The Florida Panthers have not face much of any challenge from the Detroit Red Wings the past two seasons — winning all seven matchups — but after adding a few impactful names this offseason, they will try to make them relevant in the Atlantic Division again.
2022-23 Record: 35 W | 37 L | 10 OTL | 80 Points
2022-23 H2H Record: 3-0-0
- November 2 @ Detroit Red Wings
- January 17 vs. Detroit Red Wings
- March 2 @ Detroit Red Wings
- March 30 vs. Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings’ key summer losses were limited to the two middle-six forwards of Dominik Kubalik and Pius Suter, who scored 45 and 24 points last season, respectively. Assuming that Detroit likely would have expected to be further along in their rebuild that is entering year five of GM Steve Yzerman’s tenure, moving on from the two is likely not the greatest of losses.
Additionally, they moved 28-year-old Tyler Bertuzzi at the trade deadline last season after 7 seasons in Detroit. Whether it was long-term fit or injury concerns, or both, that ultimately drove Yzerman to make the move, Bertuzzi’s physicality and scoring ability (when healthy) will need to be replaced.
As for scoring, the addition of Alex DeBrincat should replace Bertuzzi’s production and then some.
Added via trade with the Ottawa Senators this offseason, it is hard to believe that a 25-year-old player coming off a 27-goal and 66-point season needed a change of scenery. But expectations were high for the player that scored 41 goals and 78 points in the 2021-22 season with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Paired with Dylan Larkin’s leadership and Lucas Raymond’s playmaking, Detroit will hope to see 25-year-old DeBrincat return, if not exceed, his 2021-22 form.
In the middle of the forward group, the addition of J.T. Compher in free agency should give the Red Wings a bona fide second-line center — a piece they have been sorely missing in their rebuild. Compher, 28, is coming off a career season with the Colorado Avalanche in which he scored 35 assists and 52 points.
Additionally, Yzerman has continually showed a knack for signing overlooked forwards to short-term team-friendly deals, and with Daniel Sprong he looks to have done the same. Signed to a one-year $2 million AAV contract, Sprong is entering his 8th season on his 5th team. Even though he has left general managers unsure of what to do with him, his 21 goals — shooting only 14.3% — with the Seattle Kraken proved last season, the scoring potential is there.
Line Projections (via Daily Faceoff)
Lucas Raymond – Dylan Larkin – Alex DeBrincat
Jonatan Berggren – JT Compher – David Perron
Rabby Fabbri – Andrew Copp – Daniel Sprong
Klim Kostin – Michael Rasmussen – Christian Fischer
Jake Walman – Moritz Seider
Ben Chiarot – Jeff Petry
Shayne Gostisbhere – Justin Holl
Verdict: The Yzerplan is still a work in progress
The Red Wings can probably officially emerge from rebuild status with their current roster, but whether they can make any real noise in the division remains to be seen.
The top line is a true top line, but not on par with others in the division, yet. DeBrincat and Larkin can be expected to deliver at least 70-80 points, but Raymond, 21, will need to develop further from a 40–50-point player to make them among the best in the Atlantic.
Assuming Compher does not experience any setbacks in production from Colorado to Detroit, the combination of him and Copp gives the Red Wings two middle-six centers that can compete in the division. Whether the supporting talent on the wings will be good enough will be the main question.
I like Detroit’s defensemen, they are a deep group of veterans with diverse talents that will support 22-year-old Seider. No concerns there, but behind them I think Detroit still has an open question on who is going to be the goaltender that gets them over the hump. Husso was not great last year, and Reimer is no more than a backup at this stage of his career.
There are signs of hope for the Red Wings, but there is still more work to be done. The Panthers should win head-to-head over the course of the regular season with better forward depth and goaltending, but Detroit will be dangerous if not taken seriously.
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