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Yzerman thinks Red Wings will be better after wave of changes

Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News on

Published in Hockey

DETROIT — A new coaching staff, many new faces in the lineup, and expected progress from the holdovers who are a year older and more experienced.

That's the Red Wings as they prepare Thursday for the first practice of training camp, and it all blends into an outlook that is more promising than it's been recently.

In his state-of-the-team address Wednesday, general manager Steve Yzerman expressed optimism heading into training camp that this roster should be competitive.

"We've made several changes; we signed some free agents in the offseason, with the idea it would improve our team," Yzerman said. "We're hopeful our young players continue to take a step forward, and again, with the hope of becoming a better hockey team."

No doubt, it's a different-looking Red Wings team.

Start behind the bench, where new head coach Derek Lalonde takes over. Lalonde has been a head coach on every level but the NHL, as he takes over coaching duties for Jeff Blashill, who was not retained after missing the playoffs for six consecutive seasons.

 

Then, on the ice, Yzerman was aggressive in the offseason roster reconstruction, acquiring goaltender Ville Husso in a trade, and signing free-agent forwards Andrew Copp, David Perron and Dominik Kubalik, and defensemen Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta, Mark Pysyk and Robert Hagg.

The numerous changes could necessitate some time for everyone to familiarize themselves with each other.

"I believe we'll be a better hockey team — I expect us to be," Yzerman said. "Having said that, with a lot of changes, it could take some time to settle in, including the coaching staff. It could take some time to get everyone familiar with one another, for the coaches to really understand and know the players and how to best utilize them and get the most out of them."

Still, with the personnel changes, the continued development of young standouts such as Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, continued improvement from young veterans such as forwards Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana, and defenseman Filip Hronek and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, this does look like an improved roster.

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