The Detroit Red Wings celebrated the return of Steve Yzerman three years ago, expecting one of their all-time greats to turn around the franchise as general manager.

It hasn’t happened yet.

Detroit was 32-40-10 and won 39% of its games, barely faring better than last year’s rate after bottoming out in Yzerman’s first season by winning fewer than one-fourth of its games.

The Red Wings finished about 20 points ahead of the NHL’s worst teams, but they were nearly 30 points away from earning a wild-card berth in the playoffs.

Detroit’s string of seasons without appearing in the playoffs stretched to six years after being in 25 straight postseasons and winning four Stanley Cups.

“We’ve stayed in the playoff race longer than we have the last couple of years” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Since we started the rebuild, we had as much hope as we’ve had.”

Yzerman’s first major move of the offseason will be deciding what to do with Blashill, whose seven-year tenure has coincided with a rebuilding project that would’ve likely doomed anyone behind the bench.

Blashill, who is 204-261-72, has said in recent days that he’s not worried about his future with the franchise and is proud of the improvements made this season.

Rookie Moritz Seider said the team has a long way to go to simply compete in its own division against Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.

“We’re far away from that,” Seider said. “But we’re adding pieces and we took big strides. We were competing for a wild card for almost half the season. After the All-Star break, we just couldn’t find a way to compete.”

Seider was Yzerman’s first draft pick in Detroit and was selected earlier than expected in 2019 at No. 6 overall, but Seider has panned out in a big way. He became the fifth rookie since 1990 to have 50 points.

“I had expectations of making the team, and that was about it,” Seider said.

Blashill stumped for him to be named the NHL’s top rookie.

“Seider, to me, hands down, is the Calder Winner with the minutes he’s had with the defensive and offensive responsibilities he’s had,” Blashill said.

Just five Red Wings have been named rookie of the year, and none since Roger Crozier in 1965.

Seider is not the only potential building block on the Red Wings roster as Lucas Raymond scored 23 goals and 57 points in his first NHL season.

Raymond had the most goals by a Detroit rookie since Sergei Fedorov scored 31 during the 1990-91 season. The 20-year-old forward became the fourth player in team history, and the first since Yzerman in 1985, to have 50 points

Blashill said Seider and Raymond, drafted No. 4 overall in 2020, will not go into the offseason satisfied with their personal success.

“They want to be great players on a great team,” Blashill said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.