The Detroit Red Wings entered the 2022 National Hockey League free agency period with over $30 million in cap space, and they certainly put it to good use. General manager Steve Yzerman was among the busiest executives in hockey last month, bringing aboard the likes of Andrew Copp, David Perron, Dominik Kubalik, Olli Maatta, and Ben Chiarot. And that was already on top of his acquisition of goaltender Ville Husso from the St. Louis Blues the previous week.
Yzerman sat down with Red Wings reporter Daniella Bruce at Little Caesars Arena earlier this week, and he began by explaining what will make this year's edition of the team different than last year's that finished as the worst defensive team in the NHL.
"I think we'll be deeper in all areas, with Ville Husso in net," Yzerman explained. "A younger guy, took a major step in his career last year with St. Louis. I think on a game to game basis with him and Ned in net. I expect to get quality starts and give our chance a team to win every night. Up front, the additions of Copp, Kubalik and Perron give you three experienced NHL players and improves our top-9; I think we have more depth up front. And with the additions on the blue line with Chiarot, Maatta and Robert Hagg....eventually Simon Edvinsson making our team and a couple younger players like Berggren, Soderblom or whomever else, I think we have more depth from top to bottom in the lineup and you need that throughout the season."
As mentioned before, the Red Wings finished with the unfortunate distinction of being the worst defensive team in the NHL last year, something that Yzerman was determined to not have happen again.
"When we talk about being harder to play against, I don't want to give the impression that we're going to go out and fight everybody and all that," he said. "It's just being stronger defensively, it's being more competitive and responsible. Some of these players we've brought in have vast playoff experience and know how to play."
With the addition of Husso in net, he'll be paired with second year Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, whom Yzerman acquired in a lopsided trade from the Hurricanes last offseason.
"You saw Ned come in from Carolina to our team and played 50-something games last year and played some very good games but had some tough nights along with the rest of our team," Yzerman said of Nedeljkovic. "I like the way that he battled his way through it and didn't fall apart. I don't think today he's any less confident that he was a year ago, so it's an indication that he has mental toughness, and you have to be mentally tough to play goal in this League. I like that this pairing has some upside - they've shown they can play in this league and show promise."