Steve Yzerman And Ken Holland Face Different Roads In New Roles

A short Tampa Bay Lightning postseason sparked a fast start to the Detroit Red Wings offseason and trickled down to the Edmonton Oilers, as very different paths lay ahead for the three franchises.

It was all seemingly set in motion last September, when Lighting general manager Steve Yzerman suddenly resigned, citing a decision to return home to his family in Detroit. He remained an advisor, honoring the final year of his team contract, but the proverbial writing was on the wall and the Red Wings legend’s pending hire was the worst-kept secret in hockey. 

As the 2018-19 season progressed and the Lightning’s status as the Stanley Cup favorite continued to grow after tying the all-time single-season record with 62 wins, discussion surfaced of this being the greatest team of the salary cap era.

But a first-round sweep by the Columbus Blue Jackets was a black spot on the Lightning’s season. With nothing to show for it, rookie GM Julien BriseBois is tasked with having to re-sign rising star Brayden Point, rebuild the defense, and manipulate nearly nonexistent cap space, suggesting inevitability on the trade front and team regression.

With a roughly $4.7 million raise for Nikita Kucherov and Point being worth upwards of $8 million, middle-six forwards J.T. Miller, Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat are all in the rumor mill as BriseBois searches for cap relief.

Also on the block is Ryan Callahan, whose $5.8 million final year could see BriseBois take a loss by moving a prospect or young, rising asset alongside the veteran.

Meanwhile, the true architect of the record-tying team has taken over in Detroit, as the “Yzerplan” is in motion. The return of “The Captain” has created a wave of hope in Hockeytown, after years of criticism of GM Ken Holland and fading memories of his successes.

In 10 seasons at the helm of the Lightning organization, Yzerman earned praise for his ability to trade, draft, and discover talent all over the place. A Stanley Cup may be the only missing line from his off-ice resume.

But Yzerman’s next task will involve foreseeable hardship as the Red Wings’ deferred rebuild continues. But with his experience and fresh perspective, the Red Wings’ promising young core, exciting prospects, and draft potential have fans dreaming of Stanley Cups again.

Yet, there’s some bittersweetness to the hiring of Yzerman, as Holland’s aforementioned aging successes appear to be growing dimmer for some. After all this is a man who spent more than 35 years with the franchise and was the architect of three Stanley Cup teams, four Presidents’ Trophies, and more than 900 combined regular season and postseason wins.

On the day of Yzerman’s inauguration, Holland was promoted to senior vice president and handed a multi-year extension. His wisdom, experience, and longstanding friendship with Yzerman seemed like a great combination with one of the top GM’s in the NHL.

But less than a month later, Holland would move on from the organization, taking a five-year deal from the Edmonton Oilers as GM and granted full autonomy of the highly criticized organization.

As BriseBois faces the tradeoff that comes from exceptional success and Yzerman instills his vision unto the Red Wings, Holland takes over two of the best players in the NHL, but his task is no simpler than the others’. 

The Oilers are among the highest spenders against the salary cap and while Holland has been used to operating at the cap ceiling, he doesn’t have a whole lot of success to show for it in recent years.

Building a team around Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl seems easy on the surface, but Holland will need to sort out the mess left behind by Peter Chiarelli, much like Yzerman’s chore in Detroit.

Within that mess was the league’s second-worst penalty kill, fifth-worst goals against, seventh-worst faceoff percentage, and seventh-worst overall point percentage.

A weak team defense and lack of scoring depth has limited the team over the past two seasons after being just one win away from a trip to the conference final in 2017.

No-movement clauses for a declining Milan Lucic, an injury-prone Andrej Sekera, and analytics community punching bag Kris Russell mean a retool is a tall order for a team that many believe should be a contender with McDavid at the forefront.

Fixing the blue line won’t be quick with Sekera and Russell standing on the backend. Short of a trade or cap-strapping buyout, Edmonton’s Cup contention appears a few years off, short of prospects Ethan Bear or Evan Bouchard stepping in and playing like 10-year veterans as rookies.

A big summer awaits each GM as they prepare their respective plans for the ensuing draft, free agency, and the 2019-20 season.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.

7 Atlantic Hockey Sophomores To Watch in 2019-20

Atlantic Hockey boasted its share of impact freshmen last season, especially Niagara's Ludwig Stenlund and Sacred Heart's Austin Magera.

Challenging Freshman Season Honed Ferris State Goalie Roni Salmenkangas

Finnish goalie Roni Salmenkangas spent his freshman year at Ferris State going to hell and back. 

Ferris State Expects Improvement In 2019-20


It’s one wacky, crazy league, that WCHA. It’s a circuit filled with national championship banners (9) and two state schools (University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Anchorage) bordering on bankruptcy. It’s a 4,200-mile commute between member schools in Anchorage and Huntsville, Alabama—that’s 68 hours behind the wheel for those with flight-phobia.

2019-20 Women's Schedule Release: Minnesota Duluth

Minnesota Duluth didn't have the best season but it ended on a better note than it began last year as they reached the WCHA Final Faceoff Semifinals. Ultimately they were defeated by eventual NCAA champion Minnesota in that round.

2019-20 Women's Schedule Release: Minnesota

A runner-up finish. That's what the Minnesota women came away with last season after posting a  record that had just six losses against 31 wins with one tie that came against Minnesota Duluth at the beginning of the season. 

2019-20 Women's Schedule Release: Bemidji State

The ladies will be taking the ice soon so let's check out their schedules starting with Bemidji State.

By The Numbers: NCAA Defensive Scoring Race Up For Grabs In 2019-20

Between graduation and the NHL’s annual springtime harvest, the list of NCAA defensive scoring leaders in 2018-19 has thinned out, leaving the defensive scoring race up for grabs in the 2019-20 collegiate season.

170 WCHA Men's Hockey Games Live On FloHockey

Set your notifications now so you're ready for all the WCHA action coming live on FloHockey this season.

2019-20 Schedule Release: Minnesota State

It was an accolade-stacking season for Minnesota State in 2018-19. 

Full WCHA Men's Hockey Schedule

Before we know it we will get back to watching some incredible WCHA action.