A deep look at predicting the full Detroit Red Wings roster for opening night

(Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
(Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /
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Shayne Gostisbehere, Detroit Red Wings, Red Wings
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings third pairing- Olli Maatta-Shayne Gostisbehere

The biggest thing that stands out is how big of an upgrade this third pairing projects compared to Detroit’s third pairing from a year ago. Last season the third group was a revolving door but usually consisted of some combination of Robert Hagg, Gustav Lindstrom, and Jordan Oesterle.

Olli Maatta proved to be a very stable presence in Detroit’s lineup last season and excelled paired with Filip Hronek until the surging offensive defender was dealt to Vancouver. Yzerman thought so much of Maatta that he elected to extend him ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline rather than trade him as a rental to a playoff-bound club. Maatta signed a two-year extension that averages $3 million per season.

I expect Maatta to be paired with the newly acquired Shayne Gostisbehere. Gostisbehere, 30, like Hronek, is an offensive-minded defender that should gel well with the ever-so-reliable Maatta. Gostisbehere is coming off a 13-goal, 41-point season split between the Arizona Coyotes and the Carolina Hurricanes. The Detroit Red Wings inked the veteran defender to a one-year deal worth $4.12 million.

The Detroit Red Wings ‘black aces’: Gustav Lindstrom, Austin Czarnik, Christian Fischer

The term black aces comes from Don Cherry. I remember a clip from CBC’s 1997 Stanley Cup Finals broadcast where Cherry referred to Detroit’s healthy scratches as the ‘black aces.’ Cherry spoke about how important the scratches are to a team; they practice every day and continue to push the bottom of the lineup for a spot. It’s also important not to have a young player scratched regularly for fear of stunting their development. Also, you need players that, if called upon, can make an impact in whatever role is asked of them.

Austin Czarnik filled in nicely last season when the Red Wings were hit with injuries. The 30-year-old Detroit native appeared in 29 games, recording three goals and five points while skating to a minus-4 rating. He can play both the wing and center.

Gustav Lindstrom is a surprise on this list. The recently pending restricted free agent re-upped with the Red Wings after much speculation that he’d be headed overseas for the upcoming season. Last year he played in 36 games recording eight points and a minus-16 rating.

Christian Fischer is a grinder-type of forward that has proven to be a reliable depth scorer in the past and a solid contributor on the penalty kill. He will bring a bit of sandpaper to the fourth line when called upon and some scoring touch. The 6-foot-2 winger is coming off a efficient 13-goal, 27-point season for the Arizona Coyotes.

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As the summer grows old, I may find myself swapping Fischer for Kostin or even Veleno or Fabbri on Detroit’s fourth line.