Off-seasons are filled with the yearly draft, free agency frenzy, and trades. This off-season has been no different for the Detroit Red Wings. A plethora of players have signed contracts with new organizations or have returned to their 2022-23 team, as well as numerous players being traded.
It seems with the salary cap increasing from 83.5 million dollars this season to 87.5 million next season, many teams and players have decided to go the one-year deal route free agency-wise. The Detroit Red Wings are one of those teams who have gone that route, signing five free agents to one-year deals.
Those one-year deals include forwards Tim Gettinger, Daniel Sprong, Christian Fischer, and Matt Luff. Gettinger and Luff are expected to be with the Griffins as AHL players, while Sprong and Fischer are expected to have important roles for the Wings this season.
Goalie James Reimer and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Gustav Lindstrom are also expected to have important roles in 2023-24 for the Red Wings.
Four players were signed to multi-year deals this offseason. Goalie Alex Lyons (two years) and forward Brogan Rafferty (two years) are two more players expected to be AHL depth players, while JT Compher (five years) and defenseman Justin Holl (three years) are going to be fully entrenched in the Detroit Red Wings lineup this season.
Shifting to the trades, the Detroit Red Wings added star forward Alex Debrincat in a trade with Ottawa that saw the Wings give up Dominik Kubalik and prospect Donovan Sebrango, along with two draft picks (conditional first-rounder and a 4th-round pick in 2024). The Wings also extended Debrincat to a four-year, 7.875 million dollar AAV deal.
How much have the Detroit Red Wings improved this offseason?
In adding Debrincat to the lineup, the Wings add an elite goal scorer that can slot in immediately to the first-line role with Dylan Larkin in the middle of the ice. The Wings have long looked for an elite goal scorer and hope that Debrincat can continue the way he has been scoring in his career.
In net, the Wings are replacing departing Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg, who signed one-year deals with Pittsburgh, with veteran James Reimer. Nedeljkovic started the season in the NHL, but his inconsistent play led to him being sent down to Grand Rapids for most of the season. Hellberg took over the primary backup spot and is pretty much just being swapped out for a more seasoned and experienced backup in Reimer, who had a 12-21-8 record last season for the Sharks and has been in the league for 13 seasons.
Defensively, adding Justin Holl from Toronto can be looked at as a head-scratcher due to the length of his deal (3 years) and the criticism that Holl faced throughout his time in Toronto. Holl play can be compared to fellow Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ben Chariot, whose contract was also somewhat of a head-scratcher last off-season as well. This move also has added roadblocks to potential spots for prospects such as Simon Edvinsson to make the jump to the NHL. But adding Shayne Gostisbehere gives the Wings an added layer of offense from the defense.
Offensively, the same can be said in the sense of the five-year deal that was given to JT Compher after Steve Yzerman gave a similar agreement to Andrew Copp last off-season. Signings of value can be seen through the one-year deals that Daniel Sprong and Christian Fischer signed. Sprong, who put up a total of 46 points last season while only logging an average of just over 11 minutes of ice per game, will likely be able to replace the production of the departed Pius Suter on the third line and can be viewed as a possible upgrade from Suter.
Christian Fischer and Klim Kostin, who was acquired in a draft day trade from Edmonton and then signed to a two-year extension, will add depth to the bottom 6 of the lineup and will most likely push the players who were in those spots last year for playing time as well.
Even with the somewhat questionable signings of Holl and Compher, the Detroit Red Wings have seemingly at least filled the holes that were left by the departing players and have also improved overall in the aspects of adding guys like Sprong, Gostisbehere, and Debrincat. They have done this while, for the most part, not being tied to too many players long-term, setting up the potential of multiple prospects being ready to make the jump to the NHL in the next couple of seasons.
The “Yzerplan” seems to have taken another step closer to getting the Wings to the playoffs and, hopefully, closer to a run at another Stanley Cup for the fanbase.