Building a strong defensive core.
One of the defining features of the ‘96-’97 and ‘97-’98 Detroit Red Wings was their formidable defensive core, led by the legendary Nicklas Lidström. However, a combination of elite talent, versatility, depth, and a well-coached defensive system played a crucial role in the team’s back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, and it remains a key aspect of the team’s legacy in the NHL.
To emulate this success, the present-day Red Wings must prioritize strengthening their blueline. This entails investing in reliable defensemen, scouting and developing talent, and implementing a balanced defensive system that emphasizes both offensive contributions and defensive responsibilities.
The 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons were among the most successful seasons in team history. Their blueline was anchored by the legendary Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstöm. Widely regarded as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, Lidstöm was known for his exceptional defensive play, hockey IQ, and ability to contribute offensively. Alongside Lidström, the Red Wings had several other talented defensemen, including the likes of Vladimir Konstantinov and Larry Murphy.
Comparing the current Detroit Red Wings’ blue line to the one we saw take the ice in 1996-97 and 1997-98 is a challenging task. Nicklas Lidström’s level of play and leadership on the blue line is difficult to replicate, and those Red Wings teams had a wealth of experience and talent on defense.
However, with the past blueprints and the current state of their blueline, the Red Wings have put together a tool kit to help them find success. At the center of it all is German defenseman and 2021-22 Calder Memorial Trophy winner Moritz Seider.
Moritz Seider, along with other young and emerging defensemen, can help provide defensive stability and reliability. This includes minimizing defensive lapses, limiting goals against, and helping to control the play in their own zone. Modern NHL defensemen are expected to contribute offensively, and Moritz Seider’s offensive skills can help the Red Wings generate scoring opportunities from the blue line. His ability to make accurate passes and contribute on the power play could be instrumental in helping the team produce goals in crucial moments.
A successful playoff push often relies on having solid depth on the blue line. The Detroit Red Wings need not only Seider but also other defensemen to play at a high level consistently. Having multiple reliable defensemen can prevent injuries or fatigue from undermining their performance. In addition to Seider, the Red Wings will need contributions from their entire blue line. Veterans and other young defensemen will also need to step up and complement Seider’s development.