The Detroit Red Wings failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth straight season.
Detroit (17-25-8) was eliminated from contention when the Nashville Predators defeated the Florida Panthers 4-1 on Monday. The Red Wings can finish no higher than fifth in the eight-team Discover Central Division. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.
Here is a look at what happened in 2020-21 for the Red Wings and why things could be better next season:
Potential UFAs: Jonathan Bernier, G; Alex Biega, D; Luke Glendening, F; Valtteri Filppula, F; Sam Gagner, F; Darren Helm, F; Bobby Ryan, F; Marc Staal, D
Potential RFAs: Tyler Bertuzzi, F; Dennis Cholowski, D; Christian Djoos, D; Adam Erne, F; Filip Hronek, D; Gustav Lindstrom, D; Michael Rasmussen, F; Evgeny Svechnikov, F; Jakub Vrana, F
Potential 2021 Draft picks: 12
What went wrong
Lack of offense: The Red Wings rank 30th in goals per game (2.28) and power-play percentage (11.0), ahead of only the Anaheim Ducks (2.14, 10.0) in each category. They haven’t gotten enough out of their top line or secondary scoring, partly because of ….
Injuries: They have lost more than 150 individual man games to injury, many involving forwards counted on for offense. Bertuzzi has missed 41 games, Robby Fabbri 20, Ryan 17, Gagner 14, Erne eight, Filip Zadina seven and Dylan Larkin six.
Greiss’ struggles: Goalie Thomas Greiss got off to a bad start, going 0-7-2 in his first nine games, 1-11-4 in his first 17 and 2-15-5 in his first 24. He stabilized later and is 6-15-7 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .904 save percentage this season.
Reasons for optimism
Starting to improve: Things are looking up compared to last season. The Red Wings have two more regulation wins (15), three more points (42) and the same number of wins (17), even though they have played 21 fewer games to this point. Their goals per game is up from 2.00; their goals against per game is down from 3.73 to 3.12.
Room to maneuver: Space is at a premium at a time when the NHL salary cap is flat at $81.5 million. Not only does Detroit already have cap space, it has eight potential unrestricted free agents and nine potential restricted free agents. The only players signed beyond next season are Larkin and Richard Panik, each for two more seasons.
Prospects and picks: The Red Wings have selected 23 players over the past two drafts, including defenseman Moritz Seider (No. 6 in the 2019 NHL Draft) and forward Lucas Raymond (No. 4 in the 2020 NHL Draft), and have 21 picks over the next two. They have two first-round picks, three seconds, two thirds, two fourths and two fifths in the 2021 NHL Draft, giving them more lottery tickets at a time when teams might need luck more than usual because of scouting challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic.