Where do the Detroit Red Wings go from here?

The Detroit Red Wings promising season ended two weeks ago, and it nearly snapped a playoff drought. So where are they heading from here?
Apr 16, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Detroit Red Wings forward David Perron (57) celebrates with
Apr 16, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Detroit Red Wings forward David Perron (57) celebrates with / Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings, despite their sheer improvement this past season, couldn’t break the “tradition” going on in the Atlantic Division that once again saw the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lightning earn trips to the playoffs. This is something that has been going on since the 2022 postseason, so where does the team go after coming ultra-close to making the playoffs?

Right now, it’s all about finding ways to earn a top-four spot in the Atlantic Division and to put the Wings in the best position to unseat one of the teams mentioned above. Coming into 2023-24, we knew Florida and Toronto would be great, but we didn’t know about Tampa or Boston, both of whom appeared to be aging and losing talent that once fueled championship-caliber teams. 

But each team found themselves back in the postseason, even if they noticeably weren’t as strong as they were last year. And for the time being, regardless of what happens over the summer, we would be wise to assume they will all once again enter the 2024-25 season as legitimate playoff contenders. 

Red Wings need to put themselves on the same level as the top-four

While the notable additions of Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane made the Red Wings a better hockey team, they still need more if they plan on putting themselves in the best possible position to make the 2025 playoffs. That said, it’s all about finding players who would best serve the team in fixing their weaknesses, such as defensive zone play, to take Detroit up a notch in the Atlantic.

General manager Steve Yzerman may want to promote prospects as opposed to retaining some key players, and that would be fine if he believes the former would outshine the latter in 2024-25. Either way, not retaining everyone who either dramatically helped in the offensive or defensive zones this past season will, in hindsight, do its part in preventing the Red Wings from taking that next step. 

Overall, Yzerman may have a vision for his team, just as every general manager and executive should have for their respective organizations. It also makes sense to want players in your system to be there full-time, but at what expense? 

From here, the Red Wings can’t be choosing to roll with promoting in-house for the sake of doing so. Yzerman needs to retain current talent, acquire new talent, and promote from within on a subjective basis, with the goal of unseating one or more of those top-four teams in the Atlantic in hopes of finally snapping this playoff drought in 2024-25 and, ideally, in the mix for a top-three spot.