As the Detroit Red Wings limp their way to the finish line of the NHL regular season, the one positive affirmation remaining for the fan base is proving to be the play of the team’s rookies.
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) March 5, 2022
Defenseman Moritz Seider is a stud and should be a lock to win the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. No Red Wing has done that since goalie Roger Crozier in 1964-65. Lucas Raymond isn’t merely a productive winger, his all-around game assures that he’ll be of value for years to come. Alex Nedeljkovic is showing flashes that he can evolve into a steady No. 1 NHL netminder.
However, like a lot of things with the team this season, it’s not as good as it seems.
In terms of productivity, Detroit’s 2021-22 rookie crop doesn’t even come close to cracking the top five first-year groups in franchise history.
In fact, they’re barely among the top 10.
Top Scoring Detroit Red Wings Rookie Seasons
|Season||Rookies||Production||Top Rookie Scorer|
|1983-84||5||86-106-192||Steve Yzerman (39-48-87)|
|1990-91||15||70-119-189||Sergei Fedorov (31-48-79)|
|1977-78||9||75-106-181||Dale McCourt (33-39-72)|
|1985-86||13||72-83-155||Petr Klima (32-24-56)|
|1970-71||14||52-86-138||Tom Webster (30-37-67)|
|1975-76||10||56-73-129||Michel Bergeron (32-27-59)|
|1979-80||7||50-75-125||Mike Foligno (36-35-71)|
|2021-22||7||35-84-119||Lucas Raymond (22-33-55)|
|1967-68||13||43-70-113||Gary Jarrett (18-21-39)|
|1947-48||9||55-55-110||Jim McFadden (24-24-48)|
|1980-81||10||46-64-110||Mark Kirton (18-13-31)|
Let’s take a look at how the top five Red Wings rookie seasons in terms of total team output were assembled.
1983-84 Red Wings (192 points)
Interesting, isn’t it, that the best rookie crop of all-time in franchise history had as its leader the man responsible for assembling the current rookie crop. Today the Red Wings GM, in 1983-84 Steve Yzerman’s 39-48-87 rookie campaign set the standard for first-year players wearing the winged wheel.
Yzerman was supported by two other 20-goal rookie forwards. Kelly Kisio compiled 23-37-60 totals and Lane Lambert scored 20 goals while adding 15 assists. Claude Loiselle chipped in with 10 points.
1990-91 Detroit (189 points)
The second half of Detroit’s 1-2 punch at center that ultimately led to Stanley Cup glory in the latter part of the 1990s, Sergei Fedorov’s arrival was in 1990-91. He accumulated 38-41-79 numbers.
Johan Garpenlov was good for 18-22-40 and Paul Ysebaert chipped in with 15-18-33 totals after arriving from New Jersey via trade. First round pick Keith Primeau picked up 15 points and defenseman Per Djoos (12) also clicked for double digits.
1977-78 Red Wings (181 points)
Center Dale McCourt was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1977 NHL draft and he was living up to that billing. McCourt’s 33-39-72 totals were the leading numbers for the Red Wings.
Defenseman Reed Larson was terrorizing NHL goalies with his booming slapshot while collecting 19-41-60 numbers, a record for Detroit rookie defensemen. Picked up from Montreal in the NHL Waiver Draft, center Paul Woods accounted for 19 goals and 42 points.
1985-86 Detroit (155 points)
Petr Klima arrived from the former Czechoslovakia and immediately counted 32 goals and 56 points for the Wings. Forwards Bob Probert (21) and Chris Cichocki (21) and future Hall of Famer Adam Oates (20) all got to the 20-point barrier.
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— Jen (@NHLhistorygirl) April 8, 2022
Joe Kocur counted nine goals and 15 points and defenseman Jim Leavins dished out 11 assists among his 13 points.
1970-71 Red WIngs (138 points)
It was Gordie Howe’s farewell campaign as a Red Wing. However, Howe’s road roommate, rookie winger Tom Webster, led the club with 30-37-67 totals. He remains the only rookie to lead the club in goals, assists and points.
Centers Don Luce (14) and Guy Charron (12) and defenseman Mike Robitaille (12) also counted in double figures.