I wanted to discuss a few specific items regarding the Detroit Red Wings following the conclusion of the first month of the 2022-23 regular season. Recently, I was able to catch up with former Octopus Thrower editor Nate Brown. Brown currently writes for Detroit Hockey Now.
Let’s jump right into things. Enjoy.
What is your initial thought on Red Wings first-year head coach Derek Lalonde one month into his tenure?
I think he’s exactly what the Red Wings need. If you’ve ever listened to him, you know he is someone who connects with people. He also had a front-row seat for two Stanley Cups in Tampa Bay. His answers to questions often seem conversational instead of give and take. He’s weathered what has been an early storm with injuries and players being unavailable well. This is a critical point in development as well as the team is now synching to a new system and expectations.
What are some areas Filip Zadina can improve that may help him get out of his scoring slump?
If you look at some of the advanced metrics, Zadina has been quite good offensively. But he is still scoreless both in points and goals. During the 2-1 win over Minnesota, I tried to keep my eye on him during every shift, and he was strong off the puck and even had a great opportunity in the high slot. Alas, the puck was blocked. He’s logging just over 14 minutes on average, but every other forward with less ice time is on the point sheet. This includes Michael Rasmussen, who, just a year ago, was in a similar predicament where many were questioning if he’d put it together. He had a strong second half, which has carried into this season.
So if we’re looking at improvement, I honestly believe he’s in his own mind. Being taken where he was in the draft, on top of sliding from what many thought would be a top-three pick, certainly plays games with the mind. Dylan Larkin once talked about how they were gripping their sticks too tight during a loss to Chicago. I think that’s the bulk of it here with Zadina. He’s doing the right things on the ice. He’s still only 23 years old. For anxious fans that want to see more, I think that’s almost the perfect comparison for Zadina himself. Worry less about the expectations and go out there and play.
Are you worried about Andrew Coop’s lack of production?
No. Recovering from an injury takes time, and if Copp’s contract were for $1.2M AAV, there wouldn’t be so much emphasis on things. Sure, he needs to produce. But you’d rather him ease into it while the likes of Dominik Kubalik, David Perron, and Dylan Larkin can carry things for a while. Depth scoring has also been there this season, so this buys time for Copp to acclimate to the new normal of his body recovering.
Moritz Seider shouldn’t be graded just on his offensive abilities, but he is off to a slow start. Should we be concerned?
Seider is getting more attention now that everyone knows what he brings to the Red Wings. He’s a bright guy and a talented defenseman. He’ll adjust, and things will even back out. Many coaches talk about adjustments are crucial. This is the case here. Red Wings fans have nothing to worry about with Seider.
Detroit’s goaltending woes are concerning to some, especially Alex Nedelikovic. Do you see Nedelikovic being in Detroit long-term, or perhaps a trade chip later in the season as the deadline approaches?
I think it’s still too early this season to make that assessment. The Buffalo game caved in on them in the third period, and Larkin spoke about how they needed to be better in front of him. The Red Wings, like the tandem and Husso, have been outstanding so far.
Nedeljkovic is very capable and would be the first to say he wants to be better. The contract part of it, truthfully, will come to dollars and sense.
Sebastian Cossa is now cutting his teeth with Grand Rapids, so that is a clock ticking for any goalie in Detroit, should Cossa be “the guy” they expect. Nedeljkovic is well-liked in the locker room, so it seems right to think that with the team likely taking their time with Cossa, an extension would make sense for both sides. Beyond that, the trade market for goalies can be tricky, so it seems likelier that Nedeljkovic stays.