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Roster Decisions Could Spell Where the Red Wings See Themselves

The preseason is over and the Red Wings have some interesting decisions to make regarding the roster.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It is almost time for the 2022-23 Detroit Red Wings season to begin and for the first time in a while, it looks like they will have some difficult decisions in terms of the initial 23 man roster. Veterans who are not just locker room presence filler, older prospects looking to finally earn a regular spot, and young prospects looking for their first chance to show what they can do on NHL ice. There are a few ways they could go with their roster decisions and which decisions they make will tell us a lot about where the front office and new coaching staff sees this roster at the start of the season. Before getting into the potential choices, first we need to establish how many spots are actually open.

Current Roster Locks

The likely roster before the final decisions are made looks something like this:

FORWARDS

Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond

Jakub Vrana – Andrew Copp – David Perron

Dominik Kubilik – Michael Rasmussen - Filip Zadina

FOURTH LINE

DEFENSE

Ben Chiarot – Moritz Seider

Olli Maatta – Filip Hronek

THIRD PAIRING

GOALIES

Alex Nedeljkovic

Ville Husso

EXTRA SKATERS

13th Forward

7th Defeseman

14th Forward/8th Defenseman

So it looks like the Red Wings have to decide how to fill five regular lineup spots and three extra skaters. The question becomes then, how do they fill those spots and what do those decisions say about the perceived expectations to start the season.

BUBBLE PLAYERS

Here is the players remaining that the Red Wings will choose from to fill those eight spots (does not include players not currently under contract with Detroit).

FORWARDS

Pontus Andreasson

Austin Czarnik

Adam Erne

Matt Luff

Givani Smith

Elmer Soderblom

Oskar Sundqvist

Pius Suter

Jonatsan Berggren

Taro Hirose

Kyle Criscuolo

Cross Hanas

Joe Veleno

DEFENSE

Albert Johansson

Gustav Lindstrom

Jared McIsaac

Donovan Sebrango

Wyatt Newpower

Eemil Viro

Robert Hagg

Simon Edvinsson

Jordan Oesterle

That is twenty-two skaters (nine defensemen, thirteen forwards) for eight spots. In reality though, several of those players have little to no shot at making the roster right now (Criscuolo, Czarnik, Luff, Andreasson, Hanas, McIsaac, Newpower, Viro). That really means it is eight forwards and six defensemen fighting for the last spots. There are two trains of thought that can be applied here to determine what is the right eight skaters to keep, the “safe” option and the “let them play” option. For the sake of continuity and not having this article be 2000 words, let’s consider the Red Wings elect to carry fourteen forwards and seven defensemen.

The “Safe” Option

While not quite the “tie goes to the veteran” mantra of the late Ken Holland Era, this option would see the majority of the young prospects being cut in favor of veterans and older prospects who are essentially in make it or move it years. This would mean the five forwards being Adam Erne, Pius Suter, Oskar Sundqvist, Givani Smith, Taro Hirose and the three defensemen being Robert Hagg, Gustav Lindstrom, and Jordan Oesterle. Making the Lines looking something like this:

FORWARDS

Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond

Jakub Vrana – Andrew Copp – David Perron

Dominik Kubilik – Michael Rasmussen - Filip Zadina

Adam Erne – Pius Suter – Oskar Sundqvist

DEFENSE

Ben Chiarot – Moritz Seider

Olli Maatta – Filip Hronek

Robert Hagg – Gustav Lindstrom

GOALIES

Alex Nedeljkovic

Ville Husso

EXTRA SKATERS

Givani Smith

Jordan Oesterle

Taro Hirose

While not nearly as exciting as the second option is, this would provide stability on the back end of the roster for Detroit while allowing the likes of Berggren, Soderblom, Veleno, and Edvinsson to log tons of minutes down in Grand Rapids and provide quality depth when the inevitable injuries occur.

The “Let Them Play” Option

Instead of letting their young prospects grow in Grand Rapids, they elect to develop them with the Red Wings and back fill with useful veterans. This would mean Veleno, Berggren, Soderblom, and Edvinsson all make the roster. This would likely result in Pius Suter and either Adam Erne or Oskar Sundqvist as the other two forwards while Gustav Lindstrom and either Jordan Oesterle or Robert Hagg as the other two defensemen. Since the young prospects would not be kept on the roster to be healthy scratched, it is safe to assume they would make the lineup and result in the lines looking something like this:

FORWARDS

Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond

Jakub Vrana – Andrew Copp – David Perron

Dominik Kubilik – Michael Rasmussen - Filip Zadina

Jonatan Berggren – Joe Veleno – Elmer Soderblom

DEFENSE

Ben Chiarot – Moritz Seider

Olli Maatta – Filip Hronek

Simon Edvinsson – Gustav Lindstrom

GOALIES

Alex Nedeljkovic

Ville Husso

EXTRA SKATERS

Pius Suter

Adam Erne or Oskar Sundqvist

Jordan Oesterle or Robert Hagg

The benefit and upside of this lineup is really in that forward depth. That is four pretty competitive lines there that could be seen as the majority of the Red Wings core and depth going forward. Edvinsson also gets a chance to learn at the NHL level while not being thrown into a more demanding role (either with Detroit or Grand Rapids) early on. It would also give them three quality veterans that they can plug into a lot of spots on the lineup if needed. Of course, the downside is the depth falls off pretty quickly if injuries start up as many of the players that would down in Grand Rapids would either be too raw or not really more than a warm body type, especially at forward.

It is likely the Red Wings will choose some combination of the two extremes above. We have already seen that somewhat play out as Edvinsson, Berggren, Smith, and Hirose…along with eleven others named above...have been assigned to Grand Rapids. That leaves them with eighteen forwards and eleven defensemen listed, but Smith and Hirose will still count until they either clear waivers tomorrow or are claimed. Robby Fabbri also counts as one of those eighteen until they can officially put him LTIR. That brings the forward count down to fifteen and unless they carry eight defensemen (which would require them to call someone back up or sign and keep Jeremie Biakabutuka with the Red Wings) instead of fourteen forward Elmer Soderblom only has Kyle Criscuolo to beat out to make the roster.

On the blue line, as mentioned they now only have eleven left, but that includes Mark Pysyk and Jake Walman who are injured, as well as Seth Barton and the aforementioned Biakabutuka. Still some surprises in store. Will they stay with what they have, will they claim someone on waivers, will there be a trade, we will find out by 7pm.