Detroit Red Wings: Depth has gone from bad to worse

Detroit Red Wings defenseman, Danny DeKeyser. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Detroit Red Wings defenseman, Danny DeKeyser. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings are on a three game losing streak, and it is quickly becoming clear that the team’s current lack of depth has something to do with it.

Heading into the season, it was obvious that the Detroit Red Wings wouldn’t have great depth throughout the lineup. Yes, it was certainly an improvement from the 2020-21 squad (with new signings/acquisitions like Mitchell Stephens, Nick Leddy, Pius Suter, etc), but the lineup wasn’t quite dangerous yet. Just a few months in, and that offseason depth is starting to wear thing.

One of the biggest blows to the lineup came before the start of the season, as Jakub Vrana suffered a shoulder injured that required surgery (expected back in early February). The forward had an electric start to his career in Detroit at the end of last season, scoring a point per game – his absence was as major blow to the team’s offense right from the start.

Next up on the IR reserve are Mitchell Stephens and Troy Stecher, both officially designated on November 23. Stephens suffered a lower body injury and Stecher underwent wrist surgery. Both are slotted to return back to the lineup in late February.

More recently, Marc Staal, Tyler Bertuzzi and Gustav Lindstrom have exited the lineup. Staal and Bertuzzi are both out for COVID protocol, and both are expected to return in the coming days. Lindstrom suffered a lower body injury, but he could also return in just a few days.

The injuries have switched around pairings throughout the lineup. Jordan Oesterle has had to take a larger role than expected early on, filling in gaps in the defensive pairings. He has even found himself on a line with Moritz Seider a few times. Danny DeKeyser is back into the lineup after a short stint on COVID protocol. Dan Renouf has even been called up from Grand Rapids a few times. The team hasn’t been great defensively all year, and the bevy of injuries has only made matter worse. They’ve given up 18 goals in the last three games, thrashed in each one – the holes on the blue line have worsened the defensive woes.

Offensively, the top line has been carrying the load, with Lucas Ramyond, Dylan Larkin and – when he’s not injured/COVID protocol – Tyler Bertuzzi. The second line has been solid so far, but nothing game changing. With Vrana and Stephens injured (and Tyler Bertuzzi during Canadian games), the forwards have shuffled around a bit, but the gaps among the forward group don’t feel quite as pronounced as the absences on defense.

December is a difficult slate for the Red Wings, and the thinning lineup will have their hands full with some of the better teams in the league. With the current state of the roster, the three rookies will have to be at their best to give Detroit a fighting chance. The trio has done a heck of a job thus far.

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