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Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings Defense Will Have New Look in 2024-25



erik gustafsson

The Detroit Red Wings did land a New York Rangers defenseman Monday. But it wasn’t Jacob Trouba.

Unable to re-sign defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, the Red Wings signed Swedish defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a two-year deal worth $2 million per season. He’s a 32-year-old left-shot D man who has played with seven different NHL teams, including the New York Rangers last season.

Gostisbehere, 31, signed a three-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes, averaging $3.2 million per season. The Red Wings tried aggressively to re-sign Gostisbehere, who played particularly well in the second half of the season.

It is unfair to expect Gustafsson to match Gostibehere’s offensive production. Gostisbehere’s 56 points represented his highest total in six seasons. He finished with 29 power-play points, ranking him seventh among NHL defensemen. But Gustafsson can contribute offensively. He has a strong shot, and registered 31 points last season.  He is capable of 30-35 points, depending upon his power play time.

Red Wings’ Defensive Makeover

The Red Wings’ defense will be different in 2024-25. Jake Walman (traded to San Jose) and Gostisbehere (left through free agency) are gone. That’s 20 missing goals.

Barring a trade, the Red Wings will have nine defensemen challenging for roles at training camp: Gustafsson, Moritz Seider, Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta,  Simon Edvinsson, Jeff Petry, Justin Holl, William Lagesson (signed Monday as UFA) and Albert Johansson.

Seider, Petry and Holl are the only right-shot defensemen in that group. It’s not unthinkable that Holl will play much more than he did last season. With Edvinsson and Gustafsson playing regularly and Lagesson or Johansson trying to earn time, the Detroit defense could look much different.

Presumably, Johansson will compete against Lagesson, and maybe others, for the eighth and final spot defensive spot on the roster. Johansson is no longer waiver exempt, meaning  he has to go through waivers to be sent to the AHL. The Red Wings don’t believe he can pass through waivers without being claimed. Lagesson is on a one-way contract for $775,000, but has spent time in the minors throughout his career. The Red Wings probably would be comfortable having a big salaried, experienced player in Grand Rapids.

Edvinsson will likely be in the second pairing with Petry.

With Gostisbehere gone, Seider again becomes the No. 1 power play point man. Gustafsson may get a shot as the No. 2 point man.  Edvinsson may also get an opportunity.

It seems less likely the team will move Holl. He has two years remaining on a contract paying $3.4 million. They could certainly use that cap space. If you set aside $17 million to re-sign Lucas Raymond and Seider, they have about $3.5 mill to sign one more forward.