Detroit Red Wings: Two underrated defensive performances

(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The biggest storyline in Detroit this season has been the excellent play from the rookies, but there are a couple underrated players that are contributing on the blue line. Let’s look at a few defenseman that, while not as exciting as Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, are important contributors in the team’s success so far.

Filip Hronek

I’ve already written a piece on Hronek’s improved play this season, so I’ll keep it relatively short: the young defenseman is actually having a pretty good year.

Hronek is coming off of a slightly disappointing year. Although he led the team in points, a good chunk came from secondary assists, and he looked uncomfortable with his role as a top-pairing defenseman.

With Nick Leddy this season, Hronek seems to be turning things around. His GAR (goals above replacement) was -6.3 last year and it’s up to 1.2 this season. Similarly, his WAR (wins above replacement) increased from -1.1 to 0.2. His expected metrics are also great: 2.1 xGAR and 0.4 xWAR. Hronek has also scored the second most points among Detroit’s defenseman, with two goals and 10 assists.

Moritz Seider is comfortably the best defenseman on the roster right now, but that shouldn’t take away from the good season Hronek is having. The Czech defender is starting to truly look comfortable with a role on the top four.

Jordan Oesterle

Jordan Oesterle might be one of the least exciting players on Detroit’s current roster, considering his age, role and future with the team. However, Oesterle has quietly been an extremely competent fill-in when the defense needs it.

Heading into the season, Oesterle’s role with the team was clear. Along with Gustav Lindstrom, he would mostly act as the team’s seventh defenseman, stepping up into a larger role when needed and providing the occasional reprieve to the starting defenseman.

But with injuries and COVID protocol, the defensive depth on the team is thinning quickly (Gustav Lindstrom is injured, Troy Stecher is injured, Marc Staal is on COVID protocol). Oesterle is going to have a bigger role than expected in the coming weeks: ensuring that the wheels don’t completely fall off on defense with all of the missing pieces. With a short sample size, it seems as though Oesterle might be up to the task.

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