Dear Red Wings: Rebuild timeline; Veleno up; Raymond signs

‘Yzerplan’ just getting started

FILE - In this April 19, 2019, file photo, Steve Yzerman answers a question during an NHL hockey news conference where he was introduced as the new executive vice president and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Mantha trade is giving us a better view of the rebuild timeline. It’s time to step back and consider what the “Yzerplan” looks like now that the deadline has passed.

Mantha trade and the ‘Yzerplan’ timeline

Here are the facts:

Anthony Mantha is 26 years old with a contract through the next three seasons. Forget the $5.7 million cap hit because it’s irrelevant. Detroit is not a team playing to the cap and won’t be for a while. Mantha was for whatever reason in the doghouse with Jeff Blashill/Steve Yzerman, and a change of scenery for the big forward was a good deal for the Red Wings and for a team like the Washington Capitals (he now has 4 points in three games with the Caps).

Sure, it was a good, aggressive trade for the Cup-hungry Caps, but clearly even better for the rebuilding Red Wings who got the pricey assets and 25-year-old Jakub Vrana in return -- Vrana also was in need of his own change of scenery.

Furthermore, what dealing Mantha helped reinforce was the rebuild timeline:

  • This team is still four to five years away from starting to compete for a Stanley Cup, at least.
  • That means a 26-year-old Mantha with a multi-year contract does not fit into this rebuild timeframe.
  • You either trade him now for full price, or try to sell him lower when he’s closer to 30 years old.
  • Yzerman did the right thing by finding a suitor for him right now.

The trade also revealed what many of us suspected to be true: Anyone on this roster is on the table if Yzerman can swing a deal. That includes players such as Robby Fabbri, Vladislav Namestnikov and Troy Stecher. Those are players with value and contracts beyond this season. I imagine some of those names won’t be protected in the Seattle expansion draft either.

And then there’s Dylan Larkin, who is under contract for the next two seasons ($6.1 million cap hit). He’s basically the only player on the roster now (not including the prospects like Joe Veleno, Moritz Seider, etc.) who gets to stay, help oversee the rebuild. You could even think of him as the new Steve Yzerman of the 80s and 90s -- one way to look at it, at least. Obviously not the same player, but perhaps a similar situation for both.

Larkin is 24 years old right now. The timeline for the Red Wings to be competing for a Stanley Cup has Larkin in his late 20s/early 30s. And he’s the only player on this team (outside of the prospects) who can really think this far ahead, for now.

Do you have the patience to wait until 2025-26 for a legit Red Wings team? I think that’s where Red Wings fans’ heads need to be. We have to accept that this is the plan, and perhaps it was set back an additional year due to the pandemic.

But this is the “Yzerplan” timeline right now, take it or leave it. Yzerman has stockpiled his draft picks over the next two seasons (reference down below). He’s been here for two drafts and by the time his fourth draft is done, we’ll start to see this team take shape and become a real team again.

Yzerman came back to be GM in 2019, has had two very strong drafts, has positioned the team for two more strong drafts, and pretty soon we’ll start to see his draft picks and prospect signings in the Red Wings lineup -- let’s get to that now:

Veleno on taxi squad

Center Joe Veleno, 21, is joining the Red Wings taxi squad as this season winds down with 10 more games on the schedule. Veleno was on loan to the SHL’s Malmö Redhawks with whom he scored 11 goals and 9 assists in 46 games. He was Detroit’s 1st-round pick, 30th overall in 2018.

Detroit Red Wings' Joe Veleno plays against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Veleno played 54 games with the Griffins in 2019-20 for 11 goals and 12 assists. He also shined at the 2020 WJC for Canada with 6 goals in six games. Veleno was Steve Yzerman’s first signing as Detroit GM in 2019. He’s now in his second of a four-year entry-level contract that expires in 2023.

He was first recalled last week to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins after his Swedish pro league season came to an end. Now Detroit is readying him to join the NHL lineup. It’s a great sign to see him getting the opportunity before this season ends.

Let’s see what he looks like jumping right in from Sweden.

Lucas Raymond signs entry-level contract

Lucas Raymond has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings, the team announced Friday. Raymond was drafted 4th overall by Detroit in 2020. The 19-year-old left wing has been playing with Frolunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for the past three seasons.

This season Raymond had 18 points through 34 games played, though he missed a significant portion of the season due to injury. He suffered the injury in February and was set to miss eight weeks.

Despite that, Raymond remained among the top U20 points producers in the SHL, along with fellow Red Wings prospects Moritz Seider and Albert Johansson. Those two, both defenseman, already are under three-year entry-level contracts.

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 02: Lucas Raymond #18 and Albert Johansson #9 of Sweden celebrate a goal against Finland during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship quarterfinals at Rogers Place on January 2, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) (2021 Codie McLachlan)

Raymond also helped lead Team Sweden at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. He had 5 points in 5 games played at the tournament.

Here is how he is described by Elite Prospects:

“A very well-rounded and highly skilled winger. Raymond is blessed with exceptional hockey sense ... he has terrific hands, great speed and fine work ethic. Plays with plenty of intensity and battles hard for the puck. A nightmare to play against with his forechecking and puck-stealing ability. He also plays a strong two-way game and is a capable penalty killer. Offensively, he has a strong wrist shot and excellent vision. Few weaknesses overall and is a player that doesn’t wait for the play to happen, but the one that generates the play and make things happen.”

We expect to see him at Red Wings training camp, and perhaps in the lineup next season. At the very least he’ll be joining the Griffins.

I don’t think we’ll get a chance to see him in Detroit before the year ends. Seems like a long shot due to travel, quarantining, and that injury he suffered.

Game recap: Blackhawks beat Red Wings 4-0, end rare 3-game winning streak

Note: Patrick Marleau ties Gordie Howe’s all-time NHL games played record

📅 Schedule:

Injuries list

  • Tyler Bertuzzi -- Bertuzzi has ended up on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury, and he is expected to be sidelined until the latter part of April.
  • Robby Fabbri -- Fabbri has been posted to the injured reserve list with an undetermined injury, and team officials have yet to provide an exact return date.
  • Bobby Ryan -- Ryan has been shifted to the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury, and it is projected that he will miss the remainder of the season.
  • Evgeny Svechnikov -- Svechnikov has missed the previous two contests with an upper-body injury, and it remains to be seen if he will be active versus the Stars on Monday.
  • As sure as Chicago is an awful place, the injury list is updated here.

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Red Wings draft positions

Here are the updated draft positions for the next two seasons with the additions from the trade deadline moves.

2021 draft positions:

Here’s the updated list of Red Wings 2021 and 2022 draft positions:

2022 draft positions

Key dates for the 2020-21 NHL season:

  • May 8 -- Season ends
  • May 11 -- Playoffs begin
  • July 15 -- Last possible day for the playoffs
  • 24 hours after end of playoffs -- Player buyout period begins
  • July 21 -- Expansion draft for Seattle Kraken
  • July 23-24 -- NHL Entry Draft
  • July 28 -- Free agency begins

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.