Answering all the tough Red Wings’ questions heading into December

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Detroit Red Wings, Red Wings, Filip Hronek
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Filip Hronek is exceeding expectations early on this season. Do you see him being part of Detroit’s long-term plans?

I do, and there are two reasons why.

First, the Red Wings aren’t exactly deep on the right side of their blue line. Yes, Moritz Seider is there, but after Hronek, their best option up and down the depth chart is Gustav Lindström. Unless Detroit can trade for or draft someone that can boost their depth on the right side, they are doing themselves a disservice by trading away their second-best option on that right side.

Second, Hronek is still just 25 years old. He fits the age group that Yzerman is trying to build around; if he was a few years older, I think I’d be saying move him while he’s at his peak value. Instead, he’s still young enough to grow with this team, as he’s just now entering his prime.

He is also the third-longest tenured member of the Red Wings (only Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi have been around longer), and I believe there is value in keeping some players around that went through the darkest days of the rebuild.

There is no defenseman on this team that is tired of losing like Hronek is, so you know he’ll be fired up once the Red Wings make their way back to the playoffs. Plus, with Seider on the team now and the salary cap set to go up over the coming years, Hronek should not cost an arm and a leg to keep around past his current deal.

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Will the Detroit Red Wings be a playoff team in 2022-23?

I think they will play important games deeper into the season than they have in years. As for whether or not they’ll make the playoffs, I believe Yzerman isn’t an optimist or a pessimist; he’s a realist.

Unless the Red Wings can play a lot more consistently than they have this season, the best they can hope for is to make the playoffs and then get spanked by one of the powerhouses of the Eastern Conference. Instead, I think they’ll fall off over the next couple of months, setting Yzerman up for an eventful trade deadline where he could be in a position to add some serious draft capital in a draft that is one of the deepest in recent memory.

Yzerman and Lalonde have been cautious about pumping the brakes on playoff expectations, and I think that’s a telling sign that the playoffs may not be the true goal for this season. All things considered, I think that’s fine. The playoff drought will continue, but not for much longer.