DETROIT (AP) — Yzerman press conference scheduled for 3pm today.
The Detroit Red Wings ended a third straight season without a postseason bid, counting on a core of players 24 years old and younger to end the postseason drought next year.
Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi each set career highs for scoring and Anthony Mantha matched his highest point total.
Even though Detroit had more points in the standings than just three teams in the NHL, the quartet is generating hope for the future.
“It’s extremely satisfying to see what these young guys can do,” 38-year-old defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “I think if people can stay patient with this process, Larkin is going to lead the way to bring the franchise back to where we all want it to be.”
The Red Wings ended talk about who would be their coach next season, giving coach Jeff Blashill a two-year contract extension earlier this month. They also decided to stick with goaltender Jimmy Howard, signing him to a one-year deal last month to keep him under contract next year.
A tweet from the Red Wings organization has Wings fans buzzing.
No matter who is coaching or running the franchise, the Red Wings desperately need Larkin, Athanasiou, Bertuzzi and Mantha to lead the way on the ice.
“Can they carry a hockey team to wins? That’s a big question they’ll answer on a nightly basis next year,” Blashill said. “It’s a heck of a responsibility. I don’t think there’s very many young players throughout the league that are able to carry their team. We’re going to ask that group of four up front to be a huge piece to carrying this team and they’re going to have to spend the summer getting way better.”
The Red Wings are likely not ready to be major players in free agency because they’re more than a player or two away from contending for a championship. They will have some decisions to make with their own players eligible to be unrestricted free agents, including Kronwall, who played 79 games for a second straight year to show he can stay healthy and be productive.
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