Dylan Larkin has some optimism – CBS Detroit

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The Detroit Red Wings have been mired in a long and painful rebuild and the end does not appear to be in sight from outside the organization.

The last time they made the playoffs five years ago, Dylan Larkin was a rookie. When the captain and center look at the shuffled list, he doesn’t have to feign optimism.

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 15: Kevin Lankinen # 32 and Connor Murphy # 5 of the Chicago Blackhawks watch # 71 Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings pick up the puck from the side of the net during the third period of a game of the NHL at Little Caesars Arena on April 15, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek / NHLI via Getty Images)

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“It’s exciting, more than any of my training camps in the past,” Larkin said. “We had more competition every part of our roster. “

GM Steve Yzerman, entering his third season in charge of the front office, also sees more talented players competing for playing time and yet it always seems like he needs more patience.

“I think we are making progress, but that is not necessarily related to wins and losses,” said Yzerman.

The Red Wings can improve their chances if they start the season healthy and stay that way for their first 82-game season in two years. Larkin is recovering from a neck injury that limited him to 44 games last season. Tyler Bertuzzi is returning from back surgery in April.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JANUARY 22: Detroit Red Wings No.59 Tyler Bertuzzi controls the puck against Chicago Blackhawks No.23 Philipp Kurashev in the second period at United Center on January 22, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean / NHLI via Getty Images)

“They’re a pair that I would like to keep together all season if I can,” said coach Jeff Blashill, who was awarded a contract extension despite a career 177-221-62 record in Detroit.

Minutes after his first practice at training camp, striker Jakub Vrana injured his shoulder, posing a potential problem for a team that have struggled to score in recent years.

NO SHOOTING

Bertuzzi does not plan to be vaccinated, citing his freedom of choice.

TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 21: Tyler Bertuzzi # 59 of the Detroit Red Wings waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on December 21, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings 4-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen / Getty Images)

The 26-year-old forward could end up losing more than $ 450,000 in salary for not playing all nine of the team’s games in Canada, where he won’t be able to cross the border without a two-week quarantine.

The Red Wings will likely be at a disadvantage in Canada playing without a capable 50-point winger if he has played all season.

“Definitely for these games we will be missing a piece of the puzzle,” said Blashill.

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REAR BOOST

Detroit drafted Moritz Seider with the No.6 overall pick two years ago and the 6-4, 197-pound German is expected to be a key player as he makes his NHL debut.

RIGA, LATVIA – JUNE 6, 2021: Germany’s Moritz Seider (left) and America’s Trevor Moore during their 2021 IIHF World Championship bronze medal ice hockey match at Arena Riga. Natalia Fedosenko / TASS (Photo by Natalia FedosenkoTASS via Getty Images)

“He’s tall, he’s smart, he’s self-confident,” Blashill said. “He has tenacity towards him. He has the opportunity to be a very good player and we are going to give him that opportunity to do that and then he will have to grab it by the horns.

SMOOTH MOVEMENTS

Detroit ceded the rights to pending goaltender Jonathan Bernier and the No. 94 pick in the Carolina draft for goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and awarded him a two-year, $ 6 million contract. As a rookie with the Hurricanes, he led all goaltenders with at least 22 games with a 1.90 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

RALEIGH, NC – JUNE 8: Carolina Hurricanes Alex Nedeljkovic # 39 squeezes the pipe and keeps an eye on the puck in Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoff Second Round against the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 8, 2021 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck / NHLI via Getty Images)

Yzerman signed Pius Suter on a two-year, $ 6.5 million contract after his promising rookie season in Chicago. The Swiss forward has 14 goals and 13 assists in 55 games with the Blackhawks.

IT’S TIME

Detroit’s turnaround is tied to producing its draft picks and the franchise needs both of them to deliver a better return on their investment.

Michael Rasmussen, drafted No. 9 in 2017, has just 30 points in 102 games in two years. Filip Zadina, the No.6 overall pick three years ago, just 37 points in 86 games in three seasons.

SLATE

Detroit will find out in its season opener how it ranks among the best, welcoming two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on October 14. The Red Wings are playing their first four home games and are at Little Caesars Arena for nine clashes in the first month of the season, potentially giving them a chance to get off to a good start.

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