Detroit Red Wings: Analyzing the Opening Night Roster

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 04: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his second period goal with Filip Zadina #11 while playing the Chicago Blackhawks during a preseason game at Little Caesars Arena on October 04, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 04: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his second period goal with Filip Zadina #11 while playing the Chicago Blackhawks during a preseason game at Little Caesars Arena on October 04, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Forwards

Most of the preseason has been focused on what 13 forwards will represent the Red Wings on opening night.  The shoulder injury to Jakub Vrana opens up a spot on the roster until possibly after the Olympics in February.

With Tyler Bertuzzi refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, it opens up a spot for a minimum of nine games during the season.  Bertuzzi will be unable to travel with the team to Canada and if he contracts the virus will have to move into the NHL COVID-19 protocol and be lost for additional games.

Bobby Ryan was on a PTO and on Monday was released and is now a free agent.

On Monday, Joe Veleno was re-assigned to Grand Rapids (AHL).  He should receive plenty of ice time playing as the #1 center on a line with Jonatan Berggren and Riley Barber.

All of these issues presented Red Wings management with important decisions regarding opening night.

Centers

Captain Dylan Larkin will center the top line to start the season.

Free-agent signee Pius Suter was tremendous throughout the preseason and can easily move into the top center position if Larkin falters.

Minor injuries set Michael Rasmussen back during the preseason.  He appears to be ready to play center on the 3rd line to open the regular season.

Mitchell Stephens and Carter Rowney will most likely split 4th center duties to open the season.  The Red Wings will only carry one extra forward so, both should see plenty of games during the compressed schedule.

Opening Night Centers: Dylan Larkin, Pius Suter, Michael Rasmussen, Mitchell Stephens, Carter Rowney 

Left Wingers

Tyler Bertuzzi will play on the top line with Larkin.  For the near future, Bertuzzi will forfeit games in Canada and salary and the Red Wings will require an additional forward for those games.

Robby Fabbri looked excellent playing with Suter during the preseason.  The two players were teammates in junior and appear to have excellent chemistry and scoring ability on the 2nd line.

Adam Erne and Vladislav Namestnikov will rotate on left wing between the 3rd and 4th lines.  Both players are interchangeable and can score which provides the Red Wings with depth in the bottom six forwards.

Opening Night Left Wingers: Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri, Vladislav Namestnikov, Adam Erne

Right Wingers

Lucas Raymond has earned the right to play on the top line with Bertuzzi and Larkin.  Raymond showed flashes of brilliance during the preseason and hopefully this will carry over to the regular season.

Filip Zadina is being handed a spot on the 2nd line with Fabbri and Suter. The trio are very skilled and should score numerous goals throughout the season.  The Red Wings certainly need Zadina to step up and be the snipper they thought they picked up when they drafted him 6th overall in the 2018 draft.

Sam Gagner will start the season on the 3rd line playing with Rasmussen and Namestnikov.  He can play both ends of the ice and can chip in offensively.

Givani Smith will start the year on the 4th line with Stephens and Erne.  Because of their physicality, this line will be hard to play against.  This line will also chip in offensively.  If Smith doesn’t deserve to play every night, Carter Rowney is a right shot and can play right wing when needed.

Opening Night Right Wingers: Lucas Raymond, Filip Zadina, Sam Gagner, Givani Smith