Grading every 2023-24 Detroit Red Wing part 2: defense and Goalies

We focused on the Detroit Red Wings forward group in part 1, now let's take a look at how the teams defense and goaltending stand.
Buffalo Sabres v Detroit Red Wings
Buffalo Sabres v Detroit Red Wings / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

It's no secret that one of the biggest problems the Detroit Red Wings faced last season was their defensive lineup. They were touted as a veteran D-core with offensive power and the ability to defend. That wasn't the case all season, Most of the D-core this season was either going 0mph or 100mph (0kph to 160kph). There was no in between.

Goaltending was a contentious point as well. While carrying 3 goalies was overall a net positive for the team, questions still remained about if the team did make the playoffs, "Were these the goalies that you could trust?" or "Could they hold up under playoff pressure?".

Same deal as part one when I graded every forward 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 graded had to have played at least 10 games with the Detroit Red Wings to have been considered. Unfortunately, Michael Hutchinson and once again I-96 legend Brogan Rafferty didn’t make the cut.

Shayne Gostisbehere: A-

81GP 10G 46A 58Pts

Shayne Gostisbehere was brought in to add some more offense on the blueline. While defensively he was nearly absent. He was the best power play quarterback the team has had in years. In fact that's there he got nearly half his points. He also was the second Red Wings player last season to score 10 goals. While "The Ghost" is likely gone in free agency, it's hard to be mad at what he brought to the team in his short time on it.

Moritz Seider: A

82GP 9G 33A 42Pts

Mo Seider was quickly the teams most reliable Defenseman all season. This Resulted in getting more defensive zone starts than all but 3 Defensemen since 2008 all season. He also ended up playing historically difficult minutes against the toughest competition in the league, taking on the Connor McDavid's and Nikita Kucherov's of the league. While he still makes the odd mistake here and there, it's pertinent to remember that he's only 23, yet he's already been trusted in this massive shut down role. He even managed to hit a career high 9 goals this season, which is impressive given the role he had.

Alex Lyon: A

41GS 21W 18L 5T/OTL .906SV%

When signed to a $900,000 2-year deal last season, Alex Lyon was projected to be on the Grand Rapids Griffins. However, due to injuries and the impressive drop off in goaltending last season, he stayed with the Red Wings. Eventually becoming their bonified starter, Lyon didn't get an actual start until November during the NHL Global Series when the Red Wings went over to Sweden. He got injured for a bit in December, but once the turn of the year came around, Lyon went off. Boasting a .920SV% from January to early March, Lyon was a massive part in the team even sniffing the playoffs.

Jake Walman: B-

63GP 12G 9A 21Pts

It was hoped that Walman and Seider were gonna be able to recreate what happened in the 2022-23 season, and while they were for the most part, unfortunately injuries hampered Walman's season. First getting injured in the NHL Global Series against Toronto, then he got hit by an illness that tore through the locker room for most of the season. Finally he was taken out of the lineup due to him dealing with a lower body injury. However, he was still a good partner to Seider and also hit historically tough competition and minutes. None of that was able to stop Walman from becoming the first Red Wings player since Mike Green to net 10 goals in a season.

Ben Chiarot: B-

77GP 5G 15A 20Pts

The bar was low for "OT Benny" after his first season in the Winged Wheel. Even with the low bar, this season Chiarot did a complete 180 and was at times the second best defenseman on the team. He tightened up his defensive game and played more physical in the defensive zone while also defending his teammates. Sure his wild card-like offense was still there, he adapted and realized when the best time to pinch was and when it was best to fall back. Here's to hoping that he can keep it up next season.

Simon Edvinsson: B-

16GP 1G 1A 2Pts

While his stint was fairly short. "The Towering Swede" made it known that he's ready for the big leagues. He showed tremendous poise with the puck under pressure and looked good as the left hand defenseman on his pairing with Jeff Petry. He was able to use his reach in a number of times to keep a puck onside in the offensive zone as well as keeping the puck out of danger in the defensive zone. The only thing I believe Edvinsson needs to work on is using his body more. He was prone to relying on his reach too much when pressuring opposing teams as well as during puck battles on the boards. Regardless though, he's a sure fire addition to the teams blueline next season.

James Reimer: B-

20GS 11W 8L 2T/OTL .904SV%

Reimer was the "heart attack on skates." Most of us weren't sure what he was doing but hell, it worked most of the time. While he was prone to letting in at least one "soft" goal a game, he usually was able to step up when called upon, especially in March when Alex Lyon was clearly burnt out and overworked. Boasting a .906SV% James Reimer was the epitome of an average goaltender, and thats just what the Red Wings needed him to be.

Jeff Petry: C

72GP 3G 21A 24Pts

I'm gonna be honest here and say that Trading Gustav Lindstrom and a conditional 4th round pick for Jeff Petry before the start of last season was pretty unexpected. The 36 year old defenseman became this years "whipping boy" for Red Wings fans. However if you look back, he wasn't nearly as bad as many fans portrayed him to be. He was more often than not in the right position. His mistakes were just accentuated by the fanbase because every team needs one player to blame for every mistake. Things really picked up offensively when he was paired with rookie Edvinsson, allowing him to safely and confidently activate offensively.

Olli Maatta: C

72GP 4G 14A 18Pts

Maatta was more or less the same as he was last season. A stay at home Defenseman who at times had to cover for his defensive partner. He was great in the defensive-zone and was more often than not where he was supposed to be on the ice at any given time. He had some flashes of offense but was also just a guy on on the blueline.

Ville Husso: C-

19GS 9W 5L 2OTL

Husso had the injury bug and just could seem to shake it. That combined with a rough start really tanked his season. He seemed to start putting it back together in the secnd half of the season, but was constantly hampered by injuries. I firmly hold the belief that if he was able to remain healthy that the Red Wings would've made the playoff, as they would've been able to rest Alex Lyon far more often than he was.

Justin Holl: D

38GP 0G 5A 5Pts

Defensively, Justin Holl was better than most people thought he would be. At least he wasn't nearly as bad as the Toronto media portrayed him top be. But he wasn't able to do enough to remain in the lineup for most of the season, being consistently sat for guys like Olli Maatta and Jeff Petry. Odds are that he won't be back for the 2024-25 season, whether it be via a trade or a contract buyout.

Next. june 28. The Detroit Red Wings traded Jake Walman for...nothing?. dark