Grading every 2023-24 Detroit Red Wing part 1: forwards

With free agency and the 2024 NHL Entry Draft fast approaching, I decided to go through the entirety of the 2023-24 Detroit Red Wings roster and grade them.
New York Rangers v Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers v Detroit Red Wings / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

The 2023-24 Detroit Red Wings were filled with players who overachieved, underachieved, or did exactly what was expected of them. So, I decided to grade each player’s season based on how I thought their season went and how they handled the role they were given on the team.

Why did I do this you may ask? As I mentioned, this team vastly overachieved last season. Some players did the little things right every time they were on or off the ice.

As free agency and the draft approach, I wanted to review each player's season, seeing if anybody did what they were brought in to do.

As you could imagine, I had certain criteria that I used to gauge what grade to give each individual player. Those being:

1. How well did they perform in the role they were given?

2. What did they bring to the lineup?

3. Were they able to play at or around the same pace all season?

4. How well did they produce?

Each player I graded had to have played at least 10 games with the Detroit Red Wings to have been considered. Unfortunately, players such as Zach Aston-Reese and I-96 legend Brogan Rafferty didn’t make the cut.

Dylan Larkin: A+

68GP 33G 36A 69Pts

Who better to start this list than with the Detroit Red Wings captain? Dylan Larkin was the team MVP for most of the season as well as its heart and soul. He was atop the league in points to start the season and was able to keep up a point per game (PPG) pace all season. Unfortunately, he got injured in both December and March. His MVP-status only solidified with the team winning only 4 of their games with Larkin out of the lineup. Regardless of his challenging season, he managed to hit a PPG and a career high in goals. 

Lucas Raymond: A+

82GP 31G 41A 72Pts

Lucas Raymond (Razor) started the season as many fans expected. Reliable goal scoring with a tad more physicality (the 12 pounds he put on did wonders). Though, it was the second half of the season where Razor really shined. Emerging as the superstar that the team hoped to have drafted at 4th overall in 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He put the team on his back in lieu of an injured Larkin. By the end of the season, he managed to lead the team in points helped in no small part by netting his first 30 goal season.

Patrick Kane: A+

50GP 20G 27A 47Pts

Patrick Kane’s decision to sign with the Red Wings shook the league to its core. Okay, well maybe not the entire league, but definitely Chicago and Detroit fans. With the concerns of his hip resurfacing surgery alive, well, and valid, it was fortunate when he looked like the “ShowTime” of old. The way he handled the puck seemed to bewilder and enchant every player on the ice not named Patrick Kane. His scoring and playmaking touch never went away and as the season went on, he only got better. Hitting nearly a point per game with a 20 goal season after starting halfway through the season with a potentially career ending surgery is an incredible feat.

Alex Debrincat: A-

82GP 27G 40A 67Pts

When Steve Yzerman was able to acquire “The Cat” from Ottawa, He brought with him some big star power as well as something the team had a massive need for. Goals, they needed goals. Debrincat could score goals very well. While he started out at an incredible goals scoring pace, as the season went on, his goal scoring became more sporadic, at times going 10+ games without a goal. However he was able to make up for it with his playmaking. The goal scorer is still there and I have faith that we will have at least a 30 goal scoring DeBrincat next season.

Christian Fischer: B+

79GP 5G 14A 19Pts

Fischer was the epitome of the term “A guy”. He was brought in to be a solid bottom 6 winger who can provide some offense but mostly play defensive hockey and he did that VERY well. “The Fish'' not only performed his role nearly perfectly, he was also loved in the locker room. He quickly became a fan favorite with his goofy personality and genuine love for his teammates. He also became 1/3 of teams "Grind Line” with Andrew Copp and Michael Rassmussen, taking on teams top lines and performing quite well in that Role.

J.T. Compher: B+

77GP 19G 29A 48Pts

Mr. 877-GOALS-NOW was signed as a free agent before last season and was supposed to bring in some much needed veteran center depth. He quickly became the Red Wings second line center (2C), taking the job from Copp. J.T. Compher was serviceable in his role as a 2C and played a massive role on the penalty kill. It was clear that he wasn’t brought in to be a big goal scorer, but to improve overall team defense. That didn’t stop him from hitting a career high in goals, however. In the end, Compher adequately filled his role.

David Perron: B

76GP 17G 30A 47Pts

David Perron was noticeably different this season. He was visibly slower, his scoring touch wasn’t quite there, and he was prone to taking lazy penalties too often on both sides of the ice. However, he continued to prove that he is still one of the best puck protectors and board battlers in the league. He was also still fairly effective on the first power play unit as his one-timer was still considered a threat. Off the ice he was considered a huge locker room guy. Overall, he filled the role he was given nicely.

Daniel Sprong: B

76GP 18G 25A 43Pts

The Tale of Daniel Sprong is actually two tales in one. The first half of the season was great. Sprong used his limited ice time to the fullest and quickly became the teams most efficient goal scorer. He brought great scoring depth to a team that had very little to speak of. The second half, however, was a different story. While he was still scoring, it wasn't nearly as prominent as it was in the first half and his lack of defense became a detriment at times. However, i believe that his good outweighs his bad and that he filled his role as a bottom 6 scoring winger well.

Robby Fabbri: B

68GP 18G 14A 32Pts

The biggest question with Robby Fabbri was whether or not he was able to stay healthy all season. While he missed most of October, he was able to stay healthy for the remainder of the season. Tying his career high in goals, he made a decent living crashing the net and picking up rebounds and dirty goals. Much like Sprong, Fabbri was able to bring solid depth scoring in the bottom 6.

Andrew Copp: B-

79GP 13G 20A 33Pts

Copp (to no fault of his own) may have the worst contract on the team. Fan perception of that contract grew even worse as he was moved down to third line center. However, even in a reduced role, he managed to be incredibly effective on the penalty kill and became the center of this year's “Grind Line” with Rassmussen and Fischer. Even with the reduced Ice time and role on the team, he was still able to tie his second highest career goal total, while remaining defensively effective. All in all, he mostly filled the role he was given. In fact, if it wasn’t for his contract, he would be looked upon far more fondly by most the fanbase.

Michael Rasmussen: B-

75GP 13G 20A 33Pts

"The Moose" had a solid year overall. While his offense wasn't what I feel most would have liked, Rasmussen's defensive game was fantastic and was another main stay on the penalty kill. Before he got injured in early April, he made up one-third of this seasons' "Grind Line" with Copp and Fischer. On this line he learned to play a grittier and more heavy-hitting game. Oddly enough, it's where he found most of his offense this season. Getting his contract extended to 4 years at $3.2 million, it's clear that the Red wings organization sees value in Rasmussen.

Joe Veleno: C+

80GP 12G 16A 28Pts

Joe Veleno had a very meh season. Largely centering the fourth line, his start to the season was promising but offensively petered as the season went along. However, Veleno was a solid penalty killer had a 56.9 faceoff percentage on the power play. He was also called upon to center the top two lines when either Compher or Larkin were out of the lineup without looking to out of place while going against teams best competition. He also hit a record high in goals, assists, and points to close out the season.

Austin Czarnik: D

34GP 0G 1A 1Pts

Austin Czarnik was the Red Wings first choice call-up to replace injured players. He was called up in December when guys like Larkin and Compher were injured for most of December. Then, he was called up again after the trade deadline as a warm body when Klim Kostin was traded. He finally became a on-ice player in March and continued playing into April once Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde started scratching players like Sprong and Veleno as Czarnik became the permanant fourth line center when Rasmussen got injured in April. While he contributed very little in all facets of play, he was a solid fourth line center stand in to close out the season.

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