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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UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – JANUARY 14: Jeff Blashill, head coach of the Detroit Red Wings speaks to his team during a first period timeout during the game against the New York Islanders at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on January 14, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – JANUARY 14: Jeff Blashill, head coach of the Detroit Red Wings speaks to his team during a first period timeout during the game against the New York Islanders at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on January 14, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Finalizing the Roster Spots… and is This Team Improved?

On paper, it’s hard to argue that this team didn’t take steps in the right direction. But first, the dust of the offseason must settle. That means the positional battles and prospect progress fans have been following throughout the offseason essentially have eight games to finalize.

The battle for the fourth line center position is one of the battles that’ll be settled the opening day. Essentially, the choices are Stephens, Veleno, Rowney and even Chase Pearson. Pearson is the least likely to make the spot, as he hasn’t really proved himself even after years with the organization. Rowney’s use will probably be more as a backup forward than a center. That brings us to Veleno and Stephens. Right now, Stephens has the experience and age on Veleno – as of now, he’s likely the day one starter. But Veleno is hot on his heels. If Stephen struggles in the preseason and Veleno continues to impress, he might just pull ahead in the positional battle.

The other possible roster changes are mostly dependent on the prospects – are they ready? With Jakub Vrana still out with an injury, there’s room for prospects like Raymond or camp tryouts like Bobby Ryan to make a last-minute grab at a spot on the roster. If Vrana is still when the regular season starts, there could be an unexpected face on the roster. And the upcoming eight games will likely decide who that is.

While the preseason won’t properly illustrate how good this team is, it’s going to give fans a taste of what is to come. Detroit is finally starting to hit the point in the rebuild where progress becomes important. It’s essential to the organizations future that their biggest prospects pan out and Seider, Veleno, Raymond and Berggren are the closest to the roster. Again, the preseason won’t matter in the long run, but it’ll start to paint a picture of which direction this team is trending.

The offseason is done. It’s time for results.

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