The holiday pause has Detroit Red Wings fans pondering what the final games of December and then 2023 will bring for the organization. Detroit is in a different spot from last season–steadily falling. This season has been more of volatility, an expected outcome as they adjust to a new coach, and an influx of new players.
This is using the opening night 23-man roster prior to the game as the starting point. From there, how have the Red Wings players performed against the projections before the 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on October 14? Note that some players now in the lineup were not part of the 23-man roster on October 14. This includes Jonatan Berggren, Magnus Hellberg, Austin Czarnik, and Matt Luff.
Here’s a look at where those original members of the lineup have fared.
Red Wings with Higher Than Expected Returns:
Forwards: Dylan Larkin, Dominik Kubalik, David Perron
Defensemen: Filip Hronek, Olli Maatta
Goalie: Ville Husso
The Breakdown: It’s been written about at length on DHN but it goes without saying that the five above have led the team all season. Perron was supposed to be a veteran presence that brought his hard nosed play and scoring to Detroit. He’s done exactly that and has been integral on the power play.
Larkin has proven he is the heart and soul of the team, no more obvious that in Detroit’s 7-4 win over Tampa Bay Wednesday night. Kubalik has been covered exhaustively, turning a two-year show me deal into a terrific first year where he’s second in points on the team. Hronek, of course, went through the franchise-record altering month where he was a point machine.
Husso is the reason the Red Wings have stayed above water on some nights and during tough stretches on the schedule.
Maatta was brought to stabilize a defensive corps that hemorrhaged goals last season. He’s done that and more, being a steady pairing partner for Hronek and also at an output that has tied his last two seasons combined.
Dylan Larkin. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/fjEuhZubTO
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) December 22, 2022
Red Wings with Some Gains
Forwards: Michael Rasmussen
The Breakdown: Rasmussen may not be showing up every night on the scoresheet but he’s built upon a strong second half of from last season. Rasmussen has grown into the strong two-way forward Detroit envisioned when he was drafted and while he may not grow into a big time scoring threat, Rasmussen is likely to be a tough matchup in the mold of a Kris Draper.
Red Wings Right Where They Were Expected To Be
Forwards: Pius Suter (scratched opening night), Oskar Sundqvist, Elmer Soderblom, Joe Veleno, Andrew Copp, Adam Erne.
Defensemen: Jordan Oesterle, Jake Walman (injured opening night), Ben Chiarot.
The Breakdown: Expected to be role players, each have done exactly that. The two exceptions may be Copp and Chiarot, whereas both were signed to bigger deals but haven’t produced like last season…yet. However, Copp’s expectations were lowered slightly due to his recovery from injury. He’s hovering the line of even expectations and showing some gains. With each passing game, Copp has looked stronger.
Chiarot has brought a physical element to the team and has contributed offensively at times. But his point totals are a fraction of what he produced the last couple seasons. Chiarot was brought in specifically to strengthen the defensive corps so while the point production is not as high as would be desired, he’s helped stabilize the aforementioned corps.
He’s done that though his numbers have not been as strong as seasons past.
The case of Soderblom was more of a wait-and-see approach. Scoring in his first game certainly ratcheted up expectations, but he’s looked every part of a rookie learning the NHL game. Suter, Erne and Veleno have played their respective roles as two-way forwards and contributed offensively at times. But Suter was another on the line, just a little more below expectations as it doesn’t seem he’ll replicate his offensive output of last season.
Red Wings With Lower than Expected Returns
Forwards: Lucas Raymond
Defenseman: Gustav Lindstrom, Robert Hagg, Moritz Seider
Goalie: Alex Nedeljkovic
The Breakdown: This section comes with a preface: Raymond and Seider had dynamite rookie campaigns and were thought to be ready to break out as bonafide stars. From that perspective, they’ve produced lower than expected.
Seider hasn’t been as proficient offensively as last season, but has been the physical and strong defensive force the Red Wings rely upon. So it’s almost unfair to put him in this category, but if we’re going by preseason projections, the output is down from what was expected. Through 32 games last year, Seider had 21 points (3-18). This year after 32 he has 12 (2-10).
mo seider vs. a couple of tampa players pic.twitter.com/C9fy4yHsOu
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) December 23, 2022
Raymond has been streaky. His current output falls short of matching last year’s 57 points that included 23 goals. He’s on pace now for 46 points but should still hit the 20 goal mark. Much can change of course, but while it might not be a sophomore slump, the second-year players are not producing as many expected they would. However, as with Seider, Raymond continues to be an important part of the offense. Though the numbers haven’t been on pace as last season’s output, Raymond is very much involved in the offense.
Nedeljkovic has experienced a rough start to the season, falling far short of his performance last season. It’s baffling only in that the team in front of him is stronger. There’s still time to turn it around, but his curious returns have been less than what Red Wings fans and analysts expected.
Lindstrom was once thought to be a potential solution in the top three pairings. This season has been fraught with frustration for the youngster.
Red Wings with Not Enough Evidence
Filip Zadina, Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana