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With the NHL announcing their plans for how the 2020-21 season would commence, I thought I’d look at nine fun ways for the Red Wings to spend their $9.5 million cap space to reach the upper limit of $81.5 million. This is meant to be a fun and satirical piece as I’m not looking to speculate on rumours or potential mock trades, nor am I trying to report anything new. I just wanted to look at fun ways for the Red Wings to spend almost to or at the cap. With that being said, let’s begin!

Trading for Mathew Barzal From the New York Islanders
When the NHL returned to play last summer (it feels so long ago now), Mathew Barzal caught my eye as a superstar in the making. The Coquitlam, B.C. native scored 17 points in 22 postseason games for the defence-minded New York Islanders, including putting home his first playoff overtime winner against the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of their first-round series. At 23 years old, Barzal is arguably a top-10 center in the league right now (I’d be happy to make that argument) and would be an awesome player to watch every night, especially in a Red Wings uniform.

The Detroit Red Wings haven’t decided how to give the occasion the recognition it deserves, but the plan is to have a captain again for the first time in nearly three years.

General manager Steve Yzerman, whose own naming to the captaincy was done at a news conference, wants somebody — think Dylan Larkin Jersey — to wear the “C” during the pandemic-shortened 56-game season. The Wings have relied exclusively on alternate captains since Henrik Zetterberg Jersey retired in September 2018.

[ What Wings prospects Evgeny Svechnikov, Dennis Cholowski Jersey must do to make team ]

“We haven’t figured out how roll that out, but our plan hasn’t changed,” Yzerman said.

That was one of the many subjects Yzerman discussed during a half-hour Zoom meeting with media Tuesday afternoon, two days after the NHL formally announced plans for a 56-game season.

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) looks on during the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Little Caesars Arena, on April 2, 2019, in Detroit.
Here are the highlights.

European to Christmas Vacation
The Wings loaned multiple players to European teams, and some, like Filip Zadina Jersey and Michael Rasmussen, already have returned to Detroit. Yzerman said Gustav Lindstrom Jersey and Mathias Brome will be recalled. Moritz Seider and Joe Veleno are not eligible to be recalled from their Swedish Hockey League teams until their seasons are over. Players in the metro Detroit area have been skating at Little Caesars Arena since the start of December.

The Wings can officially begin training camp on Dec. 31.

MAILBAG:Why is Jeff Blashill still Steve Yzerman Jersey coach?

Crammed schedule
The season is slated to start Jan. 13. The NHL has yet to release a schedule, but the Wings will play eight games against each of the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning in the temporarily realigned Central Division.

Yzerman has seen a preview of the schedule and said there will be 10 games in 18 days in January. That should get guys into game shape quickly, given there won’t be any exhibition games.

THE FUTURE:Filip Hronek Jersey, Moritz Seider proving they’re ready for bigger NHL roles

With no fans in the stands — which not only affects ticket sales but also in-arena concessions — the NHL is looking at allowing advertising on players’ uniforms to offset financial losses.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to see if we can’t generate revenue from it,” Yzerman said. “It’s the norm outside of North America.”

Y go blue
Yzerman sported a Red Wings “Michigan college night” hat that had a block M on the bill. “It’s about as close I could get to ever getting accepted at University of Michigan,” Yzerman joked.

Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)
He’s currently an RFA, so I’m sure the Islanders will find a way to bring him back. The Red Wings have already made one transaction with the team from Long Island, sending Dmytro Timashov Jersey to Uniondale in exchange for future considerations on Dec. 11. Even if it isn’t Barzal getting dealt (which in all likelihood, it won’t), the Islanders are going to have to move somebody and the Red Wings are prime candidates to acquire someone.

Trading for Patrik Laine From the Winnipeg Jets
I’m surprised that the Patrik Laine/Winnipeg Jets relationship has soured so much. They seem like the perfect fit for one another. The Jets would have a young superstar who loves scoring goals while Laine would be the face of a Canadian franchise whose jersey could be seen on every Manitoba street corner. For one reason or another, it seems like those two parties are heading towards a divorce, and maybe the Red Wings could be a beneficiary of it.

