Yzeman is showing his strategy in recent additions to team
In two trades made in the last few weeks and a deal orchestrated during the summer, GM Steve Yzerman has revealed an interesting strategy.
Yzerman is targeting young, talented players who have not quite put it all together in the NHL, giving them a chance to do so with the talent-starved Red Wings. He has not given up much for any of the trio, all of whom have inexpensive, one-year contracts.
The first of the three to be acquired was Adam Erne, whom Yzerman drafted while GM at Tampa Bay. The other two were obtained in trades – Brendan Perlini from Chicago in late October and Robby Fabbri from St. Louis earlier this month.
All three players are former high draft picks – Yzerman selected Erne in the second round (33rd overall) in 2013. Perlini was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the first round (12th overall) of the 2014 draft, and Fabbri was selected by the Blues nine players later.
Each hasn’t quite found his way in the NHL or needs a second or, in Perlini’s case, a third chance. And all have inexpensive contracts with only a year remaining. Fabbri is making $900,000, Perlini is at $874,125 and Erne is earning $1.05 million.
Of the three, Fabbri is the first to make any kind of impact. If the former Blues center is looking to resurrect his status as a dynamic offensive player who can make a difference in the NHL, he is certainly off to a good start with the Red Wings.
Fabbri made an auspicious debut wearing the winged wheel on Friday night with two goals in a much-needed 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins at Little Caesars Arena.
The 23-year-old was in the process of impressively establishing himself in the league with the St. Louis Blues in 2016-17 when a torn left ACL ultimately led to two surgeries on the knee, sidelined him for the entire 2017-18 season and limited him to only 42 games – including Friday night’s contest – since.
And while the 5-10, 190-pounder was on the roster of the Stanley Cup-champion Blues last season and played 32 games (two goals, six points and minus-4), he was never able to solidly re-establish himself in their lineup.
He had played in nine games before the trade to Detroit but was averaging less than 10 minutes a game and had scored one goal.
That’s a far cry from the player who was a 21st overall pick, jumped directly from the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm – where he was teammates with Tyler Bertuzzi – to the NHL in 2015-16 and had a solid year (18 goals and 37 points in 72 games). He then led St. Louis in playoff scoring that season with 15 points (four goals and 11 assists) in 20 games.
But Fabbri flashed a hint of those days with his two power-play goals on Friday night. He is the first Red Wing in history with two power-play goals in his debut with the team.
“He was good all in juniors, he was good for St. Louis when they won the Cup and he’s going to be good with us here,” Bertuzzi said. “I think all the guys are happy to have him. He’s a good shot, he works hard and he fits in well here.”
Both goals came on one-time slap shots off passes from Bertuzzi, the first from the inside edge of the right circle and the second from the inside edge of the left circle.
That shot was something Fabbri took pride in before the knee injury.
“This is what I want to get back to,” he said.
“He looks like a guy that can score,” said Detroit coach Jeff Blashill. “He did a real good job with it. He scored in the past. He did a great job as the bumper, finding the open space there, so it’s a good start. Do we expect two goals every night? No. But I thought he played hard, he did the things he needs to do to be successful.
“Him and I spoke today (Friday) about making sure that he plays as tenacious as he did when he came in the league. Sometimes, when you have injuries, you back off a little bit and you can’t afford to do that. I thought he did a good job.”
Fabbri gives the Red Wings three players who were first-round picks in the 2014 NHL draft. Brendan Perlini, who was recently acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks, was the 12th overall pick by the Phoenix Coyotes, and Dylan Larkin was the 15th pick.
“I played against him as a kid growing up, and he was always dangerous with the puck and he always had the puck on his stick,” Larkin told the media after the morning skate on Friday. “He was one of those guys, me being from Detroit, he’s from Toronto (Mississauga), you knew who he was and you knew going into the game that it’s Robby Fabbri, he’s going to make plays and he’s going to be a star out there.
“It’s cool to have that and be in the same locker room with him now. We’re pretty familiar with each other through events and just knowing each other through time.”
Wings fans will watch closely to see if Fabbri will continue to make plays, and if Yzerman’s strategy will pay off.