With the Detroit Red Wings’ season 58.5% completed (34 of 82 games remaining), the NHL Standings show 95 points will likely be needed to qualify for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
The Red Wings have 50 points in 48 games. That puts them on a pace to finish with between 85-86 points.
“As a coach you’re always wanting more,” Coach Derek Lalonde said recently. “… When you’re in the midst of it and you flirt with it with the performance we had against Toronto, the performance we had against Vegas on the road, you always want more but we’re playing better defensively, we’re harder to play against. Special teams is improving. I’m happy where it’s at but the coach always wants more.”
The first item on the Red Wings to-do list after the break ends with a game Feb. 7 against Edmonton is to chase down a playoff spot, or at the very least make a spirited run.
To reach 95 points, the Red Wings would have to earn 45 points in their final 34 games. That would require a record of 22-11-1 or the equivalent. Other items on the to-do list:
Finalizing Larkin Deal
Sure, the clock is ticking, but we’ve always felt GM Steve Yzerman would get Dylan Larkin re-signed. Whether you believe he’s a true No. 1 center or not, he is still the team’s leader and top offensive catalyst. He’s a popular hometown athlete, a Michigan guy through and through.
Larkin’s agent, Pat Brisson, told Detroit Hockey Now, that he wasn’t alarmed that the negotiations have stretched well into the season. You can bet the two sides have been far apart at times. That’s the way top player negotiations always go.
But Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.ca reported the two sides are now close. Can’t confirm that, but it still feels as if Larkin will be a Red Wing for a long-time.
Sort Out Tyler Bertuzzi’s future
If the Red Wings don’t have Tyler Bertuzzi re-signed by the March 3 NHL trade deadline, they must deal him. His value has probably been reduced by his injuries this season, and yet there are still general managers intrigued by Bertuzzi’s postseason potential as a gritty forward with some scoring ability.
Wouldn’t Ken Holland be interested in Edmonton? How about Jim Nill in Dallas? Have a hunch the Lightning will be in on Bertuzzi.
If Yzerman eats half of Bertuzzi’s $4.75 million, this is much easier fit for teams. That could get Yzerman a much better return.
Of course, it’s possible the Red Wings could still sign him.
Re-Sign Jake Walman
The Detroit coaches feel like they have something going with defenseman Jake Walman. He can skate, shoot, create offense and he’s more engaged defensively than he was in St. Louis.
Walman can be an unrestricted free agent next summer, but Walman should want to stay in Detroit where coaches appreciate what he offers. He is not going to find too many better situations for him out there.
Would expect Yzerman to re-sign Walman before the end of the season
Explore Trade Deadline Opportunities
The Red Wings are definitely sellers, not buyers. But that doesn’t mean Yzerman won’t be active. He has cap space. That means he could add draft picks and/or prospects to act as a third party on trades.
Plus, he had some rental players, such as Oskar Sundqvist, Pius Suter, Olli Maatta, etc, that teams may want.
More importantly, other teams might be looking to unload useful players to gain some cap space. The Red Wings might be able to pick up a valuable veteran for next to nothing.