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 defenseman Mark Pysyk
2022-23 totals (GP-G-A-P): 0-0-0-0
Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent
When the Detroit Red Wings signed Mark Pysyk in the summer of 2022, it seemed like a bargain acquisition at $850,000 for one season. He is a right-shot third pairing defenseman with 521 games of NHL experience. Pysyk carries the reputation of being a smart, two-way, useful defenseman. His analytics, or the underlying numbers as Detroit coach Derek Lalonde likes to call them, supports the notion that he can be an effective player.
Lalonde saw Pysyk as a player who could play a game similar to the Olli Maatta’s predictable, defend-first mentality.
“Pysyk is more about just being a simple defender,” Lalonde said. “…minute-eating, safe defender, kind of where we want our entire game to be. That was our vision of signing him.”
But none of Pysyk’s abilities mattered because he missed the entire season with an Achilles injury. He is now an unrestricted free agent again
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) April 10, 2023
Not long after the Red Wings announced the signing of Pysyk, they issued a press release stating that Pysyk tore his Achilles tendon while training. The Red Wings immediately announced they had signed Robert Hagg, a left-shot defender,
The initial estimate was that Pysyk would need four to six months of recovery time. The Red Wings expected him back in January. But he had a setback in rehabilitation and didn’t play a single game.
2022-23 Red Wings Highlight
The only positive for Pysyk, and it wasn’t much consolation, is that his training injury happened roughly a week or so after he signed with the Red Wings. The Red Wings announced his surgery 11 days after they announced they signed him. That means he received his full pay for the season.
2022-23 Red Wings Lowlight
As distressing as the original injury was for the player and the team, news that Pysyk had suffered a setback was equally bad only because the coaching staff had started to count on Pysyk returning. He was on track toward returning. And then suddenly he has a setback and he’s gone for the season
With all of the injuries the Red Wings were experiencing, they didn’t need the second dagger.
Lalonde confirms Pysyk not likely to return this year
— Max Bultman (@m_bultman) February 5, 2023
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
The encouraging news for Pysyk is that his latest rehabilitation has gone well. Sources told Detroit Hockey Now that he is “healing nicely.”
We were told that Pysyk should be medically cleared to play “any day now.” The expectation is that he will have a normal summer of training.
We are also told Pysyk liked his time in Detroit and would like to stay. But thus far there has not been any discussion with general manager Steve Yzerman. The Red Wings still need a right-shot defensemen, but there hasn’t been any indication that they want to bring back Pysyk. But Yzerman’s intentions rarely leak out.
It’s easy to see why the Red Wings might prefer to explore options beyond Pysyk. They got nothing in return for their investment last season. But Pysyk, if healthy, does have desirable qualities. Plus, there is a shortage of right-shot defenseman in the marketplace. If nothing works out in the free agent marketplace, they could double-back to Pysyk.
Here’s what we know for sure: Pysyk is only 31. He likely will find an NHL job for next season.