In the final week of the Detroit Red Wings’ 2021-22 season, things are starting to shift. While there are plenty of players on the roster right now that are playing with something to prove, wandering eyes are starting to look ahead to the offseason and the 2022-23 season. A losing season tends to have the affect, but so too does the signing of a team’s top prospect.
With that in mind, it’s time to recap what’s going on in Red Wings land. Surely even you will be looking ahead to the 2021-22 season after this recap….
Simon Edvinsson Signs Entry-Level Contract
On Sunday, the Red Wings announced the signing of top prospect Simon Edvinsson to an entry-level deal. Drafted sixth overall in the 2021 draft, the 6-foot-5 defenseman spent this season in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) with Frölunda HC. In 44 games, the 19-year-old recorded 19 points while logging big minutes for one of the premier teams in the SHL. In five playoff games, he recorded two assists.
In our midseason prospect rankings, Edvinsson ranked as the Red Wings top prospect, projecting as a first pairing, all-situations defenseman. Ahead of the 2021 draft, many in the scouting community compared him to Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman due to his size, mobility and proficiency at both ends of the ice. There were some concerns about his decision-making at the time Detroit selected him, but he has since calmed some of those fears. Edvinsson was one of the brightest prospects playing outside of North America this season, but this deal more than likely confirms that he will be crossing the pond before training camp begins this Fall.
The jury is still out as to whether or not he will begin next season in the NHL or the American Hockey League with the Grand Rapids Griffins. It’s probably a safe bet that Red Wings fans will get a look at him in Detroit next season – it’s just a matter of how soon. After a season in which rookie defenseman Moritz Seider has arguably been the Red Wings’ best player, it’s easy to imagine how excited fans are to inject another talented, rookie defenseman into the lineup. While it’s probably best to temper expectations, there is zero doubt that Edvinsson has the potential to make as much of a difference next season as Seider did this season.
Blashill Out, “Tough” Coach In?
Over at Detroit Hockey Now, reporters Bob Duff and Kevin Allen shared their thoughts and what they’re hearing in regards to a number of topics. One of those topics was the status of Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill and whether or not he would return behind the bench next season. Both journalists agreed that the second-longest tenured coach in the NHL will be dismissed in the offseason, but Allen specifically mentioned what direction general manager Steve Yzerman may go in terms of Blashill’s replacement:
I’m already hearing Yzerman will look at some tough, demanding coaching candidates if he replaces Blashill. It also wouldn’t be surprising if Yzerman offers Blashill another job in the organization. He doesn’t think this is all Blashill’s fault and Yzerman is also displeased with several players, too.– Kevin Allen
In a season where it was obvious when the team took the night off, it makes sense to identify the need for a tougher, more demanding coach in Blashill’s place. An immediate name that comes to mind is current ESPN analyst and former Stanley Cup champion John Tortorella. Other possible candidates that fit this description are Paul Maurice, Joel Quenneville, and possibly Pete DeBoer if the Vegas Golden Knights part ways with him.
What’s also striking about this quote from Allen is the final part where he notes Yzerman’s displeasure with several players. It will be interesting to see how much movement the GM pushes for in the offseason in terms of moving players in and out of the organization. If there is very little movement, that could be a sign that he is waiting to see if a new coach can correct those bad habits.
Red Wings Interested in Filip Forsberg?
Not to be outdone, Duff also dropped an interesting nugget in the same article. In response to a question about Yzerman’s priority this offseason, Duff wrote this:
Two names that I hear frequently linked to the Red Wings at forward are left wing Filip Forsberg and center Vincent Trocheck. Forsberg could be a tough sell. He figures to gain a lot of suitors as a UFA. Trocheck has connections to the Detroit area but he’s not the biggest guy and a lack of size at forward has proven to be an issue for this club.– Bob Duff
While Vincent Trocheck’s name has been floated out there by other writers such as The Athletic’s Max Bultman, this is the first time Filip Forsberg’s name has been linked to the Red Wings. Both forwards make sense for various reasons: Trocheck is a center, as Duff notes, who knows the area and is knocking on the door of a 50-point season with the Carolina Hurricanes this season; Forsberg is a household name that would give Detroit’s lineup legitimacy right from the get-go, and he would be able to flourish with, and even mentor some of the Red Wings’ young, Swedish talent such as Lucas Raymond and Jonatan Berggren. While seeing the name Forsberg on the back of a Red Wings jersey would be odd for fans who vividly remember the rivalry between Detroit and the Colorado Avalanche, there’s little doubt that fans would be excited to see this Forsberg strut his stuff in Hockeytown.
However, if this report is to be taken as truth, then it is interesting that the offseason focus is on the forward group instead of the defensive group. While Edvinsson should represent an upgrade on the blue line, there’s still a lot of room for the Red Wings to boost their defensive group. In comparison to the 2020-21 season, the Red Wings’ scoring numbers are up this season, but their defensive numbers have taken a huge hit. Furthermore, how does the outcome of the 2022 draft affect their offseason plan?
Elmer Söderblom Signing Coming Soon?
With the Edvinsson signing now official, all eyes are on his teammate, Elmer Söderblom, to see if he will also sign an ELC with Detroit. Selected 159th overall in 2019, the towering forward finished this season with 21 goals and 33 points in 52 regular season games, and finished it off with three goals and six points in nine playoff games. The 20-year-old more than likely needs another season at a lower level (preferably the AHL) before joining the Red Wings, but there is certainly a chance that he could come into training camp and earn a spot right away.
- Tony Wolak illustrated why Seider should have the Calder Trophy locked up for this season.
- Devin Little explained how the Red Wings’ struggles show just how long the rebuild still has to go.
- Delaney Rimer highlighted the play of the Red Wings’ prospects for the NCAA champion Denver Pioneers.
- Rob Klein wrote about Joe Veleno’s opportunity on the top line in Dylan Larkin’s absence.
- The Grind Line hosted author Keith Gave to discuss his new book “Vlad the Impaler”.
- Be sure to check out this week’s Red Wings Weekly!
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.