Another week has passed and news (and rumors) have started to pick up as the 2020-21 NHL season could be just a month away. Today, we’ve got a mailbag to go over, some movement to dissect, and a certain tournament to prep for. Let’s dive in!
St. James Mailbag
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press recently published a mailbag where she answered a couple questions from readers. The topic in-question today is regarding head coach Jeff Blashill, and she offered some insight into what general manager Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings organization may be thinking.
“Yzerman has endorsed Blashill multiple times: Before the 2019-20 season, at the trade deadline, and again after the season ended. Yzerman said it’s unfair to judge Blashill based on the 17-49-5 record, because the roster needs to be better before Blashill can be fairly assessed,” she wrote in regards to why Yzerman hasn’t moved on from the coach. She also pointed out that the Red Wings have been dealing skilled players (Gustav Nyquist, Andreas Athanasiou, etc.) in order to acquire future assets.
As for Blashill’s overall job security? She goes on:
“…Blashill is on the hot seat. He is entering the last year of his contract and will be in charge of an improved roster….They don’t look like a playoff team, but they will be expected to be more competitive.” (From “Detroit Red Wings mailbag: Why is Jeff Blashill still Steve Yzerman’s coach?” – Detroit Free Press – 12/13/20)
This jibes with what the members of The Hockey Writers’ Grind Line said about Blashill in their most recent live show (which you can watch down below). Expectations aren’t high for the Red Wings, but Yzerman will want to see his head coach coax progress out of the team’s best and youngest players. “Blash” probably doesn’t have the hottest seat in the league, but it’s definitely heating up….
Filip Zadina Packs His Bags
The Red Wings have terminated the loan agreement between them and HC Ocelari Trinec of the Czech Republic in regards to winger Filip Zadina. The 21-year-old was playing across the pond in order to get some playing time and shake off the rust while the NHL sat idle. Now that he is heading back to North America, this is another in a growing list of signs that the 2020-21 NHL season is on the horizon.
Zadina, the Red Wings’ top pick in the 2018 draft (sixth overall), had a productive stint in his native Czech Republic; through 17 games, he scored eight goals and 14 points. He scored a good number of his goals from inside the slot, including this goal involving opposing defender and Red Wings teammate Filip Hronek.
This news not only bodes well for the NHL’s season, but for Zadina’s chances of making the Red Wings’ roster out of training camp. His goal for the 2020-21 season should be to claim a spot in the team’s top-six. Nobody should expect him to explode this season, but a 40-point campaign over 56 games should be a reasonable expectation.
Past and Future Moves
Late last week, the Red Wings moved the rights to winger Dmytro Timashov to the New York Islanders in exchange for future considerations.
Timashov was claimed off of waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, but only featured in five games with the Red Wings due to immigration issues and then the season shutting down due to COVID-19. He scored no points during his stint with the Red Wings.
This is a no-harm, no-foul transaction as the Red Wings had acquired Timashov for nothing to begin with. While it would have been nice to see more of the 24-year-old, Yzerman’s busy offseason, as well as the team’s overall standing in the league led to a bit of a stand-off between the player and team. Instead of potentially signing over in Europe, Timashov now gets a similar chance with the Islanders, who reached the Eastern Conference Final last season.
However, moving Timashov doesn’t have the same ramifications as one that NHL-insider Elliotte Friedman recently hinted at on SN960 The Fan:
“There’s been a rumor going around, actually started in Europe, that the (Tampa Bay) Lightning might trade for Henrik Zetterberg’s LTIR from Detroit, which makes sense depending on what they give up. The report’s been Tyler Johnson, we’ll see if there’s any truth to that.”
Tyler Johnson-to-Detroit is a topic that we have covered a few times here at The Hockey Writers – from both team’s perspectives. In fact, our own Tony Wolak and Eugene Helfrick came together to orchestrate a mock trade proposal involving Johnson as well as Alex Killorn. That being said, the idea of involving Zetterberg’s contract in the deal is kind of a new wrinkle in the story.
Taking on Zetterberg’s contract would allow the Lightning to use long-term injured-reserve (LTIR) as a way to exceed the $81.5 million salary cap given that they still have a couple key free agents to sign. A move like this likely has a lot of moving pieces involved and the dollar signs have to align just right for both teams. We’ll see where this thing goes….
The Red Wings will be represented by seven players in the World Junior Championships (WJC), slated to begin on Christmas day. That total is the second-most in the league, behind just the Los Angeles Kings, who are represented by nine players.
The highlight here has got to be Lucas Raymond, the team’s top pick in the 2020 draft (fourth overall). He should get the opportunity to not only make a name for himself on a global stage, but also develop some chemistry with his fellow Red Wings prospects on Team Sweden. Theodor Niederbach, Raymond’s teammate with Frölunda HC, has the opportunity to be the top center for Sweden.
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