Over the weekend, Red Wings legend and acclaimed general manager Steve Yzerman was working the phones. First, he traded defenseman Patrik Nemeth to the Avalanche for a 2022 fifth-rounder. Then, Yzerman acquired his former employer’s 2021 4th round pick in a deal with the Lightning. Finally, he traded one of the team’s best defenders in Jon Merrill to the Canadiens for a 2021 fifth-rounder and prospect Hayden Verbeek. However, Yzerman did not stop.
As the deadline hit, he traded longtime Red Wing Anthony Mantha to the Capitals. It is well-known trading first-round picks in the NHL is incredibly risky. This even applies to playoff teams. Yzerman received Washington’s first-rounder. But, he did not stop there. He got a second-rounder next year. He capped the deal off with two solid players. The first being 25-year-old Jakub Vrana, a former top-15 pick. Vrana put up an impressive 52 points last season. The second was veteran former Lightning right-winger Richard Panik.
Steve Yzerman truly capitalized on an incredibly active trade market. Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, and Jeff Carter were all big names to be shipped before Mantha. Contenders were showing more of a willingness to trade picks for anyone who could help them get an edge in their new division. t is why he was able to get the haul he did from the Capitals. This is perfect for Yzerman’s approach: creating a culture and building through the draft.
Steve Yzerman: Hoarder
Yzerman has helped the Wings acquire a plethora of draft picks. Detroit’s first-rounder and the Washington first-round pick hold the most intrinsic value. However, the most underrated picks will come in rounds 2-4. Yzerman has amassed an impressive seven picks in this space in 2021. His pedigree in the draft precedes itself. If the Wings can get just half of these picks to work, the Wings will have at least one solid young line. The next three picks in rounds 5 and 6 should not be discounted. Yzerman can shore up future depth, strengthen the minors, and maybe even find the next Pavel Datsyuk.
Overall, Yzerman turned a week of smaller, building moves into an incredible blockbuster involving a player younger than the one he traded away. Many non-NHL fans may discount the abundance of second-to-fourth rounders and the gravity of trading away a first-rounder. Given Yzerman’s proven abillity to capitalize and finesse (look no further than the Kyle Quincey trade), the Wings will not only have a great 2021 Draft but something to truly look forward to in the next five years.