It’s time for your favorite part of the season and mine: it’s time for all the guesswork that goes into having seen the Red Wings play exactly zero games for the upcoming season and taking wild stabs at what we think is going to happen.
I’ve lost count on these over the years but I’m pretty sure I’m the WIIM all-time champion on correct guesses (although I got skunked last year for going too bold). Nobody really cares about that part except for me though. What you’re here for is to read all of the good predictions and to more importantly, make some of your own.
FYI we kind of went with an overall site prediction that Moritz Seider will kick all the ass this year so that one is assumed.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Alex Nedeljkovic will regress
If you’re expecting Nedeljkovic to put up the same numbers that he did in 2020-21, you might be disappointed. Nedeljkovic is moving on from one of the best defenses in the NHL to one of the most underwhelming. The shot suppression he received from Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin is leagues ahead of Filip Hronek and Nick Leddy’s defensive capabilities. Realistically, Nedeljkovic will be a solid goaltender, but it isn’t likely that he receives the accolades he got last season.
2. One of the “core” will be traded — and it won’t be Bertuzzi
The news on Tyler Bertuzzi’s vaccine choice has made many fans feel that it might be time to move on. While it’s safe to say that Bertuzzi is one of the better players on the roster, this choice will affect the team’s offensive output in over a tenth of the season. He appears to be the most likely candidate to be traded, but his value after remaining unvaccinated might be underwhelming. That’s why a different trade may occur. Jakub Vrana caught the eye of the league last year. Could he be a tantalizing trade option? What about Filip Hronek, an intriguing depth defenseman? No name is off the trade block — for the right price, of course.
3. Four rookies will become full-time Red Wings
This prediction bucks the trend of previous seasons, where only one or two players made the leap to the full-time roster. It speaks to the effectiveness of the team’s drafting and developing and how the players will be deployed. One player appears to have already made the leap: Moritz Seider. Givani Smith will also make the full-time leap this season, barring injuries. Two names in particular will make the roster at some point this season. They may not do it right out of camp, but their strong showings at the Prospect Tournament indicate that they’re ready to take the next big step in their development. Lucas Raymond and Joe Veleno will both earn NHL time this season, and, if everything goes according to plan, will end the season as full-time Red Wings.
1. Wings never go more than 3 games without getting at least one point
Even I’m not so bold as to say a long losing streak doesn’t happen, but we’ll grab up some loser points!
2. Wings lose every season series in our division but still finish 6th in the division standings
Let’s get chaotic.
3. Jeff Blashill leads the league in successful coaches challenges
I would like to make it an official rule that Blash has to throw a little octopus plushie onto the ice to signal he’s challenging.
And you can tell Jake that Alex Nedeljkovic may regress but he will then dramatically have a 40+ save game where Nick Leddy also scores and I will make a Led Ned Redemption joke. It will not be a good joke, but I will make it. Ideally as a recap title.
1. Detroit has THREE 30-goal scorers
Call me crazy, but I think the Wings’ offense will be much improved from the last couple years. So much so, that I think we will see three players light the lamp 30 times: Dylan Larkin, Jakub Vrana and Filip Zadina.
2. The Calder Trophy is coming to Detroit
I know the collective brass will lean towards Moritz Seider to be the best rookie on this Red Wings roster. However, I think Joe Veleno or Lucas Raymond could force their way into this lineup and stick. Look for Raymond to turn heads with his scoring ability.
3. The Red Wings trade for Jack Eichel
Somebody is going to get Eichel out of Buffalo, right? Well, historically, Steve Yzerman has been very quiet before pulling off a big deal. Just look at his acquisition of Alex Nedeljkovic during the offseason…who saw that coming? Yzerman plucks Eichel from Buffalo without losing Dylan Larkin in the process.
1. Lucas Raymond gets 9 games
Detroit is going to want to get a look at the highest pick they’ve had since they took Keith Primeau in 1990. At the same time, the team is gonna want to get as much value out of his ELC as possible.
