Analyzing the Red Wings’ Organizational Depth

Before the Detroit Red Wings adjust their roster this offseason, it’s important to have a holistic view of their organizational depth. That way, the right pieces can be added to the puzzle.

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We know the Red Wings need to improve defensively. But how are they going to do that from a roster management perspective? Analyzing their organizational depth can illuminate surplus depth at certain positions and other spots that lack adequate personnel. 

Steve Yzerman, Christopher Ilitch of the Detroit Red Wings
Steve Yzerman will be addressing the Red Wings’ needs over the coming months. How exactly remains to be seen. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

With that being said, let’s dive into Detroit’s depth – both at the professional level and when considering their prospect pipeline.

2022 Red Wings Offseason Overview

Red Wings’ Organizational Depth Chart

First, we’ll cover the professionals in—or coming to—North America. The chart below outlines the Red Wings’ depth at each of the six positions. Note that these are not lines and should not be viewed as such. It is simply a ranking of Detroit’s professional players based on a full view of their abilities heading into the 2022-23 season.

Tyler Bertuzzi Dylan Larkin Lucas Raymond
Jakub Vrana Pius Suter Filip Zadina
Robby Fabbri Michael Rasmussen Oskar Sundqvist
Adam Erne Joe Veleno Jonatan Berggren
Givani Smith Mitchell Stephens Pontus Andreasson
Taro Hirose Chase Pearson Elmer Soderblom
Cross Hanas Kyle Criscuolo  
Simon Edvinsson Moritz Seider Alex Nedeljkovic
Jake Walman Filip Hronek Jussi Olkinuora
Jordan Oesterle Gustav Lindstrom Victor Brattstrom
Albert Johansson Steven Kampfer Kaden Fulcher
Jared McIsaac Wyatt Newpower  
Donovan Sebrango Seth Barton  
Eemil Viro    

A few things stand out immediately: lack of sufficient depth at center, left defense, and goalie. These are glaring needs that must be addressed this offseason.

At center, there is quite a drop off between Dylan Larkin and Pius Suter. Nothing against Suter personally, but he’s not the solution for the Red Wings’ second-line center role. But if he’s shifted down a slot and a quality 2C is inserted between him and Larkin, Detroit’s pivot depth would be rather appealing.

Pius Suter Detroit Red Wings
Pius Suter is better suited on the third line. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Moving to the left side of the blue line, Simon Edvinsson should not be the top defenseman. Not right now, at least. It would be unfair to assume he’ll have a Moritz Seider-like impact next season. But who else on the roster tops him? Not Jake Walman or Jordan Oesterle. Clearly, the Red Wings need to add a top-four left defenseman (or two) to better align skill sets and experience with roles.

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Finally, Detroit needs to fill some holes in net – literally and figuratively. Alex Nedeljkovic is the only goalie under contract. Both Victor Brattstrom and Kaden Fulcher are restricted free agents and it’s not a given that the latter is re-signed.

At the moment, the Red Wings don’t have any intriguing surpluses in their organizational depth. If anything, it’s worthwhile to mention that there are a handful of players competing for bottom-six forward roles. Not all will make the team and most will require waivers to be assigned to Grand Rapids. (Jonatan Berggren, Pontus Andreasson, Elmer Soderblom, and Cross Hanas do not, though.)

Related: Red Wings Are a Perfect Landing Spot for Flames’ Monahan

One final note – the Red Wings don’t have much size in their top-nine forward group apart from Michael Rasmussen and (to a lesser degree) Tyler Bertuzzi. This may not be an issue, but is something to keep in mind when considering acquisition options this offseason.

Red Wings’ Prospect Pipeline Depth

Before diving into the depth chart, it’s worth noting that “prospect” is a loose term here. Those listed below are Detroit’s 22-and-under players – regardless of professional experience.

The intention of this chart is to outline the players still on the rise. All players are different, but generally speaking, by the time prospects get to be 23 years-old, you have a pretty good idea of what their ceiling is professionally. Those under 23 still have “potential” to account for.

Also, the prospects are sorted by handedness, rather than position. Where forwards line up in the NHL basically comes down to a split between centers and non-centers, with non-centers typically put on their strong-side wings. Similar logic was applied to defensemen as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive into Detroit’s 22-and-under depth. Players are ranked in terms of NHL potential.

Left-Handed Wing Center Right-Handed Wing
Filip Zadina Joe Veleno Lucas Raymond
Jonatan Berggren Theodor Niederbach Carter Mazur
Elmer Soderblom Liam Dower Nilsson Ryan O’Reilly
Cross Hanas Red Savage Sam Stange
Robert Mastrosimone Ethan Phillips Kienan Draper
Pasquale Zito    
Albin Grewe    
Otto Kivenmaki    
Chase Bradley    
Kirill Tyutyayev    
Left-Handed Defense Right-Handed Defense Goalie
Simon Edvinsson Moritz Seider Sebastian Cossa
Albert Johansson Antti Tuomisto Jan Bednar
William Wallinder Seth Barton Carter Gylander
Shai Buium Alex Cotton Jesper Eliasson
Jared McIsaac Gustav Berglund  
Donovan Sebrango Oscar Plandowski  
Eemil Viro    
Cooper Moore    
Kyle Aucoin    

Unlike the Red Wings’ NHL depth, the left side of the blue line is deep. Edvinsson tops the list as a solid top-four—if not top-two—blueliner. Albert Johansson, William Wallinder, and Shai Buium can be comfortably projected as third-pairing defenders, though additional development next year could turn that into a more conservative estimate. Plus, there’s also Jared McIsaac, Donovan Sebrango, and Eemil Viro who could turn into fringe NHLers. That’s quality and quantity.

But on the right side, there’s room for improvement. Outside of Seider—who will be an elite defender soon enough—the Red Wings don’t have much depth. Antti Tuomisto is far from a sure thing, and none of the other right-handed defensemen have much of a shot to reach the NHL.

Moritz Seider Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings need more prospect depth behind Moritz Seider. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

On offense, Detroit could use another cornerstone prospect – Lucas Raymond is the only dynamic player on the list. Jonatan Berggren, Carter Mazur, Theodor Niederbach, Joe Veleno, and Filip Zadina are fine middle-six players, but are complementary pieces on a good playoff team, not drivers.

It’s also worth noting that the Red Wings don’t have much depth at center or with right-handed wings. The lack of talent at center is most concerning – the organization has a clear need for above-average depth at all levels (apart from Larkin). This needs to be addressed one way or another.

Related: Red Wings 2022 Draft Coverage

For a deeper dive into Detroit’s prospect needs, Devin Little has you covered here.

Next Steps for the Red Wings

After reviewing the franchise’s depth both at the professional and amateur levels, it’s clear that Steve Yzerman and his team have a few marching orders heading into the offseason:

  1. Select a high-end forward—preferably a center—in the 2022 NHL Draft.
  2. Find an above-average, left-handed defenseman to play key minutes with Moritz Seider.
  3. Acquire a second-line center to slot in behind Dylan Larkin.
  4. Acquire goaltending depth to solidify the NHL and AHL tandems.

In addition, it’s also recommended that the Red Wings bring in scoring depth, add prospects to bolster the right side of their blue line, and sign AHL talent to balance out what could be a very young Grand Rapids Griffins roster next season.

If Yzerman is able to accomplish these tasks, the Red Wings will be in outstanding shape entering the 2022-23 season – both at the NHL level and when considering their prospect pipeline. Continued health in both of these categories is key to long-term success in Hockeytown.

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