It’s been a hectic summer for Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings. Yzerman understood the organization was prepared to take the next step forward in their rebuild, and the plethora of additions have translated to Detroit’s off-season grade.
Following the NHL Draft, Yzerman began the free agency period very busy signing and trading for plenty of role players. The Detroit Red Wings signed J.T. Compher, Daniel Sprong, Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Holl, Christian Fischer, James Reimer, and Alex Lyon. Detroit also traded for Kailer Yamamoto and Klim Kostin. Kostin, a pending restricted free agent, was promptly signed to a two-year contract, while the organization elected to release Yamamoto, who quickly signed with Seattle.
Just as the dust settled, the Red Wings appeared to improve but failed to make a much-needed splash. The rumors of Alex DeBrincat to Detroit remained substantial, but Yzerman is one of the most unpredictable managers in sports. Was it all smoke, or was there mutual interest? Just then, Yzerman made the splash we were all waiting for by adding DeBrincat for pennies on the dollar. Detroit sent Dominik Kubalik, who had been coming off a nice year for the Red Wings, but proved to be extremely streaky. Detroit also sent a first and fourth-round pick along with prospect Donovan Sebrango to Ottawa in the deal.
With all of these off-season additions, there needed to be some subtractions. The Detroit Red Wings have moved on from pending free agents Pius Suter, Robert Hagg, Jordan Oesterle, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Magnus Hellberg. The Red Wings also granted Filip Zadina his release and terminated his contract.
Detroit Red Wings headline the list of most improved teams this off-season.
Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic ($) recently rated all 32 NHL teams in order of who improved the most this off-season.
The Detroit Red Wings won the rating a year ago and finished second this off-season behind the Dallas Stars. The Stars added a projected 15.7 goals and -$1.7 million in salary. Dallas added veterans, Matt Duchene and Craig Smith. They lost Max Domi, Colin Miller, Fredrik Olofsson, and former Detroit Red Wings forward Luke Glendening.
In this model, the Detroit Red Wings added 14.4 goals and $22.9 million in salary. Dom acknowledged that adding 14 goals this season won’t be enough to push the organization into the playoff picture but will bring them significantly closer. He also mentioned that having DeBrincat as the team’s second-best forward is an upgrade over David Perron but wonders if it’s enough to contend.
"At the top of the list is Alex DeBrincat, a big-time get that immediately adds oomph to the top of Detroit’s lineup. I’m skeptical a team can contend with DeBrincat as their second-best forward, but he’s obviously an improvement over David Perron as their second-best forward.After DeBrincat is a steady stable of talent meant to improve Detroit’s depth. Up front, Daniel Sprong showed promise as a depth scorer last season, J.T. Compher should stabilize the middle behind Dylan Larkin, and Klim Kostin adds some strength to the bottom six. On the back end, Shayne Gostisbehere is a strong puck-mover who can play on the second pair while Justin Holl is a cromulent defender who can handle tough minutes. In net, James Reimer should be an improvement over Alex Nedeljkovic."
Dom stressed that patience is still required, but fans should see significant improvement this season over the past few.
As you may anticipate, my take on this is slightly more optimistic surrounding the Detroit Red Wings but still realistic. The Detroit Red Wings are the most improved team this off-season. I can’t say that Detroit will make the postseason for certain, but their off-season additions heavily outweigh their subtractions.
Adding DeBrincat, a two-time 40-goal scorer, will bring a punch to Detroit’s top line. Suppose he can score 30-plus goals playing alongside Dylan Larkin. The Red Wings are much improved in their middle and bottom-six, for that matter, group of forwards. They’ve also considerably enhanced their backend and improved their goaltending situation behind starter Ville Husso. Considering all of this, Detroit should be able to surpass Buffalo, Boston, and Ottawa to finish or at least contend for fourth place in the Atlantic Division. That won’t assure them a playoff spot, but they’d be knocking on the door.