With the 2019-20 NHL season on the horizon, now is a great time to evaluate the roster and organizational depth of the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings Rebuild series will do just that – projecting Detroit’s future roster and analyzing the progress of Hockeytown’s makeover.
Heading into the 2021-22 season, the Red Wings will no longer be making payments toward a few expensive contracts. Darren Helm, Luke Glendening, Valtteri Filppula, Patrik Nemeth, and Jonathan Bernier’s deals will have expired over the summer.
However, there will be a few players needing post-entry-level contracts. Michael Rasmussen, Filip Hronek, and Dennis Cholowski will need big raises if they continue to develop for the Red Wings.
Even with today’s young players making future big bucks, Detroit will be in good shape financially, especially if a lockout is avoided and the salary cap continues to increase. Plus, those same players will be a couple years older and wiser – likely resulting in a more competitive team.
Prior to the 2021-22 campaign, the Seattle expansion draft will have taken place. Barring a trade or major free agent signing, we’ll project Givani Smith as the selection.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how the 2021-22 roster projects at this point.
Related: State of the Red Wings’ Rebuild
|Anthony Mantha||Dylan Larkin||Filip Zadina|
|Andreas Athanasiou||Michael Rasmussen||Tyler Bertuzzi|
|Taro Hirose||Joe Veleno||Evgeny Svechnikov|
|Christoffer Ehn||Frans Nielsen||Adam Erne|
|Justin Abdelkader||Chase Pearson|
Up front, the Red Wings offense should be kicking into full gear. Rasmussen and Filip Zadina will have fully acclimated the NHL, with Joe Veleno making progress and Jonatan Berggren not far behind.
Adding a middle-six center to the equation wouldn’t hurt though. Veleno may need some time on the wing before moving to the middle of the ice full-time. This wouldn’t be a Filppula-type move, but rather bringing in a key offensive contributor to drive play for his line.
It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Red Wings bring back Glendening, even if they trade him prior to his contract expiring. The Michigan-born (and -educated) center is well-respected in the locker room and has a work ethic rivaling that of Dylan Larkin.
|Danny DeKeyser||Filip Hronek|
|Dennis Cholowski||Oliwer Kaski|
|Madison Bowey||Moritz Seider|
A couple years into the future, the Red Wings will likely be in an “in-between” phase when it comes to their blue line. The young defensemen drafted in the early stages of the rebuild won’t be quite ready enough to completely take over the depth chart. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t have prominent roles.
In fact, the right side of Detroit’s defense looks superb, especially if Seider is able to handle the rigors of a full NHL season at this point. There’s still much to be desired on the left side, though.
It’s possible that the Red Wings could add another top-four free agent defenseman to replace Nemeth once his deal expires. In addition, Jared McIsaac could be ready for NHL duties, though I’d wager he will likely start the 2021-22 campaign in the AHL given Detroit’s track record.
- Filip Larsson
Expect the Red Wings to sign a free agent netminder to pair with Filip Larsson, who will have two seasons of AHL experience under his belt by this time. Options for the second half of the tandem include Robin Lehner, Darcy Kuemper, Philipp Grubauer, Petr Mrazek, or even Braden Holtby if the Red Wings are feeling good about their finances.
Detroit’s other goaltending prospects just won’t be ready for the NHL yet. Keith Petruzzelli and Jesper Eliasson could be close, so the Red Wings could opt for a short-term, free agent solution to serve as a stopgap until one of Petruzzelli or Eliasson are ready.
Without adding anyone, the 2021-22 Red Wings look like a talented team, just not a Stanley Cup contender. However, if Yzerman opts to open his checkbook to a couple of solid free agents, the Red Wings could do some damage in the playoffs.
Apart from the NHL roster, the organization’s depth looks like it will be in good shape a couple of years into the future. With Berggren and McIsaac pushing for NHL duties and the 2019 crop of draft picks not far behind, the prospect pipeline will still be stocked in 2021.