Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman wasted little time getting started on his off-season plans, announcing on Saturday that Jeff Blashill won't be returning as head coach. That might not be the only move Yzerman has in store following his club's disappointing performance this season.
Yzerman spent the past two years patiently rebuilding his roster with young talent. His efforts appeared to be paying off when the Wings were jockeying for an Eastern Conference wild-card berth through the opening two months of the season. However, they faltered through January and collapsed following the All-Star break in February
Blashill paid the price for that. Detroit Hockey Now's Kevin Allen reported Yzerman could seek a more demanding bench boss with a reputation for developing young talent. Former NHL coaches John Tortorella, Paul Maurice and Claude Julien were among Allen's suggested candidates.
The Athletic's Max Bultman believes Yzerman must also remake the Red Wings defense, improve their scoring punch and sign captain Dylan Larkin to a contract extension. Cap Friendly shows the Wings with $36 million in projected cap space with 14 active players under contract for next season. That's plenty of room to address those issues.
How much Yzerman spends and on which players is another matter. He's been unwilling to invest in expensive unrestricted free agent talent. However, he has shown a willingness to make bold trades, shipping Anthony Mantha to Washington for Jakub Vrana and acquiring Alex Nedeljkovic from Carolina last year.
Perhaps Tyler Bertuzzi could become the centerpiece of another audacious move by Yzerman. Bultman cited the trade rumors that dogged the 27-year-old winger before the trade deadline. He indicated there's still a belief that Bertuzzi could be moved this summer.