3 unsung heroes for the Detroit Red Wings last season

Taking a look at 3 Detroit Red Wings players who did their job, but don't get proper recognition for what they bring to a team.
Detroit Red Wings v Chicago Blackhawks
Detroit Red Wings v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Howdy everyone! While I was thinking of ideas for my first article as a contributor with Octopus Thrower, I found myself perusing the Detroit Red Wings roster looking for maybe a certain player to write about, or maybe certain analytics that helped the team reach the heights they did this season. Then it clicked, everybody talks about the stars on the team.

Guys like Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond get a lot of praise, and rightfully so. You know who doesn't get the praise they deserve, those bottom 6 grinders who clock in, do their job, and clock out. These are the players I like to call the yeast of the bread. You don't actually taste it in the final product, but without it, you don't have a product at all.

If you know me, then you know that I'm a bigger fan of these types of players than I am of a lot of superstars. You expect your superstars to be just that, superstars. But there's something about that 6'2 bottom 6 winger who plays hard and heavy, or that fourth line center who can win a face-off in the defensive zone when the needed.

The efforts of these players won't always show up on the score sheet, but their contributions are just as important as your teams stars.

Joe Veleno should remain the Red Wings fourth line center.

Joe Veleno was an interesting case this season. Re-signing in the summer as an RFA on a 1-year "prove it" deal, he started the season pretty solid. Scoring at just under half a point per game through the first 41 games of the season, Veleno finally started looking like he could be solid contributor for the team going forward.

Unfortunately for Veleno, things slowed down in the second half of the season, scoring only 11 points in the last 39 games that he played of the season. Consistent scoring has been Veleno's biggest issue ever since getting drafted 30th overall in 2018 by former Red Wings general manager Ken Holland

However, if he remains the teams fourth line center, he doesn't need to have incredible consistency on the score sheet. We seen that Veleno's short handed defensive game was good enough to be paired with Dylan Larkin on the Penalty Kill. He also had a face-off percentage of 49% at even strength and 56.9% on the power play. He was also able to put up a career high in goals and assists. In times of need, he was also called upon to center the top two lines and he didn't that out of place. Sure some of that was probably due to him being younger, so keeping up with David Perron and Patrick Kane was easy for him. But, even when playing with Raymond and Alex DeBrincat, he seemed to be an adequate substitute.

I believe that if Veleno can get his 5-on-5 faceoff percentage over 50% and work on his 5-on-5 defensive game, then having him as the Red Wings fourth line center during their contention window would be a massive win for the team.

Christian Fisher showed that he can be more than just "a guy."

Christian Fischer may be the most obvious player to make this list, but I still don't believe he gets the credit he deserves. In fact, it's known to be a running joke in the locker room that if the NHL tracked and counted third assists, Fischer would be among the lead leaders.

When he was signed as a free agent before the 2023-24 season, not much was expected from Fischer. He was thought of as just "a guy" and wouldn't contribute much to the team other than "depth guy #4". While it's true that he was never going to score at a top 6 pace, he was the perfect bottom 6 winger.

Not only was Fischer a fantastic defensive forward. Giving you no space to work with in both the offensive and defensive zones. He was also a grindy, hard hitting player who would be relentless with getting the puck. Being a main-stay on the penalty kill, he was usually paired with fellow "Grind Line" member Michael Rasmussen. Defense wasn't his only quality. He was also prone to random flashes of fantastic offense. Whather it was being able to move the puck under pressure, or capitalizing on break away opportunities, Fischer was always noticeable when he was on the ice as he was always moving and giving 110%.

Not only was he an on-ice fan favorite, but his fun, goofy attitude off the ice was always entertaining to watch and was beloved in the locker room by everybody. He could always be called upon to lift spirits when need be.

James Reimer wasn't pretty, but came in clutch when needed.

Yes I know what you're thinking, "James Reimer? He was horrible! How is he an unsung hero?" Well let me tell you.

While yes Riemer was the "heart attack goalie," he came in clutch when the team needed him.

Sure, his play style was what most would call "unorthodox" but somehow, for what ever reason it worked. With Ville Husso injured for most the season and Alex Lyon being overworked, Reimer was the teams best option in net towards the end of the season.

Reimer couldn't control a rebound to save his life and was liable to let in at least one "soft" goal a game. But by the end of the season, he had a positive record. Going 11-8-2 in 20 games with a .906 save percentage. He was a better option in net than nothing, and regardless of how "unorthodox" he was in net, he still maintained a positive record.

In the end, he may not have been the most "technically sound" goaltender, and he may look like a fish out of water at times, but he was able to answer the call when needed. He was a bigger reason for the teams playoff push at the end of the season than many realize.

I'm sure current Detroit Red Wings general manager, Steve Yzerman, has plans to bring back at least one of these guys for the 2024-25 season. As long as the cap space is there, I see no reason to let all 3 walk.

June 24. Should the Detroit Red Wings make a move for Patrik Laine?. dark. Next