After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the Detroit Red Wings:
The Detroit Red Wings made several changes after they had a .275 points percentage last season (17-49-5), the worst in the NHL since the salary cap was introduced in 2005-06.
“We’re looking to upgrade every aspect of our team,” general manager Steve Yzerman said.
The additions were one- or two-year commitments to players who bring experience: forwards Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov; defensemen Jon Merrill, Marc Staal and Troy Stecher; and goalie Thomas Greiss.
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The idea was to improve in the short term and maintain flexibility for the medium and long terms. Early in their rebuild, the Red Wings want to buy time for prospects to develop with the NHL salary cap remaining at $81.5 million this season.
“I think we’re just trying to move cautiously,” Yzerman said. “The climate we’re in, with uncertainty with our salary cap in years to come, we just felt like this is a good way to go. We’re prepared to sign players to longer-term contracts, including our own players, but we’re going to just move slowly for the time being and be careful about handing out long-term deals.”
Here is what the Red Wings look like today:
Marc Staal, D: The 33-year-old scored 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 52 games last season for the New York Rangers, who traded him and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft for future considerations Sept. 26. He has one year left on his contract. … Bobby Ryan, F: The 33-year-old agreed to a one-year contract Oct. 9 hoping to reboot his career after scoring eight points (five goals, three assists) in 24 games last season for the Ottawa Senators, who bought out the final two seasons of his seven-year contract Sept. 26. … Jon Merrill, D: The 28-year-old, who grew up in the Detroit area and played at the University of Michigan, agreed to a one-year contract Oct. 9 after scoring seven points (two goals, five assists) in 49 games for the Vegas Golden Knights last season. … Thomas Greiss, G: The 34-year-old agreed to a two-year contract Oct. 10 after going 16-9-4 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in 31 games (29 starts) for the New York Islanders last season. … Troy Stecher, D: The 26-year-old agreed to a two-year contract Oct. 10 after scoring 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 69 games for the Vancouver Canucks last season. … Vladislav Namestnikov, F: The 27-year-old, who is the nephew of former Red Wings forward Slava Kozlov and spent part of his childhood in the Detroit area, agreed to a two-year contract Oct. 11 after scoring 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) in 65 games for the Colorado Avalanche, Senators and Rangers last season.
Jimmy Howard, G: Ranks third in wins (246) and games (543) among goalies in Red Wings history after 14 seasons in Detroit. He is an unrestricted free agent. … Justin Abdelkader, F: Scored 252 points (106 goals, 146 assists) in 739 games during 13 seasons with the Red Wings. He was placed on unconditional waivers Oct. 6 for the purpose of a buyout. … Jonathan Ericsson, D: Scored 125 points (27 goals, 98 assists) in 680 games through 13 seasons in Detroit. He is an unrestricted free agent. … Trevor Daley, D: Remains an unrestricted free agent after three seasons with the Red Wings.
On the cusp
Evgeny Svechnikov, F: This is a critical time for the 23-year-old because the No. 19 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft is no longer waiver exempt. He scored 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 51 games for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League last season. He has played 20 NHL games in his career, scoring four points (two goals, two assists). … Dennis Cholowski, D: The 22-year-old, the No. 20 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has split time between the NHL and AHL the past two seasons. Last season, he scored eight points (two goals, six assists) in 36 games for Detroit and 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 30 games for Grand Rapids.
What they still need
In the short term, the Red Wings need to sign two key restricted free agents: forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha. In the long term, they need their prospects to develop, particularly top draft picks like defenseman Moritz Seider (No. 6, 2019) and forward Lucas Raymond (No. 4, 2020). With the start of the NHL season and the status of the AHL uncertain due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, Seider (Rogle of the Swedish Hockey League) and Raymond (Frolunda of the SHL) are among several prospects playing in Europe. Some might stay overseas the entire season no matter what happens in North America.
Defenseman Filip Hronek is a potential deep fantasy sleeper this season. He brings exposure to the first-line duo of center Dylan Larkin and right wing Mantha, and Detroit improved its forward group by signing Ryan and Namestnikov. Hronek, expected to quarterback the first power play, was tied for fourth on Detroit in scoring last season (31 points in 65 games). Hronek was a plus/minus liability last season (minus-38) but led the Red Wings with an average of 23:54 of ice time per game at 22 years old and should improve with the addition of Greiss. — Pete Jensen
Tyler Bertuzzi — Dylan Larkin — Anthony Mantha
Bobby Ryan — Vladislav Namestnikov — Filip Zadina
Robby Fabbri — Valtteri Filppula — Sam Gagner
Darren Helm — Luke Glendening — Adam Erne
Patrik Nemeth — Filip Hronek
Jon Merrill — Troy Stecher
Marc Staal — Danny DeKeyser