Has the Detroit Red Wings blueline up or downgraded?

The Detroit Red Wings blueline will see changes in 2024-25, how will it impact the team overall?
Detroit Red Wings v Washington Capitals
Detroit Red Wings v Washington Capitals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Steve Yzerman, general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, had a roller coaster of free agency thus far. The beginning was a bit disappointing in that no headlining players seemed interested in signing with our club. Meanwhile, division rivals seemed to make waves. 

On the other hand, the contracts both in dollar figure and term were outrageous. 

I get the cap is increasing this season and over the next few years. However, I see many buyouts in the future.

The Detroit Red Wings might have a player being bought out this season, as a new buyout window opened when Joseph Veleno elected to go to arbitration. 

There isn’t much of a concern in terms of cap management or long-term contracts remaining on the books if a contract is bought out. Some of these deals being handed out seem like they will not end well for any party, so I’m perfectly content that we signed none of them.

Yzerman signed value and depth, in my opinion. 

Seemingly minor, the blueline for the Detroit Red Wings might see a facelift in 2024-25, but will it be an improvement or step back?

Much like plastic surgery, sometimes it works by design and the individual looks even better than before; other times, it leads down a path of self-destruction. The new roster construction might see the changes on the blueline impact the team the most.

Currently, the team has 7 National Hockey League (NHL) players on their roster, according to CapFriendly.com. These players include the following:

Ben Chiarot (modified no trade clause)
Justin Holl (modified no trade clause)
Olli Määttä
Jeff Petry (modified no trade clause)
Erik Gustafsson
William Lagesson
Moritz Seider

With this above-list, the only player I’m confident in being on the opening night roster in Detroit, Michigan, is the only player not signed, yet. Unless Hell freezes over, he’ll be there.

Given the defense market and the amount it cost to shed Jake Walman’s contract any other defensemen are unlikely to move.

As their young defensemen fight for spots on the NHL roster, things will get dicey. Healthy competition is great. Yzerman made a point in his media availability after free agency to say that the following defense prospects are expected to fight for NHL jobs:

Simon Edvinsson
Albert Johansson

Although seemingly a lock to make the opening night roster, Jonatan Berggren’s situation gives me no confidence in this certainty. 

For some unknown reason (or reasons), the Detroit Red Wings love clutching their veteran players, electing not to waive immovable contracts (sending them to the American Hockey League [AHL], so that a younger player can take it–as it was earned).

It’s as impressive as my dad’s previous confidence in his boat and ATV mechanic. This mechanic only caused more problems for his bust out another thousand and we have yet to see the ATV again–about 2 years later.

Sometimes it’s better to let things go and people, even if it’s hard. Even if it’s someone that we so desperately want to succeed or trust, if they continue burning the ground in which they walk, they’ll only end up burning the ones trying to hold them up.

In this case, I think it’s pretty locked tight that Lagesson is a depth signing for possible injury call-ups and leadership for the Grand Rapids Griffins. 

Also, I think that Holl or Petry may be the odd man out this upcoming season. Whether through buyouts or waiving to reassign to the Grand Rapids Griffins, as there’s just no room or way to keep all those defensemen with the big club long term.

Edvinsson and Johansson are ready for the NHL, not looking for handouts or free spots on the roster. These men have earned their chance to prove that they belong on the team. Even without getting an opportunity to play in the NHL last season (outside of preseason), Johansson will be an upgrade over the course of the season from Petry or Holl’s minutes. 

In the short-term, there will be tons of learning that will be done for Johansson. He embraces challenges, especially on the mental side of things. He’s very protective of his goaltender. I may dare say, he earned the most goaltender taps and gloves of any Grand Rapids Griffins player (though, Marco Kasper might be a close second). 

Edvinsson might have some learning curves as well, but he’s as ready for those curves as anyone. 

I’m not afraid to say, Edvinsson is the most talented player in the Detroit Red Wings organization outside of Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat. 

His toolkit is unmatched in terms of defensemen in our system. He has the reach, the smarts, the willingness to try things, balance risk versus reward, excellent vision and passing ability, and his skating is second to none.

As he gains more confidence in himself and his role with the team, he will exceed expectations–possibly even his own. 

His coach needs to exercise a long leash and let Edvinsson go through the trial and error phase, as if Edvinsson doesn’t get this leniency, I think his long-term game and potential will suffer. He has ground-breaking talent, if nurtured.

If Edvinsson starts in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start the season, I wouldn’t be mad, just disappointed. Much like Berggren’s 2023-24 campaign, I could see lack of spots and the money tied up in contracts being more of a concern than a player’s development, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this is the case. It would not be for the betterment of the player or our team, though, so I wouldn’t be happy.

I disagree with anyone who says we need to move Määttä. He clearly wants to play for the Detroit Red Wings, is a proven winner, and is a team-player. Both him and the coaching staff seem comfortable with sitting Määttä for a game or 2, whether to reset his physical/mental/emotional/spiritual side of himself or to give the lineup a fresh look, he seems game for anything.

His minutes are reliable, for the most part. Of all the veterans, I really want him staying on the team through his contract (and beyond, if he so chooses).

Assuming everything goes according to my plans (it surely won’t), I expect the opening night defensive lineup would look something like this:

Chiarot - Seider

Gustafsson - Edvinsson
Määttä - Johansson

There are 2 left-handed defensemen playing the right side, but both played on the right side for the Grand Rapids and for their previous teams, so I have no concerns with them playing on their off side.

In the long-term, I would hope that the coaching staff puts Edvinsson and Seider together on a pairing, as I think it might be the most effective pair.

They seem very interested in playing together. I’m not sure how things would work out, but I’m willing to try and see what happens.

As much as I’d love to watch the bromance of Edvinsson and Johansson reunite, I have a feeling 2 rookies aren’t playing on a pair in the NHL, so that seems out of the cards for the foreseeable future, but maybe midway through the season or 2025-26 it might be a pairing.

To me, the outlook of this defensive core looks to be improved. It’s time for those prospects to turn into good NHL players (they might turn into much more if given a real chance).

If Johansson and Edvinsson aren’t in the opening night lineup, then I think the team is in trouble. Both in the short-term and long-term, it wouldn’t make much sense for either to be elsewhere.

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