Several players were one and done as Detroit Red Wings following the 2021 NHL regular season. A four-time 30-goal scorer as an NHLer, Bobby Ryan couldn’t rediscover that magic, finishing with 7-7-14 numbers in 33 games.
Christian Djoos, a Stanley Cup winner in Washington, opted to sign to play in Switzerland. Likewise, Swedish forward Mathias Brome returned to his homeland following a one-year NHL experiment. Defenseman Jon Merrill moved on to greener pastures at the NHL trade deadine, nearly winning the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens.
Regardless, none of these players accomplished enough while wearing the Winged Wheel to garner a place among the following unique group. These are the five greatest one-season Red Wings.
Marian Hossa (2008-09)
Hossa lost to the Wings in the 2007-08 Stanley Cup final with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Deciding to deploy the if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em philosophy, Hossa signed a one-year deal as an unrestricted free agent with Detroit.
He led the Wings and finished tied for fifth overall in the NHL, scoring 40 goals. However, when the Wings and Penguins met in the 2008-09 Cup final series, Hossa again finished on the losing side.
He signed a 12-year, $63.3 million UFA contract with the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2009. It made him Public Enemy No. 1 at Joe Louis Arena, but it also made Hossa a three-time Cup winner when Chicago claimed titles in 2009-10, 2012-13 and 2014-15.
Carl Brewer (1969-70)
Brewer was a three-time NHL All-Star selection who won a trio of Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he walked away from the NHL in training camp with the Leafs in 1965. The Wings acquired his NHL rights in the blockbuster 1968 deal that also brought Frank Mahovlich, Garry Unger and Pete Stemkowski to Detroit.
Brewer had left the NHL but had not departed from hockey. He played for the Canadian National Team in 1966-67. Brewer won a Turner Cup championship as player-coach of the IHL’s Muskegon Mohawks in 1967-68. He spent the 1968-69 in Finland with IFK Helsinki.
The Wings lured him back to the NHL for the 1969-70 season. He was reunited with his old Toronto defense partner Bobby Baun. Brewer led Detroit rearguards with 39 points. He was named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team. His played helped the Wings qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since the spring of 1966.
On September 4, 1970, Brewer was gone. He once again announced his retirement from the NHL. His absence was short-lived. Brewer made another comeback with the St. Louis Blues during the 1970-71 season.
Paul MacLean (1988-89)
The Wings knew they were getting a finisher when they dealt Brent Ashton to the Winnipeg Jets for winger MacLean. He was a three-time 40-goal scorer for the Jets.
Set on a line with Steve Yzerman and Gerard Gallant, they rewrote the Red Wings record book. They registered the most goals (140) and points (319) by a forward unit in Detroit history. MacLean’s contribution to the tally was 36 goals and 71 points.
That summer, he moved on in another blockbuster. The Wings shipped MacLean and Adam Oates to St. Louis for Tony McKegney and Bernie Federko.
MacLean would return to the Wings as an assistant coach under Mike Babcock, winning a Stanley Cup in 2007-08.
Fredrik Olausson (2001-02)
Of all the acquisitions made by Detroit to assemble the epic 2001-02 Stanley Cup championship roster, Oluasson’s addition seldom registers. After all, he wasn’t a Hall of Famer like Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull or Luc Robitaille.
He was however, the ideal partner to pair with Nicklas Listrom in Detroit’s top defensive tandem. The 14-season NHL veteran spent the 2000-01 campaign with SC Bern in Switzerland. Olausson signed a free-agent deal with Detroit in May of 2001.
His play that season earned Olausson, 34, a spot on the Swedish Olympic team. He scored two goals during Detroit’s 2002 playoff run. One of them was an overtime winner in Game 3 of the Western Conference final against the Colorado Avalanche.
Following the season, Olausson signed with the Anaheim Ducks.
Billy Taylor (1946-47)
A 1941-42 Stanley Cup winner in Toronto, center Taylor was acquired by Detroit via a multi-player deal with the Leafs that saw future Hall of Famer Harry Watson go the other way.
He exploded for a career-high 63 points in 1946-47, leading the Wings in scoring and topping the NHL with 46 assists. That included an NHL-record seven-assist outburst in a March 16, 1947 game at Chicago.
Taylor’s greatest and worst NHL moments came at Chicago Stadium. Traded to Boston prior to the 1947-48 season, it would eventually be proven that Taylor and Bruins teammate Don Gallinger had bet with a bookie on the Bruins losing at Chicago on February 15, 1948. Both players were suspended for life from the NHL.