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Could the Red Wings finish in the top half of the Atlantic?

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Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Bennett Jull
1 month ago
Overview:
Steve Yzerman knows how to draft. The picks he made during his time with Tampa were amazing, and most of his free agent signings were very shrewd. Ultimately he laid the foundation for Tampa’s cup success. The Red Wings were pretty active this summer, and fans are hoping that maybe the gap to the elite Atlantic teams can be bridged.
Stats from last year:
Atlantic Standing: 6/8
Points: 74 (25th)
CF%: 46.13% (28th)
GF%: 43.92 (29th)
PP%: 16.3% (26th)
PK%: 73.8% (32nd)
Some ugly numbers across the board… special teams should be focussed on this year.
Internal Moves:
Derek Lalonde is the new bench boss this year. I personally love the hire, Lalonde joins having had success at every single level he’s coached at. This is a guy that started as a graduate assistant fat the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, what a climb! Lalonde was most recently an assistant with the Lightning, winning 2 Stanley Cups.
Player Moves:
Detroit were relatively active this summer, and improved at every position. Yzerman signed 3 forwards, 2 defencemen, and a goalie that will heavily impact the team, amongst others.
Andrew Copp, David Perron, and Dominic Kubalik were signed, and the former 2 especially will look to add some scoring help. Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta have been brought in to help a poor defence, and protect their new goaltender, Ville Husso. Both defencemen will look to improve the league’s worst penalty kill from last season.
Keys:
The key for the Red Wings this season will be to gel. A new bench boss with new assistants (Alex Tanguay is the only remaining assistant) will do their utmost to get everyone on the same page. In addition to fresh faces behind the bench, the Red Wings have 6 free agent signings that will make the team. There will be some rookies that should play opening night, so this team will have tons of new men looking to make their marks in the red and white.
Special teams just simply has to improve. A new coaching staff and a couple seasoned penalty killers should help, but in order for the Wings to experience growth and improvement, special teams needs to be better.
Could Bertuzzi be flipped at the trade deadline? Amassing draft assets is a great idea. Yzerman drafted Kucherov, Vasilevskiy, Palat, Point, Cirelli, and Foote. He also managed to acquire Sergachev, Cernak, Marroon, McDonagh, Shattenkirk, Rutta, and McElhinney. His undrafted free agents were Yanni Gourde, and Tyler Johnson. Bottom line, let the Yzerplan do it’s thing.
Like any developing team, Detroit will be looking for some of their young players to take steps forward this year. They have some elite young talent, and lots of guys will be looking to make an impact. I anticipate that Grand Rapids will have a strong year in the AHL, and we could see some of their prospects make the jump up to the show.
What Success Will Look Like:
The Red Wings likely won’t have any playoff aspirations this year, so developing their young pieces will be their focus. Captain Dylan Larkin will have Tyler Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond on his wings. Raymond finished 4th in 2020 Calder voting, and will look to solidify himself as a legitimate first line winger. Bertuzzi will be interesting to watch this year. This is the final year of his contract, and if he continues to contribute offensively, he could be a very attractive trade piece come the deadline.
Underneath that line is a very solid second line of Andrew Copp, David Perron, and Jakub Vrana. Vrana went on a bit of a tear last year, and together these 3 will look to provide a serious scoring punch.
The bottom 6 is much more complicated. Newcomer Dominik Kubalik is the most solidified option, and will look to begin his Red Wings career on the front foot.
Joining him on a line could be former 1st round picks Michael Rasmussen, Joe Veleno, or Filip Zadina. Each of them are 23 years old or younger, and the Red Wings will be hoping for some breakout seasons from those 3. Adam Erne and Oskar Sundqvist provide NHL proven depth options, while Pius Suter has work to do in order prove he is worthy of his seemingly hefty contract.
The most intriguing option on the forward group is Elmer Soderblom. Taken in the 6th round a few years ago, the 21 year old has turned heads in pre season. He’s a giant, with records stating his height is anywhere from 6’6 to 6’8. He also has a soft touch around the net. The combination of size and skill here is unique, and it seems like the rookie has earned a spot on the team out of camp.
On the back end, the aforementioned Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta provide some much needed NHL experience. Filip Hronek and Gustav Lindstrom are both former 2nd round picks that have nailed down spots for themselves. Each of them will look to play 82 consistent games, with the former stepping into a top 4 role.
Robert Hagg and Jordan Oesterle will provide some NHL experience, and will compete for the final spot, with the loser seemingly destined for the press box. However, neither should be too comfortable, as highly touted prospects Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson will be itching for promotions from Grand Rapids. Jake Wallman is hurt for the time being, and will also look to factor again once healthy.
The main piece on defence is Calder winner Moritz Seider. The sky truly does seem the limit for him, he is the cornerstone of the Red Wing d-core. What heights will he reach this year? He has been given a true shutdown/stay at home partner in Chiarot, and will be getting tons of ice time. Could he get Norris votes? Does an All-Star appearance beckon? We shall see how this talent continues to develop.
In net, the Red Wings have a solid goalie tandem of Ville Husso and Alex Nedeljkovic. Each of them have shown glimpses of being elite goaltenders in the NHL, and the competition between them is for the best.
Projection:
6th place in the Atlantic, 83 points.
There are just too many new pieces for this team to ascend into the top half of the Atlantic. That being said, I love the coaching hire, and there is too much talent in the pipeline to keep the Wings out of the playoffs forever. They are edging closer to challenging for a playoff spot, but just aren’t there yet.
Possible lineup:
Bertuzzi – Larkin – Raymond
Vrana – Copp – Perron
Soderblom – Rasmussen – Sundqvist
Kubalik – Suter – Zadina
*Veleno, Erne extra
Chiarot – Seider
Maatta – Hronek
Hagg – Lindstrom
*Oesterle extra, Wallman hurt
Nedeljkovic – Husso

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