The Detroit Red Wings are off to a 1-5-2 start in 2018-19, the worst record in the NHL. They have yet to win one game in regulation, but already have two losses of four or more goals. The team is among the worst in the league in goals for and goals against, with rookie forward Christoffer Ehn as the only player on the roster sporting a positive rating. There is simply little to like about Detroit so far this season.
Despite all of this, The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan says not to expect any major changes, at least not yet. In fact, Kulfan actually encourages the team to hold on to head coach Jeff Blashill, who many expected to be the first to go if things went south this year. Kulfan points out that Blashill is in the final year of his contract and almost certainly not returning next season, but assistant and expected replacement Dan Bylsma is unlikely to have any better luck with this current roster and may as well get a fresh start with a refurbished lineup in 2019-20. Kulfan’s suggestion seems to be one that the Red Wings have seemingly already adopted; Bylsma has long been expected to take over for Blashill, who has been on the hot seat for some time, but no move has been made. A tough start to a season expected to be spent in the basement of the league is not going to change their plan so easily.
Kulfan implies that the team’s best plan of action, and the one they will most likely follow, is to first get healthy, evaluate their roster once it more closely resembles their off-season estimation, and then only after that begin to consider trading away pieces ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. The Red Wings have little incentive not to test the market value of their impending free agents – Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Vanek, Jimmy Howard, and Niklas Kronwall – as well as others like Luke Glendening, Trevor Daley, or Jonathan Ericsson, but the team can afford to be patient with those decisions this season. In terms of their more prized younger players, don’t be surprised to see Detroit hold off on trading any of those such players, unless they are blown away by an offer such at the Tomas Tatar trade last year.
It could be a quiet season in Detroit and will almost certainly be a disappointing one. However, if the franchise is going to get back on track any time soon, avoiding any more mistakes is the first step. Patience and well-thought out roster decisions are a necessity this season.