Predicting the Next 5 Years for the Detroit Red Wings
Times are tough. Let’s look ahead into a brighter future.
The All-Star Break has and come and things couldn’t be worse for the Red Wings right now. So I took time to breakdown how I see the next 5 years going for Detroit based on production, draft picks, signings, trades, etc. It’s totally made up based on my thoughts, and if you feel differently let’s discuss in the comment section after! Just felt like maybe this would be some fun to do in a season that has been the complete opposite of fun.
Offseason: With so many RFA’s to choose from, Stevie Y decides on re-signing Tyler Bertuzzi (4-year, $5.5M AAV deal) and Anthony Mantha (2-year, $5M AAV) to bridge deals. He also re-signs Robby Fabbri, Madison Bowey and Adam Erne. No Athanasiou? Because Yzerman traded him at the deadline the year before. They also end up being one of the finalist to sign Torey Krug, but are beat out in the end. They do sign Melker Karlsson (4-years, $4M) from San Jose. Stevie also makes a trade for Devon Toews from the Islanders to help the blue line knowing full well that Lou is going to have some tough decisions to make with the salary cap coming up.
Draft: Of course, the Red Wings don’t win the draft lottery and actually finish 3rd missing out on Byfield too (This is me simply trying to temper expectations because I’ve convinced myself we already have Lafreniere). After Ottawa loses out with both picks as well, they trade up to #3 with Detroit and in typical Sens fashion give up way too much. The Red Wings do send back a 2021 2nd just to be nice. The Red Wings draft D Jamie Drysdale (Erie) at #6 and LW Lucas Raymond (Frolunda) at #8 leaving the Red Wings as the talk of the draft for the move they made to get two potentially elite players.
Season: Things aren’t much better for Hockeytown these days, but at least fans can sit around saying “Hey at least it’s not as bad as last years 49-point season.” The difference this year is more of the kids make their way into the lineup. After an injury to a D-man in late-October, Moritz Seider FINALLY gets the call-up after his Opening Day roster snub and performs well enough to stay on the team the rest of the year. He finishes the season with 31 points. Filip Zadina continues to trend upwards as he touches 28 goals on the year. Dylan Larkin returns to form as well for Detroit as he hits 70+ points for the 2nd time in his career. Joe Veleno sees nine games for the Wings as well, sliding his ECL another year, and produces a goal and three assist during his time with the big club. They also end up trading both Luke Glendening (2nd round pick in return) and Patrik Nemeth (5th round pick in return) at the deadline. Poor goaltending and inexperience on the blue line lead to continuous struggles from the Red Wings, but they finish the year with much more of a pulse then the year prior.
Record: 29-44-9, 67 Points
Leading Scorer: Dylan Larkin: 24 G, 45 A
Leading Rookie: Moritz Seider: 6 G, 25 A
Offseason: The Red Wings quickly re-sign Filip Hronek (3-years, $4.5M AAV) and Dennis Cholowski (3-years, $3M AAV) and surprise many by bringing back Luke Glendening (2-years, $2.5M AAV) in free agency. On top of that they sign Zach Hyman (4-years, $3.5M AAV) and Jonas Brodin (5-years, $6M). Brodin adds some experience to a young blue line full of potential consisting of Drysdale, Seider, Hronek and Toews and the former corpse that was the Red Wings finally begins to take the final steps towards becoming a playoff contender.
Draft: The Red Wings win the lottery finally and draft Finnish stud Aatu Raty and the final piece of the rebuild has been added.
Season: With Raty, Raymond, Drysdale, Seider, Cholowski, Hronek, Larkin, Zadina and Veleno all on the Opening Day roster, and all under the age of 25, the future is beginning to take shape for the Red Wings. However, the growing pains are noticeable, but it is clear that the Red Wings are in the midst of the final year of being true bottom feeders in the NHL. Raymond goes on to win the Calder with 58 points on the year, after spending last season in GR, and both Zadina, who finishes the year with 33 goals, and Larkin make the All-Star team giving Detroit two all-stars for the first time since 2012. Stevie surprises everyone and trades Anthony Mantha at the deadline, acquiring a 1st round pick. Meanwhile, Drysdale and Seider show off the chemistry among them on the blue line. Brodin and Hronek begin to flirt with being a true #1 pair as well. Filip Larsson begins to show some flashes that he will be the starting goalie of the future. However, inconsistent goaltending and inexperience proves too much for the Red Wings as they fall short of really being a playoff contender. Yet fans go into the offseason knowing next year is going to be way different.
Record: 34-40-9, 76 Points
Leading Scorer: Dylan Larkin: 21 G, 51 A
Leading Rookie: Lucas Raymond: 19 G, 39 A
Offseason: With a plethora of ELC’s to sign over the next couple of offseasons, Stevie Y keeps things simple and doesn’t do much other than add depth to the team. He successfully re-signs Zadina (4-years, $5M AAV), Veleno (3-years, $3M AAV), Larsson (3-years, $2M AAV).
Draft: The Red Wings lose out on the Shane Wright sweepstakes, but do hold on to both the 7th and 22nd picks in the 1st round. They draft a forward at #7 and a D-man at #22 just to increase the depth at each position. Have to be honest, tough to find Draft info after 2021 so that spot will be N/A after this one.
Season: What a year experience does for the kids as the Red Wings quickly look to be Cup contenders out of the gate. After a hot start, the team slows down over the next couple months and find themselves struggling to hang on to a playoff spot by the trade deadline. Yzerman shocks the world by packaging Cholowski with his two 1st round picks from a year ago and a 2nd round pick to acquire Zach Werenski and Pierre-Luc Dubois from a sinking ship in Columbus. Despite both being 24, the two fit right in as “veterans” on the team and help the Red Wings slip in as the 1st Wild Card team, making the playoffs for the first time in seven years. They meet the heavily favored Maple Leafs in round one and despite putting up a good fight, are ousted in six games. But don’t worry, this run from this team has left fans knowing they could have a decade of success ahead of them.
