The Red Wings are yet to win anything since the Datsyuk and Zetterberg era, but the fanbase has trust in the ‘Yzerplan’. Team legend and general manager Steve Yzerman had himself a big offseason, going on a spending spree to make this team more competent. Detroit may not be in contention yet, but they are a big part of a shifting Atlantic Division.
Offseason additions: F David Perron, F Andrew Copp, D Ben Chiarot, G Ville Husso, F Dominik Kubalik, D Olli Maatta, D Mark Pysyk, F Austin Czarnik, D Robert Hagg.
Offseason subtractions: F Sam Gagner, G Thomas Greiss, D Marc Staal, D Danny DeKeyser, F Mitchell Stephens, F Carter Rowney.
It is astonishing to even think about, but Dylan Larkin will be an unrestricted free agent after 2022-23. Larkin was in a decline in 2019-20 and 2020-21, but came back with a great season last year, leading Detroit in points in 69, with 31 of them being goals. His 2.86 xGF/60 led the team, although he struggled defensively. With how good Tyler Bertuzzi is, not being able to play in Canada is crippling for the team. Bertuzzi played in 68 games last year and scored 30 goals with 62 points. Bertuzzi and Larkin were two of the three Red Wings with over three goals for per 60 at five-on-five. The other one? It was veteran defender Marc Staal, oddly enough. He was overshadowed by another rookie on his team, but Lucas Raymond was in the Calder conversation for the first half of the season. He finished with 57 points, and his 18 on the power play was the most for a Red Wing forward.
The biggest thing that Yzerman has done since returning to Detroit has been revamping the second-line. Jakub Vrana’s first full season with the Red Wings was disrupted when he had preseason shoulder surgery and was limited to just 26 games. When he played, Vrana was great, scoring 13 goals with six assists. He has 21 goals in 37 games since coming over from Washington. That is eight more in 14 less games than Anthony Mantha, who he was traded for. Speaking of impressive deadline acquisitions, Andrew Copp was a game changer for the Rangers after coming over from Winnipeg. He had 18 points in 16 games, then added 14 more in 20 playoff games. The Rangers liked Copp for his center and wing flexibility. Detroit needs a center more. After completing his third stint with the Blues, David Perron signed a two-year deal with the Wings. While he was eighth on the team in scoring, Perron still netted 27 goals with 57 points in 67 games. The Wings will be missing Robby Fabbri for the first month of the season due to injury. Fabbri has had his career plagued by them. He scored 17 goals with 30 points in 56 games last year.
The third line will consist of two players signed after the Blackhawks non-tendered them as restricted free agents. Pius Suter had 27 points in 55 games as a rookie with Chicago. While his scoring rates dropped last season, he still scored 15 goals with 36 points. The only returning Red Wing forwards with a better xGF% last year than Suter are the first liners. After scoring 30 goals in 68 games as a rookie in 2019-20, Dominik Kubalik has fallen back to Earth in the two seasons since. He scored 15 goals with 32 points last year, with shockingly-low impact in the offensive zone. When Filip Zadina was drafted sixth overall in 2018, his shot was highly touted, but he has just a 7.6 percent shooting rate in 160 NHL games. Seventy-four of them came last year, with Zadina scoring 10 goals. Both his personal and on-ice shooting percentages were under seven percent.
Six-foot-six center Michael Rasmussen scored 15 goals in his best season yet, although you still want more out of a former top-ten pick and a center picked over other centers including Nick Suzuki, Josh Norris, and Robert Thomas. Rasmussen was on the ice for 3.37 goals against per 60, worse than every Red Wing forward but Larkin. The Wings acquired two roster players and a draft pick at the deadline when they sent Nick Leddy to St. Louis. The veteran coming back was Oskar Sundqvist. He had eight points in 18 games following the trade, but had a 37.66 xGF%. The plan for Joe Veleno will be interesting this year. The young forward was a regular last season, but had just 15 points in 68 games. Veleno had 10 points in 11 AHL games. The competition for him on the fourth line is Adam Erne, who knows new Head Coach Derek Lalonde from their time in Tampa Bay. Erne had 19 points in 79 games last year, less than he had in 45 games the season prior. Erne is in the lineup for physical play, and he did have 161 hits last year. In 46 games last year, Givani Smith had an impressive 2.27 xGA/60, the best on the team among semi-regular players. Smith added seven points with 108 penalty minutes.
The Wings will be down two men on defense to start the year, with both Mark Pysyk and Jake Walman injured. Walman barely got ice time in St. Louis, but his average ice time increased by over five minutes a game after a trade to Detroit. Pysyk has been a bit of an analytical darling for multiple teams in his career.
The reason why Raymond was not talked about a lot in the Calder race was because Moritz Seider ran away with it. He had 50 points with 161 blocks and 151 hits, becoming a force in both zones. Seider had 19 power play assists while averaging over 23 minutes of ice time. His main partner is gone in Danny DeKeyser, but the team did sign two veteran left-handed defenders. Ben Chiarot has a great reputation as a physical, top-four defender, but the numbers say otherwise. He was average relative to his teammates on Montreal last season, which was the worst team in the league. He improved after a trade to Florida, but his defense still wasn’t impressive.
In his fourth NHL season, 24-year-old Filip Hronek set a new career-high in points with 38. His expected goals for and against per 60 were only a small step down from Seider. After two seasons in Los Angeles, Olli Maatta signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings. He blocked 94 shots with eight points in 66 games in 2021-22.
The rookie to look out for at the start of the season is Simon Edvinsson, who was picked sixth overall in 2021. Edvinsson could at least play until Pysyk and Walman return, or longer if he looks good. In 44 games for Frolunda in Sweden last year, he had 19 points. Young Gustav Lindstrom finally got an extended look in the NHL, and the results were decent. He had 13 points in 63 games, and a 45.97 xGF%. Only Seider was better on the Detroit blue line. Veteran Jordan Oesterle is an option to start if Edvinsson isn’t ready. The Michigan native struggled in his first season, with eight points and a 41.5 xGF% in 45 games played.
Goalies are incredibly volatile, but Detroit has a big upgrade in net this year. A perfect example of their volatility is Ville Husso, who comes in on a three-year deal. Husso had a save percentage of .893 in 17 games in his rookie season of 2020-21. But he took the starting job from Jordan Bennington this season, with a .919 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA. He was seventh in goals saved above expected. However, Husso fell apart in the postseason. He had a 3.67 GAA in seven games. Alex Nedeljkovic was a Calder finalist in 2020-21 for Carolina. He was still eligible for the award last year, but only received one vote. He had a .901 save percentage and a 3.31 GAA, plus the 13th-worst GSAx.
Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond
Jakub Vrana – Andrew Copp – David Perron
Dominik Kubalik – Pius Suter – Filip Zadina
Michael Rasmussen – Joe Veleno – Oskar Sundqvist
Scratched: Adam Erne, Givani Smith
Ben Chiarot – Moritz Seider
Olli Maatta – Filip Hronek
Simon Edvinsson – Gustav Lindstrom
Scratched: Jordan Oesterle