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Last night’s win
over Carolina was a nice diversion from what has to be Yzerman’s massive deal that saw Mantha head for the Capitals. You may even have seen my original write up on the deadline day being a “dud”. I thought I’d waited long enough to hear all of the last minute transactions. Clearly, I did not.
If you go through my archives, you can find at least a dozen different times where I put my stamp on Mantha as one of the core players moving forward. Not only was I wrong, but in the fallout it seems that there was at least one more team looking at acquiring the big Frenchman. Columbus was in on talks, though the asking price hasn’t been revealed. For Steve Yzerman to work on this impactful a deal with at least 2 organizations, and no one had gotten wind of it, it beyond impressive. This is Call of Duty: Black Ops trade deadline edition.
I’ve said, many times, that you don’t know what “The Captain” is working on until it’s finished. It’s been clear that Detroit’s GM never stops working, and is somehow able to keep it all in house. Kris Draper does a lot of work on these deals too, so kudos to him as well. At this point, if Lidstrom shows up as the new coach of defensive coordinator, it will almost be par for the course. (That’s not a rumor, not even on the map as far as I know).
Before this trade, the biggest reaction from Yzerman’s young legacy as GM in Motown was Moritz Seider. That pick was literally its own GIF. A former worker for Detroit Sports Radio actually tweeted, “is it too late to get Ken Holland back?” (Thank God that wasn’t me, I’ve got my own insane reactions to haunt me for the rest of my life but that wasn’t one of them). Seider is a stud. His physical play this year is all over twitter/instagram. Lucas Raymond didn’t have nearly the same impact (i think Sven or Stammer even guessed correctly on that pick) but it was still a surprise to many. The Mantha deal, being put through at the last minute, was a bizarre shockwave. Props to Kevin Weekes for some fairly impressive improv as it came through on the NHL network.
Before the season started, another “not gonna happen” went through when Yzerman bought out Abdelkader’s remaining contract. In just a couple of years, there has been massive organizational turnover. Last year the GM turned Athanasiou into two second round picks (and a 4th for Green who never really played for Edmonton). This year he turned Lashoff, Nemeth and Merrill into two 4th round picks and a 5th round pick. Add to that a 1 and 2 for Mantha (plus Vrana and Panik) and you have some incredibly busy deadlines. Detroit has 5 second round picks in the next 2 drafts, and that is a round where they do some of their better scouting.
All this is to say, even though things dragged on a bit this season (and last) heading into his 3rd draft as the head of this organization, Yzerman has done a LOT of work. If you look at the 2018-2019 roster, only 7 forwards and 2 defensemen (1 goalie) are still with the organization from where Yzerman took over. Between the NHL roster, IR (not counting Z) and taxi squad there are 21 expiring deals, nearly a roster’s worth. Some will obviously be back (RFAs) but many if not most of the UFAs will probably move on. Helm is the last of the 2008 cup winners left, and I expect he’ll probably move on. Glendening could be extended though.
The forward core will maintain some familiarity next year, but the defense is in for more massive turnover. I’d love to have Merrill back, I like his game. Seider should be ready to go, and that is something most people are excited about. A bit under the radar, McIsaac is coming off of IR and could get some games in with the Griffins. Veleno is back in town as well. The final dozen games could have some interesting guest skaters.
So, many or most of you are fairly pleased or excited with the Mantha deal. Looking down the list of Yzerman’s changes, what else stands out? Detroit is certainly going to have a better finish than last year, and likely pick in the 4 to 6 range again. Is the team stabilizing, or will the defensive turnover continue to hinder back end stability for another season or two? Let me know.