Record: 43-30-9, 95 Points
Leading Scorers: Filip Zadina: 39 G, 36 A; Dylan Larkin: 18 G, 51 A Lucas Raymond: 25 G, 41 A; Aatu Raty: 23 G, 38 A; Moritz Seider: 11 G, 41 A; Jamie Drysdale: 14 G, 32 A
Offseason: With several youngsters to re-sign, Stevie makes it apparent that that is the priority heading into the offseason. He signs Moritz Seider to his biggest contract yet (6-years, $7M AAV) and gives bridge deals to both Raymond (3-years, $5M) and Drysdale (3-years, $4M) and with a little money leftover, he proceeds to look into free agents. With the Blues window officially closed, they struggle keeping guys around. The Red Wings need some forward depth, so Stevie signs 32-year-old Ryan O’Reilly to a team-friendly (3 year, $3.5M) deal due O’Reilly struggling the last two years, and his desire to go win another Cup.
Season: The Red Wings enter the season with possibly the most hype around any team in Detroit history since 2001-02. Expectations are sky high with the young core developing, veterans in place to help along the way and Filip Larsson coming into his own in net. The Red Wings start hot, and this time stay hot. The 2nd line for the Wings becomes the “Two kids and an Old Goat” 2.0 line with Raty-O’Reilly-Raymond establishing themselves as one of the best 2nd lines in all of hockey. The defense continues to be the strong suit of the team as well with the top pair of Seider-Hronek now carrying the way and being a Top 5 unit on the blue line in the NHL. The problem lies with Larsson, who appears to be almost taking a step back in his development. With Michael DiPietro beginning to command the net in Vancouver, Stevie shocks the hockey world once again. He trades Jonas Brodin (cap space), Keith Petruzzelli, Jared McIsaac (3rd line D at this point) and a 1st round pick for Thatcher Demko to not only help Larsson develop, but to step in as the starter the rest of the year. It’s nothing but smooth sailing in Detroit after the deadline as they finish 2nd in the division, but fall once again in the first round, this time in seven to the Buffalo Sabres. For what was a promising season, ends in frustration for fans, but they know the best is yet to come.
Record: 48-27-7, 103 Points
Leading Scorers: Dylan Larkin: 26 G, 55 A, Pierre-Luc Dubois: 34 G, 39 A, Aatu Raty: 29 G, 45 A, Filip Zadina: 44 G, 29 A, Filip Hronek: 19 G, 42 A, Moritz Seider: 14 G, 48 A
Offseason: Thanks to the Salary Cap increasing much more than people expected, the Red Wings come in just under the number and are able to re-sign Aatu Raty (5-years, $5.5M). There are no moves left for Stevie to make other than a couple of depth moves to sure up the 4th line and 3rd D pair, and the Red Wings are set to go for the upcoming campaign.
Season: What’s left to say? The Red Wings come into the season with the best Cup odds in the NHL and people around the league fear playing the Wings like it’s the mid-2000s again. LCA is sold out every single night, and they actually bring the red seats back because they realize they look better than the black. Zadina-Larkin-Dubois continue to carry the way and become one of the best top lines in hockey. The Red Wings blue line IS the best blue line in hockey with Seider-Hronek, Werenski-Drysdale and Toews-Lindstrom. Larsson and Demko pretty much alternate nights, as is the case in the NHL nowadays, and both put together Vezina-type seasons (Don’t worry, they win the Jennings) and the Red Wings coast to a Division title, but fall 1-point shy of the President’s trophy because McDavid-Draisaitl combined for 270 points. The Red Wings finally get over the first round hump, defeating the Wild Card Quebec Senators (That’s right, they moved finally) in five and then the Maple Leafs in round two, 4-2. In the Conference Finals, they meet the Carolina Hurricanes in a rematch of the 2002 Finals. The problem is they run into 38-year-old Carey Price (Habs fans finally run him out of town) who announced preseason it would be his final year in the NHL. The Canes have rallied around him all year, and Price puts together one of the best playoff runs by a goalie ever. The Red Wings ultimately lose in OT in Game 6 and it stings knowing how close they were to the Finals. “But man, just wait til next year....”
Record: 53-24-5, 111 Points
Leading Scorers: Pierre-Luc Dubois: 31 G, 54 A, Aatu Raty: 28 G, 52 A, Filip Zadina: 41 G, 32 A, Dylan Larkin: 17 G, 53 A, Moritz Seider: 8 G, 58 A, Lucas Raymond: 31 G, 32 A
I know what you all are thinking the answer is yes I can predict the future and this is 100% exactly how the next 5 years are going to go. In all seriousness, this was a fun piece to do. Researching guys in the future, who’s contract is expiring, top young players, etc. is the best way to cope with the dreadfulness that is the Red Wings at the moment. In all honesty I realistically hope for maybe 2-3 of these moves to actually happen in the future because a lot of it is also what I want to see happen. Let’s discuss in the comments! Would love to hear all of your thoughts.
This will also be my last piece for WIIM and it has been so fun the last 3 years hearing all of your comments, concerns and yes, even criticisms. I work in hockey for a living, and life just got in the way. But I am ALWAYS down to talk Red Wings, hockey, sports in general you name it. So keep the conversation going with me @JackSznewajs and maybe one day I will be back at WIIM. Until then, Let’s Go Red Wings!