Did you know that Laine is only 22 and already has three seasons of 30 goals under his belt? He would have four if the 2019-20 regular season didn’t get cut short. He’s already played 300 regular-season NHL games and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be interested in someone of his capabilities. Similar to Barzal, the possibilities of Laine being a Red Wing are slim to none but it’s always fun to dream.

Trading for Matthew Tkachuk From the Calgary Flames
Ok, yes, the Red Wings acquiring Matthew Tkachuk is a fantasy of mine because I love him a lot and would be thrilled to have him on my team. He brings a style of play that you either love or hate and you don’t see it much anymore in 2020. There’s nothing to suggest the Flames would entertain moving him (and it would be silly if they did) but I would buy his jersey tomorrow if he got moved to the Red Wings. Not going to lie, I’ve even considered purchasing a Tkachuk Blasty jersey just because I love the combination so much.

It’s #FreeBlasty time 🔥

— Matthew Tkachuk (@TKACHUKycheese_) November 17, 2020
Seeing the oldest Tkachuk brother play for the Red Wings would be great when the Atlantic Division is back to normal as it would be more meetings with his younger brother, Brady, who plays for the Ottawa Senators (although we’ll see them play against each other in the North Division this season). Honestly, I’ll still root for Matthew because he’s a fun player who makes the league more exciting when he’s playing. If he ever gets to play for Detroit, it would be amazing, but I’m not counting on it.

Trading for Jamie Benn From the Dallas Stars
Again, there is no evidence to suggest that the Dallas Stars are going to move Jamie Benn to the Red Wings, or that either team would make this move, to begin with. It’s just a fun idea that would get Detroit to spend their remaining cap space. But, if Benn were to wind up with the Red Wings for this upcoming season, he’s definitely someone whose jersey I’d buy ASAP.

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DETROIT — Every new NHL season provides teams with a fresh start and an opportunity to wipe the slate clean.

And for the Detroit Red Wings, who haven’t played a competitive game in 272 days, the upcoming season provides a much-needed clean slate as the club attempts to end its four-year streak of missing the playoffs.

That’s Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill’s mentality as the Wings prepare for a season that they hope will start as soon as possible.

“Every year is a new year. Certainly this year more than ever, it’s a totally new year,” Blashill said to Art Regner last Thursday during The Word on Woodward. “We’ve never had this much time between seasons, so it’s a fresh start, so to speak. Let’s go out and let’s try to prove on a daily basis that we can get better. That’s, to me, the focus, just getting better on a daily basis.”

Blashill said he was extremely pleased with the work that executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman Jersey did this offseason to improve the roster. With offseason additions like forwards Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov Jersey, defensemen Marc Staal, Troy Stecher Jersey and Jon Merrill Jersey and goaltender Thomas Greiss Jersey, Blashill said he’s excited for some renewed energy on and off the ice in Detroit.

During his appearance on the Red & White Authority, Horcoff weighed in on several of the Red Wings’ young players and prospects. He also confirmed that Filip Hronek Jersey, Gustav Lindstrom Jersey, Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina Jersey will travel back to the United States and be eligible to rejoin the Red Wings’ Training Camp roster, whenever it begins.

On 2020 first-round pick Lucas Raymond
“He’s a really good player. You can just see the talent and skill and sense that he has. But even more so, the drive he has. He’s got this quiet confidence. He knows that he’s good, but he wants to be great. He just seems motivated and even more dedicated to being the best player that he can. So there’s lots to like about Lucas.”

On 2020 second-round pick William Wallinder
“He’s a big, raw kid. There’s some ability there. Obviously, he’s played well, and been a name to kind of follow for the past few years. There’s some fine tuning in his game that he’s going to need to do. He needs to get bigger and stronger. Needs to find more dedication in the gym. But there’s lots of raw ability there. The development staff likes raw ability, so we’re looking forward to working with him.”

Marc Staal Jersey has been a good player in this league for a long time. I think he can still continue to be a good player, but he’s going to get a chance to prove that when we start camp. It’s no different than any of the other guys we’ve added,” Blashill said. “Troy Stecher is a guy who did a good job in Vancouver. Didn’t get as much specialty time as he liked. Does he get more of those opportunities? We’ll see. He’ll get a chance to do that.

