The offseason is long past and the preseason has come to a close meaning it’s time for another NHL season to get underway. For the Detroit Red Wings, the time has come to move on from a lot of the old guard and christen a new one as the likes of Luke Glendening and Darren Helm both left in free agency while top prospects Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond both have made the team out of camp.
The Red Wings will also look to continue an upward trend that was seen through the second half of last season. This stretch saw them earn points in 12 of their final 17 games. They managed to finish a 56-game season with more points (48) than they did in the prior 71-game season (39) as the team was significantly more competitive on the defensive end in particular.
However, there is still a lot of room to grow for the young team in Hockeytown heading into the third season with GM Steve Yzerman and seventh under head coach Jeff Blashill, who was given a contract extension in the offseason. The keys will be which players step up to make that difference. Here’s what to expect from the Red Wings in the 2021-22 season.
If this question had been asked just a few weeks ago, the consensus would’ve probably gone to Jakub Vrana. The young Czech winger broke out with Detroit after the team acquired him in a trade that sent Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals. He had 11 points in 11 games including a four-goal performance that had Red Wings fans losing their minds. However, 10 minutes into the first practice, Vrana injured his shoulder and required surgery, ruling him out for the first four months of the season.
With that in mind, in his spot will be captain Dylan Larkin. Larkin struggled at times to get going this past season, but the difference this year is who he’ll be playing with. Larkin will be centering the wing duo of Tyler Bertuzzi and rookie Lucas Raymond. Raymond especially seems to have already built some excellent chemistry with his captain and could be the key to unlocking the Larkin that had 73 points in 2018-19.
This one really comes down to two players, and it’s the two top prospects: Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Leading up to training camp, the answer would’ve easily been Seider, but that was at a time where it was far from a certainty that Raymond would’ve even made the team. However, watching the Red Wings during the preseason, it was clear that not only was Raymond ready to make the opening day roster, but he was ready to contribute immediately.
Seider is gonna have a really solid rookie season for sure, and who his D partner is will contribute to that. But Lucas Raymond looks like he could not only have a good rookie year but a great one. There’s a pretty good chance that by the end of the season, his name will be in the top five in scoring for the Red Wings and near the top of the entire NHL for rookie scoring. And maybe, just maybe, he could even be in the Calder Trophy discussion.
Biggest Impact Offseason Acquisition
There are a few options to choose from, but the biggest impact offseason acquisition will be defenseman Nick Leddy. The 30-year-old was acquired from the Islanders for forward, Richard Panik and a second-round pick in this past year’s draft. During training camp and preseason, it became clear very quickly why he was brought in by GM Steve Yzerman. He’s here to be Mo Seider’s D partner.
The partnership looked really solid in the preseason as they both showed contributions offensively and defensively. Leddy especially helped out on the offensive end with four assists in four preseason games. He’ll be a quarterback on the power play and has a good chance of leading the Red Wings in assists. He’ll also provide a lot of leadership to help the young defensemen such as Seider and Hronek grow into better players. If he’s able to do that, the Red Wings fans who were frustrated with the trade originally could end up eating their words.
There has been a lot of discussion from Red Wings fans on just how good Dylan Larkin truly is. His 2018-19 season was one that sparked confidence that one day, he would be an elite player in this league. Now, there are questions of whether or not he’s even a true first-line center. In his second year as captain leading a line of really young players, this is the time for Larkin to truly break out into his own.
He’s one of the best defensive players on the entire team, and through his offensive struggles, that has never wavered. Now is the time for those offensive numbers to reach their potential. With more talent than ever next to him and what seems to be an extremely improved power play based on the preseason, look for Dylan Larkin to reach 85 points this season. With that level of scoring paired with his great penalty killing and overall defensive play, he would be the best player on the Red Wings and now is the time, if ever, for the 25-year-old captain to prove that fact.
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