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What’s Next: Detroit Red Wings

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Welcome to our 2022-23 preview series. In each article, we’ll focus on different teams, how they performed last season, what their summer was like, and what their outlook for the 2022-23 campaign is.
We have already considered Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabers, so today we’ll continue our look at the Atlantic Division by looking at the Detroit Red Wings.

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2021-22 season overview

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Even having missed the playoffs in each of the previous five seasons, the 2021-2022 Red Wings haven’t entered the campaign with much cause for optimism.

It was not that they were deprived of updates. They brought Alex Nedeljkovic of Carolina, season-ending Calder Trophy finalist, will share goaltending duties with Thomas Grace. In addition, adding Nick Leddy provided Detroit with another solid veteran option on the blue line, and they had a couple of solid rookies ready to join the team as a quarterback. Moritz Seider and striker Lucas Raymond.

However, they were in the Atlantic Division, which included Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Florida, all of which looked like strong playoff bets. On top of that, while we all know what happened to Montreal, it would be rash to fire them completely in 2021-22 so soon after they managed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

In other words, the Red Wings weren’t just underdogs, they were serious underdogs. But how did they react to this position? With mixed bag. Some players stepped up while the group as a whole was average at best.

Let’s start with the positives: Raymond and Zayder have had perfect rookie seasons. Raymond scored 23 goals and 57 points in 82 games, placing him fourth in Calder Trophy voting while Zayder had seven goals, 50 points, 161 blocks and 151 hits in 82 games, averaging 23: 02 minutes. After this dominant quarterback performance, he won the Calder Trophy over Anaheim. Trevor Zegras with a comfortable lead.

Dylan Larkin also rebounded from the 2020/21 season with 23 points, 31 goals and 69 points in 71 games. Meanwhile, Tyler Bertuzzi has turned things around after missing most of the 2020-21 season. He set a career high with 30 goals and 62 points in 68 games. However, apart from these four good news for Detroit, there was not much. No other team member even reached the 40-point milestone, so it shouldn’t surprise you that Detroit finished in the bottom third of the league on offense with 2.77 goals per game.

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Unfortunately, their delinquency was their forte. In front of a much weaker team than the Hurricanes, Nedeljkovic struggled with a 20–24–9 record, 3.31 GAA and a .901 shooting percentage in 59 games. Greiss fared no better with a 10-15-1 record, 3.66 GAA and .891 shooting percentage in 31 games.

Detroit actually started the campaign 4-2-1 and was 13-9-3 through Dec. 4. However, they failed to achieve a winning streak of more than two games after that and finished sixth at the Atlantic. Division at 32-40-10.

How was their summer?

Six straight years out of the playoffs, Red Wings CEO Steve Yzerman clearly looking for his team to fight in 2022-2023. One of the first things Yzerman did was fire the head coach. Jeff Blashill had to go after seven years at the helm. Derek Lalonde has been named the new bench boss and he will certainly bring a lot of knowledge about what works after spending the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lalonde has also coached in the NCAA, USHL, ECHL and AHL, so he more than deserved the opportunity.

The Red Wings aren’t just hoping a change in coach will inspire them. They also updated across the board. As for the forwards, they signed Andrew Kopp for a five-year, $28.125 million contract and David Perron on a two-year, $9.5 million contract. I mentioned above that attack depth was one of the main weaknesses of the Red Wings last season. The addition of these top two hitters certainly goes a long way in solving this problem. Detroit also signed Dominik Kubalik on a two-year, $5 million contract. He should be a worthy third line option for the Red Wings to further complement his roster.

Signed on defense Ben Chiarot to a four-year, $19 million contract. Even though the Canadiens leaned heavily on him, Chiaro is not a good match for the role. However, he is physically present and one who is willing to continue to keep his body in the line of fire to block shots. He also has some puck handling prowess, making him a versatile, if sometimes overrated defenseman. Detroit also added Ollie Myaetta under a $2.25 million annual contract and Mark Pysik in an annual deal for $850,000. Both are solid third-pair options, and with their signings, Detroit has no shortage of NHL-level options on the blue line.

Then at the gate, Detroit got the right to negotiate Ville Husso from St. Louis in exchange for the 73rd pick overall (Alexander Kaskimaki) and signed Husso to a three-year, $14.25 million contract. Husso will replace the outgoing Thomas Greiss and should do better in Detroit, especially with Husso playing in front of the best version of the Red Wings. Husso had a strong 2021–22 campaign with St. Louis, posting a 25–7–6 record, 2.56 GAA and a .919 save percentage in 40 games.

Detroit also saw some departures, such as Staal and Greiss, but overall this summer was clearly one of the additions.

2022-23 Outlook

Was all this enough to get the Red Wings into the playoffs? I doubt it. I look at the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa Bay Lightning and they all seem clearly better on paper than the Detroit Red Wings, so unless there’s a surprise or something else changes , the best choice for the Red Wings seems to be the Wild. Card place. But even so, are they better than the Boston Bruins? And what about the Ottawa Senators, who also made big gains over the summer? The Bruins are more of a question mark, but I’m not sure the Red Wings are a favorable matchup against either of them.

This also applies to the Atlantic Division. It’s entirely possible that the Capital Division could secure one of two playoff berths, as it did last season, further weakening Detroit’s chances.

The 82-game campaign is long. Injuries happen. Players fall behind and end up being pleasant surprises. It is risky to fire any team before the season even starts, especially one like Detroit, which has attracted a lot of talent. However, when I look at their lineup and compare it to their direct competitors, I’m left with the impression that Detroit remains an underdog in the battle for postseason spot.


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