Red Wings: 2021 Preseason Preview and Storylines

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings looks to pass around David Kampf #64 of the Chicago Blackhawks during a preseason game at the United Center on September 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings looks to pass around David Kampf #64 of the Chicago Blackhawks during a preseason game at the United Center on September 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Before the regular season, the Detroit Red Wings will have the preseason to finalize roster decisions and shake off a bit more of that offseason rust. Let’s look at some of the storylines to keep an eye on through the eight games.

The Opponents:

Sept. 29: Chicago Blackhawks

Sept. 30: Buffalo Sabres

Oct. 2: Columbus Blue Jackets

Oct. 3: Pittsburgh Penguins

Oct. 4: Chicago Blackhawks

Oct. 6: Columbus Blue Jackets

Oct. 7: Pittsburgh Penguins

Oct. 9: Buffalo Sabres

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – JUNE 08: Pat Maroon #14 of the Tampa Bay Lightning attempts a shot against Alex Nedeljkovic #39 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in Game Five of the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on June 08, 2021 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – JUNE 08: Pat Maroon #14 of the Tampa Bay Lightning attempts a shot against Alex Nedeljkovic #39 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in Game Five of the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on June 08, 2021 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

New Faces in the Starting Lineup

This offseason was busy for the Detroit Red Wings, as trades and free agency brought a slew of new players to the roster. One of the most noticeable storylines to watch in the preseason will be the performances of these new additions.

Alex Nedeljkovic was one of the three players Detroit acquired by trade in the offseason. He had an impressive season with the Carolina Hurricanes last year; his .932 save percentage and 1.9 goals against through 23 games were enough to push him to third place in Calder voting. He also performed well in the playoffs, with a .920 save percentage and 2.17 average goals against in nine games. Nedeljkovic is going to be an extremely important player for the Red Wings this season, as he’s taking the reigns from Jonthan Bernier, who often willed the team to victory through some stellar performances. If the team takes wants to take steps forward this year, they are going to need some rock solid goaltending. Red Wings fans will get their first look at Nedeljkovic in net for Detroit in the preseason.

Nick Leddy was another player traded to the Red Wings in the offseason. He’s going to be an important figure in Detroit this year, paired with the team’s exciting defensive prospect, Moritz Seider. Leddy will also give Head Coach Jeff Blashill some more freedom in creating plays and scheming, as his excellent puck-moving and offensive distribution are skills that were missing on Detroit’s defense last year. In the preseason, fans will finally get to see the exciting new pairing and what Leddy is going to add to the team.

Mitchell Stephens is the final player the Red Wings acquired through trade in the offseason. He was drafted by Yzerman when he led the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2015. Since then, Stephens has mostly been relegated to a backup/AHL with the organization, filling in for injury when needed. However, with Detroit, there’s a good chance he starts day one. He fits Blashill’s scheming as a two-way forward and center is a major position of need for the team. Stephens is in a battle with some prospects for the role of fourth line center, so a good preseason is important in retaining that spot.

Pius Suter was Steve Yzerman’s biggest splash in free agency. The 25 year old center had a good season with the Chicago Blackhawks last year and since he’s stepping into a major position of need, he’s likely straight to the middle of the second line. If all goes well, Suter is going play an important role in improving the team’s offensive abilities, especially on the power play. His intelligent and safe style as a center actually fit quite well into Blashill’s system.

Also, Detroit’s first preseason game is against Suter’s former team. That’s a pretty exciting way to kick off his career with the Wings.

Jordan Oesterle and Carter Rowney are also relatively notable free agents, although their roles will more than likely be as depth on the main roster.  Oesterle is a left-shot defenseman that’ll be the team’s seventh (or eighth) defenseman and Rowney is a center/right-winger that’ll fill a similar role position on the offense.