2. Jakub Vrana scores 30 goals
We saw Vrana break out with the Wings in his short stint last season. Vrana is going to be a hellion on the power play alongside Filip Zadina.
3. Nick Leddy leads team defense in scoring, gets traded at the deadline
Bolder prediction: we trade him to Chicago
1. Dylan Larkin will return to the all-star game.
Maybe this one doesn’t feel too bold, but Larkin hasn’t been at the all-star game in a long time. There’s always been someone ahead of him in the goals column, points column, or Danish marketability column. I guess what I’m really saying is that Larkin will lead the team by goals and/or points at the all-star break.
2. Riley Sheahan and Calle Jarnkrok will each have at least one point each on March 19th, 2022.
Heck, Sheahan will probably have a hat trick. Why that night of all nights? Oh, I don’t know. Totally random.
3. The Red Wings will make the playoffs.
I’m just getting in on this one early and staking my claim before someone else does. Zadina and Larkin will elevate each others’ games, Pius Suter will prove he wasn’t just a fluke, Nedeljkovic will be as good in Detroit as he was in Raleigh, and the defense will be good-enough as a unit to get the second wild card. BONUS: The Wings get to the post-season by climbing over the Devils, who they play twice in their last three games.
1. Michael Rasmussen has a breakthrough campaign.
After sputtering somewhat through the start of his career, Rasmussen establishes himself as the net front presence on the first powerplay unit and secures his role on the 3rd line. He does so to the tune of 40+ points, thanks largely to his role on the powerplay. He maintains his even-strength ice time with solid two-way play, although he won’t light the world on fire offensively here. He shakes off the “bust” label some have given him and gives the Red Wings the type of productive large-bodied player they don’t have in the rest of their lineup.
2. Veleno doesn’t start the season on the roster, but finishes with 70+ games.
Veleno is disappointed to start the season in Grand Rapids despite impressing through the preseason. But an injury or two, and a tough performance by the big club early, lead to a quick call-up a few games into the season. Veleno never returns to Grand Rapids after that. He proves to be a versatile forward the team can slot all over the lineup in a defensive or offensive role, powerplay or penalty kill, wherever needed. His point totals don’t wow anybody yet, but he finishes with more games played than all forwards except Larkin and Zadina.
3. Yzerman continues another season of large roster turnover in big ways.
Yzerman shows he still doesn’t have the players he wants yet to lead this team out of the bottom of the league. But he makes way for the wave that he believes will. Players like Fabbri and Leddy have productive seasons that allow them to be flipped at the deadline for high draft picks. Forwards like Erne and Namestnikov are shipped out for middling returns, but pave the way for youngsters like Berggren, Raymond, and Pearson to get their feet wet. On the back end, between the three players on expiring deals in DeKeyser, Staal, and Stetcher, two of them are sent away for minimal returns. We see a short debut for Johansson as a result. By the offseason we see a big piece in either Bertuzzi or Vrana dealt away for a top pick and young roster player. After all is said and done, Yzerman ends up with (2) 1sts, (4) 2nds, and some additional middle round picks in the 2022 draft. Note that this includes the (1) 1st and (2) 2nds they already have. They also pick up a young winger with high upside coming from a team that is built to win now in the Bertuzzi (or Vrana) deal.
1. Detroit’s power play is in the top ten (by percentage)
The Wings have had enough offensive firepower to do better than they have the last few seasons but secret weapon Alex Tanguay will make the difference. It’ll be all the more memorable by the slow start that the PP will get off to in the month of October.
2. Detroit will score more than 20 shorthanded goals
I personally love an aggressive penalty kill stocked with people who aren’t just out there to waste the other team’s time but are out there to keep teams honest with occasional offensive threats. I think the departures of PK stalwarts Luke Glendening and Darren Helm will accelerate the return of the power kill.
3. Luke Witkowski plays more NHL games than Dennis Cholowski in 2021-22
I don’t know whether to be happy or sad about this prediction.