The final month of Red Wings hockey during the 2020-21 season is upon us. The trades have happened. The playoff races are well-established. For the Red Wings, this final month about building towards next season, and maybe playing spoiler along the way.
In building for next season, the Red Wings have made some moves in that regard, and their general manager, Steve Yzerman, signaled that more moves could be on the horizon. Which moves are we talking about? It’s time to catch up on the latest:
Lucas Raymond Signs Entry-Level Deal
Lucas Raymond, the Red Wings top pick in the 2020 draft (fourth overall) recently signed his first contract with Detroit following the completion of Frölunda HC’s season in the SHL. The 19-year-old winger had 18 points through 34 games this season before he was shut-down due to an elbow injury that required surgery.
As mentioned in the tweet above, the deal begins with the 2021-22 season. With Raymond now under contract but unable to join the Red Wings this season, the chatter surrounding the third-best prospect, as ranked by TSN’s Craig Button, is whether or not he may sign a try-out agreement with the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate. Based on recovery projections from Yzerman, he could be ready to play by the end of April. The Griffins’ season concludes on May 15, leaving plenty of room for the young Swedish winger to potentially get a look in the AHL.
The Red Wings, and their fans, are eager for Raymond to get his first taste of the North American style of hockey. While it likely depends entirely on the progress of that elbow injury, no one will blame fans and Yzerman if they are crossing their fingers in hopes that Detroit’s top forward prospect will make his AHL debut this season.
Joe Veleno Poised to Play?
Speaking of top forward prospects, Joe Veleno, the Red Wings’ second pick of the 2018 draft, 30th overall, recently fulfilled his quarantine requirements after returning to North America from the SHL, and joined the Red Wings’ taxi squad.
While with the taxi squad, Veleno can practice with the rest of the Red Wings’ players, but he remains outside of the lineup. This begins the process of not only making an impression on Yzerman, head coach Jeff Blashill and the rest of the team, but also Veleno’s first real taste of life in the NHL. For a player that was once considered one of the top prospects in the 2018 draft class, this probably feels like a long time coming for the 21-year-old.
With the Malmö Redhawks in the SHL, Veleno registered 11 goals and 20 points through 46 games, though it’s worth mentioning that the Redhawks were a very weak team this season. Should he get the opportunity to play some games with the Red Wings before the season’s end, it will be interesting to see where he is placed in the lineup. Even though he is a natural center, Blashill might stick him on the wing as a way to stick some training wheels on him. No matter where he plays – if he plays – Hockeytown will undoubtedly be very excited to see another fresh face get an opportunity to strut his stuff as the Red Wings’ rebuild continues.
Blashill Decision Imminent?
In interesting nugget to come out of Yzerman’s press availability following the trade deadline was that he planned on addressing coach Blashill’s situation “very quickly” following the season’s conclusion.
When asked of his thoughts on Blashill, Yzerman responded:
Jeff and I will sit down very quickly after the season and discuss that.
– Steve Yzerman
Blashill’s contract comes to an end at the end of this season. As you may know, he has the third-longest tenure of any coach in the NHL, trailing only Jon Cooper in Tampa Bay and Paul Maurice in Winnipeg. Hired by former-GM Ken Holland, Blashill currently has a 169-218-58 record over almost six seasons with the Red Wings.
It’s no secret that Blashill isn’t exactly as popular as Yzerman is in Detroit. Our own writing team here at The Hockey Writers have put out multiple pieces regarding the head coach that range from accepting him for the remainder of this season to outright wanting him fired, and everything in between. Ultimately, the decision is Yzerman’s to make, and all of Hockeytown is will be eager to find out what decision the GM makes regarding the team’s head coach.
What do you think, Red Wings fans? How would you feel if Yzerman elects to bring back the much-maligned coach?
- Defenseman Jared McIsaac (36th overall, 2018) has officially joined the Griffins after spending most of this season on the sideline due to an injury sustained during his first game over in Finland.
While he hasn’t played his first game in the AHL yet, there’s a good chance that he’ll be suiting up this week as the Griffins take on the Cleveland Monsters on April 20 and 21.
- Rögle BK, the SHL club of Red Wings top prospect Moritz Seider, are currently waiting to find out who their opponent will be for the semi-finals of the SHL playoffs. If the young German defender is going to have a chance of playing in Detroit this season, Rögle will more than likely need to get bounced out in the semi-final round fairly early. That being said, Yzerman stated during his post-trade deadline press availability that he wants to see Seider and his team win a championship. Having that kind of success will certainly be good for the development of the sixth pick of the 2019 draft.