Detroit Hockey Now’s Red Wings Review series is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2022-23 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature forward Matt Luff
Position: Right Wing
2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 19-2-2-4
Contract Status: Restricted free agent (RFA)
Luff earned plenty of respect from his teammates and his coaching staff early in the season when he was at practice the next day after being struck in the face by an 89 mph shot from Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. The puck hit Luff’s stick and rode up into his face. He lost teeth and needed 16 stitches to close the wound.
Not only was the big forward was at practice the next day, he played a regular shift against the Buffalo Sabres two days later.
“Watching that Buffalo game back, he did some really good things for us,” Derek coach Derek Lalonde said. “He’s connected within our structure. Some simple plays, actually helped us out with some O-zone play. That’s the culture of hockey. Put the face mask on and he didn’t miss a beat. It’s a credit to him.”
Detroit forward Matt Luff took an 89 MPH slapshot off the chin last night against Minnesota, losing teeth and needing 16 stitches to repair the damage. He was on the ice for practice this morning. #LuffIsTough pic.twitter.com/zsBvcUIvsr
— Allan Walsh🏒 (@walsha) October 30, 2022
In retrospect, Luff, 25, was a first-rate signing because he was productive for the Griffins (25 points in 28 games) when he was playing in the American Hockey League and was a serviceable bottom six forward when he was with the Red Wings.
Lalonde said Luff helped the Red Wings in a variety of ways, not the least of which is his size. He’s 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.
“(Luff) has some hockey sense, he’s connected in all of our structure,” Lalonde said. “He doesn’t hurt us. You haven’t noticed him for an egregious turnover, being caught out of place or being stuck in a bad position. He’s done some good things and he’s helped connect us with the help, helping transport it from the D-zone to the O-zone. He’s been good for us, helped us out.”
2021-22 Red Wings Highlights
When the Red Wings were overrun by injuries near the end of the season, Luff played 10 NHL games. He posted a goal, two assists and 14 shots on goal in those games. He’s known as a dependable player.
Matt Luff: NOT a ketchup guy. 😂 pic.twitter.com/FlbMmQqmIw
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 5, 2023
2021-22 Red Wings Lowlight
In early November, an illegal hit by Montreal Canadiens rookie forward Juraj Slafkovsky caused Luff to spend 10 weeks on the injured list. Slafkovsky, 18, received a boarding major/game misconduct penalty after driving Luff face-first into the boards near the Red Wings bench. The Canadiens beat Detroit 3-2 in a shootout.
Luff suffered a broken wrist that required surgery. Slafkovsky received a two-game NHL suspension.
Before that injury, Luff had played seven games for the Red Wings, even scoring a goal in a road game against the New York Rangers on Nov. 6. After he recovered from the injury in January, the Red Wings returned him to Grand Rapids. He didn’t play another game in the NHL until March 21.
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
The Red Wings have plenty of reasons to re-sign Luff, including his ability to move up and down from Grand Rapids to Detroit. He has 106 NHL games under his belt and will sign a two-way contract.
“Solid,” Lalonde said. “That’s what you want from a call-up, to come in and contribute, not make mistakes, kind of keep the train going.”
Lalonde said more than once this season that Luff is valuable. He can hit, block shots and score enough to be helpful. Over the past few seasons, he has flirted with a point-per-game in the American Hockey League. As a player who goes up and down from the AHL to the NHL, he seems desirable.
The only issue for the Red Wings is that they are looking to reconfigure the Griffins with the hope of getting back to the AHL playoffs. Injuries and goaltending were the primary issues for the Griffins, but they may shake up the roster a bit. They are also looking for some veteran forwards with some toughness. Do they have better options than Luff? That’s the only reasons why you would say Luff is a 50-50 to return.