It almost seems like the Detroit Red Wings playoff hunt in late February was a year ago. Detroit won seven of eight games before completely imploding in Ottawa, getting blown out in back-to-back games, which prompted a fire sale ahead of the trade deadline.
The Detroit Red Wings have quietly won four of their last five games, including very impressive wins over the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s not like the momentum built now will carry over into next season, but beating playoff-bound teams late in the season will give this group hope heading into next year.
Fans have players to be excited about heading into next season. The organization’s top defense prospect Simon Edvinsson, 20, looks the part. Barring a colossal setback, Edvinsson will begin 2023-24 in Detroit’s four. Albeit a small sample size, the Detroit Red Wings got a look at their top overall prospect, center Marco Kasper. This past Sunday, Kasper, 18, performed very well in his NHL debut against the Leafs. Despite not recording a point, the young, feisty center was not intimidated and was willing when it came to mixing things up. More importantly, Kasper did not look out of place while centering Detorit’s second line, which also included Andrew Copp and Lucas Raymond. Kasper is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a lingering lower-body injury he played through on Sunday night.
The Detroit Red Wings hope to build on their late-season surge.
The Detroit Red Wings have been led by David Perron and Dylan Larkin of late. Both have recently recorded hat tricks. Larkin has totaled five goals and eight points while skating to a plus-7 rating over his last five games. Like Detroit’s captain, Perron has remained scorching hot over his past five contests scoring six goals and nine points while skating to a plus-7. Larkin leads Detroit with 31 goals and 76 points on the season, followed by Perron’s 22 goals and 53 points. That type of production, combined with growth from Raymond, Jonatan Berggren, and others, should put Detroit in the playoff mix at this time next season.
Following Detroit’s 5-0 victory over Montreal on Tuesday, Perron talked about what could have been if the Red Wings had been more consistent throughout the year.
"“It keeps reminding me, and others I’m sure, if we had just won a couple games, a few more games,” Perron said after the 5-0 victory at Centre Bell. “You can think of the two Philly games, one St. Louis, maybe, and that’s only the last month or so.“I think that’s something next year, we’ve got to get that feeling, that urgency, a little bit earlier, so that we remember how important every game is.”"
With Larkin cemented in as a top center, the Detroit Red Wings need Marco Kasper to quickly grow into the second-best option at the position. Still, in the meantime, the organization will continue to lean on players like Andrew Copp, Michael Rasmussen, and Joe Veleno for versatility and stability. Another option would be to add a free agent on a short-term deal to fill the role until Kasper proves he’s completely ready to anchor the second unit. If Kasper proves he is from the get-go, the Red Wings will have plenty of much-needed depth with the addition of a free agent.
The Red Wings are set in goal with Ville Husso, who recorded his fourth shutout on the season in Montreal but will need to upgrade the backend of their defense this summer, along with deciding on their backup goaltender whether Steve Yzerman has seen enough recently from Alex Nedeljkovic or elect to sift through some retread free agents. I feel as though Nedeljkovic, with his stellar play of late, is a leg up on Magnus Hellberg if Yzerman hopes to fill the void within.