NHL.com’s “31 in 31” series focuses on the Detroit Red Wings today, and NHL.com has posted five articles and a video in which Dan Rosen and Nicholas J. Cotsonika discuss the questions facing the Wings and the possible effects of the team’s offseason additions:
As for the text component of the “31 in 31” preview, Cotsonika emphasizes the point that the Red Wings and their fans shouldn’t get their hopes up regarding winning a Stanley Cup championship out of the blue just yet, but Cotsonika does note that the Wings made multiple free agent additions to rebound from a truly dreadful 2019-2020 campaign…
They are taking a patient, methodical approach to their rebuild. General manager Steve Yzerman declines to give a timeline for a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which the Red Wings have missed the past four seasons.
They need to wait for the development of top prospects like forward Lucas Raymond, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and defenseman Moritz Seider, the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
But that does not mean they were content to stand pat after last season, when they went 17-49-5, finished last in the League and had the worst points percentage (.275) since the NHL salary cap was introduced in 2005-06.
“We’ll just kind of continue to do what we’re doing,” Yzerman said. “We’ll look for ways to improve the team. The plan isn’t just to sit and not try to improve and get better from year to year. We’re going to try and get better from year to year. The reality is, you’re limited to what you can do, and you’re limited, or you’re restricted, by the time it takes for each prospect to develop. [Becoming a contender is] just not as simple as just going out and making a bunch of trades and getting really good players and signing a bunch of free agents.”
And Cotsonika’s “Three questions facing the Detroit Red Wings” discuss both improvement on the ice, and a certain bit of off-ice business that will be taken care of prior to the start of the 2020-2021 season:
1. Will Dylan Larkin be named captain? The Detroit Red Wings have not had a captain since the 2017-18 season and have had three since 1986-87: Steve Yzerman (1986-2006), Nicklas Lidstrom (2006-12) and Henrik Zetterberg (2012-18).
Yzerman, now the general manager, has said the Red Wings plan to name a captain before the season.
The obvious choice is Larkin, who grew up in the Detroit area, played at the University of Michigan and was selected by the Red Wings in the first round (No. 15) of the 2014 NHL Draft.
The 24-year-old is entering his sixth season with the Red Wings and has led them in scoring three seasons in a row. He’s the No. 1 center and carries himself like a captain.
NHL.com’s Rob Reese examines three key statistics regarding the what Red Wings fans hope will be a slow but steady ascent in terms of a team-wide trajectory (and you can’t win games if you get out-scored)…
1. Goals per game: The Red Wings were last in the NHL in goals (2.00) and allowed the most goals per game (3.73) last season. They scored the fewest 5-on-5 goals (91) and were tied with the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks for third-fewest at 5-on-4 (27). Detroit had 17 losses in regulation when scoring first, the most in the NHL, and a League-high nine when leading after the first period. Forward Anthony Mantha led the Red Wings in points per game (0.88) despite missing 28 games with multiple injuries and should help Detroit improve its scoring this season if he’s fully healthy.
We return to Cotsonika for an examination of the Red Wings’ top five prospects…
1. Lucas Raymond, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 4 pick in 2020 NHL Draft
2019-20 season: Frolunda (SHL): 33 GP, 4-6-10
Raymond is the Red Wings’ highest pick since the 1990 NHL Draft, when they selected forward Keith Primeau at No. 3.
“We think he has all the tools to be an elite forward in the NHL,” general manager Steve Yzerman said.
The 18-year-old left wing has excelled against junior players and is playing against men for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League for the second straight season. The most important thing is for Raymond (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) to grow.
“It’s just filling out, physically developing, getting stronger, going from a teenager to a man,” Yzerman said. “You do that through training and through playing. We think he has the tools, the skills. He’s just got to put the time and the work in, and it’s just the natural evolution of a teenager turning into an adult. We just believe it’s a matter of time.”
Projected NHL arrival: Next season
And Mr. Reese wraps things up by discussing the 2020-2021 Red Wings team from a fantasy hockey perspective:
Anthony Mantha, LW/RW (NHL.com rank: 136) — He scored 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games last season, making him the most valuable skater on the Red Wings in fantasy. Mantha’s production was impressive considering Detroit scored the fewest goals in the NHL (142). He should produce at a similar or better rate this season if he stays healthy.
Dylan Larkin, C (143) — The center led the Red Wings with 53 points (19 goals, 34 assists) in 71 regular-season games. Larkin’s rating (minus-21) was the only category that made him lose fantasy value, but Detroit could see improvement in that area this season after signing goalie Thomas Greiss to a two-year contract. Larkin could be among the sneakier targets around the top 150 overall with the expectation that Detroit should be improved.
Reese continues, and all of the NHL.com articles are worth your time.