Both MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James discuss the latest set of Las Vegas NHL odds this morning, noting that the Red Wings sit second-to-last in expected regular season points.
Khan suggests that the Wings may have to burn off a year…
The Red Wings’ over/under point total projection for 2019-20 is 75½. They finished with 74 points last season, when they missed the playoffs for the third year in a row, and 73 in 2017-18.
Only Los Angeles and Ottawa have lower over/under projections.
The Red Wings plugged a couple of holes in free agency with the signings of center Valtteri Filppula and Patrik Nemeth, but neither is a difference-maker. If they’re going to take a significant step from 2018-19, the improvement must come from within.
Expectations will be higher in 2020-21, after several contracts come off the books, giving Yzerman more flexibility to make moves, and recent draft picks get another seasons of development.
While St. James lists four reasons why the Red Wings might buck the odds from an entertainment perspective…
The kids are all right
If there’s reason to think the Wings will improve on last season (32-40-10 record, 74 points, 28th place) it’s in the hands of Dylan Larkin and his fellow 20-somethings. Larkin became the team’s first 30-goal scorer in a decade when he hit that milestone March 28 and Andreas Athanasiou joined him there the next night. Larkin led the Wings in goals (32), assists (41) and points (73). Athanasiou was second with 54 points in 76 games, Anthony Mantha third with 48 points in 67 games, and Tyler Bertuzzi fourth with 47 points in 73 games. Filip Hronek ranked third among team defensemen with 23 points in 46 games. Hronek and Mantha are coming off outstanding performances at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, and the confidence earned there should carry into next season (as it did for Dylan Larkin after the 2017 Worlds).
Those players have established themselves as principal rebuilding blocks. This season will help determine where first-round picks Evgeny Svechnikov (2015), Dennis Cholowski (2016) and Michael Rasmussen (2017) fit in. The 2018 draft class, headlined by Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno, may show signs, too, but it’s early.
St. James continues, coming to the following conclusion:
So will the 2019-20 team be worth watching? Yes. Las Vegas oddsmakers may turn out to be right about how much the Wings will struggle, but the young guys are entertaining and their takeover of the team is exciting. At the very least, the Wings look like they are headed in the right direction.