the fifth worst defense in the league, with a 3.32 goals-against average. The Wings' blue line has a few of those aforementioned placeholders in Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley. Being young in some areas of the lineup doesn't help the team defense, either.

Red Wings in NHL Rank


Future Power Ranking: 27

Detroit's current NHL roster didn't earn much love from our panelists (No. 30), and the cap/contract situation wasn't graded much better (No. 24), but there were some encouraging signs in the prospects (No. 12) and owner/GM/coach (No. 12).

Prospect perspective

Pipeline ranking: 15

Prospects in top 100:

  • 10. Filip Zadina, RW

  • 35. Joe Veleno, C

  • 43. Moritz Seider, D

  • 92. Jared McIsaac, D

Fantasy facts to know

There isn't really a secret to getting fantasy value out of the Red Wings this season. It's Dylan Larkin and players who are one degree of separation from Dylan Larkin. Larkin ripped off 73 points and played almost 22 minutes per game last season. He's going to be a superstar talent once his supporting cast gets better. His stats will look more like Blake Wheeler's when he's on a team with something resembling a power play -- but that won't be this season.

Those players with one degree of separation? Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi. Both are fairly cheap investments at the draft table and both will have a role in the fantasy game thanks to full-time minutes next to Larkin and on the power play. Both are in position to -- with expanded ice time -- go from sub-50-point outputs last season, to the 65-point-plus range this season.

That Red Wings power play just won't be too good, though. The team collected a total of 39 power-play goals last season ... which is as many power-play points as Keith Yandle had. There is no improvement to the personnel that can man the point on the man advantage, with the Wings expected to lean on Mike Green or Dennis Cholowski for the role. No, thank you. -- Sean Allen