Yzerman: Red Wings’ Defense Needs to Improve

Red Wings November Prospects
Keegan Bezenah for Inside The Rink

Steve Yzerman has now been the general manager of the Detroit Red Wings for five years. In that time the Red Wings’ roster has improved. However, the team has failed to make the Stanley Cup playoffs, most recently on the last day of the 2023-24 NHL season, when the team was eliminated by the Washington Capitals thanks to a tiebreaker. That does not mean that Yzerman is on the “hot seat.”

In his season wrap-up press conference, Yzerman made mention of team defense needing to improve time and time again. Stopping short of blaming any one of the three goaltenders on the Red Wings for the team falling out of the playoffs, Yzerman focused on the defensive structure of the team needing to improve. “Overall, I’m happy with the direction we’re going. With the coaching that we have…but we have to be a better defensive team.”

Defenseman Moritz Seider regained the form that saw him win the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in 2021 after seemingly taking a step back in 2022-23. Yzerman stunned the hockey world by drafting Seider sixth overall in the 2019 NHL entry draft. The Zell, Germany native was pleased with the development of the Red Wings and saw the benefits of playing in a playoff chase, saying, “It’s not a big secret: I want to be a Red Wing.  I think I’m also confident enough that I could be a good asset for this organization, and that really matters for me. And I think then you can talk as long as you want about numbers and lengths and how long the contract could be, but those two first parts fit well—and they do—then I’m pretty confident we’ve got something done.”

Another young defenseman that made an impact in a limited amount of time with the Red Wings during this season was Simon Edvinsson. At only 21-years-old the 6’6” Onsala, Sweden, Edvinsson played high-impact minutes during the Red Wings’ chase for a playoff spot. While Yzerman made no promises as to any player being given a spot on the Red Wings’ roster in 2024-25, he did signal that the defensive corps will most likely stay intact.

That the defensive structure of the Red Wings being one of the main reasons that the team did not make the Stanley Cup playoffs, according to Yzerman, may lead some to ask why he is deciding to keep the team’s defensive corps together. The defensive prospects in the system behind Edvinsson leave a lot to be desired. According to Elite Prospects, Andrew Gibson is the highest-ranked defensive prospect in the system at number five. Gibson was drafted by the Red Wings with the 42nd overall draft pick in the 2023 NHL entry draft. In 68 games played for the Soo Greyhounds during the 2023-24 OHL season, Gibson has scored 12 goals and added 32 assists for 44 points. The Red Wings have signed Gibson to a three-year entry-level contract. Gibson will report to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

All-in-all, Yzerman seems happy with where the franchise is headed under head coach Derek Lalonde. The Capitals and Red Wings both finished the 2023-24 season with 91 points. It is up to Lalonde’s staff to keep preaching defensive structure to ensure that the team meets this goal. Edvinsson gaining experience during the recent push for a playoff spot will prove invaluable for the Red Wings moving forward.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
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