The Athletic’s Max Bultman filed a very lengthy mailbag article this morning, and, as the article is quite eclectic in its scope, we’ll examine his first question’s answer, and go from there:
How do you rate the new defense? — Alexander K.
As of now, I’d expect the Red Wings’ blue line to be improved after adding Nick Leddy and Jordan Oesterle this offseason, and with Moritz Seider seemingly ready to enter the fold. As for how Detroit will stack up with the rest of the league, though, there’s still a ton of variables.
Rarely does everything go right in a hockey season —injuries will happen, and some players will stumble at various points — and Detroit’s blue line will take a major hit if Seider’s transition is bumpy or if Hronek’s scoring doesn’t return. Meanwhile, DeKeyser getting back to the level he played at in his last pre-surgery season (2018-19) would be more of a bonus, and probably can’t be the expectation, but his play nonetheless will have an effect on the overall strength of the position.
If those things go mostly well, the potential does exist for Detroit to be roughly league average on the blue line. Leddy should continue to deliver steady top-four play, which is one important upgrade. And Oesterle, Troy Stecher and Marc Staal are all viable third-pair defensemen, with Gustav Lindstrom also looking to establish himself as one. That gives Detroit some depth toward the bottom of the lineup.