I wrote an article last September detailing why I believed the Detroit Red Wings would make a triumphant return to the NHL playoffs, which they’ve missed every year since 2015.
Well, I was wrong. Their playoff drought remained in effect.
That won’t stop me from attempting to foresee this year, and my faith in Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman’s “Yzerplan” remains as strong as ever.
The Wings are playoff bound. I guarantee it.
Yzerman made great moves this offseason. The first was trading for and then signing forward Alex DeBrincat. Yzerman acquired the Farmington Hills, Michigan, native by sending Dominik Kubalik, prospect Donovan Sebrango, and two draft picks to the Ottawa Senators. DeBrincat then signed a four-year contract extension, averaging almost $8 million a year.
Red Wings fans everywhere are excited. Not only did DeBrincat grow up in Michigan, but the 25-year-old forward has averaged more than 62 points a season since his rookie year in 2017.
Yzerman did not stop there. He signed 28-year-old left wing J.T. Compher to a five-year $25.5 million deal. Compher spent the last seven seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 2022, and is coming off a career high 52-point season last year.
In addition to Compher, Yzerman signed forwards Christian Fischer and Daniel Sprong to one-year deals, as well as defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and veteran goalie James Reimer (who is likely to back up the Wings’ current goalie Ville Husso), to one-year deals.
DeBrincat and Wings captain Dylan Larkin are both clear favorites to be on the Red Wings starting forward line, with veteran David Perron at right wing. Compher will likely join the second line with forward Lucas Raymond, and hopefully, a healthy Robby Fabbri, who is coming off of a knee injury.
The third line will likely feature veteran center Andrew Copp, who is also coming off a career high 42-point season last year, as well as Fischer and returning winger Michael Rasmussen. The final line will most likely consist of Sprong, returning center Joseph Veleno, and winger Klim Kostin, who the Red Wings acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers in June.
Defensively, the starting pair will likely remain the same with 2021-22 Calder Memorial Trophy winner Moritz Seider and Jake Walman.Veteran Ben Chiarot will be alongside newly acquired Jeff Petry, who the Wings received from the Montreal Canadiens after trading away Gustav Lindström and a fourth round pick. Lastly, Gostisbehere will be alongside former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl, who signed a three-year deal in July.
In most sports, a rebuild normally does not consist of a major amount of free agent signings. Nevertheless, adding a larger veteran presence on defense with Petry, Gostisbehere, and Holl, a dynamic scorer in DeBrincat, and some depth offensively with Kostin, Fischer, and Compher will allow a stacked prospect camp time to develop throughout this season as well. Simon Edvinsson, Marco Kasper, and Elmer Söderblom, are just the start of a long list of young guys that have very promising careers ahead of them.
The 2022-23 season was disappointing. An 80-point season is nowhere close to where I expected. Nevertheless, the moves made by Yzerman this off season make me confident. DeBrincat being in a Red Wings uniform for four years will mean many more goals, and a veteran presence on defense will mean a playoff appearance by the Red Wings this season.
The drought finally will end.