With the NHL season now less than a week away, we continue our look at what each team has done this summer and what to watch for in the year to come. Next up is a look at the Detroit Red Wings.
Last Season: 30-39-13 record (73 points), fifth in the Atlantic Division (missed the playoffs)
Remaining Cap Space: $0 per CapFriendly
Key Additions: G Jonathan Bernier (free agent, Colorado), D Jake Chelios (free agent, Carolina), F Wade Megan (free agent, St. Louis), G Harri Sateri (free agent, Florida), F Chris Terry (free agent, Montreal), F Thomas Vanek (free agent, Columbus).
Key Subtractions: G Jared Coreau (free agent, Anaheim), F Matthew Lorito (free agent, New York Islanders), G Thomas McCollum (free agent, Milwaukee, AHL), D Xavier Ouellet (free agent, Montreal), D Dan Renouf (free agent, Carolina), D Robbie Russo (trade, Arizona), F Ben Street (free agent, Anaheim), Eric Tangradi (free agent, New Jersey).
[Related: Red Wings Depth Chart From Roster Resource]
Player To Watch: F Dylan Larkin — The Red Wings finally have the star player they have been looking for after the 22-year-old posted a career-high 63 points last season and could be poised to take that next step this year after signing a five year, $30.5MM contract over the summer. A couple things that could fall in his favor are the fact that Larkin had a low shooting percentage last season, which should improve, while he also saw little power play time, which will obviously change this season.
The best case scenario for Larkin would be to take his game up another notch and perhaps reach the point-per-game plateau, which he is more than capable of. A worst-case scenario might see him struggle to stand out amongst a stable of improving, but hardly amazing crop of forwards. The team can only hope that Larkin can prove he was worth the contract he received and can help lead Detroit move up in the standings. His elite speed makes him one of the best to enter the offensive zone with the puck on his stick, but he must prove that he can put the puck away as well.
Key Storyline: The youth movement is truly beginning this year as several young players look to have legitimate chances to make the roster, including 2017 first-rounder Michael Rasmussen and 2018 first-rounder Filip Zadina. While there has been no guarantee they will make the NHL roster, both have shown their offensive talents off and even if Zadina gets sent down, the 18-year-old can play in the AHL instead. Regardless, a team that was (and still is) an older, veteran team is starting to change its look.
The team is also expected to make some changes on the defensive end of the ice as several young defensemen are challenging for an NHL roster spot, including Filip Hronek, Joe Hicketts, Dennis Cholowski and Libor Sulak. The goal is the team should slowly build its way to a young, rebuilt roster.
Overall Outlook: The Red Wings are in a tough transition phase that should keep them near the bottom of the NHL for another season and perhaps give them a shot at consensus No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes next season. With so many aging players that are clogging up their cap, the best fans of the franchise can do is hope that their young players develop as fast as they can to give the team a hope for the future.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.