Bobby Ryan Jersey‘s a guy who I’ve really enjoyed getting to know. He’s a mature player. He’s been around the league a long time, but he’s also hungry. When you get bought out, you get knocked down, and I think he’s done a good job of getting himself back up and ready to try to go out and have a good year. But he’s got to go out and prove it. And it’s the same for any of the players coming in.”

Blashill is also optimistic about the future of the team with the help of players like Lucas Raymond, who the Wings selected No. 4 overall in October’s NHL Draft.

“With Raymond, we got a player who has a chance to be dynamic,” the Wings coach said. “If the draft had been a 17-year-old draft instead of an 18-year-old draft, after the U-18’s that he had, he might have went one or two overall, so that shows you the level of talent. Over the next year, he played men’s league where it’s harder to show your skillset, there’s injuries involved, and we got him at four.

“We think we got a good player who could become a really good player at No. 4, and we hope he becomes an elite player.”

But as excited as he is for the new additions, Blashill warned that everyone will still need to earn their time on the ice.

“We’ll know the makeup of what our group looks like better once we get to camp, and guys will have a chance to show they can make us better,” Blashill said. “To say jobs are open, to me would be an obvious statement in a sense that we were a bad hockey team last year. We need to be a better hockey team. Guys have to prove they can help us win more games than what we won a year ago. You need players to continuously take steps and we need guys to come out and have great years.”

One of the biggest keys that Blashill identified for the Red Wings’ improvement this season is depth.

Detroit’s top forward line of Dylan Larkin Jersey, Anthony Mantha Jersey and Tyler Bertuzzi Jersey combined for 56 of the Red Wings’ 142 goals last season (more than 39 percent) and 139 of the club’s 392 points (more than 35 percent).

Blashill said to compete among the NHL’s best, you need to have more players contribute offensively.

The Headliner
16:59 • December 4, 2020

“The one thing I know for sure is we have to get more out of more lines. Last year, if you look at the chances generated, generally it was based on the Larkin line and they also got the lion’s share of the ice time,” Blashill said. “As a coaching staff, we’ve looked at it and said, ‘how can we make sure we get more out of more lines?’ We certainly need Larkin’s line to be really good, but we need other guys to have important roles and need to get more out of more guys.

“That’s partly our responsibility as coaches to make sure we’re putting them in the situations to do that. And it’s the players’ responsibility to go out and execute and continue to earn more ice time. We can’t be a one-line team. We’ve added some players to give us more depth. We’ll get a chance to prove that as we get going.”

While he may not light up the score sheet, one of the players the Red Wings are hoping can provide depth is defenseman Danny DeKeyser Jersey, who was limited to eight games last season because of a back injury.

When he’s healthy, DeKeyser is a top-two blueliner for the Wings, and Blashill said he’s cautiously optimistic for DeKeyser’s return.

“Danny DeKeyser, we’re hoping can come back and be healthy. But he was out with a real severe injury,” Blashill said. “A back injury is a big deal. You don’t just hop back in and everything’s great. Sometimes, there’s trials and tribulations that go with returning from a back injury. So we don’t know until we get going where his health is.”

And while DeKeyser’s status is promising, but uncertain, so too is the start date for training camp and the NHL season.

Last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the reality of the league’s goal to start the season on January 1 is a “work in progress” but couldn’t commit on a firm start date.

Most of Detroit’s roster has returned to Little Caesars Arena’s BELFOR Training Center for informal workouts, and Blashill said although he’d like as much time as possible to prepare for the season, his main goal is to begin playing as soon as it can be done safely.

“As a coach, you want as much time as you can to plan and get things in place. Whatever amount of time we get, we’re going to maximize that and be ready to go,” Blashill said. “Right now, we just want to play hockey. We really don’t care what the timeframe is, we just want to get going.”

Blashill said the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the notion that every day in the NHL is a gift, and the privilege of playing hockey at the highest level shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“We talk here lots about making sure that you appreciate every single day in the National Hockey League,” he said. “Through hard times like last year, it’s really important to make sure you appreciate every day you have in this league. And if we’ve learned anything, it’s just reaffirmed that belief.”

And while Blashill remains grateful to be a head coach in the NHL, he said he’s champing at the bit to get back to business.

“All we want to do is play,” he said emphatically. “Whatever the parameters are, we don’t care. Let’s just go play.”